Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Olathe in Johnson County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

The Travelers

 
 
The Travelers Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., August 12, 2010
1. The Travelers Marker
Inscription.
The Travelers
For more than four decades, tens of thousands of travelers camped here. The Lone Elm campground was one or two nights out from the frontier "jumping off" points on the Missouri River. The great lone elm tree that gave this frontier campground its lasting name served as a landmark for this famous rendezvous point along the western trails.

The travelers were diverse. Some would become legendary, some were seeking profit by the freighting trade, some would succumb to hardships and tragedy, and some wanted the opportunity for free land and a new start in Oregon and California. The land could be harsh. Stream crossings were hazardous. Disease and infections were common. Cholera was feared; the microscopic bacterium would cause severe dehydration resulting frequently in death.

"This morning we buried John N. Collins, a private in Captain Turney's company. His grave is situated on the right hand of the road about 150 yards east of the 'Lone Elm' the only tree to be seen on the prairie for miles around..."
- Private Benjamin Wiley

July 14, 1847 excerpt from his journal during the Mexican War.
Courtesy of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

The Famous
A bold and adventurous 14 year old runaway joined a caravan heading down the Santa Fe Trail
Kit Carson Image on Travelers Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., August 12, 2010
2. Kit Carson Image on Travelers Marker
[Caption reads] Kit Carson made his first trip down the Santa Fe Trail in 1826. He became an expert frontiersman working as a trapper, trader, scout, and John C. Fremont's guide for his westward exploration. He was a Colonel in the United States Army in the later years of his life.
in 1826. What must have been in his mind as his traveling party set up camp at Lone Elm? Did he understand that this early experience would begin defining his life? In 1842, John C. Fremont would hire him as the guide for his survey party to the Pacific. In 1846 this now famous frontiersman would guide General Stephen Kearny and his troops in the Mexican War. Described as an unassuming man with implacable courage...mountain man...scout...Indian agent...the 14 year old runaway who became a legend was Kit Carson

The Infamous
Traders, trappers and frontiersman would interact with emigrants and gold seekers. Because of the uncertainties of trail travel, the exchange of stories provided advice and comfort to those traveling for the first time. However, it could also provide a chilling premonition of things yet to be experienced.

"...We arrived at a camp called the Lone Elm, across the Missouri line. This place was thought to be the limit of civilization, at this camp we met some hunters returning with furs & they gave us some dried buffalo meat and told us that we had no idea of what we would suffer before we reached California. This prediction proved too true - At this camp was a Elm tree the only tree of any kind in sight. I shall never forget the lonliness of the scene boy though I was at the time.
- John Breen

14 year old John
Photo of Reeds on The Travelers Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., August 12, 2010
3. Photo of Reeds on The Travelers Marker
[Caption reads] James and Margaret Reed, leaders of the 31 people of the Donner-Reed Party, who came through Lone Elm on May 16, 1846
Breen, camped at Lone Elm in 1846 with the Donner-Reed party. Excerpt from his book Pioneer Memoirs (1877).
 
Erected by City of Olathe.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Oregon Trail, and the Santa Fe Trail marker series.
 
Location. 38° 49.347′ N, 94° 49.817′ W. Marker is in Olathe, Kansas, in Johnson County. Click for map. Marker is about 50 feet SE of the picnic shelter in Lone Elm Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 21151 West 167th Street, Olathe KS 66062, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Trail Campground..To Farm..To Park (here, next to this marker); A Most Desirable Spot For Camping (here, next to this marker); Roads To The West (here, next to this marker); Lone Elm Park (within shouting distance of this marker); Trails West (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lone Elm Campground (about 700 feet away); Santa Fe Trail (approx. 0.3 miles away); Elm Grove Campground (approx. 0.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Olathe.
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
 
Also see . . .
1. Lone Elm Park. (Submitted on August 13, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Photo of Byington Family on Travelers Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., August 12, 2010
4. Photo of Byington Family on Travelers Marker
[Caption reads] The Joseph Henry Byington family, 1867 (in Utah). The faces of this emigrant family tell the story of travel along the Oregon-California Trail. The hazardous and rugged conditions probably explain the stern and grim expressions on the faces of the adults. Someof the children's faces offer a glimpse of hope and happiness along their adventure.

2. Santa Fe National Historic Trail. (Submitted on August 13, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Oregon-California Trails Association. (Submitted on August 13, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. Santa Fe Trail Association. (Submitted on August 13, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
5. The Interactive Santa Fe Trail. (Submitted on August 13, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. ExplorationRoads & VehiclesSettlements & SettlersWar, Mexican-American
 
The Travelers Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., August 12, 2010
5. The Travelers Marker
Second from right.
Lone Elm Park Shelter and Markers image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
6. Lone Elm Park Shelter and Markers
Lone Elm Park Street Light and Sign image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
7. Lone Elm Park Street Light and Sign
Lone Elm Park Sign image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
8. Lone Elm Park Sign
On streetlight poles.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 955 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   6, 7, 8. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Paid Advertisement