Alice and I enjoy exploring American History…and our retired traveling lifestyle fits well with this hobby. Recently, we made a weekend visit to a very historical segment of the Oregon Trail located in Southeast Wyoming… a 12-mile stretch between Fort Laramie and Register Cliffs (Guernsey), about a day’s travel for the Emigrants. This short blog update comes as a result of an interesting side trip that we made while on that visit, one that unexpectedly grabbed our emotions… and prompted this brief post. It serves as a lasting visible reminder of the hardships that the early Emigrants faced while traveling the Oregon Trail… and what strong people they, and therefor we, Americans must have been.
While researching our trip before leaving, we had read mentions of a gravesite close to the “Child’s Cutoff” path of the trail. The grave was that of 4½ year old Elva Ingram, who had died on the trail on June 23rd, 1852, and was buried there. She most likely died of Cholera, that killed an estimated 5,000 Emigrants that year. Indeed, in the Richey-Ingram-Aiken Wagon Train that year of 40 Emigrants, 8 people died including Elva – This is in line with what Historians tell us, that about 10% – 15% of the Emigrants died on the trail, and that there are roughly 10 graves for each mile… with only a few known locations.
We decided to find Elva’s grave, so we googled information, found directions… and went looking.
The below Map of the 1840’s – 1860’s West, courtesy of the National Park’s National Trails Systems, shows the main trails for Emigrants traveling west. Our search for Elva’s grave began in the middle circle …Fort Laramie, WY.
Our directions… courtesy of the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office:
So, starting from the above map’s center circle – Fort Laramie, WY, we traveled West for a few miles along the North Platte River (US Hwy 26) to Guernsey, and then North on WY 270 to Hartville, WY. The map below provides a detailed geography of our travel. The green line shows the “Child’s Cutoff” of the Oregon Trail… a shorter, safer path for those Emigrants that had started their journey from the Council Bluffs or Winter Quarters trailheads in Iowa and Nebraska.. To visually see the grave site, in the map below, click on ‘+’ (lower right) to the highest resolution, then click on ‘satellite’ (upper left).
“From Hartville, Wyoming, take the Manville Highway north for about one mile. Turn left and follow the road downhill for ¾ mile to the foot of Emigrant Hill….”
“Continue straight ahead up the winding road…”
We are at the top of Emigrant Hill, and will be turning Left.
“After reaching the top of Emigrant Hill, turn left in ¼ mile. The Ingram grave is in the pasture to the left, ¼ mile after turning.”
We turned left here, traveled over the rise ¼ mile, and drove thru a short stretch of private land, past the Private Residence…
And here we saw Elva’s Grave. We parked our car, and walked back to her fenced grave, faintly seen in the distance, on the right…
We are on public land, now, and walked up close to Elva’s grave.
This is the original Tombstone, carved out of local rock. Note the rocks on top the grave.
Grave Marker up close. It has been here since placed on June 23, 1852.
This plaque below shows that the Ingram family must have made it to Oregon… and while little Elva Ingram may have perished here… and was buried and left behind here, she was not forgotten. 135 years later, she is still remembered by her family… Dr. Jack Ingram and Family, of Medford, OR. What a great story… of an obviously great family… that helped to build a Great Nation.
As the Richey-Ingram-Aiken Wagon Train moved on West to Oregon… below is what they saw. It may have been rainey & cloudy that day… still grieving at their loss… but they did not stop. They made it.
Alice and I hope you enjoyed this short post. The country here in SE Wyoming is beautiful… prairies punctuated with low mountains and canyons… a river here and there… and memories & history around every corner. Please feel free to comment? Maybe your family has stories…
Jim & Alice