Transcript for Gale, James, [Reminiscences], in Mae Gale Wilkins McGrath, The Ancestors and Descendants of James Gale , 30, 32-34
I was called to fill a mission to drive four yoke of oxen across the plains to the Missouri River at Nebraska City for the poor Saints whom the Church was helping to reach Salt Lake City.
On the 13th of April, 1866 I started with a company of nine of the Beaver boys for Salt Lake City. Here we were organized into ten companies with ten Captains, 456 teamsters, 49 mounted guards, 89 horses, 134 mules, 3042 oxen and 397 wagons, with Daniel Thompson as our Captain. President Brigham Young paid us for hauling some oats to Hams Fork mail station. That was the first money that I ever had and my first trip away from my parents and the family. Fifty miles from Salt Lake City, in Echo Canyon, we had to stop on account of stormy weather.
While there, I spent my 20th birthday on the 6th of May 1866. We were compelled to keep day and night guard because of the marauding Indians that were so bad. Our train, one of eight, each containing 50 to 80 wagons, made the trip that year. We reached Wyoming landing 8 miles north of Nebraska City, on the Missouri River, on the 20th of June 1866. With seven other teams, I was sent up the river one hundred miles to cross the river at Platt's Mouth on a stream ferry. We went into Iowa returning with flour for the emigrants. It being early in July the weather was very hot. We had to travel up the Missouri River bottoms which were very sloughy and all took sick on the trip or soon after returning to the main camp. The emigrants began to arrive about the 15th of July with 82 wagons and 520 passengers.
Started our trip on July 24th. During the first day of our journey to Salt Lake City, we traveled eight miles. My! What rejoicing from the Saints as they were going to Zion—and on foot! All had to walk that was able. The next morning after prayers and before starting, we burried an old gentlemen who had just died. We continued traveling at about 15 or 20 miles each day, but some days had to drive farther to get suitable watering places. We had to gather wood as we could find it but used buffalo chips most of the time. Our road was on the old Pioneer Trail up the north side of the Platte River. We were inspected in several places by U.S. Government officers. To prepare against Indian attacks we had to stand guard about every third day or night around the camp and the cattle. It was quite trying when our turn came to stand guard after walking all day.
We had a prosperous trip and there was not much sickness. I did get quite sick with bowel trouble but my passengers of eight women and three children took all the care of me they could. They had formed an acquaintance on shipboard and had stuck together all the way. I was relieved of my sickness by eating wild cherries that we got at Cherry Creek. Every time we camped at night the train was corralled. One half of the train would make a circle to the right and the other half would circle to the left which formed a hollow circle. The inside of the wagon circle was used as a corral for the cattle with the wagon tongues on the outside. We all prepared the food as best we could with fires on the outside of the circle.
On crossing the Platte River which was from a mile to a mile and a half wide and quite quick sandy, the passengers would join hands and wade the water, which was from one to four feet deep, fifty in a line, so the stronger ones could help the weaker ones. Sometimes it was very dangerous. At Fort Larima [Fort Laramie] we received letters from home. When we got to Independence Rock we saw a large lake that looked like ice, but we found it to be "saleratus" like crystals. We gathered many sacks full to take on the road to use in raising our bread. In traveling up the Sweet-water, many of our cattle got alkali and many of them died. At Little Sandy River, we saw the ashes and irons of the government wagons that were sent to Utah with provisions for the U.S. soldiers that were sent to destroy the Mormons at Goose Creek. At one place our train was stampeded just as we were all hitched up and ready to start. Two wagons were crushed in the four mile race. At Echo Canyon we saw the fortifications that were built to defend the Mormons from Johnstons army. The soldiers were held out until peace was established.
We entered Salt Lake October 5, 1866 and unloaded our passengers at the Tithing Yard. We drove out to the Church pasture but were soon asked to load the wagons with some cotton factory machinery that was to be taken to Dixie, Washington, near St. George. I got the load and started for Beaver and on the 21st of October my parents and the family met me at Wildcat Canyon, north of Beaver. I was soon home after making a trip of 2200 miles with three yoke of oxen and one wagon in six months and seven days.