Transcript for Autobiography of Jemima E. Stookey written by her at Logan, Utah, in 1891 transcribed by Gwenevere Anderson Stookey and Rondo W. Anderson (Clover Utah, 1971), 19-22
When Enos's father found we were going, he gave us a yoke of large oxen and a wagon. With our gifts, our earnings, and our savings, and the blessings of the Lord, we fitted up a large wagon with cooking stove, provisions, and supplies of different kinds. With 4 yoke of oxen, a smaller light wagon with a span of little mules, fiery little things, we moved down to East St. Louis then called Bloody Island, because of the duels which had been fought there in early times. We camped here for 4 weeks out among the cottonwoods.
Then we took our wagons and oxen and all on board a steamboat and landed at Atchison,
Kansas—(think perhaps it was Missouri), all of us sick with the river complaint, my children [Corinne and Isabel] especially. I didn't know whether the oldest one would live or not, she was brought so weak and low. She wouldn't taste or look at anything I could offer her, nor open her eyes more than a minute. Her Pa went out with his gun to try to shoot something to make her some soup, walked for hours and could only shoot a blackbird and a little green-legged snipe, game was so scarce. I think that was all he saw. I cooked them both in a pint tin cup. The little snipe or woodcock cooked very tender and nice. The blackbird must have been very old; for a long time the more I boiled him the harder he got. But the soup of the two was nice and tasty. If offered it to her, she wouldn't look at it nor taste it, so I just popped some into her mouth before she was aware of it. As soon as she tasted it, she opened her eyes and wanted more and began from that hour to improve. The soup was soon gone and the snipe meat. Enos then went to buy a chicken. He had a hard time to find one, had to iron the river, and at last succeeding, persuading a woman to sell him a fine fat hen for 50 cents. By the time this was gone she was well enough to eat anything.
While we wearily lay in camp at Atchison, 3 yoke of our oxen strayed off, and Enos and others were days hunting them.
Our money was the largest part gone to pay our fare on the boat. We hired a young man, George Waters, to drive our ox team and boarded him and carried his trunk, over 100 pounds. Elder Milo Andrus persuaded us to all crowd into the big ox wagon and let Br. Joseph Barker and family of 2 children have our light wagon, so we did. My husband was pretty good to obey counsel in those days. They all thought he belonged to the church and called him Bro Stookey, which I think he rather liked. When Bro. Barker's wife came, she brought a spanking big hulk of a young woman called Becky with her and her bundles, for our little mules to pull and to wait on her, I suppose. She (Becky) was a lazy, bold, impudent girl (at least I thought so), and my husband, after she had come part of the way, forbid her to ride in his wagon, to go and take her things somewhere else. She talked very insolently to him, but left and took up with a brother and sister by the name of Avery. Their mother had died. She just ruled and bossed them. After she came to Salt Lake, she went to be Bishop Hoagland's 4th wife. I heard that after she had 4 children, she left him and made her living by washing. Sister Barker also brought things that we didn't think of bringing on account of the weight. She was a lying, gossiping, worthless little woman, and ruled and bossed her husband and her little stepdaughter and petted her own child. Bro. Barker was a quiet, peaceable, harmless, pleasant little man, but loved something to take when he could get it. His little daughter was a quite biddable child, tried to take care of her little cross sister as well as she could, but got much scolding all the same. We furnished the Barkers some provisions, charged them 70 dollars for beinging [bringing] them thro, but I never got it.
Bro. Waters took sick of bowel complaint and died at the Little Blue Creek, and was buried there. His coffin was the two halves of bark off a big green cottonwood log. We carried his trunk all the way. His wife paid her way in Miss [Ann] Brooke's outfit. I thought she might do my washing as we were carrying her trunk and I had two babies to attend to, but she said she was not able. There I was with my two little ones and no one to help me the least bit, and she without a thing to do only to wash herself and eat when she was hungry, sitting around the camp fires laughing and gossiping—it made me mad—and we charged her 15 dollars, but never got it that I know of.
Our Captain's name was John Hindley of American Fork. Our captain of 10 was [Darius] Lo[u]gee.
I think I never so much admired prayer as I did on the plains. When our Captain of the Company called to prayers in the morning, we all collected together in the open air on the plain, "where never Christian voice was heard in prayer to God before" and we all kneeled reverently while one of the brethren called upon the Lord, mostly one of the Captains.
I think it was June before our company was fully organized and began to travel. I think we had 60 wagons and captain over each 10. Our 10 under Captain Logee would go first one day. The next day we would fall behind and the next 10 would take the lead; then they would fall behind us, and the next would take the lead and so on till we would get first again. The people stood the journey very well, and Bro. John Hindley was a good captain if he did court one of the young women and afterwards married her.
We were very glad to get a mess of fresh meat, and sometimes the Captain would send out 2 or 3 of the best shots to kill buffalo, but we had no experienced buffalo hunters in our company. Enos was mostly one who was sent, but he most always got old bulls that the young bulls had compelled to leave the herd. They wandered about one or two or three together. I guess they felt rather sulky and low-spirited. Our men would creep up to them and shoot all at once, so they would be sure to kill him, as our captain would not allow any more killed then we could eat and didn't want any left wounded. One was about enough for our camp. The beef was not fat but was good tasted, needed a good deal of cooking. I always prepared the liver as it was not so tough. One night as we lay in camp, we could hear the buffalo crossing the river. We could hear them sousing into the water as if they went to the bottom, which I guess they did. Our men went out and succeeding in killing a young cow. That was the only one we had that was not an old bull.
We had a great time for fuel, sometimes had only dried weed stalks. Thro the buffalo range we cooked with buffalo chips, which were very good as long as they were dry, but when there had been any rain they were very tedious fuel. Some places where they were scarce they were looked on as a prize. If 2 folks saw a fine large one, they would just run for it, and the first one got it, used to have a sack hanging on the hind end of the wagon to put them in when their aprons got too full. Most of the folks had a fine time after chips and berries to make pies (The berries to make them with and the chips to bake them with), but I never got the chance as I and my little girls were packed up on top of the load, and it was pretty high and I dare not leave them, for fear they would fall, as they would be sure to do. I and them being packed up so high on top of the load for not having the use of the small wagon as we intended, we had to pile all our things into the ox wagon.
Well, we traveled on and got into Salt Lake City, only a poor little village then compared to what it is now, late in the afternoon of the 3d of September, 1855. We left Illinois on the 10th of April, I think.
About the time we were about to start, there was considerable talk of the Indians being bad on the plains, but the Saints were not deterred by these rumors, and the companies of saints started out all the same, and traveled unmolested. We saw a good many Sioux, but they were all civil, only bothered us by begging for flour and tobacco. We had some as bad road in places, especially coming down Ash Hollow as I think it was possible for ox or any other wagons to come down in safety. We all came down safe. One wagon's lock chain broke, and it and team of 3 yoke came down, invisible for dust for a while, but when it cleared away, no damage was found to be done. The Devil's back bone was dreadful rough for the cattle's feet, but it was not so very steep.