Willden, Ann, Autobiography, 13-14, in Jennie Sylvia Jensen Hancock, Charles and Eleanor Turner Willden biographical sketches 1963.
Earlier in the year of 1852 other companies had gone to Utah. The traveling was so hard that their stock had given out, and so to lighten the loads, many of the household goods were thrown out and left behind; pots, pans, tubs, heavy articles of wearing apparel, and feather beds, were strewn all along the roadside. Our party would have liked to have picked up many of these things, especially the feather beds. Our teams were in good condition, and we could have carried many of these things, but we did not do so for fear of disease.
The stock would stampede if they saw a dead animal by the roadside. At one time some women were walking ahead of the wagons, when they came upon a dead ox. They knew there would be trouble if something were not done, so they stood in line between the dead ox and the road, holding out their long skirts at their sides, thus making an effective screen while the long train passed by.
One day an old Indian chief came to our wagon. I saw him coming and ran to the far end of our “prairie schooner.” He saw that I was afraid of him, so to tease me, ran his long spear as far into the wagon as he could reach. I surely was frightened for I thought he was going to kill me.
At one time, all the men who could get away from the wagon train, went after a herd of buffalo. All returned from the hunt but my father and a companion. The train could not wait for them, as camp had to be made further on so they were left behind. At nine o’clock that night they had not reached the camp and the company became uneasy about them.
A lantern was hung on a tall tree and guns were fired every few minutes. About three o’clock in the morning an answer came to the watching and anxious people. The answer was a gunshot fired by the lost ones.
A few days later my brother Charles was lost for four days. He had gone back to help another company, which had taken the wrong road, and my brother in trying to find it was himself lost, but he kept up the search and at last found where they were camped. He led them back to the main road and to the camp of the wagon train.
One day Charles was driving our wagon and John was driving the sheep behind the wagon. There was another company behind our outfit, and our parents got out of our wagon and said they would walk awhile and talk with the people. Mother told me to stay in the wagon and care for my little sister. After awhile John came to the wagon and called to me. “Annie, won’t you come drive the sheep, I am so tired?” I was willing to do so. Had I gotten out of the wagon on the “nigh” side all would have been well, but—instead, I got out on the opposite side. The oxen, not being accustomed to this, kicked me under the wagon, a wheel struck my back and squeezed up my dinner, and my prized lead pencil was lost in the food. This pencil was a piece of common lead that I had in my mouth, chewing and trying to shape into a pencil. Though I was badly hurt, I mourned the loss of my pencil. While being run over I was calling frantically to by brother, “stop that Wagon.” I must have been made of India rubber not to have been seriously injured. My frantic parents came running to learn the trouble, and there was great excitement in the train for a little while. I was able to walk the next day.
The great prairie was covered with high thick grass, and hidden underneath the grass was cactus. The wagon train left the main road to camp and I was walking behind in my bare feet. The cactus thorns would get into my feet and I would sit down to get them out, I would get them into my hands. The wagon soon got so far ahead of me that I was sure I was lost. The people behind did not know of the cactus and though I was lingering because I had gotten into a “stubborn spell.” In a short time, which seemed hours to me, my brother came for me on horseback. When my thorny condition was discovered and doctored, I was petted and comforted.
While passing through Echo Canyon, we found it to be a very wonderful place, for there were great rocks and high cliffs, the first we had ever seen. We children shouted, “Hurrah,” and there came back to us, the answering “Hurrah.” Again we called, “Who are you?” and again came the answer, “Who are you?” So we called, yelled, and shouted just to hear that mysterious voice, echoing from the rocky cliffs.
The older people soon tired of our noise, and we were forced to stop. It was also feared that our commotion and noise would stampede the cattle. We never traveled on Sunday, for the Mormons were strict Sabbath keepers.
While traveling, the weaker members of a family rode in the wagon; the others had to walk. Mother should have ridden, but she walked over half the way.
After many long, weary, interesting days we entered Utah.
The Wialldens left Council Bluffs June 2, 1852 crossing the plains in the third Company of Captain Thomas C. D. Howell.
They had nine herd of horned stock and some sheep which the younger children took turns driving as has been mentioned previously.