Transcript for Brimhall, Noah, Reminiscence in Journal of Noah Brimhall, 10-15
I started in company with my brother John from Kanesville, Iowa about the twelth of April for Salt Lake City. We had only proceded on our journey about four or five miles when we met our Brother George who had left his wife and children in Knoxville, Illinois and was going to gather with the Saints in Salt Lake Valley. His wife had apostatized and favored Strangs beliefs. So we took him in to our own wagon and brought him to Salt Lake Valley.
Incidents of travel while crossing the plains:
On one occasion we had a stampede while traveling up the Platte River. A saddle horse galloped from the rear of the train with the pads of the saddle fluttering, and as fast as he came past the teams of oxen, for they were nearly all ox teams, they took fright and about thirty wagons or teams stampeded.
Instance of a Runaway over the plains:
Shortly after the teams commenced to run, they came to a deep creek, and for a moment it seemed that the people, men, women, and children, would be precipitated down the steep banks of the creek, but all at once they plunged in to the narrow ford, and teams and wagons piled into that ford one on top of the other until the jam was made so large that it finally stopped the train. Some wagons were broken, some oxen were drown, and some were dragged to death, but no lives of the people were lost. My team escaped by cutting the bow trees and driving the oxen out of the yokes.
The stampede was a common occurrance in those days, but terrible is the sight to see a madened and terrified train of teams run, led on as impelled by some invisible spirit, rushing wildly over the plains, oxen bellowing, women and children crying for help, men holloring, whoa, whoa, whoa, sometimes circling around for miles and only when perfectly exhausted will they stop at all.
At a certain camp near the head of the Sweetwater our oxen broke the corral that was formed by putting our wagons close together. Some jumping over the wagons and some got away. Some of the oxen running 15 or more miles. One yoke of our team went back 18 miles on the road, and Brother John and myself traveled back 18 miles from eleven o’clock in the morning and returned about 6 o’clock in the afternoon having traveled a distance in excess of thirty-six miles. When we got back to camp, Brother John fell down exhausted and was sick for a long week. Note: Brother John and myself started on the plains a few days ahead of the main Mormon camp and traveled with a company of gold diggers to Salt Lake.
I will relate another incident:
This incident happened when our camp got to Fort Laramie. We took the new road up North Platte. Our company consisted of about ten men at that time and four wagons, and we were all strangers to the road and country. When we left Laramie about two o’clock p.m., all but the drivers walked in advance of the teams to hunt water. We had traveled until about 10 o’clock p.m., all tired and almost famishing for water. Strong men cried for water. Some rocks near the road drew my attention, and when I had got to the top of one of those large rocks, I reached down in the top of a large one that was hollow, and to my great joy and to the joy of our company, I found a few gallons of water that had been deposited by the rain, which enabled us to continue our search. When I found the water in the rock, the story of Moses came to my mind, and I felt to acknowledge the hand of the Lord in our behalf. It being very dark, we had passed the spring of water that we expected to find near the road. About two o’clock a.m. we heard the sound of a waterfall from a recent shower and were soon filled.
Various are the incidents that persons who have traveled across the plains might relate of adventures with bear and buffalo, thirty years before the great railroads crossed the plains through cities and on to the great Pacific Ocean. But now, the Buffalo are gone and the numerous tribes of Indians that inhabited the whole line for a thousand miles have removed or been killed off by wars, until there are but few left, and the vast plains are covered by the teams and the settlements of the whites.
Another striking incident will be worthy of note:
One day while conversing in relation to the stampeding of our teams, it was proposed by one of our company that we should so fasten ropes on the horns of each near ox, so that one person could catch the ox and could hold on to these ropes and so prevent a runaway. About two o’clock, that being the rehersal time for the stampede, three of us took hold of the ropes and while walking leisurely, our teams took fright, and the three of us were thrown down and narrowly escaped being run over. Our teams took a circle of about four miles and then came back to the road again without any particular damage, and we resumed our journey about the 24th of July 1850.
Brother John had not yet recovered from his fatigue caused by the 36 mile run after our oxen, and seemed to be nigh unto death. He was so badly weakened down with the diarreah [diarrhea] that he could scarcely speak a loud word. We did not know, but we would have to leave him, but by giving him some herb tea, the herb we found by the roadside, and the exercise of our faith, he recovered so as to travel to Salt Lake at which place we arrived July the 27, 1850...
THE LAST HANDCART COMPANY
In 1856 I went from Ogden City, Utah with about thirty brethren and as many wagons and teams to the rescue of the last Handcart Company of the Saints who were snowbound near the head of the Sweetwater. I think we started from Ogden abou the 10th of October and were gone five weeks from home. Went a distance of about 200 miles. Snow all the way and deep in many places. On this ever memorable trip, I acted as Chaplin being appointed to that office by authority of the Church by Quorum President, Chauncy West, Bishop.