Transcript for Rich, Mary Ann Phelps, Autobiography of Mary Ann Phelps Rich [1951], 19-21


My husband [Charles C. Rich] fitted up his wagons and teams and we left Winter Quarters in June, 1847; he having been placed in charge of a company of one hundred wagons. We traveled to the Elkhorn River, here we had to wait until all had crossed the river, as we crossed on rafts, and Mr. Rich had to wait until they all got over so he could tie the raft and bring the rope with him. There was one young man by the name of Weatherby, who was killed by the Indians while we were here, he died in our tent.

We traveled two abreast the whole distance of the Platt[e] River, for greater safety. There were thousands of buffalo on every side, which the men would kill, so we had plenty of meat. There were also hundreds of Indians to be seen at frequent intervals all the time we were traveling up the Platt River. They were very cunning, and we had to watch them very closely to see that they did not steal everything we had in our wagons. They would shoot arrows into our cattle and sheep; so we found it took more hands to herd the cattle and drive the wagons than we had anticipated.

The Saints had made an agreement among themselves that anyone who had brought a hired man or boy with them, should keep that hired man or boy until after harvest the next year so that no one would go hungry or starve after he got to the valley. Mr. Rich thought he would have to hire two more men or boys to drive two of the wagons. There was one of his wives Em[m]eline [Grover Rich] beside myself who had no children; so we volunteered to drive the wagons until we got to the valley. He did not think we could, but we persuaded him to try us one day and see. We did so well that we had our teams every day after that as regular as the men did until we arrived in the valley. We did not grieve or mourn over it, we had some very nice times when the roads were not so bad. We would make the mountans ring with our songs, and sometimes the company would get together and we would have a dance in the evening on the grass. We did not mourn but we rejoiced that we were going to the Rocky Mountains where we would be free to live our religion, and be acknowledged as wives. We felt that we wanted to do everything in our power to help Mr. Rich out, as his children were all small and he needed our help. I had never had very good health until I started on this trip, and I got to fee1ing so well that I felt it was a pleasure to take hold and do anything that lay in my power to help.

When we got to the Black Hills there was no water for the teams they were almost crazy for want of it, and when we got to the bed of the River they had to dig holes to get a little water, but they could not get half enough. Some of the men were greedy and wanted their teams to have all the water they wanted, which would not leave enough for the other teams. Mr. Rich had charge of the company and he had to appoint men to see that justice was done to each team.

When we arrived at the South Pass we met President Young and Company returning to Winter Quarters, they having gone to the valley and located Salt Lake City and appointed officers to act in the stake until they returned the next year; John Smith having been appointed President of the new stake in the valley and my husband, Charles C. Rich, first counselor and John Young second counselor. President Young and his company stayed with us one day to talk and preach to the people, telling us what to do and how to do, and whatever we did to sustain the authorities that were placed over us, and we all felt well after that and felt as though we would do our duty as far as we could.

Brigham Young and his company resumed their journey eastward and we traveled on to the valley. The roads were terrible, the mountains bad, the teams weak and it was very cold, but we were not discouraged; we felt that we would soon reach our destination, and that we would have a home in very deed when we got there. While on our juorney Mr. Rich's mother [Nancy O'Neal Rich] was taken very sick.

We arrived in Immigration Canyon on the first of October, 1847, and the longest place on my dress was just a little below my knees, I had walked through the brush, driving my team to keep them in the road, and could not stop to untangle my dress when it got fastened in the brush, but had to walk on, leaving part of my d[r]ess behind. We arrived in what is now Salt Lake City on the 2nd day of October, 1847, and found just a little fort of ten acres, and a few people who had arrived before. Mr. Rich looked around and picked out a place for a camp. The first thing we did was to care for his mother. We fixed a bed in one of the tents for her, and made her as comfortable as possible, but she only lived three days after our arrival, she being the first white woman to die in Salt Lake City.