Elizabeth Zimmerman Lamb, Biographical information relating to Mormon pioneer overland travel database, 2003-2017.
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We left Garden Grove the 17 of May, 1851. Arrived in Salt Lake City 24 September, 1851. Father [George Gotleib Zimmerman] was old and never drove oxen so we got a boy to drive our team, Al[mond] Clyde. There were about 20 families of us a number of young folks. There were more joining our company when we left Winter Quarters. Our number was 50 families and 60 wagons. Harry Walton was our captain, he had traveled the road before. We stayed in Mount Pisgah several days. It was very rainy that spring and lots of mud and heavy loads. When we got to Winter Quarters our team consisted of one yoke of oxen, one of steers, one of cows. When we got near the old camp ground, our lead steers turned and led the team into a slough to get a drink and turned out wagon over into the water. Our things, most of all got wet so did the bedding. We camped 2 nights and had a gay time drying our things and a good time sleeping with most of our bedding wet but none of us took cold. The Elk Horn River was so high we could not cross it so we had to head it and had to travel several hundred miles further. Apostle Hyde took charge of 5 or 6 company. There was no road and it drilled our teams. It took us one month longer. It was a wild country. Thousands of buffalo could be seen. One day we could hear them come a roaring noise when they were miles away. They came straight for our train. We could not get out of the way so half of the teams stopped and the others went on. As they came up the hill and passed between the wagons, ours was the second one that stopped. It was a fine sight to look at. We had to give them room or they would have run over our teams. There was about five thousand of them. It took such a long time for them to pass. The men put ropes on the oxen horns and loosed them from the wagons. The women and children got in the wagons. It was a scary time for our cattle were so afraid of them. We had some of their meat. It was fine we could cut it in slices, salt it, and string it on sticks and jerk it over the fire to let it dry. It was sweet and good. We were in a wild country. Our cattle got so they could hardly be controlled. There were a good many stampedes.
Whole trains would run at breakneck speed. Spect half of our teams stampeded. One woman by the name of Ellen Weingsley [Kingsley] jumped from her wagon, as she did so the next team and wagon run over her and she never breathed again. She left one child and sister. It was hard for them to leave her in that lonely spot. She was washed and dressed and some goods box put in the grave and she was put in and left. One day we travelled, all day till dark in deep sand. We had no water only what we were hauling. It was very hot and our teams almost perished. When we got to water it was a warm slough and full of live wrigglers. We strained and boiled it before we could use it. Then set it in the slough to cool it. In the night the buffaloes came near enough to frighten our teams and they stampeded so we had to camp there all day. We all washed in the boiling hot sun with no wood. The men had to hunt all day for them and found some with the buffaloes and had hard work to get them. One of our cows was with them. She was so wild they had to lasso her so they could milk her for the boys were almost perished. They said they could never have reached camp without a drink so she saved them. They were so glad she was there. Sister [Mary Ann Hales] T[h]om[p]son (who was Sister M. I. Horn's mother) died and was buried by the Platte River. The lonesomest night I ever spent, Betsy Crooks and I set up with her. There were a few wagons camped to one side so as to be out of the noise. We could hear the buffalo pass to go to the river. They made such a roaring noise we were frightened. There were 2 births in camp. There were many interesting things to see such as the Chimney Rock, the Lone Tree, the Devil's Gate, and a cave we went in to it, Independence Rock, we would climb on rocks, almost mountains. I often think it was dangerous. We might have run among wild beasts.
Two or three days before we came to Salt Lake, Sister Farrer sent us some garden stuff by boy and sent some to all the company, but he sold some of it, that vexed her, but we did enjoy it after not having green all summer. We never forgot her kindness to us. We had many good times. We would camp at night, get supper make our beds and our chores would be done. When the boys would scrape of the grass and we would dance as if we were not tired. We had 2 good fiddlers and several good callers in camps. The men had to stand guard every night, 7 till 12, then 12 till morning, rain or shine. Sometimes it would rain and the mud would be hub deep. We would have to double teams from 6 to 8 yoke of oxen on a wagon. We crossed one stream, it was so deep and no timber to build a bridge, so they cut long grass and put it in and a few wagons crossed and they had to put in more. We camped on one side of the stream one night and on the other side the next morning and the men worked so hard all day. There was 2 wagons emptied and put into the stream, one behind the other and the women and children walked over. That was fine for us all to sit in the boiling sun all day on the grass. For a long time we had to burn buffalo chips as we called them or dung. There was no wood to get. Then we got to wild sage, it was worse than the chips. The first night to it, oh how sick I got of the smell. We had to do all our cooking with it everything was seasoned with it. When the wind blew, we could not relish our meals, but the Lord provided for our needs.
We used tar to grease our wagons with the tar was carried in buckets swung under the wagons. We were getting short, but came to a tar spring. The men filled the buckets with tar. I did not see the spring but saw the tar. It was so far for the women to walk so we missed seeing it. Our supply was flour, meal, beans, dried bread, crackers, dried apples, sugar and milk, with some butter and bacon and a few dried parsnips. No wonder we were glad to get something out of a garden.
One man killed a very large tortoise and divided it to 5 or 6 families only kept one meal for themselves. It was fine, it was the only one I ever tasted. Our company was heavy loaded and had to walk so much. I have walked 20 miles in one day. We had good health all the time for which we thanked the Lord many times. It was fun to see the green teamsters drive unruly teams. They would run around behind their wagons to head their teams if they were off. I will relate one incident of the hundred that I saw. . .
One man, a clothesman, he has a 3 yoke on his wagon. He never handled a team before. He was a blacksmith and had his heavy tools in his wagon, oh the times he had. One day we crossed a stream and had to go up a long steep hill, all had to double teams when his wagon got part way up the hill the chain next to the tongue broke. The wagon and the wheelers went back in the creek so the end gate dipped water and most of the things got wet. The wagon had to be unloaded.
All along the route, if any man had a mean ox he would sell it to the Saints. We had the largest ox in the company. He could start the load himself, but if he took a notion not to pull, they could not make him. He was good most of the time.
We left Garden Grove the 17 of May and arrived in Salt Lake the 24 of September in good health, . . . . When we were crossing the plains we came to large beds of salaratus [saleratus], white as snow. We gathered some, it made good bread, we brought some with us. It was all the kind of soda we used. That is all the settled used it.
Source: http://www.esu3.k12.ne.us/districts/elkhorn/ms/curriculum/Zimmerman.html (accessed 18 March 2005)