John Ellis autobiographical sketch, 1899
Early in June we went on the steamboat "Arabia" and in about seven days we arrived at Florence, the outfitting point for crossing the plains at that time. James McGaw was Chief Agent there for the Church. After we had been there for a few days he called a meeting one night to organize the camp. So after several captains had been appointed and voted in, he nominated Elder John Ellis as President of all the handcart companies. Now there were no handcart companies there. There were only a score or two waiting to join the companies when they came along from Iowa City. We camped there nearly two months. We started with our carts on the 24th of July 1856, for the "Valley" and we arrived in Salt Lake City a little before sundown, September 26, 1856.