Transcript for Butler, John Lowe, "Autobiography of John Lowe Butler, 1808-1861 [sic.]," , 40-43
. . . and Erastus put me in Eli B . Kelsey's train for a blacksmith . I did not care about going in that train, but they had counciled me to go in it so I went. There were two or three hundred head of young stock and three or four hundred head of sheep; there were fifty families; there were ten wagons of Danes, the Captain of them was Brother Ravin[.] he was captain for a while, but none of them had ever drove an ox team before and they could not get along at all, so they put me in captain over them, and Taylor [Butler] and myself had a fine job to fix them, they had yoked up their cattle some one way and some another, some of their bows were too large, some too small, and so they had it. We went to work and fixed up the yokes and bows and then paired the cattle as well as we could, and then they got along a great deal better but they were still green about driving. If they had a good ox that would pull they would make him pull the whole load and if they came to a tight place the poor critter would get the whip more than any other ox in the team. I told them that they must not do so, or they would lose, have half their team dead before they got half way. I told them to make their cattle all pull at once, as much as they could, and to whip the ones that would not pull and not the ones that were pulling the whole load. Well, they learned how to drive a little better after a while, but it was hard work to get them into it. The Cholera raged fearfully that season, there were lots that were laid low on the account of it, but we did not have it in our Company so much as they did in others. There was only two died of the dreadful disease, and one old lady died with only old age, but in other companys there scores and scores died, the scene was fearful to look upon. The folks were laying here and there, some dead, some dying, some very sick, and some not knowing when it would be their turn. There were sometimes as many as six and seven buried in one grave, and feather beds and sheets, blankets, pillows and clothes were left laying every direction, all along the road. There was considerable California emigration that season, and they died of it by the hundreds. Their teams were very heavily ladened and their cattle got very poor by the time that they got into the mountains; they had to sell off their cattle and wagons and tools and provisions and get mules and pack through to California. We went up on the north side of the Platte; feed was better on that side, and it was more healthy on that side some how or other the folks on that side were not troubled with the Cholera half so bad as they were on the south side. We traveled on pretty comfortable, but our provisions began to run kind of slack, then we did not feel so good. We stopped six days on the west side of Laramie. I had to fix up four wagons. One day we were driving along and there was a storm coming up and there was a flash of lightning struck the ground the man said just ahead of his oxen and they turned out and started to run with that frightening the other team behind him and it started and that started some more, so they stampeded and broke four wagons down, some spokes broke out, ferrules broke off the axel trees, tongues and reaches broke and there it was, all smashed up together, and I had the job to fix them all up and two of them belonged to Eli B. Kelsey—they were his good wagons. I fixed them all up and of course, I thought that he would pay me for fixing his two wagons but he said that I was put in the company on purpose to fix up wagons and shoe cattle. I told him I was put in the company to fix up the wagons and to shoe cattle, but not without pay. I counted up the iron work I done on his wagons and it came to thirty three dollars exactly, and I only charged him the same price that I should have charged any one in the States. Well, I never got a cent for what I done for him and had any amount of goods, and he would not even let my son Taylor have a pair of shoes. Now, I never done a thing for any of the rest, setting tires, shoeing cattle, or anything but what they were glad to pay me for my labor and I always got my pay from them when the work was done. Well, we got along without it, and done very well. When we got to Green River and we had got out of food and Kelsey was going to send his young stock on ahead into the Valley. Him and Erastus Snow had three hundred two and three year old Heifers, and my son Taylor engaged with him to help drive them in. Now there was a young fellow by the name of Joseph Toronto; he came down with Kelsey and Snow, and he said that he mostly stayed at Brigham's when he was in the Valley, and he said to my wife that he would go on into the Valley, and tell Brigham to send out some food to them that had none. Now he was a Frenchman and had been brought up pretty well. I guess, however, he did not know much about hardships and the trials of hunger. He thought that the folks would all die if they did not have any bread, so he said that he would go in and bring some out. Taylor was to start that morning with the young stock. Now, Kelsey had had several taking care of his stock, but they had lost some and he knew that Taylor was good at hunting cattle, or taking care of them, so that is the reason that he hired him. Kelsey killed a beef that morning and was going to start the boys off with bread and beef and nothing else, so his son went to him and asked him if he was not going to let them have anything else and Kelsey said that it was good enough for hired hands. Well, but see how lean the beef is and every bit of the tallow has been taken out, how are we to cook it. Boil it, said Kelsey. What that tough stuff, said the boy, and the hands could hear every word. So he said I am going to have something better than that, so he went to the wagon and Kelsey never said anything and the boy went up and got about ten pounds of tallow, ten pounds of sugar and twenty pounds of coffee, a lot of dried apples and some other things, and they started off for the valley. Well, Joseph Toronto went in and told Brother Brigham that the folks were there starving to death and that he must send them out some food. So Brigham went round to every house and told them that he wanted some bread for the Company and he went to the bakers and got all the crackers that were in the shop and got some flour and loaded up a wagon and started it back to meet us. The women had gone on ahead one morning at the mouth of Echo Canyon and there they met Joseph Toronto, and he said to my wife, Sister Butler, I have brought you some things to eat. Now there was some smiling faces and some jumping for joy, I can assure you, when they heard this news. My wife asked him where it was. He said that it would be here directly, and he told her all about how he and Brother Brigham went and got loaves of bread from the folks in the city. When the wagon came and we had camped Brother Kelsey came to me and said, John L. you divide out the provisions, but, said he, keep the crackers for ourselves and give them the bread and flour. I told him that I would serve them out and he said all right. When I went to serve out the provisions I served out the crackers first and gave all alike, and it pleased me to see the children, how delighted they were to have bread once more, and their little faces brightened up, and it was a pleasure to see them. By and by Kelsey came along and he was as mad as a wet hen and he said that if he had known that I had been going to serve out the crackers that I should not have served them out at all. He said that he told me to keep the crackers for ourselves. Yes, I said, I know you did, but I gave them to the women and the children, and I liked crackers as well as he did, and so does them dear children. He went off mad. Well, we went into the City . . .