French Gravy

Fireplace, Wood, Fire, Boil Water, Cook, Flame, Heat

Boss Little stared down at his plate, and shook his head.

“Cookie, what in the world is this?” he asked.

“Well Captain, that there is beans with gravy,” the old cook replied.

“Gravy?” the trail boss asked.

“Yep-per, that’s good eat’n. It’s got biscuit dissolved in coffee, a spoonful of lard, and an intire glove of garlic.”

Captain Little held it to his nose and shook his head again. “Good eating, you say?”

“That’s right. It’s proper French gravy,” the cook said. “Bone – apiteet.”

Little walked away from the fire and couldn’t help but count the days till the company’s regular cook, Stubby Greene was due back from Owl Fork.


An Oregon Trail tale – see

FOWC with Fandango — Gravy


Away, Path, Trace, Migratory Path, Trail, Tenerife

It was a scorcher for sure, easily ninety degrees in the shade.  Too bad there weren’t no shade.  George Mason, took off his hat and wiped his forehead with a sleeve.  The dust clogged his throat despite the scarf he wrapped around his face. 

He had been doing scouting ahead of the train for about two hours or so, and the water holes were still an hour or so ahead of him.  The terrain looked tolerable enough, but he was concerned that the dust raised by the wagons behind him might call some unwanted attention to Captain Little’s train.


Carrot Ranch – Dusty Trail


Letters and Such Like

Hunter Morgan was mighty proud of the new home he had built in the Willamette Valley.   He had arrive in Oregon from Mason County only a few weeks before.  He immediately set about building the house that he would share with his new wife, Mariah, a fellow Kentuckian he had met on the Little Train on the trail.  The couple now stood before the completed structure.

“What’ja think, Riah?” the farmer asked.

“I think it’s perfect?” the eighteen year old replied, giving him a big hug.

Hunter went to the wagon that had been their home, and took a chair and carried into the house.  He then returned and carried his bride across the threshold, and sat her down on the chair, before returning to the wagon to carry in their possessions.

As he brought items in, Mariah began to assemble them, and put things away.

Hunter brought in the final chest, a straw packed box of dishes that had been given to them by Mariah’s parents.  When it was opened, they came across a framed sampler that Riah had stitched a few years before.

Though Hunter couldn’t read, he could recognise most of the letters, and especially the ones which were in his name.

“Riah darlin’, you is right clever.  I have the perfect place for this.”  With that he took the frame and placed it with pride of place above the mantelpiece. “There, now we can always see your letters and such like.”


Daily Writing Prompt




Shall We Gather By The River

The Hunt Train had been making good time and Kentucky Hunt had decided to slow the wagons.  There was no need to exhaust the oxen more than necessary, and pushing harder would still make their arrival at the river too late to safely cross before dusk.

It was therefore about seven in the evening when the train came to the riverside.  Camp was made, and many had their thoughts on the caulking of the wagons, and the crossing that awaited them in the morning.  This was not foremost in the mind of Reverend Amos Gilbert, a stern but friendly Baptist preacher from Cincinnati, however.  He knew that the preparations would take several hour of the next Sabbath morn, so he approached Boss Hunt.

“What can I do for ya, Preacher,” Kent Hunt asked as the clergyman neared the centre fire.

“I have had a lot of opportunity the spend time with the Tolberts, and their girl Henni-Sue is ready to give herself over to the Lord.  So I was thinking, that while you and your boys, and Sam Kelly and such are getting the wagons ready to cross, that I might take the Tolberts, and some of the young folks and ladies and have a little meeting.”

“Who will get your wagon ready, Preacher?” the Kentuckian asked.

“I suppose that the Jew – Weiss, and Kelly would do it,” the Ohioan responded.

“I have no objections, but if your wagon ain’t ready, I’m not hold’n the train up to wait for you.”

“More than fair,” the preacher responded.

The next morning the riverside was a hive of activity.  Two hives in fact, as the Hunt Company men, and several of the wagon owners caulked wagons, and wrapped belonging for the crossing on one site, while William Tolbert and his wife, Henni praised God as their thirteen year old daughter, Henni-Sue was baptised by Gilbert.

Hunt and Gilbert both done with their respective ministrations, turned to each other and nodded.  Soon the wagons were crossing the river, and the Hunt Train continued its journey to the Willamette.



Written for Daily Writing Prompt #31: Wagon Train

See also: Gladiators, Awaiting Discovery and The Rest part of my Oregon Trail Stories.


Rude Awakening


SPF 10-14-18Joy Pixley 3

Photo Credit:: Joy Pixley


Stubby Greene was a wagon man. Most all the folks who had ever seen him at work reckoned that there weren’t nothing with wheels he couldn’t drive. When it came to saddles, however, Stubby took to those like a cat takes to water.

The flow of events conspired to put him on a horse however. Buck had rid off to have some words with the Indians, and then Mason had an unfortunate meeting with a prairie dog hole, leaving him with swelled ankle.

Boss decided that all that could be done was for Stubby and Mason to switch chores for a few days while Mason mended, or till Buck showed.

So there it was, Stubby would use Mason’s horse, Rascal, and do the scouting and out riding. Rascal was not only the orneriest, bad tempered critter Greene had ever met, but was also hand or two too big for the little man.

Stubby found shadowing the train a mite easier than he thought, and that it drowsy-making work.  He more than once drifted off in the saddle. But Rascal ever mindful of duty, and the need for vigilance took matters into hand, waked him up by a toss into cactus-bed.

(200 words)


Sunday Photo Fiction

Legend of the Man-Wolf



Buck was a full day’s ride behind the train, but the negotiations with the Cheyenne had taken longer than he hoped. He now found himself in Wolf Canyon with night about to fall. The Indians had a legend about this place; they said that a man-wolf stalked it at night devouring ponies, dogs, and even men. It was drawn, the legend went, by even the tiniest hint of red.

“Total nonsense,” Buck said aloud.

He shivered as has he removed his red waistcoat, and crammed it deep into his saddlebag. He then stamped out his campfire, checking that not a single ember remained.

“Nonsense,” he repeated, placing his rifle across his lap, wrapping himself in a blanket for the night.

(120 words)



Sammi Cox Prompt

The Little Company: Boss Little

Related image

Source: Muzzleloading Forum

The Little Company’s founder was Captain Obadiah Little.  He was a Maine-man and second son of Judge S. P. Little. His family connections had secured him a place at the Military Academy at West Point where he finished at the middle of his class, and one place ahead of his friend and roommate Thomas Jefferson Mason the son of a Virginia planter.

In their final year Obadiah made the acquaintance T. J.’s younger sister, Sarah. The two struck it off well, and they were wed soon after his commissioning.  Again family connections came into play, and he was posted near her family home at Fortress Monroe.

Events in the West soon intervened however, and Lieutenant Little was sent Illinois as part of an expedition against the Black Hawks. He was a capable officer, and one who fostered loyalty in his men. It was in Illinois that he contracted the gut sickness, however, and nearly died. On his recovery, he was deemed unfit for regular service, but was offered a commission as Captain in the Madison County Militia, a position he readily accepted.

Sarah joined him in Illinois, and was accompanied by George Mason, a slave of about seventeen years of age. Obadiah was no abolitionist, but he was a man beholding to the law. As such he had his wife transfer George to a forty year indenture, as was the Illinois way.

They were happy together, and set up on sixty acres which was put to corn. It wasn’t a big farm, but it was easy enough for him and George to handle.  He had his Militia pay as well, and could be looked to for some occasional lawyering as well.

Two years on, his beloved Sarah died in childbirth, and left Obadiah in no fit state to do much of anything. He resolved that there was nothing in civilisation worth staying for, so resigned his post, and headed West.  He freed George of his indenture, but found that he was not so easy to get rid of. Nor was his corporal “Stubby Greene,” so together they formed the Little Company, and headed for the Oregon Trail.



See also: The Little Company: Stubby


The Prairie Sky’s Welcome

The Hunt Train wasn’t far into Nebraska when the prairie gave them a reminder of who was in charge. They had settled up well enough, and the livestock were tended to. Then late in the evening all damnation cut loose.

The storm started with some thundering, then sheets of rain lashed the wagons. This was followed by the most spectacular and fearsome show of lightening most had ever seen. One strike hit so close to the Tolbert’s rig that the entire wagon frame shook.

Henni shivered, and was just reflecting to her husband that the weather was never like this in Philadelphia, when the prairie sky took the cue and let down a torrent of hickory nut sized hail. Some folks retreated under their wagons, and others had to be content to wrap up in rugs and blankets and wait for the sky’s fury to pass.

Such was the prairie sky’s welcome for the newcomers.



Secret Keeper’s challenge


Please see other Oregon Trail Tales: The Business and Gladiators

The Little Company: Stubby

Fanning “Stubby” Greene was a short fellow, a little under five feet in height. His stature wasn’t the only thing that singled him out, as his sandy hair and the reddish goat beard on his chin left a lasting impression on most who saw him. He was a native of Illinois and had met Captain Little when he was a corporal in the Madison County Militia.

He was a good all around worker, and a superb teamster and driver. His skills had been honed as a caisson and limber-man, with the artillery. He was fiercely loyal to Boss Little, and when the latter decided to head west, Stubby was at his side.

His duties were straight forward, he drove the company’s rig, and took to organising the nightly encampments. He was a fair hand at a pot of beans as well.

He was the one member of the company that started each westward journey with the boss in Independence, with both Mason and Buck joining the train in Nebraska. He was quick with a joke, and had a way with people. He also excelled at training up greenhorns and emigrants on “the rules of the trail.” Because of this most folks came to rely on him in the early days on the eastward end, even if some of the young’ns did secretly refer to him as “the elf.”



Fandango’s prompt: Driver


End of the Trail

photo: Dawn Miller


The late war had pretty much closed the trial down. The end of hostilities left some hope for renewed business, but fact be told, the traffic was a mere trickle compared to what it had been. Now there was news that at a place called Promontory in Utah, that they had finished a new-fangled railway linking the East and California.

Boss Little was on the grey-side of 60, and didn’t see much a future for trail bosses anymore. 1870 looked to have bleak prospects for the Little Company, so with a heavy heart he sold up and moved to Sacramento.

(100 words)


Friday Fictioneers Prompt

While I have miles to go on the Oregon Trail (bad pun intended), this week’s prompt provided excellent material for the series epilogue. But fret not, Boss Little, Moses Weiss, and the crew still have more journeys to make.

If you get a chance stop in at Laramie Flats,  I hear Moses has got some cocoa in, so I’m sure he will brew you up a nice “Mosha.”