By the time of the end of the long American Revolution, people were ready to go west. Lewis and Clark helped capture the imagination. Families took the long trek to Oregon and California. During the gold rush, many 49ers went out by the trails.
An older trail, to Santa Fe, provided the starting point. But, as more people gathered, there were issues, such as a cholera outbreak, that establish another starting point, present-day St. Joseph, MO. Too, the 49ers were in a hurry and wanted to take some days off the trip.
The story would not be interesting without the people. That launching point for western expansion turned out to be where early conflicts started between pro- and anti-slavery proponents. "Bleeding Kansas" was more than a name.
And, New Englanders were heavily invested in the area, in terms of money and blood and sweat.
Of late, DNA has been put on the plate and will be getting more attention. Lots to discuss.
Charles Sanders Peirce (his father, Benjamin) did some marvelous work without much attention. He died destitute. He was the first to look at abductive approaches (see DNA above). Also, he was probably the best mind of that generation, though Eliot of Harvard did not think much of him.
See Vol. VI, No. 1 of Gardner's Beacon for a review of research to date. Sources: Oregon-California Trails Association (Trails, again).
Remarks: Modified: 06/19/2016
06/19/2016 -- Switched to larger font, two pages, and introduction to Charles Sanders Peirce.