Transcript for Historical Department journal history of the Church, 1896-2001, 2 September 1868, 3-22.
Daniel T. McArthur's train arrived in S.L. City from Fort Benton. The following detailed account of the journey of Capt. McArthur's Church train from Utah to Fort Benton and back, was written by Don C. Johnson in the Springville Independent:
In the spring of 1868, Springville was called upon to furnish six teams and teamsters and two night guard, one went with Daniel D. McArthur, a veteran plainsman.
s were regularly organized with captain, asst. captain and four night guards, also an extra mounted man to drive the loose herd, which consisted of a few extra oxen and several beeves [beefs] to be used as food. The teams were divided into tens. One of the teamsters was selected as cook, while the other nine tended to the oxen and rustled the wood and water. The captain, guard and drover constituted a mess and the driver of the captain's teams was the cook. All were well armed as Indians were hostile every year and a constant watch had to be maintained in order to protect the stock from the predatory hoards of red men, who were constantly on the alert to stampede the cattle and drive them off.
Captain McArthur's train left Springville April 27, 1868, having camped the preceeding night out beyond Bp. Hill's farm, then owned by Edward Friol. The next forenoon the train moved to the mouth of Provo Canyon. The intention had been to follow the route through that canyon, Provo Valley, over the Kamas Bench to the Weber River, following thence down to the mouth of Echo Canyon, there striking the old emigrant trail,
via Salt Lake City. It was ascertained that the mountain passes were filled with snow and the passage would be most difficult with such poor cattle. Easy stages were necessary, for the stock were poor, and no feed was available, except the wild native grasses which were quite plentiful and were beginning to cover the ground with luxuriant green. For the first two weeks ten miles per day was about the average travel. At night the guard patrolled the camp to prevent the cattle from straying off and to keep thieves or rustlers from cutting out straying cattle, for there were cattle thieves in that day, and a strict guard must be kept all along the route even while yet in the Territory.
Two of the night guard would watch the first half of the night, which extended until 1 a.m., and the other two until morning, when all would drive the oxen into camp. By this time the teamsters would have had breakfast, and while they hitched up the guard ate their breakfast, and the train was ready to roll. The Point of this Mountain was reached the second day, and Mill Creek, Salt Lake County the third. The fourth day took the caravan a few miles up Parley's Canyon, in a terrific blizzard of sleet and snow. The wind blew a gale, and the fury of the wind and snow almost blinded the boys, and drove the cattle nearly frantic. The canyon was narrow and the wagons were strung along for half a mile. The word was sent back along the line to unhitch and let the oxen loose to browse in the wilds as best they could. Finally the cattle were free from their yokes and chains. The boys were drenched to the skin and the storm raged with increased fury until late in the
l ight. Not a campfire gleamed, for there was no fuel in sight. All went supperless to bed except a few who may have had a bit of hard-tack, jerked beef, dried peaches, brought from home or a cold pone left over from dinner. The bedding, under the covers, was dry, and as darkness settled over the wild and desolate scene, the clothing was removed and hung to dry as best it might, and the boys were soon steaming in their blankets and despite the fact that the elements howled, mourned, bellowed and roared without, were in dreamland forgetful of hunger and cold.
The next morning the snow was six inches deep, but the wind had lulled and the sky was clear. With much difficulty fuel was procured for the campfires and the breadfasts cooked and a late start made, eastward. The meals did not vary much from day to day; hot pone for breakfast, and usually enough baked for dinner, bacon fried with the grease for "sop" instead of butter. Sometimes water was added and thickened with flour, making in the parlance of the road, "dundy-funk", "skilligalle" and other such titles. Potatoes were on the bill of fare for the first month, also a little butter which carried very nicely in the center of a sack of flower, for a month or six weeks and came out in fairly good shape. Dried peaches, stewed, were much in evidence and homemade sorgum was plentiful. These provisions, supplemented with fresh beef and wild game occasionally, constituted the bill of fare for the five months journey.
As before observed, water, and that bad enough at times, was the only beverage with few exceptions.
The train moved slowly; along Echo Canyon the grader's camps were being established to commence work on the Union Pacfic which reached Ogden a year later. The grass was getting fine, and as the train moved from day to day one could observe the erstwhile sad-eyed and wobbly, almost winter-killed oxen begin to get thunder in their necks, like unto Job's war house, and flesh upon their bones, and decidedly frisky. Many of them were unbroken, and some of them had never been yoked before this trip, and many were mismatched and consequently, as they began to take on new work, some of them resented the new and strange life, the being on the wrong side of the tongue and new yoke mates. It was the rule to put a large yoke of gentle cattle on the tongue, a pair of smaller ones on lead, the two center yoke wild and
misbmismatched ones in the "swing" where they could be held level.
Out beyong Echo Canyon the road for a way led along the Bear River; the weather was fine, the road good and the feed excellent. Beyond Ham's Fork, for miles, the graders were at work, and all was life, animation and novelty. Here in the wilderness, in the heart of the Redman's domain, with wild nature on every side, the white man, with the plow, scraper and blasting powder and an army of men and teams as far as the eye could reach, was grade being made for the great continental highway, which connected the oceans with bands of steel.
All along the line, west of Fort Laramie, the Indians were on the war path, and it took constant vigilence on the part of the graders, freighters and emigrant trains to prevent the theft of their animals by the w
aild owners of the right of way.
Nothing of a particularly exciting nature occurred to McArthur's train until it reached Green River. All were cautioned continually to be on the alert, night and day, especially the night guard, who must be sleepless and tiredless, to constantly, at night, patrol the camp and herd to prevent surprise by the nomad of the plains. A few morning one or two yoke of oxen were missing at hitching up time, but everybody would turn out and by beating the brush for a mile around they would be found lying in some secluded nook quietly ruminating.
One night the train was corralled on a beautiful pleateau overlooking the creek bottom, wide and green with great clumps of willows studding the green expanse. This was one of the ideal camps of the entire trip and there were many. Each camp was made by "corralling" the wagons in the form of a elipse, half on one side and half on the other, drawing near together at the ends, the front wheel of one wagon close to the hind wheel of another, with the tongues on the inside, thus forming a corral, into which the cattle were confined (or yoking, and which served as a barracade i
tf attacked by enemy, in which case the oxen were rushed inside, the wheels chained together, also the openings at the ends, making a fairly secure stockade. The campfires were built on the outside of the corral, usually, and were extinguished at dark and the camp guard stationed. The teamsters stood guard at camp and the night guard patrolled the camp for a mile or two around, with the understanding that if an enemy appeared, guns would be fired and the cattle rushed to camp and every man to arms! and to the rescue! It was a beautiful sight, a mile from camp standing upon the bluff to see the campfires and the shadowy groups standing or loafing around. Occasionally the words of a song were wafted to the ears of the watch on the hillside then a shrill call of the bugle for prayer, then the guard would see the boys gather about the central campfires and bow their heads in prayer, and as he stood beside his faithful steed, the lone guard would doff his hat, for he knew that the petitions at camp asking for peace and safety included himself as well.
The next morning at the "roundup" a yoke of oxen were missing and the train was delayed over an hour hunting for them. They were finally tracked down into the river bottom, where for miles the willows grew rank, with fine glades of green grass, between; one of Nature's finest parks. The willows were searched for a miles around, but no trace or trail of the wandering bovines. The Captain, detached one of the night guard to remain, and keep a lookout for them, saying, that toward middle forenoon the oxen would emerge from their covet and then they could be hurried to camp, which would be overtaken, most certainly at the noon stop. The train pulled out over the rolling country, eagerly watched by the young fellow as it slowly wound its length over a small divide, a half mile away, and was lost to view. The guard, who had been on duty the latter part of the night, picketed his horse and lay down on the green sward for a nap after a careful scrutiny of the surroundings. It was ten o'clock
swhen he came back to a sense of his surroundings and anxiously scanned the lowlands and highland for the truants, but they were nowhere in nsight. The horse was ridden along the bluff for a mile each way, but the lost were still not found. Then descending the bluff to the bottoms, the green glades were eagerly searched for track or trace, but none was found. It was noon, but the searcher could not decide whether to ride on and overtake the train, or to remain and continue the search. After an hour watching, hoping every moment to see the dalliers heave in sight. It was now concluded to remain until 4 p.m., then, if they did not emerge from their hiding, the boy would speed away for the train. The saddle girths were loosened, the bit removed from the horse's mouth, so he could feed, and while the anxious watcher sat upon a boulder with the end of the lariet in hand he swept the landscape with his eyes as the afternoon hours dragged slowly away. At 4 o'clock there was still no sign, and yet the lad the most desirous to leave could not make up his mind to ride away while daylight yet remained, to abandon the quest and appear in camp without the quadrupeds or some account of them. He again mounted, descended to the bottoms, and rode slowly in a circle for a mile in curcumference, carefully scrutinizing the ground for tracks to see if they had left the vincinity; but after the circle had been completed, and no tracks being discovered it seemed reasonably certain that they must be within a mile of the camp ground, somewhere hiding in the thicket. The lonesome and now thoroughly alarmed guard made another resolve that he would wait until the last rays of the sun sank behind the hills, and then he'd speed on and overtake the train. Restlessly walking along the bluff he waited, either for the strays to appear, or the orb of day to retire from sight. The boy was a hungry as a young fellow can get, no dinner and no game in sight and no fire to cook it if a game had been killed, and in a wild country with wild rumors of Indian depredations in front, all combined to make the situation decidedly uncomprotable. How slow the sun moved toward the horizon! Already the cool shadows were creeping on from the west, the night birds began circling around, and hooting as if endeavoring to frighten the intruder away, causing an eery, creepy feeling. The last hour was spent looking at the blazing luminary to see how he was making progress and anon searching the expanse with eager eye for the probable appearance of the oxen. The lower rim of the burning disk touched the finge and in five minutes more a rider would be galloping along the road in pursuit of the train, now encamped for the night. Casting a last look over the bottoms, what was his surprise and delight to see, not half a mile distant the lost animals emerge from the thicket and commence voraciously to crop the grass! In a moment the rider was in the saddle and after them. The oxen looked up in surprise as the rider charged up to them with a whoop and commenced to apply the whip, accompanied by a volley of not very complimentary language. They were kept on the jump until the road was reached when a steady walk was maintained for camp.
The last arrows of sunset were piercing the timbered heights on the east as the quartet got fairly under way. The hungry oxen would snatch hasty bites of the bunch grass at the roadside as the whip cracked at their heels urging them along. They seemed to know what was ahead and what was wanted, for they made no attempt to leave the road, except for an occasional bite of grass as they sped along.
Just as the belated camp followers were ascending the ridge over which the train had disappeared in the morning, just were the horizon met, the hilltop, a hundred yards distant, suddenly appeared, as though coming out of the ground, six Indians, mounted! Flight was useless for his horse, unlike the steed of a rider in a novel, was not swift, it was nothing but a plug, but serviceable withal. There was no time to plan; so the rider kept going, trusting to luck, and take chances in the show down. He was clear headed enough to loosen the holster on the saddle bow, containing two revolvers, dragoon size, so they could be gotten quickly, with a determination to draw and shoot as long as possible, if there was any shooting to be done, or an attempt to capture. As the parties drew near it was noticed that the Indians were not decked in war-paint which somewhat brought a feeling of assurance of safety. When within two rods of the dusky sextet, the oxen instead of bolting at the sight of the red skins, turned to the right passing around into the road in the rear and the rider followed. Then opposite, a hasty glance revealed the party with faces gaudy in vermillion and feathers floated from their back hair. They were armed with long rifles and hunting knives. In passing the feathered riders, the boy turned partly in the saddle and endeavored to look courageous and hailed them with "mike-wa!" (how is all) in Ute. They slacked up a little as though for a parley, but the pale face having exhausted his Indian vocabulary, was not anxious to further discuss the situation, turned forward in the saddle and kept going. The rider had the queerest feeling; an intense and almost incontrolable desire to look back, but he remembered the fate of Lot's wife and kept his eyes to the front. Soon the divide was reached and the descent on the opposite side commenced and not for half mile was a glance backward risked, and the coast was clear, no pursuing savage in sight. As the rider got further away the better and safer he felt so far as the half dozen Indians were concerned. It was a long, lonesome ride that followed along the river side, over the ridges, up the stretches of canyon with the wolves howling dolefully on the hillside, the night birds discordant notes when disturbed by the nocturnal visitors, the disturbing thought that the predatory warrior may be lurking along the trail on mischief bent, filled the hours with an uneasy feeling of impending danger.
In those days lone travelers were frequently shot from ambush, scalped and robbed and left by the roadside—left a prey for the wolf and
bvolture, unless discovered by a passing train and buried.
About 3 o'clock in the morning an open country was reached and the oxen suddenly turned obliquely from the road into the prairie. The driver charged after, in vain efforts to head them off, and while trying to turn them found that they were following the new track made by the train which had diverged from the main road for better feed and water. Soon the white covers appeared, and as the drover approached camp the guard hailed and was answered and the long tedious day was over. The horse was turned out to feed and the old "comforter" spread upon the ground, upon which the lad threw himself and drew a part over him and in a minute was dead to the world in dreamless slumber.
The next morning the camp was awakened at daybreak by the most discordant din that ever saluted human ears. It being the first time that a night guard had slept in camp, the camp guard concluded to waken him in regulation style. Several teamsters were aroused and all the bake kettle lids assembled, when a man took one in each hand and using them like one would use a pair of cymbals, struck and ground them together, making one of the most hideous, grating sounds imaginable, and this "horribles" bands started for the lone sleeper on the prairie a hundred yards away. The din was like the sound of the "rag wheels" of
hHades, that had not been lubricated for ages, and to a young fellow who is bound in slumber, as his wits began to awaken, all kinds of horrors began to form, as the mind began to assert itself, it seemed that the solid earth was crumbling away and the solid mountains were being ground to powder and tumbling about. It was great fun for the boys to see the guard, as slumbers' chains were unlocked with rusty, grating key, spring from the blankets and face the crack of doom.
A few days' travel over a beautifully diversified country, with good grass, water and fuel, brought the caravan to Green River, the first formidable stream on the route. At this season, about June 1st, the great stream was at its height. The banks were full and the flood running at tremendous velocity and force. At the ferry it was quite 200 yards wide, and its swirling waters dar and tur
grid, and from 8 to 12 feet deep. A ferry boat plied between the banks to transport wagons. The boat was about 35x50, built like a floating bridge, of sufficient capacity to carry two wagons, several men and two or three yokes of oxen at a time. An immense three inch rope had been stretched from shore to shore and securely anchored; pulleys were strung on the cable through which ropes were passed and attached to the bow and stern of the boat. When on the boat was loaded the stern rope was loosened until the boat swung down stream at an angle of 30 degrees, when the force of the currant drives the boat forward. When the opposite shore the same tactics were employed and back would go the boat for another cargo until all the train was moved over.
Plainsman Lewis Robinson of Pleasant Grove was in charge of the "Church Dept" at Green River this season and had charge of the ferry. The charges were $2 per wagon and the oxen were compelled to swim. Of the swimming more anon.
At this depot was left the first installment of return supplies[.] It was usual to take enough general supplies for the round trip and those for the return were cached at various points on the way down.
Two or three days before Capt. McArthur's train crossed Green River one of the worst calamities happened to a train from Sanpete that we have any record of, in which ten young men were drowned and the bodies never recovered; also two wagons and two yoke of cattle were lost. It was on the last trip when two yoke of oxen became excited and crowded to the upper side causing the boat to tilt. All the teamsters rushed to quiet them when the added weight and the current pressure overturned the boat, throwing all into the water. It happened so quickly that nothing could be done by those on the bank to save them. There was nothing that could be done to help as the boldest swimmer could not stem the swift current and no one tried to rescue them on horseback. This party was made up of foreign born boys who were entirely unused to the rigors and experiences of the frontier. The matter of this tragedy was discussed by Capt. McArthur's party around the campfire the night previous to their
two own crossing.
Crossing the large rivers on the old emigrant trail was a dangerous undertaking and often was attended with the loss of life and property. McArthur's company made every preparation to commence the passage early in the morning, and by six o'clock everything was in readiness. Six men were detailed to assist in loading and unloading the wagons on the boat, and others devoted their time and energies to swimming with oxen. It was a stormy morning, rain and snow alternating, which continued far into the night, but such a little matter as this did not deter the men, nor stop them for a moment, indeed nothing but a blinding blizzard would have caused a delay. The cattle were rounded up and an attempt made to drive them into the river, but of all refractory brutes these 400 oxen proved to be the limit. No amount of shouting, whipping and crowding would induce them to enter the swirling, savage water. A yoke of oxen were taken over on the first boat and horseman, and paraded along the shore to decoy the herd. The cattle were literally jammed next to the bank, those next the water would face outward and try to get away, while fifty wild and woolly men surrounded the outside of the frantic, surging herd urging it to enter the dark, rolling flood. That bunch was packed and wedged as close together as it was possible to wedge them. Some of the more daring boys leaped upon this platform of writhing, wiggling flesh and ran from one side to the other, and the crowd shouted, laughed and cheered, with wild delight.
After an hour of strenuous work, a few cattle had been forced into the stream, by sheer force of opposing numbers, but instead of striking out for the opposite shore, would face the herd on the bank in a vain attempt to regain the land, swimming the while, in six feet of water. An ox that never was in water above his knees, when entering deep water for the first time, will swim as though born to the water, and will swim for hours.
After two hours battle, half of the herd were in the stream, but could not be induced to strike out for the farther shore, but put forth the most frantic efforts to regain terra firma. Finally one of the boys leaped upon his pony and riding into the river, on the down stream side swam along the side of the plunging herd and headed for the other shore, and the herd followed. When about one fourth the distance was reached, the rider noticed that his followers were getting dangerously close, and that he would be overtaken and drowned, and not relishing the idea and thinking that the
head herd would continue on, he turned the pony and started back. The herd, with a graceful curve, turned and followed! There was nothing to do but urge the pony forward to prevent being overtaken and sunk. A glance backward showed the herd sweeping on, just as close together as they could swim, snorting and blowing, like mad. The race was exci gting, and it appeared that the rider would be overtaken, but he won by a scratch, and reached shore in safety.
So the struggle went on and not an ox had been landed. The ferrying of the wagons kept on without interruption. Everybody was wet through and decidedly uncomfortable. After dinner the work was resumed and for four hours with the same result. At times half the herd was in the water, but all efforts seemed futile to get them off for the desired goal. Several times a man ho
useback had led out for a way, but the oxen would invariably follow him back. Before that day not a man in camp had ever ridden a swimming horse and the experiment was new and dangerous. After repeated attempts by the boy who made the first venture rode into the river for the fourth time with the same horse, determined to keep on till the river was crossed. A large portion of the herd had been forced into the stream, where they swam snorting and blowing like a shoal of bull shales [whales] in the north Pacific. They struck out and the man put forth renewed efforts to get the herd in to the water, applying the whips with a vim, making the hair fly, accompanied by yells that would have done credit to a wild Cammanche. It was nearly sundown when this last trail was made and it was successful. The little mare swam like a duck, to use the ferryman's term and the "bulls" followed in the form of a wedge, in echelon formation, to use a military term. The boys on shore howled their delight and kept up their frantic efforts to urge the stubborn brutes into the water and finally succeeded, except several head, which broke through the lines and made for the prairie.
The rider clung to the mane and the pony swept on, low in the water, only the top part of the head and the nostrils in sight. It was a splendid but fearful spectacle, as the herd swept on after the rider, each being borne down stream, by the swift current, at an angle of 45 de
vg. The men on shore shouted their encouragement and delight. When three-fourths of the distance had been made, the rider saw that the brute herd was rapidly gaining on him and glancing back the oxen looked like horned monsters of the deep, their big eyes bulging and glowing, the hot steam bursting from their nostrils in angry snorts.
The rider slid from the back of the faithful pony and seized her by the tail, which proved a great relief, and she increased the speed sufficiently to reach terra firma a rod in advance of the herd. The men and horses were landed soon after and the arduous day was done, except to get the last two wagons and five oxen.
Traveling along the Big Sandy for some distance the train took a N. E. course and struck Sweetwater. For some days the route followed this beautiful stream, where the feed was excellent and the water pure, crossing the famous South Pass at or near where the Sweet Water has it rise. This was an ideal hunting ground for deer and antelope, and the hunters got busy and furnished the camp with prime venison. This train encountered no buffalo in herds, though an occasional one was seen, a long way off, and one day one of the night guard gave an old bull a chase but the horse couldn't keep the dust in sight. The hunters for the Union Pacific Railroad camps, tourists and hunters from the East in the five preceding years had literally slaughtered millions of them, and had driven the remnant of them many miles north of the way. Even the deer and antelope were hard to stalk, none were killed under 400 yards.
Just before reaching Devils' Gate, which loomed up a few miles to the eastward the road turned S. E. and again at Rawlins Springs joined the Union Pacific grade, where as far as the eye could reach the graders were finishing up getting ready for the ties and rails. At this point, a few days before, the Indians had made a raid, for miles each way, killed a number of men and had driven off a number of head of stock belonging to the graders. At Rawlins the train encamped for the night within a mile of where the Indians had burned the U.S. mail station, in which the agent perished. The log house was still a mess of gleaming embers with the bones of the faithful, ill-fated, operator in the fiery mess. It was reported that the agent fought the redskins and killed a number, but the besiegers finally succeeded in setting the log station on fire. Then for a terrible half hour, with the flames roaring and crackling all around, with the deadly heat encompassing, he kept the key going and the wire hot, west and into Ogden, telling just how the battle was going, how hot it was getting, and at times actually joking about it. His hand kept the machine going to the last moment until there was a broken "goodbye boys, I wonder if hell is hotter! -----!--S!" The body was completely incinerated.
The savage demons lassoed the insulators and stripped the wires from the poles for miles, as they rode the night in maniacal glee, killing several lone campers and driving off many horses and mules.
Just before our camping for the night there came dashing up the valley a company of U. S. Cavalry, their savers jingling merrily and their accouterments rattling a
vbove the hoof-beats of chargers as they dashed by hot on the trail of the red marauders. That night extra guards were stationed in order to prevent a stampede of stock, and several times the night guard passed, during the silent watches, the still glowing funeral pyre of the young, heroic agent.
The next day, at noon the camp stopped about ten miles from Benton City, at the crossing of the North Platte, at this time the terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad. Here "Wild Bill" (William Hickok) was marshal, and "Buffalo Bill" (William F. Cody) was a deputy. Just at dinner time one of the night guard encountered John and Albert Groesbeck and other Springville boys at work on the grade, and they showed him the spot where Lamuel Hague, a resident of Springville, was killed by the Indians two days before. This part of the works were attacked at the noon hour, and without warning. The raiders descended from a ravine in the bluffs a half mile distant, and attempted to stampede the teams that were feeding between the grade and the bluff, and so quietly had it been accomplished that the thieves were among the stock, with their wild yells ringing out and their blankets whirling about and the frightened animals dashing madly around before the workmen knew that there was a enemy at hand. All was confusion in a moment! Men seized their guns and rushed for their animals. Hague, whose horses had strayed a hundred yards off with their nose sacks on, ran for them, without a weapon, when an Indian shot him down and drove the horses, with others pell-mell toward the hills! There was a young contractor from the East, name forgotten, who met a tragic fate. He was at one of the camps for dinner, and his Kentucky thorobred mare was picketed close by, when the warriors broke almost into camp. The young hero ran to his horse and without stepping to saddle leaped upon her back and with only a revolvor in hand started after an Indian who was chasing a band of horses to the near hills. The fleet footed racer soon brought her rider within 100 yards of the Indian, when he began firing six shots in quick succession, but without effect. The savage had evidently counted the shots, and knowing that the ammunition was exhausted leaped to the ground, threw his riffle to his shoulder and shot his pursuer through the breast, killing him instantly! The dead man feel to the plain, but the excited steed dashed up to the assassin who dextrously caught her, leaped upon her back and shouting exultantly and defiantly soon disappeared from sight, into the hills with the bank of horses, almost in the face of his pursuers! These animals were never recovered.
Uncle Sam's boys were after the wild riders of the plains, but they made good their escape into the interminable mountainous wilds north, almost the last retreat of a vanishing race.
J. W. Blackett and J. M. Averette lost each a span of mules on this raid. Walter Wheeler and W. F. Wiscombe passed that way a few days after, on their way to Benton City, and were shown the grave of their fellow townsman, by the side of the great National highway.
That afternoon the train drove down into the beautiful bottoms of the North Platte and pitched camp.
This was a most beautiful camp ground and the wagons were corralled on the banks of the mighty river now at its flood, and as formidable as had been the Green River. Here was plenty of fuel, and for miles in all directions an abundance of grass. Tall cottonwoods grew all along the river bank, affording splendid shade. The oxen, that at starting, two months previous, were so poor that they could hardly stand, were now fat and frisky. Another train of fifty wagons were camped four miles above the river, Capt. [Simpson Montgomery] Molen from Cache Valley, and another train, five miles below, from Utah County, Capt. [John Greenleaf] Holman. All along the river at intervals, as far as Laramie, were seven other church trains and other independent trains awaiting for the immigrants from Europe and for the freight consigned to Utah. The next day Capt. McArthur took the train for Laramie to see if he could find where his cargo of freight and immigrants had been consigned. A number of the boys who had never seen a railroad train went to the terminus, four miles distant, Benton City. Just as they reached the town a freight train was crossing the great tressle bridge, the iron horse puffing and blowing and the brazon bell clanging, as it drew the long train into the depot and stopped. The boys were filled with awe and amazement at the sight of the giant of the iron way. Passengers at this time were transported only as far west as Laramie, and from thence in the old concord coaches drawn by six horses.
At this period Benton City contained four or five thousand people, and was said to be the toughest town in the West. It was a "tent city", that is, it was regularly laid o
nut, with narrow streets and the houses were constructed in lumber sections that could quickly put together, and a canvass for roof. This town six weeks afterwards was moved 100 miles west and set up in one night and ready for business. Aside from the regular business which was tremendous, gambling, in its varied and worse forms was booming, night and day, and every species of vice carried on openly, day and night. It was said that a man or two was had for breakfast every morning. The Captain had, at the campfire meeting, the night before warned the boys not to bet on any game, for they could not win, but several tried it, and lost, of course. Everybody seemed to be safe in life and property so long as they minded their own business, kept out of the games and didn't get in the path of flying bullets.
At the camp the Platte was one fourth of a mile wide and from ten to 12 feet deep and very swift. The fourth day here the oxen without any reason plunged into the river, every hoof of them, and swam to the further shore! Here was a dilema, it was a hazardous undertaking to swim after them, and dangerous to have them there, for the hills were not over a mile distant, with a broad pass just opposite the camp through which an enemy could swoop down and stampede the stock and have them into the mountains beyond the possibility of recapture in a very short time. Men could have gone to the railroad bridge and cross, but could not get the horses over that way. About sundown a party of six was made up to swim the river, riding the horses, the bedding was all packed upon one horse and the men mounted bareback, with rifles and pistols strapped high upon their backs to keep them dry, were to attempt the passage. The lad who had led the swimming at Green River was sent over first to pilot the way, the others to wait until he reached the goal where he could be a decoy for the others. The swim was made in safety, the rider held to the mane, witting in the water waist deep; the horse did the rest. As the horse and rider landed a loud cheer came over the turbulent waves, and they galloped up stream opposite the starting point and signaled the others to follow. It was now nearly dark, the gleaming campfires cast a ruddy glow over the bosom of the dark rolling water, and the waiting group could just be seen as the men awaited the signal. In they went, and on they came, the dark group just discernible above the gleaming waters. The first to land was the pack horse and the next a horse without a rider, then the bunch, one holding to his mule's tail, and bringing up the rear, the unhorsed man, who was swimming for dear life, with his black whip in his teeth. After they reached deep water, his horse, that was old and foolish, got demoralized, floundered about and unseated the rider, but being a good swimmer he struck out and followed his comrades. One man rode a mule, as it afterwards transpired, could not swim, but relied on the long eared servant for safe deliverance, and the donkey would have made good, had not his master jerked the rein, which set the animal to capering and to turn a summersault, throwing the rider, but fortunately, he caught the mule's tail, to which he clung like grim death to a nigger's heel and was safely landed.
The soaked cavalcade led their horses over onto the flats and soon had a bonfire crackling cheerily and then disrobing hung their garments on branches of a tree, nearby, and while they dried, they capered and danced around the fire in wild glee, while the laundry dried. Afterwards the cattle were rounded up and corralled in a band on the river, the guard set to "keep their peepers peeled for sign", while the others wrapped in their blankets and slept.
Next morning four of the boys decided to walk five miles and cross the railroad bridge rather than risk the half mile of water. The other two who were good swimmers prefered the shorter route to breakfast, and divesting themselves of their clothing, ran up the river a half mile above camp in order to come out opposite, as the stream was very swift and the passage would be made at an angle of about 45 deg. Here high and dry, the boys discovered a fragment of a ferry boat, about 10x12, and they immediately concluded to put it into commission. Each getting a long, dry pole they prided the old hulk into the stream, leaped aboard and poled out into the river. It could be handled all right until the swift, deep current was encountered when the craft became unmanageable, for the reason the stearing poles could not be thrust to the bottom. The boatman, when oppo
wsite camp, had made only one third the distance, and it was impossible to make farther progress, except down stream. The camp by this time, was excited and the boys ran yelling along the shores, shouting advice: "stick to her boys! Jump in and swim ashore!" The latter being only alternative, a leap into the water was taken and land reached far below camp.
Two men were appointed to cross at the bridge and herd the cattle by day and the two swimmers swam over each evening, and watched during the night, and this was kept up for two weeks.
Capt. McArthur returned in a day or two, having ascertained that his cargo would be shipped to Benton, and that it would arrive in about ten days. The camp made preparations to celebrate the Fourth of July, just at hand. There were two fifers and two drummers in camp, and for instruments, the fifes were made out of joints of elder which grew near, but p
uunching out the pitch, and burning the holes with a small, hot iron, and when finished made a very good instrument upon which the "Girl I Left Behind Me" and "Yankee Doodle" and other stiring tunes screamed forth in fair style. Two of the largest dough pans were used as drums. At daylight a salute of musketry awakened the echos of the ancient river and bluffs and the martial band made the rounds of the camp, with the stiring drums and fife which made every breast heave with patriotic ardor. After breakfast the guards had exchanged places on the river by swimming and about 9 o'clock all had assembled under a grove of cottonwoods for an impromptu program, when a loud "hellow" from over the river attracted attention, and looking, one of the guard was seen running along the bank, shouting and pointing wildly to the middle of the river and where was seen what appeared to be a human being in a red shirt, floating swiftly down stream! As one of the guard had been dressed in a red shirt it was concluded at once that it was he. There was a rush for the river, which at this point, curved toward camp, and the body came pretty near shore. Several boys jumped in and swam out and seized the body in several places and steared it to shore. It was face downward[.] One of the swimmers caught the man by the hair and the whole handful came out. this indicated that the body had been in the water for many days, and all felt relieved to know that it was not one of "our boys". The body presented a most horrible appearance! It was livid distorted, swelled to twice the normal size. There was nothing to identify the remains. A rider was dispatched to town to acquaint the officers of the find, who returned in an hour with orders to bury the body and make a report to the sherriff's office. A grave was scooped out and lined with a thick bed of green herbage, the body laid on its side and covered with grass and flowers and a mound built, and a head board placed relating the facts. A few days after three men came to camp, exumed the body, identified it by the clothing as a comrade, who had got into the river with his team three weeks before, when all were drowned. The body had lodged somewhere up the river. The body was taken to the station, treated and shipped back East to the old home.
The episode with the drowned man sobered the spirits of the camp and changed the program, but something occured later that worked things up to a higher pitch of excitement than ever before or afterward on the entire journey.
About 1 a.m. the camp was again startled by the guard on the opposite shore riding swiftly down to the river, gesticulating wildly and shouting lustily, and as the trees obstructed the view the boys ran out into the clearing and there, about two miles up the river were the cattle on the gallop toward the open pass in the hills only about two miles distant with a squad of horsemen after them, swinging blankets and yelling like demons!
The guards were commanded to rush the horses into the river, swim to camp and get some guns and men to pursue and head the stock and a man was dispatched to the camp below for assistance. Orders were given that as soon as the horses reached camp for a man to mount each of the four, and with a gun each hasten back. In the meantime the two nightguard ran up the river a short distance, shedding their clothing as they ran, leaped into the stream and reached the far shore as the dayguard reached the shore with the six horses. The two swimmers mounted two horses and taking the two pistols, the only available arms, and without a stitch of clothing, rode off in an attempt to head the cattle. The herd was almost enveloped in dust, and as the boys sped along in the effort to get to the pass first, they could see the drivers occasionally through the dust at the cattle's heels, urging them along at a frightful pace. It was nip and tuck which would reach the pass first, they had an idea that, by dodging about they could in some way hold the herd until reinforcements came. As they neared the herd, at about 200 yard distant, the supposed savages set up a yell and stopped, and then a loud peal of laughter run out, and then in dawned upon the boys that it was a cunningly devised trick, perpetrated by the boys from the upper camp for a Fourth of July diversion! The boys who had been tricked felt relieved, but were fighting mad. However, the first thing to do was to turn the cattle back and relive the anxiety of the camp, which was quickly done, and a man rode swiftly to camp, meeting on the way one man, mounted, with two guns coming to the rescue. The situation was explained, and as they reached the river ten men dashed up to camp from the camp below, redy to plunge in and ride to the rescue. From first to last the "lark" lasted about three quarters of an hour, but excitement ran high, for it was real to everybody, except to the perpetrators of the joke, and all were unanimous, for a time, that the cattle were gone for good and that the boys who rode after them would lose their scalps.
A few days afterward the freight and emigrants arrived and it was a great day when the train was again in line after six weeks waiting. When loaded there were twenty-five wagons with good consigned to Hooper, Eldrege and Co., Salt Lake City, but to stock the new Zion's Co-Operative Mercantile Institution, to be launched in autumn. There were about three hundred emigrants, a large number of them being young
women from England. The train was back on the old camp ground early in the evening, and as fuel was scarce, half of the teamsters kicked off their foot gear and wa ided and swam to the other shore of the much diminished river for wood for the campfire. The banks were lined with dry logs and large limbs, cut by beavers. These logs were rolled into the stream, pushed, paddled and ridden across, by boys yelling and acting like wild old men, while the emigrants stood by and swondered. By dark the campfires were blazing merrily and girls who were fresh from Manchester and Leeds for the first time cooked their supper over an open fire and later spread their scant bedding upon the open plain, and laid down to slumber with no canopy above but the blue vault, studded with stars.
Next morning the reveille sounded at 7 o'clock and by 7.30 the train was moving westward, everybody walking. The wagons were literally packed to the bows with freight and baggage, and the wagons outside hung with cooking utensils at every available point, a motley sight! The trip home was made without special incident, the rivers were low and easily crossed, the most formidable being Green River and it was now quite docile, but yet quite a third of a mile wide where it was forded, and for a long distance the water came up nearly up to the wagon boxes. The Captain sent a horseman across, following some surface indications and the crossing proving safe, everybody piled into the wagons, some of the boys riding the gentle oxen and all the horses double, and the crossing was made in safety. After a few days the pedestrians could make 20 to 25 miles a day and come into camp in fine shape at night, and ready for a frolic after supper. Nearly every evening when the campfires gleamed, the concertinas, flutes and violins were brought out and by the music the boys and
fgirls sang and danced until 10 when taps were sounded and all were in bed, for they needed rest for the next day's tramp. The weather was fine, there being but a few light storms.
The pilgrims and freight were landed in the tithing yard, Salt Salt City the first week in Sept, all in good shape, and in a few days the boys were on the road for home, some living as far south as St. George.
In every train there were two or three rhymsters who composed many stanzas about persons, places and things, and some of them were witty and clever. The poet would take some of the conspicuous persons in the train, or funny episode and compose a verse about each and about a week before the journey ended the song would be sung for the first time at the general campfire and create much fun. The verse or two remembered are quoted to show the style:
It crowned our nightly action;
The nightguard must do just so
To keep up satisfaction
But then when we are coming back
I think we'll be rewarded
With a good big herd of English girls
And we'll keep them well guarded.
I think it is a pity;
You bet we'll guard 'em night and day
Safe into Salt Lake City."
Then to take off some of the boys who had been more or less conspicuous as ladies men, and there were many:
As though he had no wife at all;
He'll hug and squeeze, kiss and coax
And try to carry on his jokes
He left his Utah girl behind;
He left his Utah girl so true,
And hooked up to-- I don't know who--
Each stanza was greeted with shouts of laughter, for nearly every one was onto the situation.
The last night in the tithing yard, those conspicuous ones were rounded up and kept in the firelight, while the song was again sung to the great delight of everybody, except those who were the subject of the satire.