Transcript for Autobiography and journal of John W. Hess, circa 1887-1895, 8-10


About the 15th of April, 1847, we started due north for Fort Laramine [Laramie], three hundred miles distant, on the California road, at which place we expected to find or hear of the Pioneer Company that was expected to fit out and go to find a location for the Saints but on our way we were met by Amasa Lyman and others who had come from the Pioneers' Camp. This was a happy meeting, and to get news of our loved ones greatly relieved our anxieties, as we then learned that the Camp was ahead of us, led by President Brigham Young, and he led by revelation. So we pushed on with fresh courage and finally struck their trail about two weeks ahead of us. We followed their trail, but did not overtake them as we expected to.

The pioneers reached Salt Lake Valley July 24th, and the Detachment on the 28th of July, 1847, and on the same day we were discharged from the service of the United States, and I became a free man once more.

I feel that the year’s service described above, is one of the noblest and grandest acts of my life, for the reason that Israel was on the alter of sacrifice, and the “Mormon Battalion”, of which I was a member, went as the “Ram in the Thicket”, and Israel was saved.


In the Spring I took all the means I had and bought with it a wagon and a yoke of oxen, hitched them up and went down to Pisgah to bring Mother’s family as far as the “Bluffs”, not knowing where the rest of the outfit would come from; but another interposition of kind Providence—When I got back I found the country swarming with emigrants on their way to the gold fields of California. On finding that I had come over the road, they hired me for a guide, giving me Two Hundred Dollars in cash in advance. This was truly a blessing from the Lord that I had not thought of. I was now enabled to get the rest of my outfit.

About the 15th. day of April, 1849, we started, but a difficulty soon made its appearance that my emigrant friends had not thought of—they had horse teams with light loads, while I had an ox team with a heavy load, so that I could not travel as fast or as far in a day as they could. They would put me in the lead, and I would urge my team on and make as far as I could to try to give them satisfaction. I kept this up until they saw that my oxen began to fail and would soon give out, then they went on and left me. They served me a trick that the devil never did, but I felt quite relieved, as I could then travel to suit myself, which I did, taking time to hunt the best feed, and my team soon began to recruit.

On the 27th. day of July, I again arrived in Salt Lake Valley, having accomplished one more magnanimous act by bringing my dear Mother [Elizabeth Foutz Hess] and her four children to the home of the Saints. I found my dear wife Emeline well, and with her first child in her arms, which had been born January 6, 1848, while I was away. This was indeed a happy meeting, having been absent eleven months.