Transcript

Transcript for Gowans, Alice, [Interview], in Leon R. Hartshorn, "Philip De La Mare, Industrialist for the Saints" [M.A. Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1959], 37-41

. . . Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Territory, where Captain Russell hired workmen and constructed fifty-two wagons. Philip De La Mare searched the surrounding country for oxen, carrying as much as $6,000 in gold in his money belt. He traveled a thousand miles and managed to purchase 400 oxen from over 100 different people. Many of these oxen were wild and untamed to the yoke. Philip De La Mare paid a total of $6,000 for these 200 yoke of oxen.

Thomas De La Mare records that after his father had obtained the cattle, "he saw before him a task that looked almost beyond the power of man to accomplish. A thousand miles of uninhabited plains lay before him and beyond that rose great chains of almost unexplored mountains."

Fred G. Taylor comments on the magnitude of this venture as follows:

To De La Mare the project might well have been appalling. Here was a young man of twenty-nine years who had been reared in a community where civilization had existed for centuries. He had experienced none of the hardships of frontier life, yet his character and physical fitness made John Taylor choose him to take charge of this extraordinary pioneering expedition.

It is doubtful that there is another episode in the history of the industrial development of America which for sheer courage, stamina and physical endurance surpasses the story of the party captained by De La Mare.

On July 4, 1852 the wagons loaded with heavy machinery started west under the direction of Captain De La Mare. The wagons had previously been brought up the river by boat. Some of the wagons which were drawn by four to eight oxen carried from 5,000 to 9,000 pounds. They had traveled only a few miles when the wagons started to break down. It was heart-breakingly obvious that they would not transport the heavy equipment across the plains.

The company funds were depleted. Philip De La Mare met Captain Charles Perry and obtained from him, on credit, forty Great Santa Fe Wagons. The equipment was transferred to these wagons, and the old wagons were given to poor Saints who were preparing to journey to Utah and would travel with the sugar company under the leadership of Captain De La Mare. Flour was also obtained by credit. It was later discovered that the flour had been adulterated with plaster of paris.

On July 4, 1852, the wagon train again started for the Great Salt Lake Valley.

"Bridges groaned under the unaccustomed strain, and occasionally plunged the heavy load into the surging waters. Fords and ferries proved inadequate. Snowstorms retarded progress, provisions ran short, and many cattle died."

Alice Gowans who is 92 years old and the last surviving child of Philip De La Mare says of this time:

Father worked hard. He was gone from his family most of the time fixing a broken wagon wheel or a broken axel or shoeing an oxen. The greatest hardship was in Wyoming where there was a terrific blizzard and not much to eat. It stormed so badly they couldn't keep a fire.

Philip Francis De La Mare who as a small boy crossed the plains with his parents recalled in later life one experience which left a vivid impression upon his memory. A band of very colorfully dressed Indians on ponies overtook the wagon train, confronted Captain De La Mare and demanded biscuits. Sister De La Mare took a box of crackers from the wagon and filled a blanket which the chief held. The chief then distributed the crackers to his braves and they mounted their ponies and rode away.

Philip De La Mare had a double responsibility. First, the task of transporting the ponderous equipment and secondly, he was responsible for numerous Saints who were traveling with the wagon train. Either task alone would have been difficult, but the two combined multiplied the difficulty and responsibility that was his.

The wagon train experienced their first severe snowstorm at Sweetwater River. Snow fell and the temperature dropped below zero. The food supply ran low and they were compelled to kill some of the remaining cattle. They were of necessity forced to travel far more slowly.

The most complete account of the condition and progress of the wagon train from the Sweetwater River to the Green River was given by Elias Morris from an autobiography he had commenced. The following article appeared at the time of his death:

. . . Near the last crossing of Sweetwater we made camp about 9 o'clock at night. It was very dark and snowing. As we hardly had any provisions we turned in without supper. In the morning we found a foot of snow and but very little provisions in camp. Orders were given by Captain De La Ma[r]e now living in Tooele, to go and get the cattle in. We found that quite a percentage of the poorest had laid down in the brush to rest for the last time. Of those that were found dead we cut out their tongues and hearts, which were cooked and thus satisfied our own hunger. When we gathered in all the other cattle we could find we had just about enough left to take the family wagons to Green River. At the same time the captain had set a messenger to Green River post and brought sixteen head of cattle. On the first night from Green River, they took a stampede and were either lost or stolen by the Indians.

When we left camp with the families we left six single men and supplies such as shotguns, rifles and ammunition, to hunt lost cattle, as well as game for their own support as we had no provisions to leave with them. They second day they found the cattle. They followed us the next day. As they were all strangers to the road and our tracks were covered with snow, they took the wrong road by mistake. They sent a messenger down the river to our camp for provisions as they were near starving. As we had secured provisions at the trading post we were able to supply them.

In two days more our broken camp was again united for our journey. While here President A. O. Smoot came to our rescue with teams and provisions sent out by President Young. While Mr. Smoot stood at our camp fire sympathizing with our wretched conditon he noticed three large white letters painted on the boilers; DMC. He asked us the meaning of the letters but received no answer. He said, "If you don't know I think I can tell you. DMC in this case means Damn Miserable Company." And we agreed that he was correct.

Under the date of September 30, 1852, the "Journal History" records the following:

By latest accounts, Captain E. B. Kelsey's company and Captain De La Mare's (which contains the sugar machinery) are together, and are near Bridger. Twenty-three yoke of cattle, and a load of flour have left this week in charge of Joseph Home and A. O. Smoot to aid them in. They are the rear companies of the immigration.

Shortly after reaching the Bear River, the mountainous trails were found to be so rugged and the snow so deep that several of the largest boilers had to be left behind. They were brought into Salt Lake City the next spring.

The company followed the trail of the pioneers of 1847 through Emigration Canyon into Salt Lake Valley and arrived on November 10, 1852. Here the immigrants departed from the company but the journey continued for Philip De La Mare and the sugar beet equipment. It took an additional three weeks to deliver the equipment to Provo—the site Brigham Young had chosen for the plant.

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