In her manuscript autobiography, written in 1924 when she was 76 years old, my great-great-grandmother, Julia Ann Barr Hamilton, wrote that she and Great-great-grandfather William Harrison Hamilton had been living in Omaha when they decided to go to California. She writes:
So one morning, the first or second day of July 1869, we started to Calif. on the first through passenger train that went across that way from Omaha to Sacramento. Had a very nice trip except Papa had spell sick head ache. We never had to change cars but one time on the trip. I don't remember the name of the place we changed, but we got in the other train. It seems to me it was Agton we changed it. Well we went through mountains, saw snow, sun shining, but we went through a tunnel all the same in crossing those plains. At that time was dangerous. In one place I remember the train went as fast as it could. I guess they didnt have any one outside. Then in one place we went around the horse shoe bend. We went as slow as could go. Could see both ends [of the] train. They had two engines on in one place. I think that was the place. We had our grub box, had plenty to do us. Papa made Coffey on the stove. That is the way they heated the coaches those days.
Well July 4th 1869, on Sun., we arrived in Sacramento Calif. I remember there was so many men howling, this way, this hotel, or another one. We couldent hardly get to the depot and I don't know if they had a waiting room or not, but Papa left me out on porch sitting on one of our trunks with my two little babies. He went to hunt Bob as the last we had heard from him he was in Sac. I don't think he had street or number but in the eastern part as I remember.
It seemed to me Papa was gone several hours. After while he come back, hadn't found Bob. Well we had many a laugh years after at how green we was.
(1) Did the first through train (with one transfer) from Omaha to Sacramento leave Omaha on the July 1 or 2, 1869? It is my understanding that trains had been running on the route since early June.
(2) At that time was the trip only three or four days long?
—Noel Parsons, Lubbock, Texas