Transcript for Thomassen, Peter Olaff, Report, in Andrew Jenson, History of the Scandinavian Mission [1927], 178-79

Elder Peter O. Thomassen, who, after having remained in Florence six weeks, started with other Scandinavian and English emigrants across the Plains in Capt. Nebeker's company July 25, 1963 [1863], gives the following report of the journey across the Plains:

"The company I traveled with counted no less than 70 wagons, nearly all of which were drawn by eight oxen each. It is remarkable to see how easy the teamsters guide these heavily loaded wagons and long strings of oxen without reins or harness, using only a long whip and the three words, "Haw," "Gee" and "Whoa" (which the oxen, through serious lessons, have learned to understand).

"The journey across the Plains was successful, but somewhat monotonous, and most of the travelers were glad to see the wagons drawn up to form the corral and rest their weary feet; but the young people, as a rule, were bent on having their lively sports before retiring at the call of the horn. Then all sang, music and dancing ceased, and the utmost quiet prevailed throughout the camp, while one of the Elders offered up a prayer and thanksgiving to the Almighty for his Fatherly guidance.

"On the 16th of August, we found a buffalo skull, having the information written thereupon that a company of more than 50 wagons had experienced a frightful stampede resulting in three persons being killed and several injured. The names of these, all Scandinavians, I have been unable to learn.

"The same day on which we found the skull, an extended prairie fire, which had started from one of our camp fires, spread with great rapidity, fanned by a high wind. It was a great sight to see this might mass of flames travel over hill and dale to the extent of many miles, while a herd of antelope, frightened by the blazing fires, sought refuge among our cattle, where they scarcely were discovered before everyone who possessed a gun or pistol was ready to shoot down these pretty animals. Most of them, however, escaped unharmed—thanks to their swift legs.

"On August 21st a German sister was struck by lightning and fell to the ground dead. A small bundle of keys, which she carried on a string around her neck, could not be found, and this, no doubt, had attracted the lightning which killed her. With the exception of a small hole in the head and a little mark under one foot, no marks of injury to the body were found, wherefore it was supposed that the electric current had passed directly through her body. The same stroke of lightning felled seven of the oxen to the ground, although without serious damage to them. The company lost 50 oxen on the journey.

"With weary feet but glad hearts we arrived at the pleasant homes of the Saints in Zion, September 24th, 1863, after the long tramp over the wide deserts of America. It was a pleasant and delightful sight to see the beautiful city spread out before us when we passed out of Parley's Canyon, a rough pass about 12 miles in length. The city far exceeded my expectations, both as to extent and beauty; the streets are wide and bordered with shade trees, which already have reached a considerable size; the houses, which are of course all new, are built in a nice, and in many cases elegant, style."

The total number of Saints who emigrated from Scandinavia in 1863 were 1,458, besides eight returning missionaries namely, Wm. W. Cluff, Hams Peter Lund, Johan F. F. Dorius and Hans C. Hansen. These Elders had all labored faithfully as missionaries in Scandinavia. Elder Peter O. Thomassen, who for several years had labored in the mission office in Copenhagen as writer for "Skandinavian Stjerne", also emigrated with his family that year, and so also did Elders P. Wilhelm Poulsen, Nils Rosengren and Christoffer S. Winge, who had acted as presidents of conferences.