Transcript for Canute Peterson autobiography, 1900, 19-25


On the 18th of April 1849. a company of 22 Saints left La Salle to come to Utah[.] In this Company were Brother [Henry] Sabe and his family, Mother [Anna Johanna] Dahl and her family (her husband, Brother Dahl, had gone to Utah the year before: and her son, Christ, had gone with the pioneers in 1847), Brother Shure Olson and his family. There were several young people in the company, among whom I may mention Sister Sarah Ann Nelson, Christ[ian] Hayer [Hyer], and myself. We had six wagons in our company.

A journey of about 200 miles brought us to Burlington, Iowa. We found the city deserted with the exception of the ferrymen and a few guards who were left to watch the city. The streets and porches had been strewn with new lime, because of the great Cholera epidemic.

We passed out of the city as quickly as we could and camped about 8 miles from there on a beautiful little creek.

When we came to Chardon Point in Iowa, Sister Sarah Ann Nelson was seized with a violent attack of cholera. The sisters did all they could for her relief, but it was of no avail.

I became impressed to go down into the woods on the creek and pray to the Lord for her recovery.

Here I earnestly besought the Lord that He would spare her life, and I became so filled with the Spirit of the Lord that I thought I hardly touched the ground while going from the place of prayer to the wagon.

When within a few rods of the wagon, I could hear her groan. I went to the side of the wagon nearest to her head, put my hand between the wagon cover and the wagon box, and placed my hand on her head and silently rebuked the Destroyer.

She immediately straightened herself out of the cramp, smiled, and told the Sisters, "I am healed."

She was well aware whose hand it was that had touched her. She had the disease no more.

There were a few others who were also attacked with the cholera, but when administered to they were healed. The last one attacked was an aged lady, Sister Lathrop. We administered to her. I was mouth. The Destroyer was rebuked and commanded to leave and return no more, which was verified.

We now traveled on in peace and safety and reached Kanesville, Here we found three companies preparing to go to Utah that Season. We joined Apostle Benson's company, which was the last one to start for Utah that season.

In order to have feed for our teams, we camped about five miles east of Kanesville. It was while camping here that Apostle Orson Hyde, According to previous arrangement, came about four o'clock in the afternoon of July 2nd and tied the knot of matrimony between Sarah Ann Nelson and myself.

Next day we resumed our journey and came to the upper crossing of the Missouri River.

When we arrived at Elkhorn River, about 30 miles from the Missouri River, we found to our great astonishment two large companies on the bank of the river. Brother George A. Smith was the captain of one, and Brother [Silas] Richards the captain of the other. These companies had not been able to cross the river, because the ferry had been left on the other side, and a heavy rain storm in the upper country had swollen the stream to the height of twelve feet. They had tried in many ways to get a rope to the ferry, but had failed.

The question was sprung as to who could and would swim across with the rope and fasten it to the ferry.

The thought came to me having had considerable practice in swimming rivers in Illinois, I volunteered to attempt this difficult task. Ira Sabe offered to assist me.

I fastened the rope around me and began to swim. When I was about one third of the distance across the stream, my partner then started in to help to pull the rope across. but before I reached the ferry, he began to give out.

When I saw this predicament, I knew that if I failed to reach the ferry, we would both be in a very dangerous condition. I therefore exerted myself to the utmost to reach the ferry which I did. In a moment I had the rope secured and began to pull Brother Sabe in after me.

The crowd on the opposite side had watched me with intense interest and became very anxious about our safety. When they saw our success in reaching the ferry-bonnets, handkerchiefs, and hats were waved, and a loud shout of joy went up from the crowd. We soon had the ferry boat in operation, and before evening we had quite a number of the wagons across.

After this, when there was any swimming to be done, I was generally asked to do it, and so became quite popular.

We then traveled in good peace along the Platte River, and had a prosperous journey for many weeks. There was an abundance of game, such as buffaloes, Antelopes, elk, etc. I was a lucky hunter, and brought probably as much meat into camp as most any of the men.

When we reached Independence Rock, we were met by Brethren from the Valley who had come to assist us on our journey. They had both cattle and wagons.

Brother Thomas E. Ricks was assigned to assist us Norwegians, which he did. Brother Ricks was just as kind and accommodating as any man possibly could be, and was a great help to us. He stayed with us until we reached Salt Lake City. He won our love and confidence which he has to this day.

When we came farther up Sweet-water, the weather changed and became stormy and windy and though we were uncomfortable at times, we made good progress on our journey.

When between the two last crossings of the Sweetwater, we were obliged to cross some high ridges, which were a part of the Wind River Mts. Our camp was then within seven or eight miles of the last crossing of the Sweetwater, a place called Willow Creek. Here we were blockaded by a tremendous snow storm which lasted about forty hours.

During this time we were all obliged to keep in our wagons. Christian Hayer [Hyer] was the first one to come out and make a fire, and I was the next to join him.

Brother Hayer and myself then started to go up the creek to find our cattle. We found quite a number that were yet alive but the largest number we saw in that direction had perished.

After returning to camp, we found quite a number of the people up, and they listened very anxiously to our report which was very discouraging.

Apostle [Ezra Taft] Benson, the captain of our company, Called for volunteers to go to George A. Smith's camp, which was within about three miles back on Strawberry Creek, to ascertain the situation there of both men and beast.

Brother Christian Hayer [Hyer] and myself volunteered to go. We started out afoot, and found it to be a very hard and tedious journey, because the snow was nearly waist deep. Our path lay over a ridge between the two creeks--But we found Brother Smith's camp and learned that they were situated in circumstances very similar to our own. Brother Smith was just then sending some of the strongest men to go down on Sweetwater to hunt up the cattle.

We then returned to our camp and told them what we had learned. While we were away, a number of our strong men had gone down the creek to Sweetwater to look for our cattle, and they were fortunate in finding the great majority of our cattle in quite a good condition, considering the awful storm. There was an abundance of large willows there which had served both as food and as shelter. Those of the cattle that had gone down the river, or creek, had fared much better than those that had gone up the creek.

When these brethren returned with this favorable report, our great anxiety for our welfare was much relieved. We camped in this place three days.

After gathering up all the cattle we could find, we then found that we were about 70 or 80 head short. This necessitated our yoking up and putting into service every animal that could do any work.

When we had travelled about ten miles, we came out of the snow to bare ground and next day we reached the Pacific Springs where our cattle had good food again. From there we traveled on and had good luck until we reached Salt Lake City, October 25, 1849[.]