James Amasa Little, Biography of William Rufus Rogers Stowell, 1893, 32-34.
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In the winter of 1849-50, Apostle John Taylor and others arrived in the settlement on their way to Europe. He had occasion to spend a night in the home of Elder Stowell. At one time during the evening he sat with his head in his hands and appeared absorbed in meditation. Suddenly, he turned to Elder Stowell and said, “When are you going to the mountains?”
“Just as soon as I can, but I do not know when,” was the reply.
Elder Taylor continued, “If you will do just as I tell you, when the next emigration is ready to go, you will be on the banks of the Missouri River, ready to go with them. Let all your efforts, all your exchanges of property, in fact, everything you do, do with this object in view. Accept it in your faith that you are going and in talking with others on the subject, tell them you are going and you will be ready to go when the emigration starts.”
“I will do as you tell me, as near as I can,” Elder Stowell replied.
He accepted that prophecy in full faith that it would be fulfilled, centered all his energies in that direction. He commenced selling and exchanging property. Everything worked in his favor. He said men would come to him wanting to buy what he had to sell with cash to pay for it or property he wanted in exchange. This happened mostly unexpectedly. When Captain David Evans’ company was ready to go on the 15th of June, he was ready to go with it. He had four good yoke of cattle and a good outfit. Better still, he was out of debt. The prophetic promise of Elder Taylor had been fulfilled in every particular.
In these moves, there were many interesting experiences that showed how providence opened the way to the obtaining of means for gathering to the mountains. There was a considerable amount of cholera on the Platte Riuver [River] in 1849 and it caused a number of deaths. It was unfortunate that several companies of Saints, among them that of Elder Stowell, travelled the road on the South side of the Platte River. Elder Stowell’s wife and her sister both caught cholera but recovered. During this period of trial, the burdens on him were excessive. He said of them, “There was much mud along the Platte River which made the roads heavy and called for excessive labor on the part of the horses. It was disagreeable to the people. Night and day I had to wait on or care for the sick, prepare and cook food, drive my team, and stand my turn at guard nights. Under these conditions, there seemed no end to toil and so I got but little sleep. Sometimes I was asked why I was never sick. I usually replied I had no time to be sick. Often the sick died in their wagons and were buried hurriedly by the roadside. It was a time that required all the faith in God that could be exercised and all the bodily endurance we were capable of, to combat the evil that had us in its toils”
At Pacific Springs, on the west side of the south pass, Elder Stowell waded in the cold water of the marshy ground around the Springs to get the cattle out—a job many were reluctant to do. Shortly after, he was taken by Mountain Fever, but soon recovered. Nothing further of unusual importance occurred to him on his journey to Great Salt Lake Valley. He arrived about the middle of September.
On this journey Elder Stowell had a fairly successful experience shooting buffalo. This was not to enjoy hunting the noble game, but it was to supply the company with meat, an item which their excessive effort and poor rations caused them to crave. Often they had gone without meat for days at a time. On approaching the buffalo range, buffalo appeared near the camp in the morning. It created quite a stir. Of this he said, “Several men started directly after the buffalo. I saddled my horse, took my rifle, pistol, and a knife and gun. I followed up a ravine to head them on their course. After the others had given up the chase, I shot the leader and returned to camp for assistance to drag it back to where the wagons were. It was very fat.” His knowledge of cattle had told him not to try to follow the buffalo, but to cut to the side he thought they would take as they ran, since they seldom ran in a straight line.
He also said, “One morning, after traveling a few miles, three buffalo passed near the camp. The captain had a bulldog which soon chased them to their highest speed. They were fast going to the mountains. I saddled my horse quickly and took over the hills across their course, and soon came up with them. They were running in single file, something that made it difficult to get a good shot. I determined to take the chances of breaking their file and so made a dash at the center one. As he turned, I shot him. We had travelled a long time without seeing any buffalo and the people were very hungry for meat.”
Another hunting experience, he described as follows, “One morning the captain discovered a lone buffalo a long way off. He asked me if I thought I could get him. I said I would try, but I would have to have someone with me since it was too far from the camp to make it prudent for me to go alone. The captain said to take my pick, and so I chose young Abraham Hatch. We saddled our horses and started out. We kept the hills between us and the buffalo, hoping to get near enought to shoot before we frightened him. In this we were disappointyed because before we got near enought to shoot, he started off at full speed. I told Hatch we would have to find him in the open now. But Hatch’s horse shied and so I had to try alone. To make a reasonably sure shot, It would be necessary to check his speed, and so I crowded him out on a ledge of rock. Suddenly he turned and dashed at me. A touch of my spur and my horse sprang to the side, barely in time to be missed by the animal. As he passed, I shot him in the side. He was soon being dragged back to camp by a yoke of oxen.
“After the buffalo was dressed, the captain told me to take what I wanted for my family, and the rest would be distributed to the company. I told him that I had no desire to fare better than the others. It was a large, fine buffalo and it supplied meat for the camp for some time. Buffalo were scarce along that route and I believe I killed all that were used by that company. The other men killed deer, antelope, etc., along the way”