The first fact considered is that from all the information we have available it seems that the long train that had followed Goodale from Champagne Meadow in Butte County began to divide back down into several smaller trains, some even before reaching the area of Boise. And it follows then that there were different routes decided upon by the different trains, even three separate routes to the Oregon border! This will be discussed later. Part of the train that followed Goodale to Salubria/Cambridge area wanted to stay in Idaho and go to the Florence area, and part was headed for the Powder River in Oregon, causing an even later splitting of that train. And it will be seen that the main Goodale Train may have split earlier near Boise, only to be rejoined on the north side of the Payette River!
Another fact concerning the chosen route of some of the smaller trains that had divided off was that if they had planned to go down the south side of the Boise River and ford the Snake River near the Fort Boise site, many such wagon trains did not cross the Boise River to the north side of the Boise River until they finally reached and crossed over the Canyon Hill plateau at Caldwell. But there was also an established trail along the south side of the Boise River all the way to Fort Boise. These facts will become important to the considerations later.
In the original Goodale led train that had come all the way from the Fort Hall site some miners wanted to go to the Florence, ID area, and others wanted to go to the Powder River in Oregon. Thus those Oregon-bound people had to choose to follow Goodale’s route or the Fort Boise and Burnt River route. There was another division of some of the wagons in making this choice, and wagons from both groups did finally arrive near Auburn, OR-at different times.
Another fact of great importance is that most of the accounts that reflect a possible downstream crossing of the Boise River by the main Goodale Train are not primary accounts, that is, as being written during the time of the train. They are reminiscences, written many years after the fact! And in the case of one account that seems to be the most critical and influential on this idea of a Goodale Train downstream crossing, the information was written after the death of Dunham Wright, by another man. That information was also dependent upon Wright’s remembering at age 99, nearly 79 years later! It was also all dependent upon using Wright’s verbal stories that had been told over the years to Wright’s family and others, some repeated a year before his death, and upon recordings by a stenographer hired by the writer during Wright’s last year!
Frank Jasper, the Dunham Wright story writer, included the following important information: As some of the stories were told in his last years, Wright sometimes rambled, and the stories were “often fragmentary and incomplete!” Jasper also wrote, “Some of his personal experience stories do not correspond in all respects with historical records, but we have chosen to leave them [in the book published after his death] as he loved to tell them.” Wright was nearly 100 years old when he retold some of the stories that the stenographer recorded, 79 years after Goodale’s Train, and died not long after celebrating his 100th birthday. This all needs to be considered when putting any weight on such later recorded accounts. At least one Wright letter, written in about 1923, 19 years before his death, was included and should be more dependable for content.
Some of the information written by more than one writer is vague, but seems to put one reduced in size train’s crossing of the Boise River very close to Boise rather than downriver, which train’s crossing is important to the question about the place of Goodale’s crossing. In two instances there is information that a crossing was attempted west of Middleton, and these two sources do somewhat contradict each other about exactly where one emigrant, William Curtis, drowned in attempting to cross the Boise River!
None of the accounts clearly identify the location of Tim Goodale’s Train after passing the Boise area! Information will be offered here for consideration, with some comments, beginning with the accounts that were nearer to the time of the Goodale Train.
Nellie Slater was with the Goodale Train, and supposedly wrote her diary information as the days of travel passed, dating her entries. Important to this consideration of the Boise River crossing is some information she wrote on August 9, 1862. The train first arrived at the Boise River where she wrote that they had to climb down from camp “200 feet to get water.” That would surely have been near the area that the Oregon Trail approached the Boise River canyon from Bonneville Point, about 8 miles SE and upriver from the western end of the present Boise Avenue.
From that camp, probably where the Grimes party found and joined them, on the next day, August 10, Nellie wrote that they traveled a total of 8 miles before she also wrote on the same day, “We have now left the train we have traveled with all the way, and have got [sic] in with a small train from the [Pikes] Peak who have ox teams.” The train she had “traveled with all the way” was the Goodale Train! With her account of that Colorado train then setting the number of wagons at seven, including the Curtis’ wagon, it had to be quite small. That small train intended to follow down the Boise River and cross into Oregon at the Fort Boise site.
This does not sound like the size train that would have included Goodale’s group, which would then have later needed to split off downriver somewhere near Parma, if Goodale did not cross until that place! That is one of the questionable suppositions being considered here-that the Curtis family was with Goodale who traveled downriver, divided, crossed, and went north from the Boise River somewhere near Parma, ID. There, supposedly, it is claimed that part of the divided train went on to the Fort Boise site crossing, and the rest, Goodale’s Train, went north toward the Payette River. Was that even a possibility?
Slater’s information seemed to indicate that they had separated from the Goodale Train-with which they had “traveled with all the way”-somewhere near Boise, about 8 miles from the first camp on the river, and she did not mention Tim Goodale again. If, as Slater’s writing indicated, they did separate from Goodale near Boise, upon considering her accounts on the following days, and mileages given, the probability that he did cross near Boise and followed on to Emmett is certainly allowed.
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