Olsen, James, Reminiscences, 47-49, in Histories and biographies written by members of Camp Sunflower, Daughters of Utah Pioneers of Center Utah County, Provo, Utah, vol. 4.
- Related Companies
- John E. Forsgren Company (1853)
Our progress was slow, the road being muddy and bad. Our average drives about 15 miles a day. The few ranchers through Iowa were mobocrats from Illinois. They forbid us to get water at their wells. We came on up until we reached Kainsville [Kanesville] where we had to cross the Missouri river on ferry boat. The river was very high it being in the month of June, we had to use paddles as there was no rope. The current being swift it took us 4 or 5 days to get across but we got over safely. When Captain Forsgren called a meeting of thanksgiving for our safe deliverance through that mobocratic state and across that dangerous stream the Missouri Rivers.
Although we were now in the wilderness and exposed to the Indians and wild beasts we felt much safer. As we experienced the spirit those Iowans were possessed of. So we came on through what later became the state of Nebraska. Nothing of any particular note occurred until we came up into the flat valley where we first saw the American Indian. We saw them on the bluffs to the north of us one day but the next day they came into our camp and spread out their buffalo robes in the center of our camp. Warriors made a circle around them and smoked the big pipe which was a sign of peace. They demanded food, sugar and coffee, everything we had, so being timid we gave them what they asked for.
Our captain said it was cheaper to feed them than to fight them. So while in the Platt Valley plenty of feed everything went well, averaging from 15 to 20 miles a day. The Indians repeated their visits and as before we repeated our gift to them. A few days later another unexpected visitor came along, the American buffalo. They came down to the river to water in great droves by the hundreds and as our oxen were afraid of them they stampeded our cattle and made us some trouble. But we pushed on and soon reached Laramie a government fort on the North Platte to protect the emigrants from the Indians.
Now 500 miles from Winter Quarters we came into what is called the Black Hills, a hilly rolling country. Our travel begun to slow down, cattle getting leg weary and poor feed and water had dryed up. Sometimes we had to travel way into the night to make what we called a dry camp. So it begun to be tedious, we had yet 500 miles to Fort Laramie. Well, we came on up to the upper crossing of the North Platte where we leave it on our left, and cross over on what is called Sweet Water, a distance of about 20 miles, came to a place which is called Independent [Independence] Rock situated out in the middle of the valley, miles away from every mountain, probably cover a quarter of an acre.
Next day we crossed the divide where all streams of water went south into the Pacific ocean. Hence we had reached the summit. We had yet some 300 miles before we reached Salt Lake Valley. Nothing of any special note took place, only the same old go, up one hill after another. We came to Green River and crossed safely. On to Hams Fork, finally Fort Bridger and Evanston and over the divide to the noted Echo canyon where 4 years later so much of Utah history centers and finally over the big mountain and also to the little mountain down Emigration canyon to Salt Lake City where we reached Sept. 29, 1853 after a journey of 8,000 miles, eleven long months on the journey.
Written by James Olsen a member of said company