Transcript for "Autobiography of Our Dear Grandmother Mrs. Augusta Stevens," 3-5.
From this city [New Orleans] we completed the balance of our river journey by steamboat to the city of Kanesville on the Missouri River. This unloading point is on the east side of the river, and we remained there a month to prepare for crossing the Plains and getting the oxen and equipment ready for the journey. At this point I experienced a new phenomenon. There came one day the worst wind and thunderstorm that I could ever imagine and an experience I had never known of in Denmark or on the journey so far. The appointed time came for the great journey across the Plains into the then almost unknown West. The wagons and equipment and members of the emigrating party were taken over the Missouri River by ferry and the oxen, cows and horses had to swim across, as there was then no accommodations for ferrying animals across the river.
There were representatives of several nationalities including Americans but in our particular division of the emigrant train which included fifty wagons, there were twenty-eight from Copenhagen and in our company of ten wagons there were included quite a number of Americans. Our company was presided over by John Butler who was the captain over our company which occupied ten wagons. The entire fifty wagons with occupants was presided over by a head captain in the person of E[li B.] Kelsey and the whole emigrant train is known as Kelsey's Company. There were the five companies with ten wagons to each company, each company being presided over by a captain. The women generally rode in wagons and always slept in wagons. Personally I thought the emigrant wagons most remarkable as I had never seen anything of the kind before starting on this journey. Upon nearing the Rocky Mountains the oxen became somewhat worn out and then it was necessary for many of the women to walk. Upon camping at night the wagons were driven in a circle and the campfires were made inside the circle. Being young and in my fifteenth year, this being the year 1852, it became a part of my regular duty to gather buffalo chips which served as part of the fuel for the campfires.
During the first part of the journey across the plains, the novelty of travel was new and at evenings during this trip we enjoyed the company of the members and friends we had made. One member had a fiddle and all joined in the evening dances around the campfire within the big circle. Prayers and hymns were part of the morning and evening program. After walking most of the day I was so tired that I would have been glad to go to bed without supper but I always had to help with camp duties these including the washing of dishes and the making of beds.
Occasionally I would walk with some of the other girls in head of the train as far as we dared to go on account of the Indians and then wait for the wagons. My thoughts would go back to my parents and folks in Denmark feeling sure that I would never see them
again because the journey into the wild west seemed so long and hard and uninviting that it seemed that I could never hope to have them join me in this distant place known as Zion. Surely my elderly parents at least could not endure the hardships of such a journey. I had my sobs and cries and pangs of sorrow. What comfort it would have been to me if I could have been able to speak or understand the English language.
One of the singular incidents that happened enroute was the stampeding of a herd of buffalo which came direct towards our wagon train. The buffalo ran directly in front of our train of wagons. This caused a great commotion and almost a stampede among the oxen and horses of the train. The few rifles available were used. Fortunately, a few buffalo were killed thus giving us extra provisions for the long journey ahead of us. Upon another occasion nearly a dozen Indians came on their horses towards the emigrant train. A great deal of apprehension was caused among the immigrant as they felt sure an impending disaster was before them. But our daily prayers were answered and we were assured that our Heavenly Father was mindful of the needs and protection of His Saints. The Indians spread their blankets by the side of the trail and each wagon was required to give its toll of food to the Indians as it passed.
Most unusual kindness and care was given me by the Raven family who paid the expense of my journey. Especially, did I appreciate the kindness of Sister Raven as she cared for me as if I were her own child. I assisted them all I could on the journey to at least partly pay for their unusual kindness to me.
When we had advanced to the Green River station, now Green River, Wyoming, the supply of flour had been exhausted. The fall snows commenced bringing the cold blizzard and wintry blast, all of which added to the perils of the journey. It became necessary to send a man with the best and fastest equipment on to Salt Lake City to get flour and rush back to Green River which was only sufficient to sustain the party for the balance of the trip.
On into the mountains we went, along the already broken trail which had now been traveled over by the emigrant trains for the last five years. We arrived in Salt Lake City, October 16, 1852, it was then eight months and twelve days since I had said goodbye to my parents and friends in Copenhagen.
Elder Erastus Snow had come by horse conveyance across the Plains and had not stopped the month at Kanesville. Upon entering Salt Lake City, Elder Snow met the train and invited our original twenty-eight Scandinavians to his house for dinner at which we were served salt risen bread. I must here remark that I have never tasted a cake since that tasted to me as good as that salt risen bread, after this prolonged and tedious journey of hardships.