Horizons Project 2009

Lincoln County Crossroads

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Continuing West

“Major Jennings, the Yankees are coming,” The Sergeant said.

“Are we ready?” Major Jennings asked.

“Yes sir, Major,” The Sergeant replied.

“Thank you Sergeant, you may return to your post,” the Major told him.

During the battle all that could be thought of was to survive for the next battle to come. After the battle Major Jennings would make sure all the wounded were attended to including the union soldiers. Some of the men didn’t think that was right, to be fighting one minute and then trying to help them the next. Major Jennings knew they were all Americans no matter which side they were on and that was the sad truth of it.

Brent woke around five thirty that morning. He had spent fifteen years trying to put that war behind him, but he realized it was a part of him and he would live with it the rest of his life. Brent was absolutly dashing, tall with dark hair and a thin dark mustache, and could stair anyone down with his iron willed determination.      

Brent, Rusty, Craig and Johnny had gone through the war together. Brent and Rusty knew each other before the war, but Craig and Johnny had met during the war. So many men came and died in battle that it seemed these four were the constant in all the war, at least for them. After the war, Brent wanted to leave the killing behind so he and Rusty signed on with a wagon train company taking settlers west.  A couple of years later Brent took over as Wagon Master. As a rule, if you fought for the south you weren’t given many good opportunities, but times were starting to change. Brent was a man of honor, and well respected by all who knew him. That did make it better for him and Rusty. Awhile later they ran across Craig and Johnny, after talking, he hired them on to help with the wagon train.

In the spring of 1880, Brent and the fellows were taking their last wagon train west. They had saved up their money and bought a ranch, but more importantly the Mexican lady hired to keep the place up while they were away, had said yes to Brent’s marriage proposal. She had been alone since her husband had been killed. When they hired her, she got in touch with a couple other members of her family to help out until the guys got back from their last wagon train. There was a wedding in the future and a ranch to work and hopefully plenty of good times ahead.

When Thadd, Sarah, and the boys got to the wagon train, Thadd started looking for the Wagon Master. When he finally found Brent, Thadd told him that he wanted Adam to take the other wagon of theirs.

“I’m not letting a boy take a wagon on my train!” Brent exclaimed.

“What about that fella?” Thadd asked. “He’s no bigger than Adam.”

“Mister Jones shaves.” Brent replies, “So I suggest you get all you can into one wagon, because day after tomorrow we’re leaving with or without you”.

As Brent turned and rode away, Sarah was sloughed down in the wagon seat by Thadd and just said three words, in her state of depression “Let him shave.”

“Hey! That’s not a bad idea.” Thadd replied.

They spent the rest of the day teaching Adam to shave and getting the rest of the supplies needed for the trip.

The next day Craig rode up to Rusty and Brent and told them they may want to come and see this. The three of them rode back to see what Craig was talking about. There in front of a mirror was Adam shaving.

Rusty started to chuckle and said, “I think they’ve got you on this one Brent”.

“Yeah.  I guess they do.” Brent said.

Rusty turned and rode off, chuckling a little more and shaking his head.

Rusty Walters was the scout of the wagon train, he was an average size man with a voice that when he spoke you herd every word.

“Craig keeps an eye on the back of the train for us, so you can’t be falling behind.” Brent states.

Craig Stanton was a handsome man with thick brown hair that seem to stand out even on the trail.

Brent and Craig then turn and ride off as well, with a little chuckle too.

Early afternoon Brent gets everyone together and gives them his Wagon Master speech.

“For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Wagon Master Jennings and out here, my word is law. We have rules to keep you alive. This can be a very savage and brutal land, and if we don’t work together some of us won’t make it. When we are around towns with law, I’ll let them take care of any problems we have. When we’re not I will take care of it myself, by whatever means necessary.
Do we understand each other?” Brent asked. He waited for questions.

From the back someone asked, “Just what does that mean?”

Brent replied, “It means if we tell you to do something, do it, and if we tell you to not do something, don’t do it, ok. Are there any more questions?” Brent asked again.

This time there were no more questions.

“Good “Brent said. “We will be up at five and move out at six in the morning.”

 Johnny Tellman was the youngest of the bunch. He had just been nineteen when the war began. Johnny  seemed to have a way with the ladies, his slight build and good looks seemed to always get him into some kind of trouble. Brent would always have to make sure that Johnny would leave the ladies on the wagon train alone, or have to find a new cook. Johnny’s mother died when he was young, so Johnny had to learn to cook for his pa and himself. When Major Jennings found out how good  a cook he was, when it was convenient, Brent would have Johnny fix him dinner.     

They had been on the trail for almost a week when Rusty came riding back hard. He told Brent, “There’s a little bit of trouble up ahead. It seems that some of the young braves have broken off from the tribe and want to kill all the whites they can.” Rusty suggested they go to the south to go around the trouble.           

“That will bring us close to the Cherokee Nation.” Brent said.

“That was a terrible thing that happened to those people, the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and the Seminole being forced to march over a thousand miles with over more than four thousand of them dying.”  Rusty stated.

“I’ll kill as many of those savage Indians as I can.” Mister Jones pipes up.

“There’ll be no killing unless I give the order Mister Jones!” Brent exclaims, then asks “Is that understood?”

“Yes, yes sir, it is.” Mister Jones replies.

Brent turns to ride back to tell the others they would be going a little south hopefully around trouble. Brent knew this would add a couple days to a week to the trip, depending how far they would have to go out of their way.

“He sounds like he might be yellow.” Mister Jones says.

“Mister there isn’t a cowardice bone in that man’s body. We went through the war together, Shiloh, Gettysburg and many more battles too numerous to mention, where tens of thousands of men were killed. Major Jennings fought with honor and valor in every battle we engaged in, and Mister if you do anything to cause trouble for this wagon train; there isn’t a one of us that won’t drop you like a sack of potatoes. Do we understand each other?” Rusty emphatically states.

Mister Jones once again says, “Yes, I do.”    

Sarah had taken a turn for the worse. Thadd placed her in the bed in the back of the wagon. The bed wasn’t very big or comfortable, but in a wagon it was the best he could do. The guilt he felt, the woman he loved and cherished was laying in the back of a wagon dying. The boys knew their mother was in bad shape also and it tore them up inside. What could they do but press on with the wagon train no matter what was going on inside of them.

Brent and Rusty had talked to each other about what was going on with the Miller family. They had seen people die on the wagon trains west before, but that didn’t mean they ever got use to seeing it happen.

When the wagon train got close to Oklahoma, Thadd spotted a little Indian girl. She couldn’t have been but about a year old. In his crazed state of mind, he thinks if Sarah had a baby, and a girl no less,
would that bring her around? The little girl had wondered off as little ones can do and Thadd went over and picked her up and put her in the back of the wagon. Craig had gone up to talk to Brent. There was a house close by, Thadd was sure that’s where the little girl came from, but he was taking her for Sarah.

The wagon train traveled a few more days and then returned to the main trail. Thadd knew he had gone against Wagon Master Jennings law of doing anything that would put the wagon train in jeopardy. The next day Thadd told Craig that their two wagons would be dropping out of the wagon train. They would follow behind and if there were any reprisal for what he had done the rest of the wagon train would not be involved. When Craig told Brent that the Miller family was leaving the wagon train, Brent told him to keep an eye on them as far as he could and if by chance find out what’s going on?

Thadd and Adam stayed just a ways behind the wagon train, a half mile or so back. Two wagons would be easy prey for bandits or Indians, but now they had a baby to take care of as well. Without any problems, travel was a lot of work. When they would stop, Dan would look after his mother and the baby girl, while Thadd and Adam took care of the animals.

Some of the worst things would be river crossings. For the wagon train Brent and Craig would cross and get their ropes ready. Often a wagon would cross and things would float out. Babies in cribs were the main thing they would try to secure. Women would often hold their babies in the wagon seat, but a good jar and both would be thrown in to the water. The riders on the other side would lasso them and pull them out. This would be the toughest thing now for the Miller family, with Thadd and Adam driving their teams alone for the rest of the wagon trip.

At the first crossing, Thadd took Adam’s wagon across first so he was on the other side when Adam brought the other wagon across. If things started to come out, Thadd could rope them. They crossed the first river easily; even Sarah was starting to show signs of improvement. Sarah having a baby to live for might just turn the tide of events in the recent past; now they must push on west as quickly as they could, trying to stay as close to the wagon train as possible.

Sarah was much better; they had been traveling for months. They could almost see the end of their journey. Thadd had heard about this place, Eagle Valley in the Idaho territory. A lot of mining was going on and there was timber land as well.  A family that worked with wood could make a new start there.

With the finish of the last wagon train, Brent married the beautiful Carmelita. After awhile, Rusty found a good woman and married again. Rusty felt fortunate to find an other  love after losing his wife wjile he was at war. Craig worked the place with the guys and they did well for themselves. Johnny sold his part of the ranch to the others and went on to do a lot of gambling and chasing skirts. Johnny would show up at the ranch every now and then and stay for awhile. Their ranch remained one of the largest and most successful in the area for many years.