|Cover of transcribed journal kept by Asenath Cornwell Larimer|
She was the widow of my husband's 4th great-uncle James Larimer (1806-1847), who sadly died at age 40, thrown from a horse while riding near their farm in Elkhart county, Indiana.
When James died, Asenath was left with five children under the age of 10. Her brothers helped her through this difficult time, but ultimately, Asenath made a bold decision she hoped would secure her children a better life.
Five years after her husband's untimely death, Asenath sold the farm she had been bequeathed and used the money to join her brother, John Cornwell, in taking two steamboats en route to joining a wagon train at Lexington, Missouri.
Their destination: the Gold Rush country of California.
Asenath wrote in a journal from March 1852-March 1853 about the daily thoughts and events of that time. She notes that her oldest son was against her going west. Despite his opposition, she wrote that "...looking forward to the dangers and trails of the way, I feel very gloomy, but in the Lord put I my trust."
Faith Guides Asenath
Asenath was sustained by her strong Presbyterian faith during the arduous journey west. When possible, she and others on the wagon train would worship together on the Sabbath. In one journal entry, she wrote [sic]:
"...we felt that the Lord was as truly with us here sitting round on the grass, as if we had worshiped in a church, and likely we felt as much love and gratitude even at home."Most of the time, however, the wagon train leaders pushed ahead without stopping on the Sabbath, which distressed Asenath, even as she acknowledged the necessity of maintaining a good travel pace.
Asenath recorded not just the details of daily life on the wagon train (births, sickness, deaths, cooking, laundry) but also the natural wonders they viewed, for which she praised the Lord.
After arriving in the mining town of Clinton, California (now a ghost town outside Sacramento), Asenath scraped by on odd jobs such as washing clothes while her brother prospected for gold.
Then she moved to San Francisco, where she launched a bakery and was joined by one of her sons. Later, she moved south to Santa Monica, where she helped found the public library. She died in Santa Monica only a few weeks before her 89th birthday.
Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for the #52Ancestors prompt of "At Worship."
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