publications

Gillespie Diary

The Josiah B. Gillespie family of six moved by wagon and horseback from their home at Coxville, near Chadron, Nebraska, to west-central Oklahoma in 1899. Gillespie, forty-nine years of age, a horse fancier and winner of the Chadron-Chicago horse race of 1893, also drove a herd of more than fifty horses to Oklahoma. His reasons for leaving Nebraska are not clear, although poor business conditions were probably to blame. Gillespie’s wife, Anna, kept a journal during the fifty-day trip from Nebraska through Kansas to Oklahoma that illustrated the difficulties of travel under such conditions.



“Traveling in a wagon,” said Mrs. Gillespie in her first diary entry made on August 17, 1899, “is no doubt a very pleasant way of passing the time when one does not have to do it; but I believe I prefer home after all, especially when [we] must travel whether [one] wants to or not.” The party crossed the Niobrara River on August 19, and Mrs. Gillespie noted the presence of wind and rain that seemed to pursue them throughout the trip.



Moving stock such a distance had disadvantages. On August 20 Mrs. Gillespie noted, “Billy [Billy Schafer, the riding horse] was sick this morning; had a spell of cramps, the result of [a] serruptious [surreptitious] visit to a corn field and a too free indulgence in green corn.” A colt sickened and died along the way.



On August 25 Mrs. Gillespie reported, “We came over some of the roughest roads I ever saw this morning. In fact, there was little or no road at all-nothing but cow paths. . . . We crossed the Loup five times today.” On August 27, a Sunday, the family camped at Brownlee. Several days later the ubiquitous mosquitoes and rain again plagued the travelers. “This is some of [the] romance of traveling,” said Mrs. Gillespie on August 31. “We are well provided with rubber blankets and shakers but as usual they could not be found. We are going to move on this morning, although it is still raining.”



In early September for ten days the Gillespies visited in the Ord-Scotia-St. Paul area, where they had lived before moving to Dawes County. September 16 found them near Grand Island, afflicted by rain and mosquitoes “as large as grasshoppers.” The party continued south through Hastings, Nelson, and Superior.



On September 20, 1899, the family crossed into Kansas. By October 4 they were in Oklahoma Territory. Mrs. Gillespie’s last entry, dated October 12, reported their crossing of the Cimarron River on the way to visit the family of her sister at Hitchcock. The Gillespies then moved on to Kingfisher and later to Fay.


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 RG2955.ph).   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.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

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

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.
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.