Westering Women Block 5: The Platte River by Becky Brown
Becky says she tries to make a story each month with the fabric. "The center is the murky river water, surrounded by the dark muddy banks. . .the trail eventually leads to land where crops are prosperous (the Orchard print). That's my story, and I'm sticking to it." She's using my Old Cambridge Pike prints.
Whatever “jumping off place” they chose---St. Joseph, Westport, Independence or Kanesville near today’s Council Bluffs, Iowa, travelers along the Oregon Trail finally joined up at the Platte River. The wide river and its bed provided a natural trail to the west.
“We are traveling up Platte river bottom, the north side” wrote Amelia Knight in 1853. “It is a beautiful river about a mile across, full of Islands and sand bars. As far as the eye can reach the road is covered with teams.”
The trails to Portland, Oregon showing the Platte River in red in what
is now the state of Nebraska.
Crossing the Platte River by William Henry Jackson, 1930 (detail)
Jackson photographed the overland trails beginning in the 1870s. Six decades later when in his 90's he painted recollections and imaginary recreations of the scenes. This one of the Platte may exaggerate it's width. Jackson didn't seem to remember many women on the trail.
The Platte in eastern Nebraska
The river provided not only a roadway but grass for the teams and water for all.
Abigail Jane Scott Duniway, camped near Grand Island, described its many uses.
May 28, 1852
"We drove our cattle on to this island to graze and the men waded across to it and got wood for cooking purposes. The stream where they crossed over to the island was about three feet deep and one hundred yards in width with a quick-sand bottom; the water is thick with sand. We mixed [corn] meal with it and after it settles a while strain it, and it becomes tolerably clear."
Tolerable enough to drink.
Block 5 is an original for the series, adapted from a complex design called Nebraska that appeared about a century ago in the magazine Hearth & Home, which asked readers for a block for each state.
Nebraska is BlockBase #1941The simpler block drawn from its center represents Nebraska’s great river, the Platte, the focus of the trail to the west coast.
Cutting a 12" Finished Block
A - Cut squares (or strips-see below) 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" .
B - Cut strips 1-1/2" x 6-1/2".
C - Cut 1 square 6-1/2".
You will probably want to strip piece the little nine-patches made of the A squares.
Instead of square A, cut strips 1-1/2" x 10"
Assemble these into two different units
cut them into 1-1/2" strips and stitch them into 9 patches.
Piecing the Block
Amelia Stewart Knight 1817-1896
Read Amelia Knight's diary at this link:
Abigail Scott Duniway 1834-1915.
She's probably in her late teens here or early twenties in the early 1860s.