Transcript for Wilkey, Ann Gregory to Dear Children, n.d
When we began to make preparations to cross the plains, it was April. While waiting for the company to get ready, Sister Alice Ellison gave birth to a daughter the 3rd of May 1853. She named her Alice. We stayed at Keokuk for 6 weeks, then word was given for us to be ready to start on our journey. Then we started on our long and tedious journey across the plains.
Brother Joseph Young was our captain, the company was called the "ten pound company". Our company numbered 53 persons, Bro.[John] and Sis. [Ann Gregory] Wilkey, Bro.[Samuel] and Sis. [Charlotte] Claridge and two children [Elizabeth and Samuel], Bro. [Henry Golding] and Sis. [Elizabeth] Golden, Charles and Elizabeth Wilkey Kemmish and family, Thomas Carter, wife [Mary Ann Goble] and son Hesikiah, Ambrose Hunt and wife [Sophia], Winerd Whitley and wife, Francis [Frederick] Pay and wife [Elizabeth], Bro. [John] Sutton, wife [Mary] and family, Charles Longstone [Longson] and wife, Bro. [John] and Sis. [Susannah] Claxton and daughter [Susannah], Thomas Lane and mother [Mary Lane], Bro. William Eddington and wife [Mary Jane Hales], Bro. [George] Birchell and wife [Sarah], Bro. Ellison, wife and family and a young lady, Bro. Bessent [Isaac Bessant], wife and family, Bro. wife and family and a young lady, Bro. [Benjamin] Ribbick, wife [Matilda] and family, Bro. Singleton, wife and family and Sister Lane, an old lady who while trying to get out of the wagon while it was going, fell, the wheel passed over her body. She died the following day. There was also a young woman died of consumption while crossing the plains. When we started we did not realize what our trip would be or did we think of what we would have to pass through before we reached our valley home.
We passed through a place called Laramy [Laramie] at night; when we camped, your father [Charles] and Uncle Charlie Kemmish went back to Laramy for a few provisions, thinking to get there quicker they crossed the mountains and got lost. They traveled on and on and got into a cactus bed. As it was night they could not see. After a while they came to an Indian camp, the Indians were friendly to them. They got through safely but were foot sore and tired. I shall never forget that night, we occupied the same tent as Bro. Francis Pay and wife. He asked Aunt Elizabeth and I if the men had returned, we answered, "No." He consoled us by saying, "Oh, they are devoured by the wolves or killed with the Indians." That was a night of terror and anxiety for us. I would place my ear to the ground, thinking perhaps that I might hear them or their footsteps, but no footsteps or sounds could I hear. Morning came and they did not come. The captain gave orders to start traveling and so we had to go along leaving our husbands behind. The company traveled on until noon and then stopped for dinner and to rest the teams for a little while.
Then they started to travel again, Aunt Elizabeth kept looking back finally we saw two persons coming a great distance behind us which proved to be our husbands. Oh, how thankful we were to see them coming, then we started on our journey again, we traveled until night then we halted to prepare supper. We had to gather buffalo chips to cook our supper with. We were very tired after walking all day for we could not ride in the wagons. We were always in terror, never knowing one minute from another that we would be killed or trampled to death by buffaloes. The Indians would ride up to our wagons in their war paints, great big men. They would frighten us as we did not know what their intentions were. When we saw them coming, the men would gather the wagons as close together as possible, placing the women and children in the wagons and the men would walk each side of the wagons carrying their weapons. Sometimes they were quieted down by giving them a sack of flour. We were once frightened by prarie dogs. Looking ahead we saw what we thought was a large band of Indians. The women and children climbed into the wagons and the men went in head with their weapons. As we came closer to them, they proved to be a band of prarie dogs on a hill sunning themselves. They looked a great deal better to us than if they had been a band of Indians.
We traveled along day after day, each day our provisions getting less and the journey very rough. We started out with a pound of flour a day then a half pound, then a quarter of a pound a day then it got to nothing at all.
The night my first child, Annie, was born the first of October 1853, there was not a spoonful of anything in camp. We were then 10 days travel from Salt Lake City. Aunt Elizabeth told me if I had seen the mountains we were going down I would not have stayed in the wagon. It took all the men with ropes tied to the wagons to keep them from tipping. The men had to pull back with all their strength to keep them from turning over. That was hard on the men as well as the horses. The next day after Annie was born teams came from Salt Lake City with provisions and helped us along until we reached our journey end.
We were then placed on the public square in Salt Lake City, with no shelter, but the blue sky above us and the ground beneath no home and nothing to eat and in October. My baby was then ten days old. I was very sick and tired and very weak having had not much food and being sick, but dear friends came. Bro. and Sis. Theabald took us to their home. They had been in Utah two years. We remained with them a few weeks. I had a chance to get rested and regain my strength. It took me a long time to get very strong, I was so run down and half starved.