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Oregon Trail Story

Oregon Trail Story

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Published by DRoe
Read about Mary Price, who died in 1864 in Nebraska. A ranch owner married a woman from Upstate, NY and her history helped descendants identify the State where Mary Price died on the Oregon-California Trail.
Read about Mary Price, who died in 1864 in Nebraska. A ranch owner married a woman from Upstate, NY and her history helped descendants identify the State where Mary Price died on the Oregon-California Trail.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: DRoe on May 10, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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Report unravels mystery
An interesting inquiry was received at Port Byron this month that illustrates how history can impact the lives of people in ways we wouldn’t predict. We rarely think Dawn about how Roe a small event that happens today will unfold a century or two into the future. Little did I realize that a report donated to Auburn’s Historic Properties Web site would forever link our local Webb family to a lady that perished on the Overland Trail in Nebraska in 1864. Among the property owners in Auburn’s Historic District is a man named Zachariah Lewis Webb. He was listed in the deeds for “086 South St.” As a descendant of Z.L. Webb, I donated some of our family history to the project in Jan. 2008. The report includes a man named William Starr Peniston who, in 1865, made a business trip to Auburn and while visiting here, married Anna Webb, a daughter of Zachariah and Polly Hoffman Webb. Peniston’s business partner would also marry and together, the wedding tour headed back west to Nebraska City. After a stay of about three months, the men left their ladies with relatives while they ventured off to their trading post at Cold Water, wanting to make it presentable for their new brides. Much to their surprise, the post had been raided by the American Indians and badly burned. In the fashion of a true pioneer, they turned tragedy into prosperity, rebuilding and enjoying a successful run of business. They stayed there until the railroad brought better prospects at North Platte, at which time they dismantled their log store and moved it to North Platte. There Peniston would become the first merchant in town. Kim Caldwell of Montana found the report on Zachariah Webb and contacted me asking for information on the Peniston-Miller ranch. She shared that her third great grandmother, Mary Wingrove Price, had died while on a wagon train crossing through Wyoming. Since my report had mentioned William Peniston and his partner A.J. Miller, she was hopeful I knew the location of this ranch so that she could visit her ancestor’s grave this summer. From the biography of Peniston, he purchased a ranch opposite Willow Island but first met A.J. Miller at O’Fallon’s Bluff. Her inquiry made me look for the location, and O’Fallon’s Bluff is along the South Platte River. Kim next shared that her sister Laurie Francis found a trial diary of an unrelated man that documents that he passed the grave of her ancestor in 1865. The diary was made by Benjamin Cross Cauthorn, and is housed at Brigham Young University in Utah, where her sister Laurie is employed. They sent me the link for review. The diary entry in part reads: “May 12 1865. Friday. Camp on Platte. Left camp this morning after seven, stopped for noon about eleven. No grass there. Started soon after 12, traveled till 6 this evening. Have forgotten to mention having passed several graves the last few days. One yesterday was the grave of Mrs. Mary Price, killed by a wagon running over her in 1864.” The diary mentions several ranches along the overland trail, but we still couldn’t place Peniston and Miller at Mrs. Price’s location at the time of her unfortunate accident. Then a lucky break came my way: I found a Google book titled “Massacre Along the Medicine Road” by Ronald Becher. The book clearly shows that in 1864, Peniston and Miller managed Dan Smith’s Eastern Ranch between Mid Way and Willow Island. Many of the ranches listed in this book match the same places mentioned by Cauthorn in his diary, so we now had a match. Mrs. Mary Price died in Nebraska, not Wyoming. If you would like to see the map of the Oregon Trail, visit http://books.google.com and search for Peniston

On the Net

Miller ranch Nebraska. Travel along the Oregon Trail was grueling. The Cauthorn diary is filled with hardship and death, yet they pushed forward. The wagon train advanced an average of 10 to 20 miles per day. It is amazing that the history of a young bride from Auburn would help locate the proper death location of a lady named Mrs. Mary Price, who was one of the many casualties along the Oregon-California Trail in the great western migration of the mid-19th century.
Dawn Roe is historian for the village of Port Byron. She can be reached at 776-8446 or by email at beatatune@tds.net

Photo provided

Special Collections Department, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

With Fondest Memories
This Memorial Day, we honor our local heroes who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy everyday and our loved ones who will always be remembered.
On Sunday, May 24, 2009, we will publish a special page in The Citizen devoted to those who are gone, but not forgotten. Memoriams can be placed in borders similar to the samples to the right. Sample verses are below.
Your message will also be published online at www.auburnpub.com from May 24th through June 24th.

Actual Size 1.55” x 2.25”

1. We hold you in our thoughts & memories forever 2. May God cradle you in his arms, now and forever. 3. Forever missed, never forgotten. May God hold you in the palm of His hand. 4. Thank you for the wonderful days we shared together. My prayers will be with you until we meet again. 5. The days we shared were sweet. I long to see you again in God’s heavenly glory. 6. Your courage and bravery still inspire us all, and the memory of your smile fills us with joy and laughter. 7. Though out of sight, you’ll forever be in my heart and mind. 8. The days may come and go, but the times we shared will always remain. 9. May the light of peace shine over you for all time. 10. May God’s angels guide you and protect you throughout time. 11. You were a light in our life, that burns forever in our hearts. 12. May God’s graces shine over you for all time and from year to year. 14. We send this message with a loving kiss, for eternal rest & happiness. 15. May the Lord bless you with His graces and warm, loving heart.

1 2

Please publish my tribute in the special Memorial Day section on Sunday, May 24th. Name of Deceased _______________________________________________________ Date of Birth ____________________ Date of Passing __________________________ Selected verse number ___________ Border # chosen _________________________ Photo: Yes _______ No _______ (please mark one) # of laminated copies _______ Memoriam to read ________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ Your name _____________________________________ Phone #_________________ Address ________________________________________________________________ City ____________________ State ______________ Zip ________________________ Card Type ❏ VISA ❏ Discover ❏ MasterCard ❏ American Express
Or make check payable to The Citizen.

Name on card ___________________________________________________________ Card # _______________________Sec. Code _______Exp ______________________
Citizen Classified Department Telephone & Lobby hours 8:00am-5:00pm 315-255-2241 • Fax 315-255-3874

To remember your loved one in this special way, send $19.95 per listing. Laminated copies are available at $3.00 each or 2 for $5.00. Your special tribute will become a permanent record in our paper.
Fill out the form below and mail it to: “With Fondest Memories” The Citizen Classifieds, 25 Dill Street, Auburn, NY 13021

Deadline is Tuesday, May 19, 2009, at 5pm

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