By Ox Team to California - A Narrative of Crossing the Plains in 1860

Read by Sue Anderson

(4.7 stars; 375 reviews)

Imagine a young, twenty-something woman in 1860, reared “in the indolent life of the ordinary Southern girl” (which means she has never learned to cook); married to a professional man who knows “nothing of manual labor;” who is mother to a young son; and who has just found out she is pregnant with their second child. Imagine that this couple has become “embarrassed financially” by “imprudent speculations,” and that they are discussing what to do. They decide to buy a wagon and three yoke of unbroken oxen and head overland to California.

"We were two such precious dunces,” writes Lavinia Honeyman Porter in her autobiographical account of their journey across the plains. “In a short time the six oxen were bought, driven to our home and turned loose in our barnyard--wild brutes, as handy as with their heels as with their horns. Not one of us was brave enough to venture into the corral with them and we soon concluded we had six white elephants on our hands.” From there on in, Lavinia's adventures get worse—and then better. For those who enjoy true stories of pioneering days and happy endings, this is an enjoyable read.
(Introduction by Sue Anderson) (4 hr 52 min)


0 - Dedication & Introductory 5:36 Read by Sue Anderson
1 - Preparations; Camping in Kansas 35:09 Read by Sue Anderson
2 - Fire & Fuel; Buffalo Country 27:34 Read by Sue Anderson
3 - Indians; Trials of the Spirit 34:09 Read by Sue Anderson
4 - A Sale of Glassware; On to California 30:29 Read by Sue Anderson
5 - The Rocky Mountains; Shoeing Lame Oxen 28:55 Read by Sue Anderson
6 - The Overland Road; Money Giving Out 25:16 Read by Sue Anderson
7 - Discarded Possessions; Salt Lake City 34:48 Read by Sue Anderson
8 - Graves in the Desert; Climbing the Sierras 39:20 Read by Sue Anderson
9 - Descending into California; The Journey's End 30:45 Read by Sue Anderson


educational but not boring

(5 stars)

the reader did a nice job. her voice sounded slow or tired, but it fits the books author (a grandmother who walked out west from Missouri). this book is great for understanding the trials of the cross country journey & i found myself glancing at a map to see the terrain covered and what laid ahead. it answered my long time question of how people crossed the plains not knowing where the next access to water might be (animals lead the way). and if you have a pregnant friend, have her read this! i cant imagine going through all of what the writer encountered & being pregnant! this book also confirms my beliefs about indians being kind and misunderstood most of the time. it is so amazing that the rest of the country was getting ready for a civil war, but to those heading west - or already out west - those troubles of the east were nothing to them with all they were facing.

Great Story

(5 stars)

This is a very matter of fact story. There's a fair amount of humor, but also some very harsh and sobering moments. From the graves they pass along the way, to the cruel taunting some classes of emigrants give the natives, and their own fear of and protection from the natives, Lavinia tells us what she experienced with very little embellishment. It is hard to imagine walking 6 days out of 7 for six months. I still can't fathom how they made it through weeks and weeks of deserts with 8 animals to water, not to mention themselves. It gives me a new appreciation for the hardships of the pioneers. Sue Anderson did a wonderful job reading this book. Her reading style matches the author's writing style perfectly - so that it was Lavinia who was speaking to us through Sue.

Can we give more stars!

(5 stars)

This was a great story but mostly what made it great is Sue Anderson's wonderful narration. Ms. Anderson has always been one of my favorites and she does her usual wonderful job with this story. I normally don't like biographies and such but this story really makes you feel like you are walking right along side these weary pioneers. Great work Sue many many thanks!

A Very True to Life Narrative!

(5 stars)

I enjoyed listening to this true story about a couple of pioneers crossing the country to settle in California. The reader did an excellent job, so much so that I sometimes forgot that she wasn't actually the one who had made the journey! I learned a lot about pioneer life. Overall, a very excellent listening experience!

Excellent Title!

(5 stars)

Been prone to reading more Zane Grey and Louis L’amour books I was skeptical of the “Day in the life” sort of narrative. Sues voice was smooth and great for such a story and it ended up being just as interesting as what I’m used to, though it had no drawn out gun battles.


(5 stars)

excellent account of one's experience crossing the plains. in retrospect, the writer would be somewhat aghast at some of her thoughts and wording but nevertheless, it is surely an honest narrative and very informative of the time historically. The reader was superb and rendered the account as to take us on the journey. Thankyou.

Fascinating Journey

(5 stars)

An incredible first-hand account of the hardships faced by western settlers and of interactions with our Native Americans. I am so thankful that Mrs. Porter took the time to write down and preserve these memories for future generations to appreciate. A wonderfully told story and well narrated!!

Delightful storytelling

(5 stars)

The author brings to life her 6 month journey with her husband and child where they encountered many cultural firsts, with Indians, polygamist Mormons, and mountaineers. The narrator brings to the adventure a pleasing and believable voice. It's a wonderful glimpse back in time.