Transcript for Bennion, Desla Slade, Biography of Amelia Eliza Slade Bennion,13-16

How vividly I remember the little town of Wyoming on the Missouri, just one thousand miles from Utah! What a change from the green woods and meadows of Pennsylvania. So desolate and wild. The Missouri, just one big river of mud, flowing out of a somewhere, sluggishly past, and on into a nowhere! "However can we wash our clothes in this, "was my uppermost thought and I was really greatly relieved when I found that all the washing was to be done at a spring situated in a group of trees, near the camp. Here also we had our first experience at sleeping in the great outdoors—a rather terrifying one until we got used to it. Every single night, it seemed to me it stormed. The inky darkness would be broken by sudden, blinding flashes of lightning, and the steady howl of the storm, by roars of rolling thunder. The seven of us huddled even closer together, but not even tent and bedclothes could shut out the blinding flashes of terrific claps of thunder. Then, one awful night the blinding thunder roaring the tent blew down, the pole falling a cross Mother's [Amelia Lacey's] neck in such a way that she was left utterly powerless, either to call for help or to assist herself. She must have soon died had not Rhoda sensing her peril, managed to move the heavy pole in such a way that her neck was freed.

Supplies were issued from a store house centrally located. We did our cooking over bonfires. We lived like this about a month or six weeks. Then we were joined by a company of Saints who were emigrating from England.

One day came the glad shout, "The ox-teams are coming, the ox-teams are coming!" Everybody turned out to give them welcome, as they lumbered slowly into camp—a long train of covered wagons, each drawn by yokes of oxen. This was the train which was to take us to Utah. We were all happy and anxious to get started on our way, little sensing, any of us, what a long, tedious journey it was to be, and little sensing the trials and hardships were to encounter, but bravely ready for whatever fate held in store for us.

The train was in charge of Brother Warren Snow. Our outfit was in charge of Brother Frank Cundick. Besides our seven, there was a feeble, old lady, sick and ailing, who was assigned to ride with us. Baby Charles was assigned to Rhoda's special care, and little Eddie to mine. They were both beautiful children, rosy and healthy, giving every promise of growing to a strong and sturdy manhood.

After what seemed many days, we bade Wyoming goodby, and turned our faces westward. Conditions were too crowded for us to ride at the same time, so those who were able, took turns in walking. We would fill our aprons with dry buffalo chips as we walked or with anything that would burn, and these would be used to make our campfire. Then, one day, Mother discovered that the bundle containing Rhoda's clothing and shoes had been left behind, with other luggage belonging to the train. Poor Rhoda! her feet grew sore and cracked. One day I heard her scream, and running to her, found that she had stepped upon a prickly pear. The blood was falling in drops from her wounded foot; she would not let me pull the thorns out. I helped her all that I could and finally we hobbled into camp. Her foot was growing more painful. "That cactus must come out," I thought, and then aloud, I cried, "Look, Rhoda, Indian, Quick," and as she turned her head to look, I jerked the cactus out of her foot, before she had even time to say "ouch". My own fingers were filled with thorns, but we soon got them out, then found Mother. We cooked our meal over the campfire and went to bed. In spite of the strange night crys of prowling beasts and birds, we slept soundly through the cool sweet night. The next morning we were up at sunrise, fresh and ready for the long day's march.

Rhoda's foot was still somewhat sore. "Do you know," said Mother, "that last night I dreamed your shoes were coming and that they will be here today. I am sure they will." To our great joy they did come, along with the rest of the missing luggage, save some that had been stolen. Mother's dreams often came true. Our money fifty or sixty dollars, all we had in the world, was missing. Then one night Mother dreamed that she saw it sewed up in a feather bed. When she awoke she arose and looked for it, and found it jut as her dream had shown her.

One day of the trip the old lady with us died, the first of our band who did not finish the "journey through." They made her a grave at the side of the trail. Then watering places grew scarce and we were obliged to buy our drinking water at 25¢ per keg. It was not always good water at that, for dysentery broke out among us, a condition which proved to be very serious to many of us. The woman in the wagon ahead of us died. Mother was very ill, and so were the two children. Brother John Kay, a young man returning from a mission, was stricken. A side was taken from a wagon to make him a coffin. For little Charlie there was not a thing that could be utilized to make him even a rude coffin. Mother tore a shawl in half—was used and we left him sleeping by the long trail. Later the other half was used for little Eddie. Sick disheartened, and weary, we had to carry on.

I remember one cold, wet day, in particular. We had kept huddled up for warmth in the wagon all day, while the rain beat its monotonous tattoo on our canvas roof. When we stopped for the night, fires were out of the question. We were hungry and went to bed crying for something to eat. Next morning Mother climbed out of the wagon. Through the drizzling rain and mist she saw a little old shack, with smoke pushing its way out of the chimney. She made her way to it and as the door opened to her knock, there greeted her a rush of warm air, fragrant with the odor of frying meat. "Will you sell me some bread?" she asked of the woman who had answered the door. "We haven't any to spare," she replied, but seeing how weak and sick Mother looked, she said, "We are just going to have a bite, come and eat with us." "I cannot eat; my children are hungry," "You shall eat," she insisted, "and you shall have bread for your little ones even if we have to go without." When Mother came back, we all were out on the wagon tongue. She broke the bread in chunks and handed us each a piece.

Eddie died as we [were] nearing Green River. This final stroke proved too much for Mother, and she became, very, very ill. One day, as Rhoda and I came near the wagon, we heard voices, "Yes, Sister Slade, your children will be cared for," the wild fear that arose in my breast seemed to smother me. Baby Charlie and Eddie, and now Mother! Taking my sister by the hand, we ran off some distance into the sage brush and kneeling down we prayed in all our childish anguish, "Please, Heavenly Father, don't let her die. Please make her better in the name of Jesus. Amen." We felt sure that she would get well. Next morning she was very much better, and after some days she was trying again to take her share of the burdens.

One day we passed large, white saleratus beds. Mother had read of saleratus biscuits, and as we were nearing our journey's end, food supplies were running rather low, Mother decided we were going to have hot biscuits, so with a zeal not backed up by knowledge, she made them. We ate them, for the bitter flavor was entirely outdone by their delectable rich orange coloring.

We had not much trouble in fording the streams as it was autumn, and rivers were comparatively low. A preceding train had made a good ford over one river, the Platte, I believe. This was spanned by a toll bridge, but the keeper refused to let the train (Homer Duncan's, by the way) cross it, not even to carry their flour across, giving one flimsy excuse after another. Anyway, the men grew disgusted, and though the keeper tried to dissuade them, they dug a road-way down either bank and established a very good ford, one used by all succeeding trains, whether 'Mormon' or not, much to the discomfiture of the toll keeper.

The last day of our journey our food gave out, and we became really hungry. Towards evening we entered Emigration canyon. As we came into the valley, we could see in the distance the glow of the big bonfires that had been lighted to welcome us. About ten o'clock we stopped at the square where the City and County Buildings now stands.