The westward movement across the North American continent in the Nineteenth Century fascinates us. Our adventurous side is excited by tales of the major - but mainly temporary - shift of most of the Country's male population during the California Gold Rush. No less compelling is the permanent mass migration that followed in the next ten to fifteen years, as whole families - sometimes several generations of a family - pulled up stakes in the East and Midwest, and headed over the Oregon and California trails to new - largely unimaginable - homes on the far western fringe of the continent. Perhaps an extra attraction is that these journeys were made - these hardships endured - by people that we almost knew. When I was born in 1940, there probably weren't any "Forty-niners" alive, but a few of the later Oregon Trail travelers were living when I graduated from high school. I didn't know any of them - and they weren't quite contemporaries - but it does make them seem more real than some of our more distant ancestors.
I'm often asked if there is any way to find out if an ancestor went to the Gold Rush, or if it's possible to find out which wagon train someone's great-grandmother came West with. The short answer is that there is no easy way, and sometimes there seem to be no possibilities. But a lot of information is available about the overland travelers, and sometimes it's just what you need. With that in mind, I use these web pages to make available the sources of information that I run across - wagon train rosters, obituaries, trail journals, ideas on how to research, etc. Most of my in-depth research has been for the years 1849-1853, but other periods are represented.
I hope you find something of interest to you. Feel free to contact me.
Sanford "Sandy" Wilbur