McGinnis, Nesmith, and Waggoner Family Papers, 1859-1958 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection primarily consists of documentation of Patience Jane McGinnis and James M. McGinnis's 1858 journey west from Illinois along the Oregon Trail. It also contains genealogies of the Nesmith and Waggoner families.
Patience Jane "Jennie" Nesmith McGinnis (1835-1890) was born in Ohio and came to Illinois in 1847 with her parents, who settled on a farm near Metamora, Illinois. In 1858 she married James M. McGinnis of Groveland, Illinois. In 1859 the couple traveled west along the Oregon Trail to Sutter, California. They remained in the western United States for 25 years, returning to McLean County, Illinois in 1884.
The collection consists of a diary of Patience Jane "Jennie" McGinnis and James McGinnis's journey from Illinois to California, written by Patience Jane in the form of a series of letters to her sister, Mary Waggoner. The collection also includes a typescript of the diary. The diary recounts the couple's 1859 journey by steamboat and wagon train from Peoria, Illinois, to Sutter, California, along the Oregon Trail. It describes the landscape and scenery, various encampments, and encounters with Native Americans and Mormons along the way.
In addition to the diary, the collection contains photographs of Patience Jane and James McGinnis; a genealogy of the Nesmith Family; a history and genealogy of the Waggoner family; and reference material that includes a photo of Patience Jane and James McGinnis's gravestone, a photocopy of Patience Jane's obituary, and a photocopy and typescript of a poem written to James by his sister.
A descendant of Patience Jane McGinnis, Cynthia Dewees Nelson of Bloomington, Indiana, donated the collection to the Library in 2019.