Covered Wagon Women: Diaries & Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849 - Vol. 1

By Kenneth L. Holmes | Go to book overview

KETURAH BELKNAP'S RUNNING COMMENTARY

George Belknap and Keturah1 Penton were married October 3, 1839, both of Allen County, Ohio.

On October 17th we gathered up our earthly possessions and put them in a two horse wagon and started to find us a home in the far west. We had heard of the prairie land of Illinois but we had never seen anything but heavy timber land so we set our faces westward. (There were no railroads then).2 We traveled thru part of Ohio and across Indiana and Illinois and crossed the Mississippi at Fort Madison into Iowa; was four weeks on the way and saw prairie to our hearts content, and verily we thought the half had never been told.

We camped out every night, took our flour and meat with us and were at home; every night cooked our suppers and slept in our wagon. We had a dutch oven and skilet, teakettle and coffee pot, and when I made

____________________
1
Her given name is spelled in several ways by family and in the published literature, a common rendering being "Kitturah." She, herself, spelled is "Ketturah" in her "Chronicle of the Bellfountain Settlement," Oregon Hist. Qtly, XXXVIII, no. 3 ( Sept. 1937), 271. The name is spelled "Keturah" in the 1870 federal census records.

The name is a biblical one. In the King James Bible, the version used by the pioneer Methodists, it appears as "Keturah" whenever used. "Keturah" was one of Abraham's wives and is mentioned in Genesis 25:1-4 and in I Chronicles 1:23-33. It is hard to believe that the parents would have named their newborn daughter for one dubbed by the biblical writer as a "concubine," nevertheless that is what happened. The meaning of the Hebrew word is "fragrance."

According to Robert Moulton Gatke, who edited the above "Chronicle," the family could not agree as to whether there should be double "t" or one. Our conclusion is to use "Keturah," under the assumption that such a devout family would have followed the Bible in usage.

2
The statement in parentheses was added later, either by the writer or by some copier or editor.

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