Will of Joseph Kellogg
Our Kellogg Book
Our Beginning
Captain Elisha
Crossing the Sierras
Florentine Erwin Kellogg
Rebecca Jane Williams
Their Children
A Public Spirited Man
Kellogg Settlers
Kellogg Adventures
Letter From 1846
Hunting Man
Pioneer Neighbors
Franklin Erwin Kellogg
Franklin and Sarah
Sarah Foster Kellogg
Benjamin and Mary
Their Children
Anaheim Pioneers
Garden Grove Pioneers
Kellogg Soldiers

Our Fallen Hero

The Kellogg Wagon Trail
submitted by Leonard F. Raab, great-grandson of B.F.E."Frank" Kellogg

The Grove along North Platte River near the Ford (present day Casper, WY) where the Kelloggs encamped over July 4, 1846 and by chance met up with their brother, furtrapper Philander Kellogg. Younger brother Benjamin (Frank) held the mules while Philander shot buffalo nearby for the travelers. Philander was killed in 1848 near Ft. Laramie by
an Indian who clamed it was accidental.

B.F.E."Frank" Kellogg to Preston G. Gesford, "Platte Crossing, 15 mile from Fort John," July 5, 1846.

Dear Friends,

Finding another opportunity of letting you hear from me I sit down to write our adventures. Since I last wrote we have got along well. Our teams stand well and are in good order. Some of them got footsore and I had to shoe them. We found the grass much better than is common on the plains. Being but few nights without plenty of the best. We found buffaloes scarce as well as other game, and we had but little until now. We have not been troubled by the Indians but very little. They are friendly disposed and no disposition to hostility is shown. They, however, steal all they can but as yet they have not got much from us.

We have met several from Oregon also California. Some well pleased and some not so well pleased. We are all well and trying to do the best we can except John. He curses and swears and beats the cattle for which I had to take hold of him and talk straight to him. He was all up for leaving, packed up his trunk and cleaned his gun, etc. but finding I was going to keep his trunk and clothing until I got my pay he cooled down and has done some better since.

When we got here, I found my brother Philander who had been out trapping in the mountains and caught about $700 worth of fur but unfortunately had 3 mules and 2 horses stolen by the Apaches and came up to the road to buy horses of the passing companies which he did. Meanwhiles, hearing of our coming, he waited 5 days for us and we were glad to see each other. Orville has the note you gave Frederick for the borrowed money. We have been laying here for four days drying buffaloe meat which Philander killed for us to the amount of 20 buffaloes. Yesterday being the 4th of July, we made a large pot pie out of the brisket of a large buffalo and enjoyed the day. In the evening, we fired 150 guns and was answered by 5 or 6 hundred more.

There have been 5 companies pass here since we stopped,but tomorrow we shall start and soon leave them behind us as we have done before. I have found several of my old acquaintances here since we stopped. Eren Browns {Elam Brown?}, Abentore and others. Imus and Hecock are eight days before us. Gesford, you must excuse me when I ask you to favor my brother Orville B. Kellogg, State of Illinois, Stevenson County, Onico with a copy of this. Also collect all the information contained in former letters to Pap Elias in Scott County. It is a strange way of writing but the short notice of the company coming from Oregon that I can write but one and hardly time for that and I am sure that the Major will not think it a task to do a few lines and when I get a chance I will write separate letters. Let them all know the reason of my writing this and beg them to excuse me until I get a chance to write again.

Louisa, they say chickens in California are worth 50 cents a piece and cost nothing to grow them there. So you can make your fortune there. Gesford can take them to the harbor so you will both have something to busy your selves in this land of laziness and comfort. James' elk skins are worth $2.00 and so plentiful that a good hunter may kill from l to l0 in a day and so come out and get rich. Emily and Polly Venable will be useful in the establishment of schools and will do well to come. Tell old Sam, women are plentiful and easy to get acquanted with. Orville, they say wagons are worth from 2 to 3 hundred dollars and blacksmiths are worth $5.00 a day so you and I can do well. The American girls are in great demand and the purchasers aplenty. In short, all good folk and all good things are desirable articles for trading and you had better come.

Wait first until you hear what I say of it until I see it myself. There has been 6 deaths. A pair of twins. Three wagons left our company this morning and 3 come in tomorrow. One of our company killed a grissly bear yesterday. Rebecca says she wants to see you all, especially Delilah, Polly , Martha, Louisa, Cynthia Anne and particularly to Father and all our friends in Scott. Give my love to all and be assured you are not forgotten.

Bill turned the big wagon over and it took me all of one afternoon to mend it up again. I have no more to write. I would be glad to see all. I shall look for you all to come out when you hear from me. Philander would have gone with me if he had known it in time. He says I may look for him in one or two years. He sends you his love and respects, especially to Orville, Abigale and Emeline. Orville, when you come or the year before send Philander a letter.

Major,you and all our folks there must not forget our old acquaintances which may I hope be renewed in California. So farewell for the present.

B.F.E.Kellogg (Frank)

BENJAMIN was known as "FRANK" to his contemporary family and acquaintances, but this compiler has chosen to identify him as BENJAMIN.

It is of interest that Bancroft, noted for early California pioneer history, admits his confusion with the several Kellogg Christian names - and considers that possibly B.F.E.; F.E.; and FRANK might be one and the same. He identifies Florentine as F. I. (not F.E. Kellogg), thus giving support to his name being Irwin, and not Erwin, and the letter of July 5, 1846, signed F.E. Kellogg, being written by BENJAMIN, as supported in Dale Morgan's fine book: "OVERLAND in 1846."

During the years BENJAMIN was growing to young manhood he was "disinclined" to pursue a higher education and found that opportunities for earning money and seeking adventure were more to his liking.

An opportunity for a higher education was available to him, as his father, ELISHA, had the means and held out this opportunity his other sons and daughters mostly took advantage of a higher education.

It would appear - looking back from our vantage point - that BENJAMIN had a feel for adventure that could not be denied, and being at an impressionable age of 12 years when ELISHA moved the family from MORGAN COUNTY to JO DAVIES COUNTY, provided BENJAMIN with three major attractions that may very well have turned his head from schooling to a more adventurous direction westward to INDIAN TERRITORY across the MISSISSIPPI RIVER and even beyond.

First - there were the paddlewheel steamboats that would dock on the MISSISSIPPI near GALENA. Here, passengers and freight would be disembarked coming from points both south and a short distance from the north.

During the spring months, temporary workers of the lead fields would be embarking to ST. LOUIS where they would land and began their annual expeditions into Indian country for the purpose of furtrapping - and these men were a second attraction.

These adventurers would congregate at GALENA and other lead fields in northern Illinois, and there were some fields near Plum River, and spend the winter months earning their keep and saving for the purchases of supplies for their summer adventure. Around campfires and stoves of stores and cabins during the winter months these temporary miners would fill the ears of all who would listen of their experiences and "good" fortune they had on previous furtrapping expeditions and the greater fortune they expected on the next summer's expedition.

Some had been in Indian Territory for as long as three years straight, and a few had ventured as far distant as the Snake River and even California, but the latter were scarce indeed.

There was WILLIAM WOLFSKILL who had returned to GALENA in the 1830s following his first journey to CALIFORNIA. JAMES CLYMAN, between westward treks, took a surveyor job for a short time before returning westward and to OREGON. "OLD BILL" WILLIAMS and many other lesser known explorers and mountain men, at one time or another swelled the winter population of JO DAVIES COUNTY in the 1830s and 40s.

And the tales that they told to any who would listen were the third attraction that turned BENJAMIN's eyes west. But, with his long line of pioneer ancestors, it is assured that these attractions turned him westward possibly only a little sooner than would have his own instincts alone.

In 1840 - PHILANDER, ORVILLE, FLORENTINE, their 18 year old brother, BENJAMIN, and a cousin named DEEDS, embarked upon their first journey to the INDIAN TERRITORY west of the MISSOURI RIVER.

Their intent was to search for silver in the mountains towards PIKES PEAK. It was well known that the Spaniards had mined silver in the ROCKY MOUNTAINS in what is now Colorado, since the early 1700s, using Indian labor to manually chip away at the hard granite rock. Generations of these Indian laborers had barely made any more than a "dent" in such hard rock with their primitive tools, and over the scores of years the yield of silver ore was meager indeed. We might wonder if the brothers had any real expectations that they might accomplish what the Spaniards and Indians had been unable to.

But, at least, this was a reason for their adventure. And, they were not alone in their quest. There had been parties of young men before them, and there would be others afterwards in years to come, with the same inclinations - but none before nor after, met with anything like success. But most suffered severely.

The exact route our party followed is unknown. It was "a fair piece" from GALENA to PIKES PEAK. They may have followed the SANTA FE TRAIL to the ARKANSAS RIVER and then west. Or they may have followed the GREAT PAWNEE TRAIL from the PLATTE RIVER to the ARKANSAS. There may have been another route, but these two seem the most likely.

A possibility could have been along the PLATTE RIVER to FORT JOHN (LARAMIE) and by a rugged trail over the ROCKIES to BENT's OLD FORT,. . . .his first "Fort" located where an Indian trail from the Platte River intersected the ARKANSAS RIVER.

This route would provide a good source of meat from Buffalo and Antelope and other game, and there was frequent sources of water. But, except for the way via the SANTA FE TRAIL, any route would have presented danger from hostile Indians, 'though this danger always lurked once a white man stepped off the SANTA FE TRAIL and ventured westward towards PIKES PEAK.

Misfortune befell our party in the same manner many explorers suffered in the Indian Territory. One day, a band of Indians came across BENJAMIN and his party and began to pursue them, and after a chase of twenty miles, the horses of our party tired, and they were overtaken by the Indians.

One account reads that the Indians were on foot, and this is entirely feasible, as Indians in this area were well known for their endurance in being able to outrun a man on horseback. Once captured, our party was robbed of most of their clothes, their firearms, food and horses, and what money they had.

There is no question that he Indians threatened the party with torture, if not death, and the taunting of the Indians would have put real fear in the hearts of our group. But fortunately, they were released, the Indiana probably holding the belief that there was little chance their victims would survive without the necessities to sustain them and hunt meat.

It is not recorded specifically where this incident occurred, but by study of the geography, other histories of the period, and what else is written of our party's adventure, we can identify the general area.

Following their capture and then release, the party soon suffered from hunger and cold. One night, they suffered a hail storm that left the ground covered with nearly two feet of hail and snow. But they were in or near the tree line because they spread pine boughs on top of the hail for bedding.

After a time, the party came to a place where they found frogs, and either at the same place or nearby, they also found black walnuts. BENJAMIN became ill from eating raw frogs and black walnuts and it became necessary for him to seek shelter in a cave, being too ill to travel further, while other members of his party sought help.

During the days they were absent, it became necessary for BENJAMIN to scrape the hair off of his buffalo robe the Indians had allowed him to keep - they having no need for more hides - and chew the hide to allay his hunger. After several days "his brother" returned and BENJAMIN was taken to a village of friendly Indians where he was helped back to health.

It is with some interest that we learn in history, that JOSIAH GREGG, mountain man, explorer and trapper, was in the same vicinity in 1840, and his party too, had been attacked by Indians and robbed.

GREGG included in his book written in later years, a map of the Indian Territory of which we read. His map identifies the areas where walnut trees were found. The walnut trees are mostly south of the ARKANSAS RIVER between the Longitudes of 96 and 100 and Latitudes 32 and 37 .GREGG identifies where his party was attacked by PAWNEE INDIANS being about 300 miles - or about 15 days travel - east of the walnut trees.

The area where the trees are found begins near the RED FORK of the ARKANSAS RIVER and extends due south. There were numerous caves on the banks of the ARKANSAS as well as other areas in the vicinity. However, there is little chance that any "friendly" Indians could be found except in the vicinity of BENT'S FORT or many miles eastward along the SANTA FE TRAIL.

Once BENJAMIN regained his strength his party struck out afoot for "civilization" which they reached after 20 days (once written as 22 days, and again, as 26 days). After reaching civilization they were able to cash bank drafts which the Indians had left them, not having any use for such paper.

From the information we have gathered, we can place the KELLOGG party near the ARKANSAS RIVER west of the GREAT BEND of that RIVER and BENT's OLD FORT.

They likely followed that River east to intersect the SANTA FE TRAIL, then this trail to INDEPENDENCE and "civilization". And, 20-22 days is just about the time it would require to walk from the GREAT BEND of the ARKANSAS to INDEPENDENCE.

However, BENJAMIN's escape from Indians and suffering from hunger and illness did not long keep him from a gain venturing into Indian Territory in early spring of 1844.

Arriving at the confluence of the NORTH PLATTE and LARAMIE RIVERS, he "took a contract to build FORT LARAMIE". (In the context of this statement for his day, BENJAMIN is saying that he agreed to perform certain labor until a job was completed for a specified sum of pay. This was the practice in his day, there being no such arrangement as an hourly wage).

One of BENJAMIN's brothers probably accompanied him on this journey, and, if so, was most likely PHILANDER, who had turned towards the life of a furtrapper and mountain man, which he undertook until he was killed by an Indian in 1848 near Fort Laramie.

When Fremont, The Great Pathfinder, reached Fort Laramie in 1842 on his first expedition, PHILANDER, who met him at the gate, was the Clerk of the Fort. And likely, one of the few there who could read and write.

The true history of "FORT LARAMIE" is difficult to unfold. In truth there was three "FORT LARAMIE" if not, in fact, four. The first was built in 1834 and called "FORT WILLIAM" for its owner, WILLIAM SUBLETTE, a partner in the venture.

In 1835 he sold the "fort" to JIM BRIDGER, FITZPATRICK and a brother of SUBLETTE. These men sold the fort to the AMERICAN FUR COMPANY in probably 1838.

By 1840 the fort was known as "FORT LA RAMEE" which the River was named, for a French furtrapper who had been killed near there in an earlier year. Late 1840 or early 1841 a rival trading post was established nearby and named FORT PLATTE.

The deterioration of the original old FORT WILLIAM caused the AMERICAN FUR COMPANY (whose records include PHILANDER as a "free trapper") to build a new fort near the old Fort William. (probably within a quarter mile) This construction was done in 1841 at a cost of $10,000, and this new Fort was called "FORT JOHN, after JOHN SARPY, one of the owners.

In the meantime, the operators of FORT WILLIAM moved their post to the ARKANSAS RIVER and established a post there, also named FORT WILLIAM, near BENT's FORT.

During the winter of 1843-44, fire destroyed part of the recently built FORT JOHN and the following spring and summer the destroyed portion was rebuilt and the buildings inside enlarged. And, as was the usual custom, this biggest and newest "Fort" was becoming called "FORT LARAMIE", being on the River, but - to most, it was affectionately referred to as "FORT JOHN'."

The "Fort Laramie" that we can visit today is not the Fort that BENJAMIN "took a contract to build". The present Fort was not completed until 1846 and was then only a single building with a surrounding wall of mud covered logs. But this was the Fort that the 1846 overland emigrants were to see and visit.

A few years later, the Army took over this Fort and constructed additional buildings. However, it is said, that if you will carefully look, you can still discover faint traces where the walls of FORT JOHN once stood - the Fort that BENJAMIN tells of constructing.

Many men worked on the construction of the Fort. Some did only certain work on the post itself, while others were on crews cutting timbers; hauling cut logs to the site, hunting meat, and all of the other varied and necessary tasks.

If you provided your own mules or horses, or had the foresight to bring your own wagon or tools and equipment, considerable earnings were to be had.

Other men formed adobe walls around timber braces, or did cutting and fitting of timbers and other carpentry work. Actually, the owners had difficulty obtaining laborers, as most at one time or another forsook their work to try their luck trapping.

And, the haughty Indians congregated around the Fort would not do such "menial" work, except for a handful of derelicts who relied upon the owners of the Fort for their keep. The other Indians would much rather sneak off on nuisance raids on the tree-cutting parties or against whichever tribe were their enemies that year.

As incredible it may seem when we read BENJAMIN's statement that he had "taken a contract to build Fort Laramie," we now understand his meaning. And, we have learned considerable more of the history of that famous place, and how our own ancestor and his brother, PHILANDER, played a personal part in its history.

Too, we learn he again passed by the Fort in 1846, and west of there, at present Casper, Wyoming, saw this brother for the last time. In 1848, near Fort Laramie, PHILANDER, was killed by an Indian - who claimed it was accidental.

In 1846 Benjamin was in charge of two wagons of household goods and supplies accompanying his brother FLORENTINE and his family, from ILLINOIS to CALIFORNIA traveling the CALIFORNIA-OREGON TRAIL via the untried HASTING'S CUT-OFF across THE GREAT SALT DESERT, being ahead of the ill-fated DONNER PARTY.

Arriving in CALIFORNIA, BENJAMIN joined FREMONT'S CALIFORNIA BATTALION serving in the California portion of the War of 1846 against Mexico.

BENJAMIN was a young unmarried man of 24 years on the CALIFORNIA-OREGON TRAIL that year of 1846. On the trail before reaching FORT LARAMIE (The Fort we can see now was started that year and enlarged in the years following. It is said that if you look closely you can find evidence of the OLD FORT JOHN that BENJAMIN did work on and was standing when he passed by in 1846.)

On the Trail before reaching the Fort, BENJAMIN traveled for a time with the DONNERS and REEDS and others who later joined together to make up the DONNER PARTY.

It appears for a time, he traveled with the JUDGE MORIN and again in the GALLANT DICKENSON Companies with HEINRICH LIENHARD who tells of the KELLOGGS in his diary of the overland journey.

At the Ford of the North Platte River (now Casper, Wyoming) west of FORT LARAMIE these two brothers happened to meet PHILANDER, who had heard from some in wagons ahead on the trail that his brothers were coming up the trail.

PHILANDER had been robbed of his furs and horses by Indians and had come up to the Trail to see if he could buy other horses from passing emigrants. The meeting was purely accidental and the last time the two brothers would see PHILANDER. BENJAMIN accompanied PHILANDER on a Buffalo hunt on JULY 5, 1846 while they were encamped at the crossing at present-day Casper, Wyoming.

From here west on the Trail, it is unknown which wagon company the KELLOGGS traveled with, if any, as they were experienced on the trail and somewhat independent.

But at FORT BRIDGER, they chose to accompany LANSFORD HASTINGS across his new cutoff that he claimed was hundreds of miles shorter than the only known trail to CALIFORNIA, via Fort Hall.

The KELLOGGS were among the 80 some wagons who blazed the trail down WEBER CANYON, where it was necessary to windlass oxen and wagons some of the way and to actually "ride the river" to gain access to the valley of the GREAT SALT LAKE.

During the final seven days that it took these pioneers to cut through WEBER CANYON the now formed DONNER PARTY caught up with them and encamped near the head of WEBER CANYON.

But, even though the wagons in the forefront did get safely through the canyon, the DONNER PARTY refused to attempt it and consequently chose to blaze a new trail across the mountains and down into the Valley - thus beginning the first of many delays which ultimately mean the death of half their number in the frozen Sierras that winter.

Crossing the GREAT SALT DESERT, the KELLOGGS were with the HARLAN-YOUNG COMPANY, and after the FOWLER FAMILY lost most of their oxen, the KELLOGGS loaned some of theirs which permitted the FOWLERS to get their wagons to CALIFORNIA.

Upon reaching the CALIFORNIA SIERRAS, the wagon party tied chains to the notched ends of Pine logs to form a long enough pull to enable Oxen at the top of the crest to pull each wagon up.

THE KELLOGGS got across the summit on OCTOBER 4, 1846 - the DONNER PARTY then over two weeks behind on the trail. The next day it snowed, and though one might think the worst of the overland journey was over, it took over two weeks to reach JOHNSON'S RANCH and longer to SUTTER'S FORT, and the going was so difficult that those who had been keeping journals and diaries of the long journey simply stopped or made only an entry of the date and where they camped.

The KELLOGGS reached NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA in NOVEMBER 1846 very likely near the 10th. (Florentine's son wrote October - which is only 4 days after crossing the summit and not reasonable unless his father had gone ahead of BENJAMIN and the wagons) Here they decided to settle.

But by the 19th, BENJAMIN had enlisted in FREMONT'S CALIFORNIA BATTALION and was on his way to MONTEREY to join the rest of his Company.

During December his Company and others made a very tedious and dangerous march to the Pueblo de Los Angeles over the difficult mountains during which time it rained heavily and the deep mud caused men and horses and supplies to slide to the very bottoms of deep canyons and ravines.

The Battalion finally arrived just outside Los Angeles to learn that the Mexican Army had surrendered the day before. BENJAMIN was among those remaining loyal to FREMONT and serving his enlistment until being discharged in April 1847 at San Gabriel.

He then returned to NAPA VALLEY. He was in the first group of men to depart "NAPPA CITY" for the goldfields in 1848 when gold was first discovered, and "had some success."

He returned to NAPA VALLEY and engaged in purchasing tired and worn cattle and oxen from arriving emigrants and re-selling them after they had been fattened and strengthened.

He was living in NAPA VALLEY when the 1850 Census was made.