Transcript for John Jaques, "Some Reminiscences," Salt Lake Herald-Republican, 29 December 1878, 1


SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 28, 1878.
Editors Herald:
Some people have supposed that, in the course of these papers narrating the journey of the fifth company of handcart emigrants across the plains in 1856, I should "tell it all." They need have been under no apprehension on that point. I could not tell it all. I do not know it all. No human being could tell it all. No human being knows it all. One pair of human eyes could see and one pair or human ears could hear only a small portion of all that transpired in the course of that eventful expedition. Scores of incidents occurred outside the ken and the cognizance of any one observer in or with the company. Only the All-seeing Eye saw and only the All-seeing Ear heard all the occurrences in that long and wearisome journey. But, according to intimation last week, I will tell a little more by and by. This week, however, let me say a word about the other handcart companies that season.

Five handcart companies, in all, crossed the plains that year, all composed of "Mormon" emigrants chiefly from Europe. The three first were led by Captains Edmund Ellsworth, D. [Daniel] D. McArthur and Edward Bunker, respectively. Starting early in the season, these companies had no winter weather to contend with, and they arrived in this city with comparatively little suffering on the route, and in correspondingly good spirits. Captain Ellsworth's company left Iowa city June 9th and Florence July 19th, arriving in this city September 26th. Captain [Daniel] McArthur's company left Iowa city June 11th and Florence July 24th, arriving in this city with Captain [Edmund] Ellsworth's company. These two companies at starting are reported to have numbered in the aggregate 497 souls, 100 handcarts, 5 wagons, 24 oxen, 4 mules and 25 tents. Bunker's company numbered about 300 souls. It left Iowa city June 23d and Florence July 30th, and arrived in this city October 2d.

An abundant entrance and a royal welcome to this city were enjoyed by [Edmund] Ellsworth's and [Daniel] McArthur's companies, they being the first emigrants of any creed or nationality who crossed the plains with hand carts. On the 26th of September Governor B. Young, H. C. Kimball, D. H. Wells, and many other citizens in carriages, several gentlemen and ladies on horseback, with part of Captain H. B. Clawson's company of lancers, and the brass bands under Wm. Pitt, went to near the foot of the Little Mountain, and halted there. Governor Young and H. C. Kimball drove on to meet [Edmund] Ellsworth's company, and when they came up with it the emigrants were regaled with melons, during which [Daniel] McArthur's company came up. Thence to the public square in this city the following order of procession was observed: Lancers, ladies on horseback, Governor Young's, H. C. Kimball's and D. H. Wells' carriages, the bands, [Edmund] Ellsworth's and [Daniel] McArthur's companies, citizens in carriages and horseback. Before reaching the city, the procession was largely increased by men women and children on foot and on horseback. The procession reached the public square about sunset, and the emigrants were addressed by Governor Young.

The fourth company was led by James G. Willie, assisted by Millan [Millen] Atwood. The company started rather late in the season, and suffered a good deal in consequence, though much less their the fifth and last company did, for the fourth company arrived in this city before the fifth had bidden its final adieu to Devil's Gate. Perhaps it will not be amiss here to give a brief sketch of the journey and experiences of the fourth company.

Most of the emigrants composing this company sailed from Liverpool on Sunday, May 4th, on board the ship Thornton, Captain Collins, and numbered 761, James G. Willie presiding over them, assisted by Millen Atwood, Moses Cluff and J. A. [Johan August] Ahmanson. During the voyage Capt. Collins proved himself to be considerate and kind, allowing the emigrants every reasonable liberty and privilege, and complimenting them highly upon their cleanliness and good order, and their readiness to comply with his requests. He said he never wished for a better lot of passengers.

The company arrived at New York on the 14th of June and at Castle Garden were heartily welcomed by John Taylor and N. H. Felt. On the 17th the emigrants left New York , arriving at Dunkirk on the 19th, when they embarked on the Jersey City for Toledo, where they arrived on the 21st, and the next day they were at Chicago. At Toledo the emigrants were unkindly treated by the railroad employees and put to much inconvenience. On the 23rd the company left Chicago in two detachments, several hours apart. At Pond Creek it was learned that the bridge at Rock Island had fallen while a previous train was passing over it. Erastus Snow and some other Utah People were on that unfortunate train at the time, but escaped uninjured. The emigrants left Pond Creek on the 26, and arrived at Iowa city the same day, where they were welcomed by Daniel Spencer and others.

The fourth handcart company left the camp near Iowa city on the 16th of July, with James G. Willie captain, and consisted of about 500 souls, 5 mules, 12 yoke of cattle, 120 handcarts, 25 tents and 5 wagons. Each passenger was allowed seventeen pounds of baggage, including bedding. During their stay in camp the men had employed themselves in making handcarts and ox yokes and the women in making tents. At Fort DesMoines Mr. Chas Good kindly presented the company with fifteen pairs of children's boots. At different places on the route through Iowa considerable opposition was manifested by the residents toward the company, and threats of personal violence were made. The company was also annoyed by a posse with search warrants based on frivolous pretences. On the way from Iowa city to Florence several persons left the company. The handcarts were not very good ones, and some of the axles were almost worn through before arriving at Florence, which was on Aug 11th.

Having repaired the handcarts and completed other preparations, the company, now about 425 souls, left Florence on the 16th with four "independent" wagons added to it, and rendezvoused on the Papillon, leaving that place for the west on the 18th. On the 28th William Haley [Hailey], and elderly man, was missed from the company, and was not found until the next morning. He had been out all night, exposed to drenching rain, but he soon recovered. On the 28th the company came up with a large camp of Omaha Indians, who were very friendly. They sold some buffalo meat to the emigrants , invited the officers of the company to visit their camp, and hospitably entertained them, On coming to the place where A. [Almon] W. Babbitt's wagon train men were killed by Indians, the company covered up the graves.

On the morning of Sept. 4th, thirty, more than one half, of the oxen were missing, they having stampeded, and the company staid two days to look for them, but in vain. During their stay, A. [Almon] W. Babbitt, A. [Abraham] O. Smoot and O. P. [Orrin Porter] Rockwell visited and comforted the company. On the 6th the company yoked up some wild Arkansas cows to help out the broken teams, and proceeded, Joseph Elder and Andrew Smith going in search of his missing cattle. On the 8th Henry Banichter, a disharged soldier from Fort Laramie, met the company and said that the Cheyenne Indians had killed Thomas Marggetts [Margetts] and James Cowdy and wife and child, about seventy miles west, while he, [Henry] Banichter was gone away from them to fetch in some buffalo meat which he and [Thomas] Margetts had killed a mile or two away. It was supposed that Mrs. Margetts was carried away captive by the Indians. On the 12th, F. D. Richards and party in three carriages, with the two men, Elder and Smith, overtook the company on the North Bluff creek. That night and the next morning the Richards party addressed the emigrants encouragingly and W. D. Dunbar sang several songs to comfort and cheer them. The same morning the company crossed the Platte, the Richards party leading. On the 15th several Arapahoe Indians were met, who watched the emigrants that night, having told them that the Sioux and Cheyennes had attacked a large emigrant train and killed many of the emigrants. The first frost, a severe one, was experienced on the night of the 7th of September. That day Ellen Cantwell was bitten by a ten-rattle rattlesnake, which was subsequently killed, but the girl was not fatally affected. On the 18th a woman named Stewart was missed. Several men went to search for her, but she got into camp before they did, though much exhausted after staying out all night and having been vigorously serenaded by wolves. Jonathan Grimshaw's company, numbering about 100, was met on the 28th. On various occasions considerable time was expended in the repair of handcarts.

The company arrived at Fort Laramie on the 30th, where the four "independent" wagons were detached, remaining there until a wagon company came up. A small ration for the company was obtained at the fort. Two women also staid at the fort, one of whom quickly got married. At this fort and also at Platte bridge, F. D. Richards had bought some buffalo robes for Willie's and Martin's companies. The company left the fort on the 1st of October, and met P. P. Pratt's company of missionaries the same day.

From Iowa city to Florence the daily flour ration of this company was ten ounces, with little groceries. On leaving Florence the company was provisioned for nearly sixty days at one pound of the flour per head per day. Adults received this ration, and children then received eight ounces. About eight miles west of Laramie the rations were reduced to fourteen ounces for a man, twelve ounces for a woman, eight for a child, and four for an infant. On the 12th the rations were reduced to ten and a half ounces for men, nine for women, six for children, and three for infants. That day Allred Peacock and George Edwick left the company near Platte bridge. By this time many of the men were growing weak. The last ration that the company had was served out on the 19th, at the fifth crossing of the Sweetwater. On the 20th C. H. Wheelock, Joseph A. Young, and two other men were met, with the welcome intelligence that George D. Grant with relief wagons was at hand. Snow commenced to fall this day. On the 21st, as the little ones were crying for bread, fourteen wagons, with flour, onions, and clothing, bedding, shoes, etc., were met. Here the snow was six to ten inches deep. On the 22d William H. Kimball with six of the relief wagons turned back and came on with the company toward this city, the other relief wagons going along to the assistance of the later companies. On the 24th Reddick N. Allred and others with six wagons were met. The next day, fifteen miles west of the company's last crossing of the Sweetwater, other teams with provisions were met. On the 21st seven wagons from Fort Supply, a settlement on Green river, and three from this city were met. On November 1st, further help was met. On the 2d the company passed Fort Bridger, which was then a "Mormon" fort or settlement and the same day Eph. [Ephraim] Hanks passed the company. The next day more supplies were met for the later companies of emigrants, and William H. Kimball and Mr. Thomas came on ahead of the company toward this city. On the 4th Seth M. Blair and others with wagons were met. On the 8th William H. Kimball was met with a load of provisions. On the 9th the company arrived in this city and the emigrants were soon taken into comfortable quarters. Some of the company had their hands and feet badly frozen, but everything that could be done was done to alleviate their sufferings. After leaving Fort Bridger the company was assisted by about fifty wagons.

During much of the journey the diarrhoea prevailed in the camp. Consequently many were sick and had to ride before relief was met. Many had to be refused the privilege of riding. A heavy snowstorm, with a fierce north wind, was encountered in crossing the Rock ridge and the South pass, though the company traveled sixteen miles that day, still drawing the handcarts. This was the most disastrous day of the journey, 15 persons dying from fatigue, want, and exposure to the cold and storms. Some would pull their handcarts all day and die in the night. The total number of deaths in the company from Liverpool to this city is given as 77, of which 68 occurred between Iowa city and this place. There were also 8 births and 8 marriages.

Among the various wagon companies that crossed the plains westward that season, in addition to those of Captains [John] Hunt and [William} Hodgetts were the following, principally or partly composed of "Mormon" emigrants: A. O. Smoot's with 42 wagons; O. P. [Orrin Porter] Rockwell's 6; Croft's from Arkansas, 34; two or three St Louis companies, one under John Banks; P. [Philemon] C. Merrill's; Henry Boley's, 13; B. [Benjamin] L. Clapp's, from Texas, 14; a Danish company, 28; Clark's, English, 6; J. W. Hawkins', 8; Preston Thomas, from Texas, 8. Also, the following with merchandise: Gilbert & Garrish's, 28 wagons; another, under J. Y. Greens, for the same firm 20; Livingston, Kinkead & Co.'s, 36; W. S. Godbe's, 7; Conyer's, 16; and Stephen B. Rose's. Most of the companies with emigrants needed more or less help before they were through the journey. Some of these figures are rather closely approximate than exactly correct, and the statistics of most if not all of the companies varied at different parts of the journey.

[also in Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 30 Nov. 1856, 33-38]