Robert S. Bliss diary, 1846 August-1848 January.
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Wed 25th our Pioneers went ahead about 20 miles & Camped near Fort Sutters[.] here we met sone of our boys that took the Rout to Montera &c[.] Our Camp is some 4 miles from the Fort on the American Fork about 200 miles from the Ocean but notwithstanding the tide water sets back above our Camp; this is a fine country and the people are making money fast but they complain of sickness here like all new countrys I have been in; in time this will be one of the Greatest places for Comersial [commercial] advantages in the world where this River puts into the sea is one of the finest harbours in the world[.] I am informed some 500 Whale Ships winter in Francisco Bay Annually.
Thus 26th Augst Lay in Camp to wait for the main camp to come up & to make some repairs &c[.] Last night the Brothering [Brethren] called a meeting at the main camp & as some were not prepared to go over the Mts. it was agreed that they Stop here if they wished until spring with the Blessing of the Presidency & Camp; Wages are from 30 to $60 per month; it was also thought best as some traveled faster than others & as we were out of danger & now to enter on a regular Road that we Would travel in small companys Especially through the pass of the California mountains.
Frid 27th Continued our Journey 18 miles over a Plain[e] towards the Mts. N.E. & encamped on a dry water course where we obtained water by diging in the Sand.
Sat 28th Augst 1847 Continued our march 22 miles over a plain to a settlement & encamped on a Stream called Bear Creek near a Mr. Johnsons here are abundance of Fish as in all of the Streams this Side of the Mts.
Sun 29th Started East, directly for the Mts traveled about 18 miles & camped at a Spring among the Mts
Mon 30th Last Saturday night we had a Shower with some lightning at a distance & yesterday I heard Thunder among the Mts East of us for the first time in California[.] to day traveled 16 or 18 miles & encamped in the Mts passed much good Timber to day such as Yellow & White Pine White Cedar &c and our Camp is under some lofty Norway Pine trees
Tues 31st Augst Continued our march over difficult Mts some 15 miles & encamped by a cold Spring as cold as if it run of[f] from Ice[.] Passed a Grave to day & read on the head board Ann West Died October 16th 1846 Aged 60 Years[.] Saw where Emigrants had chained trees to the hind end of their Waggons to keep them from running on to their Oxen; the Pines Cedars & fir trees are as large as I ever saw in any country[.] I saw some Pines 6 & 8 ft through at the butt
Wed Sep 1t 1847 marched 11 miles to Bear Valley[.] here is a General Camping place & some emigrants were hemed in by Snow last winter 10 ft Deep[.] they left 2 waggons here[.] Some trees the stumps are 10 or 12 feet high where they cut their wood for fuel. this Valley is hemed in by Mts[.] Bear Creek runs through it & it is probably 1 mile in length & ¼ mile in Breadth, we are now 60 miles from the settlement on the Sacramento River.
Sept 2d Thur Lay by to rest our animals & prepare for assending the Main Chain of mountains which are before us; I have Just returned to camp from the Mountain we will assend in the morning[.] I Saw where the Emigrants let down their waggons with ropes from pine trees[.] it is a bad mountain to pass but not half so bad as we came over in Sonora Called the Back Bone[.] in my travels to day I found plenty of Huckle Berys different from any I ever saw before large & delicious[.] last night our horses Snuffed Some at wild animals[.] I also Saw a Curious Spring a Short distance from the upper end of the valley
Frid 3d Sept 1847 Assended one of the highest mountains we have yet passed & traveled over Rocks & difficult places for about 15 miles & encamped near a board nailed to a tree which read James A Smith Died Oct 7th 1846 aged 26 years[.] we passed one wagon which had been left by emigrants & a number of Lakes or Ponds in the Mts; our Camp is on the head waters of a River that runs a westerly course
Sat Sep 4th Continued our Journey up the Mts passed a number of Lakes & Camped at a Spring which is made by the Snow melting on the mountain above it; this water is as cold as Ice water for it is ice water[.] the Snow lies on the Mts North & South of us; some of our boys brought Snow to Camp[.] Last night there was some frost at our camp; we are now about 9338 ft above the west Sea or will pass the highest peak of these mountains tomorrow; went out a Hunting this afternoon Killed nothing but saw plenty of Bear & Deer tracks[.] thought I had done pretty well not to meet the Bear that made such Big tracks[.] Came 12 miles
Sun Sept 5th 1847 Continued on march up the Mts for about 5 miles & came to the height of the Mts or the Region of perpetual Snow; here I Stood on Snow some 4 ft Deep & viewed the Mts crowned with Snow all around me[.] I thought no wonder we have frosty nights & cannot Sleep on account of cold in our blankets[.] we soon descended one of the steepest Mts I ever saw; how emigrants ever got their waggons up the Mt I know not[.] Some 4 miles down the Mt we passed some cabins where some of the last Emigrants Died or killed each other; I am told out of 90 only about 30 lived to go through to the Sacremento River to see the Bodys of our fellow beings Laying without Burial & their Bones Bleaching in the Sun Beams is truly Shocking to my feelings; we came 18 or 20 miles & encamped on a fine Stream of water & plenty of Grass
Mon 6th Sept Started early & traveled 3 or 4 miles & met Elder Brannan who was returning from Salt Lake[.] he informed us that Capt Brown had got instructions for us from the 12th & letters &c[.] we therefore returned to our camp to wait for him to arive & also to wait for the whole camp to come up
Tues 7th Sept to day Capt Brown & company came into camp I received a letter from my Wife dated in Augst 1846[.] I was Glad to hear from my family but my Joy was filled with Sorrow when I was informed verbally of the Death of my old Mess Mate Bro. E. N. Freeman whom I left on the Rio Del Nort[.] he was buried on the Banks of that River[.] he was one of the best men I ever knew & Faithful in all that he did; I had anticipated great Joy to meet him again but his work is finished on Earth & he is gone to do a Greater work than he could do here[.] May God Bless his Dear Companion & Relatives with his Spirit to bear up under the Severe trial it must be to them; I have just heard of the Death of Henry Hoyt one of our Brothring who was behind us[.] he Died a few minutes after riding up one of the worst Mts on this Journey; he was buryed as decently as the circumstances would admit of; my heart is Grieved for the affliction of this people[.] how much we have to endure God only knows but we will Yet triumph over all & if faithful receive a full reward for all of our Sufferings & privations
Wed 8th parted with many good Brothring here hoping to meet next Summer at Salt Lake & continued our Journey some 18 miles & encamped in a small valley surrounded by Mts covered with pine
Thur 9th Sept 1847 Came over a Mt to the Trucky River[.] continued down the Same about 25 miles & encamped where the river puts through a Mt.
Frid 10th continued our march down this River 30 miles & encamped to day met the Emigration for California some 35 waggons &c[.] the road up this River crosses it 28 times[.] we wet our provisions to day some in fording so much
Sat 11th Sept 1847 This morning the most of our company left in order to reach the Bluffs this fall[.] we lay by till 4 O Clock to rest our animals for we have 40 miles to go without Grass or water; at 4 O, C we started left the Trucky River across the Desert[.] about dark met Emigrants for California & reached the hot Springs about mid night[.] we onpacked our animals to rest them as there was no Grass having come 20 miles in the morning[.] boiled our Coffee in the Spring & continued our Journey 25 miles farther being
Sun the 12th Sept & encamped at a Slough on the Desert; the hot Springs we passed are a Great Curiosity they Boil in one place so as to throw the water some 3 or 4 ft high & steam & smoke over a large place; there are holes where hot air bursts out over probably an acre of Ground with a continual noise making it dangerous to travel among them
Mon the 13th Sept traveled up the Sink of Marys River 20 miles & camped
Tues 14th traveled 30 miles to day & struck the Marys River where it is a Running Stream[.] here we encamped[.] poor Grass for our Animals in conciquence of the Emigration this fall
Wed 15th of Sep 1847 again took up our Journey[.] Came 15 miles & found a letter left for us by our boys[.] they are one day ahead of us[.] here we encamped[.] tolerable Grass for our Animals
Thur 16th Sept 1847. To day came 30 m & passed a company of Emigrants bound for Origon. we passed the Origon Road about noon & Camped on the River
Frid 17th Sept came 25 miles to day & encamped on the River[.] Good Grass &c[.] our Animals are verry much worn out
Sat 18th Sept in conciquence of Bro Gardner being Sick Bro. Mc Cord & myself were left with him either to come on alone or wait untill the Last company comes up which will be some 4 or 5 days yet[.] Bro Gardner is verry sick to day with Chills & Fever
Sun 19th Sep Moved our Camp up the River a Short distance on account of Grass[.] Bro Gardner is sick with chills again to day[.] if he gets no better I know not how he will travil[.] we look for the other company to come up tomorrow; I shot a Duck Yesterday which made us a fine supper; it is thought unsafe to travel alone on account of the Indians; the last company of emigrants we met had 7 cattle Shot by the Indians on this River above this place; we see no Signs of Indians at this place & lay down last night in peace after prayer feeling that no evil would befall us
Mon 20th Sept 1847 Lay in camp Still hoping Bro Gardner would be better so as to travel as soon as the last camp Should come up; he had the Chills every day & this is the 3d day we have lay by & our Brothring do not come up Yet; if we felt safe in traveling alone we should go on a few miles every day before Bro Gardner is sick but it probably will be wisdom for us to wait for our Brothring to come up before we go on; we are lonesome but employ our time as well as we can; we are a long distance from Salt Lake Yet & have been on the Road about two months since our discharge without tents or any thing to Shield us from the Storms but our Blankets; but traveling has become a kind of Second Nature to us so we do not complain
Tues 21t Sep To day about 11 O,Clock our Brothring Came up & we were Glad after Staying near 4 days alone[.] they Camped with us the remainder of the day; there is now over 20 of us & some 3 or 4 sick therefore we will have to travel slow
Wed 22d Sept Started Early once more on our Journey came about 20 miles & camped on account of the Sick; our Camp is near some hot Springs
Thur 23d Sept traveled about 18 miles to day & encamped[.] there is some 4 or 5 sick which makes it hard for them to travel & Slow & tedious for us; our anxiety being great to See our Families & friends
Frid 24th Sep 1847 Came about 15 miles & encamped at the crossing of the River[.] Bro Gardner & others have chills every day[.] when we Shall arrive at Salt Lake I do not know[.] we cannot leave the Sick & must be Patient
Sat 25th came about 15 miles & encamped[.] on our way to day found the fragments of a letter left by Prest Hancock & others for us; could find out but little by it as the date &c was gone[.] suppose the Indians found it & tore it in Pieces[.] they follow our camps for Plunder &c they are a wreched set of Lamanites[,] wild as the deer on the Mts Sine [Sinai.] we arrived in camp[.] some Brothring came in who told us some 8 or 10 horses are gone from our company; they followed on their tracks & found 8 horses stolen.
Sun 26th Sept Came about 18 miles & camped[.] last night the Indians stole 1 more horse from us making 9 in 2 nights; After we camped to day I went to the River to wash & saw a Trout; I immediately returned to camp & took my hook & line & caught 4 fine fish[.] the 4 would weigh about 5"[.] they are a little different from the Trout in the States having fine Scales but in other respects like them.
Mon 27th Sept traveled still up the River about 15 miles and encamped; Caught a fine Trout for supper[.] they are as fine fish as I have seen in all my travels; our anxiety is great to see our Families but we have to move Slow on account of the Sick among us
Sept 28th (Tues) 1847 this morning left the Marys River & passed some mountains 17 miles over & struck the River again[.] traveled up the River about 3 miles & encamped making 20 miles to day[.] here a lone Indian came to us & extended the hand of friendship to us[.] we had but little feelings of friendship for him after having 11 horses & mules Stolen by the Rascals[.] he left us after catching 2 Trout for his supper
Wed 29th Sept passed up through a canion [canyon] of the mountains into another Valley[.] here we were met by some 20 Indians in friendship[.] their object appeared to be to beg tobacco[,] fishhooks &c[.] came 23 miles to day
Thur 30th Sept continued our Journey up the valley & about 9 O Clock came to the hot Springs; they are several Rods across & Boil & Smoke even a number of feet after they run into the river which is close by; came about 20 miles to day Saw several Indians who came to beg as is their custom
Frid 1t Oct. Continued our Slow Journey up this valley (called the Hot Springs Valley) about 20 miles & encamped opposite a burning Mt; it Smokes like a Coal pit on the Side next to us we have seen the smoke for 25 miles back Some Indians came to us to day; I asked them as well as I could what it was pointing to the Smoke[.] one of them told me it was a hot place by putting his hand down & drawing it back quick & blowing & biting his fingers as if they were badly burned[.] I was much amused with them to see how injenius they were to convey by Signs what they wanted us to understand; If they wanted tobacco they would put a stick in their mouths & puff like Smokers & if fish-hooks they would bend their fingers in the shape of a hook point to the river & Jerk as if in the act of fishing; I could understand them quite well by their signs[.] indeed they have a nack to make you comprehend
Sat 2d Oct 1847 Left the Marys River & passed up a valley with some water in it, over a hill where the water ran an Easterly course; here are some Pits full of pure water & verry deep[.] one of our horses fell in one & we had to pull him out by main Strength; we dare not camp here but continued our course about 8 miles further making some 25 miles to day[.] The Volcano we camped in sight of last night Shone beautiful all night
Sun 3d Oct 1847 came about 23 m & encamped in a large valley by good spring water; there is plenty of Antelope here but they are shy of us
Mon 4th Oct This morning 6 or 7 Indians came into Camp all horse Back & armed with British Fowling Pieces; we traded some with them which detained us untill about noon then traveled passed a hot Spring from which Boiling water came forth in a rapid current Sufficient to carry a good mill[.] Several rods below I put my hand into the current & could not bear it in a moment; came 10 miles & encamped by some pitts full of good water[,] how deep I know not[.] the valleys in this country have many such springs in them which are verry dangerous for Animals to go near them[.] we had horses fall in them & saw places where others had been hauled out
Tues 5th Oct Came 20 miles to day & encamped by more of the Pitts Situated in the (Sides of the North) Soon after we encamped an Indian rode up to the camp[,] traded some & put back the way he came upon a gallop[.] we expect he will bring others to night or in the morning.
Wed 6th Oct our Indian came this morning with another with him and traded with us some more; came 25 miles to Goose Creek & encamped some 5 miles below where we struck the Creek
Thur 7th traveled down Goose Creek about 18 miles & encamped[.] our boys have fine sport catching Trout to night; the streams are full of Fish in this country.
Frid 8th Oct 1847 left Goose Creek & traveled over Mts about 25 miles & encamped in a small valley surrounded by tremendious rocks with a small spring brook running in it
Sat 9th Oct Continued our Journey about 20 miles to a branch of Raft River & encamped; some pine & fir on the mountain as well as cidar but verry stuntad in its growth.
Sun 10th Oct traveled down the river about 25 miles & encamped[.] passed an Indian Settlement to day[.] the valley here is large & we cannot be far from Fort Hall[.] how far I cannot tell
Mon 11th Oct Came down the River some 20 miles & encamped near a Road we suppose leads to Origon [Oregon.] we cannot be far from the Fort from Every appearance[.] Saw 3 Graves of Emigrants to day
Tues 12th Left Raft River & struck an East course some 7 miles & came to a Noble River running West[.] we crossed 2 fine Streams of water & camped on the River[.] (we suppose is called Snake River) having come 22 miles to day
Wed 13rd Oct 1847 Continued our Journey up the River about 25 miles & encamped on the River[.] passed a number of beautiful falls on the River to day
Thur 14th Oct Continued our March for about 20 m & arrived at Fort Hall[.] visited Capt Grant of the Establishment bought some Necessarys for our Journey[.] Capt Grant read his remarks on our people who had passed him this fall, as recorded in his Journal; He says they were gentlemen payed for all they got of him & he heard no Oath or vulgar expression from any of them but he could not say so in regard to Other people who passed him this season; He is a Gentlemen of Inteligence & Observation
Frid 15th Oct 1847 left Fort Hall & struck a direct South Course for the Salt Lake[.] traveled 20 miles in a very cold Wind & encamped on the Ban[n]ock River
Sat 16th Oct Continued our Journey up the River some 18 miles & encamped[.] the Mts on our right are covered with what I suppose to be firr Timber
Sun 17th Oct. Left Banock River & passed over a chain of Mts about 20 miles & encamped on a stream of water
Mon 18th Oct Missed our trail & traveled among the Mts all day & made but 3 miles; however we found our Rout again the same day
Tues 19th traveled about 20 miles to day on Sick Creek so called in conciquence of the trappers all being sick who eat of the Bevers they caught on this Stream
Wed 20th Oct continued down Sick Creek 20 miles & encamped; saw many Buffalo Bones since we left the Fort
Thur 21t Oct traveled about 25 miles & encamped on Bear River; this is a fine stream of Water & runs here through a fine valley bordered by Mts with timber probably suitable for building[.] saw some Antelope to day; Geese & Ducks are plenty on this stream; we find the best kind of Grass in this country
Frid 22d Oct 1847 Continued our Journey by crossing Bear River & going down the valley; passed a cluster of Hot Salt Springs also passed a lake where we saw the most Geese & Ducks I ever saw in any country at one view; camped on a beautiful Stream coming down from the mountains East of us[.] here I would like to Settle & make me a farm[.] it is the most delightful place I have Seen since leaving the Pacifick [Pacific] coast
Sat 23d Oct Continued down the valley & passed some Salt Hot Springs in Sight of a part of Salt Lake about 25 miles & arrived at Settlement of the Utaw [Utah] Indians where we found a white man with his flocks about him of horses Cattle Sheep & Goats[.] he informed us we were in forty miles of the Church; he told us 566 waggons had arrived besides the Pioneers and Soldiers; God Grant we may find our Families after 15 months Drill in the U.S. Army & our constant fatigue in traveling 9 months of the time some 3 or 4000 miles
Sun 24th Oct made 20 miles to day & camped at a Ranch where our people were herding Animals[.] the first man I saw was T. Bingham my old Mess Mater who was left on the Rio Del Nort sick to return to Purblo to winter with the Detachment that left us at Santa Fee; from him I learned my Family were not here which was one of the Greatest trials of my Life; to think that I had left them with the Expectation to meet them here & had suffered almost every thing but Death & traveled some 1500 miles since the 21st of July with Joyful hope of Meeting them here and thought of the Happiness of their society again to be disappointed; to hear they were 1100 miles still from me & no possible Chance of getting to them in 8 or 10 months to come is almost to much for me to bear & without any means to Get Provisions or Clothing for the Season that is approaching if I could cross the Mts I would not rest till I saw them but the Mts are now covered with Snow & my animals would die & I Should perish among the Mts. & never see them here therefore I must wait till Spring before I can go to them; I ask God the Eternal Father to bless them & presirve them in health untill I meet them once more on the Earth; & I ask it in the name of Jesus Christ Amen
Mon 25th Oct arose Early & came 20 miles to the Settlement of our people[.] Saw many Glad to see me which comforted me some; this is a delightful valley surrounded by Mts with beautiful Springs of water