Transcript for "History of the Life of John Durrant, 1837-1914," 10-11.
We started out on our journey Aug. 3, 1861, with eleven wagons loaded with cotton machinery and a printing press. After two or three days travel, E.R Wright asked George Stringham if he would bring in Mrs. Godbees' 3 loaded wagons and join our train, which he did, and our boss hired him to be our wagon boss and to hunt for feed for the cattle. Us teamsters drove all day and in our turns we herded the cattle all night. I well remember one very dark and cloudy night myself and Bro. John Biggs were to go out and release the other two after supper. We saw their fire when we started from the camp, it seemed to be about 2 or 3 miles distant, we lost sight of the fire in crossing a creek in a very crooked and deep revene. We travelled in the dark and crossed the creek about 4 or 5 times. It must have been as crooked as a snake. We travelled for about 2 hours and worked up on a hill, there we saw the fire again and started for it agin and in reaching it, to our surprise we had turned around and got back to the same campfire we started from. George Stringham asked us if we had released the cattle guards. I told him the experience we had gained, he had a good laugh to see us so wet through . "John" says he, "I will give you a good guide for the future. He took us out of the revine upon the bak and pointed to a small fire. Now you see that fire away over yonder, yes, now look up in the sky, straight over the fire and see that large star, now go straight in a line for the star and you will get there. We started off again crossing hills and hollows, by keeping sight of the star we reached the herd boys, but the cattle were scattered all over. The 2 boys started for camp to get their supper which was a very late one.
John Biggs and myself just as soon as we could see in the morning started to gather up our cattle ready for starting on our days journey, but it took so long to gather them up that we could not drive very far that day.
We travelled on the next day and saw a herd of buffalo and shot and skinned one of them, it being the first time I'd ever eaten buffalo meat. It was very tough but better than none. Still traveling on we saw some Antelope, they being so wild we could not get anywhere near them. In traveling along and grass being very scarce our wagon boss, George Stringham, started out to hunt some and came across a herd of wolves, threw his larryet and caught one by the next [neck], tied it to the horn of his saddle and came galloping along with it, it trailing along the ground and the dust flying. He finally caught up with us hollering and yelling and swinging his hat and stampeding the cattle and wagons, some going one way and some another, capsizing one load of looking glasses.
I was up in my wagon riding at this time I threw on my break which happened to be a good one, it stopped them almost directly, this I consider was a blessing as I had a young lady in the wagon at this time, she was very much afraid of an accident. The wagons were scattered every which way for awhile. As soon as the teams could be got together, E.R. Wright ordered the cattle unhitched from the wagons and called for help to get the wagon turned right side up which had rolled down the bank and into a deep creek. We finally succeeded in getting it out, unpacking the goods and laying them on the bank in the sun to dry. This was all through George's carelessness, but he was a great one for fun. The freight when dry was not quite so bad as expected. We then hitched up again and drove until we found some grass for our cattle, there we corralled for the night.
Started off early the next morning and had a long days drive and crossed the Desert about eleven o'clock in the evening before we reached water. We camped in a ravine that night and
in the morning we saw a drove of pra[i]rie chickens which seemed to be very tame. The boys got their guns and pistols and shot all but one and when it found it was alone it flew away. We soon plucked them and ate our breakfast and considered they were sent there for us. We then started out for our days journey although very late because it was late at night before we reached the water. I well recollect one of our brother teamsters named Thomas Keatley became very sick, he had been lying in the wagon 8 or 9 days. I went to him and asked if I could do anything for him, he said yes I would like for you and some of the other boys to take me down to the river and give me a good wash, when we stopped for noon we did so. The Platte River was very low at this time but according to his wish we packed him about half a mile to the river, gave him a good wash and carried him into the wagon again. He then wished me to see E.R. Wright and ask him if he would let him have a little of that brandy that he had got in his wagon, E. R. Wright said no, I then told him Bro. Ke[a]tley was very sick and I thought a little would do him good. He still refused to let him have a little saying theres not much the matter with him but laziness. I assured him he was very sick but he still refused, I told him that would pay him for it. I had some silver in my pocket. But no, he would not.
We traveled along the Platt[e] River twelve miles to Paunies [Pawnee] Springs, along the Platt[e] to Laramie, then across the Platt[e] keeping up there 30 miles to Dear [Deer] Creeke [Creek] to Platt[e] Bridge 70, crossing the Platt[e] to Redbute [Red Butte] where Brother Ke[a]tley died and was buried wrapped up in some old blankets putting a piece of board with his name cut in it with a pocket knife. Then to Willow Springs, thence to Independent [Independence] Rock on Sweet Water four miles to Devils Gate 90 miles from Sweetwater from thence to Persifeck [Pacific] Springs. From there to Dry Sandey [Sandy]. From there to Little Sandey [Sandy]. From thence to Big Sandey [Sandy]. Thence to Green River. From there to Black Fork, from thence to Bair [Bear] River. From there to Yellow Creek. Thence to the head of Echo Can[y]on. From Big Can[y]on Creek, thence over the big mountain to Ephrum [Ephraim] Hankses Ranch. E.R. Wright leaving the train intirely in the hands of George Stringham to bring over the Little Mountain., E.R. Wright started up with his mule team to reach Salt Lake City in time for the October Confrence which comes off on the 6th of October.
(Note: Up to this point we have, to some extent corrected the spelling and the pronunciation but from this place on we have given it very much as it was written by John Durrant in long hand, therefore preserving much of the English accent.)
Hafter he got nisly started over the little mountain, the next morning George Stringham helped us hitch up our cattell, got us started. He then jumped on his horse and rode around his boss, reaching the city 12 hours a head of his boss E.R. Wright. Hafter having one days drive camping on the little mountain drove up to a station to get his dinner. He was talking about the train behind saying I have left it in good hands[.] George Stringham is behind bringing it along. Epheran [Ephraim] Hankes [Hanks] looking him in the face saying why George Stringham passed by hear on his horse several hours sinse. Now this put E.R. Wright to a standstill. He did not know what to do. But he finely concluded he would go on. George rode into the city that night and came back the next day to meet us. And brought with him a sack of potatoes for us and few groceries. We camped that night at the head of emegration [Emigration] can[y]on. We had a good feast that night on Utah potatoes.
Wee started off the next morning October 13, 1861, drove in to Salt Lake City the same day[.] I felt very much please to think that God had permitted me to reach my destination in safety.