1860 and Later
By the time of the 1860 US Federal Census, several interesting things appeared. Initial census review located families of Thomas and Wesley Green Garrett in Iowa. Both were noted to be farmers.
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Prairie Grove was a village on the east line of section 5, Washington Township and had a post office from 1853-1897.
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Another 1860 census not easily uncovered shows that Thomas and his son Green were in what would become the Pike’s Peak region of Colorado.
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It seems safe to assume that both participated in the earlier census in Iowa before beginning their travel to the Enterprise District, Arapahoe Co., in the Kansas Territory. It also seems reasonable to surmise that they traveled together, but that is speculation. Green would have had to travel about half-way across Iowa to reach Thomas’s farm in Clarke Co, and then several hundred more miles to reach the beginning of the Oregon Trail.
Iowa had become a state in 1846 while Nebraska and Kansas remained territories. Crossing into Nebraska territory must have seemed like crossing into another land.
It seems reasonable to assume that Thomas and Green were part of the Pike’s Peak gold rush that had begun several years earlier. They surely would have traveled the Oregon Trail until the spur led southwest towards the area that would become Denver. See Appendix 3: Pike’s Peak Gold Rush for additional information.
Perhaps the timing of their travels is related to Wesley Green’s wife’s family. There is material that states that Lucy’s parents moved to Nebraska in 1860 in the area of the Salt Creek Precinct, entering a homestead in 1863.
In addition to Lucy’s parents, her brother William, her sister Mary and brother inlaw William J. Laughlin were also living at in the Salt Creek area in Nebraska even earlier in 1859. The biography of Laughlin published in the history of Cass County, Nebraska, relates the following:
“After his marriage our subject (William J. Laughlin) continued farming in Henry County (Iowa) until 1859, when he was again seized with the gold fever, this time his destination being Pike’s Peak, Colorado. He, in the company with several of the leading citizens of Mt. Pleasant, among who was William Coleman, made preparations for and began their journey to the land of gold. When they had gone as far on their way as Salt Creek, they met large numbers of disheartened men, who were returning from the gold regions, and the
reports which these men gave were so discouraging that the party westward bound determined to discontinue their journey. Mr. Laughlin became so infatuated with the location and appearance of the country in which they then were, that he laid claim to 160 acres of
land through a “squatter’s right.” He dug a cellar and hewed his logs ready to be built into a house. He also plowed sixteen acres of ground before he returned to his family in Iowa. In the fall of 1859 he came back to his claim with the avowed purpose of making it his future home, and he has since made it so.”
Given this historical timeline, one wonders if it is possible that Thomas and Wesley Green actually left in 1859 and that the 1860 census in Iowa did not mean that they were truly present in Iowa with their families, but were expected to come back.
It is not known when Thomas and Wesley Green returned to Iowa or what kind of success they had had in mining for gold. Surely if they had been successful, there would have been a family history to support it.
In any event Wesley and Lucy had one daughter, Emma Jane (AKA Mamie), who was born on September 2, 1861 in Mount Pleasant. It seems reasonable to presume that Lucy had remained behind in Henry Co., Iowa.
At some point Wesley and Lucy decided to follow her family to eastern Nebraska Territory. Wesley and Lucy likely would have waited at least until the following spring of 1862 to move to Nebraska rather than endure the winter in rustic quarters in an unfamiliar land with newly born Mamie (September 2, 1861). If they had left in the latter part of 1861, however, they would have had a number of relatives with whom they could have lived temporarily. They appear to have settled on a homestead on Salt Creek in Nebraska. Salt Creek enters the Platte River from the ‘right’ bank 25 miles southwest of Omaha near present-day Lincoln.
As noted in the biography and obituary of Elic Chalker Coleman, Jr., Wesley joined his brother-in-law Elic as a freighter on the Oregon Trail. Trips were made by ox team. It seems likely that they would have traveled with several other ox teams in going to and from Denver with supplies. Wesley’s life and duties as a freighter is largely unknown.
Nebraska City, Nebraska, began as a trading post and a riverboat stop in the Missouri River. It quickly became a transportation center and served as one of the earliest starting points for travelers headed west on the Oregon Trail. As many as 64 freighting companies loaded and unloaded their wagons at Nebraska City. Prominent companies headquartered in Nebraska City included: Coe and Carter; Wells Fargo and Company; Hawke, Nuckolls and Company; H. T. Clarke and Company; Gilman Brothers; Ben Holladay; and the largest company of them all, Russell, Majors, and Waddell, which by the late 1850s dominated the industry in Nebraska.
The Russell, Majors and Waddell Company purchased land for houses, foundries, warehouses, and boardinghouses. Hauling government freight required tremendous numbers of men and animals. The company advertised for 16,00 yoke of oxen and 1,500 men to handle the lines. Their freighting firm was headquartered at 14th Street and 3d Avenue in Nebraska City and helped that city prosper for nearly a decade. The company also launched the Pony Express.
Though the above is interesting, it is not known if the Elic C. Coleman, Jr., or Wesley Green Garrett were hired as teamsters by any of the above-mentioned freighting companies. It is possible that they were independent freighters or that they were hired by freighting companies based in such places as Omaha, Plattsmouth, Columbus, or elsewhere.
It is presumed that Thomas Garrett, Wesley’s father had returned to Clarke Co., Iowa at about the same time that Wesley moved to Nebraska with his young family. Thomas remained a farmer for the rest of his life and died in 1882.