Transcript for Clark, Davis, Autobiography, in Erold Clark Wiscombe, The Descendants of Maria Burr, John Clark and William West Lane, [1975], 12-14

In the early spring of 1852, Apostles Orson Hyde and Ezra T. Benson came to the Grove and counselled all to move to the Salt Lake Valley. Bishop Lane acted accordingly and on the 24th of June 1852 the Clark-Lane families crossed the Missouri River to head west.

Bishop Lane was in charge of the 51st Company with Jacob Bigler and Lorenzo Johnson as counselors. The group traveled only a few days when cholera broke out in camp and several died. Bishop Lane was stricken ill and the camp halted at Look [Loup] Fork for two days to allow him to recover. He felt somewhat better, so the company moved on. Three days later Davis' mother, Maria Lane, became ill with the cholera. She became sick about 9 o'clock in the morning after the company had started. They had to keep moving to reach the next water spot but the wearisome journey proved too much for her in this condition and she passed away at 4 p.m. that afternoon, 5 July 1852. This was on Davis' 20th birthday. The family peeled the bark off from a cottonwood tree to make a coffin for her. She was buried along the trail three days journey west of Loop [Loup] Fork.

For the second time Bishop Lane had become a widower. The next day the wagon train moved on, but Bishop Lane's condition grew worse. On the 8th of July, just three days after the death of his wife, he too died. The train took some good boxes and patched them together to make a coffin for him. Twelve others, besides Bishop Lane and his wife, died of the cholera. Two other men were shot by Indians.

Davis now found himself the foster father of a younger sister and brother, Flora and Enoch; four step sisters (children of Bishop Lane by his first wife); and five little half sisters, the eldest 10 years and the youngest barely three years old. A family of 12 at the age of 20, and not even a wife to assist him. The four step sisters were cared for by others, but he continued to bring the five half sisters on to Utah.

One morning after turning the cattle loose to graze, the Indians slipped down a ravine, and between the stock and camp and stampeded the herd, and fired at the guard. They ran to camp. We had just fourteen horses in camp that had not been turned out. We armed ourselves and mounted as quickly as possible, by this time we could see nothing but a cloud of dust in the distance. We pursued them and overtook them some eight or ten miles away. Some of the weaker stock had given out and laid down.

We attacked the Indians and fired on them, and they on us; we chased them away and started back with the cattle. We had to leave some on the way that gave out. No water, and the day was very hot. We got back to camp late; there was considerable anxiety in camp till we got back.

In a few more days we reached game country, plenty of antelope and buffalo. Often we would see hundreds in sight. The people in camp wanted some meat, and I had a good horse, so five men went out and chased buffalo several hours and returned to camp without any. I went out after they returned and killed one bull. They took out several yoke of oxen and dragged the buffalo into camp. After that I kept the company well supplied while passing through the country. Buffalo were now starting to get scarce. I saw one lone bull a mile away. I rode after it and killed it on the bank of a small stream called Le Bout [La Bonte]. I dismounted to take out the tongue, as I usually did, as it was considered a dainty. While in the act, I heard a whoop, and looking up, I saw four Indians on ponys coming lively. I mounted without fear, thinking I could out run them, looking back I saw that I was gaining on them, then I saw some fifteen or twenty more Indians had ridden around the hill and got in front of me. The river was east of me some two or three hundred yards. I made a dash for it, thinking to plunge in, but when I got there I dared not, the banks were too high and boulders below, and the current was too swift. In a moment or two I was surrounded. They were armed with bows and arrows, spears and tomahawks. They drew their weapons and made motions as if they were going to chop me to pieces. I noticed they pulled the arrows to head, would let the strings fly and hold on to the arrow. I could not understand a word of their lingo.

They took me five or six miles to their camp on the bank of a creek. Their squaws were drying and smoking buffalo meat, spread on scaffolds made of willows. Some of the boys and squaws unsaddled our horses and took them away. The Indians pulled me along with them into a big tent. Some squaws brought in some kettles of boiled buffalo meat. They went to eating and motioned for me to eat also. I did not feel very hungry just then. Soon after, a person came in, I did not know whether he was an Indian or White man. He looked a bit like both. He had on a buckskin coat fringed and beaded, pants made of scotch plaid, a hat on his head and moccasins on his feet.

He asked me in English how I came to be there. I told him the circumstances. He said he was part French and lived with the Indians. They were Arapahoes out on a buffalo hunt. I asked him what they were going to do with me, but he said he did not know. He did not seem to be very communicative. He asked me if there was any whiskey or brandy in our train. It happened that we had supplied ourselves with a ten gallon keg of brandy and a ten gallon keg of whisk[e]y at Kanesville before starting. An idea struck me that I might make some of that useful in getting back to camp. I told him we had some, but it was locked in a big box in the wagon I drove and slept in. I gave him to understand if he would go with me to camp, I would let him have some. In several hours three ponies and my horse were saddled and bridled and my gun was given to me. They told me to get on and go the [sic] our camp. He mounted one pony and two Indians on the other two. We reached our camp just as it was getting dark. The folks in the camp were getting quite anxious about me. I gave them some whiskey to drink and gave the Frenchman a bottle to take away.

The next morning the teams were all hitched up just ready to pull out, when some forty or fifty Indians rode up in war paint and armed. Mr. Frenchman came inside of the circle of wagons and acted as the interpreter. The Indians wanted salt, sugar, blankets, shirts, and whiskey. They demanded a certain amount of each for passing through their country. The Indians were all mounted. They were spread in a circle a few yards outside the circle of wagons. They streached over half way around the wagons. The Frenchman stood just at the end of the wagon tongue. I stood on the front rounds of the wagon where I could reach my gun.

Some of the men in camp did not want to comply with their demands. There was some back talk. The Indians commenced going through warlike maneuvers, and some of them had done the same thing they did to me before. Some of the men were getting nervous and the women quite frightened. I too got nervous, grabbed my gun, cocked it drawn down on the Frenchman. I told him if he moved I would shoot him. He saw that I had the drop on him. I told him he could not move from where he was at until the Indians left. Some of the men remonstrated with me for my foolhardiness, but by this time we were all excited. I had gone so far now that I dared not retract. The Frenchman jabbered with the Indians a little while, then they rode off about two hundred yards and bunched up. I then let the Frenchman go.

The Indians disappeared over the hill. We did not move camp for some time. We finally pulled out with great caution, with every man's gun ready. The guard was doubled for several nights for fear of an attack by the Indians. Several nights some Indians crept close to camp to steal horses. The horses snorted, one of the guards walked toward the Indians, and got shot by them. He died after reaching the valley. Nothing more of note occurred and we reached Salt Lake City on the 24th day of Sept. 1852.