Transcript for John Frantzen reminiscence and journal, 1889-1892, 29-39
We remained but a short time in Philedelphia and soon started on our journey westward, traveling on Rail Roads from there to Iowa City. Here we stopped several days until arrangements was made to proceed farther, as the mode of traveling was to be performed in a different style. In a few days all were furnished with a hand cart or as many as were necessary from five to seven persons to each cart. The whole company consisted of some upwards of 200 souls divided into four departments of ten carts in each with a captain to take charge of the same. Elder Parkes, one of the returning missionaries was appointed as leader or President of the whole company. Three mule teams, tents, bake Kettles etc. were also furnished, which were all purchased by means collected from the emigrants, those articles being indespensible necessary for their accomodation as they had to camp out every night, bake their own bread etc. Bro. O[la]. N[ilsson]. Liljenquist drove one of the teams and two of the returning missionaries. They would generally start in the morning before the company did, and a great many time we would not see them again before night.
I will here remark that we were all strangers in a strange land, and as our leaders and guide generally traveled with more ease and rapidity than [we] could with our carts, [they] were so far in advance so as to be out of our sight, hence it sometimes happened we took a wrong road, which were [was] greatly to our inconvience[.] The hand carts were very light built so as to be as easy to pull as possible, hence the amount of weight to be put upon them had to be correspondingly. Before we left Iowa City, of necessity, the amount of freight allowed each person was 17 pounds, including provisions, bedding and everything to last us till we arrived at Florence, a small town on the Missouri river. Some of course had money so as to be able to buy a little provision occasionally, as we went through many towns and villages. On account of the little freight allowed, many of the emigrants was under the necessity to leave a great many valuable articles including feather beds etc. before they left the camping ground, a little distance from Iowa City. This was quite a trial to some of the Saints. We had not traveled many days until it was thought best to reduce the freight to 13 lbs. to each individual, little infants excepted, which was accordingly done. Besides the three mule teams which I have previously mentioned there was also an ox team driven by C[arl].C[hristian].A[nthon]. Christensen. This was principally for the accommodations of the old infirm, sick and unable to walk from morning until night. During the journey from Iowa City to Florence, a distance of 300 miles, a great many of the emigrants took sick, quite a number of whom were left along the road side during the day until we camped for night, when a sufficient number of young man was sent back to bring them to the night quarters, and a few died. I was generally fortunate enough to be well and able to perform this duty and mostly called on for that purpose every time, and this occurred nearly every day. Although young, full of vigor and life, I was sometimes tired after pulling the hand cart all day. I am thankful however that I never refused whenever called upon. I[n] passing through the many settlements and town[s] on our way westward, sometimes the people would come out in mass to look at this [these] wonderful pilgrims, consisting of men, women and children, old and young, blind and cripples, pulling their hand carts and bound for the rocky mountains, called Zion, and many comments were made concerning us, as they invariably would find out that we were of the so called “Mormons.” One thing I think was a great advantage to our people, we never came into any conversation with them, which they so much desired and if nothing else prevented us from so doing, it was this one very important item, we could not understand them nor they us, scarcely any of us could understand less talk the English language, hence we went along first rate so far as this was concerned. After a long and tedious Journey we finally reached Florence, some almost worn out, and it seemed as though it required considerable faith on the part of many to undertake the long journey ahead of us a distance of 1000 miles to reach the place of destination. We remained at Florence or Winter quarters for several days. While staying there we learned the sad news that apostle Parley P. Pratt had been assassinated in the United States while traveling as a missionary. Winter quarters is the place where the Mormon people located after being driven from their happy houses in Nauvoo in the State of Illinois, and staying there in the winter previous to the pioneers starting for the rocky mountains. One most important incident in the history of this so much persecuted people occurred while they were staying there. The United States government was at this time on unfriendly terms with the government of Mexico. In less than one year ago Latter day Saints had been robbed of nearly all their property and driven by an unscrupulous mob from their homes, hence their means and supplies for the undertaking of a long journey in the condition they seemingly to all human appearance well placed was anything but favorable. They had always been accused of being disloyal to the government of the United States and in opposition to the laws, rules and regulations of [the] country and nation of which they formed a part. This however was interly false and without any foundation whatsoever. It will be very evident to every reasonable and unpredudized [prejudiced] person, who will [read] the history of the people belonging to the religious denomination known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that the desire and intentions of the American government has been to blot out of existence these so called Mormon people. I will just refer to on single instance, while hundreds could be mentioned to substantiate this fact. While this handful of people were camped at Winter quarters, preparing for journeying westward, Knowing not where, were called upon by this government to furnish 500 men to enter into active service as soldiers to take part in the war with Mexico. Notwithstanding this would appear to the natural man, if complied with, to defeat the saints in their contemplated journey, the requisition made upon them even in the circumstances they were then placed, were strictly complied with infactely showing their loyalty to their country. The men thus called, and performed a long and tedious journey from Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fe in California is Known as the “Mormon Batalion.” Many of them left wife and children in Winter quarters, comparatively helpless, trusting in the Lord for the[ir] return when honorably discharged from the army. They started in pursuit for their families and friends, and reached them in the fall of 1847, located in the valleys of the mountains. I must now go back to the travels of emigrant company who had arrived at Florence with their hand carts. When they arrived at this point they were all tired and weary after traveling for the distance of 300 miles, and a little rest seemed to by [be] quite necessary. We had the privilege at this place to meet with apostle Erastis Snow. While remaining in Florence the necessary arrangements for journeying across the plains were made. A certain amount of provisions were distributed to all the emigrants, calculated to last them until they reached Salt Lake City if possible. All this were put on the hand carts according to the number of persons belonging to each. From this it can readily be understood that the quantity of provisions was not very large. I do not remember the amount of each kind, but I think that we (five in number) received ten pounds pork. How much flour and other articles I cannot recollect. Before we started on our long journey, which was early in July, the company was reorganized by apostle E. Snow and Elder Christian Christensen [Christiansen] appointed as leader and captain for the company, which appointment met with the hearty approval of all concerned. On our travel we had to cross on foot, with the hand carts behind, all streams both large and small. The first of any consequence was Loupe Fork, the largest on the whole route, unless it should be green river. It was just about all we could do to cross this stream[,] the water being quite deep and the currant strong, but the whole company got across without any loss of life. We camped in a grove close by the river that night, and I never witnessed such lighting and thunder in my life before and the rain came down in torrents, so much so that the clothes of everybody was wet through in the morning, on which account we started rather late. Our captain always took the lead of the company from morning till night and was liked and respected by all. He was returning from a mission to the States to his family and friends in the valley. He was danish by birth, and consequently could speak the danish language, which was a great comfort and satisfaction to the emigrants, as most of them were Scandinavians. In crossing the long prairies we often would [see] Indians, but they never troubled us any. It must be remembered that this was a very important year to all the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, not on account of this company of emigrants crossing the plains with hand carts, but this was the year when the government of the United States fitted out the best army pertaining to provisions, implements of war and in fact everything else necessary to accomplish the object for which the[y] were sent. It is Known as the Buchanan army, he being President of the United States at that time. The government not being satisfied after they had driven the Latter day Saints from their midst into the wilderness, this army was sent for the express purpose of over powering them and as they pretended to claim, bring the Mormons into subjection to the laws of the U. States. At the same time this was no more or less than a barefaced falsehood. But after being utterly disappointed & entire destruction of these people, as the[y] most assuredly anticipated to be accomplished by wild bears and the red men of the forrest or by starvation, they reserved their attack on the Saints with the same results they had previously met. This army was ahead of the Mormon emigrants on the plains, of which we however were not aware off, and as one day we were passing as we supposed a large number of Indians, away of[f] in the distance, lo and behold we afterwards learned it was this great army, numbering some 6000 or 7000 men out on the prairie after the Indians, and through this means we passed them without interference. After about 9 weeks [of] arduous toil we reached Salt Lake City on the 13th day of September 1857