Transcript for Meeks, Priddy, Priddy Meeks Journal [1969?], 13-17

When I shook hands with Brother Clark on starting, he cried like a child and never would have pay for the ox he let me have. With a glad heart and joyful Spirit, we moved off and reached the Horn in good time and when the time come, we was organized into Jedediah Grant's hundred and Joseph Bates Noble's fifty, and Josiah Miller's ten. They was all three as good men as was to be had anywhere. My family comprising eight persons, myself and wife and two daughters, Elizabeth—grown, Margaret Jane—not grown, John Henderson, a lad I had raised, and a boy and girl belonging to Orson B. Adams, John Adams and Petsy [Betsy] Parson. Now our hearts swelled with the glorious expectation of leaving our persecutors behind. We started not knowing where we was going, or what was ahed of us, trusting in the Living God, and started like Abraham, not knowing whither we went, and we did have a good time, notwithstanding the hardships and trials and troubles and sickness many had to endure.

The Lord did pour out his blessings upon us abundantly. The Plains furnished abundance of meat and the Prairie grass abundance of milk. Now the incidents that took place crossing the plains are so complicated, I will only mention a few in this connection. One case of Sister [Esther Shaffer] Ewinds [Ewing], the first I heard of her, she was about dying with what they called the Black Kanker in her mouth and throat. She did die in a few hours, and we halted to bury her. And her daughter, Rachel Ewinds [Ewing], was found to have the same complaint, and quite deep seated. I told them I thought I could cure her. My daughter, Elizabeth, waited on her while I doctored her, and she was not long in getting well. The palate of the old lady's mouth was eat up and the fauces of her mouth part[l]y gone. All was in a mortified state. I am convinced that it was the Diptheria they both had.

The next case was Gilbert Summers' wife (he being with the Pioneer[s.] She was in the company two miles distant from me, but they sent for me and when I got there I found her verry low, with a fever and with all the faith and courage I could raise, I broke the fever and she soon got up again. Another case was as I was standing guard one night close by Brother Noble's wagon, I heard some person groan like if they was nearly dead. In the morning, I enquired of Brother Noble who it was. He said it was Richard Norwood, the man that drove his team. On examination, I found it to be the Black Kanker as we called it, but it was undoubtedly the Diptheria in its worst form, for his whole palate and forsils [tonsils] of his throat appeared to be in one solid mass of putrefaction. I told Brother Noble if he would look among the crowd and get such medicine as I would name, I would try and do something for him, for without help, he could not live but a verry few days. I well reckollect one medicine I used. It was rough Elm bark, taken off a tree stood close by. It is one of the best Anticeptics in the compass of medicine. (In the first settling of Kentuckey and Indiana, we used to put our hogs lard and bears oil in large troughs. We would sometimes have maybe fifty gallons at a time. It would sometimes turn green, going into a state of putrefaction. We would take the red, or rough Elm bark in long strips and lay it lengthwise in the troughs, and it would take all the smell and collar and taste of putrefaction out of it and render it as sweet as any other oil.) Now for Brother Norwood again. I will just say he was cured in a much shorter time than I could expect. So we all moved on in order again.

The Lord has his eye on the end from the beginning. To illustrate I will relate an incident which took place on the plains, the blessings resulting from which are visible to this day and will be in all time and in eternity. We had a stampede on the plains and lost sixty-two head of cattle, which we never did find. We laid there eight days not having team enough to travel, but knowing we must move or perish. We mustered up all the available teams possible and that was one ox. President John Young was minus one ox, he & I being entire strangers, he heard I had a cow that would work and when he found me, he says, "Brother Meeks," "Yes, sir," I answered. "Well, we are now organized for traveling if I had one more animal. Will you let me have that cow to fit me out?" I replied, "No." At this, his countenance fell like a blaze just put out. "But," says I, "I will tell you what I will do[.] I will let you have a good ox and will work the cow myself, as she is heavy with calf. I would rather work her myself." At this, he brightened up like fire in a stubble field, so we all took up the line of march, full of the spirit of rejoicing. And while I am speaking on the line of Providence resulting from me letting President John Young have an ox, I will trace that line out far enough to show that a person will never lose his reward for doing good. Several years after, I moved to Parowan, I went back to the city. I took my daughter, Peggy Jane, a young woman with me and when I started from home, my wife said, "Don't you come back without another wife." That put me to studying, for she never talked that way before, so the more I studied about it, the more I was determined to try and get another wife. So when I arrived at Brother John Dalton's, who had charge of the Church farm four miles south of the City, I left my team there so as to have no encumbrance at the city. We went to Brother Free's in the city, an old acquaintance of ours. I told them there that I intended to get a handcart girl to go home with me. They appeared very anxious that I should get one. Sister Free told me she knew of one who had no relations there, and it would suit her the best kind. There was a woman then present said she knew her in England and said she was twenty-four years old and as good a woman as ever was. Now I was very much elated at the prospect. I would not have sold my chance for a considerable amount. I never felt more sure of anything in my life that I did not have hold of. I found out where she stayed and away I went as full of imagination as the milk maid we read of in the spelling book. I found the place and stopped outside the gate and spoke to a young woman in the porch and asked her, "Are you Hannah Virgil?" "No, Sir," she said. Said I, "Does she stop here?" "Yes, Sir, but she is not at home." I said, "Are you a handcart girl?" "Yes Sir." She said. "Well, I am looking for a handcart girl to go home with me. Maybe it will suit you to go with me." She said, "I am engaged, or it would." That moment she said, "Yonder comes Hannah Virgil now." And when she walked up and spoke to me and I saw her countenance, there was a monitory impulse struck me with such force, it seemed as powerful on my feelings as the command of a superior officer when he would with a stern voice say "No!" Here now the fat was all in the fire. My feelings I cannot well describe if I was to try. I left quick, badly whipped, without saying a word to the girl on the subject. I went straightway to President John Young, where I was in high repute for letting him have that ox on the plains, he having took Sarah McCleve to wife, oldest sister of Mary Jane, two years previous to Mary Jane's arrival in the handcarts. She says to me, "Brother Meeks, go out to the Church farm and get your team and harness it to Mr. Young's carriage, he himself not being at home and Aunt Mary and I will go with you to see Mary Jane. It may be that she will go with you." I told them that I was going to start home in the morning, for I did not think it worthwhile to try any longer. I was ashamed to tell them anything about Hannah Virgil. I felt so mean. However, I went to the Church farm and got my team and harnessed it to the carriage. "How far is it to where Mary Jane lives?" I asked. I knew the Warm Springs was only a mile and a half from Brother Young's. I thought we could soon get back when we reached the Warm Springs. I says, "Where does Mary Jane live now?" "Oh, it is down by the Hot Springs, six miles further." If I had known that in time, I never should have started. It was now late in the evening and I intended starting home in the morning, but as I had started, I must stick with them, but felt disappointed. When we arrived at the hot springs, the sun was just going down. "Now where is the house?" said I. She pointed away down under the fading sun, two miles further to a little log cabin where she said her sister lived. I felt vexed but could not turn back now. We drove up close to the house and found Mary Jane on her all fours scouring the floor when the dog barked. She looked out and saw and knew Brother Young's carriage and Sister Young and her sister Sarah with a strange man, dressed precisely as she saw all this in a vision shown to her about three nights before when she knealt down in the dark when all were in bed, and asked the Lord what she ought to do because she was teased to much about marrying. In the vision, she was told that was the man she must go home with. So when she saw me in the carriage, she knew that was the man for her. We went into the house of Brother Levi Gifford where she lived. I was well acquainted with the whole family of people, too. Sarah did not sit down, but took Mary Jane out of doors and told her I had come for her, and sent a runner to tell me to come out there. I started and met Aunt Mary Young coming post-haste after me. She spoke very animatedly, saying, "Mary Jane says she will go with you!" And we had not spoken to each other yet, neither had we seen each other's faces. The trial I had when I met Hannah Virgil was nothing to what this was. They told her I had come for her, and she said she would go. Now if that monitory impulse strikes me with the same power saying no, what will I do? Can I stand it, or will I have to wilt and wither under this? The hardest trial I had ever met with in my life. (Oh, Lord Help!) That instant it was manifest to me to just see her countenance and I would know what I ought to do. But that did not assure me that I would be inspired to take her and to refuse, it would bring an everlasting stigma that would last through life and I thought very justly, too. I went out to where they were, the sun being down, the red clouds in the West were all that gave light. I thought if I could see her countenance by the light of the red clouds, I would know what do to. And when I was introduced and shook hands with her, I was right in the light. I stepped one side to let the light shine in her face. Peace sprung up in my troubled soul with a hearty relish for the words, "Yes, take her." It put me in mind of the poet when he said, "No tongue can express the sweet comfort and peace of a soul in its earliest love." I then told Mary Jane it was just right, and we all went back in the house. And when Brother Gifford learned that she was going home with me, he was out of humor and talked very strongly against me by way of insinuations, and said, "Mary Jane, if you knew Brother Meeks as well as I do, you would not be so willing to go with him. I know Brother Meeks," said he. "Well," said Sister Gifford, "Old man, you don't know any harm of him, do you?" "No, I don't," he said. The fact was, he wanted Mary Jane himself, and both his boys wanted her. The three were so disappointed that they were as cross to her as a wet hen. One of them said, "If you are going with that man, I want that ring of mine you have." She pulled it off and gave it to him saying, "I don't want your ring." So we put out into the carriage, dark as it was, and went up to President Young's, and in the morning she was sealed to me, it being the 12 day of November 1856, and the next day we started home. Mary Jane was nearly seventeen years old, and I was nearly sixty-two years old. People may say what they please about being mismated in age in marriage, but the Lord knows best about these matters, and if there was ever a match consumated by the providences of God, this was one, and she had borne me ten children, and if anything, they were above the average of smartness, all well-formed and intelligent. I have often said if I had picked the territory, I could not have suited myself as well as in Mary Jane, so I give God the glory while I receive the blessing of an exaltation through the lineage of her posterity. So you can see how the Lord had his eye on Mary Jane from the beginning of this narrative. At any rate, clear down until now she has four grandchildren and a likelihood of having many more, and a nicer and smarter woman no man need to want.

So we left the Horn I think in April and took until the next fall to get into the Valley. I arrived in the valley on the first day of October 1847.