James Amasa Little, "Biography of Lorenzo Dow Young," Utah Historical Quarterly 14 (1946): 118-21.
View this source online
During the absence of Mrs. [Harriet Page Wheeler] Young her husband [Lorenzo Dow Young] accomplished the not inconsiderable task of transporting over the Missouri River five wagons, several horses, 80 head of cattle, and 500 sheep, forming camp on the west side of the river, which he left in charge of his men while he awaited the arrival of his wife on the east side.
On the 20th of May, 1850, Lorenzo started out on the long and tedious journey to the Valley. A few days after, when traveling, a few Pawnee Indians came along. A Young Indian of the party ran his spear into a fat lamb and took it on to his horse. The driver of the sheep tried to induce him to drop it, but he turned to ride off and the driver discharged a shotgun at him, wounding him in the leg, as afterwards appeared. In the evening a chief and several Indians came to camp. The former could speak English. He appeared very angry and informed Lorenzo that his man had shot one of his boys in the leg, and that he must have seven beeves for compensation. He was reminded of what he well knew, that the leading men of his tribe had made a written treaty with the Mormons, wherein, on certain conditions which the Mormons had filled, the Pawnees had agreed to let the Saints pass through their lands undisturbed. He also was informed that the Indian boy had been the aggressor. He was offered one beef but he manifested no inclination to be reasonable. That evening Captain James Lake came up with fifty wagons and encamped by Lorenzo. With the latter were several California emigrants who wished to travel with him, thus making his camp about twenty men strong.
From the mood in which the Indian chief rode off, Lorenzo rather expected the Indians would appear in force the following morning. Captain Lake was conferred with, and the men of his own camp. It was the universal custom in those days for men crossing the plains to be armed. Firearms were thoroughly examined and loaded afresh, and everything was well prepared for any demonstration of the Indians. Quite early in the morning they began to arrive until there were some three hundred mounted warriors around the camp. The chief proved to be the head chief of the band; he brought another chief with him. They were large, fine looking men, the principal almost a giant. Notwithstanding the injustice of their demands they still required five beeves. Lorenzo offered them two. He did not feel, under the circumstances, as though they should have anything, but was willing to make that sacrifice for the sake of peace. He determined to take the consequences rather than to accede to their unresonable demands. There was fight in the manner and countenances of the chiefs. The camp was ready to move and directions were given for them to take the road. The men of the camps were enjoined to be ready to use their arms any moment, and the teamsters to stay by their teams to take care of them if an effort was made to stampede them. Lorenzo had an excellent revolver. He got on to his horse and said to the chief who was near him, “I have offered you all that is just and reasonable to settle this difficulty and shall give you no more. I have this revolver containing six loads. I shall stay right with you, and if you or any of your men make a move to stampede or injure these teams I will kill you instantly, and besides I am good for two or three more.” By this time the last wagon was getting under way. The chief led out his warriors in a single file; behind him rode Lorenzo, revolver in hand ready any instant to execute his threat. Perhaps a mile had beeen traveled in this way, but he did not relax in his threatening attitude for an instant. He well knew that with vigilance he held the key to the situation, but that a moment of inattention might be fatal. The chief had time to reflect on the situation and evidently could discern no way out save by the almost certain sacrifice of his own life. He gave one yell and all his men halted. At the moment it was impossible to tell the motive of the move. It was not long until he spoke three times to his men and they all turned away from the train and rode off. Lorenzo says of this circumstance, “I acted on a general principle that has characterized my life. It was my constant desire to do right and deal justly. I could then ask the Lord to protect me in defending my rights. In this case as in other instances when in danger, there was an inspiration on me to defend myself. Under these feelings and conditions I have always been successful.”
When Lorenzo arrived at the South Fork of the Platte River the water was high and there were no means of crossing except to ford. There two California emigrants whom he had hired to drive his sheep to the Valley arranged to go on in a faster traveling company direct to California. This was unfortunate, as he needed their assistance in crossing the river. That evening Captain Milo Andrews [Andrus], in charge of a company of Saints of about fify wagons, came up, but they were in too much of a hurry to assist him. Captain Lake and company also passed him. Lorenzo unloaded a wagon with a high box, filled it with sheep, put on four yoke of oxen and with two drivers several loads were taken over that day. In the evening Captain Thomas Johnson came up with a company, encamped near Lorenzo, and came over to see him. He took in the situation and remarked, “You appear to have a hard job on your hands.” Lorenzo replied, “yes, but I am used to hard jobs.” Captain Johnson went to his camp, called the men together, told of the situation of Brother Young, and said he did not wish any of the company to cross the river until the sheep were over. The next morning they unloaded a wagon, helped to cross his sheep, and the second day all were encamped on the west side of the river. Ever after there was a kindly feeling in the heart of Lorenzo towards the man who had assisted him in an emergency.
One night when Lorenzo was camped on the bottom of the river, there came on a rainstorm accompanied with terrific thunder and lightening. Two men were on guard, but the frightened sheep scattered and could not be controlled. Learning of this he took with him a reliable man and traveled about in the rain and mud for four hours, but was obliged to give up the task of gathering the sheep until daylight. In the morning they were badly scattered and many were torn by the wolves. It was an unfortunate night; his losses amounting to 127 sheep, worth in those days, in Salt Lake Valley, five dollars per head. The remainder of the journey was without further incident of note, but Lorenzo and Mrs. Young were tired with the labors and cares of the long journey, and not long after its close the latter was taken seriously ill, first by a fever, followed then by inflammatory rheumatism.