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Destiny’s Diary

Weather-Borne Wisdom
April 29, 2024
The Makin’ of a Dally-Man
May 9, 2024

The uprooting, chaotic, 'Way West'  would have, I expect, typically begun with a shoulder-load of apprehension-laced unknowns. But that foreboding must have been somewhat balanced by a collection of stirring thoughts about the prospects of a new life too. Undoubtedly, for most, there was also no small dose of excitement in anticipation of romance, adventure and the promise of a new start - an opportunity to prosper in a land of their own. What a bundle of mixed emotions must have dwelt in the hearts of those pioneers.

I’m guessing the journey and daily fatigue was, physically speaking, hardest on the women. Even the youngest would endure a lack of privacy, little-to-no sanitation methods compared to that which many were leaving behind, not to mention harsh, primitive cooking requirements and dangers for her children.

I’ve wanted to write this poem for years and was finally brought to do so by Mr. Mayse’ painting. His creativity is so impressive and inspirational. Note the arrows stuck among the grasses in the bottom left of his painting.

The woman seated on the prairie schooner, alongside her husband, is the narrator in this story

Destiny’s Diary

Our home was on the southern edge of town
I worked at the millinery store some
My husband runnin’ the town blacksmith shop
Things were comfy, if a little humdrum

We were actually doing quite well
With young’uns and fourth baby on the way
But all that comfort was about to change
When he came in to eat that fateful day

I reg'lar wrote in my own diary
Some daily events and my thoughts each night
Someday my children might would care about
Our victories and losses in our fight

Matt came home for supper with a letter
From my brother in Bozeman far out west
He said there was land for takin’ out there
Wanted us to join him sharin’ his quest

At first I protested my husband some 
But soon got swept-up in this thrilling scheme
Having hundreds of acres all our own
I admitted was quite a heady dream

There was a group forming at St. Joseph
To make a wagon train for the northwest
We paid our fees and joined up with ‘em all
Preparing our needs for this drastic test

We hitched up the team early one mornin’
Headed out tryin’ hard to not look back
Hopin' to average ten miles a day
Rollin’ westward on an exciting track

Most in our group were simple, green pilgrims
All we had ever known back in the east
Was town-work or dirt farmin' on prayer
Now we were pokin' at the unknown beast

Excitement was a palpable murmur
Throughout families in our anxious band
We were embarkin' on an adventure
Fetchin' after a new home and our land

The stalwart wagonmaster turned us north
Leadin' a trail along the Missouri
Me, I was some busy mullin' over
All the bad things ‘bout which I should worry

Once we were finally in Montana
Our troubled lot had been too big to tell
There’d been deaths by cholera and typhoid
Days of thirst, sickness and fatigue as well

Crossing rivers had been terror-laden
The struggles were more than we thought we’d bear
Unending exposure to elements
Kid’s forlorn faces trudging a nightmare

We had run-ins with fearsome renegades
Amongst them Pawnee, Crow, Osage and whites
Plus mornin' sickness while walkin’ for miles
And scary, loud, wild critter noise most nights

I adapted in time to the lack of
Privacy for my desired ablutions
We earned our adjustments and acceptance
We overcame by finding solutions

Even though I was with child the whole way
I was ten pounds lighter when we arrived
It was good to see my brother at last
Hugs all ‘round with gratitude we’d survived

Lookin' back over months of journeyin'
I still remember the exhaustion strains
But as time passes along wounds have healed
Seein’ our new home it was worth the pains

This is just our second Christmas here now
On the ranch God gave us in which to thrive
The baby is growin' taller daily
The new one on the way will number five

Come Spring we’ll add on to our cabin
We’ve a herd of somewhere 'round forty pair
A neighbor has a healthy strong old bull
That he’s always so generous to share

Gallatin Valley winters are quite rough
But on the brighter side of all these things
We can always count on a white Christmas
I am forever blessed by what God brings

Ain’t been one single day I’d call easy
I am growin' old before my clock
But God has blessed me well beyond my dreams
I smile every day when I take stock.

by Rik "Yonder" Goodell
© 2024 All rights reserved

Thank you Gregory Mayse for this beautiful painting depicting the adventurous and dangerous foray into the unknown for those seeking a new life in the west.

To see more of Mr. Mayse' work, visit his website:

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