Egan Letter

On May 19, 1849, H. Egan wrote the following letter at Fort Kearny to a friend in Kanesville, now Council Bluffs, Iowa. Egan, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was bound for Salt Lake.

“Bro. Orson Hyde ­ Dear Sir: According to promise I write to you a short sketch of my travels. . . . May 21st A few miles east of Salt Creek [Ashland, Nebraska, vicinity] met three wagons on their way back to Nodaway County, Missouri, reported that a number of their company had the measels. . . . Our company now number 57 souls, 22 wagons, 46 yoke of cattle, 21 cows, 6 horses, 5 mules, 3 young cattle, 21 fowls, 6 dogs, 1 cat. We are travelling at the rate of about 15 miles a day, feed is good, the weather very cool and our cattle are doing well. . . .

“May 31 Eight miles east of the head of Grand Island: there is one continual string of wagons as far as the eye can extend, both before and behind us. They reported a great deal of sickness in the different companies for the first two or three weeks: but now mostly enjoying good health, and our cattle are gaining. If the Platte river is low enough I think I shall cross over to the North side when I get above the head of Grand Island, in order to get out of the crowd, that I may have more sea room. This evening there is twenty nine camps in sight, numbering from fifteen to forty wagons in a company.

“June 1st We arrived at Fort Kearney about noon today: I ascertained that there had [been] 4131 wagons passed up to the last of May, and there is probably about 2000 behind us. There is some of the companies selling their wagons and packing from this place: wagons which cost $125 dollars in the States have sold for $10 to $20 dollars, bacon has been sold for one cent per pound, flour one to two dollars per hundred, and other articles in perportion.

“Captain Robert Patten of the Nodaway company who was left by his company 80 miles east from this place, died on the 29th, a few men with two wagons were left with him, part of them returned and part of them came on. It seems morally impossible for all wagons which are on the road to get over the mountains this season. I remain yours truly. H. Egan.”

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.