Transcript

Transcript for Jenkins, John, Autobiographical sketch, 1933, 3-5

But in 1866 I went again; this time with Captain Horton Haight of Farmington. The South Platte River at Julesburg where we crossed was three-fourths of a mile wide and we ferried our stuff over by taking the best wagon boxes and lashing four of them together. Thus they served as a ferry boat to carry our wagons and goods across the stream. This took about eight days, getting the train of about ninety wagons across the stream. Our train was extra large, having some boys from Dixie who belonged in another train. After we got our wagons and goods over, the captain called for volunteers to swim the cattle across, which consisted of about eight hundred head. Eight men volunteered. I being one of them. After about four hours of hard labor by the entire company, we got the cattle started through the water, and we eight volunteers followed them, swimming behind to keep them going. To do this we would take hold of the tails of the cattle that were behind and swim with them. When the ones we had hold of would swim into the bunch we would let them go and grab a fresh hold on another animal as it was unsafe for us to go into the bunch of swimming animals. Had we done so, we were in danger of drowning. We were in the water about six hours before we got them across. At that time there were about five hundred teams of Gentiles who were going west but did not dare to attempt to cross the river. We continued our journey on to a little village and landing place on the Missouri River called, Wyoming, which was about fifty miles down the river from the present city of Omaha and about six miles above Nebraska City.

We were held at this place two or three weeks, waiting for European emigrants and resting our animals. While here I helped some of the farmers harvest their crops. There were not enough emigrants to complete the loads, so some wagons were loaded with telegraph wire; the first telegraph wire to go to Utah. When we were ready to leave, some apostates placed an attachment on the wire, claiming that President Young was indebted to them. A law suit followed, and it was proven that it was a mere scheme to hold us back until there would be so much snow that it would be impossible for us to get through the mountains. The court released us and we were soon on our journey.

Upon arriving at Fort Kearney our train was held up for sometime by the United States soldiers. They said it was not safe to proceed because the Indians were so hostile, but we were finally allowed to go on our way by traveling with two trains together, making about 150 teamsters, all armed.

When we got about twenty-five miles this side of Fort Kearney we came to a trading post called Plum Creek. I was driving the lead wagon as I usually did, and I came upon a man lying stretched across the road. I soon discovered he was dead. He had a double barrel shot gun across his chest and two buckets of alcohol by his side. He had been killed by the Indians. I drove around him and the entire train followed me. We camped near by for the night and some men were detailed to bury the man. The next morning, after driving about five miles, we found eleven men who had just been killed by the Indians. Their twelve wagons had been burned and a woman and two children were carried away.

Proceeding westward, we came to the banks of the Platte River where we camped near a little knoll. During the night we could see the Indians on the knoll and hear them splashing in the river as they were fording across. Sleep came to no one in the camp that night. The next morning the Indians were all gone. But we could see them across the river all traveling eastward. As were going westward, that was the last we saw of the Indians on our trip. The distance from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake was about one thousand and fifty miles. Upon one occasion only my company made this journey one way in eight weeks. Ordinarily it took us about five months to make the round trip.

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