Transcript

Transcript for McArthur, Daniel D. Reminiscences, in Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26 Sep. 1856, 3-6

The following is a concise statement from the pen of Elder Daniel D. McArthur of the travels of the second handcart company across the plains, of which he was leader. The report was addressed to Elder Wilford Woodruff and dated Jan. 5, 1857:

On the 19th of May, our company, which had crossed the sea with us, were divided, by President Daniel Spencer, into two handcart companies, Brother Edmond Ellsworth to take charge of the first and I, Daniel D. McArthur, to take charge of the second company. Then every move was made to get our carts ready, which job was a tedious one, but by using all our efforts, the first company was enabled to start on the 9th of June, and the second on the 11th, about 11 o'clock. This second company numbered 222 souls and were bound for Florence, and from thence to the Valley, at which place (Florence) we arrived on the 8th of July, distance, 300 miles, or there abouts.

We had the very best of good luck all the way, although the weather was very hot and sweltering, but let me tell you, the saints were not to be overcome. Our carts, when we started, were in an awful fix. They mowed <moaned > and growled, screeched and squealed, so that a person could hear them for miles. You may think this is stretching things a little too much, but it is a fact, and we had them to eternally patch, mornings, noons and nights. But by our industry we got them all along to Florence, and being obliged to stop at Florence some two weeks to get our outfit for the plains, I and my council, namely, Truman Leonard and Spencer [Spicer] Crandall, went to work and gave our carts a thorough repair throughout, and on the 24th of July, at 12 o'clock, we struck our tents and started for the plains, all in the best of spirits. Nothing but the very best of luck attended us continually.

Our teams <train> consisted of 12 yoke of oxen, 4 wagons, and 48 carts; we also had 5 beef and 12 cows; flour, 55 lbs. per head, 100 lbs. rice, 550 lbs. sugar, 400 lbs. dried apples, 125 lbs. tea, and 200 lbs. salt for the company. On the 28th of August <arrived> at Laramie, and on the 2nd of September, we met the first provision wagons from the Valley. On Deer Creek <we> got 1000 lbs. of flour, which caused the hearts of the saints to be cheered up greatly.

On the 14th we camped at Pacific Spring Creek, and there I took in 1000 lbs. of more flour, so as to be sure to have enough to do me until we got into the Valley, for I was told that that would be the last opportunity to get it.

On the 20th we reached Fort Bridger, and on the 26th of September, we landed <arrived> in this Valley, with only the loss of 8 souls. 7 died, and one, a young man, age 20 years, we never could tell what did become of him. We brought in our 48 carts, 4 wagons, 12 yoke of oxen, save one, which we had left at Fort Bridger, 10 cows, (one cow died and one we left at Fort Bridger,) and the 5 beeves, we ate, of course. We laid still 5 Sundays and three week days all day, besides other short stops while traveling from <the> Missouri River here.

My company was divided into two divisions and Brother Truman Leonard was appointed captain over the first division and Brother Spencer [Spicer] Crandall over the second. We had six tents in each division and a president over each tent, who were strict in seeing that singing and prayer was attended to every morning and night, and that peace prevailed. I must say that a better set of saints to labor with I never saw. They all did the best they could to forward our journey. When we came to a stream, no matter how large it might be, the men would roll up their trousers and into it they would go, and the sisters would follow, if the men were smart enough to get ahead of them, which the men failed many times to do. If the water was high enough to wet the things on the carts, the men would get one before the cart and one behind it and lift it up slick and clean, and carry it across the stream.

I will state a couple of incidents that happened in one day, and one other circumstance that took place. On the 11th of August a man came to camp pretending to be starved nearly to death, and wished me to give him some provisions, for he had had nothing for many days but what he had hunted for. So I gave him bread and meat enough to last him some four or five days and he acted as though he had met with some friends in deed. He said, that he had been robbed by some Californians somewhere near Fort Bridger, with whom he was in company on their way to the States, and on the 16th, while crossing over some sand hills, Sister Mary Bathgate was <badly> bitten by a large rattlesnake, just above the ankle, on the back part of her leg. She was about a half a mile ahead of the camp at the time it happened, as she was the ring leader of the footmen or those who did not pull the handcarts. She was generally accompanied by Sister Isabella Park. They were both old women, over 60 years of age, and neither of them had road <ridden> one inch, since they had left Iowa camp ground. Sister Bathgate sent a little girl back to me as quickly as possible to have me and Brothers Leonard and Crandall come with all haste, and bring the oil with us, for she was bitten badly. As soon as we heard the news, we left all things, and, with the oil, we went post haste. When we got to her she was quite sick, but said that there was power in the Priesthood, and she knew it. So we took a pocket knife and cut the wound larger, squeezed out all the bad blood we could, and there was considerable, for she had forethought enough to tie her garter around her leg above the wound to stop the circulation of the blood. We then took and anointed her leg and head, and laid our hands on her in the name of Jesus and felt to rebuke the influence of the poison, and she felt full of faith. We then told her that she must get into the wagon, so she called witnesses to prove that she did not get into the wagon until she was compelled to by the cursed snake. We started on and traveled about two miles, when we stopped to take some refreshments. Sister Bathgate continued to be quite sick, but was full of faith, and after stopping one and a half hours we hitched up our teams. As the word was given for the teams to start, old Sister Isabella Park ran in before the wagon to see how her companion was. The driver, not seeing her, hallooed at his team and they being quick to mind, Sister Park could not get out of the way, and the fore wheel struck her and threw her down and passed over both her hips. Brother Leonard grabbed hold of her to pull her out of the way, before the hind wheel could catch her. He only got her out part way and the hind wheels passed over her ankles. We all thought that she would be all mashed to pieces, but to the joy of us all, there was not a bone broken, although the wagon had something like two tons burden on it, a load for 4 yoke of oxen. We went right to work and applied the same medicine to her that we did to the sister who was bitten by the rattlesnake, and although quite sore for a few days, Sister Park got better, so that she was on the tramp before we got into this Valley, and Sister Bathgate was right by her side, to cheer her up. Both were as smart as could be long before they got here, and this is what I call good luck, for I know that nothing but the power of God saved the two sisters and they traveled together, they rode together, and suffered together. Sister Bathgate has got married since she arrived in the Valley.

While we were leading our handcart companies through the States and on the plains, we were called tyrants and slave drivers, and everything else that could be thought of, both by Gentiles and apostates.

Your humble servant in the Gospel of Christ,
Daniel D. McArthur

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