Transcript for Stucki, John S., Family History Journal of John S. Stucki , 42-46
There were only four wagons with oxen to pull them to haul provisions for about fifty families (if I remember right). Soon after we started we were told we could only have half rations, that is, just half as much as is considered an average person needs to live on. So we had to do our traveling on just half enough to eat. My dear mother [Magdalena Stettler Stucki] had a little baby [Christian] to nurse and only having half enough to eat and to pull on the handcart all day long, day after day, she soon got so weak and worn out that she could not help father anymore. Nor was she able to keep up with the Company till evening without pulling on the handcart. Sometimes when we camped she was so far behind the Company we could not see anything of her for quite a while so that I was afraid she might not be able to get to the Camp.
Father let mother have a little bigger part of the half ration. This shortage of food, together with having the three children with everything else we had in the handcart, made it too heavy for him to pull alone. In this hungry and also nearly worn-out condition, I have never forgotten how when I, a nine year old boy, would be so tired that I would wish I could sit down for just a few minutes how much good it would do to me, but instead of that my dear, nearly worn-out father would ask me if I could not push a little more on the Handcart.
I will never forget how hungry I was all the time. When one of the teamsters, seeing two Buffalos near the oxen, shot one of them and the meat was divided among the whole handcart company. My parents also got a small piece which my father put in the back end of the handcart. That was in the forepart of the week. He said that we would save it for our dinner next Sunday. I was so very hungry all the time and the meat smelled so good to me while pushing at the handcart, and having a little pocketknife, I could not resist, but had to cut off a piece or two each half day. Although I was afraid of getting a severe whipping after cutting a little the first few times, I could not resist taking a little each half day. I would chew it so long it got perfectly tasteless. When Father went to get the meat on Sunday noon he asked me if I had been cutting off some of the meat. I said "yes," that I was so hungry that I could not let it alone. Then instead of giving me the severe scolding and whipping he did not say a word but started to wipe the tears from his eyes.
As we had so little to eat I wondered why they did not shoot more Buffaloes when there were herds of many thousands traveling the opposite direction from which we were traveling. I afterwards learned that it was awfully dangerous to shoot into a big herd as they were easily stampeded and when stampeded they would run over emigrants or anything in their way. The morning that the one was shot there were only two separate from the herd near the oxen.
We were tired even in the mornings and hungry and weary. Still we had to keep traveling on and on until we got to a ranch. Here my father, with the rest of his money (except one dollar), bought a cow and some ropes to make a rope harness and halter to hitch the cow to the cart. He hitched the cow to one side of the tongue of the cart and father and the cow made a team together. At first the cow would not pull much, so father had to do most of the pulling. After a while the cow started to pull pretty good. Not long after we had her broke to pull, a big band of Indians met us and caused other troubles. They had their tent poles tied in bunches with the little ends tied to the sides of the horses with great packs, back of the horses, tied on the long, dragging poles of buffalo hides with different kinds of ugly looking things which they dragged along close by the side of us. This scared the cow so badly that she jumped and tore around till she got loose from father. Then she ran away with the handcart and three little children in it for quite a long ways. Then she got the handcart turned upside down with the three little children under it and the bows were all broken off. We were very much afraid that some of the children might have gotten their arms or legs broken or perhaps killed, but to our great relief found that none of them were seriously hurt. My father, and some of the other brethren, ran as fast as they could to get the little children from under the handcart and to see how they were.
Father fixed up the bows of the cart and made a different rope halter for the cow, thinking that perhaps he might better be able to hold the cow if Indians should meet us again. A few days later quite a large army of Indians met us again and as they dragged their horrible packs right close by the side of the cow she took such awful sidejumps that she got loose from father again and ran as fast as she could go until she turned the handcart upside down again. Again we were greatly relieved to find that not one of the three children were seriously hurt. Although the handcart had been turned upside down twice, with the little children in it, God had wonderfully protected them from all harm. Now, my father, not knowing but what we might meet some more bands of Indians, was afraid to use the cow anymore.
As there were three young Danish men to one handcart, he went to see if he could get one of them to help pull our handcart and the other two to take the cow to pull their cart. By that time the cow was quite a good puller and they kindly consented. So one of the young men helped father one day and another the next day, and so on in turn. At this rate we got along pretty good on the latter end of the journey except that dear mother got so sick it was almost impossible for her to walk the long distances each day. I began to be afraid that we might lose her before we could get to the end of the journey, but two of the Brethren laid their hands on her head and blessed her for the restoration of her health. After this she began to improve and got so that she was more able to walk.
Although we had to travel on half rations all the time, when we met those bands of Indians the captain of our company had to give them quite a lot of provisions. I suppose that he did so because the Indians demanded it and would not let us go on until he did so. They stopped our company and got what they wanted, then they let us go on in peace. Oh, how we longed for the time when we would get to the end of this tiresome and tedious journey that we might have a chance to rest up a little.