Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Eliza Ann McAuley- Iowa to the "Land of Gold"


Eliza Ann McAuley at age seventeen travelled with her brother and sister and a handful of others to meet her father in California, taking from April to September to travel from Iowa. They left with food and provisions and set off for the "land of gold" with her commenting about a week into the journey that  they pass through "Ottumwa, the prettiest place we have yet seen and have decided to come here and make our home when we return from California with a fortune." This is important as the McAuley family and others are travelling at the time of the California Gold Rush of 1849-1855. This is clearly a journey of great importance to this family as it is hoped that they will return with a fortune and prosper in the West.

They also "pitch our camp for the first time. Our campground is a beautiful little prairie, covered with grass and we feel quite at home and very independent." This description sounds very idyllic and expresses the desires of the American ideal to be independent and have your own home. 

Roughly a month after passing through the prairies they meet their first Native Americas a "Pawnee chief and twelve of his braves" who "expressed a desire to camp with us." As the description is not particularly detailed she gives the impression that this encounter was entirely positive, although no major obstacles or toils are recorded by her in her diary when surely there must have been some over the five month period, although many days are simply left unrecorded. The only problem is noted in July when  it was "so windy and dusty today that some times we could scarcely see the length of the team, and it blows so tonight that we cannot set the tent or get any supper, so we take a cold bite and go to bed in the wagons." She makes not mention of her home before this time or the family she has left in Iowa.

They eventually reach California in mid-September and are reunited with their Father who is known as 'Father Mac' by the local miners. Her journey appears to be one that fits the idealistic vision of travelling to California that was perpetuated to persuade people to migrate West.

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