Transcript for Agnes Clementina Hefferan Richardson, "Hefferan story, undated," 12-15
...In 1865 the railroad had not yet been built into Salt Lake. Upon reaching Wyoming we had to wait there until the cattle came. Brigham Young would send companies of men from Salt Lake to meet the emigrant trains in Wyoming. They would organize them into companies, have cattle for them to buy to pull their wagons and guide them across the plains into the city of the saints.
The one in charge of this particular group of men was a Bishop [Thomas] Taylor. Brigham Young had given him money with which he was to purchase cattle that were already broken in, to pull the wagons. But he didn’t do this, he bought unbroken, wild steers, just off the range which were cheaper and kept the remaining money for himself. These cattle had not yet come when the emigrants arrived in Wyoming, so it was for them that they had to wait. Leaving the company in charge of other men Bishop Taylor left and went back to Salt Lake.
When the cattle finally arrived, father [William Hefferan] refused to have any of them. He could see that they were wild and he said it was dangerous to ride behind such animals. He crossed the Platte river and went into Nebraska. There he met a farmer who wanted to sell out and go back East. He bought 10 head of cattle from him, 8 oxen, and 2 cows, as well as 2 beautiful horses. He bought 2 new wagons and a traveling carriage, this had 3 seats besides the drivers. These seats could be folded down at night and used for beds. Under the seats there was a large space to pack boxes, these never had to be disturbed. He also bought a beautiful charter Oak stove and every implement used for farming in those days except a plow. Then he had the farmer make an enormous cheese, also had him pack a large stone churn full of fresh butter. He bought bacon, flour, grain as well as several pigs. When he returned from Nebraska he was well equipped for the trip across the plains.
Father hired a young couple, Mr.[Archibald] and Mrs.[Jane Dick] Frame, a young boy they called Johnny and a Mrs.[Catherine] Brunton, a Scotch woman. They were all Mormons. Mr. Frame drove one wagon, Johnny the other and Mrs. Brunton went along to help mother [Clarissa Mason Heferan] with the children as she was expecting a new arrival in two months and was not able to do very much.
A train of Gentile freighters came by, driving big mule teams. They were hauling liquor and bitters to California. Father bought some vinegar bitters from them. They tried to persuade father to take his family and go on to California with them but he refused.
It was lovely traveling the first two weeks. Father would drive the traveling carriage ahead of the rest of the train. Having a team of horses he could travel much faster than the rest. He would drive ahead until he came to a nice shady tree. They would stop and have a picnic with the things he had purchased from the farmer in Nebraska. The children had a grand time but mother was always afraid of the Indians and wouldn’t let them get too far away.
We passed a fort where soldiers were still stationed at the close of the war. The officers became very friendly with father. That night both of the horses were stolen. Father blamed the soldiers but they hid them so well that he could not find them anywhere. One of the horses came back. It was now necessary to yolk the oxen to the traveling carriage, so they now had to stay with the rest of the caravan. Father rode the one remaining horse.
One morning as the company were just about ready to start the days march, the thing happened that father was afraid of. There was a stampede. The steers were all hitched to the wagons but fortunately no one had yet climbed in. The cattle ran towards the river smashing wagons and anything that got in the way. Only one man, however, was hurt. The wagons were practically demolished with everything that was packed in them scattered for miles. The teams that father bought just stood quietly and looked on.
The company was delayed for two weeks while the wagons were repaired. It was now getting very late in the fall and they became very anxious to cross the mountains before the heavy snows came. Father’s oxen were a great help to the whole company. When they would come to a steep hill and the steers could or would not pull their loads over, our teams were unyolked to help the other wagons.
One returning missionary, Elder [George] Simms, was drowned in the Platt[e] river. It was his turn to go after the cattle that morning. During the night they had crossed on to the other side of the river. It was very cold. He had to ride down the bank into the water. They swam the river all right but in scrambling up the opposite bank his horse stumbled and threw him into the water. He had so many heavy clothes on it was impossible for him to swim and before help could come, he was carried down the stream. They searched for his body for three days. Word came that it was found several weeks later miles from where he had fallen in.
It now commenced to snow. There was more trouble for the company when they began to run out of food. They were yet a long way from Salt Lake. Finally the captain of the company came to father and ask if he could help them out with food. He gave them bacon and flour that he bought from the farmer. Just 24 hours later help came. Brigham Young had become alarmed when the company failed to arrive on schedule and as it was so very late in the season he sent Taylor with more men, mule teams and food to meet them. Needless to say, everyone felt that God was still with them and had sent help to them in their hour of need.
That evening most of the men had gone to take the cattle to the river for water. Mrs. Brunton was getting supper for the family on a little two hole sheet iron stove under mother’s direction. Johnny was digging a small trench around the tent as it looked like rain that night. Near by was a poor old man traveling alone, He was huddled over a tiny[an]d not speak one word of English and had walked all the way and at night he would climb into one of the wagons and sleep on merchandise Taylor was shipping into his store in Salt Lake.
Taylor was coming over to speak to father. As he passed the old man, he kicked him. When he reached our tent he yelled at Johnny asking him why he was not out helping the other men at the river. Father became very angry and rebuked Taylor. Taylor swore at father and called him terrible names. In all his life father had never taken such insults. He whipped out his revolver and was about to shoot but mother ran over and begged him to stop. Mother was so excited and frightened that father had to help her into the carriage that had been prepared for the night. The children ate supper and before the dishes were finished they heard a new babies cry coming from the carriage. Twins were born that night prematurely. The Lord was certainly in that camp that night and blessed mother as both she and the babies got along fine. Father lined the carriage to keep it warm as it was so terribly cold. The babies were named Martha and Mary. They were born in Green River, Wyoming November 4, 1865.
The next morning, Taylor pulled the old man out of the wagon frozen to death. He had some of the men dig a very shallow hole. They were going to place the body in it with no protection. Father couldn’t stand that so he went over’nd stopped them. He had them dig a deep grave, line it with willows then he took one of his own beautiful wool blankets he brought from England, wrapped the body in it. Then they buried him. Taylor never said one word as he was afraid of father. Later that day the captain of the company came and asked father for his revolver. He kept it until they arrived in Salt Lake.
All the women and children were sent on ahead with the mule teams. The men stayed to bring in the other wagons. There were 25 in all. Mother refused to go on ahead without father and all the other women said they would not go one step without Dr. Hefferan along so father was allowed to go with the women.
When they arrived in Salt Lake, we were assigned to stay with a family