Jones, Louisa, Reminiscence, in Allphin, Jolene, “Tell My Story, Too,” 346-347.
We started out with much hope and promise for a new life in Utah and plenty of provisions, we thought. However, before we reached Devil’s Gate, the provisions were very low, [and] the ox team gave out. It became necessary to double up [the wagons] and leave much of our belongings there. Some were stolen. Mother had been a milliner in England and owned some beautiful material. It was hard for her to part with it so some of the best cloth was kept. We had no idea how desperately hard it was going to be. . . .
The Indians would wait in hiding to take whatever they could. Even when stopping for the night, it became necessary for father to guard the oxen. Because of the constant exposure to the cold, wet and snowy nights, father took cold and then came down with Typhoid fever. He laid in the wagon, being too weak to walk. We had to keep up with the rest of the company or perish. Mother tried to drive the oxen, but it was too much for her. She had a stroke and also became an invalid. My older brother, Robert, had been left a cripple since he suffered Meningitis as a baby. So the arduous task of driving the oxen fell to me. If we were going to live, I had to do my part. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. My hands, once so delicate and frail [that] could tap out telegraph messages in what now seemed a dream or another life, now bled in open sores from roping and handling the oxen.
Father suffered in desperate pain now. One night, after our company had traveled two days from the Platte River, he begged mother to have me drive to the side of the road and let him die in peace. We had very little left of our provisions. [This was about one week before the Rescue Party located them.] Mother showed me how to use the flour to bake sea-biscuits, or hard tac on the campfire. They were nearly as hard as rocks. We put them in sacks and kept them in the josky box and nibbled or sucked them as we walked along. When an ox gave out and could go no further, we killed it and used all the parts for food, even the tripe which my brother Robert would clean.
A few days later, father called our family to his wagon and said, “I have pointed you zionward and I want you never to turn back. God is in his heaven and all is right with us whether we are in this earth or out of it. God will be with you. If you stumble and fall back, pick yourselves up and go on again.” [William Jones died Oct. 21, 1856.] . . . We rolled him in half of our wagon cover and buried him in a shallow grave. The ground was frozen and we simply had no means or time to do more. Seven others died that night and were buried there. That same night there was a terrible storm that dropped almost a foot of new snow. The next morning I managed to yoke up the oxen, but my grief was so strong I flung myself over father’s grave and sobbed until others pulled me away. Winter was settling in and there was precious little time left to get to Utah before we became permanently snowbound. I put on my father’s boots, slicker and hat and drove the slow plodding team of oxen in danger of freezing and starving. You simply cannot imagine how bad it was. I shared what rations we had with the starving children who had lost their mothers and whose feet were frozen and toes gone.
I remember well the bright moonlight night about 11 o’clock, when fresh provisions and teams arrived. Even our sea-biscuits were nearly gone. . . . [having] been on scant rations for weeks. How our hearts swelled inside with thankfulness as these great rescuers who put their own lives at risk, began cooking hot bread over the fires.