Transcript for Gladys Rawlins Lemmon, "Mary Ann Rawlings Aveson," A History of the Richard Rawlings Family: Ancestors-Descendants,(1986), 98-101

When the ship Hudson docked at Castle Garden on the 19th of July, 1864, the Saints continued their journey to a place called Wyoming, Nebraska. It was August 2, 1864. From this point we crossed the plains in Warren S. Snow's ox team company. 

While crossing the plains, one of the diversions was picking up buffalo chips. This task fell to the women and girls. We wore aprons and filled them with the chips. Once in awhile a few Indians would come into camp while we were eating and offer to barter trinkets for food.

Most every evening we would have dancing and singing. Brother Careless kept the company in a jovial mood, as best he could under the circumstances, with his violin and community singing. During the journey he composed several musical numbers, one of which he called "Hudson" after the name of the ship. During the singing and dancing tears of joy would run down the sunburned cheeks of many in the party.

After a storm on the plains, we would trudge along the next day and lustily sing:

"We get a little wet
When we have a shower of rain.
The heat may skin our noses,
But they'll soon be well again.
And when we think of Zion's land,
We forget the wet and pain.
So gee-up, my lads, gee wo;
Push on my lands, heigh ho;
For there's none can lead a life
Like we merry Mormons do."

While crossing the plains at times we had a scarcity of food, but all were willing to share with each other until new supplies could be brought. . . .

While crossing the plains another sad affliction came to the [Davis] family. Mrs. [Elizabeth Noyes Hope] Davis was taken seriously sick with cholera (dysentery) and died at three o'clock in the morning. What made matters still worse, Mr. Davis' little boy [Moroni] was sick with the same disease and the father [William Davis] little thought the child was so seriously ill. a short time later the son called to his father in a faint voice and asked, "Daddy, I want some soup." Brother Davis asked the child to wait until daylight and he would make him some soup. He was so bewildered by the death of his wife. Just as daylight came, he built a fire and made some soup. Taking it to the child, he said, "Here, Benny, here is your soup." It was too late. The child was dead.

Preparations were made for burial of wife and child. They were laid, side by side, in one grave. The bodies were wrapped in a sheet and covered with a blanket. It was a sorrowful scene and many stout hearts were bedimmed with tears.

How often did they sing that beautiful hymn: "Think not when you gather to Zion your trials and troubles are through. . . .

The Civil War was closing and some of the troops encountered by the emigrants on the way to the Outfitting Camps in Wyoming manifested bitterness toward our company of Saints. At one point they drove us through a river, with rain falling in torrents, which exposure caused much sickness and many deaths in the company.

Expostulating with the soldiers on their conduct, Elder Kay said to them: "If you have no respect for the living, will you not look with mercy on the sick and the dying, and consider the sacred dead?"

"If you say another word, I will rip you up, even if you were Jesus Christ, Himself!" one of the soldiers replied.

After reaching the point where Elder Kay was relieved of his command by the arrival of the Church teams from Salt Lake City, the devoted Elder took sick with mountain fever. He traveled on with the rest of us for a number of days and seemed to improve. On the evening of September 26, he stood in his tent door and sang as he tried to cheer up the hearts of his fellow pilgrams to Zion.

At 2:00 A.M. on the 27th day of September, 1864, Elder John M. Kay died suddenly and apparently without pain. He was buried at a point seven miles west of Little Laramie in what was the Territory of Colorado.

Elder Kay's death came as a distinct shock to the Latter-day Saint emigrants. It was many days before the Saints could whole-heartedly join in their community singing. He was beloved by all who knew him and had set a most worthy example of earnest devotion to the gospel and to the Church. . . .

President John M. Kay was dearly loved by all the Saints in the company. He always strived to gladden the hearts of hundreds of homeless pioneers plodding their way over the barren plains and bleak mountains to the haven of their hopes in the West.

Altogether twenty of the company were buried on the plains.

No one but those who have walked our prairies for days and weeks, where water is so scarce that the creeks were reduced to little puddles of alkali water, can imagine the beauty and glory of a river. On the Sweetwater River we rested, washed our clothing, went in bathing, and had a real jollification.

Our last pull was through Parley's Canyon. Up at the top of the hill we got our first glimpse of Salt Lake City.