Transcript

Transcript for Albert Jones Journal, 24 September 1862

But I will let one of the boys who drove a church team to Florence to bring in a load of the immigratory Saints tell the story. He says:

I was with the hand cart company under Captain Martin in 1856, but on account of my age, (16 years), and robust health, suffered but very little.

"I well remember how I admired the boys of the party of rescuers in their boots and red shirts; how I helped them in building the log fires when in the timber; how I longed to be able to swing the American axe with the ease and grace with which they felled the dry trees for our fires, and when I was allowed to cut a stick in two, no matter if laughed at, I was determined to learn to use the axe.

"One night, after singing several songs to the boys, I stood at rest on one side of the big log fire. Tears of joy and thankfulness coursed silently down my cheeks, for the generous help and succor we were receiving at the hands of our brave rescuers, and right there, before that fire, I made a vow that should me and mine gain the valley in safety, and it ever happened in my time that help was needed by immigrants on the plains, I would go out to their rescue.

"In less than six years the call came. Bishop Duke of the First ward, Provo City, in the spring of 1862, called upon me to take my one yoke of cattle, my wagon and my own dear self, and go down to Florence, 1,000 miles east, and help in bringing the immigratory Saints to Zion.

"I cheerfully responded to the call, saying nothing of the obligation I was under or the vow I had made, and on Sunday, the 11th day of May, 1862, I left Provo with a team of four yoke of oxen, furnished by the following named brethren: Peter Stubbs, one yoke; James Smith, one yoke; Thomas Kerry, one yoke. The other yoke, my own, and my own wagon. I had on 1,100 pounds of flour, with 350 pounds of my own for trading on my own account. Now these oxen were my daily and intimate associates for the next 137 days. They performed their part well, never failed me for a moment, but responded with their best strength on all occasions both on land and in water. Our progress for about one third of the way was as much by water as by land for it was the year of high water, and both cattle and men became amphibious.

"I have the faces and forms of those good, kind patient oxen before me now, and although I bestowed the names of Death and Satan on my wheelers, I loved them none the less. Satan was a short-legged, big-bodied stag whose little snout and eyes was all there was to be seen of him when swimming the rivers; while Death, the off ox, was a fine big brindle with half his back out of water when swimming, and as steady and sure as death itself; he never flinched but kept a regular pace and with his mate steadied my wagon down many a rough place on the road.

"The Mormon brake was not yet invented, and indeed the brake with its comb and lever, which we find on the wagons of today, was then not known, but instead thereof a lock chain was attached to the side of the wagon box, to lock the right hind weel. But Death and Satan were as good as the brake now in use, and eased my wagon down many a rough declivity. Suffice it to say I learned to have a great regard for the oxen I drove.

Our supplies like our oxen were gathered up from all hands in our wards—some could furnish one ox, some flour, others bacon, a wagon, a wagon cover, a whip. I remember a checked linsey shirt allotted to me of the things turned in. It came from the celebrated loom that was run in the family of the veteran blacksmith, Aaron York. My boots came from the celebrated and extensive tan vats of old Father Harrison and Charles D. Miller. The tanning was a very quick process no doubt, which seemed to have put the spirit of contention in them, for the soles always seemed at war with the uppers, and ended in the soles getting the uppers under to such an extent that I threw them away in disgust at their behavior.

"A gallon keg of Moon’s very best valley tan whiskey was taken on board—a nice healthy little blue keg it was – and the fluid helped to take off the chill of the water of many a mountain stream. I can yet recommend it to be used in moderation under like conditions.

"Thus in our straightened circumstances did the Saints combine to furnish the motive power to bring their fellow religionists to Zion.

"Our company of 41 wagons was made up from Nephi, Goshen, Spanish Fork, Payson, Springville and Provo.

"The teamsters from Provo were Thomas B. Clark, Newel Knight, Ira Tiffany, Caleb H. Davis, Joe Robbins, James Herbert, William Pratt, Dud Ford, Lewis Stewart, Albert Jones with Jesse Fuller and Marion Outhouse for night herders.

"On our organization being effected our officers were as follows: Homer Duncan, captain; Samuel Russell, assistant captain; Doctor McCune of Nephi, chaplain; William Clyde, captain of Springville ten; George Patten, captain of Payson ten; Peter Sullen [Sutton], captain of Nephi ten; Newell Knight, captain of Provo ten.

"Newell was a good man for the place, and acquainted [acquitted] himself in a creditable manner. George Patten, captain of the Payson ten, was a man of good judgment and aided the company materially in overcoming the difficulties of the journey; in fact, all were good men; but of the boys Tom [Thomas Lovell] Mendenhall and Phil Boyer of Springville may be commended both for frolic and good solid mainly [manly] work.

"Thursday, May 15, we made our way from Salt Lake City up to the mouth of Emmigration canyon during a heavy rain storm. The road was in a fearful state, and in backing Tiffany’s leaders the nigh ox struck me in the mouth with his horn, knocking me down and breaking two of my upper front teeth off. The roads through the mountains were in a wretched condition. We had much rain. I remember we laid over all day on Saturday, the 17th, to allow the steep road up the little mountain to dry off.

"The crossing of Yellow creek was attended with great difficulty. This stream was nearly dry on our return, a mere thread of water, but now was out all over the bottom for a width of 150 yards, and the main current a fierce and strong running river.

"We partly bridged this stream with timbers from a deserted station about 300 yards above, which the boys floated down, riding two or three logs at a time to the place where we were building the bridge. Some had the luck to fall off their skittish water horses, but they were young, full of life and strength, and as much at home in the water as on land.

"We advanced on our way, sometimes crossing the swollen streams on the bridges at 50 cents per wagon. To cross the bridge at the Muddy we paid $1.00 per wagon—$41.00

"The telegraph poles were up, and they were quite companionable, also marking the road for us.

"At Ham’s Fork we came in sight of Murdock’s company. The crossing of this stream was attended with more difficulty that any other stream on our journey. Our captain selected a spot away from the main line of travel, making a bargain with some mail men who were coming west with loose stock and three heavy coaches, for the use of their boat to ferry over our flour and provisions on condition that we would pull their heavy coaches through the river bottom with our oxen, as their mules could not budge them in the heavy mud. We succeeded in crossing over in two days, with hard work, and traveled about four miles from the Fork. While crossing this stream I had another adventure. Al Palmer, who drove the 41st wagon, driving a private team belonging to Isaac and Kimball Bullock, was our heavyweight, and he got tired as ferryman, and proposed I should spell him to which I assented. Now there was no pulley to fasten to beat [the boat] to the ferry rope, and it was only by a steady pull hand over hand on the rope that crossing was accomplished, the water forcing the boat over as the operator pulled on the rope and to cease pulling meant a long float down stream and perhaps an entire wreck. In pulling the boat through the passage we had cut through the willows from the foot of the bluff to the edge of the rushing stream some one in the boat let go a large dry willow that they had been pulling by, which struck me across the face, driving two pieces of willow right through my upper lip. The next moment we shot out into the stream and I had to pull away for dear life, as mine were the only hands that connected the boat with the ferry rope. The blood was streaming from my lip down a clean white linsey shirt I had put on that morning. The captain on the other bank was watching me, and on my landing eagerly asked me what was the matter. I told him I was shot with a five-shooter—but upon spitting out the blood into my hands pieces of wood came with it. He sent me to camp where I placed myself under the care of Dr. Jesse J. Fuller, who extracted several pieces of wood from my lip, put on a plaster, and pronounced me out of danger. The captain visited me that night before turning in.

"Next morning my lip had swollen and I was placed on the sick list. Notwithstanding this, Jesse being cook that day, thought a little gentle exercise would do me good, so sent me for a pail of water. On my way to the river I felt something crawling in the nape of my neck and put up my hand to brush it off, when I received a severe sting on my fore finger. Looking on the ground I found I had brushed off a scorpion. The captain, Homer Duncan, was coming towards me from the river on his mule and rode up to me. I said ‘And now, captain, I am bitten by a scorpion.’ ‘Oh, get out, boy,’ he said impatiently. 'But here it is,' said I. He dismounted and killed the scorpion with a rock, and stood looking at me. I read in his eye, 'Well, boy, you are out of luck.' He took a fresh chew of tobacco out of his mouth, just masticated by his teeth to the right consistency, and put it on my finger, saying, 'Hold that on with your thumb for 30 minutes, and the bite shall do you no harm.'

"My faith, the tobacco and the captain’s words made me whole so far as the scorpion’s bite was concerned, but did not mend the hole in my lip.

"I told the captain that I had full faith in making the trip all right and returning home to Zion, but I added, ‘If anything serious does happen, put me under good six feet, that the wolves will not get me.’ I said this with the horrible remembrance of the poor burial we gave many of the victims of the hand cart company of 1856. On Friday, June 6, we traveled 21 miles.

"On June 10 we met some of Lot Smith's men who were out guarding the telegraph line on call from President Lincoln.

"At Sweet Water, which of course was high, the owner of the bridge wanted $2.00 per wagon for crossing, but the captain refused to pay so large a price, and the boys backed him up with a we’ll see him—first. We went back a little way over the road we had come, and with the help of Lot Smith’s men built a raft and ferried over in good shape, with only one wagon running off the raft, which the boys with some extra good swimming and water work brought safely to shore a quarter of a mile below. Thus we saved an expenditure of $82.00.

"At Deer Creek we left three tons of flour in charge of Uncle Tom Clark of the Third ward of this city. He lost the hind wheels of the wagon he drove, back at Ham’s Fork—it came uncoupled as we pulled it through the main running stream. Uncle Tom stripped of all but his garments and swam down the cold mountain stream trying to find them, but failed to do so. One of the mail men seeing his strange underclothes, called the attention of his comrades to the ‘queer style of harness on that fellow.’ We wished Uncle Tom goodbye and left him in charge of the flour and some oxen that had given out. Uncle Tom was all right – plucky, brave and stalwart. He carried a message across the Platte river to the station on the opposite side, wading and swimming through the turbulent waters a half mile in width, and came back in safety.

"On Monday, June 23, we came in sight of Murdock’s train again; he was two days ahead of us when we left Sweet Water bridge. Our captain, Homer Duncan, in an interview with President Young just before leaving Salt Lake City, was told it would be better to make a quick trip, if it did use up a few yoke of cattle, than to linger on the plains feeding the immigrants, so knowing this, we were alive to the fact that a quick trip was expected of us, and we knew Homer would pass Murdock with our train if the opportunity presented itself. There were six companies on the plains that year known as church trains whose business was to transport the church immigrants from Florence to the valley. These companies were under the following named captains: Horton D. Haight, Henry W. Miller, Homer Duncan, Joseph Horne, John R. Murdock and Ansel P. Harmon.

"Murdock’s train and ours traveled in one long continuous column one day 95 wagons in line, the white covers making quite an imposing sight and caused quite an impression of the strength of Zion on the minds of the companies that passed us going west to Oregon and other points.

"On the 26th of June we passed Murdock and held the lead into Florence, for which we were rewarded with being the first train loaded up for the return trip.

"As we neared the frontier and passed through t the little settlements, our oxen on the trot, wonderment was expressed by the natives at the endurance of those G---- D---- Mormon cattle, but we knew better—they were blessed morning and night—the prayers of the camp went up to the throne of Grace, imploring the Giver of all Good to strengthen our oxen for the task.

"We camped side by side with Murdock’s company one evening on Wood river, and we thought to have a good time in visiting with the boys of the other camp, but an accident occurred which marred all our plans, and brought sorrow for both camps.

"After braving all the dangers of the deep and turbulent mountain streams, one of Murdock’s boys was drowned in a little hole in Wood river then an insignificant little stream that could be jumped over in places. Dr. McCune came to the rescue with his skill. We got him out of the water and rolled and rubbed the poor body, under the doctor’s direction, but life was extinct.

"From parties coming west, who had passed through Florence, we heard that 500 immigrants were anxiously awaiting us there.

"When within a couple of days’ journey from Florence Captain Duncan left us and went on to that outfitting point, to hasten the preparations for our loading for the return trip.

"We passed through one or two little settlements, called Freemont and Columbus. Hotel signs out, and the land in many places was well tilled; thrift and industry appeared on every hand. The endurance and fine condition of our oxen evoked the admiration of all the settlers.

"On Monday, July 14, Capt. Duncan came out to meet us from Florence, looking quite the gentleman (which he was), in a complete new suit, and conducted us to a very fine camp within one mile of Florence.

"While waiting here for our freight, mine with seven other teams, made the trip to Omaha for supplies. I was loaded up with flour, Newell Knight with bacon, I managed to load in a little No. 6 Charter Oak stove, a spade, hat, and stuff for a few shirts; these on my own account.

"Florence then was just simply the outfitting point, the stores there were but temporary buildings, used only during the outfitting season by the merchants whose places of business were at Omaha.

"On the 21st of July we left Florence on our return trip. I had on 30 sacks of flour and no passengers as yet. On the 22nd we laid by all day to await the coming of Apostles Amasa Lyman and Charles C. Rich, who gave us a good talk in which the teamsters were not forgotten.

"On the evening of the 24th of July we celebrated the anniversary of the arrival of the pioneers in good style – dancing and singing until a late hour. Our night herders were so overcome by the beauty of the girls that they forgot their herd, and the next morning we had to pay an ox to a much enraged settler for damage done by our cattle in his cornfield. Lew Stewart’s little blue ox was turned out to settle the claim.

"Jesse Fuller, Newell Knight and myself messed together and on the evening of the 25th of July they invited three young ladies to supper with us. Jesse and Newell were somewhat excited on the occasion, and as the supper proceeded their excitement was betrayed in many ways, and some curious mistakes were made by Jesse and Newell in handing the different dishes to our guests, but our daily association soon made us at our ease and very much at home with one another.

"On August 2, on our journey homeward, we crossed Wood river, and that night we had a severe storm of wind, hail and rain, nearly all the tents being leveled to the ground. The wind was so strong that it wrecked my heavily loaded wagon bed, and Wood river rose several feet by the tremenduous downpour of rain.

"We had very few deaths. My journal only shows that one man, one woman and one child died on the journey, and this loss was made up by the birth of five children, in one case twins.

"We found Uncle Tom Clark in good health at Deer Creek, loaded up the flour we had left there and journeyed on. We made Independence rock September 3; passed Bridger on the 15th. Sunday, the 21st, we camped on Silver creek, awaiting the arrival of Joseph W. Young to make settlement with the immigrating Saints and to give the amount of credit to each team. My load came to $450, my expenses $65, leaving $305 to my credit.

"Wednesday, September 24, 1862, we drove into Salt Lake City late in the afternoon. There our passengers left our wagons and in a few days our company of immigrants were scattered all over the then territory from St.George in the south to far away in the north, and at this writing I can only name one individual residing in Provo who came in our company—there may be others. They and their descendants have since contributed to subdue the sterile soil and have helped to make Utah what it is today.

"Our company under Homer Duncan made the round trip from Salt Lake City in 130 days—the quickest trip on record for the church ox trains—and great credit is due to our noble captain, Homer Duncan, for his tact and executive skill in the management and care of the immigrants, teamsters and the cattle under his supervision. May God bless him forever."

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