Transcript for Pett, James, [Autobiography], in Marble, B. Glen, comp., Mormon Marbles: Roots and Branches [1977?], 71-74
And in the spring of l855, Nebraska was opened for settlement and times were good and in the spring of 1856, my wife, Mary, gave birth to a fine daughter on March 14th, 1856, and we named her Mary Elizabeth after her mother and Aunt Elizabeth Sheler.
And as the season opened we made preparations to cross the Plains and we crossed over the Missouri River in July and there was an old couple by the name of Rose (that came from Birmingham, England, where I did) and they wanted me to take them across the plains in my wagon, which I did, he paying me $20.00 for the privilege. We were then at old Winter Quarters (now called Florence) in Nebraska. The Indians occupied the country then. We waited for several days before we could get started, and we could only find about ten families of English speaking people to form a company, that not being enough to travel through an Indian country, and as there was a Scandinavian company about ready to start, we asked the privilege to travel with them which was granted, making 46 wagons all told. And Canute Pedersen [Peterson], who had just returned from a mission in Denmark, was appointed Captain of the company, which appointment he filled to the satisfaction of all concerned, as he proved himself to be a man of good sense and judgement. And after his arrival home was appointed President of the Sanpete Stake of Zion. And now begins a journey a thousand miles across plains, hills and mountains to Salt Lake City, a country that the Indians had full control with the exception of the United States. They had three forts on the way with soldiers there to protect the immigrants and the United States mails, which was carried by the Pony Express from Fort Leavenworth in Nebraska to California. And the country was inhabited by white men, Salt Lake City excepted. Indians, buffaloes, wolves and coyotes with other game such as deer, antelope, ducks, geese, and sage hens were plentiful. In starting out the first day we made but very little headway, for driving ox teams was a new thing to nine-tenths of the immigrants. A few of us had driven oxen before, and we English speaking people traveled together and understood as also Captain [Canute] Pedersen [Peterson] could talk good English, and sometimes he desired that we should bring up the rear and at other times take the lead. But I shall never forget the first weeks travel. The Scandinavian Saints harnessed their oxen something after the manner we harness our horses, and as neither oxen or their drivers was hardly broke in, it was amusing to see the start of the train of 46 wagons, and to most of the teams there was as many drivers as there were oxen. Each driver had a rope tied to the hornes of the ox to hold him in line, as the oxen did not understand the language yet and did not know when to stop, to come here or go there, only as he was led by the rope. The Captain had drove oxen before and he gave them lessons daily so that at the end of a week or ten days, the drivers could give the word of command and we began to make better time. At first we made from four to six miles per day, and after that from six to twelve miles per day, and kept increasing until we made twenty miles per day, which was considered a good day's drive for oxen. The first day in the evening when Ben Hamtion, Sr., was taking his wheel oxen off the tongue of the wagon, they made a jump and knocked him down and injured him severely and it laid him up for four or five weeks and someone else had to drive his team for him. And after traveling about three weeks, we had crossed the Elkhorn River and the South Fork River, which are tributaries of the River Platte. We had arrived at Wood River and there being no bridge and no ford, we had to go to work and build a bridge before we could cross. So we selected a place and felled some trees that was growing on the bank right across the river and then laid poles and brush across the trees for covering and so passed over. And it was here that we saw the first buffalo, this being about 200 miles out on the plains. And here the Captain appointed six men to hunt game for the company (I was one of the party selected) as we needed to obtain all the eatables we could get as our company was made up of the laboring class and mostly poor people. We were making good headway at that time, but as we neared the buffalo country, our cattle would get scared and stampede. (runaway), and it was here on Wood River we had the first stampede and we had them occasionally until we got into the Black Hill west of old Fort Laramie. And one day in July they broke and run away and as a young man from Denmark was trying to stop his team, he was knocked down and killed right there, and had to be bured there on the plains without a coffin or any mourners for he was alone. He left his father and mother in Denmark. He was going to the Valley to make a home for them, but it was ordered otherwise. And as we traveled on, we came into immense herds of buffalo. For three days we had to have guards out with their guns to keep them from dashing through the train and stampeding the cattle. And after laying in a good supply of buffalo beef, we then took and jerked and smoked it and moved on a few miles out of the way of the buffalo and stopped to celebrate the 24th of July by corralling our wagons for the day and had a variety of amusements by way of dancing, songs, eating, picnics, speeches and having a good time generally. And while the dancing was going on, myself and Joseph Hawkins slipped out behind the carrel (as we had been told by the Captain to stop shooting any more buffalo) and took our guns along with the intention to kill a buffalo calf to take with us on our journey. So we took for the hills and about a mile from camp we came across a bunch of them and there was a calf among them, so we both shot at the calf but missed it. We were hiding behind a ridge and they run off a distance and stopped and I followed them behind the ridge. They did not see me and I made another shot at the calf but missed it. The distance, I should guess, was about 150 yards, but I hit a two-year old heifer, and she fell dead, and we packed what each one of us could carry and went back to camp unnoticed as dancing was still going on, and that was the last buffalo that was killed by us. That was on the 24th of July, 1856, and the next day we resumed our journey and reached the crossing of the Platte at Fort Laramie, and then traveled up the North Platte and here we stopped and set some wagon tires and shod our cattle, as some of them were getting foot sore and here in the hills among the timber we found ruffled grouse (what we call pine hens in Utah) and after that we found plenty of sage hens and jack rabbits, and the Indians would bring dear and antelope meat and trade with us. This was on the Sweetwater [Sweetwater] and South Pass country, and here at South Pass is the backbone of the Rocky Mountains. The streams change their course, running west instead of running east, which appeared strange to novices. And after crossing Big and Little Sandy, there we encountered the first snow storm, being about the first of September, and coming to the Green River, we found a good ford and crossed over and camped, and next day we came to Old Fort Bridger, named after an old Indian trader, Jim Bridger, who offered President Brigham Young a thousand dollars in 1847 (when the Pioneers were passing the Fort coming to the valleys of Utah) for the first ear of corn they could raise here and declared they would starve if they came here as it was a perfected desert with no rain or moisture. And we traveled on over hills and hollows and came down to the head of echo canyon, and there a little incident occurred of a serious nature. As one of the teamsters was driving his team carelessly along not paying any attention to a short bend in the trail, allowed his team to come too close to the edge of a deep gulley and over the wagn went and turned upside down with his family in it, wagon and contests on top of them. A hole was made and we went to work and took the wagon away in short order, and found that they had come off better than we expected; no bones broken but badly cut and bruised, and the wife almost scared to death. And getting hooked again we made the Weber River crossover and began to ascent the Big Mountain and down and over the Little Mountain down into Emigration Canyon, and soon we had a beautiful view of Salt Lake Valley and came down and camped on the 8th Ward Square, that being September 28th, 1856.