I think it was on the fifth day late in the afternoon that we arrived at the landing place for Independence. It was a barren spot at the foot of a steep and high embankment. I had expected at least a few houses, but as far as I recall, there was nothing of the sort. All our belongings were put on shore; the two men bound for Oregon also disembarked here with their baggage.
On the afternoon of the third day of our stay in Independence, we hitched all our oxen to our wagon, and only then did we consider ourselves actually on the road to California. The day was pleasant - the sun was shining warm, the prairie was turning green, all around us meadow larks and other birds were singing their happy spring songs. Nature seemed to burst with the joy of life. Finally Zins cracked the long rawhide whip; he was the first to drive our vehicle, our movable home, so to speak. We bade fond farewell to the little town of Independence and to the old settled country.
Just a short distance from Independence we came through a little woods, where the road was in pretty bad condition because of both running and standing water. On the undulating plain which opened before us the road was better again, and we all marched westward in happy spirits. About six or seven miles west of Independence we came upon a little grove on high ground, where we found two deserted log cabins enclosed by an old fence, and nearby several fresh-water springs came out of the ground. Since the sun was already close to the horizon, we decided to pitch our first camp right here. We found everything we could ask for: plenty of grass for the beasts, good water, firewood - what else could we want? We all wished that we might find a camping place like this every night on the entire journey to California. Naturally these questions came to our minds: who might have lived here and why was the place deserted again? Nobody could figure it out. Only when we came to the general meeting place on Indian Creek did we hear that our first camping place had once been used by the Latter-day Saints as a general religious meeting ground. Here the Mormon prophets, priests, and elders had proclaimed their oracles to the faithful until their neighbors, the "pagans" and unbelievers from Missouri, forced them to leave the district. They then moved to Nauvoo in Illinois, only to be forced by the people of neighboring townships and counties to move again, this very year of 1846.
After finishing breakfast and harnessing our oxen we continued our way almost straight westerly across beautiful undulating prairie. This was the beginning of our daily routine, and as time went on we mastered it thoroughly. The farms around us became scarcer and scarcer; in fact, we passed only one or two houses along the road, and then we were beyond the borders of the state of Missouri and in what was then Indian territory. It was the reservation of the Shawnees, a small tribe, or only the remnant of one. They were half-civilized Indians, who occupied themselves with agriculture and stock raising and lived in solid timber houses.