So your ancestors ended up Out West? How did they get there?
Chances are good they came via the Great Platte River Road—the name for the pioneer trail that followed the Platte River. It was actually known by many different names, depending on where an emigrant “jumped on” or “jumped off.”
The Great Platte River Road, by Merrill J. Mattes (Lincoln, Nebr. : University of Nebraska Press, 1987) covers the section of the trail from Fort Kearny (near present-day Kearney, Nebraska) to Fort Laramie (near present-day Laramie, Wyoming).
According to the preface, “It is distilled from the firsthand impressions of several hundred covered wagon emigrants, representing both sexes and all degrees of human latitude, who somehow contrived to leave something for the historical record. It is the story of their unique collective Platte River experience as it emerges from their own unvarnished journals.”
The book is worth it for the detailed maps alone, but the narrative is very informative, as well. The Great Platte River Road—it was just about everybody’s Granny’s Trail!