NPE Journal Segment 1


Journal Segment 1


This is the diary of grandmother from Georgetown, Beaver County, PA who travelled by steamboat with her husband to Montana Territory in 1869.  The journal, although literarily unrefined, is an invaluable historical document that reveals, first-hand, the dangers and tedium and beauty of the unsettled frontier.  The author of this journal was Nancy Poe Ebert, the wife of Capt George Washington Ebert.  The journal chronicles her trip on the upper Missouri River in 1869.


The first segment of the journal, dating from May 6 to May 30, is a small advertisement notebook from a dry goods dealer named McCandless, Jamison & Co 103 Wood St Pittsburgh, PA.  The book is dated “1869 SPRING TRADE 1869”.   


The transcription of the journal that follows is a rendering with spelling errors and missing punctuation uncorrected.  Some words are unintelligible and places where the text has been torn are noted.





May the 6 was at Yankton

left there 6 oclock a very nice

little place  run up a few miles

layd up for the night May

the eight run a five or six miles

got a ground spaird about

four hours got of run 3 or

four miles got aground again past

the rock of Antelope stoped to

take wood we went a shore seen

some Indians visited thair wig

wams the tempest is now a loung

side bertha is in sight all have

been a ground today___the sun

is just going down o how pirty it is

we are running all the time

towards sun set that is very strong

to we ar now a ground dark got

off about twelve oclock that night layd

up till morning




May the Eight – a very bright

morning the wind blowing very hard

almost impossible to look out

the sand is flying so we stoped to wood

twice this morning we went a shore

to geather flowers cauld on a ladey they

lived in olden times still every

thing very clein seen a great many

Indians this morning half breed

white dame lived in littel log)

caben with mud ruff som in

what they call teepes we are now

passing some very butifull

seenery in the shape of mountains

my attention this moment has

been cauld to the most butifull

pairie I neve see any thing

so butiful in my life not a tree

to be seen on neather side of the

rive can see for thirty miles



about 2 oclock this after noon we

landed to take wood seen the first

wild looking Indians bought

wood from them they was well

aqiped with tomehocks knives

and pistels I tell you they looked

savige was a ground twice to

day going all right now passing

some butifull seenery I canot

compair it to any thing but

the clouds if I live to get home I will

not regret my journey to the rockey

mountins well my attention has

again been cauld to a nother seen

of Indians some with feathers some

children with clothes as others naked

as they was born all running to

see the boat






The Ninth Sabeth butifull

morning landed to wood very

eirly a five or 6 miles above

yankton agency bough

wood of a Indian 2 dollars a cord

he did not like the price his poney

run off and left him we run

up about 2 miles further took

wood again from Indians 3

dollars they did not like the

prise wanted five dollars seen

a grate many Indians som of the

cuitest little fellows I ever seen

not more than 2 years ould they

could rap thair blanket

around them to perfection

we did not make very much

progress on our journey

yesterday was sparing all day



Monday May the Tenth


we are now a ground opeset

a Indian vilige cauld white

stone criick I suppose thare is

a thousand wig wames we are

on the opeset side of the river

a very butiful mourning sun

shining also very hansom

senery whare we are laying

                     ten oclock

have been aground all morning

just got off and going a head at

a very slo rait wind blowing

very hard evining laid up

after tea got off run a

about a mild laid up for the

night All well

                     May the elevent

Left the place whare we was

Laid up for the night run


Eleventh May 11


About three lenths of the boat

got a ground the wind blowing

very heard and raining a very

could rain all most snow

never got off till about four oclock

all wirked very heard going

very nicely sounding te water

at next barr

          May the 12  A very brtight

and butiful morning the sun

shining laying at shore pilots

sounding the water they took

out part of our fraight in the

morning took it in again in the

evining thinking the river was

raising well we went a shore

to explore the mountins and

geather flowers the further we

went the higher they get so we




Twelveth May

thought it best to retreat to the

boat for fere the Indians might

capture us  I found a butiful

Cacktess have it in a little box

it is grate little pet for me as

I am very found of plants and

flowers thair is some very

butiful flowers in this country

for the residences I canot say

what I have not seen what I would

call a butiful one sins we

have been on this river pirty

much log cabins with mud

roofs we have maid several

calls some famileys have

nothing to set on but four leged

stools and no table at tall (thair

beads a laid up in 2 pins in

the wall




we have just crost a very

bad place to get threw they are

afraid they will have trouble

gitting over the next Pilots

are sounding the water

laying at shore men out

cutting wood for the first

ten oclock going all right

this is a very nice  morning

except wind blowing and

very mornafull looking ones

they are to me not a tree on them





Left the bijoe hills going

a loung very well a very nice

morning the bertha is just

a behind is in sight   I have

been making pies this morning

we will have a pie feast for

dinner well dinner is over

my pies got great prais

we get a loung very well this

evening thare is four boats here

all togeather Arcanser St Johns

Bertha Mooley  all trying to cross a

bar after dark we are a head and

laid up for the night all all well

but my self I have got the head

ake very bad good night

the fifthtenth May Saturday

a butiful morning crossing

a bar Bertha a loung side



May the Fiftenth Saturday

All well and wirking

Very hard we are a ground

Got the spar set we have just

got off I here the Captain say all

clear looked out and seen

the boat was moving sloely


Afternoon 2 oclock been gitting

aloung very well today landed

to take wood at Indian Agency

see about three hundred men

wimon and children dressed in

all sorts of stile some of them

was very fancey we are

now landing again to take

wood this is a butifull place

the wind has commenced

blowing and very could

six oclock


Fiftenth Saterday ten

Oclock at night hard a

ground I do not expect to

get of till twelve oclock

all hard at wirk


of May Sunday 2 oclock

six miles abouve fourt

thompson laing at a sand

barr taking out fraight ondely

3 feet water in chanel can not cross the

the barr without lightning all

well dinner is over Ebert has

just gone to bed to take a little

rest this was a very butifull

morning sun shining very

bright the wind has just

comenced blowing very hard

And a little clodey by times



Seventeenth Monday morning

a very nice morning

sun shining and could a ground and

has been all night out off wood

all hands heard at wirk Bertha in

sight a ground part of our fraight

laying on the sand barr All well but

Mr Peppard they have been bringing

Wood to the boat in the yawl

                                                                Afternoon noon

we have got off and laying in

the midele off the river tied to a

big snag  all hands at wirk

fering the fraight to the boat in the

yawls this is the most a musing

part of our journey they have their

little boat named and runing

rases to see wich can beet to the

boat the Bertha is taking out her

fraight She will soon be over

the barr 6 oclock we have got

all our fraight over and laid up

for the night


Eighteenth May 18

left whare we was layd up for

the night

going ahead all right Bertha

in sight taking wood whare

the Indians killed 2 whitemen

last spring the river is raising

so the pilotts think four

oclock going a loung very

nicely today have qiute a

rais in the river stopped this

four noon at St Johns wood

yard we all went a shore to

take a little walk called on

some of the Indians they

treated us very kindley they

was half breeds all except

three 2 wimon one man they was

pirty well sivelised we are just

striking a sand barr 3 feet water

          18         Tuesday

The sun is just sinking

behind the mountin o how

pirty it looks this moment my

attention has been called to a

flock of elk the first we

have seen on our journey

they fired two shotts at them

without any efect they

fled for life over the plain

till lost from sight    run

till eleven oclock laid up for


X Wensday the 19

a very plesent morning going

aloung very nicely all well

seen som antelope this morning

I coming to the wild Indians

also wild game one of our

deck men got very badley cut

yesterday by one of the other deck

men I have not herd from him

this morning got in a fight


Thirsday the twentieth 20

a cloudy morning goin

a loung all right  all well

came very near gitting

atacted by Indians whare

we was laid up for the night

one of the fire men was the

caus of the trouble we are

five or ten miles above fourt

salley put of a grate many

letters at the wood yard last


                                Alven oclock hard

a ground have been seven hours

found arrow sticking in

the boat laid up for the night

whare we was run a gournd out

of wood all hands wirked very

hard got off about dark all

hands out cutting wood



                                                Seven oclock

21  all well a very plesant

morning sun shining

going aloung very well

stoped to cut wood 2 oclock

still going ahead 2 boats in


four oclock well we just

now past a large flock of

antelope shott at them but

they was too fare a way o but

they did run they looked very

pirty runing over the mountin

five oclock stoped to take

wood bought some antelope

expext to have antelope

for brickfast

                                                Nine oclock

laid up for the night

river raising have maid

a pirty good run today

22 a very nice day

sun shining quite warm

all well we have been runing

a loung very nicely till a

fue minutes ago the pilot stuck

the boat in the mud this is twice

we have been in the mud this

week we have just got off and

going a eleven oclock 2 boats

in sight we have seen a grate

many antelope this morning

they look like a flock of

sheep at a distance

                                4 oclock have had

some trouble gitting over a bar

about dinner time Silver Lake

colosses past up while we was aground

they are just ahead we will soon

ceatch them if no bad luck

                                                5 oclock well we

just past grand river heards

the place for Indians about fifteen


hundred men wimon

and children this was a grate

sight to me whare they had

a grate many buried some looked

as if they had just been

laid up I can not say buried

for they are laid up in a

caffun  I did not feel very

coumfortable while we was

passing them this place is called

an Indian comsitian we

took wood about a mile below

silver lake calosaal we was

all their to geather they left

the wood yard ahead of us we

are almost up to them will soon

over take them I amagined thare

was a ould fellow pointing his bow

and arrow at the boat I soon

disappeared for a fue moments

I did not feel very much like

standing (thari) for a mark



22 Past the colossal twice this

evining had quite a exciting

time for a while we are good

distance ahead are going to

stop  soon to clean out the

boylers all well Silver Lake

ahead all in sight all three  11 oc

boats in harber together for the night


23 Sabeth morning 8 oclo

very warm appears a little

like rain still the sun is

shining we are going a

loung all right just about

passing Silver lake Colossal

past behind this look a little

more like home to see more boats

than one  Molley and Silve Lake

landing to take wood a grate many

Indians hear we past a grate many

this morning o hear comes

a ould squaw with

2 children one of the

cutest little girls you ever

seen dressed like a white child

with its little blanket roped

around it it has atracted

the attention of every one on

the boat a white dress and yellow

sun bonnet Miss Black and I are

going a shore to see them

                                                One oclock A

going aloung very nicely

passing beaver river whare we

have been taking wood hurd

the Indians had killed a man

of a nother tribe thare yesterday

and wounded 2 more Negroes

kept this wood yard

well all we can do on the

Sabeth hear is to clean up and

read our the Bible and look at the

buties of nature we have grate

reason to be thankfull for that


23 Six oclock—Well

we are just passing canon

ball river I will tell why

they have this river that name

the bluff is sticking full

of round stone just like

canon balls it is a very

romantick place we also seen

a very large flock of antelope

I suspose about fifty we will

soon be to the fourt rise just in

sight …   we are landing at the

fourt hear we see the first white

ladeys  we have seen sins we left

the states  & this look a little like

civilation we have run up a fue

miles landed to cut wood all well all

hands at wirk cutting and

sawing for life left thair

picked up a snag run up

threw the gards done very damage

run till one oclock laid up

24 Monday  A very plesant

morning cloudey raining a

littel very warm stoped

to cut wood Silver Lake came

up past landed to take wood

twelve oclock going aloung

all night dinner is over Ebert

has just laid down to take

a knap  O this is my first

night of tarrow we landed to

take wood  I walked out to see

what was to be seen well what

do you think here come a

party of Indians on the war

path singing with 2 calps

keriging on poles o how they

did look and yell

well we have them all on

board as soon as the boat landed

they all rushed on and they could

not get them of with  out a fuss


we are going to lay hear all night

and wait till the Silver Lake

comes up she is in sight

but I am glad

                                                25 fifhts

Tuesday a very disagreeable day

raining and the wind blowing

a pirfick herican we ondely

run a twenty miles and are now

wind bound  o up a gainst

a sand barr the Indians all

on deck dancing a round

thair 2 calps this tribe is call

(keas) they number thirty five

one of then goys by the

name of bloody knife they have

five chiefs and one squaw

I do not like the looks of them very

much I tell you Ebert is going

to put them off at fourt

thompson we expect to lay am

this bar till morning all well on



TwentySixt Wensday

we ar off and going aloung do

not know how loung I expect

the wind will keep us back today

it is very cloudey and cauld

it is caould a nuff or snow

the ould Indians is hooping

and yelling on deck I wish

they was off some parts of my

journey has been very plesant

but those Indians

puts a damper on part of the

plasure I have put over 2

fearful nights  if god spairs me

to reach the States this will be my

last trip to Indian land all

tho as I have tould you

part of my journey has been

very plesant 4 oclock will

soon be to fourt Thompson

the ould fellows is painting


them selves up to a grate rate

black red blue yellow and all

coulars I forgot to tel you

what tribe they have been

fighting it was the Sews killed

2 got 2 of thair party wounded

they have just gave Ebert a young

antelope head stuffed that

will be very nice to take

home to our gran children

I will drop my pen till we get

to the fourt thair they will have

a qubelle over those calps I do

not want them to get mine

to regois over if I can help it

six oclock we have arrived and

departed from the fourt the

Indians had a grand Jubelee

on the (heri ear) just before we

landed firing off thair guns

to call up others to help them

regois over their victory


such carian on I never

seen now never expect to see a

gain the ould squaw running

and jumping going threw

all sorts of actions I maid

a mistake  in the name of this

tribe thair name is the Crees they

had us in thair power four

nights if they had a mind

to do us any harm as we

had no guns we got four

guns at this fourt and some

aminition Now I feel a little

better sadisfied laid up

for the night ten miles above

fourt thompson cutting wood all

will be on board the wind camenced

blowing just after dark and

blue a perfick herican all night


The Twenty Seventh

go to fourt birthall a bout



breckfast time  thair we took

wood seen a grate many Indians

thair got Indian 2 Indian passengers a

man and a squaw they have

a lott of corn going up to the

next fourt the dear loge pas

down just after we left thair

have been running very slow

all day on the account of

green wood has been pirty cam

all day it is now almost dark

the wind has just commenced

blowing and raining looks

very much like a storm

thair has been a little bird

falling the boat all day some

of the crew catched it

and let it go again we are

passing the little

missouri river we have

just got in trouble the boat

struck a snag broak one of the chiminy

guies we will lay hear till morning

Twenty Eight May

a very cloudy morning

and raining going aloung

all right will soon stop

take wood we are passing

very butifull mountins to

day in almost every shape

they look as tho they had been

maid by hands we have

past mountains that looked

like blood they tell me thair

is whare the Indians get their

paint it is now after supper I do

not knew whair we will lay up

for the night      we are

tied up for the night

seen a huge bair just before

we landed several of our

passengers fired at him but did

not do him any harm the last we

seen of him he was clymin the mountin


goin it to forty

all well but

miss stack she is quite sick

                                                May the twenty ninth

going aloung sloely a very

plesant day we are passing

mountins today looks like

grate citeys at a distance they

look butifull seen the first

dear today quite a flock or fellows

still fire at them but does not

kill them they are to far away

                                                we are now

laying a shore for the night

have cough up with the

Peter balon she left St Louis

some time a head of us all

well tonight onboard the

mountains is still gitting

higher and more butifull

I canot compair them to any

thing but ould ruins and

ancin citeys laid in all sorts

of ruins shapes I think this

country has been grate

sea of water at wan day

May the thirteth 30

                                                this is a butifull

Sabeth moring and I belive

the first time in my lifeI forgot

when the Sabeth came whare we was

taken wood Miss Slask and I

went a shore I tore my dress

when I come to the boat I

commenced sowing a way for

dear life did not know it was the

Sabeth tell henery mc fall came

in my room to get som a (ckser) he

ask why are you sewing on Sunday

I pirty soon laid up my wirk and

says why is this Sunday they all said

it was o how bad I did feel I hope

god will forgive me o what a

countery no civilation what

ever no sounds of chirch bells to

be heard we ought to be a happy

people to think what privileges we

can enjoy when we are at our

homes I wish I could e thair

this morning with my dear

little gran children and see them

all going to Sabeth school



laid up for the night at a wood

yard a grate many Indians thare

felt very much frightened when

I seen them  so was our Indian

passengers they was on the war path

demanded a fiest of the boat gave

them barrels of heard bread and a

(batch) of meet the Peter balon

laining aloung side they gave

them a barrel of heard bread and

a sack of bacon I did not sleep

much that night.




                End of Segment 1




Copyright © 2009

Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved