The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 23, July 1919 - April, 1920 Page: 45
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John H. Fonda's Explorations in the Southwest
rant set, and, as a whole, possessed less honor than the beggarly
Winnebagoes about Prairie du Chien, at the present time" (1858).
Leaving Taos Fonda returned to Santa F6 where he found a
company of traders who were preparing to cross the plains to Mis-
souri. He soon became acquainted with a man by the name of
Campbell, who was a merchant from St. Louis. The latter en-
gaged the explorer "to oversee the loading and unloading of his
three wagons, whenever it was necessary to cross a stream, which
The trip from Santa F6 to St. Louis proved to be "a hard jour-
ney," and one that Fonda "never cared to repeat." The "caravan
of wagons, cattle, oxen, horses, mules left Santa F6 in good con-
dition," but many of them died before the company reached the
Missouri River--the animals from thirst and exhaustion, and the
men from sickness and disease. The survivors reached St. Louis
in October, "which place I saw for the first time, and Campbell
having no further need of my services paid me in hard Mexican
dollars, and I left him."
Fonda's estimate of the country through which they passed is
interesting in view of the comments made by other explorers who
had passed through parts of the same region at an earlier period.
He thought "that the barren country, east of the Canadian River,
would, at some day, prove valuable. It is rich in minerals. The
ground in some places was covered with pieces of crustated sub-
stance, that tasted like saleratus. There were several springs of
a volcanic nature."e
The data which Fonda gives for his journey from Santa Fe to
Missouri are doubtless correct. There was an expedition which
reached the Missouri River in the fall of 1823 at about the time
Fonda says he arrived there, but the description which he gives
does not fit this particular company. He refers to a "caravan of
wagons, cattle, oxen, horses, and mules." Wagons were probably
*For Long's wholesale condemnation of the country east of the Rocky
Mountains, west of Missouri, and south of the forty-ninth parallel, see
Long's "Account of an expedition from Pittsburg to the Rocky Moun-
tains," in Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 1748-1846, XVII, 147, 148.
For an estimate somewhat similar to Fonda's made by a man who ex-
plored in the Southwest between the period of Long's and Fonda's ex-
plorations, see The Journal of Jacob Fowler, narrating asn adventure from
Arkansas through the Indian Territory, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and
New Mewico to the sources of the Rio Grande del Norte, 1821-22. Coues
ed., New York, 1898.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 23, July 1919 - April, 1920, periodical, 1919; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101075/m1/51/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.