Hernando de Soto was a veteran explorer of the New World by 1539. Based on his fortune, influence with the King of Spain and his past successes in South America, he had amassed an army of 600 men all determined to claim gold and glory on his latest expedition. Sailing to Florida from Cuba in May 1539, de Soto and his men embarked on a fateful, three-year journey that would take them to Arkansas.
Once again let’s join our gold seekers traveling in the northeast corner of Nevada and heading toward California. They are approximately two and a half months into the journey and must travel about one and a half months more to reach the gold fields. They are traveling through the Rocky Mountains and coming upon some unusual sights for the times. We begin with the last day of July 1850.
In the 1870s, in spite of the pain of Reconstruction, a Renaissance began to occur for Arkansas as some of the most important colleges in the state were born. Part of this flowering of knowledge was the creation of Philander Smith College in Little Rock.
Nevada! At last the travelers reach what is now known as Nevada! After Nevada, California! Their now familiar problems and illnesses are well known to us, but they travel onward with their hopes undiminished. It may sound strange to think of snow in July to Arkansans, but many of these Rocky Mountain peaks wear snow caps year round. Let’s join our gold seekers as they hurry westward.
Once again we join Ezekiel Owens and his companions on their westward trek toward the gold fields of California. After the 1849 strike at Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento, Calif., people seemed to believe, or hope, that gold was so plentiful it was lying on the ground. Multitudes rushed to seek their fortunes there. Most found the trail to California harsh and the gold more often than not elusive. This quest, however, led to the great westward expansion of America and fortunes often of a different nature. Let’s rejoin Ezekiel Owens, Drew County pioneer, in southwestern Idaho during July of 1850 on his journey to California.
It began with an honest mistake that even the most skilled craftsman has made hundreds of times. A young technician dropped a socket wrench. But on that day in 1980, it was a mistake that almost ended the world.
As the twentieth century dawned, Little Rock residents looked at the continuing problems of crime and corruption in the city and decided they would not tolerate it any longer. Charles Taylor was one such man, and as mayor, he brought that reform energy to city government, creating a modern city worthy of being a state capital.
We’re back with Ezekiel Owens and company on their westward trek to the California gold fields. Leaving Springfield, Mo., on May 1, 1850, two and a half months later the group is now near the southwestern Wyoming-Idaho border. Although the water and grass are better, illness continues to plague some company members as well as the Owens family. Come with us as we continue our journey.