Transcript for Nelson, Bengt, "An Autobiography of Bengt Nelson, Sr., Together with a sketch of his wife Ellen J. Nelson," 9-10, 15-16
As I was now at liberty to go west to Utah I made every preparation for the event. I had promised my sister [Caroline], younger than myself, to see her safely through to Zion the first opportunity I had, and now was the first chance that had presented itself. She had become acquainted with a Swedish girl by the name of Ellen Johnson, and was very anxious to have her go along with her for company, as they were the only two Swedish girls there and they had become very well acquainted. I talked the matter over with Brother Frank Woolley, and it was finally agreed that they could go along with the company and cook, and I would pay twenty five or thirty dollars extra, besides the work they would do. The starting point being Atchison, we left Omaha about the 5th of August and arrived in Atchison the 7th, and on the 9th we started with four yoke of cattle, three yoke being perfectly wild.
We had quite a time not being used to driving oxen and I found that most of the boys were just as green as I. But it was not long before I could handle them satisfactorily, and soon they were tamed. There were several in the company who understood the handling of cattle very well such as Porter Rockwell, Frank B. Woolley and our beloved captain A. O Smoot, and others whose names I have forgotten.
We arrived at Fort Kearney the 1st of September, nothing occurring of any consequence. Arriving at Fort Laramie the 27th, we continued our journey up the Platte; feed was getting scarce, the nights were cold, the teams were tired and tender footed. Snow was making its appearance on the mountains ahead of us, but finally we arrived at Fort Bridger October 27th. Here we rested a few days, as some of the teams were badly worn out.
The Captains desired to leave some of the wagons and go on over the mountains. We left Bridger the 31st, and very soon it started to snow, and it was not long before we were travelling in snow three feet deep and were compelled to camp right on the tops of the Rocky Mountains, tying the poor animals to the trees without a mouthful of anything to eat. It was bitter cold, but there was plenty of timber and we made big fires to warm ourselves and teams. Most of us were young and it is a wonder that we did not get our feet frozen, as I had to thaw my boots before I could get them off my feet.
The next day we met teams that had been sent out from Salt Lake City with corn for the cattle, this was a great help to us. We arrived in Salt Lake November 9th 1856. . . .
After my recovery [from smallpox], I went to Omaha and there I fell in with Bengt Nelson and his sister Caroline. He had engaged to drive team across the plains and his sister did not desire to go alone, so I was invited to accompany her, we to do the cooking for the company. They were due to leave Atchison August 9th, we therefore boarded a river steamer and arrived at Atchison August 7th, 1856.
Everything was now in readiness for the journey we left camp on the 9th, and got along fairly well, although we found a long tedious trip ahead of us. The work was more than we expected, oftentimes there were 18 persons to cook for, and many times we would sit up over half the night to bake bread, and at times we drove team during the day when they were short of teamsters. Still as long as it was warm and pleasant we did not mind, but the nearer we approached the mountains and the more the season advanced the colder it became, and by the time we reached Fort Bridger we had snow and plenty of it. Across the mountains we waded through snow three feet deep. It was with very thankful hearts that we beheld dry ground on our approaching Salt Lake City, where we arrived November 9th, 1856, having been on the plains three months to the day.