Transcript for "Journey from Florence to G. S. L. City," Deseret News, 22 October 1856, 258


DEAR BROTHER:—We left Florence (Winter Quarters) K. T., on the evening of the 3rd Sept., accompanied by Elders C. H. Wheelock, J. Van Cott, G. D. Grant, W. H. Kimball, Joseph A. Young, C. G. Webb, W. C. Dunbar, James McGaw, Dan Jones, J. D. T. McAllister, N. H. Felt and James Ferguson; G. D. Grant being selected as captain of our company.

The rear of our season's emigration had started on the road, with the exception of Elder Wm. [William] Walker with 10 wagons, laden with a portion of P. E. Fund baggage.

Previous to leaving Florence we sent Elder Jos. [Joseph] A. Young back to ascertain, if possible, the whereabouts of Elder Walker. He rode back 50 miles, and, learning that Walker's train was yet some 25 or 30 miles in the rear, returned to join us for the plains.

Elder E. Snow accompanied us to our camp, 3 miles west of Elk Horn, and on the morning of the 5th, having completed his business with us, returned to the States.

We overtook our rear company of wagons, in charge of Captain I. A. [James A.] Hunt, during the forenoon of the 5th, and nooned with them about 10 miles east of the Loup Fork. He has in his company 240 persons, 50 wagons, 297 oxen and cows, 7 horses and mules, and some 4 church wagons. The majority of this company have light loads and good teams, and are generally well provisioned. They would probably ferry the Loup Fork on the 7th.

On the evening of the 7th we overtook Elder Edward Martin, about 40 miles from the Loup Fork, with the rear of our P. E. F. Emigration for this season. He had with him some 576 persons, 146 hand-carts, 7 wagons, 6 mules and horses, and 50 cows and beef cattle; also one wagon mostly loaded with church goods. His company was in most excellent spirits, and though he had the greater proportion of the feeble emigrants, the health of his camp was very good; and he was able to average about 100 miles a week, without fatiguing his company.

Here, from a company of returning Californians met the previous day, we learned of the increased hostility of the Cheyennes, and that they had already made a successful attack upon A. [Almon] W. Babbitt's ox train. Of the four teamsters in that train two were killed and one wounded; and a woman named Wilson (as was presumed from the tracks) was severely wounded and taken prisoner, and her child, about two months old, was murdered. The wagons were plundered, but, as we subsequently learned, most of the property was retaken by Captain Wharton of Fort Kearney.

Refreshed by our short interview with Captain [Edward] Martin's company, we drove about 10 miles further and found br. [William B.] Hodgetts' camp. This company is composed of 150 persons, 33 wagons, 84 yoke of oxen, 19 cows and some 250 head of heifers and other loose cattle. This includes br. Thomas Tennant and family, with 4 wagons and 1 carriage. Br. Hodgetts' company, though generally pretty heavily laden, were in good traveling condition and making excellent progress.

On the 9th inst. we met with two brethren from br. J. [James] G. Willie's company of hand-carts, in search of 30 head of cattle that had strayed from their camp about 50 miles in advance.

Accompanied by br. James Ferguson, we this day visited Capt. Wharton at Fort Kearney, and received a confirmation of the news of the attack of the Cheyennes upon Mr. Babbitt's train. The troops had made an attack upon a Cheyenne village and killed 10 warriors. This increased the rage of the Cheyennes, and from that time we were informed that they had divided into war parties for the purpose of attacking small parties of emigrants.

Here we met a returning Californian who had escaped from one of their assaults, with the loss of his wife killed, and his boy, some 3 or 4 years old, taken prisoner.

Capt. Wharton declared himself incompetent to afford any protection to emigrants, and had some doubts of his ability to maintain the post, for want of troops. Mr. Babbitt had left Fort Kearney for Utah a week previous, accompanied by Thomas Sutherland and a driver.

As we were leaving the fort for our camp on the north side of the Platte, a discharged soldier came to Capt. Wharton with the news of another massacre by the Cheyennes. This soldier had accompanied Thomas Margetts and James Cowdy, and their families, from Laramie and on returning from a buffalo hunt, when about 125 miles from Fort Kearney, found the wagon plundered and the murdered remains of his traveling companions.

The soldier's account of the affair, as given to brs. [James G.] Willie and [Millen] Atwood, will give you the particulars and is as follows:—

Made to James G. Willie and Millen Atwood, of the Fourth Hand-cart Company; by a man who gave his name as Henry Bauichter, and who came into their camp on the morning of Monday, September 8, 1856:

"I am a discharged soldier from Fort Laramie, which I left on the 29th of August, 1856. After traveling about 30 miles I overtook a wagon with two mules and two horses, one an Indian horse with a white face, the mules alone drawing the wagon, which was accompanied by two men, one of whom gave his name as Thomas Margetts and the other as James Cowdy. The former of these men had a wife, and the latter a wife and child. They came, as they stated, from Great Salt Lake City, and were on their way to the States.

About 70 miles above this point, or 125 miles above Fort Kearney, I and Thomas Margetts went out on horseback in search of buffalo, on the 6th of Sept., and between 1 and 2 p.m. I soon killed a buffalo, upon which Margetts returned to the wagon to fetch some things for carrying away part of the animal, while I staid behind to dress it.

On Margetts' return from the wagon he filled one utensil, principally the tallow, and started again for the wagon, and I remained to fill another utensil which Margetts had brought. This occupied me about half an hour, when I also started in the direction of the wagon, noticing, before reaching it, that the cover had been stripped off, and that neither mules nor horses were to be seen.

On my arrival I discovered on the ground the bodies of Margetts, Cowdy, and Cowdy's wife and child all dead, except that the child was crying and bloody. I could not see any wounds on any of the bodies, but an arrow was sticking in Cowdy's thigh.

The wagons, the hinder part of which was on fire, had been completely ransacked, and all that was of any immediate use taken away.

I looked round for Mrs. Margetts, whom I could not find. The feathers from a bed had been strewn on the ground by the side of the wagon, but I could not see the bedtick.

I saw, at some considerable distance, 12 men or more, apparently riding very fast, who were, as far as I could discover, Indians. None of the bodies were scalped.

The buffalo which I killed was over the bluff, about a mile and a half from the wagons, but I did not hear any report of fire-arms during my absence from it. Not feeling myself safe in the neighborhood of the murders, I escaped with my horse, and with the loss of my discharge and other papers, and about $300, a gold watch and other things, which I had deposited in the wagon, intending to make the best of my way to Fort Kearney and there report the facts as quickly as possible.

The two horses above mentioned were ridden, at intervals during the journey, by Mr. and Mrs. Margetts."

On the 12th we overtook and camped with br. Willie's company, at North Bluff creek, consisting of 404 persons, 6 wagons, 87 hand-carts, 6 yoke of oxen, 32 cows, and 5 mules. They were considerably weakened by the loss of their oxen, which they had failed to recover, but were in good spirits and averaging from 14 to 16 miles a day. Here we forded the Platte to the south side, and were followed by the hand-carts. Never was there a more soul-stirring sight than the happy passage of this company over that river. Several of the carts were drawn entirely by women, and every heart was glad and full of hope.

We spent the afternoon of the 15th inst. with br. A. [Abraham] O. Smoot, about 20 miles west of Ash Hollow. There were in his company 88 souls, 42 wagons, 265 oxen, 6 cows, 15 mules and horses, and 1 carriage. They had provisions for 23 days. Br. Smoot lacked drivers, having only 33 men fit for duty. His oxen were in good condition, but his loads were very heavy. Gilbert and Gerrish's train of 17 wagons was travelling in company with him.

On the 16th inst., 37 miles in advance of br. Smoot, we camped with br. O. [Orrin] P. Rockwell, who had 5 wagons and 11 yoke of oxen in charge, in addition to three families, viz., Grimshaw, Cook and Barnes, whom he had turned back towards Laramie, deeming them too weak to pass in safety, Br. Rockwell accompanied us to Fort Laramie, where we arrived on the morning of the 19th. Col. Huffman received us with much kindness, as also did J. W. Tutt, the sutler. Here we received a small recruit of mules and provisions, and purchased some good buffalo robes for the P. E. Fund passengers in the rear.

On the 23d inst. we parted, at the Platte bridge, with Capt. Dan Jones, who met his brother and remained to recover a cached thrashing machine. Here also we purchased a few more robes for Capt. J. G. Willie's company.

During the forenoon of the 24th, after leaving our camp at Willow Springs, we met Messrs. Hawley, Lambson, Amy and party on their way to the States, and advised them to wait at Laramie for the company of missionaries reported in their rear.

Same day, and near Independence rock, we nooned near Patriarch John Smith and two other brethren, who had come out with flour for the companies. Br. Smith returned with us. The same evening and about 8 miles further on, we camped with Elder P. [Parley] P. Pratt and company, all in good health and most excellent spirits, and promising fair for an honorable and successful mission.

On the 27th, 15 miles east of the Pacific Springs, we nooned with br. Wm. Smith and two other brethren from Farmington, with 2 wagons and flour for the companies. We counseled them to cache their flour and go on to meet br. Willie and his company, which they agreed to do.

On the 28th, 3 miles east of Big Sandy, we camped with br. Talcott, who also had flour for the companies. We gave him the same counsel, to go on with his teams to help br. Willie.

On the 29th we camped with br. [Jacob] Croft's company, consisting of 58 persons, 14 wagons, 80 yoke of oxen, 30 horses, and 130 loose cattle; they are principally from Texas and the Cherokee land. They were healthy and in good spirits, and gave us a most hospitable reception. This was the last company passed by us on the road.

At Bridger, on the 1st of Oct., we were welcomed by Major Burton and a small party of the mountain boys; and on the evening of the 4th were happy to receive your welcome and blessing at home.

Assuring you of our continued exertions to promote the welfare of God's kingdom, and praying that your life may be spared long to God's people, as also the lives of your Council, we remain, sincerely and obediently, yours in the Christ, F. D. RICHARDS,
Agents P. E. Fund.