Transcript for Elizabeth Jane Perkins Belcher in On to the Valley (1957) by Anson G. Perkins
We left the Bluffs in a company of several hundred other Saints. The people were divided into companies, 50 people to a company. After we had traveled a short distance, it was found that 50 wagons were too many to travel together on account of the cattle which traveled more slowly in large herds than in smaller ones, so the company was divided, 25 wagons each. The people took their milk cows along with them and some of them were compelled to work the cows on their wagons; this was usually when the oxen would give out or die. I remember that father [Wilson Gardner Perkins] loaned Brother Erastus Snow a yoke of cows and he drove them through to Salt Lake Valley. This immigration of wagons was called a train, and there were many trains scattered along the route.
President Brigham Young was with one of these trains, but not the one we were in (as this was in 1848, it must have been a second trip for President Young). I remember seeing him many times riding in his carriage. Uncle Billie [William Gant] Perkins was captain of our company, he was grandfather’s brother. I have forgotten most of the names of people who traveled with us for I was only 11 years old. I remember John Wakley and old Dr. Parker who had a wooden leg; also the noted John D. Lee was in our company. He seemed to be a very nice man, one would never have thought him capable of such evil deeds as he committed later (John D. Lee brought the plunder he obtained from the Mountain Meadow Massacre and offered it to President Young; he refused to take one cent of it and said that he felt like weeping; that this crime was the worst thing that ever could happen to this people; that the black smirch would never be erased from the name of Mormon). He was executed, by hanging, by the State of Utah for his inhuman act.
As we traveled along the Platt[e] River, we saw a lone tree which was the only tree for miles around. There was a dead Indian papoose in top of the tree; the Indians’ way of burying their dead. Aunt Betsy Whitson Perkins, John Calvin’s mother, told me that when they came through the following year with Grandfather Perkins, the buffalo frightened the ox teams so badly that some of them stampeded and ran away and killed one woman, I think her name was Hawk [Hauck]. It was almost impossible to keep the ox teams from plunging into the Platt River. Aunt Betsy’s team ran away and when she dashed past her sister Mimey’s [Jemima Whitson's] wagon, Mimey called out to her, "Goodby, Bets." Game was scarce crossing the plains, but there were great herds of buffalo. I have many times seen them plunge into the Platt River and swim across; they looked like a black streak in the water.
Our trip was full of exciting experiences; one which I will never forget was the day our brothers went to see their first Indian camp and left us girls to drive the ox team. They told us not to touch the oxen with the whip; they were hardly out of sight when sister [Mary] Ann [Perkins] took the whip and walked out on the wagon tongue between the oxen and whipped the leaders. As she came back, she fell off the tongue and the wagon loaded with flour passed over her stomach, both the front and back wheels. She had bread and milk for her dinner which came pouring out of her mouth as the wheels passed over her. She was picked up for dead, but Uncle Billie administered to her and she came to and was playing with the other children when we camped that night. This would seem impossible to some, but I saw it with my own eyes.
My oldest brother William killed an elk which we ate with great relish. Some of the men killed a buffalo and the train laid over and jerked the meat. Jerking consists of cutting the meat in strips, stringing it on sticks, then smoking it. This meat was not very good even when fresh, as it is very coarse-grained.
One evening, we children built a bonfire on the side of the mountain, and were sitting around telling stories, and having fun. William took the buffalo hide unbeknown to us and wrapped it around himself, and came pawing and bellowing down the mountainside throwing dirt and rocks in every direction. We could not see very well as we only had the light from the bonfire, so we thought that some wild animal was about to spring on us. We all went tumbling down the mountainside screaming and yelling at the top of our lungs. William thought this was a big joke. His would-be girl hurt her shinbone. The dresses were ankle length then, and when the girl started to pull up her skirt to show him her skinned shin, William yelled; "Never mind, never mind, I’ll take your word for it."
I cannot remember any other events on our trip from the east, for it is like a dream to me. I know that when we first arrived in Salt Lake Valley, it was nothing but a fort, and just a few scattered houses. I think we arrived here in July 1848.