Transcript for Taylor, George H., "The Autobiography of George H. Taylor" [1949], 23-29

We arrived at length at the town of Omaha, in the state of Nebraska. We landed on the desolate looking bank during a rain storm and the soil being free from gravel, every step we took, lifted great patches of stiff mud with our shoes, making travel very tedious. I got Mina a place to stop over night, and went on with the balance of the company on foot to Florence or Winter Quarters as it was called, when first settled by the Mormons in 1846. It is about 6 miles up the river, north from Omaha, and at the time of my arrival was used as a starting point, for our people across the plains. There were but few houses in the place, and very poor ones at that. The next morning I went back to Omaha & returned with Mina [Anstis Elimina Shepard (Mina)]. We took up quarters in a deserted store with several other families, rigged up a stove out side, cooked our own meals, & slept under the counter. We arrived there about [ text missing ] and remained in the store about [ text missing ] weeks. When we received our wagons, I had ours drawn to a level grassy plat near a stream, and we then moved our things into it, and we commenced our first house-keeping. As we had to wait here for several weeks for our cattle to arrive, it gave me a chance to learn considerable about the preparation necessary for a trip across the plains. And I availed myself of it, by fitting up my wagon, to secure the greatest amount of comfort and convenience. I cut a hole through the cover in the side and put an iron step between the wheels, so that we could get in and out easily. I also put a boot or extension on behind so that I could set the stove on & tie it there, so as to have it handy to take of quickly when we stopped, and load up again quickly when we started.

Mina & I made several excursions in different directions from the camp and one day came upon a large patch of ripe wild strawberries of which we gathered quite a quantity, and having a cow giving milk, we had quite a feast of strawberries & cream.

I had quite an experience in my first deal in cows. She was young and had a calf, and was not disposed to leave it, so I tied a rope round her neck and started for our wagon. I had gone but a little distance when I found that I should have tied the rope round her horns, for instead of being led, she concluded she would lead, which she did at full speed, with myself at the tail end of a ten foot rope. It must have been fun for the crowds who were looking on, for they laughed & shouted "go it". But it was not very funny to me, for she took me over bunapo, into hollers, up hill & down, across a bridge, and through every place where she thought she could throw me off, which she did by my falling and spraining my right arm, so that I carried it in a sling the remainder of my stay at that place.

In due time our cattle arrived and I received two yoke who had already traveled half way to Pikes Peak & back that spring. One yoke were old and steady & slow. The others were 3 year old stears [steers], and quite wild. I named them, three after my Brothers Sam, Jim, & Bill, the other Tom after my Brother in Law. The cow we called Dolly. The company was now about ready, so we loaded up our things and provisions, and also the luggage belonging to four persons who were going with us in our wagon. One was a young man named Oscar [text missing]who was not quite bright, and who was of no assistance to me on the journey, as I could not trust the team with him. One was an English widow about 40 years of age, who had the athsma very bad. And another was an old maid named [text missing] who said she was a decendent of the Salem wiches, and her looks and actions did not belie her descent. Lastly was another maid, a German about 30, who spoke very broken English. With this singular crowd we started, all on foot except Mina who rode in the well loaded wagon, on the 26th day of June 1859. I tied a rope to the horns of my wild leaders, and with a piece of rope tied to a stick for a whip, and my right arm in a sling, we started on our weary trip of one thousand miles. Our first days journey was about 8 miles to Pappao [Papillion] Creek. We were strung along, (60 wagons of us) for over a mile, and the antics of wild cattle, and green drivers, was something to remember for a lifetime.

I managed tolerably will for a raw hand, and brought up all right into camp, but oh! What a tired lot we were. We now had our first taste of camp life, after the cattle were turned out to feed, which was abundant, as the grass was knee deep as far as the eye could see.

Wood was gathered, the stove got off & stood up, the kittle boiled, meat fried, cow milked, and then we all sat down & eat a hearty supper.

After dark I was detailed to stand guard over the cattle till 12 o'clock.—About 10 there came up a violent wind & rain storm, it thundered & lightened very heavy. The cattle became freightened and started to roam. The night being very dark, made it a hard task for us to keep them together. But the storm passed over, my watch was finished, and after a few hours sleep I was up and ready for a start with the rest.

We organized with Edward Stevenson as our Captain. Each 10 wagons had also a Captain. In our ten it was Robt. McKendric. In our ten were the following persons or heads off families. The Captain, Thomas Lyon, L.B.H.[Thomas Brown Holmes] Stenhouse, Wm. Sadler, Wm. Harris, Thurkle & Sproat, W.J. Silver. Charles Davey, G.H. Taylor, Hyrum Edgar

On the 4th day of July we reached the Loup Fork which we crossed on a flat scow, taking over one wagon at a time. We had here a chanch [chance] to see the formation of quicksand, bars, for when we started the first wagon over, the landing was about 4 ft deep, but in two hours after, the water was barely a foot & we had hard work to get the last wagon up to the bank.—We journeyed on day after day, making from 10 to 20 miles per day, as camping places with wood & water were available, sometimes having to go two days before reaching water, and at such times there was much suffering with thirst. I remember going one night about two miles to a stagnant slough for water, after we had traveled all day through the hot sun without any, and when we got to the water it was so green & filthy that we could not drink it. We had very few dry camps however, as our Captain manages generally by short or long drives to camp by water. There were very few houses at this time between Omaha and Utah. The 1st was Columbus on the Elk Horn Creek, about 20 miles from Omaha. It was then a small settlement of about 20 houses. The next was a settlement about 100 miles out, on the Loup Fork, of about 30 houses, that had been built by the Mormons, but was deserted, as the Indian Agent had ordered them away, on the plea that it was an Indian Reservation. The next small settlement was at Wood River about 100 miles still further west. There was not another house for 300 miles until we arrived at Laramie. We had followed up the Platt[e] River on the north side for about 350 miles sometimes on the bank and sometimes quite a long distance away. We traveling in as straight a line as possible, so as to strike the north bends of the crooked river. At Fort Laramie we left the river, and commenced our journey through the Black Hills range. The great plains having ended at this point. From this point our traveling was much more difficult, and as we were now ascending rapidly, the weather was much cooler, especially at night, and the thick fat bacon that had been dripping from our wagons through the great heat met with on the plains, which made it so flabby that we could not eat it, now hardened up so nicely, as to tempt our increasing appetites, until we could eat great slices of fat and call it delicious.

We occasionally struck the Platt River which wound its way through the hills. And on one occasion as we reached the river, we saw a large band of Sioux Indiens on the opposite side driving a large drove of ponies. As soon as they saw us, a number of them started across on horseback. The river was quite wide, but shallow. They soon reached the shore and galloped into our midst. They were the finest looking Indiens I ever saw, had been out on the war path, and were returning home with the ponies they had taken, as spoil. They were in very good humor and did not offer to molest, but begged some sugar and bread, which we gave them and then they left. The following two years they were very troublesome all along the rought, and attacted [attacked] a number of our trains. The only other Indiens we saw on the trip, were a few big fellows, at Pawnee Springs on our first weeks travel out. Sister [Fanny Warn] Stenhouse was riding in our wagon, and being a very pretty woman, one of the Indians wanted me to swap her to him for a pony. I buckled on my revolver, and they seeing that I was freightened, walked, (three of them) abrest with me twirling their tomahawks through there fingers for quite a distance, when they laughed, and left. We also saw at this place a Princess of the Pawnee tribe, and she was a fine looking girl about 18, dressed in a bed tick gown which she wore very gracefully.

We saw a few Buffalo while traveling up the Platt, and one night we camped on Elm Creek, and on getting up at break of day saw several in among our cattle quite close by, but before any one could get a rifle ready, they had started off on the run and our cow along with them. One of the Brethren mounted a horse & went after her, and in about an hour, drove her back into Camp.

Dolly our cow was quite a pet in the Camp, and was a great blessing to us, and to many other beside, as she gave a good sized pail of milk as far as Larimie, when her milk began to fail. We had a good sized glass jar into which we put what milk was left, after giving several some through the camp. I had made a wooden cover and dasher, and the movement of the wagon would nearly bring it to butter during the day. And Mina would have it completed by the time we were settled in camp.—Fresh butter and buttermilk every night was a grand treat, but we were the only ones who made it.

The season was a very dry one. The emigration very heavy, and as a consequence water & grass was scarce. Many of the cattle drank alkali water and died, among them was our pet Dolley. In the latter part of the journey near Green River she had been yoked up in a team to help some one who had lost an Ox, and she fretted & dried up, got poisoned and died.

We were met at [text missing] Fork by some teams who had come out to help us in. With them was Brother John Taylor and some other brethren from the valley, who spent a night with us & then returned. With the extra teams we made good head way, and on the 16th of September in the afternoon rolled out of Emmigration Canyon on the bench overlooking the Salt Lake valley, in full sight of the city 5 miles distant after a long and weary trip of 82 days from Florence. It was a glorious sight to us, tired, weary and dirty as we were.

We continued on our way over the bench to Emmigration street, now called 3d south, along that to the state road, up to the Eagle gate, past the Presidents Office and on to the University square in the 16th ward, where we camped in the middle of the block, and were soon surrounded by the reletives and acquaintences of those who had any.—