Transcript for Squires, John Fell, Autobiographical sketch

We changed boats at St. Louis and finely arrived at Keokuk [Iowa]. The saints generally thought the way to Zion was a hard road to travel but found out later that they were not up against the real thing until they began to outfit for the plains and come in contact with a herd of wild Texas cattle with hornes like a rain bow.

They were also introduced to ox yokes, bows, chains, and whips with instructions to go into the herd and get busy. “Bring in two yoke of oxen and one yoke of heffers.” This was the order from the Captain to the head of each family. These green Englishmen did not know the yoke from the bow, a steer from a heffer but they obeyed orders and went into the corral and got busy alright, but did not land their game. Those who were able to report to the Captain after their first lesson in trying to yoke Texas steers came at him something like this. “Hi say Captain I carnt [can’t] do a bloody thing with those beastly bullocks. They nearly poked hout my hies [eyes], just look at me clothes, hi say carnt we ave orses that ave been used. Those beastly brutes fight like lions. Why we shall never be able to fasten them together know, hi say Captain, ow far is hit from ear to Zion.[”] One thousand miles, “and is our luggage and hus got to be drawn with those wild brutes.” Yes—“And if we ever get those yokes and things on them do they stay until we get there.” Oh no, they have to be taken off twice a day. At noon and at night to allow them to feed and rest.

“My word I wish hi was back in Hingland that’s all.” So did the Captain a great many times before he got through with some of them. After much trouble and some delay due largely to inexperience and accidents, our ox train began moving west at an average pace of ten miles a day. In my opinion had not help come they would still be there to catch those cattle. Fortunately there were a bunch of cowboys who came to their rescue, showing them how the trick was done a few times in order to get them out of the way and make room for others. The first two weeks out those English teamsters managed to tip over several wagons, broke numurous tounges, reach poles, wheels, due to misunderstandings between cattle and teamsters. We blamed the cattle at that time, but I now throw the blame on to the teamsters as I believe the former understood their business best. These cattle could not get that English broge in to their heads, they only understood United States, the kind the cowboy speaks with a handle on every sentence. There were many delays and much trouble caused through the inexperience of those poor emigrants. Considerable sickness developed in the company due largely to the saleratus water and other things. These conditions developed mountain fever, dioreah [diarrhea] and other troubles which staid with many until it either killed them or landed what was left of them in Zion. I was with the rank and file in connection with this dioreah trouble and held the record for spreading more manure over the plains of North America than any other person of my age and weight. The roads were bad as a general thing, rivers and streams without bridges. Improvised ferry boats were used on the larger streams. On the smaller ones it was plunge in and take a chance in ever getting out. Our company met many tribes of Indians, some of these gave us a little trouble but nothing of a serious nature. Considering conditions and the advantage they had in those days they behaved very well.

There were all kinds of wild game and the streams abounded with fish. When we got into the buffalo country it would be hours at times when our train would be delayed to let those animals cross the trail. While speaking of buffalos, I might say they were a great benefit to the emigrants in two ways. They furnished them with meat, also with fuel. Wood was very scarce in the buffalo country but buffalo chips were in abundance. They would burn like wild fire when dry but not when fresh and wet. The average buffalo chip hunter was not long in finding out which was the most convenient to handle and give the best results when cooking.

Quite a number died while in rout and were burried by the way side. These brief funurals usually took place in the evening. The departed would be rolled up in a blanket, let down into a shallow grave, sticks, rocks and dirt would cover their remains. The mourners were up and off with the rest of the company never to see that spot again. My Brother Dick [Richard Fell Squires] died on the Big Sandy about two hundred miles east of S.L. City and was laid away and left behind in the usual manner. This was a severe blow to my Mother [Catherine Harriet Fell Squires], as I always thought him to be her favorite child. At that time I was reduced to a mear skeliton unable to walk. Father told me I would die like my brother Dick, but I fooled him for once. There was a little black eyed curly headed girl [Alice Penn Maiben] under six years of age. Her Father’s [Henry Maiben’s] wagon was next to ours most of the way. She was gritty and tougher than myself. She truged along day after day walking nearly the entire distance from the Missouri River to S.L. City.

I used to watch her at this and I might say kept my eye on her until we grew up and became husband and wife. Since then she has kept her eye on me. The last two or three hundred miles our progress was slow as our cattle gave out, many of them dying, some in the harness while pulling their loads. We finely arrived at our destination. This was on the thirtith day of September, 1853, so that we were nearly eight months from the time we started until we arrived at our destination notwithstanding the fact that we were on the move during this time, but not so fast as they move now.