From the Diary of E.F. Beadle


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Excerpts from

To Nebraska in 1857

A Diary of E.F. Beadle

These excerpts are borrowed from the web site of author David L. Bristo, who
has kindly placed this diary on his web site for all to read. The entirety
of this diary is there for the reading and deserves the attention of any
historian who is looking into pre-Civil War Nebraska and Kansas territories.

Please stop by Mr. Bristo's Web Site and view his offerings from
A Dirty Wicked Town, Tales of 19th Century Omaha.
There too you will find the entirety of Mr. Beadle's fascinating diary.
Riverboat Dave

This is Part 3 Of The Excerpts
May 18 - July 9, 1857
Part 1 > Part 2 > Part 3 > Part 4

To Saratoga in Mr. Bristow's web site,
which contains the Dairy's full text, May 17 - May 25

. . . [Omaha, Nebraska]

Monday, May 18

Commenced the business of the day by revising Saturday's work, after which went up to Saratoga. Returned half past eleven. Got a letter from home, dated May 3d and mailed the 4th. Enclosed was one for Miss Augusta and one for Me from wife, son, and daughter. I wish I could receive one every week. I presume my last letter is received this day. Mr. Tuttle is still absent, which fact keeps me undecided as to my future course of business. This evening at about dark, the steamer Spread Eagle passed up without stopping. She was in employ of the fur company or the government and her only load was supplies for the North.

Tuesday, May 19

This morning we have four boats in, the A. C. Goddin, Silver Heels, and Emma from St. Louis, and the Omaha on her return from up-country. . . .

. . . Saturday, May 23

. . . Mr. Brown in his letter still urges me to come to Lawrence, he says Kansas is the place to make money "Sure as you are born." If I fail to get into business suited to me here I shall go to Lawrence. . . .

. . . Had I known all the facts communicated in Mr. Brown's letter at the time of my first arrival here this spring, I should undoubtedly have felt remarkably uneasy when I was complaining of ill health. The facts are these as it seems from Mr. Brown's letter, from which I quote: "Mrs. Brown, it seems, had the small pox on board the steamer as we came up the river. She communicated it to her sisters who are yet confined with it, one of whom we consider dangerous. Mrs. B. had it very light, of course, the Varialoid." If I recollect aright, I wrote while coming up the river, something of Mrs. Brown's not being well, having weak eyes and a good deal of fever so that she did not go to the table at all times. No one, however, thought of it being the small pox in any form. The disease must have been communicated to a great number among so many passengers. Had I known the facts I have no doubt I should have been down sick on first arrival, as my indisposition at that time would have been attributed to the symptoms of small pox instead of a cold which was the case. "All is well that ends well." . . .

Sunday, May 24

The steamer St. Mary's stopped about noon and passed up with government stores. At evening the steamer Mink painted nearly black and belonging to the Government came up and stopped for the night. She is bound for Fort Pierre, some seven hundred miles above this point up the Missouri. Her loading was Government supplies. Carries no freight or passengers for outsiders.

To A Lady , in Mr. Bristow's web site,
which contains the Dairy's full text, May 25 - June 19

. . . Tuesday, May 26

Mr. Brown's clerk being sick today, I have been in the office until three o'clock, then went up to Saratoga, found all moving prosperously. During my walk up to Saratoga, the steamer Minnehaha came in. A bachelor's dancing party came off this evening on hoard the hotel steamer Washington City. The General being absent, Augusta was entrusted to my care until eleven o'clock at night. And for the first time in Omaha I went where there was an assemblage of ladies. Of course I did join the party, but went as a spectator and guardian of Augusta at the request of the family. A number of gentlemen came to me to be introduced to my little girl. She danced every set and when she left had four or five unfulfilled engagements. She was the best dancer in the room, and many were almost inclined to use physical force to prevent her leaving. On our way home her tongue flew very much as I have heard Sophia's at times.

The attraction of the party, however, to me, was not Miss Augusta or her dancing. But as Jonathan Slick says, "it was them grown-up gals all finefied off with ribbons and laces, sidling and twisting around, their bare arms and naked necks making them look good enough to eat." . . .

. . . Thursday, May 28

. . . The steamer Alonzo Child in.

Friday, May 29

Spent this day with Mr. Cockett. Had a very pleasant time. Afternoon rainy. Received papers from Brother Irwin. Steamer Sultan came in at bedtime.

. . . Sunday, May 31

. . . Three steamers have come up today. The Hannibal, Waucassa, and Asa Wilgus, all loaded with passengers. You would be surprised to see the trains of emigrants that come across the country bound for the interior of this territory, Salt Lake, and California. Some trains are a mile long. It would seem at this rate that the entire East would become depopulated.

. . . Tuesday, June 2

. . . The steamer Admiral in from St. Louis.

. . . Thursday, June 4

. . . The steamer D. A. January is in, bound up the river. Friday, June 5 Worked on the building same as yesterday. Do not feel well today in consequence of sore tongue and mouth. Have the steamers New Monongahala and John Warner in from St. Louis.

. . . Saturday, June 6

. . . We have steamers Omaha and Edinburgh in today. The annual June rise of the Missouri has commenced. Has risen some two feet; will probably continue to rise until the last of the month, then gradually subside until the fall rains set in. During the June rise the freights on the river are the lowest of the season. The June rise is occasioned by snows from the mountains, which do not commence to melt before the hot weather sets in in this latitude.

. . . Monday, June 8

. . . The steamer Emma up from below, bound farther up the river.

To The Weary Bachelor section of Mr. Bristow's web site,
which contains the Dairy's full text, June 9 - June 25

. . . Wednesday, June 10

Assisted in laying the floor to my office at Saratoga. Returning to Omaha, found the steamer Joseph Oglesby in, one of the largest boats ever coming to this place. Being her first trip, she gave a free party to the citizens. It is customary for every boat making its first trip of the season to come prepared to give a dance, and they get up some splendid affairs, all free. I had only attended one and that was as a spectator and company for Miss Augusta. It was at this time I saw Miss Clark which so much resembles my wife--since which time I have not had a sight of said lady. Accordingly, I decided I would saunter down to the boat after the dance should commence and see what I could see. As I started out about nine o'clock, I met Br. Cook, who by invitation accompanied me to the boat. I told him I was going to the boat to see a lady. Cook laughed and said something about how good calico looked in Nebraska. Before going on the boat, I told Cook to take notice of a certain lady I would point out to him, if she was there, and see if he ever saw any one that looked like her before. The lady in question was on the floor in a cotillion about the center of the cabin when we went in. I pointed in the direction; Cook noticed her at once and remarked "crackie that is Mate exactly." The more he looked, the more natural Mate's representative appeared. We stopped long enough to see two cotillions, then left thinking of home, and more of the folks at home

Thursday, June 11

. . . We have two boats in today, the Watassa and the E. A. Ogden.

Friday, June 12

. . . The steamers in today are the Dan Converse and Moses Greenwood.

Sunday morning before breakfast, June 13

. . . The steamers of yesterday were the Alonzo Child and Minnehaha.

. . . Tuesday, June 16

. . . The steamer Florence in tonight.

. . . Thursday, June 18

. . . We have the steamer Silver Heels in today.

Friday, June 19

. . . The steamer Watassa in from St. Joseph.

Saturday, June 20

. . . The steamer Admiral up from St. Louis.

. . . Monday, June 22

. . . The steamers up today are the Asa Wilgus, D. H. Morton, and Emigrant.

To Dick Darling in Mr. Bristow's web site,
which contains the Dairy's full text, June 26 - July 9


. . . Friday, June 26

. . . Steamers today: New Monongehola, Omaha, and Watassa.

Saturday, June 27

. . . The Edinburgh and Watassa are in today.

Sunday, June 28

. . . At our levee, we found the steamer Council Bluffs . . .

Monday, June 29

. . . Steamer Alonzo Child in.

Tuesday, June 30

. . . The furniture for the Central House came yesterday on the steamer Alonzo Child and is being arranged in the House preparatory to the arrival of the landlord, who is expected about the 4th of July.

. . . The steamer E. A. Ogden in.

. . . Thursday, July 2

. . . The steamer Minnehaha is in this evening.

. . . Saturday, July 4

. . . The steamer Ben Bolt came in this evening.

. . . Monday evening, July 6

. . . The steamer Emma came in and passed up.

. . . Wednesday, July 8

. . . Toward tea time, the steamer Moses Greenwood came in, freighted mostly for Saratoga. Went down, found Mr. Killen the Pittsburgh man there. His buildings and men to put them up was on board the Greenwood. Having but little loading to put off at Omaha, I had no time to return for my supper and still go up on the boat to Saratoga. Accordingly, I took tea aboard. The Saratoga landing is but a mile or less above the Omaha landing. The captain says the Saratoga landing is as good as any on the river. He further says a bar is forming front of Omaha and in a year or two all boats must land at Saratoga with the Omaha freight. The Captain was delighted with the place. After tea, we went up on the table land by Pacific Avenue where we had a fine view of the town and the improvements. We then went to the Springs, where a demijohn from the boat was filled with water from the Sulphur Springs.

The party that went up to the Spring was about twenty in number, including Captain Thomas, crew, and passengers. All expressed themselves delighted with what they saw and will speak of Saratoga as it is, among their craft.

The Moses Greenwood is the second steamer that ever landed at Saratoga, and the first one to break the stillness of the atmosphere by her steam whistle. She went through all the preliminary signals and et ceteras of landing at a large city. I claim to be the first person of the Sulphur Springs Land Co. that ever landed from a steamer at Saratoga. The freight of the Moses Greenwood was mostly lumber and building materials. She discharged forty-one thousand feet of lumber, forty-two thousand shingles, and doors, windows, and hardware to match. Did not get all off until eleven o'clock, but the moon was in its full and it was a delightful evening and the time passed rapidly. During which I gassed some. Judge Black left on the Moses Greenwood who stopped only about an hour at the city of Omaha.

Thursday, July 9

Four months this morning since I left for this place. Got up this morning before the sun and wrote. Among the peculiarities of the climate of this country over the East where I have resided is this, notwithstanding we have hotter weather here, there always is a breeze during the day to rarify the atmosphere, and the evenings are cool and delightful beyond description, and one can sleep comfortable under a sheet and light quilt, awakening in the morning completely refreshed and invigorated. On the contrary, in the East during the months of July and August, the nights are as hot as the days, and one gets up in the morning completely exhausted. This I consider a great advantage, but is small compared to some of the natural advantages of this Great Country west of the "Big Muddy."

We find the steamer Admiral in this morning.

After breakfast, went up as usual to Saratoga. Called on Mr. Tuttle and the Zollars, who are occupying Mr. Tuttle's house-the old Izard place built and occupied first by Governor Izard. Tuttle calls the place "Grandmother Izard's." Stopped and gassed some with Tuttle. The steamboat landing last evening at Saratoga and what the Captain said set us to gassing some.

Returning from Saratoga at noon, found a letter from Brother Frank which was very interesting to me. Figured during most of the afternoon with our Pittsburgh man and succeeded in making a trade that pleased me. Wrote to Frank and spent the evening with Cook. Thus this day closed. In addition to the Admiral, we have at the landing the steamers Col. Crossman and the Watossa. How soon, if ever, is a wonderment to me, that I shall be watching the arrivals of the steamers to see my family.

You have just finished Part 3 of excerpts.
Part 1 > Part 2 > Part 3 > Part 4

Beadle's story is one of many featured in David L. Bristow's book, A Dirty, Wicked Town: Tales of 19th Century Omaha (Caxton Press, 2000). Learn more at
1857 diary of Nebraska pioneer Erastus F. Beadle (1821-1894).
All new material 2000 by David L. Bristow.
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