Saturday, April 4, 2015

136 years ago: the Upper Midwest from the back of a horse

During the 1800s, even ancestors who would end up staying home often tried going West to see how it suited them. My great-grandfather spent a few years in Kansas hoping to alleviate his wife's asthma, but they returned to southern Illinois.

And in the spring of 1879, my wife's great-grandfather left his young family behind for several weeks and took a 430-mile horseback ride west across part of Wisconsin and most of Minnesota. He sent back postcards and letters, which I transcribed and annotated, and which have now been published in the Minnesota Genealogical Quarterly. It's all there -- the rain, the cold, the boredom, the jokes, the universal presumption that if your traveling companion fell sick you could find him a bed in a farmhouse along the way, and forge on.

"Across Wisconsin and Minnesota on Horseback, 1879," Minnesota Genealogical Quarterly vol. 45, no. 4 (2014): 7-9.

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