Transcript

Transcript for Sangiovanni, G.G.R., "Overland Trips Across the American Desert," Young Woman's Journal Aug. 1912), 427

It was the custom every spring to send east five hundred ox teams to the Missouri river after freight and emigration. They were divided into eleven trains, fifty wagons in a company, each company led by a captain and an assistant. That was done by a loan. Every ward in the state had its quota to fill: for instance, A would lend a yoke of oxen, B a wagon, so on until the amount was filled. The drivers filled their position as a mission. I was one of them. We were furnished with food and clothing. Our captains, James Andrus [Andrews] and Dan. McArthur, were fellow-townsmen. We started on our long trip April first. We took down to Omaha ten thousand pounds of Utah cotton for an experiment. It brought market price. I drove a team of four yoke of oxen, as did the rest, from St. George to Florence, Nebraska, and back two thousand seven hundred miles. Returning we had four hundred souls in our company. They were principally English; some Swiss and some Italians from Piedmont. We had two deaths on the trip—one old English woman, one Italian. Burials were very primitive. The corpse was rolled up in quilts or blankets, sewed up neatly and put away to rest with the Mormon ritual. When the women were laying out the corpse of the old woman, her husband refused to let them have any bedding to roll it up in. They reported the trouble to the captain, Dan. McArthur. He told a couple of us to go and take what was needed for burial.

Some seasons the Platte river, which we followed over five hundred miles, dries up. That was one of them. Towards Fort Laramie it was difficult in some places to find enough water for the stock and camp. The water for miles was in holes. There were fish by the thousands—cat-fish, pike, chubs, suckers, and principally improvised tackle was used to catch them. They made spears from butcher knives, forks or bits of iron. Many times they would wade in and catch them with hands. It surely was "manna" for the Saints. One cat-fish weighed seventy pounds. When we got within reach of Fort Bridger we took a trail to the north of the fort on account of grass. The next morning, while we were at breakfast (6 a.m.), there came a command of troops with orders for us to go to the Post and take the oath of allegiance: we went over of course. It kept us out of a day's travel towards home. We arrived at Salt Lake on the first of October. Unloaded and returned to our southern home.

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