Transcript for Nielson, Andrew Christian, Autobiography [ca. 1890], 5

St. Joseph was the end of railroad journey. Here the emigrants went on a river steamer for Vicminy—but while at St. Joseph, Joseph Sharp from Salt Lake City came up from Kansas and hired 52 young men to drive teams with merchandise across the plains. He got 22 Danes and 30 Scotchmen. Took us 16 miles down the river to Atchison, Kansas where they was filling out buying their goods, oxen and wagons. Here we laid a month in a place called Mormon Grove and herded cattle and helped to fit out. We were to have 20 dollars a month and board and we thought we had a snap of it, but before we got to Salt Lake City we found that snap was in the wrong place. Here was between 400 and 500 wild fat 4 or 5 year old steers bought up—only a few had ever had a yoke on and still worse very few of the boys had ever seen an ox. Some was taylors, some sailors and every kind of tradsmen mostly colliers. While we fitted out we had stampedes galore. I should wish very much if I could show the young generation now living some of the scenes of that trip. Think of a condition here one forenoon in July after a tremendious struggle in getting those wild animals yolked [yoked] up and hitched to the wagon—three to six yolk to each wagon loaded with goods from 3500 to 8000 on each wagon—then think of the teamsters just as wild and ignorant about their business as the oxen. And then most of them could not understand a word of English, so the captain hollering and commanding only caused confusion.

An hour after we had started out from camp that memorable day with our wagons, you could for 5 miles all around the plains see oxen, wagons, teamsters and a dozen horsemen going at break neck speed, and it was a meracle that none got hurt, nor anything broke, but under these conditions I have seen strong men cry. But on we went. We had 1200 miles from Atchison to Salt Lake City.

We struck Platt[e] River at Fort Kearney then traveled to within 88 miles of Julesberg, there it took us two days to cross the Platt River. Sometimes it took 20 yolk of cattle to pull one wagon, and water waste deep. But it went all right till we got toward Fort Laramie then our oxen commenced dying and before we reached Sweetwater we had lost nearly half of our oxen and of course the loads got too heavy for the others.

At Willard Springs our captain [Joseph Sharp] died and James Sharp went 50 miles to a telegraph station and sent a dispatch to Salt Lake City for a metal coffin and 80 yolk of cattle, also provisions. Meanwhile we made a rough coffin. I washed, shaved and cleaned him as well as I could and John Smith the Patriarck who had been our captain from Copenhagen and took the independent company across the plains, hitched his horse with the captains and him and me drove with the corpse. It was calculated to take him to Salt Lake City or till we met the metal coffin, then put him in that, but the next day we had to bury him as we could not keep him in the hot weather.

We drove through Devils Gate in the middle of the night and burried him at tree crossing, then when the coffin came we took him up and put him on the train, but before the oxen and provisions came we had been without grub for several days. All we had was a little chop feed that the captains horses had left. In the meantime I had left the train and got to drive a mule team 300 miles to Salt Lake City and had a good time, while the oxen had a pretty hard time. I arrived in Salt Lake City the 26th of September 1864, two weeks before the oxen came in.