Horizons Project 2009

Lincoln County Crossroads

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Starting West

Van Morgan steps out of Lily Langford’s place well after two in the morning; he turns and sees her lamp go out. He thinks to himself, what a woman. He takes a few steps to cross the street when a noise breaks the silence; Van reaches for his six gun while turning around. With the murders that have happened in town, everyone was on edge. A stanger dressed in black was kneeling down picking up a frying pan he had just accidently knocked over. He stands up and places the frying pan on a box and brushes off the dirt from his knee. The man in black starts walking over to Van.

The man in black says, ” This town being what it is, that could have led to trouble.”

Van says, “Probably”

“If I where the man you seemed to be worried about, you would have been too late.” My name is Jonathan Rudd, that’s my church down the street.

Vance rolls over and shuts off his alarm a few minutes before its set to go off. He sits up on the side of the bed, huh, Five Card Stud what a movie to dream about, Lily Langford is a very attractive lady in that movie.

 Vance goes through his morning routine and heads out the door. On his way to work, he thinks of getting a hold of Terry to talk about the engine rebuild he was planning. Vance and Terry would spend about six weeks working on the 440 engine before it was ready to be put in The Dark Horse. Most of that time was spent deciding which parts to go with, bigger cam, higher compression pistons etc. Terry Nolton knew how to make engines do two things, run strong and last long. In the heat of battle, that’s what Vance wanted, on the street, at the strip, or in pursuit. They worked on weekends, after work, they needed to beef up the suspension as well. The bigger engine would be carrying about three hundred pounds more than the small block.

When the work was done and the engine in, Vance and Terry thought it should have about four hundred twenty horses, but now they would have to wait until the five hundred mile break in period was up and the five weight break in oil could be changed out. Now the engine was in, it was time to get the Dark Horse a new coat of paint. Vance called his friend at the local paint and body shop to set up a time to get the Dark Horse painted. It is always better to paint after engine work of such magnitude, so if you do scratch things up you don’t have to repair the new paint.

With all that was going on, work, the engine, the paint, Vance could not keep his mind from wondering back to the Miller family and the stories he’d been told. In the fall of 1879 Sarah had lost a baby girl at birth, then her mother passed unexpectedly a few weeks later. Thaddeus thought with Sarah’s ever deepening depression that change was what they needed.

The west was a lot tamer than it had been, but there was still a lot going on. The Little Bighorn in ‘76, Chief Joseph’s run to Canada in ‘77, Billy the Kid in New Mexico was still loose, and the James and Younger gangs were still causing trouble.

Thaddeus did not want to move to start with, but by the time he had a chance to think about it, what an adventure. Sarah was getting worse, maybe the change would do some good. In early spring of 1880 Thaddeus had been in touch with a wagon train company that was leaving Independence, Missouri. They would have to leave about a month earlier to meet up with the wagon train on time. Thadd wanted Adam to bring a wagon also. Adam was close to eight years old, a strong boy for his age. Adam was five feet tall and a hundred pounds, he was young though and a big responsibility no matter what the age.  The trip to Independence would give Thadd the opportunity to see how well Adam could handle a team; if Adam did well then Thadd would have to convince the Wagon Master. If Adam didn’t do well the family would have to haul as much as they could on one wagon and get rid of the rest. The family loaded up and left for Missouri, they would be traveling for a very long time.

Fur trappers and mountain men had gone west before, but it wasn’t until President Jefferson asked Lewis and Clark to see what was out there and go west through the land bought in the Louisiana Purchase that the public became aware of what was there. The Lewis and Clark expedition or The Corps of Discovery as it was called, was quite an under taking. The trip itself took so long that some thought they had died in the wilderness. Lewis and Clark kept good journals and it’s always interesting to learn more about their epic adventure.

The trip to Independence Missouri would be as easy a drive as they would get. The first part of the trip would be on well traveled roads to Independence, but most folks got to Independence by train or boat. Thadd wanted two wagons so that Sarah would have a place to rest and because he wanted to take some wood working tools with them. Thadd knew Adam might have trouble over the long journey so he attached fair size rails to the back of each wagon. Thadd could lead the other team if need be some of the way by tying them to the other wagon. The trip to Independence took almost four weeks. Adam did surprisingly well handling the team. Sarah just could not shake off the depression she was experiencing; sometimes when we step through that door it takes a whole lot to bring us back.

Thadd loved Sarah and had most all his life, at least as far back as he could remember. When Thadd first considered a trip out west, he just couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to leave a home and family business. Now though for the sake of Sarah and the adventure of the journey they would continue west after reaching Independence.