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Smith wagon train from Warren Co. Iowa 1862.

Smith wagon train from Warren Co. Iowa 1862.

Posted: 1201994303000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Smith, Baker, Ball, Lynch, Jaquiss, Waterhouse, Shaw, Heiman.
Looking for info and to share info that we have on the ill-fated Smith Wagon Train that left Warren County, Iowa on 12 May 1862, and was attacked by Shoshones twice on 26 Aug 1862 on the California Trail at the Raft River, Idaho.
John Adam Smith, Buchanan Smith, Jonathan P. Smith, many more Smiths, Hiram Baker, Ball Bros. I have a may-be-complete list of the train.

Mark Smith ""

Re: Smith wagon train from Warren Co. Iowa 1862.

Posted: 1202052863000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Smith
I don't know anything about this train -- did anyone survive the attacks? If so, where did they end up? I'd love to see more information about this train and the list you have of its members. As far as I know my James Smith came to Oregon in 1864 from next-door Marion Co., IA, but I know he had relatives already in Oregon/Washington so am curious about who was in the 1862 train.


Re: Smith wagon train from Warren Co. Iowa 1862.

Posted: 1202065216000
Classification: Query
Yes, there were survivors...I am living proof of that. There were five killed in the attacks, but only one Smith, Jonathan's daughter, Mary, who was three years old and lingered six days before dying. Jonathan was shot through both legs and his hand. His wife, Mary Ann, was shot through the lungs, but somehow survived. She was also wounded in the hand, which was crippled for the rest of her life. My ggrandfather was hit in the hand, as was John Adam Smith, his father. A lot of hand injuries!

The Smith's all settled in California...Sonoma, Georgetown, Fowler, Biggs, Paicines, and Monterey County.

All the Smith family came west on that train except James Henson Smith, who lived out his life in Iowa, never coming west, and Isaac Smith, who lived in Ohio, and later came to California after serving in the Civil War. Isaac ended up in Fowler, Ca. The only Smith to live in Washington or Oregon was John Christian Smith, who moved around the country, finally settling in Egypt, Washington. He moved back to California shortly before his death in 1912.

John Adam Smith was the patriarch of the family. His children were, Isaac, Elizabeth, Rebecca, James, Lewis, Mary, Jonathan, John, Buchanan (my ggrandfather) Lavina, and Caroline.

If anything sounds familiar, let me know.


Re: Smith wagon train from Warren Co. Iowa 1862.

Posted: 1216691263000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Ball, Cromwell
I have a relative who was a survivor of the wagon train. She was a small girl. Her name was Martha Jane (Mattie) Ball-Cromwell. Her father and uncle were two of the Ball men who were killed at the massacre. I would love to have a complete list of the survivors. She used to tell stories of having survived in the desert eating berries and such and then remembered that the nice people who offered to help, made them pay $2.00 per person to help them. She would be my great-great-great grandmother. She lived to be in her seventies and died in California.

Re: Smith wagon train from Warren Co. Iowa 1862.

Posted: 1216774065000
Classification: Query
Hi, fitzwatson,

We're glad to hear from you! Was Mattie's father John Ball? Our records show that John Ball had two children with him, but no names are listed. (Henry, actually Samuel Henry Ball, lived, and returned to Iowa.)

There were 5 dead from the attacks. They were the two Ball brothers, Fred Heilman, one unidentified man, and my cousin Mary, who was three, and died six days later on the desert.
At least 36 people survived the attack. Several men fled from the first attack on horseback, leaving the rest to fend for themselves.

Our research has led us to believe that the train split up after the attacks. Some were taken west by another train, some were taken to Bear River, and were charged for their rescue. Others, including my great grandfather, Buchanan, and his father John Adam Smith, were found in the desert by a settler named James May. He took them to Call's Fort, today's Honeyville, for treatment of their wounds. Later, they went to Salt Lake, where they spent the Winter before going on to Sonoma County, California. May's Great grandson lives in Saratoga, Ca. We've met and had lunch with him and his wife, thanking him for the rescue so long ago.

We had no idea what happened to the remaining Balls, until now. We wonder if John's wife was with him too?

My wife Donna is writing a book on the Smith Family, from the German Schmidt, that was captured by Washington at Trenton, to the present day. She has been workinbg on it for twenty years, but still has a way to go.

If you are interested, there is a book published by the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce, called "I Remember" stories and pictures of El Dorado County pioneer families. The first eleven pages are about the Smith family. It is mostly about Jonathan P. Smith's family that settled in Georgetown, but has some good information, including photos. Go to "" and look at the very bottom of the page, and you'll see the book for sale. I'm attaching an article that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1908 that you may enjoy. If it doesn't come through, I'll have to send it to a regular e-mail address.

Mark and Donna Smith
Oakley, Ca.

Re: Smith wagon train from Warren Co. Iowa 1862.

Posted: 1237746731000
Classification: Query
I have a THORNE family leaving probably Calmas, Olive Township, Clinton, Iowa after July 28, 1860 arriving California in 1862, All we really know at this point is that the Mother a THORNE family had lost a baby on the way in the wagon train.
I suppose back in those days you wouldn't stop a wagon train if some one was in labor, or would you?
Apparently Federal soldiers protected them on the way to CA..
What trail would they have taken and does anyone know what Wagon train it may have been? I think I remember reading something years ago about two trails? out of IA?

I remember that years ago when we were running Pipe line in Wyoming we had to bring a archaeologist with us. We found a Fire pit that was thought to be left by the Indians. And a wagon train track that we actually went underneath, so we didn't destroy the traces of the tracks...........
I don't remember which trail that one was either. I think probably about 20 miles more or less out of Green river or Rock Springs WY.
Thank You

Re: Smith wagon train from Warren Co. Iowa 1862.

Posted: 1244342429000
Classification: Query
Your family was a little ahead of mine. The Smiths left Indianola, Iowa on 12 May 1862. They didn't arrive in California until the next year, having spent the winter in Salt Lake City, after being attacked by Shoshone Indians twice in one day, 26 Aug 1862, at the Raft River, Idaho.

The train MAY have stopped when someone was in labor. Many wouldn't travel on Sundays, and many stayed in one location for several days due to illness.

It would be difficult to say what wagon train they were on. You will have to due research if you don't have family records. (We are fortunate enough to have a copy of the Smith's journal).They probably traveled west to what is now Omaha, Nebraska, and picked up the Platte River. The trail was on both sides, with the north side called the "Mormon Trail". This is the one the Smiths used. In western Neb. the trail from Missouri merged with the other trail. Many people kept to the north trail to avoid the "Wild Missourians" The trail heads west into Wyoming,and picks up the Sweetwater River. At that point, there are several "cut-offs" that they may have taken, such as the Sublette Cut-off that my family used. They might have stayed on the main trail and passed through Ft. Bridger. Heading north, they may have detoured through Salt Lake City, or continued on. The trail splits again in Idaho. There was a "Hudspeth Cut-off that some used, although it was rough going. Most passed American Falls.A few miles past that the trail split. If you took the right trail, you were bound for Oregon, to the left, California. It was about thirty miles down this trail that my family was attacked. As you can see, it is impossible to know which way they went without documentation.

Several trails pass the Green River...the main trail, Sublette's Cut-off, and the Lander Road.

In May and June of 2007, we went back to Iowa, and using the journal, followed our family's route out west, following the Oregon Trail, ending near the attack site. We saw many wagon ruts.

I appreciate your comments on the pipeline. I am a retired pipeliner, having worked with Pacific Gas and Elecric's Pipeline Operations for 36 years. The last big job was the M-401, 42" line from Canada.I was involved with the job in my District, about a sixty mile stretch. We had archeologists, Indian Representatives, Fish and Game, ...the list goes on and on. Those people drove us crazy, and must have increased the cost of the project by 25%!

Good Luck, Mark

Re: Smith wagon train from Warren Co. Iowa 1862.

Posted: 1315663953000
Classification: Query
My grandmother Martha Jane Ball Cromwell was a survivor of the Smith Wagon train. she continued on to Silver Springs Nevada where her mother died. She went from there to San Franscisco. I think she lived with the Smith's until she caught the first train out to Warren County, Iowa. She was present at the driving of the golden spike at Promotory Utah.

she went to San Fram

Re: Smith wagon train from Warren Co. Iowa 1862.

Posted: 1315670632000
Classification: Query
Yes, we have her on our list. Martha Jane Ball, daughter of John Washington Ball and Elizabeth Willis Ball.

John died in the Indian attack, as did his brother, William Thomas (Tom) Ball. Both were shot just over the eye, one the left, the other the right. The third brother,Samuel Henry Ball survived, and several years later, returned to Iowa, living the rest of his life there.

Of the Smiths, John Christian and Lewis ended up in the same area as your grandmother. The records say they spent the Winter at the "Nevada Mines". My family, John Adam Smith (GGgrandfather), Buchanan (Ggrandfather), Jonathan,(Buchanan's brother) were badly wounded and spent the winter in SLC with their families. When they finally arrived in California, they settled in Sonoma County, near Santa Rosa. They didn't stay long, moving to Monterey County after about two years. John Christian Smith struck out on his own, trying farming all over the West. We have been all over California, collecting Death Certificates, visiting grave sites, etc. In 2007, we traveled back to Indianola, Iowa, and did research there. Afterwards, we followed the Wagon Train's route West, right up to the Raft River where the attack took place.

We would appreciate any additional information that you may have on the Ball's and the trip West, especially photos of the Ball family.


Mark B. Smith

By the way, my e-mail address is ""

Re: Smith wagon train from Warren Co. Iowa 1862.

Posted: 1315752908000
Classification: Query
I forgot to ask you what you might need. We have quite a bit of info on the wagon train and the Smith Family.

If you have info or photos, we will be glad to cover the cost of making copies if you don't have a scanner.


Mark Smith
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