Transcript for "Autobiography of Carl Christian Nicoli Dorius," 19-21.
We were at once shown to our camping ground, which was two or three miles out of Iowa City, by John Taylor and Abrah[a]m Cannon. We pitched our tents in a circle, 18 persons to be accomodated in each tent.
We stayed about one month to get our hand carts and provision in order to make everything ready. The handcarts were in poor condition and they soon became worse as we went over ditches and rough hills and hollows. This was the beginning of our trip across the plains, our goal being Salt Lake City, Utah. It was something to tackle, as the two previous handcart companies the year before had almost perished, so we were warned to start as soon as possible on account of the winter weather. Our first captain of the handcart company was Elder James R. Park, whom the Scandinavians did not understand, and he did not understand them. So a new captain was named. A number did not have enough means to go on and stayed in the valley. Many went by ox team, which was somewhat better, although our company, which was the 7th, made almost as good time.
There were 300 souls, 68 handcarts, 3 wagons, 10 mules. Christian Christianson, the man the saints love so much and who baptized three of my father’s family, became our captain from Florence to Salt Lake City. We were so thankful for this wonderful man to take charge, and then went much better. He divided the company into four divisions under four other captains. I was made captain of one division of 16 handcarts. The other captains also had 16 handcarts to oversee. This helped to make our traveling more unique.
We traveled on one side of the Platt[e] River, while the Johnston Army was traveling also toward Salt Lake City. Little wee knew who were and what their aims were, but the army stayed at Fort Bridger that winter and did not come toward Salt Lake until the next summer. There was joy and sorrow in that trek. When we camped we held meetings. We also danced barefoot and sang when we camped, and all tried to be happy. One tenth of the company died for want of care and nourishment. We had to send to Salt Lake for provisions, which were most too late for help. We also saw that thrilling never-to-be-forgotten experience of a buffalo stampede.
Our shoes were entirely worn out, and the women had to use burlap around their feet, which my wife, Ellen, often spoke of. When we crossed the small streams the thin ice would tear our bleeding feet, and oh! how swollen they would be. But we five couples walked almost all the way. Being young, we soon forgot the hardships we had endured. We pulled and pushed the handcarts, side by side with our wives as true partners of this hectic journey, but no one ever complained. We tried to be pioneers true blue.
Even the Johnson Army came to our rescue, as almost a miracle, just when we were almost without food. One of the captains approached our company and said very kindly that one of his oxen had its foot crushed, and if we could use it and care for it, we could have it. This came as a blessing and kept the trek from starving, as they had been without meat for weeks. This certainly was a real treat. By using the meat sparingly, it lasted until help came from Salt Lake, consisting of food and something special for the sick and those most in need.
We landed in Salt Lake City the 13th of September, 1857.