A trip to Oregon with ox teams was at the time a new experiment, and was exceedingly severe upon the temper and endurance of people. It was one of the most conclusive tests of character, and the very best school in which to study human nature. Before the trip terminated, people acted upon their general principles, and threw off all disguises. It was not that the trip was beset with great perils, for we had no war with the Indians, and no stock stolen by them. But there were ten thousand little vexations continually occurring, which could not be foreseen before they occurred, nor fully remembered when past, but were keenly felt when passing. At one time an ox would be missing, at another time a mule, and then a struggle for the best encampment, and for a supply of wood and water; and, in these struggles, the worst traits of human nature were displayed, and there was no remedy but patient endurance. --- Peter Burnett, 1843
The stories of the travelers continued as they left Johnson County southwest on the Santa Fe Trail or west on the Oregon-California Trail. Travelers considered Johnson County a training ground where novices could look for assistance from experienced travelers passing by.
In case of a total catastrophe, “civilization” was within a few days’ travel. The writings of many emigrants were at first filled with excitement and much enthusiasm, a tone that changed dramatically as they continued on the difficult journey across the continent.
Despite the hardships to come, these early experiences on the overland trails in Johnson County are remembered not only within traveler’s journals, but also in the places they traversed so long ago. Their experiences will remain forever etched in the landscapes of Johnson County.