Freece, Hans P., The Letters of an Apostate Mormon to His Son, , 20, 30-32.
Utah, March, 1907.
My Dear Boy:
In the spring of 1859 a company of men and women were camped at Florence Hill, seven miles west of Omaha, Neb. We were all newly made Mormon converts, having just arrived from Denmark after passing through perils on the sea and the land. We were divided into hundreds and tens, after the custom of the Israelites, and a man, [George] Rowley, was my captain. We had been instructed to build small handcarts after a special design given to Brigham Young by God. We were assigned two men to a cart and a very nice young many was my partner. The first day's journey was delightful, but before long the wooden axles began to wear out and the wheels broke off. It seemed strange that these carts, specially designed by the Almighty and warranted by Him to stand the journey, should wear out so soon. Yet it did not occur to any of us, that we might possibly be dupes. In a few weeks I was utterly worn out and finally fell to the ground, unable to proceed further. My wife hitched herself into my place, and with a strange man toiled day after day, pulling the cart, while I toiled on behind the best I could. Besides pulling at the cart all day, when evening came she had to prepare food for eight persons. She was but a girl, a bride of a few months, taken from the ball-room, as it were, from the pleasures of girlhood, and had given up all to go with me into Mormondom. All was disappointment to her, and her life was being filled with hardships. I was delirious with the mountain fever and she had to care for me. Still worse, the entire company was running short of food. There was nothing left but a little flour, and soon that was gone. But we must move on, on, on. Men grew weak and fell in their tracks. I shall never forget one evening, while lying in the tent, that the captain said to my wife's father, just after camp had been pitched: "Your wife has fallen by the roadside some distance back." My wife was by the fire, trying to prepare some ox soup, and I could see what an awful struggle she was having to stifle the tears. Soon her father returned, carrying her mother on his back. She was more dead than alive. We buried her next morning before we left camp.
We had left Florence Hill with a few ox teams to draw the heavier loads, but they had died one by one and we were now not only without food, but we had double loads to draw. Some of the sick and worn oxen were killed and we made soup. This we drank with a relish without bread or vegetables. Naturally the entire company was diseased.
I recall one morning while camping near a stream that we discovered some berries on the bushes. As we were finding relish in them, the cry was raised that a relief party from Salt Lake was in sight. I will never forget the cries of joy that rent the air, the prayers offered and tears of gladness that were shed. The poor souls fell over each other, begging and crying for the food. I was able to move toward the wagons by the aid of a stick in my right hand. Some fell and were unable to rise. Some rolled down the hill and embankment. It seemed an age before we could get anything out of the wagons. Flour and water were stirred together and poured into the frying pan, and as soon as it was hard we seized and ate. I have never tasted anything so delicious. No one knows what it is to suffer for food until he has tried it. If a man gets hungry enough he will eat anything that he can find. I remember a young mother with a babe that was often trailing far behind. I wondered how she could keep up her strength without food. It afterward developed that she picked her food from the carcasses which we left lying along the trail. There was a girl in her teens who had left a home of luxury against the will of her parents to go into Mormondom and save her soul. Reared in luxury, now she was offering her gold ring for a meal of flour. With tears in her yes, she cried piteously: "I am so hungry—so hungry!" The provision train brought needed relief, but not until many had died. However, when we entered Salt Lake there was plenty, and we who had survived forgot our sufferings and took joy in the fact that we were now in Zion among the Lord's anointed.