Monday, 26 January 2015

Eliza Ann McAuley "Iowa to the Land of Gold"

Eliza Ann McAuley – Iowa to “The land of Gold”

This diary is of 17 year old Eliza Ann McAuley as she travels with a small group, including her brother and sister, to meet her father in California in 1852. Eliza’s mother and sister stayed behind in Iowa.
They left for California on Wednesday 7th April 1852.
She describes what they set out with as including a variety of yokes drawn by oxen and cows, one for the leaders, one for wheelers and one or two yokes of cows. As well as two saddle horses and 20 dairy cows, a tent and a ‘sheet iron camp stove’, which can be used inside the tent.

They set out with a variety of provisions, including dried fruit and vegetables as well as slices or dried bread. She also mentions how her and her sisters clothing is “light and durable” with “a pair of light calf skin topboots for wading through mud and sand”.
They don’t meet many problems on their journey, although on Sunday 10th April they come across an impassable hole in the road and so have to take down a fence to get by safely. This angers the owner, who threatens to get his gun if they don’t move off his land. Tom (who I assume is her brother) puts his hand on his gun and the owner of the land leaves.

When they pass through Ottumwa, she states that it was “the prettiest place we have yet seen and have decided to come and make our home when we return from California with a fortune”. This suggests that they are not wanting to stay in California permanently, but they are hoping to use California to become rich so that they can live where ever they like.

On Sunday 16th May, whilst they are eating, a Pawnee Chief and twelve of his men came to camp with them. They eat together and the Pawnee people camp with them for the night peacefully. Eliza does not express any dislike for the Pawnee chief, which means not everyone had the same negative views of the Native Americans.

On September 18th she describes how she sees the first “Californian house” that she has seen.

On Sunday 19th September they arrive at their father’s cabin in California after five months of travel. She says how the Californian miners called her father “father Mac”, which suggests that her father is either a miner himself or that he is in a higher position at the mine. If he is a miner, it may mean he travelled to California to earn some money and find a home for his family to later join him, as they do.
She also talks of how the miners try to catch a glimpse of her and her sister, as women are not common in the area. This suggests that not many women join their male family members in this area, or perhaps many do not want to make the journey.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.