Transcript for Sutton, John Allen, Autobiography [ca. 1883], 7-9

My next trouble was to know how to go across the plains, one thousand miles. I hadn't money to pay my fare and my case looked rather dark, as all the trains that hired men to drive teams had gone. I finally succeeded making a contract with a man by the name of Jarvis to take me across the plains. I was to fix up his wagons and milk his cows on the journey. Therefore, in the beginning of July the company moved out on the plains and was organized. There were about one hundred wagons and Job Smith was appointed captain.

On the first part of the journey nothing of interest occurred except the running away of cattle, breaking up of wagons, getting stuck in the mud, a great deal of which was in consequence of unskilled drivers. While crossing a creek at what is called the Catholic Mission, not far from Big Blue, one man got drowned. He was sick and while crossing a log, he fell in and was drowned before anyone knew it.

We arrived close to Fort Carney [Kearny] where we encountered a terrific storm, the water rising so high that our cattle were stampeded and we had to remain there two days. Finally we took up our line of march and passed along the Platte River on the south side until we got to Ash Hollow. We camped there and drove our cattle across the Platte to feed. I was one who was detailed to cross the river and herd the cattle. Being very tired, I laid down and went to sleep. I was roused up by suddenly by something rattling. I looked and there was a great rattle snake ready to make a jump. Having seen many of them on our travels and hearing many incidents related to them, I dared not move for fear he would bit me. Finally I made one spring and got out of his way. Fortunately for his snakeship there was nothing I could kill him with than a buffalo chip.

At this place we encountered Captain [Darwin] Richardson's Company which had started one week ahead of us. He made his brags that he could beat us into Salt Lake City by two weeks. We told him all right, but we thought not. We then traveled on and crossed the South Fork of the Platte. The river being dangerous to ford, we got as many as ten and twenty yoke of cattle on to one wagon. I crossed the Platte that day about six times, it being about one-half mile wide. Rest assured that when night came I was ready for sleep.

When we came within ten miles of Fort Laramie we encountered the Sioux Nation of Indians, 6,000 strong. They were a noble race of people, of fine physique. They were making chiefs. Their method was to form a circle, stick secures [skewers] through the breast, twist a rope around them and the one that could endure to walk around this circle the longest was considered the greatest chief.

The next day the Danish Company came up. The Indians took two of the cows and killed them. The captain reported at the garrison of Fort Laramie what the Indians had done. A company with one cannon and an Indian interpreter were then ordered to go and demand the[y] pay for the cattle. While parleying with the Indians there was a misunderstanding between the chief and the interpreter. The captain ordered one of the men to shoot the chief, which he did, and in less than twenty minutes the Indians killed all the company, broke their cannon and threw it into the Platte. There was then great fear that the Indians would take Fort Laramie. Men were sent in every direction to all posts around to make forced marches to get out of the way. Our company traveled all that day and that night in the Black Hills. We had been without water for one day, when we caught up with the company, James Brown of Ogden, being captain. He told us we could not stop, for there was not enough water for his company and ours and that he would shoot the first oxen unyoked. A man by the name of John Hill, who drove the team ahead of me, said, "All right, we will see." He stepped up to his wagon and got out his blunderbus, then went up to Old Buck and let him out of the yoke. "Now," he said, "Shoot." Captain Brown saw that it was no use to resist any longer and concluded we could stay.

Arriving at Platte Bridge, it was thought best to divide the company into three parts. Here an incident occurred which seemed as though I was to be left on the plains, for Mr. [Henry John] Jarvis' provisions had given out and he told me he could not take me any further. Still I had found a friend in Mr. [John] Ford, now living in Centerville, Utah. He had lost two of his sons who had died of cholera. Mr. Ford told me he would be glad if I would come and drive his team and the change was a blessing to me for I had to suffer many indignities from Mr. Jarvis. I drove Mr. Ford's team till he arrived at Salt Lake City, which was on the twenty third day of September, and we had made our camp at Jordan Bridge.