Across the Plains (Illustrated): A first hand account of pioneer life in the American West

Written by Catherine Sager

Pioneer life seen through the eyes of a young girl.

Catherine Sager captured her family’s trip across the American West in her journal. Her story describes the terrible journey which the early Oregon settlers made in order to settle and colonise a new territory with many hardships and heartaches along the way.

This account today is regarded as one of the most authentic accounts of the American westward migration.

This edition has extra contextual information such as paintings, maps and facts to enhance the gripping narrative of Catherine Sager.

The Sager Family

Catehrine’s father, Henry Sager was described as a restless one in her journal. Before 1844 he had moved his growing family three times.

In April 1844 Henry and his family took part in the great westward migration and started their journey along the Oregon Trail. During their journey both he and his wife lost their lives and left their seven children orphaned. They were later adopted by Marcus Whitman and Narcissa Whitman, missionaries in what is now Washington, the children were orphaned a second time, when both their new parents were killed during the Whitman massacre in November 1847.

Catherine Sager’s account

About 1860 Catherine, the oldest of the Sager girls, wrote a first-hand account of their journey across the plains and their life with the Whitmans. Catherine’s writing is clear, vivid and honest. She details pioneer life, the happy time she had with the Whitman’s and the brutal massacre of the Whitman’s by Indians. A survivor, she was also taken captive by the Indians.

Her story shows how difficult life was for the early pioneers and gives a true insight into the early American West.

What was the Oregon trail?

The Oregon Trail is a 2,200-mile (3,500 km) historic east–west large-wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. The eastern part of the Oregon Trail spanned part of the future state of Kansas and nearly all of what are now the states of Nebraska and Wyoming. The western half of the trail spanned most of the future states of Idaho and Oregon.

From the early to mid-1830s the Oregon Trail and its many offshoots were used by about 400,000 settlers, ranchers, farmers, miners, and businessmen and their families.

Chapters

Across the Plains
Home Life at the Whitman’s
The Waiilatpu Massacre
In Captivity

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