Transcript for Wilson, Rachel Priscilla Loveless, "Biography of Priscilla Wilson, 1923," 2-7

Pop fitted our four wagons one with four yoke of cattle, and two with three yoke including the cows and one with one very large yoke of oxen for my mother. There were two small children and although I was then ten years old I was not permitted to ride with mother except on rare occasions. One day I got in with mother and as I got out over the end of the tongue, I caught my dress and hung for a little way, then fell down and the team ran over me, but I was not hurt in the least although my mother was very scared.

Pop did not have money enough to leave. but he went down to a merchant by the name of Kinkaid in the capital and got a load of goods for freighting and they were paid for hauling this load in provisions for the trip, which consisted of cornmeal, matches, ham[,] some wheat flour, so that we were left well provided for in foodstuff.

One of our troubles on the trip was for wood to cook with. Although we had a small stove, we very often had to burn buffalo chips for fuel and sometimes put some in the wagon for fear of a scarcity of even that kind of fuel.

I remember the day we started. We were near the banks of the Missouri. I have always had a picture of that great muddy river as we crossed in a ferry boat. Everything was ferried across. The great number of cattle, wagons, etc. I was nearly frightened to death.

Before we crossed the river a great band of Pottawatomie Indians came to see us off. They shook hands and said goodby as we left the east bank.

After we had reached this side we were ordered to wait for others who were coming. While waiting here, in April, it rained for five or six days. The cattle were kept in a big correl [corral] and fed. The mud in the correl became knee deep. It was always referred to as the muddy correl.

In about six days the others also came up and we were organized and ready for the journey. Pop was put in as captain over ten wagons. Our captain was named [Roswell] Stevens. The one man was captain over fifty wagons[.] the pilot of the company was named Cooley. He had been to Utah before. He rode a horse, the only horse I can remember in the company. He must have had lots of red cotton handkerchiefs as he always left one tied to a brush to guide us.

We traveled until we came to the Big Horn Creek. Rain had been coming down about every day and the Big Horn was so swollen that we could not cross, so we followed him up the stream to head it. We followed that stream for weeks, we lost the stream but traveled on for days and weeks. We got up into the sandhills where the buffalo had been driven. They were so thick we could hardly travel. One night a stampede of buffalo frightened our cattle and they broke out and all ran away. The men were for two days hunting them. One of our cows we could not find at all.

One night we stopped on the bank of a beautiful stream of pure cold water. The captain told us however that we did not need to fill our churns and kegs with this water, as we could camp that night by a big stream. We went on, traveled all day and after dark we came to a perfectly dry creek bed. The men dug and dug, but not a drop of water could be found. Our cattle had not a drop. My little brother cried nearly all night for water. The next morning all teams and available wagons and vessels were taken back to our camp of the night before for water. The cattle had to be herded to keep them from jumping in the stream.

The next night we camped in a pretty place. We stopped two hours before sunset. One wagon pulled out a half mile from the others and the men came for my mother but she could not go. Two or three women went out to the wagon and the next morning I heard a baby cry in that wagon when it came back and I knew there was none the night before. I thought they had found one in the brush.

We traveled and traveled this unknown road until after a time we came back to the main road. One Sat. morning as meat was getting scarce, the captain told the company to stay where we were all day. The best hunters were ordered to go out and kill one or two buffalo[.] they had no trouble in getting two very large ones. The men came back with a lot of meat. All day Sunday we jerked this buffalo meat and by putting it out in the sun whenever possible, we kept it from spoiling and had jerky all the rest of the trip and some when we reached the valley.

Fortunately very few Indians were seen while we were lost in the sandhills. There was no sickness, no cholera or trouble on this trip. Those who came along on the old road suffered very much with sickness, especially cholera. When we reached the old road, there was the greatest jubilee I have ever seen. Men swung their hat and shouted. Women cried and I couldn’t understand for years why they cried. When we found ourselves we were just a short distant the other side of Old Fort Laramie about half way and we had been more than three months on the road. It was here where we came into the Indian country. There were some Sioux Indians, these were big fine looking men. The Snake Indians and the Cheyennes were at war.

One night as we were camped by a small stream I was across the creek with my sister milking when the bullets began to fly all around us. I thought we were going to be killed. Mother called to us but sister said, “We were not through milking yet.” We hurried back to the camp. While we were milking a grown Indian and a boy ran past. We then ran to the Indian and hid. The Indian and the boy got in one of the wagons of the company. They were ordered out by the Camptain [Captain] and the owner of the wagon pushed them out. We were afraid of being accused of aiding one band to escape: These two ran to the side of a hill to where a projecting rock made a hole where they crawled in. Just then five big warriors were seen coming on horses. They were tracking these two. The five were armed with shields, and spears and rifles. They rode up to the rock and by spearing the two hunted ones, finally brought them out. They scalped the man and boy and came down to our camp showing the bleeding scalps. Some of the men of our company went up to where the two were and found them still moving. They died immediately however, no one slept that night. We could see the smoke and hear Indians.

The next morning a company of our men went ahead to find the Snake Tribe to explain the death of their tribesmen. They found a large tribe of Snakes with a white man with them who could talk English. The Interpreter told our men that he would do all he could to save them but that it looked suspicious and pretty bad for our company and we might all have to pay for this deed as they thought we had killed their tribesmen. The Snake leaders came to our camp and laid their blanket across the road and ordered that no man move past them until they were convinced of our innocence. Our men took them out and they finally located the tracks of the enemy Cheyennes and we were allowed to depart. No other special troubles were encountered between there and our destination, Salt Lake City, where we arrived in September having been five months on the road.