Transcript

Transcript for Briggs, Thomas, [Autobiography], in History of Thomas Briggs [1967], 45-47

Very few of the Saints had arrived, and as there was an empty house, we rented it, for we found we would have to stay three or four weeks, to prepare for our journey. We turned our horses out on the prairie, where there was good feed, and we once more rested.

In a few days, the teams of Saints began to come in, for the English emigrants, and others. There were several hundred wagons, sent every year, this way, to take emigrants across the plains, and all the merchandise had to be carried in this way.

About this time, the freight began to come up the river, and the first to arrive, was the wagons, and they had to be fixed to-gether, and I was hired to do this. Then the freight came, and I was placed as night guard over it, and this was a blessing to me, as most of our means was gone.

During this time, my wife and sister did the washing for the boys from Utah, and here I was advised to sell my horses, and yet [get] a yoke of cattle.

Brother Henry Lawrence persuaded me to go along with his company, of about 25 wagons, and he hired my sisters husband to drive a team across the plains.

The words which I uttered before we left Springfield were fulfilled, and on the 25th of June, we commenced our journey again, of about 1000 miles.

Brother Lawrence loaned me a yoke of cattle, which were well broken, and I had two yoke of cows, and one yoke of oxen. Before I started on the journey, I purchased a stove, as I had been told that they were worth 250 dollars, in Salt Lake City, and they were only $30 in Nebraska. I had about three dollars in cash, but we had plenty of provisions to see us through, and I had two cows giving milk, which we sold, to the teamsters on the road.

The first few days went along very well, but my leg began to be very bad, and I was not able to yoke my cattle, but the wagon master told the boys to yoke them for me, and get me started, and as we were nearly the last wagon, the oxen soon learned to follow the other wagons.

When we got to Julesburg, the Platt[e] river was so high, that we had to block up the wagon beds, to the top of the standards of the bolsters, and put about fifteen yoke of cattle on to each wagon.

It took us about four days, to cross the river, but as my leg was pretty good at this time, we got along very well. Some of our cattle began to get tender-footed, and had to be driven behind the train.

George Merrick, the wagon master, let Ephraim have a horse to ride, so as to bring the cattle along, and at times he would be miles behind the rest, and I began to be anxious about him, as he was so young, and the Indians had begun to be troublesome.

During the night, we had to have a herds man, to watch the cattle, and to keep off the Indians, and my sisters husband was chosen to do this, and he guarded the cattle during all the journey.

Many were the trials of such a journey, and as we came down what is known as the black hills, which were very steep, and were nothing but rocks, the wheels of the wagon, rolled very easily, but I had a good yoke of oxen, and also two cows to help them pull, but we stopped on the mountain for a little while, before going down the other side. My leg was very bad, and it was all that I could do to get down the other side, and the rest of the teamsters had all they could do, to get down themselves.

My eldest son Ephraim was driving the Cavvy Yard, as it was called, this was all the sick and the lame cattle. The next child was Emma, and when she was eight years of age, and when we got the brake on the wagon, and all ready to start, Emma had to keep just ahead of the lead cows, and pound them on the nose with a stick, to keep them back, from running down the mountain side.

I was very ill at the time, and my wife was not feeling well, and it was very rocky all the way down. It looked at times as though the girl would not be able to keep the cattle back, but the Lord helped us, and we got down safe and sound, and camped on good ground, with plenty of feed for our horses and cattle.

In a short time we were all busy cooking, and hunting for Buffalo Chips, to make a fire, as there was no wood to be found any place.

The promises of the Lord are sure, and I always kept them in mind, that I should live to reach the mountains, and that before I had been there long, that I should be called to office of a Seventy, and many other blessing, which I hope to see fulfilled.

Things continued this way, until we reached Utah, and as we came down Echo Canyon, and through a small place called Wonship [Wanship], and here we camped for the night, and the saints brought us food. They brought us some turnips, and if you have ever been without vegetables for one summer, and travelled in all kinds of weather, you can imagine how good the turnips tasted to us.

We next came to Silver Creek, in Parleys Canyon, and when we reached the city of the saints, where we could now rest, our hearts rejoiced, and we forgot all our troubles. We arrived in the city of the great salt lake, on the 4th day of September, 1864, after a journey of 1800 miles in a wagon.

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