Transcript for "A Sketch of the Life of Nancy Aretta Porter Mattice," 1-4.
In the mid summer of 1848, with our b[e]longings and a scant supply of provisions in an old wagon with one yoke of oxen, father [Chauncy Warriner Porter] started Lydia [Ann Porter] with a three months old baby and 3 of Mothers children, Alma, Malinda, and I across the plains to Salt Lake Valley, father put us in the hands of Captain Andy Cunningham. Alma then 15 years old to drive the team. father kept Sarah to come with him and Priscilla the next year, as he could not sell his property in time to come with us. And by the help of the Lord and kind care of Capt Cunningham we arrived in Salt Lake Valley alive and well
But the incidents from the time we started to the end of the journey, are stamped on the tablets of my mind and will ever remain there.
The first incidents were pushing the flat boat or raft when we crossed the Missouri River. It must have then been early Spring, for I can see the large cake of ice that come floating down the river and the men took poles to push them away so they would not strike the boat[.]
the All that intended to make the journey were all gathered at one place to gather I remember father brought us a nice cow so we might have milk. She was fresh and they left the calf, and we had to keep her tied to the wagon at night, but when we got to where there wasn't any feed to get for her, we had to turn her loose with the herd. Then she slipped away and went back home, and we had no milk except what the neighbors give us. I remember we come to deep sand, then every one that could had to walk and the sun beat down so hot, and the cattle suffered for water to drink, after this we come to grass and water, and such great herds of Buffalo, they would paw the dirt and bellow so loud we were afraid they would come and Stampede the teams. The men got their guns and shot at them, some times killing some and, the meat tasted good to us poor pilgrims[.] Then there was the excitement of the Indians and they followed us day after day and wanted to trade for and buy every thing they saw. One old Indian wanted to buy me, he saw mother [Lydia Ann] had more family than any thing else, and thought we could spare him one. He offered 25 head of horses and a big pile of buffalo robes and blankets. Off course mother refused, then he would try to coax me with beads and jewelry but I was so frightened, I cried every time he come near[.] One day I heard the Captain say to mother. Sister Porter, you will have to keep watch over that child the old fellow is so persistent he will take her in spite of us. they went a way from us a couple of days, but they come back with all their families and they followed us along. The next day we come to a nice stream of water with a green grove of Cotton woods on the bank. we thought we would have a nice shady place to noon. But the Indians headed us off. there was many more of them than of our people, but we stoped clost by so the teams could get some green feed.
While we were eating our dinner one of the old Squaws come up to mother, she could talk a little inglish (she said) let me see you baby. Mother said you can see him. then she said Let me take it, and Mother let her take him. She had no more than got hold of him than she turned and ran as fast as she could to the crowd of Indians and such a nois[e] as they did make, and gathered around her. So we could not see her or the baby
and there was quite a nois and excitement in our camp, just then. I was screaming Alma was scolding Mother for her car[e]lessness in letting the Squaw take the baby. Malinda was scolding Alma and some of the wimen were trying to console Mother, and some were chiding her and in the midst of this nois the Capt. got upon his wagon tongue and called for order, and in a minute every thing was quiet, then he said, Let the Souixs [Sioux] listen to the white man, bring that baby back or there will be war right now, the white man will fight for his children[.] then he said in an undertone, every man to his guns, and in a very short time every man was in line
The Indians were in a huddle seeming to council what to do. After a while and it seemed such a long time to us here come the squaw with the baby (saying) Here take it, here take it. I can just see him now, in his little pink apron and his hair flying in the wind and (laughing) we were a thankful family to get our baby back
We then started on again, and the Indians did not bother us any more
Our next hard times were in crossing rivers and climbing mountains, it was like going up a steep trail. they had to take one wagon at a time, and on the sideling places it took all the men to keep it from tipping over, and going down the steep mountains side and in other places[,] they had to hook on two or three teams, to one wagon to get it to the top. so we traveled on untill we could see the great Salt Lake. Now the people did laugh and cry with joy, that we were near our journeys end. One more day in the wagon then we would be with our grandparents.