Bermingham, Twiss, "To Utah--By Hand," American Legion Magazine, July 1937, 27, 58-61.
- Related Companies
- Daniel D. McArthur Company (1856)
- Related Persons
- William Knox Aitken
- [Brother] Arthur
- Mary Wark
- Patrick Twiss Bermingham
- Catherine Elizabeth Bermingham
- Henry Ebenezer Bowring
- Mary Branagan
- Janet Hardie
- James Ferguson
- Isabella Park
- Agnes Downie Hardie
- Phyllis Hardie
- Martha Ann Lucas
- William Lawrenson
- Ann Lawrenson
- Anthony Lucas
- Elizabeth Lucas
- Thomas Lucas
- Arthur Hartley Parker
- Robert Parker
- James Reid Sr.
12TH JUNE: Travelled 12 miles. Started at 9½ o'clock and camped at 1 o'clock. Very hot day and windy. The dust flew so thick that we could not see each other 1 yard distant. Before we left, I was appointed President of a tent. This day was so very severe that Brother [William] Laurenson [Lawrenson] and myself with our families thought we could not go on with safety to ourselves and families and drag hand carts with about 250 lbs. of luggage on them and so determined on returning to Iowa City to try to procure a team to go through with.
13TH JUNE: Left the camp and paid 5 dollars to a teamster to take us back. Arrived at Iowa City at 8 o'clock. Found it very difficult to procure lodging. Saw Brother [James] Ferguson at the camp who encouraged me to follow the company.
14TH JUNE: Overtook the company at Little Bear Creek, 36 miles from Iowa City.
16TH JUNE: Started at 7 o'clock A. M. Camped at ¼ 7 o'clock. Travelled 15 miles. Day very hot. Bro. Laurenson fainted under his cart.
17TH JUNE: Started at 7½ o'clock. Camped at 3 o'clock. Travelled 15 miles.
18TH JUNE: Started at 6 o'clock. Camped at 10 o'clock. Travelled 10 miles.
19TH JUNE: Started at 7 o'clock. Camped at 2 o'clock at Elk Creek. Travelled 12 miles.
20TH JUNE: Left the camp at 7 o'clock. Camped at 4½ at Indian Creek, 14 miles.
21ST JUNE: Started at 7½. Camped at South Skunk Creek. Travelled 14 miles. A child died this morning and was buried under a tree.
22D JUNE—SUNDAY: Remained at South Skunk Creek.
23D JUNE: Started at 7¼. Camped at 10 o'clock, at the 4 mile Creek. 10 miles.
24TH JUNE: Started at 7½. Camped at 4 o'clock. 13 miles.
25TH JUNE: Started at 7¼, camped on the North Coon River at 4½. 19 miles. A German Sister fainted on the road today.
26TH JUNE: Started at 7¼ o'clock. Camped at 2½ at the Middle Coon River. 12 miles.
27TH JUNE: Started at 7½. Camped at South Coon River. 9 miles.
28TH JUNE: Started at 6½ o'clock. Camped at Middle Coon River at 3½. 16 miles. Sister [Ann Quick] Laurenson fainted on the road today.
29TH—SUNDAY: Remained in Camp.
30TH JUNE: Started at 6¾ o'clock. Camped at Turkey Grove. 10½ miles. This day Brother Arthur stopped at a Town, himself and his family as he could not draw his handcart any further.
1ST JULY: Started at ½ 8. Camped at the head of Turkey Creek. 14 miles. Very tired. A boy, 8 years old, lost on the road, son of Brother [Robert] Parker. Storm, thunder and lightning raged fearfully all night. Blew up part of our tent and wet all our clothes through. Lay all night in our wet clothes until morning with the water running under us in streams.
2ND JULY: Three of the Brethren started in search of the boy. Just returned but found no trace of him. Remained all day encamped. Went on the cattle guard at 10 o'clock.
3D JULY: Started at 5 o'clock and camped at 7¼, after a long and tedious journey of 25 miles. Some of the Brethren fainted on the road and were carried into camp in the ox-team. I nearly fainted myself from exhaustion, but plucked up courage and never let go the handcart. Several of the Sisters and children belonging to Captain Elsworth's company, having gone astray, there were some of the Brethren sent out in search of them. Returned into camp at 4 o'clock in the morning with all those who were lost.
4TH JULY: Started at 6 o'clock and travelled 22 miles. Camped on Silver Creek. One of the brethren fainted under his handcart today. One of the brethren shot a tame Elk for which he had to pay 50 dollars—rather an expensive shot.
5TH JULY: Remained all day in camp.
6TH JULY—SUNDAY: All day in camp. Brother Parker returned to the camp this morning having found his boy, whom he brought with him. The boy slept all night under a tree in the forest and felt not the dreadful thunderstorm which raged on that night. The next morning he made his way to a farmer's house, some 9 miles distant. The farmer took care of him until his father found him. Attended meeting today and heard several of the Elders speak.
7TH JULY: Left Silver Creek at ¼ 8, and had a very fatiguing journey of 20 miles. After 10 miles, 2 families gave out, being frightened at getting nothing for 3 days but Indian corn stirabout. They stopped at a farm house to work for 2 dollars per day and food. I feel really sore in my inside from eating nothing else for the above time, without anything with it, either milk or anything else.
8TH JULY: Started from Cruskato Creek at 6½ o'clock and traveled 20 miles. Camped at the Mormon camp at Florence City at 7½ o'clock. The company generally very fatigued. Found some of Brother Elsworth's company lying insensible on the road. This day we traveled through a beautiful country and passed Council Bluffs, which put me in mind of the mountains of Killarney, Ireland. We saw the place where a great number of the Saints were driven from in 1848, and the little graveyard with many of the crude tombstones, on which one could scarcely read the names of some of our brethren who had fallen, perhaps by the hand of some ruffians. The homes in which they had lived were nearly all dilapidated and the tabernacle was a perfect ruin. When it was in good order it must have accommodated nearly 1000 people. At about 5 o'clock we reached the River Missouri, over which we were ferried by a small steamer.
9TH JULY: Camp all well. Several of the Brethren gone to work during the time they remain here.
10TH JULY: Went to work myself to dig a well, but was only employed for one day for which I got $2. I was not sorry that the job was finished as my hands were in one flake of blisters, I had to work so hard. I found it somewhat worse than drawing the handcart.
11TH JULY: Went to Omaha to get a glass in my watch and went afterwards about 2 miles further on to see Sister [Mary] Brannigan who was sewing at a farmer's house for $3 per week and her board.
On way I met with a camp of Indians, the Omahas. Went into their camp but they speak but very little English. They were very friendly. There were about 60 of them. The men are fine looking fellows but the women and children were very plain looking and dirty and perfectly naked. I gave them some tobacco and Brother Brower [Bowring] who was with me gave them some money.
12TH JULY: Went on camp guard from 9 o'clock P. M. till 12½ .
13TH JULY: Went again to Omaha to get another glass in my watch, having broke the last one, paid 50 cents for glasses each time.
14TH JULY: Went to Bluffs City—10 miles—to try and sell my watch that I might buy a cow but did not succeed.
15TH JULY: The Sisters Lucas left the camp for good and went to Bluffs City to service, being determined not to go any further with the handcarts.
15TH JULY: Brother Lucas took a lot of ground in the City to build a house on, and got a farm of 350 acres of land 10 miles out on the prairie. He got all for nothing, simply for settling down on it. I was offered the same and a school with a yearly stipend if I would stop and take charge of it but of course I knew better than that. This day a German sister died of fever, 6 days' sickness.
16TH JULY: Brother [James] Reid shot in the leg by a "Gentile."
17TH JULY: Brother Elsworth's company went out.
18TH JULY: The Welsh company is coming in tomorrow.
20TH JULY: The Welsh company came in today, 300 in number. Fifty stopped on the road.
21ST JULY: Some of Brother Elsworth's company came back and said they would not go any farther.
22D JULY: Spoke to Brother Lucas and tried to get him to come on but no use. He said he would not go any farther, this year.
23D JULY: Six of us carried in 800 bags of flour into the store. Hard work rather.
24TH JULY: Left Florence. Travelled 7 miles.
25TH JULY: Travelled 20 miles, to Elkhorn River, where we found a camp of Indians, many of whom came to meet us and were very friendly. The chief took my cart and drew it into camp about ¼ mile and although a tall strong looking man, it made the perspiration run down his face until it dropped on the ground. Many of the Indians got drunk in the night and commenced fighting among themselves, but not knowing what they were at we were all called out of our beds and ordered to load our guns. After watching for some time, all became quiet and we returned again to the arms of Morpheus. In the morning we heard that one of the Indians had been shot in the arm by one of his fellows, which we soon verified, their sending over to our camp to know if we had a doctor amongst us. Brother [William] Eatkin [Aitken] went and dressed it.
26TH JULY: Crossed Elkhorn River by means of a very roughly constructed ferry. For the conveyance of us over, the company had to pay $6. Travelled 15 miles without any water until we came to the Platte River, where the water was a joyful sight to many, being 6 or 7 hours under the burn¬ing sun without a drop to cool our tongues.
27TH JULY: Camped all day on the north bend of the Platte. Took a dose of castor oil which sickened me very much and kept me cantering for a long time.
28TH JULY: Rather weak this morning and terribly annoyed by two boils, one on my jaw about as big as pigeon egg and another on the calf of my leg which torments me very much when drawing the hand cart.
29TH JULY: Boils very sore this morning but must draw on the cart still. With such sores at home I would lie upon two chairs and never stir until they were healed. Started early this morning and travelled 20 miles.
30TH JULY: Started early this morning and travelled 12 miles to Loup-fork ferry, over which we had to ferry the cars and wagons and women and children. It was really funny to see some 50 of the Brethren hauling a large ferry boat over this ferry and when they would come to a deep place in the stream, all make a rush to get on to the boat, some succeeding, some tumbling in and others obliged to swim for it. It took 3½ hours to ferry all over. Camped on the other side.
31ST JULY: Left Loup-fork and travelled 20 miles without water. I was so exhausted with my sores and the labour of pulling that I was obliged to lie down for a few hours after arriving in camp before I could do anything. [Catherine Elizabeth] Kate [Bermingham] was also so tired and fatigued out that she was glad to get lying down without any supper and I was not able to cook any for ourselves so we were obliged to do with a bit of bread and a pint of milk. This is the quantity of milk we have been allowed morning and evening since we left Florence. Sometimes it is less. Rather little for 5 persons.
While travelling this day, often was I near falling on the road for want of water, and with fatigue. Many did fall right down and some had to put into the wagons but many were obliged to wait until they recovered a little and foot it again. 8 o'clock when we got into camp.
1ST AUGUST: 23 miles over a bad road. No water, only what we carried. Sister Hardy [Hardie] from Scotland fainted on the road today.
2D AUGUST: Started early this morning and travelled 28 miles over a very bad road, having to pull the carts through heavy sand, sometimes for miles. We were obliged to carry water with us today. Camped on the open prairie without either wood or water and consequently had to go to bed supperless.
3D AUGUST—SUNDAY: Started at 5 o'clock without any breakfast and had to pull the carts through 6 miles of heavy sand. Some places the wheels were up to the boxes and I was so weak from thirst and hunger and being exhausted with the pain of the boils that I was obliged to lie down several times, and many others had to do the same. Some fell down. I was very much grieved today, so much so that I thought my heart would burst—sick—and poor Kate—at the same time—crawling on her hands and knees, and the children crying with hunger and fatigue. I was obliged to take the children and put them on the hand cart and urge them along the road in order to make them keep up. About 12 o'clock a thunder storm came on, and the rain fell in torrents. In our tent we were standing up to our knees in water and every stitch we had was the same as if we were dragged through the river. Rain continued until 8 o'clock the following morning.
[NOTE: There are no entries from August 4th to I2th inclusive]
13TH AUGUST: Started out at 10 o'clock and Kate was obliged to travel all day without a shift and nothing on but a shawl and petticoat and those half wet. Had to travel over a great many sand hills and camped on the wet ground in a wet blanket as well as to go to bed supperless. No wood to make a fire and very bad water. Went on the camp guard from 12 o'clock till 4.
14TH AUGUST: Started at 5½ o'clock without any breakfast. Travelled 8 miles and halted at the River Platte. Got breakfast and dried all our wet clothes and then travelled 14 miles more. A few days previous to this we met a man coming from California. He was deserted on the plains by his companions, who left him with nothing but a shirt and trousers which he had on. He was making his way as fast as he could to Council Bluffs. He was then 200 miles from it. We gave him some bread.
15TH AUGUST: Travelled 17 miles—5 miles sand.
16TH AUGUST: Started this morning before breakfast at 4½ o'clock. Stopped at 8 o'clock for breakfast. This morning an old woman belonging to our company was bitten by a rattlesnake in the leg and before half an hour her leg swelled to four times its thickness. She was administered to by the Elders and we started again, but unfortunately as we were starting another old woman was run over by one of the wagons. The front wheel went over her thighs and the back wheels over her shins, and singular to say, although the wagon was laden with 32 cwt. of flour, not one of her bones was broken. This day we had the most severe day's journey we had since we started and travelled over 20 miles of heavy sand hills or bluffs. Besides having to ford many streams. All seemed to be fully worn out when they got into camp.
17TH AUGUST—SUNDAY: In camp all day. Spent the day mending my boots, and Kate was washing. This day, a German Sister died.
18TH AUGUST: Buried the girl and started out of camp at 5½ o'clock. Travelled 20 miles. 10 miles of sand today and had to ford 6 streams.
19TH—20TH—21ST—22D—23D¬AUGUST: These five days we travelled at the rate of about 22 miles per day. Some days starting as early as 5 o'clock and never after 7. Most of those days we had heavy sandy roads. Sometimes for ten miles at a time.
AUGUST 24TH—SUNDAY: Camped all day at Chimney Rock. Spent the day mending my clothes and baking and cooking while Kate was washing and mending the children's clothes. On the 22d while we were on the road travelling, we were overtaken by a very heavy thunderstorm which wet us all to the skin, but as soon as it was over we went at it again and made a journey of 7 or 8 miles before we camped and then we had to lie on the wet grass all night, and go to bed supperless, there being no firewood to cook, the Buffalo chips being all wet. We had to ford 20 streams this week.
25TH—26TH—27TH AUGUST: Very heavy travelling through sand all the time at about 19 miles per day.
28TH AUGUST: After travelling 12 miles through sand, came to Fort Laramie where after crossing the river and getting some wet trousers and petticoats we remained all night. Passed many camps of Indians, all peaceable.
29TH—30TH AUGUST: These two days we travelled 50 miles. The 30th we crossed the Platte again to the north side. Remained in camp all day.
3I ST AUGUST: Travelled 29 miles and crossed the Platte over to the south side.
IST—2D—3D SEPTEMBER: Travelled at about 25 miles a day. On the 2d lost a German boy.
4TH SEPT: Crossed Muddy Creek and travelled 20 miles and late in the evening forded the Platte again for the last time. For five days we were not in camp for an hour after night and we were always up at daybreak preparing to start at 5. We met the wagons at Deer Creek which were sent with flour from the Valley to meet us. There were 5 wagons, one for each Company and each wagon had 1000 lbs. of flour in them. Two started for the Valley with our Company. German boy's father died.
SEPT. 5TH: Very wet today. Could not start it rained so much. Snow four feet deep on the mountains all around us.
SEPT. 21ST: From the 5th to the 21st, nothing particular occurred save the meeting of some wagons of flour from the valley for which we will have to pay at the rate of 18c per lb. when we get to the city. Conduct of the men from the Valley who came to meet us was disgraceful.
Passed Independence Rock. Crossed Green River which we had to ford with many smaller ones. Met some other wagons and people coming to meet their friends in the Company. Travelled at the rate of about 25 miles per day. Two days we travelled 32 miles each. Camped last night at Fort Bridger where we remained until 10 o'clock today. We are now 113 miles from the city. Henry Bouning [Bowring] fell down and fainted yesterday under the hand cart from fatigue. Had to be carried into camp which we did not reach until 10 o'clock at night.
Thus the diary. Salt Lake City was a disappointment to Twiss Bermingham and his family. 'The following year he apostacized and returned to Florence, Nebraska, where he welcomed the post as school teacher which the previous summer he "of course knew better" than to take. In seven years' residence at Florence one of the three children who had made the long, hard journey died of scarlet fever. But five other children subsequently were born to the Berminghams, seven living to maturity. Four are still alive at this writing.