"The prairie, in all its expressions, is a massive, subtle place with a long history of contradiction and misunderstanding. But it is worth the effort at comprehension. It is, after all, at the center of our national identity."
- Wayne Fields, "Lost Horizon"
The people and adventures of the Wadsworth Trail could appear in a Louis L'Amour novel. People wound their way out west with risk but it must have been the kind of risk they felt could be rewarded. It's a testament to the indomitable human spirit.
Chamberlain's speech, to a group of demoralized (actually mutinous) troops, was re-created in the movie "Gettysburg" (given the full four stars by critic Roger Ebert). Jeff Daniels played the heroic role.
Statehood didn't come until law could be asserted without resistance.
Henry Gager was known to trade with horse thieves from Horse Shoe Lake. Doesn't sound to me like there was much active law enforcement.
Remember, the land was not yet tilled. The land was less able to soak up rain, so rain collected in the creek and rivers, spelling "torrent" at times.
At least one soldier lost his life in such treks. Children playing in Morris Township in the 1920s found a sword stuck into the ground. This identified a burial.
Hot weather made it hard to keep animals properly hydrated. Wagons could tip over in mud.