The book was extremely worn: its binding had cracked and frayed, numerous pages were dog-eared or torn, and wrinkled or water damaged leaves had swelled the volume to double its original thickness. The word “Journal” was printed in block letters on the front cover, the word run through with voyeuristic thrills.

Virginia eased it open and read the stumbling, awkward handwriting that made up the first entry:

“June 17th 1853. thot i’d start writin down things so i can recolect em when things get all gray up ther. met with rangers agin today, had to tel walter of for 2nd time. bastird wont be happy til we got a ide war party in prosperity squar. maryanne is feelin beter today an she let me feel th babee kickin.”