One of my volunteer tasks is to explain the California Trail and share information. What I explain is that the trip was an arduous undertaking. Many made the trip and encountered death and personal losses. Others were lucky and only encountered an extreme physical adventure.

Daniel Tickner recorded his name on Register Rock in the City of Rocks while making a trip. Research has uncovered his unusual story of crossing the land on the California Trail three times.

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Signature seen on Register Rock

Daniel was born in England in 1812 and emigrated to the US in 1826. He later married Mary Woods in 1840 and lived in Illinois. Daniel’s first trip to California came at the request of his in-laws to go retrieve their son John who had gone to California looking for gold. Daniel left Illinois with a friend A. Freeman on horseback to retrieve John and found him in California. Whatever John thought about being retrieved we don’t know, but John agreed to return to Illinois with Daniel and Freeman. The group elected to use a different route to return to Illinois. Perhaps the group wished for more adventure or wished to return during winter when crossing the plains could be difficult. Whatever the reason, the group’s route home entailed riding a horse or mule to Mexico City, then Vera Cruz, a boat ride to New Orleans, and then a steamer up the Mississippi River.

Daniel must of liked what he saw in California because in 1852 he and his family traveled to California via the California Trail. The family arrived and Daniel worked as a blacksmith, ran a ferry between Hayward and San Francisco, and farmed. For unrecorded reasons; perhaps family ties or distorted memories of the “good life” in Illinois, in 1854 the family returned to Illinois. The route home this time entailed a ship to Panama, a train ride across the isthmus, a boat to New Orleans, and a steamer up the Mississippi River to Illinois.

Once again the desire to travel west over came the family and they left for California in 1857. This trip turned out to be challenging and an emotional gut wrenching trip. Early in the trip a young girl in their group died due to cholera. And twice they were attacked by outlaws and Indians. One pregnant wife and child where killed in an attack and three other were wounded with gun shots. The group also lost mules, a wagon, and money.

Fortunately Daniel and his family made it to California where they purchased 160 acres in the Richmond area of California. After this trip they choose to stay in California and Daniel lived to be 94 years old.

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Other signatures on Register Rock.