The historic letters of John Boyd and his experiences with everyday life during the U.S. Mexican War and traveling the Oregon Trail.



September 17th 1846

Dear Pa,

The pipe I smoke it burns my throat, but it's somehow a feeling I like.

I see these people gathered about their camp fires, sharing their small rations and serving soup from the dutch ovens.

I sit near my tent on an old worn log, my horse tied to a small tree.

We've been traveling through these prairie grass lands for nine weeks now. I, along with some other men, met up with this wagon train and volunteered to guide it through Donor's Pass. They came through the Fort Wataka where I was stationed.

Ever since I joined the army, my life's been harder it seems. And I miss home and the familiar faces of family something awful.

The thing that worry's me most is the war with Mexico…I fear it's looking grim for our soldiers. And there's something inside me that makes me fear the battle; the battle I know I'll face again eventually…But don't tell mother, I shan't have her worrying over me.

The days are comfortably warm with small breezes here and there, but the nights are growing colder. I can feel winter nearing.

The prairie grass isn't much to look at itself; but the mountains are quite a sight and at night you can see millions of stars…it reminds me of how you and I would sit out on the porch after dinner; just talking man to man and looking at the stars all the while.

Speaking of dinner, I sure miss Mother's cooking right about now. The military keeps you full on good days, but sometimes you have to eat stuff you can't bare. I've never been one for meat.

The good news is that I've been promoted to Lieutenant. I rather like being called Lieutenant Boyd.

I reckon I'll close for now. Give Mother all my love and tell little Beth I'll be sending her a real genuine military bullet. It's from my own gun.

Take care of yourself Pa.

- John

September 30th, 1846

Dear family,

This morning we went buffalo hunting on the range. Food has been getting scarce and the soldiers and settlers spend most of their time fishing now by the river, picking vegetation and eating some of the livestock.

On our hunt we made distant contact with some strangers on horseback.

We eventually realized that these strangers were Indians, so we decided to give up the hunt and head back to the wagon train…it's best we don't muscle in on their buffalo if they're hostiles.

I pray these Indians will pose no threat to us. We hope to move on westward in the morning.

With all my love,

- John

October 1st, 1846

Dear Pa,

I write today once more of a terrible event that happened late last night after our Indian encounter.

When everyone was settled, there was a faint sound over Joseph's harmonica…we all thought it coyotes at first, but when the arrows started flying and the sound of hoofs began to trample around us, we knew it to be our Indians.

It was hard to see them in the dark, even with the lanterns and torches.

The women and children crouched inside the wagon's circle while me and the rest of the men folk took the savages on as best we could with our rifles.

Five of my men were wounded and two settlers were shot dead. Unfortunately one of the settlers was the only doctor with us.

We managed to rid ourselves of these savages; luckily there was only a small group of them, and we're moving on in an hour's time. The settlers are burying the body as of right now. I do feel sympathy for his family.

There are no plans for going after the savages, it's too risky and we haven't the time.

I'll keep you posted as best I can.

Take care,


October 10th, 1846

Dear family,

We crossed a small river today. One of the heavy Conestoga's got caught in some mud so me and my men had to help pull it out with our horses and some spare ox. Thankfully nothing was lost.

You all may be surprised by your John, but there's a young lady here who I've been talking to a little more everyday.

Her name is Jenny Livingston and she's actually the daughter of the doctor who was murdered by Indians.

I know you'll be particularly proud of me mother. I'm not saying anything is to become of us, but she's a fine young girl and very smart too.

She's tall and slender and she has long red locks that she sometimes allows to hang down. And her Irish accent is her best charm I think…besides the gleam I see in her eyes. It's been hard on her with losing her pa, but she's a strong willed girl.

It's a bit embarrassing, but yesterday I saw her wearing a calico dress with her hair streaming down, and when she smiled at me I thought she was the prettiest little thing a man could ever see.

I'll be having lunch with her and her ma on our next stop. Maybe I'll get to knowing her better.

It's amazing the people you'll meet on a wagon train, and from so many cultures too.



October 15th , 1846

Dear family,

I have some grim news today.

I fear that Jenny has come down with a terrible ailment. We're not quite sure yet, but her ma suspects scarlet fever. Yes, scarlet fever…it sickens me to think of losing her now. Jenny and I have been growing very close.

I've told her all about you all. She is very interested in you, Beth. I do pray you'll both get to meet.

Lord knows if she gets sicker, I'll be at a loss. What am I to do? I just don't know. I'm no doctor. We haven't much medicine…I just want her to be well. I pray we won't have to burry her as we did her pa, God rest his soul.

I'll keep you posted on Jenny…I pray that by the time you receive these letters, she'll be good as new again.

With love,


Author's Notes: I hope everyone enjoys this. I'll add more along and along. I got inspired to do this after I read a re-print of some actual pioneer letters. I absolutely love history like that and am truely a Ravenous fan. If you haven't seen Ravenous, I suggest you do unless you don't like gore. It's a great movie with a twisted yet incridibly interesting plot. The only thng I hated was the way it ended.

To Ravenous Fans: Please keep in mind that this is before the movie, before John was really messed up by the war...I kind of want to pick up on who he is as a person and get a little deeper into that character...We all know that he tended to be timid and ensecure of himself so I'll try and keep him in character as best I can.