LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Nov. 2.

Photograph of a covered wagon.

As these diary entries illustrate, covered wagon travel presented countless difficulties. Image source. About the photograph

We rose early, having slept little because the smoke troubled us all night. At day-break we crossed the Runoke, which was very low, and not quite so large as the Lecha, but full of slippery stones; and in high water it runs half a mile over the banks. We had much difficulty in getting our sick horses across. A quarter of a mile beyond we came to Evens’ mill, where our road turned to the left and became very narrow. A mile further we came to a steep hill, and the road sloped badly. We soon stuck in a ditch, and were in danger of breaking our axle. In another mile a rather high hill rose before us, and we had to unload half our things and carry them up on our backs, and even then we could hardly get the wagon up. The going down was also steep, we locked two wheels, hung a tree on behind, and all the brethren held back by it; and so we crossed this hill safely. Then we had a mile and a half of good road, and stopped for lunch by a creek. It looked much like rain and there was a large hill before us. We asked a man that we met whether we could get across the hill today and he said “Yes, some one lived on the top, and we could spend the night there.” We believed him and drove to the foot of the hill, crossing a large creek. Then we tried to climb the hill but it was impossible, the hill beging too steep. So we decided to unload and carry the things up the hill. The Brn. Lischer and Pfeil stayed with the wagon, and the rest of us made the ascent. Half way up it began to rain and was hard on us and our horses, but we hoped on the top to find the house of which the man had told us. The time seemed long to us and when we reached the summit neither house nor water was to be found. There was nothing to do but go on down the mountain in the darkness and heavy rain. At last in the valley we found a little creek, having been two and a half hours in crossing the hill. There we made camp as best we might, having much trouble to get a fire, for it was raining heavily and everything was wet. We set up the tent and lay close together on the wet bedding, and rested a little. Toward morning it cleared and was very cold.

Nov. 3.

At dawn we went back across the hill to get the other things and the wagon. The Brn. Gottlob, Nathanael, and Kalberlahn, stayed with the tent. The Brethren who had remained in the wagon had also had a cold night, and we were glad to see each other again. We loaded our horses and took most of the things to the top of the hill, made a fire, and Br. Haberland stayed while the rest went back for the wagon. Although it was almost empty it was all we could do to push and pull it up, but in half an hour we were at the top. Loading our belongings we traveled a little way upward along the ridge; then came the descent and we locked the wheels, hung a tree on behind, and all held back by it, and so we came safely down to our tent, and rejoiced that the Saviour had so helped us. Although there were a couple of steep, sloping hills before us, yet we crossed them before night, and set up our tent by a creek, turning our horses into the woods. We were all very tired and sleepy and let the angels be our guard during the night.

Nov. 4.

We had an almost untrodden road, and had to cut a number of trees out of the way. Our wagon stuck fast in a mud-hole, and it took two hours to get it out. The tackle did us good service. One mile beyond we found water, then had four miles of good road to a creek, where we stopped for noon. In the afternoon we crossed Maggedi Creek, near which lives Benjamin Reh, an old man of about 90 years, and his wife who is nearly a hundred. Both are quite bright and active, gave us milk to drink, and were very friendly. Near this house is a deep muddy place, then we climbed a steep hill to the Warrik Road, which leads in a western direction and is fairly good. At two miles we crossed a small creek, and three miles beyond set up our tent by a large creek. Here we had to guard our horses carefully for we had heard that there were people about who would lead them off. We cooked dumplings this evening and they tasted good, and after prayers we lay ourselves peacefully to rest.

Nov. 5.

We rose early and went on our way. Had several miles of good road along the ridge. When we had driven five miles we came to the home of Mr. Robert Kohl, Justice of the Peace, from whom we bought some corn. He is a pleasant man, and expressed regrets that he did not know we were coming, for he would gladly have met us and led us by a better and nearer way so that we could have escaped the hills and mountains. The road was indeed not entirely cleared, but there were so many of us that we could have gotten through with little trouble. He said he would see to it that this road was opened at once. Two Brethren stayed here to help shell some bushels of corn that we bought. We had again some bad places to drive up. At half a mile was a small creek, and another half mile brought us to Black Water, a large creek with very steep banks. In one mile we again came to a small creek, and in two miles more to another where we stopped for the noon rest. There were some muddy places here but we got through safely. Then the road turned to the left up the mountain but we missed it and came more to the right to an old mill-race at Ringfros Mill, kept to the left of it and turned up the mountain again and regained our proper road. At one mile we came to a small creek and marshy place; then to three more creeks at half mile intervals. One mile further on the left was a new plantation, and half a mile beyond we had to drive through a bad swamp and creek. One mile further we reached the home of Robert Johnsen, and bought some hay from him. He went half a mile with us to show us the way across the creek, and a pleasant place in which to pitch our tent. Our course today was west and south-west, and we made 16 miles; the road was fairly good apart from the marshy places and the steep banks of the streams. It is 25 miles from here to Smith’s River.


Maggedi Creek

Maggotty Creek, a branch of Blackwater River.

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Black Water

Blackwater River, a fork of the Roanoke.

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