Stoddard, Oscar O., Report, in Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 24 Sept. 1860, 2-7.
- Related Companies
- Oscar O. Stoddard Company (1860)
The second hand cart company of the season under Capt. Oscar O. Stoddard arrived in G.S.L. City, having left Florence, July 6th <1860> with 126 persons and 22 handcarts. These were the last immigrants who crossed the plains with handcarts.
Following is a brief account of Elder Stoddard's mission and the journey across the plains of his handcart company. "This may certify that Oscar O. Stoddard and father started from Salt Lake City, May 7, 1859, for Michigan, U. S., arrived in Florence, N. T., the 15th of July, traveling most of the way <on foot, then walked most of the way> through Iowa and Illinois to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where we arrived on the 18th of August. <Here we> found a few saints who were glad to see us. Stayed a week there, went to Lappahauville, where on the 28th of August we baptized Martin T. Frost, and on the 19th of October, at Howell, Livingston Co. baptized my brother, Henry C. Stoddard; and on the 2nd of April, 1860, baptized Benjamin H. Briggs, his wife and daughter, in the town of Haudy, Livingston Co., Michigan.
ahe <The> next day my father, my brother and myself started on our return to the Valley. We walked most of the way to Iowa City, where we stopped, three weeks, for a company of the saints to get ready to emigrate, when we came on and assisted them in getting to Florence, where we arrived on the 15th of June. Father started in two or three days and came on in Capt. John Smith's company. I remained with my brother in Florence till Bro. Geo. Q. Cannon came up with the saints, when he chose me to take charge of the second handcart company, and we left Florence the 6th of July, and came on us as well as we expected. Had <We had> a very good trip across the plains and arrived in Salt Lake City, the 24th of September, 1860, all (with one or two exceptions) in good health and spirits, not leaving any on the road, bringing every one that started with us from Florence, and all who joined us on the road. On the 24th of July I baptized one person in the Platte river, and on the 2nd of August baptized three more in the Platte, making nine persons in all while on this mission, and having traveled about 5,000 miles, most of the way on foot." Captain Stoddard also wrote the following:
"The following are a few incidents of travel that took place on the plains in the summer of 1860, in the last hand-cart company, of which I had been appointed captain by George Q. Cannon, Emigration agent for that year, Although not fully equipped we went into camp with the carts on the evening of the 4th of July, 1860, and did not camp two nights on the same ground from that time till we did it on the 8th Ward Square of Salt Lake City.
It was three days before we fairly got all together, wagons, teams and hand-carts. There were 21 hand-carts and seven wagons with three yoke of oxen to each wagon and there were also with us, traveling in their own teams, Stephen Taylor and family, also Brother Paul and family from South Africa followed us up and joined us about the third day out and by the advice of Bro. Cannon, Bro. Paul was chosen chaplain over the English speaking portions of the company, Bro. Christian Christiansen having been chosen caplain of the Scandinavian <and> Swiss portion. Owing to the minutes of the journey being taken at the time with a lead pencil, they became illegible before I had an opportunity of copying them, so I am writing from memory and I cannot remember the number of souls who were in the company at the start. Bro. Cannon told them at the start if they would be humble and faithful not one of them
not one of them should die on the road to the Valley, which was literally fulfilled, as everyone who started from Florence with us came into Great Salt Lake City, with us except except a Swedish girl whom her parents left with Bro. Myers at Bear River and we also picked up others on the road. A Bro. Chapman and family, with wagon and team, joined us at Genoa <a sister> left by some former company was taken up by us at Wood River. She had had much sickness and had lost three children by death and a mother and daughter then stick [sick] unto death but they were so anxious to come to the Valley that we took them in and brought them along. The sick daughter died in East Canyon, a few miles below the food of the Big Mountain and was buried there.
And now I will mention a few incidents wherein the Lord blessed us in a special manner. First, just after leaving Wood River and reaching the Platte, while camped at noon, Elizabeth Taylor, daughter of Bro. Taylor spoken of as traveling with us, with his family while sitting on some bed clothes spread in the shade of a wagon, not feeling very well, was seized with spasms and twitching till it seemed as though she was going to die. I was called by a Sister [Eliza] Rogers, who was by her, to administer to her, and seeing her condition I was wondering what could be the matter and felt fearful and she was going to leave us immediately. With humble and diffident feeling, I laid my hands upon her head and almost mechanically rebuked the evil spirits and in the name of Jesus Christ commanded them to depart and leave her system. Immediately her paroxyms ceased and she spoke to us and asked why we did not let her go, why we called her back to this world of trouble—During her convalescense she informed Sister Rogers (the sister who was with her) that while at Council Bluffs spiritualism was was quite common and that in the family where she resided they often had sittings or circles, headed by the circuit preachers, and after a while they induced her to sit at the table with them when it was discovered that she was the strongest medium among them and astonished them at the manifestations give through her. They obtained such a hold over her that she began to feel and fear their influences and resolved to break away from them when some of the spirits, prominent among them an Indian doctor, informed her as she was intending to go to Salt Lake City she would not live to get there, for they would come and get her, when she got to the Platte River. The result of their attempt to carry her off we have seen, but the sequel is yet to be told.
When Sister Rogers told me the foregoing, I immediately told Sister Elizabeth she should go to Salt Lake City, but she would have to go there through the Platte River; she would have to be baptized in the Platte. So on the 25th of July we camped on the Platte and held a celebration and looked up a place to baptize in, and the weather was nice and clear, but as we repaired to the river side to perform the ordinances of baptism the sky became suddenly overcast with clouds and a severe wind arose, raising the waves in the river till they looked fearful and almost discouraged us from doing our work, especially as to all appearance it looked like keeping up for the day. But a calm feeling came over me and I mildly said: "Brothers and sisters, let us proceed with our preparations, sing, pray and get ready and if your faith is sufficient, we will yet be able to do our work. We kept on getting ready and when we had finished the weather was clear and serene and the water was without a ripple and we finished our work unmolested. That evening Bros. George Q. Cannon, Horace S. Eldredge, Wm. H. Hooper and others passed our camp on the road to the valley.
As for Sister Elizabeth, she came in to the Valley, got married and became the mother of five daughters <and> three sons, all of whom except one daughter are now living and call me father and she has never been troubled with those spirits since.
The next incident I will mention is crossing the Platte river at Laramie. Having traveled up the Platte on the north side and found it to be a rough, hilly road, east and bad for hand-carts between Laramie and the Upper Crossing I thought I would try and cross the North Platte at Laramie and travel up the south side of it and <as> there were some in the company who were timid about crossing with handcarts. I was in a quandary what to do about it. We camped about four miles below Laramie and during the night I dreamed I saw ourselves camped on the side of the river and when I told my dream it seemed to allay all fears, so we started at sunrise and moved camp up the river till opposite Laramie. Then the sisters did their washing while we overhauled our provisions, issued rations, increasing the rations of flour from a pound a head per day, which had been issued up till that time, up to one and a quarter pound a head her day and hunted up a ford and prepared to cross. We hitched up all ready and drove one wagon over, unloaded it, came back and took in the loads of the hand-carts and then went over with them, leaving the empty carts
and then went over with them to haul over by hand, I helping to haul over the first one myself, none but the men hauling <the carts> over the river. The women and children were hauled over in the wagons and we were over and in camp two miles up the river at sundown.
The next incident of moment was at Independence Rock on the Sweetwater river. I got a letter from Bro. Cannon informing me there was 14 sacks of flour for me at the Three Crossings of the Sweetwater. When I arrived at the Three Crossings we found a man there with the flour which we took into the wagons and from that raised our rations of flour to a pound an a half
pounds per head per day, which we kept up till we arrived in Salt Lake City. At the first camp this (the west side) of Quaking Asp Ridge, A few teams from the Valley passed us and camped a short distance east of us and they came back and spent the evening with us, enjoying themselves as young folks will, till between ten and eleven o'clock, when they started for <their> camp and feeling jolly, hurrahed, fired off pistols, shouted etc. and the Danish Saints, having gone to bed in a tent and all asleep, being suddenly aroused, by the uproar, were frightened and some one shouted "Indians" which created a panic and a rush was made for the tent door to get outside. Bro. Christiansen, their chaplain, a small man, lying at the tent door, started to go with the rest, but the rush was too soon and powerful for him, and he was trampled under foot till the tent was cleared when he found himself free, but with a shoulder out of joint with the knuckle below the socket. The next morning, one of the brethren by using his knee as a lever, tried to pull his arm out and pry the shoulder in place. After three or four unsuccessful attempts, he begged him to stop as he could stand the pulling no longer. I was then informed of the circumstance and went to him and found him with his arm in a sling but able to be around. We managed to get him on the camp pony and let him ride along the road as the camp moved along, till we camped at night. Hopping to find a chance to send him forward into the city, but did not. In the evening, just after prayers and as we were preparing for bed he sent for me to come to and administer to him. I complied and anointed his shoulder as well as his head with consecrated oil and in confirming the anointing with my hands upon his head, I prayed for the muscles and sinews to relax that the joint may have room to get to its place. After I got through administering to him I said: "Bro. Christiansen, go to bed and to sleep and if you will have faith you shall wake up in the morning with your shoulder in its place", and he said: "I believe you Captain", after which I went to bed and the first thing I heard in the morning, the Danish interpreter called me and said: "Captain Christiansen's shoulder is in its place as you told him last night it would be". And so it was an did not trouble him any more to my knowledge, though I have never seen him since he left the camp ground in Salt Lake City.
One more incident and I will close this narration. When we got to the mouth of Echo Canyon we stopped to noon and turned out our cattle near a mail station, and when we hitched up for the afternoon start, Bro. Paul, our chaplain, missed a cow of his, just as the train started. He went back to look for it and found it shut up in a pen and on going to let her out he was accosted by the stage driver who also was stopping for noon, who demanded him to desist and drew out a pocket knife and stabbed him in the back, near the shoulder blade. Bro. Paul came on after the train and on his coming up word was brought forward to me and I went back to the station on horse back. Among the passengers on the incoming stage was a district judge for Utah and he told me the case should be looked into and for me to take the cow and as soon as he arrived in the city he would have the case put into the hands of the Prosecuting Attorney and attended to. I came on with the cow and that is the last I ever heard of the affair, but when we were coming up the Big Mountain we met the driver going down with the outgoing stage having changed teams with the driver of the same, when they met. I have never seen him to know him since. The judge came in to the city but did not stay long; he left with Governor Dawson; his name I think was Crosby.
We landed on the Eighth Ward Square in Salt Lake City on the 24th day of September, 1860, having just dealt out one weeks rations and also meeting, on the square, persons, under the direction of the Bishopric, with vegetables, molasses, provisions, etc. which were distributed among them as needed or required
them so they were well received and I must say, according to the best of my understanding and knowledge, that this, the last hand-cart company, came across the plains in as good condition as any one of them.
There was one incident that happened that I regretted and it caused me some anxiety at the time but I soon gained the ascendency over the difficulty. It was this: Bro. George Q. Cannon in selecting teamsters to drive the teams with the wagons taking the provisions and extra freight of the company chose a couple that had come down from the Valley that season with Joseph W. Young on a trial trip to try the feasibility of oxen making the trip from the Valley to the Missouri River and back in one season and it proved a success and thus there was no more need for hand-carts. One of these teamsters was Danish and was to act as interpreter for me to communicate with the Danish Saints and the other, as having a little experience, was to have charge of the teams when it was necessary for me to be absent from them with the hand-carts. I trusted him and, at his request, nominated him before the company as wagon-master in my absence and it soon turned out that he got it into his head that he had sole charge of the wagons and had a right to sit in judgment upon the members of the company who were traveling with their own wagons. Accordingly, he cited Bro. Paul, our chaplain, to appear before the council of his teamsters to answer to certain charges and when Bro. Paul asked the privilege of bringing witnesses he was refused. I thought it time for me to interfere and I told Bro. Paul that he need not answer the summons, if he was refused witnesses, upon which the wagon-master asserted his claim as independent master of the wagons, whether I was present or absent. I gave him to understand that when the wagons and hand-carts were together, they were all under my charge and he was supposed to be included with them, as I was captain of the company. If he had had his will it was his intention to rule over the people like a tyrant but meeting with a determined check he subsided and threatened me with a High Council trial when we got to the City and took notes of my actions from that time on but his charges were not noticed and I never heard from them again. This was the most unpleasant incident of the journey."
The following details of the Stoddard Hand-cart Company were addressed to Elder Junius F. Wells, Editor of the "Contributor". The communication is not dated but Elder Stoddard wrote: "I send you the foregoing communication as Bro. Palmer thought you would like it when I informed him that I led the last company of handcarts.
OSCAR O. Stoddard