Transcript for Margetts, Phil, "One Man in His Time Plays Many Parts: His Acts Being Seven Ages," Juvenile Instructor, 1 Aug. 1903, 472-74
From St. Joseph I assisted in driving loose cattle to Council Bluffs, at that time the bivouac of the westward bound pilgrims, there to embark upon another and more dreary journey than those which had preceded it, for it was through a wilderness inhabited only by savages with no other trace of civilization than the trails made by those who had gone before. You cannot imagine how startling I found the contrast between what had been presented to, and created in my fanciful mind when at home, as the picture of what I was to see in the new land, and the realization.
There were none of the conveniences, the comforts and beauties which adorned life in the land of my birth. Everything partook of that rudeness which of necessity intruded into, and upon the methods and habits of a new and, to some extent, uncultivated country. It was like entering a new existence, except for the consolation which my belief and faith afforded, and the expected congratulations and greetings of friends upon arrival, and that indescribable something which prompts us to overlook the present, and peer hopefully into the future. There is no mistaking the fact, it was a wilderness, forbidding and desolate, but hope sustained me, and inspired me with confidence in what was to come.
As the company proceeded westward from point to point, I could not help noting how nearly everything emanating from the immortal bard bears the touch of inspiration even in the dreary wilderness, at the mountain top, along the rivers, and among the pines, everywhere appeared in unmistakable characters the edict that "all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."
Every day was to us a new drama, every incident a new scene, and the company the dramatis personae and the audience in one. The incidents took a wide range, running all the way from the lively to the severe, from the devotionally religious to the completely ridiculous, from the profound serious to the irresistably comic—each in its turn and neither long.
I cannot, with this opportunity refrain, from mentioning a few points strongly representing the phases and conditions I have referred to. Three of the company, myself included, with a hope of strengthening the supplies of the others, and to overtake, if possible, a train, and thus facilitate our onward march, when within about four hundred miles of our destination, started out on foot to complete the journey, taking with us but little, for there was but little to spare. We were entirely strangers, as you may readily understand, to the country and everything in it.
The cholera this season was raging fearfully, consequently the route was thickly marked with the graves of the California immigration who had preceded us and had fallen by the wayside, partly from this fell scourge, and partly through exhaustion and other causes. It seemed at times as though we were passing through the valley of the shadow of death. A few days after leaving the train, as I remember well, having made a fire of sagebrush and camped for the night, we were treated to the most unmusical serenade that ever curdled human blood. A pack of wolves, fierce and hungry, hovered around the camp and made night hideous, from dewy eve till early morn. The cause of this free entertainment was not disclosed to us until daylight, when we found that we had camped where the creatures were expecting to banquet, it being in the centre of a spot where the remains of fifty or sixty persons had been interred. These we discovered to our horror and dismay, were mostly unearthed. It is impossible to conceive of anything more ghastly than the sight that thus met our startled gaze.
Our provisions soon became exhausted, and then not more than one-fourth of our march had been completed. We were hungry, foot-sore and weak, and one day just when absolute exhaustion seemed inevitable, a friendly ox who had been left by a train apparently just ahead of us, was found by the road side. He could not bid us welcome, as he doubtless would have done had he been able to speak his feelings, but we welcomed him most heartily. It was a peculiar welcome, for the interview had no sooner began than we commenced devising means for the slaughter of the ox in order that death might be averted in our own case. The only weapons we had were pocket knives, and shortly after we had determined to insert the longest blade into some vital part of the beast, the welcome sound of cow-bells was heard beyond a neighboring ridge. The music that was wafted by the minstrel to his lady fair in the "bowers of Semiramis" was discord, compared with that with which those homely bells greeted us. It was to that ox, a "ram in the thicket," for we knew that there were some of our kind at hand, and we found them. It was an ox train bound for the valley of the great inland sea. We were relieved of our wants and again proceeded on our way rejoicing.
Time wore on till the journey ended. The trials, privations and incidents which we met on the route during our nineteen days' journey, walking most of the time, with little or no food, would perhaps be interesting to read, but anything but pleasant to pass through again. The romance we must leave to the imagination of our readers. At last we stood within the shade of the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, the center of as much civilization as had found its way to the west—the city of the Great Salt Lake.