by Stephanie Clark



Two examples of stories in past issues of the Buzz.


psychadelic dog art

History of the West:
Ide Emigration 1845


Quarterly Journals





In 1846, led by William B. Ide, the Bear Flag Revolt erupted in the pueblo of Sonoma, Calif.,making way for an early entrance of that State into the Union: Ide became the first and only Governor of the Republic of California. His brother, Simeon Ide, published a book in 1880 including letters and stories about the events of that time, including “an interesting account of one of the largest emigrating companies (3,000 miles over land) from the East to the Pacific Coast.”

Looking back, Wm. B. Ide’s daughter, Mrs. Healy, gave this account of their overland journey by wagon train from Illinois to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
from book- Biographical Sketch of Wm.B.Ide - 1880.


“In 1838 my Father sold his farm in Ohio, and moved to Jacksonville,Ill. We lived there but one winter. In the spring of 1839 he moved onto his farm eight miles east of Springfield, where we resided until 1844. In the fall of that year he sold his farm and removed his family into Uncle Harrison’s house, where we lived till April 1, 1845.

On that day we bid our good friends farewell. It was a sad day to us. All our old neighbors came to help us pack our things into our three wagons, and to see us off.

My father selected the timber for two of these wagons, and had them made during the winter. He also made the beds, bows and covers at our home--Mother and I sewing the canvas covering; which, being fastened to the bows and side-boards of the wagons, were painted a light slate-color the same as the bed or body of the wagon.

Our wagons were very neat looking, and attracted a good deal of attention, while passing through Illinois and Missouri. Many questions were asked as to our destination, Etc.

We had a sale the morning we started, and sold off the greater part of our furniture. We packed our cooking utensils. tin cups, tin plates--with provisions to last us six months. Mother, my little brothers--Daniel, aged 10, and Lemuel, aged 8 and Thomas Crafton (a little boy that had been given to my Mother), all rode in a wagon. I rode on horseback 3 days, to help drive the cattle; riding on a side-saddle.

The drove of cattle numbered 165, including 28 working oxen. We camped the first night 10 miles from our old home--cooked our supper by a camp-fire. Mother and I slept in a wagon all the way to California. Some of the men slept in the tent, when not too tired to pitch it. Brother William came with us and drove an ox team from Fort Hall to Sutter’s Fort, and drove cattle the rest of the journey.

Our number, all told, young and old, was thirteen--five of these were young men, who drove the teams ‘for their board and passage’.

The journey to Independence,Mo. was accomplished in four weeks,without any severe accident,but was attended with great care and anxiety by my dear parents.

I remember my brother, James, came down with bleeding and his health was so impaired he could not take care of the stock or himself. We were thankful his life was spared.

We camped one week within one mile of Independence,.to lay in ammunition, guns and pistols--clothing for the men, and many little things needful on so long a journey.”

“Father made an iron to brand his cows with his name (Ide) on the right-side horn. This was hard work for him, but very necessary.

On the 10th of May, we left Independence and traveled to the ‘Big Camp’, where we spent a week or two, organizing, it would seem, a large company of emigrants to the far West, (in accordance with their previously concerted plan) consisting of 100 wagons, and the necessary team - cattle, horses and other appliances.They chose a Mr. Meek, a Mountaineer, Pilot. This large company, Mrs. Healy thinks, was sub-divided into “three bands”, who chose a “captain over the three” - whose name she does not remember; but recollects he rode ahead of the entire train - had a fine team of grey horses, which was driven by a Mr. Buckley”.
She remembers the names of others in the train,viz: Capt. James Taylor and Capt. Smith. She says - “The companies took turns traveling in advance, so that each might have the privilege of being out of the dust one week out of every three.”

“A company or firm styled ‘J. Smith, Risley & Taylor’, owned and drove a large herd of cattle to Oregon. My Father started to go to Oregon, and ‘Oregon’ was painted in large black letters on the back curtain of our hind-most wagon.

“The cattle of this large emigrant company was so numerous that it was difficult to find grass for them; and it was a great deal of work to control them--also dangerous.

After several weeks it was given up, and a’cattle-guard’ organized. My Father was captain of this ‘guard’ and chief herdsman. Anyone losing an ox or cow came to him at once, and he would send a man or go himself in search of the lost,--after supplying an ox, if an ox of a team were missing--so that the train could move on; for it was moving so slow, it was necessary for us to keep moving.

“At one time when Father remained behind to look after the missing cattle, the report came to the company, that he was last seen surrounded by Indians. The train halted quite a while: but Mother and I did not know why; all being careful not to cause us alarm. A number of men went back, who met him coming in, driving the missing cattle.

“They said Father saw an Indian partly hid in grass and willows, with arrow on bow. ready to shoot him: on which he raised his gun and took aim at the Indian, who immediately took to his heels and ran. No doubt, they said, if Father had been frightened, and had started to run, he would have been killed; for there were several Indians seen in the bushes near him. This occurred on or near the banks of the Humbold River, I think.

“We travelled in one of the three companies having a camp-guard--a captain and sergeant on guard every night--until within a few days travel of Fort Hall. Then there was a general stampede, to see who would get to the Fort first. We found a good camping ground there, and also Indians to trade horses with. One offered a very pretty poney (sic) for two calico dresses.

Here was a company of mountaineer trappers, enroute for California, who told us of a good route, and plenty of good grass.

“While there Father changed his plan--concluded to go to California: but first, before definitely settling the question, put it to vote of his company, and they voted for California instead of Oregon”. be continued in next Buzz #6

-- Wm. B. Ide in 1849 adds his memories to his daughter’s of the treacherous trip over the Sierra Nevada.


CHIEF SOLANO, leader of 40,000 member Suysunez tribe, in what is now the Suisun Bay Area, north of San Francisco, California

by Stephanie Clark

In the early 1840s, the Russians decided to pull up stakes and abandon their settlements at Bodega and Fort Ross on the Northern California coast which, for years, had been sites of lucrative otter pelt hunting, but now was thoroughly hunted out.

General Vallejo of Sonoma thought this was a wonderful opportunity to buy these properties and prepared a proposed deed of purchase from the participating Russians for the land and livestock. He had received no money for years from his Mexican government to run his outpost in Alta California and had been using his own funds to pay the way. This purchase from the Russians could enable him to bring in needed funds.
Spain had controlled this area from the late 1700s to the early 1820s when Mexico obtained her freedom and took over. The Russians would not honor Mexico’s independence from Spain and Governor Alvarado of Mexico had never honored Russia’s claim to the lands she occupied in California. It is probably with this deep seated resentment on both sides that the Russians had a change of mind and sold the entire holdings to Sutter in New Helvetia, now Sacramento, for extremely low cost and low down payment. Governor Alvarado and Vallejo felt this was a dirty deal.

And it didn’t help their financial situation either. The new Governor, Brigadier General Manuel Micheltorena, soon took over with good intentions and actually followed through He set up basic education, schooling where there had been none, and worried about defenses. And also worried because there was still no funds from Mexico; Vallejo had submitted bills for “wages, food, clothing, ammunition, and building the barracks” that Vallejo had paid for from his own pocket.
It had been several years before this latest financial crisis, - his nephew General Alvarado was still governor, - General Vallejo thought up a plan to loosen the purse- strings from his government in Monterey, California. Vallejo talked his Indian friend, Chief Solano, into accompanying him to Monterey on a fund seeking mission and suggested that the Chief round up two thousand of his native tribesmen to make somewhat of an impression, after all, hadn’t Alvarado joined Vallejo’s admiration of this heroic Indian, Chief Solano, who had successfully bridged the gap between leading his tribe and entering into Vallejo’s world.

Chief Solano was an interesting man of his time. His tribal name was Sun-Yet-Ho, (The Mighty Arm). As ruler of the Suysunez tribe of 40,000, he governed most of the area north of the Bay Area of San Francisco. He was able to handle the very tricky business of living in both worlds, that of his own people and the world of the newly arrived General Vallejo and his pueblo of Sonoma. Physically, Chief Solano was an extremely tall man,in character as well he was tall, loyal and admired, even by Mrs Vallejo who could not abide the new Americanos who she thought too “outgoing”.

Vallejo was having some fun with this. Desperate to get funds, he spread the rumor weeks before that he was bringing Chief Solano plus thousands of his tribe south to the capitol city of Monterey to demonstrate the need for money to fight and control such large numbers of “wild Indians”. Letters arrived in Sonoma immediately as the entire area through which the march was planned was filled with panicked people scared to death about an imminent visit by thousands of “savages”. Vallejo’s brother,Salvador, joined in the fun by sending word back that it had all been a mistake, the Chief would only bring one thousand “wild Indians”.

The huge band passed through San Jose without incident as the citizens stayed in their homes or hid elsewhere as Vallejo, Chief Solano and his tribe passed through, picking up the provisions that had been left out for them, as arranged in advance.

Vallejo stayed back and let Chief Solano and his men enter Monterey by themselves.; it was quite a sight to easily inspire fear. The Chief was dressed in Mexican attire, appearing even taller in the tooled and silvered leather saddle on his magnificent horse, his men sparsely dressed with tattooed body designs and feathers in their thick long dark hair, bow and arrows hanging at their sides.

All was silent except for the steady marching parade of horses. They passed through the center of town and could only catch glimpses of the Monterey people trying to get a peek and still stay hidden by the window curtains. As they approached the plaza, the local Mexican men reined in their horses, staying far enough away so as not to be threatening, but close enough to watch this fascinating pageant unfold. The suspense was heavy on both sides.

As the Mexicans had agreed in advance that they should hold back and wait for the “savages’” first move, tension mounted as the long parade of horses continued and started to fill up the plaza, where only a useless rusty old cannon stood as their first line of defense.

The Chief raised his arm for the men to stop. Several moments later there was silence and the dust settled around them. He dismounted and walked toward a young Mexican sitting alone on a bench. Several Mexicans nearby stepped forward, tentatively, then closely enough to hear Chief Solano ask, softly, in perfect Spanish, “Please, senor, could you kindly direct me to the home of your leader, Governor Alvarado, as he is expecting me for lunch.”

The young man pointed out a large building nearby for Chief Solano, wondering how could anybody be suspicious of such a genteel man, so finely dressed, so kind in manner. This would be a day for all to remember.


The Pen

by Stephanie Clark

It is said that there is just one fruitcake baked each year somewhere in America, maybe Omaha: this is the very one that is passed from person to person at Christmas time. The same could be said for ballpoint pens because ordinarily we pick them up at a store or office after using and nobody bothers to stop us from committing this innocent bit of larceny. Oh once in a while you’ll get a “Isn’t that my pen?” challenge and you smile sheepishly and say “Oh, yes...?” Whatever.

But unless you keep a sharp eye out as to which pen to purloin you will end up with a skinny little plastic number : You have to be discerning when you “borrow” a ballpoint pen.

Recently I found a pen I want to tell you about. It has a wide stripe down its entire body in fluorescent yellow which makes it easy to find in the dark or in an unlit area.Of course it is a ballpoint which is the usual mode of writing today but it hasn’t always been this way. I might add that my newfound marvelous fluorescent ballpoint pen also has a thick rubber jacket around the body for comfortable hand grip.

And now they have a marker with a fine point that marks on anything and is said to be permanent, also. The manufacturer advises that you not leave the cap off, the ink can dry out.

This is another problem I have had with most ballpoint pens available today. You have to remove the cap to get writing. This can be a pain. You can’t leave the cap off or the ink will dry out: - leave the cap on and you have to stop and remove it each time you have to jot something down during your project. Is this insane?

But, to the rescue. See my new “lightweight, easy to hold, nicely designed in green and white with a pretty green plastic pocket clip pen which I can easily hold in one hand and click for tip to appear and not have to use my other hand for cap removal” ...model. Like they say, is this a great country or what?

As I mentioned, it wasn’t always this way. Long time ago they had what was called a Fountain Pen. And before that, Quills: - someone had to chase a large bird, say a wild egret, around the castle grounds to pluck out a feather which in larger birds is like a straw. His Majesty could dip in mushroom juice to write out a
declaration; - could be for the hanging of the poor knave who took too long Quill hunting..

This was a flamboyant time for writing, some quills were giant swirls of feather for medieval romantic writing, but by and large, the average dolt had to get by with a stubby turkey feather with constant dipping into ink for endless entries into record books.

That’s when someone said, let’s invent a tool that will store a certain amount of ink which will increase its time of use and make it portable for when the pocket is invented. Thus was born the Fountain Pen: it has a lever on the side which when raised, allows bottled ink to be sucked up into a storage area inside the pen.

This went on for years. Til some genius took a hard look at ball bearings and figured there was a future here. With tiny balls, the philosophy of ballpoint pens became the universal mode of writing instrument. Cheap to make out of plastic with a set amount of ink inside, the ballpoint pen became the latest throwaway item in life to join the matchbook and copper penny which nobody today would bother to bend over and pick up in a parking lot.
• • •

Still the Fountain Pen survives. Made by venerable old firms in fine metals and finishes they are generally given as gifts to those important enough to warrant something special.These are splendid, unique instruments to be treasured like a watch.But you can bet your boots the note accompanying such a gift is written with a ball point pen which doesn’t dilute the esteem of the message in the least. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.

This will have to do for now on writing until I can do some research on the pencil, if you can remember what that is.

For more information, contact Stephanie Clark. Quarterly Buzz $10 - 4 issues

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