Friday, May 22, 2020

Walking Over Two Thousand Miles

In the mid-1800s, Missouri counted among the states that formed the western boundary for our country. Many wagon trains were organized to go west from there.

Both Independence and Saint Joseph on the mighty Missouri River proved popular places to gather and let the settlers find a wagon train master they could trust.

Those traveling west had most likely scraped every penny together to buy their wagon and supplies. They’d acquired the oxen to pull it, and only lacked a leader.

Emigrants wanted to know the men organizing a wagon train had experience along with a good reputation for being wise, levelheaded, and on time. After all, they would be putting their very lives into the man’s hands.

As a woman. I have no doubt that the ladies who agreed to sell their home places and go on such a wild adventure and new beginning had not a clue they would be walking all the way to California or Oregon! I mean if my husband said we’d buy a covered wagon . . . wouldn’t that indicate I pretty much had a place and got to ride?

One would think so. But not the Truth of it. I’m guessing husbands failed to divulge that little piece of information—if they even knew themselves—until probably sometime during that first week.

All wagon owners knew the health and wellbeing of their animals were paramount. The beasts of burden had one purpose—to pull the wagons loaded with everything the pioneers figured they’d need for the journey and starting again in their new home.

I can hear it now.
“Sweetheart, I think it’d be best if you walked a while to save the animals from pulling the extra weight.”
“You want me to walk? To save the animals? All right then, honey. I’ll walk . . . for a WHILE.”

And if not to save the animals, many prairie roses chose to walk over bouncing across the rough terrain in those wagons with no springs or shocks to smooth out the bumpy ride. But whichever reason, over and again, day after day, week after week, and month after month, they walked.

Unless a person got sick and just couldn’t put one foot in front of another, all the sojourners—men, women, and children alike—ambled on foot from Missouri along the Oregon / California Trail to their destinations a little over two thousand miles away.

The hardy folks needed good shoes for all that walking! Those were mostly made of thick beef leather. Though women of society back East wore high heels made of delicate, colorful silk decorated with gold, silver, bows, and braids.

Their counterparts heading west in wagons wore a flat-heeled more substantial shoe that came up to cover and support her ankles.

Men on the Oregon Trail wore a thicker, tougher, taller boot.

An interesting fact I learned is prior to the mid-eighteen hundreds, shoes were formed on straight lasts—forms used to create the soles, called straights. These were all the same, no difference in the design for left or right foot, so they were uncomfortable.

Wearers often soaked their new shoes and wore them until dry to shape the leather to their feet. Others switched their shoes from one foot to another to reduce pain.

It was right about that time that the soles started being made specifically for the right or left feet, but as with any new inventions, those first few years, only the wealthy could afford those new-fangled fancy shoes that fit so much more comfortably! 

In LILAH, my May release, book five in the Prairie Roses Collection for Mother’s Day, my young heroine of the same name did just that, walking from Saint Jo all the way to the Pacific NorthWest, to Oregon then ever farther north.

The wagon train journey only fills about half the story as this tale follows more of the adventure after the families arrive!
It’s available now at Amazon:

Here's what one reviewer said: What a delightful novel this is! Caryl McAdoo has done it again, crafted a gripping tale of love and faith overcoming obstacles to grab the reader’s attention and keep them reading through to the very last page. This reviewer read it twice, it’s that good. –CW

I hope you’ll enjoy reading it and the two additional Prairie Roses titles, SUSAN by Patricia PacJac Carroll and KATE by Donna Schlachter.

Bio: Caryl McAdoo, praying her story gives God glory, loves God, her husband of fifty-plus years Ron, five sons and six daughters (birthed and in-loves), and nineteen grandsugars—then writing stories and singing the new songs God gives her. (Hear at YouTube.) Readers love her historical Christian romance family sagas with their characters who become like friends and family. She also writes contemporary romance, Biblical fiction, and for young adults and mid-grade booklovers. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville—seat of Red River County in Northeast Texas—waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.

Links: Amazon   BookBub   Website    Newsletter   YouTube (Hear Caryl sing her New Songs!)   Facebook 


  1. Thanks for the post! Great point about the husbands not divulging all the facts of this trip!!! Looks like I need to contact you, Caryl. I'll head over to FB.

    1. Thank you, Connie! Husbands may not have changed a lot. Mine tells me all the time He doesn't have to tell everything he knows :) (He's only trying to get me not to, because I have a tendency to spill my guts at any given moment :) He's WAY more private a person than I am. He says information is POWER. I share the power! :)

  2. Interesting post, Caryl. I didn't realize the travelers walked most of the journey. How exhausting!

    1. Thanks, Linda! I never knew it either until I got to studying and researching :) I'd always romanticized it in my mind, I guess. But it was a horribly hard, gruesome trip. Makes me appreciate the settlers all the more.

  3. What a great and informative post! Thank you for sharing, Caryl.

    1. Thanks, Melanie! After all the research on wagon trains I've done, I don't know if I would have wanted to go. I'm sure the lure of land was strong.

  4. This is so interesting. I have read many books on the wagon trains. I knew they walked, but I didn't really let it sink in until I read this! Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to read your new book! I love your writingđź’•