“History of Alice Davis Crane,” A History of the Three Wives of James Crane: Alice Davis Crane, Elizabeth Stewart Crane, and Rachel Briggs Crane (Crane Family Genealogical Committee, 1951).
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- Source Locations
- Church History Library, M270.07 C8912h 1951?
- Related Companies
- Horton D. Haight/Frederick Kesler Freight Train (1859)
My brother Joseph and the young man named James Crane that I was engaged to, immigrated to America in the year 1856.
The next year, 1857, they sent the money for my brother William and myself to come to New York. We got to New York and hired out there for one year. That was the year Johnson's Army was sent up against the Saints. In the spring of 1858 we left New York and went to Iowa City, myself, my two brother and James Crane. I married James Crane April 5, 1858 in Iowa City. We all got places and hired out. My husband and myself hired to the same place to a man named Huff, he was a doctor, but he thought he would quit the doctor business and go into raising sugar cane. He took up a quarter section and put in a large patch of cane, hired a lot of men and had a steam engine to grind the cane. He was giving or promised to give big wages to my husband to be foreman. I had to do the cooking. We worked hard there all summer expecting to get enough to get our outfit to immigrate to Utah the coming spring.
They have very cold severe winters in Iowa and that fall the frost came a little earlier than usual and his cane got froze so his molasses business proved a failure and he could not pay his hands. In the fall we left Doctor Huff and hired to a farmer that lived near by for the winter; my husband to do the chores and me to do house work and cooking. The name of the farmer was Mr. Barling, he had a wife, daughter, and three sons. We lived there until spring. We heard there was a church train going to Utah and Bishop Hester [Frederick Kesler] and Joseph W. Young and Orten [Horton D.] Haight from Utah were around buying up cattle to take the train through to Salt Lake. They wanted so many teamsters so my husband thought it would be best to move into Iowa City, as we lived about 16 miles out in the country. We told Mr. Barling we would like to get our pay as we had not drawn any of our wages all winter. He said if we would stop and work all summer, in the fall he would pay us, but if we left then he could not pay us. They let us have a little flour and corn meal and a few pounds of butter so we left there and rented a room. My husband and my two brothers worked together and made a little until Bishop Hester [Kesler] came along to hire teamsters. I think he got ten teamsters in Iowa City, my husband and two brothers being among the number. My oldest brother got married the night before we started, as young women could not go with the church train. We only had one wagon and a yoke of oxen, and there was three couples to occupy this wagon, my husband and I, my oldest brother and his wife, that had just married, and Thomas Foot and wife. The other teamsters had a tent to sleep in. The wagon we had was a large one with boards across the top of the wagon bed. One couple had to make their bed below and the other two couples to make their beds on the top, so we took it in turns sleeping below, we had a not very comfortable time getting up to Florence. It was the fifth of April when we left Iowa and it would snow and then rain and melt the snow until the wheels of the wagon would be to the hubs in mud and then we would get stalled and clear everything out of the wagon and everyone put their shoulder to the wheel until the wagon was out. Some days we would only go four miles. When we came to a place called the skunk bottoms with so much snow and rain the river had overflowed its banks and all the river bottoms were under water about a mile and a half across. It looked liked the sea, we were standing wondering what to do when a covered wagon drove up with two men in, they asked us where we were going we told them to Utah. They said they were from Utah and had been back to the states on business and were now returning home. My husband asked them how they were going to cross, they said if you will join in with us we will show you. So they took the two wagon beds and lashed them together after unloading them and caulking them so they would be water tight then ferried over where the water was shallow. The men waded and pushed the wagons before them but where it was deep they used poles and worked their passage. Some of our little company objected to going over this way, my husband called on those that were willing to join with him and the others would take their own course, when they saw they would be left the unwilling ones all joined in. They had to cross this stream three times, they were all pretty badly used up. The last trip they took us three women over. It snowed on us all the way across and it was bitter cold but it was worse on the men that had been in the water all day as it was now nearly dark we were all so numbed with the cold it was all we could do to stand on our feet. There was a house not far off so we rented a room and stove for the night and made a big fire set up and dried our clothes and bedding and were soon singing and chatting with each other as though we had had a splendid time.
I don't remember the names of the two Utah brethren, one of them was bishop in one of the wards in Juarez, Mexico where my brother Joseph C. Davis is now living. When we arrived at Fort Des Moines in the state of Iowa the other company had left with word for us to follow on as quickly as possible which we did and the next day we overtook them. We overtook them just as it was getting dark. An old gentleman named [Joseph] Be[e]croft and his Wife from London had charge of the camp and the boys that had been hired to drive the train to Utah had charge of the cattle that the brethren had been buying up. The crowd all seemed to have the blues they all felt so down-hearted they did not seem to have any life in their camp. My husband asked them if they were Mormons they replied, "Oh yes, we are Mormons.
My husband asked them what was the matter with them, well they said. "We have been driving cattle all day and have had nothing to eat and was not likely to get anything." He asked the old gentleman if he had anything to cook, he said yes but he had not had time to cook it, it's been raining all day and was still raining. He said he had flour and bacon, tea, coffee, and molasses. My husband said, "What, you have all them things in your wagon and all going hungry?" They said yes, but we have no bread and it has rained so we could not bake. He asked them if they had a camp kettle, they handed him one that would hold about three gallons, also some flour. In about fifteen minutes my husband had made them a kettle of mush and they had molasses and butter. They s[t]ill had a good supper. We fixed up the two tents and sat up and sung and talked until midnight. The next morning the old gentleman said to my husband, “Brother Crane, you had better take charge of this camp now for I would starve them all to death with my wagon full of provisions." My husband told him he would not take charge of his camp but would help all we could. We traveled together and got along alright and arrived at the camping place on the Missouri river. We stopped here about six weeks until the oxen that were poor got fat. We had four hundred head. My husband was put in charge of the herd until we left. When the train started on the plains my husband was put captain over ten wagons, there were seventy-five wagons in all. Brother Orten [Horton] Haight was captain of the company, Bishop Hesler [Kesler] was Commissary and also in charge of all the freight. We were over three months on the plains. In some places it was laborious work on the cattle. After passing through the sand hills at Laramie, Wyoming the oxen began to die and continued until we got within two hundred miles of Salt Lake City. It got so we could not move the train and we had to send to Salt Lake City for help.
Considering the length of the journey we had a good time and considering the inexperience of the teamsters some of them that had never seen an ox before, much less yoking them up and driving them. My husband was captain over ten wagons, there were four women in our 10 wagons. The captain told them if they would do the cooking they would be free of expense when they got to Utah or they would owe 40 dollars for their board. Three of them concluded their husbands would settle for their board so the cooking fell to my lot, and the other three women cooked their own. There were 13 men to cook for, my husband and ten teamsters and two of the men that drove the loose cattle and myself made 14 and we had good yeast light bread all the way. I never felt better and had better health than I did crossing the plains, we had plenty of provisions and had a good time.
I only had one pair of shoes. I started off in a hurry and left one pair behind so when I got about halfway my shoes gave out since we had to walk most of the way. We were walking along one day, Bishop Hessler was riding along in his buggy, he stopped and asked me if that was all the shoes I had and I told him it was. He told me to wait until our wagon came up and get up and ride and when we camped he would give me a pair of shoes. He gave me a good pair of strong shoes that lasted me until I got to Salt Lake City. I always had great respect for Bishop Hessler he was a very good man also Captain Orten Haight and Joseph W. Young a brother's son of Brigham Young they were all good men.
On September 29, 1859 we arrived in Salt Lake City and how thankful we felt when we came in sight of the wished for city. There is no one who can tell the happy feelings that a Latter-day Saint has when they first get sight of the City. Well that was my experience. Such a happy thankful feeling that we had been preserved to get there in safety. The train, being a church train, we drove into President Brigham Young's yard. The family had prepared supper for the whole company.