You may have seen some of the media coverage in the week past, as descendents of the Mormon pioneers completed a re-creation of the 1847 trek that brought their ancestors to today's Salt Lake City, their final home. They sought, and found, and tamed a land that no one else would covet. But it seemed to be one of the few parts of the West that wasn't being overrun with Americans that year. One group was a bit diminished as rescuers reached the left over Donner Party survivors.

Mexico, under siege by U. S. forces, was attempting to salvage what it could of Spain's North American Empire. Most of Texas had been lost earlier to revenge seeking troops under Sam Houston. California was going the same way. Forces under Stephen Kearney had reoccupied Los Angeles on the 10th and the old cowhide-shipping town of Yerba Buena had been lost; and was renamed San Francisco on the 23rd. Santa Ana, butcher of the Alamo, was defeated by Zachary Taylor at Buena Vista in February. Chihuahua was occupied in early March. A week later the U. S. Navy landed the forces of General Winfield Scott at Vera Cruz. Twenty days later it fell. Then it was on to Mexico City. After American victories at Cerro Gordo, Puebla, Churubusco, Molino del Rey and Chapultepec, Scott's juggernaut swept into the Mexican capital on September 14th. It was all over for Spain's colonial army. U. S. President James K. Polk and his negotiator Nicholas P. Trist would carry out the mop-up operations, and when it was all over, Texas and California would be U. S. territories. In the next century Pancho Villa would do his best to invade us but other, later immigrants in our own time have been more successful.

The Mormon Trail wasn't the only one to see activity in 1847. Joel Palmer brought his family to Oregon and published Journal of Travels over the Rocky Mountains to the Mouth of the Columbia River. Mechanization of the process loomed as Eastern entrepreneurs met in Chicago to discuss possible routes for a transcontinental railroad.

Death, always present in the West, struck at the righteous (many would say overly self-righteous) as missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were murdered by Oregon Territory Indians on November 29th. But the death of a few whites wouldn't adversely affect the population balance. Reinforcements were being born and bred back East. Several would create their own noteriety. In Kearny, Missouri, Jesse James was born into a doctor's family that year. And in Kentucky another future train robber, William "Gray Fox" Miner, entered the scene. I won't say we are related, but..
For Classical ninety-one five, this is David "Gray Fox" Minor, leaving the scene.

© 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte