No person should be hasty in his departure, nor rush blindly to the promised land. Thousands went to California, in ’49 and ’50, with the impression that the gold mines lay within an hour’s walk of San Francisco. In ’59, many persons landed at Leavenworth, on their way to Pike’s Peak, under the belief that the auriferous mountain was only a day’s journey from their landing-place. Thousands have gone “West” from New York and New England, believing that Chicago was very near the frontier. Those who start with no well-defined ideas of their destination are generally disappointed. The war has given the public a pretty accurate knowledge of the geography of the South, so that the old mistakes of emigrants to California and Colorado are in slight danger of repetition, but there is a possibility of too little deliberation in setting out.
Before starting, the emigrant should obtain all accessible information about the region he intends to visit. Geographies, gazetteers, census returns, and works of a similar character will be of great advantage. Much can be obtained from persons who traveled in the rebellious States during the progress of the war. The leading papers throughout the country are now publishing letters from their special correspondents, relative to the state of affairs in the South. These letters are of great value, and deserve a careful study.
Information from interested parties should be received with caution. Those who have traveled in the far West know how difficult it is to obtain correct statements relative to the prosperity or advantages of any specified locality. Every man assures you that the town or the county where he resides, or where he is interested, is the best and the richest within a hundred miles. To an impartial observer, lying appears to be the only personal accomplishment in a new country. I presume those who wish to encourage Southern migration will be ready to set forth all the advantages (but none of the disadvantages) of their own localities.
Having fully determined where to go and what to do, having selected his route of travel, and ascertained, as near as possible, what will be needed on the journey, the emigrant will next consider his financial policy. No general rule can be given. In most cases it is better not to take a large amount of money at starting. To many this advice will be superfluous. Bills of exchange are much safer to carry than ready cash, and nearly as convenient for commercial transactions. Beyond an amount double the estimated expenses of his journey, the traveler will usually carry very little cash.