James Witherspoon Kerr sermons
Collection Scope and Content Note
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The Ruggles journal represents the second of two journals kept by Benjamin Franklin Ruggles, documenting his overland journey from Minnesota to California and covering the portion of the journey from Salt Lake City to Red Bluff. Ruggles made daily entries in his journal and took his time in writing thoughtfully, describing the scenery, route and the numerous groups of travelers they encountered in their crossing. The details at times provide the most interesting reading, as in his discussion of trying to keep a dog and the oxen alive and healthy when crossing the alkali flats in western Nevada, but the value of the narrative lies as much in providing a closely observed, densely written account of an overland crossing by way of the Mormon and Honey Lake routes. In comparatively few words, Ruggles provides a strongly impression of the landscape and the difficulties encountered in desert travel. It is interesting to note the fear with which he viewed Native Americans, the "hateful sight of sneaking Indians" as he wrote, and although he never personally had any negative encounters with Native Americans, he was more than willing to consider them culpable of misdeeds. Lastly, Ruggles' journal also contains some interesting, though briefer entries for his first few months in Red Bluff. These passage sketch out in rough form the life in a northern California town that was in the process of changing from a frontier town to a more mature settlement.