“Life Story of Mary Jane Hetherington, Stockton Pioneer; Friend of Many,” Tooele County Chronicle, 1 August 1947.
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News of the gold strike in California penetrated to their home and finally her father decided to try his luck in this fascinating and dangerous adventure and in 1852 he took his family and started to California[.] At first the party traveled alone with three families of neighbors who also were bent on striking it rich but when they crossed the Missouri River and arrived at Winter Quarters they traveled with the Mormon emigrants[.] Notes which were taken by father at one time say Camp divided and part came on[.] One captain was named Winters[.] And a further note[.] We all came with emigrants from Garden Grove
The journey across the plains was harrowing in the extreme[.] Grandmother at one time bought my cousin and me a notebook in which we were to recount some of her adventures as she told them[.] Careless and thoughtless child that I was I let that book get away from me[.] As I look back I wonder how I could have been so stupid but I was only eleven and never thought of Grandmother passing on[.] Now I can only recount from memory some of the things she [Mary Jane Hetherington] told me [Edna Hickman Day a granddaughter]
She said her father died on the plains from cholera and was buried along the trail and the step mother with the three step children (Harriett had grown up and been left behind in Wisconsin) and with her family journeyed on[.] One time a huge dust was seen in the distance and the experienced men knowing what was in the distance hastily formed the wagons into a ring and placed the cattle inside[.] The dust storms grew and a dark moving mass of buffalo engulfed them[.] I remember in writing the incident. . . .
She said the people were beset with fear of Indians and once when they feared an attack was imminent her stepmother took the feather beds and place them on the sides of the wagons thinking that the arrows of the Indians would not penetrate the feathers
Death that year was rampaging among the people[.] They died by the score with the dread cholera and it was a common sight to see dead bodies partly dug up and devoured by coyotes[.] One night they made camp after dark and although the ground was very uneven and bumpy they had to make the best of it[.] In the morning they found they had camped in a grave yard and the unevenness of the ground was due to hastily made graves where lay loved ones of those who had passed that way
When they arrived at the Platte River they were compelled to swim their animals and float their wagons across
One boy by the name of Hunsaker boasted that he was not afraid of Indians and that he would kill the first Indian he saw[.] The older men tried to reason with him but he had made his boast and was determined to carry it out so he killed the first Indian he saw[,] a squaw[,] as it happened to be[.] The Indians immediately demanded that the boy be surrendered and to save the whole party from annihiliation the wretched fellow had to be sacrificed[.] He was never seen alive again but a scouting party found his body tied to a tree[.] His finger and toe nails had been pulled out his skin cut in shreds and pine splinters were stuck in his body and set on fire[.]