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Monday, January 13, 2020

Rules for Wagon Trains

Likewise setting forth the Duties of Wagon Master, Assistant Wagon Master, Mounted Extra-Hand, Teamsters, Night Herders, Caviyard Driver, &c., &c.

The short pamphlet by the above name was first published in 1866. It was endorsed by fourteen gentlemen who knew Mr. Cranmer “to have had sufficient experience to render him capable of forming The Regulations…”

I found a reprint at the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence, Missouri. My dh and I happened upon the museum quite by accident. We were spending the weekend in Kansas City, and since we love to turn every opportunity into a research trip, we traveled to nearby Independence. A quick search showed a restored train depot, which we enjoyed. But as we were driving away, the Frontier Trails Museum caught our eye. And what a find!

Recreations of frontier settings, wagons, general stores, lists of supplies recommended for a family undertaking the journey west, a pictorial timeline of westward travel… It was a treasure trove of information. We even topped off our visit with a ride in a covered wagon, pulled by a pair of silky-eared mules.

This little pamphlet gave me the idea for Coming Home, the first story set in River’s Bend, Missouri. While I took the liberty of adding a security guard as one of the train’s company, Mr. Cranmer provides some amazing details for writers like me who love all this history.


  1. I love it when I come across a treasure of information when I research for a story. How delightful that you came across this golden nugget of information in such a manner--a fun road trip.

    Do you have a series of books set in River's Bend, Missouri? Are they linked together in some way? Is a blurb, excerpt, and buy link on your website for COING HOME?

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  3. Hi Sarah! Coming Home" is the first book I set in River's Bend. The stories are all connected - by the town and by shared characters. Thanks for asking!

  4. What a find indeed. Like you, I love when I find those pieces that add so much detail to a story. Thanks for sharing. Doris

  5. Oh, what a gem to find. I'm glad that it gave you the idea for the book. I'm also sure that you'll use details from your trip to that museum in further writing. I'll look forward to that too.

  6. First, as soon as I read you were wandering around the museum in Independence I got all excited - I was there just this last summer! I got to go on the wagon ride too (although we had horses, not mules!)! I got to watch the movie and wander around breathing in all the same history! Did you also get a chance to go to the park where back in the day all the wagons gathered to take off? When I went you could just barely make out some of the wagon ruts - almost gone! :( But, I had to pause and step away from the group of people I was with, because walking into that park, I suddenly could see, hear, breath in the chaos of the moment... the wagons being hitched, dogs and kids running around, folks hollering, cattle and other animals restless... Oh my! I could have spent hours just standing there, soaking it all in.

    We also visited the train depot, and had a blast chatting with the lady after the official tour ended, talking about how the stove in the kitchen was the same one from her grandmother's house and how impressed she was by my knowledge of that time frame (YAY for reading books! lol) The kids I had with me were rather impressed and loved dreaming the history with us.

    Anyways, how absolutely FUN that you weaved something from there into your story (and btw, I LOVED your story too!!)

  7. Some of the best tidbits of history that I've come across have been just the way you did with the treasure you found in the pamphlet. Kind of leaves you with a giddy happiness when that happens. lol