Transcript for John Pulsipher journal and autobiography in Cache Valley historical material, circa 1955
Our Traveling company was organized by Pres. B. [Brigham]Young on the 31, of May.
Father Z. Pulsipher unanimously chosen capt. of the hundred. John Benbow capt. of 1st 50 and Wm. Burgess, Jr. Capt. of 1st 10. This was the 10 that we were in and as I drove Father’s first wagon I was the first to breatk the track and try the bad places, wind and etc.
When we started I was so weak I could hardly walk a mile, but as we moved on my strength returned to me so I was able to drive a team all the way and do my share of herding and guarding and act as serge[a]nt of the guard—as that office was put upon me.
The first co. of this years Emigration started on to the plains from the Elk Horn River on the 1st of June Elder Lorenzo Snow Captain of 100.
Our company the 2nd for this year started on the 2nd of June and so on a company each day as soon as a 100 wagons are on the ground they are organized and started until about (800) Eight hundred wagons were on the track which was about the number that crossed the Plains this year.
A very Pretty Country along here, a beautiful forest of timber along the Elk Horn River. On leaving the stream we pass over a rich level piece of land one days journey to the Big Platt[e] River. This is a wide shallow stream running from the Rocky Mountains nearly an east course to the Missouri River
stayed over Sunday 4th of June on a level Plane 50 miles from Winter Quarters, had meeting. Bro. Snows company in sight.
We travel on the north side of the river over as smooth pretty a
s country as need be only timber rather scarce. The river flatts are from 1 to 5 miles wide and covered with grass.
Sunday, June 11 we stayed on the East bank of the left fork of Platt[e] had meeting and counc
eil near here are the mines of the old Paunee [Pawnee] Village which had been destroyed by the Sioux.
The Left Fork is a wide shallow stream coming in from the north. This stream we forded by doubling teams and winding up and down following sand bars and etc. for about a mile in water 2 or 3 ft. deep.
We got all our wagons over safe without accident. I was in water nearly all day wading across and back first to find a ford and Mark it, so we could get our waggons over without wetting our loads. This required great caution as the channel was continually changing the bed of the river is a bed of moving sand so when a wagon was once in it had to be kept going or it would go down.
Father waded the River several times and said it done him good—cured his lame knee of the rheumatism.
On the West bank of this stream we waited a week for the companies behind to come up had a general meeting on Sunday the 18th of June Pres. Young felt first rate. After meeting we started on the first hundred also in its place.
As we moved out of this great camp it looked like leaving a mighty city.
The country we travel over is very pretty warm rich soil—plenty of grass—. This week we were passing along by Grand Island in Platt[e] River which is 80 miles long and well timbered with cottonwood and willow.
Sunday 25th June had meeting and rested on the bank of Platt[e] above Grand Island and 240 miles from Winter Quarters, Rested here 3 days when our friends in the rear came in sight
[29th June] we started on Wednesday morning and traveled 4 days this week. The country being so hard and smooth that we made other tracks and traveled 2 or 4 wagons abreast so all the companys. could travel in close order and be more safe from Indians depredations. We had no trouble from them however—we were well armed and they knew we were always ready so they made no distrubance.—though large numbers of them have come to our camps at different times. But we always treated them well and gave them plenty to eat.
Buffalo abounds along the Platt[e] River in such vast numbers that it is impossible for mortal man to number them—. The first day or two that we came among them they were in small gangs and now and then an old straggling bull—but as we traveled on the whole country seemed black with them. Sometimes our way seemed entirely blockaded with them but as we approached they would open to the right and left so we could pass through. Thousands of them sometimes would run towards the River, plunge down the bank into the water, tumble over each other and pile up, but all would come out right on the other side of the River and continue the race. Sometimes we would see the Plain black with them for ten miles in width and I don’t know how far beyond our sight they extended, all in motion, on the gallop and would pass by us for hours at that speed and then we could see neither end of the herd.
We killed what we needed for meat always dividing the meat equally among the different families of the company so that none was wasted.
We were very careful to keep our cattle from getting into the Buffalo herds, and being run off with them.
Some companys lost many of their cattle in that way, for when they fall into a running herd they run with them and are gone forever.
How easy the Indians can live in this country, yet as plenty as meat is they are careful to save all they kill and not allow any part to be wasted. This is a lesson that many who profess to be civilized would do well to learn.
Along here is a great pasture not fenced and no timber to fence with, entirely destitute of timber for hundreds of miles. Not a tree or bush. Looks like the land Desolation of olden times. The soil is good and well covered with grass.
Saturday morning 15, July came up with Bro. Snow’s company and camped opposite Chimney Rock, stayed Saturday and Sunday. Monday the 17, was my Birthday which makes me 21 years old, and we are half way from Winter Quarters to the Valley of Salt Lake.
This the day that gave me birth
In eighteen twenty seven
From distant worlds I came to Earth
Far from my native heaven
Twenty and one long years have past
To grief and sorrow given
And now to crown my woes at last
We’re to the Mountains driven
‘Tis not for crimes that we have done
That by our foes we’re driven
But to the world we are unknown
And our reward’s in heaven
What troubled seems may yet ensue
To strew our paths with sorrow
‘tis not for us to know its true
For we know not of tomorrow
One thing is sure, this life at best
Is like the troubled ocean
We almost wish ourselves at rest
From all its dire commotion
But let its troubled bosom heave
Its surges beat around me
To truth, eternal truth I’ll cleave
It’s waves can never drown me.</Block quote>
We have suffered and endured such a continuation of persecution and cruel treatment from those who boast of civilization, that we now choose to make our home in the Desert among Savages rather than try to live in the garden of the world surrounded by Christian neighbors.
The Lord almighty is preparing a scourage for this nation. The blood of the Saints is crying from the ground for vengence on that wicked nation.
The nation have rejected all our petitions and would not redress our wrongs so our case is appealed to the great judge of all the Earth and he will not be deaf to our cries, so we are anxious to gather out from among the wicked—leave them to be dealt with in the manner the Lord may choose.
We are glad the mountain vallies are so far off as they are, long and tedious is our journey to get there—but there we hope to rest from those wicked persecutions that we have endured as long as I can remember.
This is the reason we are so happy in our toiling and traveling to sustain our selves and work our way into the unexplored regions of North America.
We now find some very sandy road our poor teams have all they can do to get through the long stretches of deep sand, the country begins to look more barren and dreary.
Friday 21 July last night we had a heavy shower of rain and hail and this forenoon we traveled through hail one foot deep on the ground 12 hours after the storm.
Today we forded the north branch of Platt[e] at Ft. Laramie. This is a pretty River clear water swift currant and ricky [rocky] Bottom Raised the wagon boxes 8 inches on blocks of wood and crossed in safety.
Here we go into the “Black Hills” and have a rugged hilly country the balance of the way. Very barren with now and then a stunted scrubby cedar or pine tree some wild sage and plenty
Sunday, 23rd had no meeting, traveled all day because we could find no feed fit to stop on passed the Warm Springs today 536 miles from Winter Quarters. It being the first natural curiosity of the kind I ever saw. We traveled only about 50 miles this week found some feed and rested the teams 3 days.
Sunday, 30 July started this morning from Branch of Labonte River traveled 18 miles and
Monday to Box Elder Creek turned off the road found good feed and wild currants—stayed 2 days
The Company generally divided up into tens 20’s and etc. to get over this Desert Country.
Sunday Aug. 6th we crossed the upper ford of Platt[e] traveled 15 miles and camped at the Mineral Springs.
Sunday 13th rested on the Sweet Water 16 miles about the “Devils Gate”.
The “Devils Gate” is a gap through a small Mountain, where the Sweet Water River runs between perpendicular rocks 400 ft. high.
John Alger and Charles Pulsipher went out a hunting Sunday Aug. 13—found some scattering Buffalo and killed 3 large ones and John came for help to bring the meat in John Heward unloaded and furnished a wagon and we hitched up 3 yoke of our best cattle and James P. Terry and myself started a little befo[r]e sundown and spent nearly all night traveling over hills
andhollows and mountains covered wtih rocks and sage and not a track to follow[.] Charles stayed to grard [guard] the meat from the wolves and keep a fire so we could find the place. But as it was about half a dozen miles from camp and among such rugged hills we had a long and tedious hunt to find it in a dark night—but we accomplis[h]ed the job. We were glad to find Chars. and he was equally as glad to see us and he had gave up all hopes of our coming tonight and the wolves were determined to have some of the meat. The buffalo’s lay a quarter or half a mile apart—so you can judge he had to be busy to keep up his fires—and had very small sage for fuel. He did not need to go hungry for he could roast beef but was suffereng for water but we had some in the wagon and we were happy mortals sure—.
Dressed our beef by fire light—loaded it into the wagon and drove for camp. We drove over some awful rough places had it been daylight I presume we would never dared to drove a wagon over without working a road—but the darkness hid the danger and we passed over safe. Were in camp before day—divided the neat [meat] to all and were ready to travel on Monday morning.
We saw no more Buffalo—the country is too barren to suit them—we have all we can do to get our cattle throug this desolate region, as there is a great amount of mineral water, alkali and etc.—When as [an] animal got alkalied we gave it a pound or two of fat pork. Sure cure if given in season.
We made about 70 miles this week which brouught us to the upper fork of Sweet Water where we spent Sunday Aug. 20th. This is a pretty little River of good water. Small willows is the pri[n]cipal wood that grow along this stream. This is 789 miles from Winter Quarters. Another days journey took us over the South Pass to the Pacific Springs where we found a large flat of wet springy land and stopped 5 days on the best of feed and rested our poor foot-sore cattle.
The “south Pass” is the dividing Ridge between the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is a high open country. We could look ‘til our eyes were tired and scarce see any end to the dreary wastes of the everlasting Sage Plains, with here and there an Isolate[d] flat topped mountain to fill up the space between the Mighty ranges of both craggy Barriers that hold supreme Dominiion over this unexplored region.
It was here we had the first sight of snow in summer. It was on the high Mountains in the Northwest and seemed to have lain secure through the heat of dog days fairly exposed to the sun.
While we were here some teams arrived from the Valley—John Armstrong and others to meet their friends. They gave a good report of the Settlement in the Valley.
I took a tramp one day with J. Alger and W. Burgess hunting, had a long walk saw some wild antelope and one deer but killed none ascended a high mountain had a gra[n]d view of the country for hundreds of miles, away to where the Mountains were lost in the clouds.
Another days journey brought us to the head of a stream called “Dry Sandy” and it was rightly named for our animals had to do without water. We dug in the sand and found some dirty water that we could use rather than suffer. This is the most Barren Waste that we have past over yet. Mineral Land, no grass, or not enough to fill a bushel in 5 miles and not a tree or even a willor [willow] big enough for a whip stock for several days journey.
Sunday Aug. 27, traveled 15 miles to little Sandy, some water, no wood, some grass. This is almost a level Plain some sandy. These waters run to the South west to Green River and that [then] to the Colorado which empties into the Gulf of California on the Pacific Coast.
Monday 28th met a train ox teams from the valley in care of Ira Eldredge going to help the hind companies in. This was timely assistance, their teams were fine and fat quite different from our Poor skeletons that limp and stagager as they go, (some of them).
Our course which has been nearly West so far—is now changed nearly to a southeast for nearly 100 miles and then west again. We follow down the “Big Sandy” for a couple of days. This stream where we first came to it was about 6 rods wide and 18 inches deep and before we left it, it was dry, all sunk in the sand. This we find is common many of these mountain streams sink and sometimes rise again.
The next water was Green River a beautiful River, clear water stony bottom, swift current, about 16 rids [rods], wide 2 ½ ft. deep at the ford at low water. Earlier in the season it
hasto be ferried. We hauled [halted] our march a few times and got a few very nice fish along this River is a streak of cottonwood timber.
We stayed 2 nights at this place. Oh it was such a treat to camp in a cottonwood forest. A few of the Company thought best to stay longer S.[Sylvester]H.[Henry] Earl, J. Bills, John And Uncle Same[Sam] Alger and a few others said they would stay longer. Father Pulsipher the Captain and the majority of the Company thought the best way was to start in the morning and be moving along—and did so—.
We crossed the River and went 5 miles and camped in the woods again near where the road leaves the River. Tonight was rainy—River rose and muddy. The Boys were sorry they stopped, they had some difficulty in crossing and were behind upwards of 100 miles.
Sunday Sept. 3rd past Batees [Bates] Trading Post a French Mountaineer owns 2 or 3 log cabins and etc. Traps, hunts and trades with Indians, and cold day, sand wet good traveling cattle walk very easy Charles sich [sick] a few days wtih Mountain fever. The next water we cross in [is] Ham’s Fork a small River from the north west. We cross this at its junction with Blacks Fork a small River from the south West which we follow up near 50 miles. In Blacks Fork we caught a fine lot of Fish, supplied the whole company that were now with us. These waters run into Green River.
The country continued a dreary, barren, Desert Covered only with a stunted growth of sage which seems to grow without moisture only as it is wet by the snows of winter or fall and spring rain and endures the heat and drowth [drought] of summer while the ground for half the year is hot, parched and dusty—. If it was not for some little greasy flats by the creeks I don’t know how we could get our anumels over this country.
Wednesday night Sept. 6, we stayed at Ft. Bridger 918 miles from Winter Quarters. Here is a pretty location for a high altitude good soil
dand good grass and plenty of it.
Ft. Bridger is a wooden Fort about 4 rds. square inside made of log houses joining and the Property and trading Post of the Celebrated mountaineer Jim Bridger.
Blacks Fork here runs in 7 channels beautiful clear cold water and runs very rapid through a pretty grassy flat a mile or two in width and several miles in length. Plenty of willows here and up the creek, a few miles is cottonwood and still further is pine balsam and spruce in great abundance. These mountain men get wives from the Indians tribe that they live among and live very much like Indians. Sometimes live many years without tasting bread live intirely on meat. Some of them get quite rich buying furs and horses of Indians and selling in other markets. But the poor Indian don’t get much for his work—. They don’t know the worth of Furs nor the worth of the goods they receive in payment so they are awfully cheated.
Thursday Sept 7th we traveled a new road camped at a little spring creek 12 miles a few large cottonwood trees and plenty of cedars—all the men of camp turned out and worked a few hours making a road down a mountain that we have just descended.
Next day we crossed a creek called “Middy” [Muddy] a branch of Blacks fork Had an up hill road for nearly two days and crossed over a mountain, the dividing ridge between the waters of Green River and those that run into the great Basin—Salt Lake Country. This ridge is said to be the highest land the road passes over between the Atlantic and the Valley, it is a mighty mountain, very steep on the West side for a mile or two. The road passes through a noch, between high Peaks—the altitude is 7700 ft.
Saturday Sept. 9th we camped at Sulphur Creek near the oil spring, a rough hilly country which abounds in minerals and mineral water, stone coal and etc.
Sunday the 10th we arrived at Bear River at one o’clock such a beautiful place we spent the afternoon and night here The river flats are about a mile wide good grass. River can be forded in low water Rapid current, runs north and turns west into Salt Lake. About half the River flats are well timbered with willows and cottonwood. On the coald side of the high mountains is [in] the distance can be seen the heavy forests of evergreen, Pine, Fur [Fir] Spruce, Cedar and etc.
After crossing this stream we go into the hills, 9 miles stayed one night at yellow creek running into Bear River. Next day passed over a high ridge between Bear River and Weber. These rivers are about 40 miles apart, about the same size and run nearly the same direction to the Lake camped at night in a beautiful grassy little valley near Cache Cave—head of Echo Canyon. The cave is a curiousity worth going to see large enough for severall familes to be comfortable in, beautifully arched over with solid rock at the end of a hill in a sightly place.
We followed down Echo Canyon about 25 miles a west course to Weber River. The upper part of this hollow is smooth and grassy but the lower mouth is deep narrow and rocky. In many places the road is at the Base of perpendicular ledges of rock many hundreds of ft. in heighth. The flats of the Creek down here covered with a thicket of willows and hop vines and the road so narrow that a teamster has hardly room to walk by the team, road crosses the creek many times.
We stayed 4 days at Weber River in a delightful camping place between these lofty mountains. This halt was in honor of Pres. Young the leader of Israel. The Company’s that have traveled a head of his, except a few stragglers, stopped and waited until he past into the valley in his place, at the head of the joyful multitude.
As we were coming down the narrows of Echo Canyon Bro. Phillip B. Lewis was jolted off the fore end of his wagon against a rock and broke his arm. We stopped a few minutes and set the broken limb, not having a doctor Father Pulsipher bossed the job, and we were soon on the move again. One of the girls drove his team.
The ballance of our Co. that stopped at Green River came up in time to travel with un [us] into the Valley.
Here I had the first sight of a flock of Mountain sheep. I was up on the Mountain and had a fine view of them saw them play and bound along the brink of the ledges and jump from crag to crag the most fearless ventersome of all animale I ever saw. If they had made a misstep they would have plunged down the rocks hundreds of feet, but I saw no missteps, a very active aniaml larger than the common sheep have hair in stead of wood[wool],long legs, and awful horns.
After Pres. Young and Kimball passed with about 400 waggons Bro. Snow’s co. and ours fell into the train and continued our journey, which is now only 44 miles more. From weber to the Valley is the roughest of the whole journey, winding through the deep Canyons and over the passes from one creek to another, Traveling in every direction but east. On leaving Weber we crossed over a mountain to east Canyon a branch of Weber cross it 13 times in 8 miles.
Along here we met a few of the mormon Battalion who, after serving in the United States army to the end of the Mexican war and were discharged 2 or 3,000 miles from where they enlisted and had to work for a outfit for home, and while at a job of digging Discovered the Gold Mines and got some of the dust and were so far on the way to the Missouri River for their families. These gold Mines caused a great stir in the world hereafter when the news goes out.
Plenty of timber along East Canyon Pine and etc. on
tthe mountains cottonweed [cottonwood] willow Alder and etc. along the creek in such thickets that it took careful driving to get along this narrow crooked road. When we leave this creek we have to go over what is called the Big Mountain, 4 miles up, some of the way so steep we had to double teams.
On reaching the summit we had a view of the South Part of Salt Lake Valley gave us great joy, though it looked like a small valley in the midst of an Gueen [Queen] of Mountains. The descent on the west side of this ridge is very steep and through an Aspen grove and in two miles we find Big Canyon Creek and follow down that six miles then turn to the right over another mountain steep on both sides. We than came into Enigration [Emigration] Canyon and follow down it 5 miles cross the Creek 19 times and came out of a narrow Canyon into a great open Valley 25 miles from Salt Lake City located on city Creek at the south and west side of a lowe mountain that extends further into the valley then the mighty mountains that form the eastern boundary. Beyond the city some 20 miles a northwest direction is the Great Salt Lake in full view which spreads away in that direction as far as we could see.
We arrived at Salt Lake City on the 22nd of Sept. W
here 125 days on this journey. No deaths in our company exccept the little boy that drowned at the start and to ballance against that there was a birth, Wm Burgess had son born on the road. We had quite a variety of scenery and of climate on this journey. Some of the way the whole country was covered with grass, and some of the way there was none at all. A great portion of the way there was no timber, then we would find it so thick we could hardly get through it.
Then again from the hot sandy plain, we ascended the mountains among the cold clouds carrying along their mists of rain and snow. Considering all things we got along firstrate, had very good weather and an excellent road for one that was made without knowing the Country.
The whole distance is exceedingly well watered. We nor our teams had no need to suffer much for water.
The distance from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake City is 1030 miles.