Transcript

Transcript for Hill, William John, [Autobiography], in "Utah Pioneer Biographies," 44 vols., 32:82-83

From Nauvoo we went again to Iowa and did not start West until 1853. In the company were mother, step father, half brothers James and Hyrum, and my half sister Rachel. Others to make up the company were Orson Spencer, Jacob Houtz, the family of the sister of Jacob Houtz, Aldro Lord, Joel Terrill, Charles, Henry, Emily, Mary and Sarah Woodmansee and myself.

Although only a boy I took turn standing guard, helping to get game when needed, and assisted in every way possible as did the others. We, however, had an easier time than some of the early pioneers because we were well equipped with oxen, wagons and supplies. Weather conditions were as good as could be expected, yet there were hardships at the best, and we had to be constantly on guard against Indians and wild beasts. We had all the experiences, as did the other pioneers, of fording rivers, cattle stampedes, and Indian troubles.

My step father and I had two yoke of oxen, one yoke of cows, a span of horses, one light and one heavy wagon loaded heavily with freight. For food we had bacon, crackers, dried pumpkin, squash, dried fruit, flour and milk and butter from the cows. We would milk the cows in the morning, put the milk in a jar and by night through the chug and jar of the wagon it would be churned to butter.

When we reached the Missouri River we were detained three weeks waiting to ferry, the traffic was so heavy crossing east and west. It was here I had my first Indian trouble. I had been away from camp all day and upon returning found an Indian trying to steal mother's best blankets. She tried to make him understand that she was going West and needed them, but neither party was able to know what the other said as they each spoke a different language. I went into the tent, got the old musket and pointing it at the Indian told him to be off. He seemed to comprehend the words and started towards the river. As he jumped in he made a motion of defiance. I raised my gun to my shoulder and fired as he came up the bank on the other side. He was heard to say, by some boatsmen who knew his language, that he would get even. Not knowing the nature and policy of the Indians I regretted my rash act afterwards. Three days later we crossed the river and one day out from there we came across a company of thirteen wagons under Captain Hazard going to California who had been attacked by the Pawnees, the tribe to which the Indian belonged. The guard was killed and the provisions stolen. We always thought the Indian had taken the company for us and had raided them.

When nearing the West we seemed to have more and more trouble with the Indians. One day we met a lone man whose party had met with them. He had escaped with his life and two horses. He had no food and was practically destitute of clothes. We gave him some supplies and he proceeded East alone.

While traveling through the Black Hills we caught up with two companies which had met with misfortune at the hands of Indians. They were going to California and were large in number. They had four or five hundred horses and oxen, some thirty-five vehicles and a goodly number of persons. We joined with them and gave each other support until we had passed the dangers from Indians.

When we were two days out from Laramie, Wyoming we met a California company who had been raided and robbed by the Rapahoes, whom we found the most troublesome. They asked to buy clothes and as they could well afford it, having preserved their gold from California, they offered to pay $100 for 100 pounds of flour. We could not spare so much but did sell them 50 pounds for $25. We gave them some bacon and cooking utensils.

One day while in Wyoming we espied an Indian blanket in a tree. All of the boys claimed to have been the first to see it and to decide the matter we ran a race to the tree. As I neared it and getting a whiff of wind from the direction of the tree I stopped and told the others they could have it. We found it contained the body of a dead Indian which had from appearances been there several days. Many things we learned concerning the wild red men as we went on and many more after settling in Utah.

Just to give an idea of the prices in early days in Utah. While nearing our journey's end we came across an alkali lake. We shoveled and sacked up some saleratus, which we found could be had for the digging and when we got to Salt Lake sold 25 pounds for $25. This was used in cooking.

We arrived in Utah for October conference 1853, after two months travel. Our company had covered 1,100 miles and we were indeed grateful for the reception given us by the saints and more so to know we had come that long hazardous journey and could now make a home unmolested by our enemies of the East.

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