The Last Expedition of Josiah Gregg
ceeded in reaching the settlements in what is now Sonoma County
on the 17th of February, 1850.
The party which attempted to follow the coast was less fortu-
nate. On account of the snow on the high ridges and the great
number of gulches and ravines that impeded their progress they
decided to turn toward the east and work their way across the
mountains into the Sacramento Valley. Their supply of ammu-
nition became exhausted and starvation threatened the whole
party, and for the leader of the expedition, notwithstanding a
life upon the frontier, this experience was too severe. One of
the party relates,
Dr. Gregg continued to grow weaker, from the time' of our
separation, until one 'day he fell from his horse and died in a
few hours without speaking-died from starvation-had had no
meat for several days--had been living entirely upon acorns and
His death occurred on the 25th of February, 1850, in the
vicinity of Clear Lake," where, to borrow one of his own expres-
sions, he was "buried according to the custom of the prairies."
"These funerals," he explains, "are usually performed in a very
summary manner. A grave is dug in a convenient spot, and the
corpse, with no. other shroud than its own clothes, and only a
blanket for a. coffin, is consigned to the earth. The grave is then
filled up with stones or poles, as a safeguard against the voracious
wolves of the prairies."10 Thus ended the active life of Josiah
Gregg, writer, merchant, scientist and explorer. In life an ardent
lover of the frontier, she had now taken him to her bosom that
their association might ever remain undisturbed.
9Alta California, March 7, 1850. Gibbs in Schoolcraft, III, 131.
"'These words which so accurately describe the burial of Gregg are
taken from his Commerce of the Prairies, I, 27, with note.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 20, July 1916 - April, 1917. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101070/. Accessed October 20, 2014.