I have resolved myself to leave my father's home in Philadelphia and head west, towards new beginnings. Father laughed at the idea, claiming that I shall find myself dead of cholera in a week's time, but the man clearly knows nothing. His harsh pessimism shall not dull my enthusiasm, nor dissuade my will. I have already armed myself with a rifle, and saved several months wage to pay for passage. I need only set off to Independence and I shall be one of the many brave pioneers of the western territories. Pioneer! How the word sets my soul alight! Perhaps my father will realize how wrong he was when he receives my first letter from my new home.
April 16th, 1844
My sister Margaret was practically in hysterics as I left home today. She wept and wailed and begged me not to leave, but I was firm in my resolve. Poor dear. I sympathize with her, watching her brother leave for places far removed from the world she knows. I too get a finality to the proceedings, like the end of the first act at the theater. She made me promise to send her a dozen letters, and to keep a log of my travels o send back to her. I had already planned to keep record of my passage, but if Margaret wishes to read of my journey I shall have to embellish it a bit. She deserves something entertaining, it is her brother's journey after all. A veritable Gulliver's Travels, though with more heroics and less farce. Though I am of firmest resolve, I must admit her tears did nearly dissuade me from my purpose. I am loathe to think I have left my sister alone for the remainder of her life. Perhaps I can bring her to live with me once I am established. Perhaps find her a good husband among those fine gentlemen who have found their fortune west. God knows there is little to commend the sons of the men my father comports with.
I have chartered passage on a ship to New Orleans, from where I will take a paddle steamer to Independence. There I shall begin my trek across this great continent, to a better life.
April 20th, 1844
God damn this vessel! I swear I have never felt so ill in my twenty five years on this earth. The sea refuses me rest, keeping me awake with nausea and other sea illness. The sailors keep laughing as I stumble about the deck. We've another five days of travel before New Orleans, and it shall not come a moment too soon. I was not meant for the sea! I shall from here on endeavor to stay firmly planted ashore. Let the fisherman and sailors have the ocean waves, I shall stay firmly in the fields and forests, where my legs are not reduced to jelly! Margaret, when you read this, know that I will bring you overland to my new home, and spare you the indignities of a sailing voyage. My heart flies back to Philadelphia, and you are always in my memory.
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Elliot Grayson left the eastern coast of the United States in an effort to find new settlements in the Oregon territory. He was assumed lost after becoming separated from his wagon train. Years later his journal was found, and is herein reproduced. Contained within is the harrowing account of his journey, and the forces that assailed him on his journey.