Transcript for Elizabeth Letitia Higginbotham Peery, reel 2, box 2, fd 14, item 5, 4-7
The out-fit was allready at Florence near Omaha. We bought our provisions in Omaha. We also camped at Florence for a while. We left Omaha and Florence about June 4, 1864, and traveled for a few days until we reached Fort Kearney. Our outfit consisted of ox-teams for three wagons, each having two yoke of cattle; making twelve oxen in all. In addition, we had two cows. None of our family had ever driven oxen, it was very awkward and hard for them to learn. William and [Samuel] Napoleon [Bonaparte] Pritchett however, had had experience in driving oxen, and they ware very kind in teaching the others how to do so. In addition to our wagons, there were four other wagons including San [Samuel] Williams and family. He had married a Pritchett; also Ben Garf[f] and family, who had married a Pritchett.
At Fort Kearney we met a company of Missourians who were on their way to Oregon and the gold fields of California. Among the Missourians were Mr. Frank [Francis] Easterday, his wife [Sarah] and children, consisting of four daughters and two sons. We were much pleased with the Easterdays, and made friends with them. They were nice, good people.
After traveling a few days, D[avid]. H[arold]. Peery proposed that we organize into a Company and elect a captain, he succeeded in having William Pritchett made captain. William Pritchett was a hard-working, capable man. Many of the Missourians opposed him being made Captain because he was a Mormon. Mr. Easterday, a non-Mormon, sided with D. H. Peery to make William Pritchett captain. The other Missourians were so angry that the Mormon had been made Captain, that they showed their feelings by naming their oxen, Brigham—Heber. They would say, "Get up Brig. Go along Hebe." And finally they left our Company after traveling with us about a week or two. They had many horses, and they said that they would not stay with us, but that they would go on ahead. The Easterdays remained with us, also some other Missourians who were nice people.
After leaving Fort Kearney, there were no more settlements and the country was wild and in its native state. We followed the Old trail which the Mormons had made years before. We arrived at the Black Hills without very much trouble.
Our custom was to camp over Sunday; and in the Black Hills we camped near another freight train which happened to be near an old fort, when we got there. This fort was at the foot of the Black Hills, there were no soldiers at the fort.
Near our camping place was a band of Sioux Indians. One of our party, Oscar Harman, was a joker. Two young Indian men came over to our camp, and Oscar Harman in a joke, asked them if they would like to buy Susan [Calpernia] Pritchett, Captain Pritchett's daughter. She was a beautiful girl about sixteen years old; a brunette with very black hair and black eyes, she had been tanned until she looked almost like an Indian. The Indians said that they would like to buy her, they would give two ponies for her. Harman said, “All right,” and they started off to get the ponies. One of the freighters, who happened to be near and heard the conversation, asked Harman if he did not know that the Indians were in earnest and that they never joked. Harman said "No." The freighter thereupon said that the Indians were in earnest and would be back after the girl. So Susan then ran to her father's wagons, and he mother hid her under the springs of the bed in the wagons. Soon the two Indians came back with their horses, and jumped off their horses and asked for the girl stating that they had brought the horses in exchange for the girl. Captain Pritchett tried to tell the Indians that the other man did not own the girl, but the Indians would not understand it that way and went away very angry. In a short time we saw the Indians all packed up leaving and we felt that there would be trouble ahead. This was the beginning of the Sioux Indian War.
The next day we started on through the Black Hills. It was a very hard day's travel. Toward night we met a man on horseback and asked him where we could find water. He told us that down between two high hills there was a little spring, which was the only water within five miles. We thereupon camped in the place he designated. The man was on horseback and had a bucket on his arm no doubt he was an emissary of the Indians.
After we had camped, the men started to take the oxen and horses off to feed taking the oxen in one direction and the horses in another. They had not gone far until the Indians appeared and tried to stampede the horses. The Indians fired their arrows and wounded one of our party, a young Missourian, shooting him in the shoulder with an arrow; he could not pull the arrow from his shoulder as it was jagged. They however, succeeded in turning their horses back to camp, also getting the oxen back to camp. That night all stood guard.
The next morning before daylight we left there, and did not go more than a mile until we came to a beautiful stream of water with fine feed. We camped here in order to feed and water the animals, and waited for other freight trains, remaining there two days. That afternoon the Indians came again and fired upon us with their arrows, but our men met them with guns and drove them away. The Indians would lie over on the sides of their horse to protect themselves, when they came near. But there being so many freighters within party at that time, the Indians did not dare to come too near. From that time on the men in our camp had to organize and stand guard until we nearly reached Utah.
Two days after we left, we overtook the Missourians who had left us before. The Indians had taken all their horses and left them stranded with but a few oxen, but not enough to take them on. Captain Pritchett told our party that we much divide up and bring the Missourians along with us. We did so, pulling their wagons without animals until we got to Green River, where they could buy cattle, there being ranches at Green River. Before meeting the stranded Missourians, two large freight trains came up and also joined our party. After the adventure with the Indians, we were in constant fear of another attack, we could see their signals in the night, indicated by fire, and could see the Indians in a distance on the hills.
About two weeks after the trouble with the Indians, we were startled by the appearance of about three hundred coming toward us on horseback. They were dressed in war attire. All they had on was their breech-clouts, and their bodies were painted; they had feathers in their hair. I shall never forget how they looked. We were all startled and terrified by their appearance, and expected an immediate battle. Captain Pritchett at once ordered the wagons to form into a corral. We put the horses and oxen on the inside of the corral, and the men with their guns prepared to meet the Indians. When the band had come within a short distance of our camp, a single rider came towards us waving a white cloth. We sent out an Indian Interpreter, also Captain Pritchett to meet them. The Indians told Captain Pritchett that they were friends, Arapohoes [Arapahos], and wanted to know where we had last seen the Sioux Indians. Captain Pritchett told them, and they went on. We did not hear of the Sioux Indians any more, and did not have any more trouble. We felt that the Arapohoes were sent to us by Providence to protect us from further harm, and we gave thanks accordingly.
As it was bad for so many trains to be together on account of feed, our parties separated. The conclusion was that there would be no more trouble with the Indians, and the freight trains went on and left us with the Missourians who had remained with us all the way. We had no more trouble, particularly from then on. The stranded Missourians who had bought oxen at Green River left us and started for Oregon; but the Easterdays and our other Missouri friends remained with us until we arrived in Salt Lake City.
We kept pretty well and had no serious sickness. I was about eighteen years of age; my mother [Louisa Ward Higginbotham] was in poor health and weak, therefore I had to do most of the cooking. My mother and I cooked morning and night for four men, David Harold Peery, Oscar Harman, and my brothers, Simon and Frank. I remained well, although I was not a strong girl. The boys would get the wood and water and help all they could. We got quite tired of the dry food, such as bacon and ham, beans, dried apples and flour. We did not have any wild game. We would get so tired of riding that we would walk about half the distance. The girls and women would run bullets for the men to use in their guns.
When we arrived at Echo Canyon, some peddlers from Utah brought some fresh vegetables and sold them to us. They consisted mostly of potatoes and onions, and through I had never liked onions and had not eaten one before, I was so delighted to see fresh vegetables, that I ate a large onion as soon as I got it in my hands.
On arriving in Salt Lake City about Auguest 31, 1864, we camped on Emigration Square for a few days.