Transcript for West, Charles Henry John, Reminiscences [ca. 1900], 7-9

We stayed at Florence a few days before starting across the plains. We were 10 weeks on the plains and arrived in Salt Lake City the 4th day of October 1863, just in time for Conference.

In giving a description of our journey across the plains I must trust to memory as I was not in a position to take notes. The brethren from Salt Lake were there at Florence to take charge of them, they had been there some time waiting, they had brought from the valley a goodly number of wagons loaded down with Dixie cotton. After getting their cotton disposed of they had then to fix up for the Saints, besides merchandise, there were in all about 60 wagons in our company and so many Saints and their families allowed to each wagon with their luggage and provisions, with a captain over all. When all was in readiness some of the young men, being appointed teamsters, we had three and four yoke of oxen to each wagon. We started for a thousand mile trip, all able-bodied men and women and young women and children that could walk, had to do so.

The first day to me the walking behind the slow gait of the oxen was fun. When we got to a place where there was good grass for the cattle we could stop and cook our dinner or supper as the case may be. My wife not being used to the way of mixing our flour for bread got too much salaratus in, so we had some nice looking yellow bread for buskits, one of the boys told my wife what proportion to put in, so afterwards we had some good bread. Our captain looked after the teamsters and saw that they (the oxen) all done their duty in pulling. He had a long black snake whip, when that came down on the cattle they had to get. In the evening we camped they would form a circle with the wagons, and had night herders to watch the cattle. We then had to build our fires of any dry sticks we could find near the water's edge. If we had to camp where there was no wood, we would on our journey pick up and carry Buffalo Chips and make a fire with that. It was the dry dung of oxen. Before going to bed a few would gather together in the dance, but we allways had prayers each evening. Sometimes we would come across some greens good for food, my wife would make many a good meal so we faired very well.

We had made up our minds to enjoy the trip without grumbling and found it the best way, we had a few grumblers in the camp. We had to wade up to our breasts some rivers we had to go through, if the current was very strong we would hold hands. I would sometimes have a child in one arm and holding on to another. If we got wet would let our clothes dry on so we would not take cold. We would average in traveling 20 to 30 miles each day. Sometimes we had travel by night in order to get to good camping ground.

One day towards evening our Captain told us to prepare for a big wind storm, had all the fires put out and the wagons all in a circle, the wheels of each wagon fastened together with heavy log chains, and the cattle all inside of the inclosure. We had barely got ready when the storm came, such a piercing and stormy wind, that it seemed to allmost take our breath away. We had to hold on to the wagons less we be blown away. After it was over I don't think there was one wagon cover left all had been blown to pieces.

Our little daughter, Mary Ann Young, she was sick more or less while crossing the plains, her appetite failing her, I thought I would goto the river side (being near one) and get a fish. I know it would do her good. The river being very low and leaving small puddles of water I would try and chase the fish by my hands into shallow water, so catch one. I did not exceed in getting any. I then and there prayed to God that I might get some if it was only one. I was about leaving to catch up to the train, when a man came along with a string of fish and offered me one, my prayers being answered, I went along rejoicing.

Our son Jabez William he got hurt through being run over by one of the wagons, and was badly hurt. I did not know whether it was broke or not it swelled up to a great size. I was recommended by one of the teamsters to catch the drippings of the oxen and apply it as a poultice. I done so several times, and the swelling went down and he soon got the use of his leg again.

We continued our journey day after day about the same routine, one continous stretch of country no houses to be seen on the journey. We would come across some of our young brethren, who were left to look after the provisions for the Saints, when we got to these different places, they being alone so long, when they saw our train, they would jump for joy and make quite a demonstration with their frying pans clapping them together. After loading up all the provisions they had for the camp, they would turn in and follow. We were in all 10 weeks on the plains, when we arrived at Salt Lake City on the camping grounds in the 8th Ward square. The friends and relations of different ones would come and take them away to their homes.