Transcript for Johnson, Benjamin F., "My Life's Review," 192-96
[Left Hawaii 16 January 1855] My stay in San Francisco was very pleasant. . . .
I met here my friend, Captain Hooper, on his way east. He had come from Salt Lake by San Bernardino; had left his light wagon there to be taken back by young Knowlton, and advised our return home that way, kindly offering to instruct his teamster to assist me through by carrying me or my baggage as circumstances made it needful.
As a steamer that would touch at San Pedro on her way to Panama was soon to leave port, we arranged for our passage, and Brother James Lawson, who had just arrived from the Islands, arranged for passage with us. . . .
After a cold and perilous passage both by sea and land, we arrived at San Bernardino, and found that Captain Hooper’s team, with Captain Conger’s mail party would start for Utah in one week; which, for a long period, might be the only safe conduct through the hostile Indian country. From Captain Conger I learned that two horses, with pack and riding outfit for each man, with blankets and provisions would be necessary; and with the money due President Young and others I bought my horses and outfit. But one of my animals was pronounced unfit for the journey on the evening previous to our start; . . . I felt I must wait another opportunity. But as usual I prayed that if now was the time for my return, that the way would open through some of those who came to visit our camp. . . . Brother Thomas Holladay said he had a colt that would carry me if I could ride him, and brought him to me. . . . I gave Holladay the $20 he asked as boot and took his colt. . . .
. . . Captain Hooper had written his teamster at San Bernardino to give me any needed assistance, and so, the first two days my pack was carried in his wagon, and I rode my pack animal and led my colt, talking kindly to him . . . On the third morning, as we neared the desert and the wagon load was to be lightened, I loaded my pack animal and waited to see if anyone would offer me a gentle horse in exchange. . . . but no one exchanging with me, and the company about to leave me alone, I saddled my colt. . . . one of the most vicious colts in Southern California became a faithful servant, friend and companion, gentle, obedient, and true; and proved the hardiest and most desirable saddle horse in the whole company; and on our last day’s journey I rode him from the Sevier Bridge to Payson, a distance of fifty miles, in almost as good condition as on leaving California. . . .
To return to our journey home. In all the company of nine preferred brethren I had no friend except Brother Karren. Riding one day in front with Dr. Peterson to drive the loose animals we came into the thick timber and brush of the Beaver Dams, and stopped for the teams to come up. As I dismounted, an Indian jumped up with a whoop before me, at once repeated by Indians all around us. We sprang upon our horses and hurriedly sought to drive the loose animals to the open plain, but the Indians gathered, and with bows and arrows in hand formed in single file on each side of us, apparently about a hundred in number. As they both followed and kept in our front with bows ready, the situation was grave and fearful. Peterson drew his revolver shouting, “Stay back, or I will shoot.” I begged him to hold on, but with a blanched face and pistol cocked, he seemed about to fire, and when I commanded him, my hands upon my pistols, to hold on, which restrained him, and in a few moments those behind came up.
As there was no possibility to escape them by fast driving, we halted for a parley, and so, drawing close together we sought to learn their purpose, which was difficult, as none could talk with them except a smattering by Pope. I remember that Nephi—my nephew—had been among Piutes and spoke his name to them. They at once turned to me, and we made them understand that he was my brother’s son; and so they knew we were Mormons, which was what they were trying to find out. Had they learned otherwise we would have been doomed. We gave them biscuits and tobacco and told them of a horse we had left behind they might have, so they hurried away to find it. We hastened forward, feeling that we had been delivered from the jaws of death.
We were no sooner safe than Peterson turned upon me with threats and insults for having laid my command upon him, and I felt he had murder in his heart towards me. I had to endure great abuse and threats from him on our journey, while I knew the course I had taken had saved his life as well as mine. I have learned as a principle, that when a man has once shed human blood there is a spirit in him to shed more; and so I kept out of his company as much as possible.
That night before we arrived at Cedar, the first settlement, we camped on Pinto Creek.