Back When in Benton County

Part 3

Preparing for the Oregon Trail

by Kenneth Munford

The Nahum King and Arnold Fuller families, joining other emigrants looking forward to starting new lives in Oregon, gathered in the vicinity of St. Joseph, MO. in the spring of 1845.  For mutual assistance and protection they organized themselves into a large wagon train.

In what became known as the T'Vault Train, there were 78 men over 16, 57 women over 14, 78 boys and 60 girls.  They assembled 66 wagons, 453 oxen, 649 loose cattle, 172 horses and mules and 184 guns.  Of this total the King family had five wagons to carry the equipment for their 26 members.  The Fuller family included three men, three women and four children.

The emigrants adopted Laws and Bylaws and elected officers.  William G. T'Vault, 39, became Commandant Captain.  Nahum King, 62, and Arnold Fuller were members of the Committee of Safety, Amos King, 23, supervised the driving of cattle, and Rowland Chambers, 32 was elected sheriff.

Captain T'Vault became well known later in the Oregon Country as the first editor of the first newspaper in the far west, the "Oregon Spectator".  He was also the first postmaster general for Oregon and land agent, lawyer, and politician.  But he did not last long as Commandant Captain of the wagon train.  Within two weeks dissention arose over his inability to enforce the regulations and he resigned.  He and his wife and their three children continued as members of the migration.

With 66 wagons the train was too cumbersome to travel as a single unit.  It split into three groups, the Kings and Fullers continuing in a group of about 30 wagons under the leadership of James McNary.

They originally planned to leave from their camp on the west bank of the Missouri in Kansas Territory by the first of May, but Sara Fuller, Arnold's wife, who had been ill for some time took a turn for the worse and died on April 28.  Waiting for the funeral delayed the train a bit, but at 9 o'clock on the morning of May 2, 1845, drivers whips cracked and the caravan was on its way.

Next:  The Kings on "The Terrible Trail".