Transcript for Narrative of Franklin Dewey Richards. San Francisco, 1880 in Utah and the Mormons collection, undated, 33-38
We arrived in Winter Quarters sometime in April just previously to the departure of president Young, and other large companies across the plains. The next thing we sought to do was to raise the means for another company under the superintendency of president Willard Richards—who was one of the first presidents of the church. President Young was the superintendent of one large company. Our mode of travelling was to organize into companies: to every ten wagons was appointed a captain, to every five of those companies was elected a captain of fifty wagons, and to two of such divisions a captain or superintendent of a hundred: and to each hundred was appointed one of the twelve apostles as superintendent of that hundred. That gives you the form of our organization for travelling. When we went out, each captain of ten was considered to be the watchman, or guard, to overlook those of the ten wagons, and see if they were in a proper condition to travel—see if the wheels and brakes were all right. One day we travelled thirty miles to get water, and in another ten, and then things had to be carefully considered before starting in order to reach the distance for that day.
I cannot say how much we averaged a day as we had to stop where we could get water. We were the first who made a road across the Plains. We came to the hills overlooking Salt Lake City on the 19th day of October. The distance by the Railroad is 1100 miles, and in our journey the road was two or three hundred miles further. We were often prevented from travelling on account of sickness. Our company of wagons, you may see did not include the full complement, but all that could be found that were able to make that trip that season. Willard Richards was superintendent of that company and I was captain. We were the last company of the season and could not get our provisions replenished, the feed was necessarily consumed on the road. By the heat of the summer our animals had become so reduced, and so many of them had died, from drinking alkali waters, that we we[re] obliged to yoke every animal a year old and upwards, and brak[e] them in the teams, even our Milch Cows. Many of the families in our company had to walk altogether, both children and grown people—in fact it was all we could do, and the people, had to get on foot in order to get along. If an ox died, we had to hunt and find an animal, and put in its place, and change different animals and get along the best way we could. We had not a single death in our company. There was one little boy accidentally shot through both knees and arms, but he got well again. We did not have with us any eminent doctors, while we had some with us whom we called doctor. My uncle Willard had been a practicing physician in Boston. We thought we had a doctor with us, into whose guidance, wisdom and sagacity we looked. As the Apostle James: “If any of you are sick let them anoint him with oil and the prayer of faith” etc. that is the feeling among our people: they look for the blessing of God’s salvation. We have found very little general hostility from the Indians. As we approached the Indian town of Cheyenne Indians (Siux) [Sioux] they sent out a detatchment of horsemen to meet us: we thought they meant death and destruction to our company as they took up a line of position on each side of our wagons. They took us to where there was grass for our cattle and took us through their town in safety to the distance of about a mile west. We organized our night guard and placed our cattle under the charge of our own men, when they returned to their camp. We only found one Indian who tried to be dishonest, he climbed up on my father’s wagon when one of the men caught him and brought him out—which showed that their feelings were for our protection. The next morning the chiefs and braves of this Indian town came out and formed a line, the chiefs in the centre, braves on right and left, squaws and papooses in the rear, and took their seats upon the green grass, having spread in front of them some nice, new buffalo robes.
We had a meeting and talk with them. The chief expressed to us through an interpreter in a very dignified and proper manner that it was the custom of companies travelling through their land to make them presents of such things as might be most convenient to bestow—Whereupon we sent men among our companies to receive such donations of sugar, coffee, tea, dried bread and tobacco so the various families fe[l]t able and inclined to donate; (We did not have any whiskey) which when spread separately on the buffalo robes seemed but a small donation for as many people as this Indian settlement contained. We explained that we had in our wagons only wheat we had to live on for a whole year: the chief and people generally seemed quite satisfied with our explanation, and accepted our gift with complacency and apparent satisfaction. and every thing was well and right. We acknowledged the propriety of making them a gift, but the peculiarity of our circumstances placed us in an awkward position (we thought) but they seemed to appreciate satisfactorily what we gave them. It has been our habit to shoot Indians with tobacco and bread and biscuits rather than with powder and lead, and we are the most successful with them. It is the best way if they are not too imperative and overbearing. We have found it necessary sometimes to kill some Indians; but where we found that friendly feeling in seeking our comfort, it awakened in us that better feeling which emanates from that scriptural adage “Do unto others as you would others should do unto you”. As regards their numbers, they could have used us right up. With Mr. Jed[e]diah M. Grant came out teams and provisions from Salt Lake, and met us on the Sweet Water and so relieved our worn out teams as greatly to assist us to make our way along our journey, where we arrived on the 19th of Oct.