Andrew Jensen journal excerpts in Historical Department journal history of the Church, 1896-2001 July, 1866 July-December, 8 October 1866, 2-14.
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Andrew Jenson, now (1917) assistant Church Historian, crossed the plains in Capt. Scott's train, the following account of the journey is culled from Bro. Jenson's private journal;—
Sun. Aug 5, 1866.—Our family, having decided to go with Captain A. H. Scott's train, had our efficts moved to the place where the train was encamped near the Church Store <at Wyoming>, and our baggage was weighed.
Mon <Aug> 6th. Our company, that is the emigrants who were to cross the plains in Capt. Scott's train, was assigned to their respective wagons. There were 46 wagons, and the company consisted of British,
Swedish, <Norwegian> and Danish <and Swedish> emigrants. Geo. M. Brown, who led the <">'Humboldt<"> company from Hamburgh to Wyoming, was to be our spiritual leader in crossing the plains.
Tues. <Aug> 7th. It was the intention that our company should have rolled out today; but a terrific rainstorm, accompanied by such thunder and lightning as none of us from Scandinavis had ever witnessed
the like before, came up in the afternoon, just as we were about ready to start, and hindered us. The rain continued to pour down, off and on, during the following night. Such storms are quite frequent on the frontiers at this time of the year. The ground was thoroughly soaked, and while the storm was at its worst, the whole village seemed to be a perfect lake.
Wed. <Aug> 8th. We
leave left Wyoming for the plains. About 10 o'clock in the forenoon, we commenced our long journey, with an ox train, across the plains. At that hour we rolled slowly out of Wyoming, and traveled about five miles, and then encamped on the brow of a hill, where we remained till the next day. A meeting was held in the camp during the afternoon, at which we were properly organized for traveling, and the necessary officers were appointed. Geo. M. Brown, already mentioned, an American by birth, who had performed a mission in Norway, was to act as interpretor for us the Scandinavians, who did not understand the English language. With our departure from Wyoming, that village again assumed its normal condition, being left with its own very limited number of inhabitants, save a few emigrants and Elders, who were waiting for the arrival of the last company of Saints from Europe to arrive. Capt Abner Lowry's company of Church teams was kept back to bring the last company across the plains. This last company of Church teams was known as the "Sanpete" train, as most, if not all the team's <compasing the> company hailed from Sanpete Valley, Utah.
Thursday, <Aug> 9th. We broke camp at 8 o'clock a.m. and traveled till about noon. Then we stopped about four hours, during which time provisions were distributed to the passengers for the first time. The rations consisted of 1 1/2 lbs. of flower and 1 lb. of bacon perday, for each adult, besides sugar, molasses, coffee, dried fruit, etc., all of which we were to cook and prepare to suit our respective tastes. Some of us found the baking of bread and the cooking of meals in the open air a very difficult task, but after a few days' experience we mastered the situation quite satisfactorily. The life on the plains and our daily travel soon became quite natural and pleasant to those of us who were young. To the older members of the company and to such as had large families of children, the experience was a hard one indeed. Our general daily routine was something like the following;—We generally broke camp at 8 o'clock in the morning, to travel from 15 to 20 miles a day. As a rule, we stopped about two hours at noon to rest and feed ourselves and animals. The task of walking as much as possible was enjoyed upon every young and able bodied person, in order to lighten the burden of our animals. Only the old and weak were permitted to ride to any great extent. Of course I was numbered among those who walked nearly all
this the way across the plains, and I rather enjoyed it. At noon and at night, when camping, we had our busiest time. First, we pitched our tents and gathered fuel and fetched water. Then we made fires, baked bread and cooked food, and finally ate our meals around our camp fires in the grass. For us, Europeans, it was indeed a new life to lead, but we soon got used to it and acted our different parts, tolerably well, though we often found our energies taxed to the utmost. Fuel was frequently a scarce article and we resorted to the use of cattle chips (dried manure) in such cases. They served as a very good substitute, and when we got used to them we never complained, if we could only find enough of them. Frequently, we had to tramp a long distance after water, and on different occasions we made so called dry camps— that is camped at places where no water could be obtained. Often we had to cook our meals when the rain poured down in torrents and drenched us to the skin, and put out our fires. At other times the winds blew so hard that our tents fell and our food, in course of preparation, became spiced with sand to a greater or less extent, as the wind raised the dust and enveloped the camp in a complete dust cloud. But we soon learned to look upon these things as the unavoidable difficulties of crossing the plains with teams, and we bore them without murmur or faultfinding. In making our camps, the usual Mormon method of forming two half circles with the wagons was observed, so that a coral was made into which the oxen could be driven to be caught and yoked up anew. Our tents/were pitched outside the inclosure, each tent opposite the wagon to which it belonged. The oxen and such other stock we had along were herded during the night by four special herdsmen; but the regular night watch was taken in turn by the immigrating brethren. Public prayer was offered in the camp every night, in which nearly everybody participated. After the prayer, the captain, or some of the other leaders, generally ma kde remarks of an encouraging and instructive nature. The essence of such remarls [remarks], if important, was translated into Danish, for the benefit of those who understood not the English language. Before we reached our journey's end, I learned sufficient of the English language to feel quite independ aent of such translations, though as yet I could speak but very little <English>. We traveled this day about 22 miles and encamped about 6 p.m.
Friday <Aug> 10. Owing to a rainstorm we broke up our encampment late, and after traveling about 15 miles through a hilly and sparcely settled country, we encamped about sun-down. Jens Christensen (a brickmaker) called "Teglbrander" from Vendasyssel, Denmark, died today and was buried on the plain without coffin.
Satur. <Aug> 11. We traveled about 18 miles and encamped for the night on a beautiful plain. In the evening and night we were visited by a severe rainstorm, accompanied by thunder.
Sunday <Aug> 12. We traveled over 20 miles and encamped near a small grove on a plain.
Monday <Aug> 13. Traveled about 15 miles.
Tuesday <Aug> 14. Traveled 21 miles. The weather was very warm, and those of us who walked all day found out clothes saturated with perspiration at the end of our day's work.
Wednes. <Aug> 15. We traveled about 24 miles.
Thurs. <Aug> 16. We broke our encampment early and traveled in the forenoon about 16 miles, which brought us to the Platte river, on which we encamped for the first time, at noon. We afterwards followed
this that stream about 500 miles; and encamped late in the evening near the river.
Friday <Aug> 17. We traveled about 20 miles over a sandy road and encamped for the night near a trading post on the river. Up to this <time> we had traveled through a thinly inhabited country; but from now on we saw no human habitations to speak of, except forts or trading posts or mail stations, and Indian's tents, later on.
Saturday <Aug> 18. We broke our encampment at 7 a.m. and traveled six miles, which brought us to Fort Kearney,
which <this post> is situated on a broad plain about a mile from the <Platte> river. About two miles west of the fort is a trading post, where we took in some provisions which the <Captain Scott's> company had left here <there> on their journey out. We encamped about three miles west of this place.
Sunday <Aug> 19. We traveled 20 miles. In the evening, after forming our encampment, we were overtaken by a small mule train, consisting of four wagons, with which traveled the following Elders, en route for the Valley;—<Isaac Bullock (President),> Wm W. Riter, Jos. H. Felt. Elnathan Eldrege, jun., Joshua K. Whitney, Sam. H. Hill, Hyrum P. Folsom, James A. Cunningham, Geo. Mousley, and Harrison P. Shirtliff. These brethren, who had acted as emigration agents and aids at Wyoming, had left that place after starting the last company of emigrants on the plains. Traveling as they did with good animals they expected to pass the several emigrant trains on their way to the Valley. Besides the brethren who had assisted with the immigration at Wyoming, there were several other Elders returning from missions among them Bro. Samuel L. Sprague, who had been our leader over the sea. The Elders held a meeting with us in the evening, and gave good instructions. Among other things they told us that the im<m>igrant train behind us known as the "Sanpete" train had cholera among its passengers; this disease had been brought by the last company which had arrived at <Wyoming>. Several had died already, when the Elders passed the train, and others were sick and dying.
Monday <Aug> 20. We traveled about 20 miles and crossed Plum creek. This evening one of the brethren who had traveled with the mule train died and during the day two <of the emigrants> died in our own company. As they were English, I did not learn their names; yet it cast a gloom over us all, and when we witnessed their earthly remains deposited in mother earth, in the wilderness, we all wept, or felt like weeping; for the thought of burying dear ones in this manner, when friends and relatives must immediately hasten away, without hopes of ever visiting the resting places of their dead again, was sad and trying indeed. Yes, there/they rest, where the wild Indians sing their war songs, and where the buffalo and other wild animals roam at large; but their graves will be found when Gabriel sounds his trump in the morning of the first resurrection. The<se> departed one, <
who thus> laid down their bodies as they were marching towards Zion. The Lord called them home before they reached their destination; they were not permitted to see Zion in the flesh; but they shall receive glory and rejoice hereafter; they died while endeavoring to obey God and keep his commandments, and blesed are they who die in the Loed [Lord]. These were the feelings of us survivers, who buried our brethren and sisters in the wilderness. Those who died today were only the beginning of the mortality in our company, for I believe nearly thirty of our number died befor we reached <Great> Salt Lake City.
Tuesday <Aug> 21. We traveled about 18 miles.
Wednesday <Aug> 22. We traveled 20 miles
Thursday <Aug> 23. We <again> traveled about 20 miles and passed Fort McPherson, which is situated on the plain between the <Platte> river and the hills which here are called bluffs. These bluffs run paralell with the river and form the south<ern> boundary of the great Platte Valley. On the north side of the river similar bluffs form the north boundry of the valley. Midway or so between these two ranges of bluffs flows the famous Platte river; and the grassy valley, through which it flows, is from 4 to 25 miles wide. Fort McPherson seemed to be occupied by a strong garrison of soldiers, whose special duty was to render protection to the travelers
across crossing the plains against the Indians.
Friday <Aug> 24. We traveled about 20 miles in the forenoon and camped for noon near the river, close to an Indian camp. About one hundred Indians were encamped here and some of their tents were large and comfortable. Theses were the first Indian<'>s we had seen on our journey. and after we had subdued our fear and timidity they became the object of our greatest attention and curiosity, and as they were a friendly band, a number of them soon appeared in our camp. Some of the young warriors entertained us by showing us their skill as marksmen with their arrows. Most of them were scantily clad, and some of the young boys were entirely naked, a feature which was rather shocking to us people from the north, who had never seen anything like it before. Some of them who made themselves more free with us than the rest partook of our food and seemed to be particularly fond of our bread and pan-cakes. In the afternoon we traveled about 4 miles. and camped for the night by the river.
Saturday <Aug> 25. We traveled 25 miles, passed Fremont Springs and met several mule and ox trains. We met many such during the several days we traveled along the
South Platte <River>; they were mostly trains that carried good to Denver and the mines in Colorado.
Sunday <Aug> 26. During the past few days the weather has been quite cold. In the forenoon we traveled 14 miles and in the afternoon we crossed the South Platte. At the point where we crossed it, the river was about 1/2 mile wide and <quite>
rather deep <in places.> <We> we had to double teams in crossing; hence it took a long time to get across. I was among those who waded or forded the stream. After crossing we traveled about a mile and camped for the night near the river.
Monday <Aug> 27. In the forenoon we traveled 7 miles along the river bank and in the afternoon we traveled about 14 miles over the hills. where the road runs in a north-westerly direction from South Platte to North Platte. We encamped for the night on a hill, making a "dry camp".
Tues 28. In the forenoon we descended a very steep hill into a deep valley, known as "Deep Hollow" or "Ash Hollow," and after traveling a few miles further, we reached North Platte river. The junction of the two rivers North Platte and South Platt, some distance east of this point, makes the larger stream, Platte river, which again is a tributary of the Missouri. In the afternoon, we traveled 16 miles up the river, over a heavy and sandy road and emcamped for the might near the river. We passed a number of wagons from which, during the night previous, the Indians had stolen all the animals, and the company traveling with the wagons were consequently unable to move till help could be sent. The Indians in this locality were said to be very hostile, and those of us who walked were instructed to keep near the wagons. A number of the emigrants were sick from eating wild berries in Ash Hollow, and a young lady [Christine Christensen] from <the> Vendsyssel conference <Denmark> died.
Wed <Aug> 29. The day was warm. In the afternoon I was taken violently sick, being attacked by a sort of cholera, which deprived me of my strength, so that I was compelled to ride in the wagon for the first time, for any considerable distance, since we left the Missouri river. We traveled about 24 miles and camped about sundown, near the river.
Thurs. <Aug> 30. We traveled
over <more than> 20 miles. Being sick, I rode most of the way.
Fri. <Aug> 31. Traveled about 24 miles, and camped for the night near Chimney Rock, a peculiarly shaped rock which rises almost perpendicular from the midst of a system of high bluffs. It is a noted land mark for overland travelers and we sould [should] see it for several days while traveling towards it.
Saturday, September 1. Traveled about 20 miles.
Sunday <Sept> 2. We traveled nearly 20 miles and passed Fort Mitchell.
Mon. <Sept> 3. We again traveled about 20 miles, over a rough country. I was still sick and rode in the wagon most of the time, on this and the past few days.
Tues. 4. Being somewhat better after my sickness, I resumed my marches on foot. We saw a number of Indians who appeared to be hostile and bent on mischief. In journeying along, we crossed over several hills and depressions. In the afternoon, we crossed Laramie river and encamped for the night about a mile from Fort Laramie, which is beautifully situated in a little valley which opens into the larger Platte River Valley. Fort Laramie is about midway
s between the Missouri river and Great Salt Lake Valley, and the most important military post on the road.
Wed. <Sept> 5. In the forenoon a number of officers from the Fort visited us and examined the arms found in our company.
We <As we> possessed about 100 guns and we were considered well <enough> armed to protect ourselves against the Indians, and were permitted to proceed. We continued our journey about 11 a.m. and after traveling 15 miles we encamped for the night.
Thurs. <Sept> 6. In continuing our journey today, we entered a mountain country. We had left the plains behind. A young man, who lagged behind the company eating berries, along the roadside, caused some anxiety and trouble in camp. After the train had camped, this man was missing and the night guard was sent back to hunt for him. At length they found him walking leisurely in the hills, and he was brought into camp. In the evening, at prayer meeting, the captain gave strict order<s> to the effect that none of the passengers must absent themselves from the train; for if they did this, they were liable to be scalped or kille<d> by Indians, who were roaming all over this country. We traveled <that day> about 22 miles through a rocky and hilly country.
Fri. <Sept> 7. We traveled a long distance through a mountain country, very rocky, and encamped for the night on a high sand hill. Grass for the animals was getting quite scarce, and the oxen were losing flesh and strength quite fast.
Sat. <Sept> 8. The weather last night and this morning was quite cold. In fact, the weather is very changeable in these regions. We met and passed quite a number of mule and ox trains, and we also frequently saw Indians on horseback and in camps. We crossed a large stream rushing deep and cold, and for those of us who waded across, it was anything but pleasant. We traveled during the day 18 miles and encamped in a very desert and dreary looking spot. The day was cold, and we were exposed to several heavy showers of rain.
Sun <Sept> 9. We crossed another large stream and encamped for the night near the river.
The <A hard frost prevailed during the> frost was quite severe last night, and this morning the ice on the water was quite thick; but towards the middle of the day it was quite cold <more moderate>. We encamped for the night in a grove of timber.
Tues. 11. We traveled about 20 miles up the river.
Wed. 12. After traveling about
3 <three> miles we reached Platte bridge, near which there is quite a trading village, consisting of a couple of log houses, half a dozen dugouts and a number of Indian tents. Small as the town was, it was a contrast to the wilderness through which we had passed since we left Fort Laramie; the few people who constituted the inhabitants of Platte Bridge Village were of the rough western type, and not much like Christians. At this point our train took in a supply of provisions, which the train had left when it journeyed east; but 38 head of cattle which had been left here at the same time for the purpose of strengthening the ox force on the return journey were lost, most likely stolen. After crossing the river on the bridge, we traveled about 10 miles over hills and a rough country generally and camped for the night on the Platte river the last time.
Thurs. <Sept> 13. After four days of cold and rainy weather, we once more enjoyed a fine day. We traveled a long distance and encamped for the night on a small creek.
Fri. <Sept> 14. This morning a small mule train <passed us> en route from <Great> Salt Lake City to meet the last train of the incoming immigration—the so-called Sanpete train—which was said to be in a suffering condition and their animals getting poor. This mule train had excellent animals and traveled quick. Our oxen also commenced to show sign of weariness, and a few of them had all ready given out and died; thus we also needed more animal strength. We traveled today about 20 miles and camped on Sweet Water.
Sat. <Sept> 15. We traveled about 15 miles and passed Devil's Gate station in the forenoon. When we formed our evening encampment it rained briskly and it <the downpour> continued
to rain all night. Besides the rain, we were annoyed all night by the howling of wolves, which approached our camp in large packs. Devil's Gate station was established by some mountaineers many years ago, and is specially known from the events of 1856, when a terrific snowstorm overtook some of our hand-cart <emigrants> companies. The fort stands <is situated> in the east end of a beautiful valley, through which Sweet-water river runs. It is surrounded on three sides with mountains of considerable height. Near the fort the river passes through a gap in the mountains where perpendicular rock walls stand on both sides, several hundred feet high. The water in passing through the gap, makes a great roar, as the bottom of the chasm is full of large fragments of the rocky walls, which from time to time have tumbled down. The noise produced by the river, as it pitches over the rocks, can be heard a long distance.
Sun. <Sept> 16. Traveled 22 miles <up Sweetwater.>
Mon. <Sept> 17. We passed a place which is called the "Three Crossings" of Sweet Water. Closed in between the high rocky cliffs on both sides the river is crossed by the wagon road three times. When the water is high, the crossings are dangerous. Later in the day, we crossed the river once more and encamped for the night on a plain. The weather was getting cold.
Thurs. <Sept> 18. Traveled about 20 miles. The weather was cold and the roads uneven and rocky. In the evening, before we camped for the night, it commenced to snow and blow furiously.
Wed. <Sept> 19. When we awoke this morning, the ground was covered with <snow> xxxx about six inches <deep>
of snow, and it continued to snow all forenoon. It was very cold indeed, and we all suffered in consequence severely, especially when we were making the morning camp fire. What added to our discomforture, was also the scarcity of fuel. There was no timber near, and the snow covered the sagebrush and everything else that could burn. But while many of the emigrants felt themselves helpless to cope with the situation, the teamsters kept up courage, and it only took a few minutes to get an immense sagebrush camp fire under way, from which we all took courage, and soon the smaller camp fires were kindled all around. The snow, however, continued to fall all forenoon and we made no attempt to move. It was truly the coldest and most unpleasant day <spent by us> on the whole journey. Toward noon, the teamsters succeeded, after much labor, to get the hungry and half-frozen oxen hitched up to the wagons, and we traveled a few miles; but as the snow was deep, and more kept falling, we only make very slow headway and soon found it necessary to form an encampment in a snug little valley. This is a cold <country> locality, the altitude being high and the country very windy. Many emigrants have suffered terribly in this locality, and not a few travelers have perished there in by gone years, not to speak of thousands of cattle which have died through cold and starvation. Occasionally, snow falls here in the middle of summer.
Thurs. <Sept> 20. We made a late start and traveled 7 miles in the forenoon. Eight of our oxen were left in a dying condition on last night's camping ground, and about fifty others were so cold and benumbed that they could scarcely drag themselves along. Later in the day, the sun peeped through the clouds and most of the snow melted before its warming touch. In the afternoon, we traveled about eight miles and camped by a creek.
Fri. <Sept> 21. We remained in camp all day, in order to give the oxen a chance to rest. The grass was quiet plentiful at this place. It was the only day on the whole journey, between the Missouri river and <Great> Salt Lake City, that we did not move at all. The captain sent the following telegram to Salt Lake City:
Encountered a very severe snow and wind storm, for twelve hours while passing from Sage Creek over the Rocky Ridge. Some cattle were badly frozen, eight head died and fifty more are disabled. The snow was six inches deep, feed covered up, heavy wind from northwest; very cold. Today fine weather, cattle looking better. Camp in good condition. Shall move from here tomorrow. A.H. SCOTT."
Sat. <Sept> 22. If I understood it right, we passed this day through what is known as the "South Pass"; traveled about 15 miles and encamped on a dry sage brush hill, where there was neither grass nor water for the cattle.
Sun. <Sept> 23. It snowed again last night and this afternoon, owing to which the roads became muddy and heavy. Traveled 20 miles and encamped on Little Sandy.
Mon. <Sept> 24. Crossed Little Sandy in the morning and Big Sandy in the afternoon, traveled about 20 miles and encamped for the night on a barren sage brush plain, without water near.
Tues. <Sept> 25. Traveled about 20 miles and reached Green river. We formed camp <on that stream> about sundown, near the east bank of the river.
Wed. <Sept> 26. Made an early start and crossed Green river. Men and boys of my size waded the stream which was cold and somewhat dangerous, as the stream ran strong and swift at the crossing. After the whole train had crossed in safely, we traveled 25 miles to Hams Fork, which stream we reached late in the night and encamped on its bank.
Thurs. <Sept> 27. At Hams Fork station we received a supply of provisions which the train <had> left here going east, and also abtained a few fresh cattle to strengthen some of the weaker teams. We broke the camp about 3 o'clock p.m. and traveled about four miles when we formed another encampment on Black's Fork.
Fri. <Sept> 28. Traveled 17 miles following the course of Black's Fork.
Sat. <Sept> 29. Traveled 15 miles.
Sun. <Sept> 30. Made an early start and traveled 14 miles; encamped for the night in a beautiful place near Fort Bridger. We are now about 112 miles from <Great> Salt Lake City.
Monday October 1. Passed Fort Bridger in the morning; traveled 16 miles and encamped in a deep valley between the mountains.
Tues. <Oct> 2. Crossed
our Bear River, traveled 15 miles and camped for the night in a beautiful valley.
Wed. <Oct> 3. Traveled 20 miles, and camped for the night near Castle rock in the upper end of Echo Canyon.
Thurs. <Oct> 4. After traveling about 14 miles we reached the mouth of Echo Canyon, where we saw the first houses in the mountains inhabited by Latter-day Saints. After traveling about two miles up the Weber, we encamped for the night.
Fri. <Oct> 5. Passed through the little settlement of Coalville and another small settlement <(Hoytsville)> further south in the forenoon. In the afternoon we crossed the Weber river and passed through Wanship; thence through the seven mile long Silver Creek Canyon, and encamped for the night at its upper end after dark. Day's journey 20 miles.
Sat. <Oct> 6. Traveled 10 miles, passed the Kimball ranch in Parley's Park, and encamped for the night near the east base of the divide, or summit of the Wasatch mountains.
Sun. <Oct> 7. Made an early start and passed over the summit, into Parley's Canyon. The mule train which met us Sept 14th to meet the last train <Captain Abner Lowry's Train> overtook us and passed us today, bringing quite a number of the emigrants from that train with them. The ox train itself, they reported, was two weeks' journey behind us. We traveled slowly, down through Parley's Canyon, passed Hardy's ranch and reached the mouth of the canyon late in the afternoon. Climbing a hill on the right, I obtained my first view of <Great> Salt Lake City. It appeared grand and beautiful, as it nestled in the full blaze of the afternoon sun. With my companions I almost shouted with joy at the realization of our fondest heart's desire. As long as I can remember I had prayed and hoped for this opportunity. Now at last, the city lay there, exposed to our gaze. Our dreams were about to be realized, in entering the chief city of the Saints—the home of Prophets and Apostles. After getting out of the mountain pass, we traveled through the Sugar House Ward, crossed the State Road and encamped for the night on the Church farm.
Mon. <Oct> 8. We traveled about four miles and arrived in Great Salt Lake City. The train went into the Tithing Yard where everything was unloaded, and then it left again, taking along only the emigrants who expected to locate in Utah county, whence nearly all the wagons or teams had come. Our family, which had not decided what part of the Territory to locate in, remained in <Great> Salt Lake City, that is, in the tithing yard. Consequently, we said goodbye to many of our fellow travellers with whom we had crossed the plains and mountains. They scattered to different parts of the Territory, where they had friends and relatives. We, who remained in the tithing yard temporarily were well treated and
were fed at the expense of the Church. We slept under sheds.