You may have seen some of the media coverage in the week past, as descendents
of the Mormon pioneers completed a re-creation of the 1847 trek that brought
their ancestors to today's Salt Lake City, their final home. They sought,
and found, and tamed a land that no one else would covet. But it seemed
to be one of the few parts of the West that wasn't being overrun with Americans
that year. One group was a bit diminished as rescuers reached the left over
Donner Party survivors.
Mexico, under siege by U. S. forces, was attempting to salvage what it could
of Spain's North American Empire. Most of Texas had been lost earlier to
revenge seeking troops under Sam Houston. California was going the same
way. Forces under Stephen Kearney had reoccupied Los Angeles on the 10th
and the old cowhide-shipping town of Yerba Buena had been lost; and was
renamed San Francisco on the 23rd. Santa Ana, butcher of the Alamo, was
defeated by Zachary Taylor at Buena Vista in February. Chihuahua was occupied
in early March. A week later the U. S. Navy landed the forces of General
Winfield Scott at Vera Cruz. Twenty days later it fell. Then it was on to
Mexico City. After American victories at Cerro Gordo, Puebla, Churubusco,
Molino del Rey and Chapultepec, Scott's juggernaut swept into the Mexican
capital on September 14th. It was all over for Spain's colonial army. U.
S. President James K. Polk and his negotiator Nicholas P. Trist would carry
out the mop-up operations, and when it was all over, Texas and California
would be U. S. territories. In the next century Pancho Villa would do his
best to invade us but other, later immigrants in our own time have been
The Mormon Trail wasn't the only one to see activity in 1847. Joel Palmer
brought his family to Oregon and published Journal of Travels over the
Rocky Mountains to the Mouth of the Columbia River. Mechanization of
the process loomed as Eastern entrepreneurs met in Chicago to discuss possible
routes for a transcontinental railroad.
Death, always present in the West, struck at the righteous (many would say
overly self-righteous) as missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were
murdered by Oregon Territory Indians on November 29th. But the death of
a few whites wouldn't adversely affect the population balance. Reinforcements
were being born and bred back East. Several would create their own noteriety.
In Kearny, Missouri, Jesse James was born into a doctor's family that year.
And in Kentucky another future train robber, William "Gray Fox"
Miner, entered the scene. I won't say we are related, but..
For Classical ninety-one five, this is David "Gray Fox" Minor,
leaving the scene.
© 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte
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