Transcript for Minerva J. Stone letters, 1850-1851
The Fort at Grand Island
July 16, 1850
This afternoon we arrived at this place, Grand Island. We are expecting to leave tomorrow morning; therefore, I improve the present opportunity of writing you a few lines. The watchmen of this camp have just cried the hour of ten as I commence.
Our family are all well and have enjoyed very good health since we left Pottawatomie. My health has improved all the way. as I told you it would, until now I have a cold. Little Amos’s health has improved very much: he has had no fits since we left. He has two upper teeth cut through. He cries to me continually.
We sent you a letter by Bro. Clawson the last of June, which I suppose you have received. We were then at Salt Creek. In that we informed you that Bro. [John] Sweat and Dr. [Jesse C.] Brayley had died of Cholera. The 4th of July we arrived at the Platt[e] Bottom. Our company of fifty divided into three companies. The first and last tens formed into one. Capt. York, captain of the first ten, Bro. [Thomas] Rich, captain of the fifth or last ten. He is our captain. Bro. [Truman] Leonard and Bro. [Harmon Dudley] Peirson [Pierson] and Bro. John Carter were captains of the other three tens. It was thought wisdom to divide in smaller companies in order to travel faster.
Sister [Catherine Rebecca] Foy and two sisters with Bro. [Winslow] Farr have had the cholora, but have recovered: there has been one or two children die with it. There have been several cases of bowel complaints in the camp which would have terminated in cholorea if it had not been for the medicine which we brought along, especially the third preparation of Lobelia administered by injections. I have heard some say that if Mr. Stone had not been there in this company there would have been a great many more deaths. Bro. Farr says he is confident that the syringe with proper medicine has saved his life and two others in his family and he is as grateful as anybody can be.
July 9th we passed an old deserted Indian Village containing 30 or 40 wigwams. The middle one was a prison where Bro. Castro and those with him were imprisoned on their return from the valley with the mail a year ago last spring. The wigwams had the appearance of being quite comfortable when in good repair. They were made of sticks, grass and dirt, with a long low entry made of the same material which led into them. There were large holes in the ground where they had burried their corn. Our company found three live sheep in one of them. Some company before us had lost them. The Indians left their place last fall.
I will here observe that we have traveled 237 miles and have not seen an Indian this side of the Missouri River to Fort Laramie. We have got along very slow, but we have had a great deal of rain, consequently bad roads. Bro. [Wilford] Woodruff’s company left this place just as we came in sight. Bro. Hyde passed us last Wednesday, the 10th, with three others with him on his way to the Valley. Last Sunday between the hours of two and three Bro. [Ezra] Bickford was taken with cholorea [cholera] and before two o’clock in the morning he was a corpse. We were camped where no timber could be obtained of any kind. Of course, he was buried without any coffin whatever. I believed they mowed grass and laid underneath and over him. Sister B. takes it very hard: says her all is gone. She left her wagon and came to Bishop Snow’s wagon, and said she could never stay in her wagon any more. They were afraid she would be crazy.
Yesterday we had passed 55 graves, and I don’t know how many today, but enough probably to make near sixty. It is as Bro. Joseph Young says, “Our road is a perfect burying ground.” Joseph says he feels like weeping when he sees his brethren and sisters laid by the wayside by the destroyer, but it is all right. These things go to prove that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the Lord. It is only a beginning of the judgment of God, what shall the end be with those who reject his servants and obey not his gospel?
Sister Sweat has had the smallpox in a light form. She has had the cholorea but, has recovered. There are no cases of sickness at present in our camp. There have been two births, all parties getting along first rate.
It is nearly one o’clock at night. My sheet nearly full, and I must draw my letter to a close. You will see at once that my writing and order of composition is the worst I have ever sent you, but I have done the best I could under present circumstances.
The children are all well. When we came in sight of the Fort today Olive Ann [Stone] said, “There is Grandmother’s house.” Merub [Stone] wanted to know what they were. I told them they were houses. They were very much pleased to see some houses for the first time in their life. There are some very good houses two and three stories high. One has four chimneys.
Father, Mother, Ruth, and Miles, I bid you farewell fondly anticipating a time when we shall all see each other.
I suppose you would like to know something about me. I got along very well, but I think sometimes I should like to step in and see what you all are about and get a piece of your baked pig, for I suppose nearly harvest. I wish I could see you all.
Sweet Water River
13 miles from South Pass
September 11, 1850
Dear Mother and Father:
We are daily expecting to meet Bro. Hyde on his return from the Valley to the Bluffs, therefore, I improve few moments in penning a few lines to send you for I know you will be anxious to hear from us as often as possible. We are all well and getting along first rate. Ann has had the ague in her face, but has had her tooth extracted and is getting better. Our cattle are all in good order. We stopped at Deer Creek 28 miles before crossing the Platt[e] River the last time, and had all of our cattle shod except the white steers. We have not worked our cows but a very little, and can get along without them very well.
Some time before we came to Laramie we saw thousands of buffalo. Our company shot several of them. Buffalo beef is very nice meat, but antelope exceeds everything else of the kind I ever saw. We have seen some buffalow this side of the Black Hills, but not very many.
Today we have camped on Sweet Water for the last time, I believe. We are 14 miles from the place where Bro. George A. Smith and company were caught in the snow storm last year. We have had very pleasant weather for several weeks, but as we approach the tops of the mountains we have cold nights but warm days. Last night water froze some, and yesterday we could see snow on the distant mountains. Today we have had strong wind and very cold, but I must stop here and tell you how comfortable we are situated in our wagon. Mr. Stone has fixed up our cooking stove in good order by fastening it on two pieces of wagon from the floor. We do all our cooking by it, and if necessary, we have a fire in it while traveling. Since we corralled today, Mr. Stone has been out with his gun, saw three antelope together, but did not have the good luck to shoot any. Meat is an article that would be very acceptable in this camp, and they are mostly destitute. I don’t know of any in the camp but our own. Milk is very scarce. Most of the cows are worked in the yoke. We have a very good supply at present.
You requested me to inform you what things were the most needed on this route. Well, one thing is a good supply of spirituous liquor; if ever it is needed it is when traveling this journey. We had olny[only] two quarts of whiskey, and it was soon used up for the sick. Mr. Stone paid $2.00 for two quarts more and that was soon gone. He tried to get some of one of the brethren in Wy. Snow’s company. He charged $8.00 per gallon. He has since bought a quart of alcohol of some merchants at a more reasonable rate. Another thing is a good supply of tea. There is so much bad water and so many changes that it is necessary to boil the water and make tea or coffee. I think we have used about half of our tea. Now we have beautiful water. Sweet Water River is a beautiful water. Sweet water River is a beautiful stream. I think it surpasses any of its size I ever saw. Bring any quantities of saleratus and do not depend on this at the mountains. We gathered more than a bushel as we passed Saleratus Lake, but there is too much salt petre in it to suit my fancy, but I shall have to use it some, as I brought but very little with me. We forgot to get a supply before we left, and we had to pay 50 cents per pound at Laramie.
Mr. Stone has earned some money at his trade (blacksmithing) on the road. One company paid him $12 for what he did in one day for them.
Sunday, September 15.
We are now 175 miles from the Valley on the big Sande [Sandy] River. We have crossed the pass and have had no snow storm, but could see the snow on the tops of the mountains. The weather for two or three days has been warm. Bro. J. A. Stratton and Bro. Hanks have been back as far as Laramie. They were sent out to search out new routes and were to obtain the best feed for cattle, and wether[whether] any needed help from the Valley. They passed us last Sunday on their way back to the Valley. Bro. Stratton recollects you all, and said he might have traveled for weeks in the same company with me and should not have known that he had ever seen me.
We have met some teams going back to Hayward’s and Hunter’s company to assist them. They report plenty of provisions in the valley: wheat from 4 to 5 dollars per bushel—no pound. Adobes 1 dollaar per hundred. One thousand will make a good sized room.
Ann and I have gathered a kind of fruit called bull berries. They are very much like bar-berries. I have preserved my glass jar full and I think we have a pan full that are dried. We sewed them in bags and quilted them across a few times, then pinned them on the top of our wagons and they dried beautifully. There are great quantities of choke cherries on the road, and the best I ever saw. We have dried some.
We have been greatly favored with health—have lost no cattle, nor met with serious accident, but Merub and Olive narrowly escaped being crushed to death under the wagon. They attempted to get out of the wagon unnoticed. Merub succeeded in getting safe but Olive Ann fell from out the tongue, forward of the forewheel, she rolled over and the wheels ran so near her that they took the skin off her leg from her knee to her ankle, leaving the flesh black and blue. Since that she has been more timid than efer [ever] where riding is concerned. She grows poor in flesh every day; she is very nervous and I think that fearful excitement wears upon her. But we have got almost to our journey’s end and we are all glad, I tell you. Little Amos Ives is as fat as a pig. He doesn’t walk alone, but stands alone and walks around by things; would soon walk alone if he had a chance.
I saw Bro. Blanchard and family at Deer Creek. They are in a part of Bro. [Wilford] Woodruff’s company. She said she looked everywhere for Doctor’s grave; thought he would be frightened to death certainly. We have heard nothing from them since we started.
Wednesday Sept. 18th Minerva L Stone
[The following notations were written on margins of the above letter:]
Be sure and gather a great supply of raspberry leaves; get a syringe; hot drops, and third preparation of Lobelia when you come, also ginger.
Oh, Ruth, I want to know if you have got married yet, and when you are coming to the valley.
We have passed a great many graves of gold hunters, mostly from Missouri. There must be many a widow and orphan back in Missouri while their Husbands and Fathers are laid by the wayside in the wilderness. Many of their bodies disinterred by wolves and their bones bleaching on the prairie. We have seen their bones and clothing disinterred and the head board lying near, telling who they were and where from and we know it.
The gold diggers left a great deal of property this season on the road, but destroyed it as much as possible; burnt all the wood-walk to wagons and threw a great deal of the iron on the road; sheet iron stoves in any quantity but spoiled by bullet holes.
Since my saleratus has air-slacked, it is much better than I expected. A good supply of ready made shoes is needed on this road. Not necessary to bring as much crackers as we did. We have a large trunk full now and plenty of flour, but we should like more beans; they are first rate since the weather became cool.
We are now at Fort Bridger. All well, and in good spirits. Met David Rogers here going to meet Woolus (Wooley’s) company with cattle to assist them. He is aunt Edna’s son. Says Matilda is married to Samuel Rogers; all is well and doing well. She had a letter from her Father last spring stating Marcus’s death.
Mr. Stone recommends shoeing all heavy cattle to the commencment of the journey, especially their forefeet.
We are just about to enter the Valley. Met Jacob Terry’s brother going back and send this by him. We are all well.
Minerva L. Stone