Description

    Signed Presentation Copy of "One of the Rarest
    of the Narratives of Early Overland Travel"

    Overton Johnson, and W[illia]m H. Winter. Route Across the Rocky Mountains, With a Description of Oregon and California; Their Geographical Features, Their Resources, Soil, Climate, Productions, &c., &c. Lafayette, Ind.: John B. Semans, Printer, 1846. First edition, variant issue, with the correct orientation of the letters "Ri" in "River" in line 3, page 26; with no vertical slug before the word "Fort" in line 13, page 36; but with the signature mark "8" appearing under the "i" in "individuals" instead of between the words "different" and "individuals" on page 57. Signed presentation copy, inscribed by Overton Johnson in black ink on the front pastedown: "From / Overton Johnson / to / L L McDonald." Additional early ink signature of George McDonald on the front board. Octavo in fours (8 x 5.375 inches; 204 x 137 mm.). viii, [9]-152 pages. Original drab green paper-covered boards, rebacked with blue green cloth, preserving most of the (original?) yellow paper spine label lettered in black. Boards worn, with some paper loss at the extremities, and a few small spots and water stains; apparent biopredation to tip of lower corner of rear board; hinges renewed; a few small paper repairs to endpapers. Light to moderate foxing throughout, as usual. Two small ink stains on the front free endpaper, with bleedthrough to the title. Small brown adhesion in the lower blank margin of page 106, causing a slight indentation on pages 107/108. Pages [9]/10, 11/12, 43/44, 77/78, 83/84, and 143/144 with diagonal creases across the text, sometimes affecting a few letters (no loss); pages 149/150 and 151/152 with vertical creases in the outer blank margin. Overall, a very good copy of this fragile book. Protected in a dark green cloth chemise and quarter dark green hard-grain morocco and green cloth slipcase. Spine of slipcase lettered in gilt in compartments with five raised bands. This copy sold at Christie's Los Angeles, 31 January 2002, Lot 110, for $12,925.

    One of two contemporaneously printed accounts of the 1843 migration to Oregon, preceded only by the Lansford W. Hastings guide of 1845 [The Emigrants' Guide, to Oregon and California]. "Overton Johnson and William H. Winter [1819-1879] left Independence [Missouri] on May 25, 1843, and arrived at Oregon City on November 13. In June of 1844, Winter joined a party traveling to California. He left California in May of 1845, crossed the Sierra Nevada by the Truckee route, and, at Soda Springs on the Bear River in southwestern Idaho, met Johnson, who had left Oregon in April. Both men arrived at Westport on August 29" (Wagner-Camp-Becker).

    Bradford 2705; Cowan (1914), page 122 ("One of the rarest of the narratives of early overland travel. It appears to have escaped the notice of Mr. H. H. Bancroft"); Graff 2221; Howes J142, "d"; Jones Checklist 1126; Jones, Adventures in Americana, 235; Mintz 259; Sabin 36260; Smith 5279; Streeter 3145; Wagner-Camp-Becker 122.


    More Information:

    "Johnson's narrative is one of the rarest of the early overlands...In the description of California, the authors discuss the Bear Flag Revolt, already underway, and the discovery of gold: 'Gold is found in considerable quantities, and a company was formed about the time of our leaving (1845) to engage in the business.' The narrative also includes a detailed account of the trip across the Plains, with descriptions of Indians, frontier forts, and the different known routes" (Howell 50 (1979): California, 125). The appendix (pages [141]-152) includes "Instructions to Emigrants-Supplies and Equipment-Manner of Traveling, &c.-Bill of the Route," which gives both point to point and accumulative mileage and brief descriptions of the trail.

    "This is among the brightest and freshest accounts of an overland-to-Oregon journey, that of 1845. This book has the bounce and vitality of two young men to whom everything was of interest. Through this book, the serious reader can get an entirely new aspect of the overland trek to Oregon, not possible in most overland narratives. It rarity is justified" (Webster A. Jones, quoted in Howell 32 (1952): The Oregon Country, 154).

    "The route to California, the description of that country, and the return from it to Fort Hall, are from the notes of Wm. H. Winter" (Preface).

    "Graff notes some points of printing in the first issue: the chapter heading on page 26 has two letters inverted, on page 36 there is a vertical slug before the word Fort on line 13, and on page 57 the signature number is out of place" (Wagner-Camp-Becker).



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