Mile 767: Lucinda Rawlins Grave

“A knoll wedged itself between us and the river. On the summit was a conspicuous new monument, and we went up to look at it. The cement gravestone was just completed and been built with the evident purpose of attracting attention. Sunk into the glass-fronted recess in the cement was an ordinary and irregular rock. It’s still legible inscription read: ‘Lucinda Rollins—Died June 1849.’

Some family, in those far-gone days stayed in this beautiful spot long enough to lose a loved one, to bury her, and to drive on. Some one in this family could not bear to leave her in an unmarked grave, and so it has norne a headstone—small and insignificant, ut miraculously remaining for all these years. The marked graves are greatly in the minority. In years when the trail was crowded, the trains were so hurried and sickness so prevalent that common decency could hardly be observed. . . .

It was during the small migrations at the beginning and at the end of trail history that deaths occurred singly and burial was a special and tragic ceremony. Because wagons were few and the trail at the mercy of marauding Indians the graves had need—a dreadful, ghastly need—to be completely obliterated.

Picture a trail-side camp in the early morning. In the trail itself a grave has been dug during the night. Wrapped only with blankets and soft buffalo robes the precious contents are gently lowered into it. If the neighborly occupants of near-by wagons have been able to find cactus, a layer of its protecting spiny joints is carefully tamped in next to the beloved dead and a shuddering prayer breathed that it may be enough. Next, the earth is packed above it firm and smooth. The bereaved family must go on. There is no help for it. The wagons are loaded and ready, and wait for the word which must be given. It is given. The slow-moving oxen move forward and onward. The creaking, rambling wagons lurch and roll. The whole inexorable march, from this moment on, flows westward over all that was mortal of their loved one—forever obliterating the last resting place and effacing it from the memory of man.”

[N.B. The gravesite is along the Guernsey Ruts hiking trail, which is marked on the Pony Express Bikepacking Route.]