Transcript for "The Companies Yet on the Plains," Deseret News, 19 November 1856, 293

The Companies yet on the Plains.
DEVIL'S GATE, Nov. 2, 1856.

Dear Brother:—Knowing the anxiety you feel for the companies still out, and especially for the Hand-cart Company, I have concluded to send in your son Joseph A. and br. Abel Garr on an express from this place.

We had no snow to contend with, until we got to the Sweet Water. On the 19th and 20th of October we encountered a very severe snow storm. We met br. [James G.] Willie's company on the 21st; the snow was from six to ten inches deep where we met them. They were truly in a bad situation, but we rendered them all the assistance in our power. Br. Wm. H. Kimball returned with them, also several other brethren. The particulars of this company you have doubtless learned before this time.

[They arrived on the 9th inst., as already noticed.—ED.]

Previous to this time we had sent on an express to ascertain, if possible, the situation and whereabouts of the company yet back, and report to me. Not thinking it safe for them to go farther than Independence Rock, I advised them to wait there. When we overtook them they had heard nothing from the rear companies, and we had traveled through snow from 8 to 12 inches deep all the way from Willow creek to this place.

Not having much feed for our horses they were running down very fast, and not hearing anything from the companies, I did not know but what they had taken up quarters for the winter, consequently we sent on another express to the Platte bridge. When that express returned, to my surprise I learned that the companies were all on the Platte river, near the upper crossing, and had been encamped there nine days, waiting for the snow to go away, or, as they said, to recruit their cattle.

As quick as we learned this, we moved on to meet them. Met br. [Edward] Martin's company at Greasewood creek, on the last day of October; br. [William B.] Hodgett's company was a few miles behind. We dealt out to br. Martin's company the clothing, &c., that we had for them; and next morning, after stowing our wagons full of the sick, the children and the infirm, with a good amount of luggage, started homeward about noon. The snow began to fall very fast, and continued until late at night. It is now about 8 inches deep here, and the weather is very cold.

It is not of much use for me to attempt to give a description of the situation of these people, for this you will learn from your son Joseph A. and br. Garr, who are the bearers of this express; but you can imagine between five and six hundred men, women and children, worn down by drawing hand carts through snow and mud; fainting by the way side; falling, chilled by the cold; children crying, their limbs stiffened by cold, their feet bleeding and some of them bare to snow and frost. The sight is almost too much for the stoutest of us; but we go on doing all we can, not doubting nor despairing.

Our company is too small to help much, it is only a drop to a bucket, as it were, in comparison to what is needed. I think that not over one-third of br. Martin's company is able to walk. This you may think is extravagant, but it is nevertheless true. Some of them have good courage and are in good spirits; but a great many are like children and do not help themselves much more, nor realize what is before them.

I never felt so much interest in any mission that I have been sent on, and all the brethren who came out with me feel the same. We have prayed without ceasing, and the blessing of God has been with us.

Br. Charles Decker has now traveled this road the 49th time, and he says he has never before seen so much snow on the Sweet Water at any season of the year.

I am sorry to inform you of the death of br. [Thomas] Tennant, among those who have fallen by the way side.

Br. [John A.] Hunt's company are two or three days back of us, yet br. Wheelock will be with them to counsel them, also some of the other brethren who came out.

We will move every day toward the valley, if we shovel snow to do it, the Lord helping us.

I have never seen such energy and faith among the 'boys,' nor so good a spirit as is among those who came out with me. We realize that we have your prayers for us continually, also those of all the Saints in the Valley. I pray that the blessings of God may be with you and all those who seek to build up the kingdom of God on the earth.