1.   Mr. G. W. Rich -1880s  North Caddo Parish, Louisiana

 When my four sons and I have to travel to Shreveport to sell our cotton, I always have the boys armed and
ready on the wagons when we come back. There's a group of bandits that hide in a cane-brake along the way
and wait for people coming back with cash.

We never have any trouble….they daren’t try anything with my stout boys and our good wagons pulled by my
strong, iron-grey mules, but there's lots of people they robbed.

Personal Recollections of J.W. Rich, grandson of G.W. Rich.


1. An Early Settler's Trip to Louisiana 1818:  

In the latter part of the winter of 1818 could have been seen in the Horse Shoe bend Of Cumberland River,
Tenn., about three miles from  Carthage, a flat boat tied by ropes to the shore. On this boat was a man and his
wife, some children, a few household goods, cooking utensils and a rifle. That man was John Murrell, starting with
his family in search of a home in the far west, somewhere up in the Red River valley. Early in the morning the
lines that held the flat boat to the shore were cut looser and John Murrell, wife and children turned their backs to
their old Tennessee home. Floating down the river, they joined at Nashville, according to a previous
understanding, a company of emigrants that were bound to the same unknown promised land. Disposing of his
old flat boat, Murrell and family got aboard one of two barges, or, as then called, keel boats.  

His wealth was not great, consisting of two ponies, ten cows and calves, one dog, one rifle and an axe, but of far
more value to him than all else, a brave wife and six dependent children.

The History of Claiborne Parish Louisiana)  This is a rare book, although reprints are available and you
can see the it online at

2. Travel on Steamboats
Louis C. Hunter,  author of Steamboats On the Western Rivers,  has estimated that the lifespan of a steamboat
was "not much over four years."  (p. 101)  Crude boilers, often with no pressure gauges, frequently exploded
causing great loss of life. Boats hit snags, which were submerged logs with one end buried in the bottom of the
river,  and sandbars. Boats piled high with cotton and decorated with light wooden trim caused the boats to literal
"floating tinderboxes" which caught fire from sparks. Travel on a steamboat was not always safe. Yet memory of
the elegance of steamboat travel, even on the small Red River packets, has come down to the present day.

3. The Grandest Meal Ever Served on a Red River Steamboat:  The Red River connects the Mississippi
River with the port of Shreveport, Louisiana. Once, small steamboats were able to travel from New Orleans to
Shreveport and then on to the port of Jefferson, Texas. The small Red River steamboats were not as elaborate
as their Mississippi cousins, but they made an effort to offer a comfortable voyage.

Green turtle Soup, Baked Red Fish with Plain Sauce, Broiled Sheepshead (fish) with Oyster Sauce, Broiled
Chicken, Turkey, Leg Creole Mutton with Caper Sauce, Fresh Beef Tongue, Ham, Corned Beef, Pork and Beans,
Geletin Poulard  with Allspice Jelly, Magalenes of Whiting a la Venetienne,  Pattedchaud of Godveiau a la
Ciboulette,  Breast of Mutton Braised with Green Peas, Geletin Turkey with Allspice Jelly, Stuffed Shoulder of
Mutton Garnished with Oysters,  Tenderolin Steak with French Fried Potatoes,  Gelatin Hoshead with Allspice
Jelly,  Hogshead a la Florentine, Stuffed Crabs and Oyster Pie, Roast Beef,  Mutton, Veal,  Pork,  Pig,        
Boiled, Mashed and Creamed Irish Potatoes, Turnips, Sweet Potatoes, Celery, Hominy, Cabbage, Radishes,
Parsnips, Lettuce, Wild Turkey with Maitre d'hôte Sauce, Saddle of Venison with Cranberry Sauce and Guava
Jelly, Currant Pie, Apple Pie, Cranberry Pie, Cherry Pie, Pound Cake, Jelly Cake, Sponge Cake, Fruit Cakes,
Tartlets, French Puffs, Cream Cakes, Pineapples, Oranges, Bananas, Apples, Figs, Raisins, Prunes, Almonds,
Pecans, English Walnuts, Filberts, Brazil Nuts, Cream Nuts, Claret, White Wine, Java Coffee

Served on the Steamer R. H. Powell on  March 27, 1855

4. Laura's First Train Ride -  By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder  This is an excerpt from
the chapter "Riding in the Cars." If you have a copy of this book, you might want to read the whole chapter.

Travel on the train cost money. They had not paid anything to ride in the wagon... Trains went faster than horses
can run. They went so terribly fast that often they were wrecked. You never knew what might happen to you on a
train. ... They went so fast that Laura could not really look at them before they were gone. In one hour that train
would go twenty miles- as far as the horses traveled in a whole day.

Dangers from Weather and Hostiles

5. The Children’s Blizzard - 1888   Today we take little thought of the dangers of weather. But travel in the
19th century was much more dangerous as there were no long-range forecasts. This adapted reading is taken
from The Children's Blizzard. For more information, see this book.

“1888. It was the age of confidence. Arrogance was epidemic. The top priority of the U.S. weather service was
often political infighting.

It was a mild day on the prairies of Nebraska and the Dakotas, and children had gone to school without gloves or
coats. Farmers were out doing long-neglected chores. Then, with no warning, a blizzard of unprecedented
violence struck and caught many children on their way home from school. When it was over, between 250 and
500 people were dead, and many more maimed.

(Adapted from
 The Children’s Blizzard)

6. Mrs. Louisa Cheval an immigrant to Louisiana c. 1782

Asleep on the boat, all at once we were awakened by horrible cries. We poor women clasped our children ¦while
our husbands armed themselves with whatever came to hand.  Then we saw ourselves hemmed in by a multitude
of savages, grasping hatches, knives and tomahawks. The first to fall was my husband. Then an Indian tore my
infant son from my arms and killed him..I fainted. I later awoke to find myself tied to a stake. Then a native came
cut away a piece of my right thigh. I fainted again, and only awoke when the soldiers rescued me. It was only later
that I discovered that my hair had turned white.

Strange True Stories of Louisiana p. 27   The Tale of Louisa Cheval, c. 1782

The Attakapas Indians that attacked Louisa were reputed to be cannibals; we do not know if that is
true or not.