Transcript for Evan Stephens, "Evan Bach," Children's Friend, July 1919, 254-57

Little Evan was much like a wilted plant, apparently more dead than alive when his father tenderly carried him over the plank gangway from the river-steamer to the shore, upon their arrival at the Wyoming landing about midnight of the day when he and his brother had such an unpleasant experience investigating the contents of a refuse barrel. Here the weary Saints had grassy earth for a bed and the starry sky for a roof, there being no other place of shelter immediately on hand. But they were not afraid for the great caravan of wagons from Utah was not very far away, and although this was, perhaps the strangest of all his new adventures, Evan, guarded over by his dear mother, at once dropped off to sleep, and awoke in the morning feeling entirely recovered. He was soon climbing the river banks and adjoining hills to get a fuller view of the great open country beyond.

The emigrants forgot all about the thousand miles ahead of them with its possible illness or weariness, content and glad to be free to roam the earth and feel its secure foundation under their feet and with room to walk and exercise in after the nearly two months of ship and train imprisonment.

It fell to the little group from Wales to be in a similar plight for space as it had happened when they reached their sailing vessel, there was no space in the transportation wagons, they had again been overlooked, and now must remain in Wyoming for two weeks, to await the next company.

It was well that it was so, especially for the weary mother who sadly needed the resting time and the strength she might gain from the good fresh milk they could buy here; and then there were so many things delightful and new that time passed on speedy wings.

Most attractive of all, to Evan Bach were the merry smiling teamsters from the "Valley." They looked so jaunty, hardy and good-natured as well as manly in their valley tan boots, jean trousers, broad, shapely shirt waists, with loose colored kerchiefs around their necks, and broad-brimmed hats crowning their tousled heads-a veritable army of Dustin Farnums (as known to later generations on the stage or in the "movies" as the cowboy Virginians).

When darkness set in, and the stars or moon turned on their lights, a clearing in a flat space was selected and the man with the "fiddle" or "concertina" called for to furnish dance music. Duly seated on boxes or a box, if only one was available, he struck up his tune while the boys laughingly urged the timid young ladies to join them as partners for a "cotillion" four couples to a "set." Several sets at times could be mustered and with the experienced teamsters, not actually dancing, to help guide the newcomers through the mazes of the figures called out by the "caller" or prompter, all were soon in full swing, as the command of "Balance all," "Swing your partners," etc., was called out loudly and above the music.

A great ring of interested lookers-on added to both the sight and zest of the dancing. Perhaps the dancing idea was new and even questionable to some who had never associated it with religion. And a stranger, at first sight, would not guess that this was a group of people who had just left home, country, and all that was dear to them for their religion's sake, that it was a part of a religions exodus just as much as was that of the Children of Israel on their pilgrimage to the land of Canaan in olden times; it was religion then, too, when one considers it, for the Israelites made use of the dance as a prominent part of their celebration after their miraculous crossing of the Red Sea.

But opinions of propriety aside, even the most scrupulous could not but see at a glance that here was but an indulgence in the most innocent and pleasant mirth. This merry exercise would continue for an hour or more, then the chaplain would call for a hymn or two, which would be heartily sung, then came the evening prayer. General good nights with hearty thanks for the pleasure of dancing passed from partner to partner, many of whom became lovers before they reached the "Valley" and became happy wedded couples later.

One fine day little Evan's own company, with Captain Rawlins in charge, was ready to make its start for the West. The encampment of wagons had been brought to the river bank a day or two previously, and such poor baggage as the immigrants possessed was placed in the wagons that each party was assigned to. All the oxen were theirs, their very own, in the deepest sentimental as well as useful sense during the long journey before them.

This caravan or "camp" was as perfectly organized as an army of the military, with proper officers in charge of each section and labor. Officers and men, excepting the Captain and his aides, who did the scouting work ahead of the company, and so must ride ponies, walked and worked side by side, their loads drawn by 1ong double strings of oxen, each two oxen were fastened together by a "yoke" placed over their necks and which rested back against their shoulders when pulling was hard.

When making camp, on arriving at the place selected by the Captain, one team pulled out to one side of the road and the next would pull out on the opposite side, each making a wide circle until they would about face, coming back to the roadway, which they would leave open between them so every alternate team would follow until each group formed a semi-circle, on either side of the road and making a circle of the whole with the roadway running through. Sometimes this plan was not convenient, then they left the road entirely to one side and formed what would be termed a "corral" inside of which all the cooking and other activities of the camp took place.

The oxen freed of the yoke would be taken to water and grass by the "herdsmen." In the meantime, every group would be busy preparing its meals on the ground, generally on the inside of their encampment, this was for greater safety, for there was continual and deadly danger lurking every step of the way. The Indians were on the "war path" that year, and there was constant danger that they might forget their usual friendship for their friends the "Mormons," and a poisoned arrow, or a gun-shot might at any time come as an unmistakable sign of their anger at the white race in general, who had in reality despoiled them of almost everything in life. So the Saints felt more secure from danger inside that circle of wagons.
At noon about an hour was taken for meal and rest, then that great herd of kind old oxen would be brought into the inside circle where everything had to be pitched up on the wagons out of their way. Then the slow, steady beasts who by this time had learned their lessons so well that they could go directly to their places and at the kindly command of their teamster walk right under the yoke. Nothing could more vividly illustrate the peaceable, kindly and religious character of this entire patient, contented, happy company of humans and animals than this orderly action that could so easily, without proper restraint, and kindliness, have been a terrible bedlam.

Evan, always appreciative of kindliness, soon learned to love his oxen next to his teamster, and soon all terror of traveling over the "dreary plain," almost uninhabited by white men for a thousand miles, was wiped out by the apparent peace and security of the camp. While the oxen were being yoked and hitched to their wagons, all the able-bodied men, women, boys and girls would start on their journey ahead of the teams and thus escape the clouds of dust stirred up by the great crowd of hoofs and wheels. In this way a great company of four or five hundred people would be strung out ahead of the so-called "train." Always the keen-eyed scouts were still further ahead to see that no enemy or other danger was concealed in their paths.

The particular company in which Evan and his folks were traveling was made up chiefly of Scandinavians, and it was Evan's delight to try and learn to speak with them and thus know their language. In years later he used to say that while he lost the opportunity to learn English during his thousand mile walk across the plains, he had been repaid for this loss amply by having learned to appreciate and love the Scandinavian people. Many years later he paid a visit on two separate occasions to their northern lands, spending several weeks each time in the capital cities of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and became quite as fond of these countries and people as of his own dear little "Wild Wales" and gentler England.
How he would lift his face to the prevailing western breeze and romp along with the ever-distant, ever-nearing viewpoints, looming up away off where the sun at sunset would drop out of sight as suddenly as if the string which for a moment held it at the very edge of the world was cut asunder. He would wonder and wonder where the Rocky Mountains could be of which he had heard, the air and sky seemed as clear as crystal, and he fancied that he could see the other end of the seemingly flat earth, but there was nowhere a sign of them in the far distance.