Transcript for Dalton, Mathew W., Excerpts from a biography of Mathew W. Dalton, 1918, fd. 1, 1-3
Matthew W. Dalton left Wisconsin in 1850 bound for the gold mines in California, but on his arrival at Fort Hall he learned that the Indians were making trouble. he was advised to go by way of Salt Lake City. On his way thither he arrived on the present site of Ogden, Sept. 5, 1850. Bro Dalton writes: At this time at a place known as "Ham's Fort" a little east of Fort Hall I made the acquaintance of a gentleman named Major Singer. He was a genial man, had been a Quartermaster in the U.S. Army and I took a liking to him at once, and our relations became quite friendly. I found, upon inquiry, that he was just about to travel to Salt Lake City in order to winter over there with his family, then proceed in the spring to California by the "Overland" route for the "Gold Fields."
"Our friend, John Grant" of Fort Hall told us we could easily find the trail to Salt Lake City. It seems that a company consisting of nineteen wagons, had made the trip from the fort to Salt Lake the previous fall and that their wagon trails would plainly show.
Major Singer, upon hearing this, decided to set out for the City and invited me to accompany him and his family upon the trip.
I eagerly embraced the opportunity and while Mr. Hickey and his company were pursuing their way across the plains to Washington, I was journeying with the genial Major and his family on the trail from Ft. Hall to the valley of the Great Salt Lake.
We were told that the distance from the fort to Salt Lake City was about 180 miles. By careful examination we were able to keep on the trail pursued by the fall company. From Fort Hall southward, in places of course the winter rains and storms had almost oblitered the trail[.] by riding ahead and making careful scrutiny we would pick up the trail and follow it.
Naturally we were suspicious of Indians and constantly on the look out for the hostile "Red Man;" but happily for us, we were entirely unmolested by any man, either white or red. Indeed we found no trace, in our entire journey, of any hostile "Redskin" whatever.
In coming through the valley now known as Box Elder County, we found no trace of a white man anywhere from Fort Hall to the site now occupied by Ogden City, except one solitary individual I found near the place called South Willard, of which more anon. The whole country was at that time, unowned and unoccupied by the White man; but given over to the primeval savagery of the elements and was a barren wilderness.
In due time Major Singer and his company arrived just north of the site now occupied by Brigham City. By this time the cattle were jaded and weary by travel so he decided to stop and rest them for a few days and let them browse upon the bunch grass then so abundant at that place. I naturally was anxious to get to my destination, and the prospect of waiting did not seem good to me. I concluded, therefore to leave the Major to follow at his leisure, while I passed on by foot to the site of Ogden City, where I had heard that a few settlers and pioneers would be found. So bidding adieu to my genial and worthy friend and his interesting family I went ahead of his company on foot and alone.
I was now twenty-two years of age and being inured to a life of toil and hardship was possessed of a strong iron like constitution and in the pink of condition. I passed alone and afoot through a country solitary and desolate in its primeval barrenness and savagery. Not a man nor a house along my line of march. On foot I passed the delta upon which Brigham City, the present "City of Homes" is now built. Little did I dream then that in the years to come, it would be transformed from the wilderness to smiling orchards[,] fruitful fields and happy homes!"
From its site I looked out west and south and beholding, for the first time, the briny waters of the Great Salt Lake, the Dead Sea of America, glistening in the sunshine I wondered at the scene. There was no man; no life anywhere, just barrenness and desolation.
Passing still further south I walked through the present site of Perry and then on further south to where the beautiful and productive City of Willard now stands. But still the same silence and desolation of "ages" hovered over the spot. Little did I dream then; that where my feet now trod a beautiful settlement would spring up; fertile and productive and where silence now reigned unbroken but a few short years would pass, ere it would echo with the strong tones of men, and the sweet gladsome voices of women and children. Little too, did I think, then that this place, also would be the scene of my home life and the activities of early manhood and mature life!
But to resume, still walking south, at a large spring about two miles south of Willard as we now know it, on a spot which afterwards became part of the farm of Brother George Marsh, I met the first White man encountered in my journey from Fort Hall to this spot. It was to me a most surprising sight. For there, encamped by the spring I saw a solitary man, single and alone. He had a wheelbarrow, which he had been trundling across the plains. In it he had a sack containing a little supply of "hard tack" and bacon. A piece of wagon cover, which he used at night to sleep in completed his equipment. I looked at him and marveled! In answer to my enquiry I found him to be a "gold seeker" bound for the "diggins." I asked him where he was going, and he replied "he was going to California" to get his share of gold."
In reply to my question as to whether he was not afraid of being molested by the Indians, he said he expected a company traveling west to overtake him; then he would travel with them and be protected. But I marveled at his courage and temerity, and that he had long since been "scalped" by Indians far back on the "Plains." As it was then near night and he gladly offered to share his scanty food with me, I accepted his offer and camped with him at that spot. The Indians were still reputed to be on the "war path" so after supper I agreed to keep watch for the night while he slept as a precaution against surprise and attack. To this he gladly assented. Thus my lonely watch was kept upon the place afterwards known as South Willard, in the dead of the night, with only the sky overhead as a canopy; litle dreaming, then how my future life would be so closely identified with that locality.
He slept soundly till morning. We took a scanty breakfast together and parted, never to meet again in time. He to continue his lonely journey toward the west; I to find a refuge and a welcome among the "strange" band of adventurers, known as the "Mormons" who had migrated from the East, and made their stand in the "wilderness" savage nature and more savage men!
A walk of about 14 miles took young "Dalton" from the spring at "South Willard" to the "site" of the city, we now know as Ogden. Thus on the morning of the 5th day of September, 1850, our young friend and pioneer, first beheld with natural eye, the then small beginnings" of that now populous City, and gazed with astonishment upon the very few scattered "settlers" who had braved the dangers of the desert to find a place where they could reach a "refuge" and a home!"