John App’s March 30, 1850 Gold Rush Diary Entry

Saturday March 30, 1850

Stopping Point: 5 miles west of Macomb, Illinois

Approximate Miles Traveled: 35

GPS Latitude: 40° 26.484′ N; Longitude: 90° 48.047′ W

Introduction to this post: About 1835 the term “seeing the elephant” became popular in this country. It certainly was metaphorical (since there were no elephants living in the wild in America) and carried varied meanings. In the context of the westward immigration it generally means to “experience things larger than one has ever experienced”, “to see profound things”, “to encounter the hardest of circumstances along the trail”. Hopefully this will help make sense of posts using the term, “seeing the elephant”.

March 30th – waked up this morning very Comfortable, Looked Like rain. Cloudy and gloomy about 9 o’clock it Cleared up and sun shone bright as Ever, We Traveled about 35 miles to day, and a fine time we had, Lots of fun, It is amusing to see the natives run to the road to see the Elephant. Old men, women, Girls & Boys, when they see us coming if it is a half mile off across their fields,  they shinet to the road helter skelter, little fellows falling down others stumbling over them, Hurra boys the Elephant the Elephant they Cry, this Evening we are camped in Modonaugh County about 5 miles west of Mc Comb at a good Ol Pennsylvania Farm House, are going to stop till monday morning, This Evening we had Ham, Eggs, Potatoes, Bread, and Coffee- we now have a little stove Just weighs 11½ lb with all the cooking utensils, and it is very Comfortable, in our tent this evening  the stove makes it so warm that we have to open the tent and let out the heat, so let it rain or shine and we are at home my hat full of wood will cook our meals vituals, this Evening we have straw to sleep on and now it is bed time Jake let us turn in

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See video for this day


Diary Entries 3/29/1850 - 3/30/1850

Diary Entries 3/29/1850 - 3/30/1850



Diary Entry 3/30/1850

Diary Entry 3/30/1850



About storiesretoldblogger

I am an Elkhart, Indiana native and became interested in applying video to history when consumer video cameras were first introduced on the market in the late 1970’s. My production company, Stories Retold, specializes in preserving oral history, traditions, and values with video. Primarily interviewing individuals, I sometimes document families, and on occasion document an entire community. My niche is developing a personal relationship with clients which helps me to tell their story just the way they would like to have it told. Everyone has a story worth preserving, and I enjoy discovering interesting stories from people with whom I come into contact on a daily basis. In years to come, these videos will be priceless as they portray original stories complete with visual images and actual voices filled with all the primary material and emotion that was intended to be. I gain a strong sense of personal satisfaction with each completed project whether it involves an individual or an entire community.
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