Whole Number 154
In the December 1988 issue [Vol. 76, No. 4] of the National Genealogical Society's Quarterly, appeared an article entitled "Deaths Along the Oregon Trail, 1852." The introductory note, by Marsha Hoffman Rising, begins: "On or about the first of May, 1852, Colonel George E. Blodget departed from Saint Joseph, Missouri, to guide a wagon train part of the way to California.
Upon his return in early September, he presented the editor of that city's Gazette with a most unusual list--names taken from grave markers encountered on his return trip." Ms. Rising believes that all of the names copied were for individuals who had died in 1852. Col. Blodget estimated that "40,000 people with 8,000 wagons and about 60,000 head of cattle" had constituted the westward migration that year. Although his list of the dead totaled 146, Col. Blodget estimated that this was but a fraction of the number who had died, noting that "the majority who die are buried at the different camping places, sometimes 4 and 5 miles off the main trail." He also noted: "From the imperfect manner in which the dead are buried, the wolves soon scent and drag them from their shallow graves, strewing the trail with human bones."
One of the 146 for whom Col. Blodget found markers was "A. Sparks" whom, he noted, had died on June 11. Does any reader recall a story in his/her family of an "A. Sparks" who died on the way to California or Oregon in or ca. 1852?