Segments from The Emigration of Richard Litson by Mabel Turpin.
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the party at last landed at the place where they could secure their teams & wagons to start over the plains. After several days of preparation, they started on their way. The first day they traveled 2½ hours & then stopped & camped for the night by a beautiful house where there was water and wood.
The next stop was made by water, but there was not much wood to be had. They passed several teams going east & passed two other trains going west. The passing of several graves, which marked the trail & bore a testimony of those who had passed ahead, dampened their spirits. They camped by the Platte River South, & as they followed the river they saw many Indians who were friendly & made no trouble. The party followed near the river, getting their water from it, but had scarcely any wood for four or five days. They passed through Kearney City which had a post office & bakery. They had spasms of rainy weather for a few days with lightning & thunder but made good progress considering these circumstances.
One little girl was hurt very badly by falling off one of the wagons. By using what medicine they had on hand & by several elders administering to her, she got well & was able to romp & play again. They camped at a house called Junction House & then proceeded on their way, camping near houses as much as possible so as to procure water & wood. They passed two graves, one inscription reading “H. Voigt, died 1865, Sept. 15, age 31 years.” A second inscription read “K. Milden, died June 2, 1864, late of Preston, England.”
One morning, after traveling about a mile from camp, they were passed by a regiment of soldiers. Further along the way they passed several graves with inscriptions as follows: Lawken K. Stevens, aged 14 years; E. Hunter, died July 3, 1865; N.P. Wells, late of Biethan, Missouri, killed by Indians, aged 39 years.
They had intended to cross the Platte River, but decided the crossing too dangerous, so went along further to find a safer place. All the wagons crossed before it got dark, but two or three waited & crossed in the morning. They traveled three or four miles, then stopped for dinner & camped.
The next morning they started at 8 o’clock & traveled until 12 o’clock, stopping for dinner & continuing again until 6 that evening.
They traveled eight or ten miles the next day, thinking to go to North Platte, but unexpectedly found water, so they camped. There was a grave at this spot named John Brain [G.aon] crossed shore, died August 23, 1844.
The next day they continued several miles & camped by a creek running close by the road.
The next day they camped by North Platte for dinner. The first mule train passed there on the 30th of July. They camped again by the river that night &
the next day they crossed over some sand hills & after a few miles they met some soldiers. After most of the wagons had passed about a half dozen or so, the soldiers came forward & tried to claim some of the mules that had the U.S. brand on them. The Litsons insisted that the mules belonged to them, having bought them from rightful owners, but the soldiers argued & took one of the mules. The company traveled on & camped for the night.
The next day when they camped, the captain & two teamsters of the soldiers’ regiment drove in & returned the mule that was taken the day before, apologizing for having taken it.
In the next few days of travel, they saw Indians several times, some at a distance & some close, but they did not molest them. On crossing a bridge, they saw Laramie to the left, & had to stop & be examined before they could proceed further. During the time the company was stopped for examination, a child of Brother & Sister Belle [Bell] died & they buried her [him] beside a large tree on a hill.
The next time the train made camp, it was by some ox trains.
They continued the next day & passed the other trains that were traveling. When those trains camped, the Litson train continued on, stopping by a creek where a mule train was camped. There was a notice here that read: “To Bridger’s Ferry, 15 miles,” “To Virginia City, 425 miles.” They found plenty of wood to use for the rest of the journey.
The next two days they traveled twenty miles the first day and 18 miles the second, covering more ground than usual.
They camped the next day on the Platte River. They followed the river, camping by it again & saw a few soldiers there. On crossing the North Platte River bridge they saw two graves: Joseph D. Graves, a private of Company D, Ohio Cavalry, died at Platte Bridge October 16, 1863, age 20 years. The next one in memory of Phillip W. Rhod, a private of Company Y, 110 V.C., killed by Indians March 8, 1865, age 19 years.
They left the Platte River and traveled a long way, stopped at a creek, & then continued on again. That night when they camped, they discovered one man named Robert DayBelle was missing. The next morning men were sent out to look for him. The train continued on, crossed a bridge & stopped by a store. The men came to camp but reported that they had not found the missing man.
The men went out again the next day in search of DayBelle, & the train waited, but the men returned at midnight reporting they could not find him. They traveled on their way, & on the
17th of August they camped by the Rocky Mountain River, following it along, crossing it twice, & camping nearby. After continuing a long way they crossed a little brook & found the country quite unlevel. They had to cross several hills.
One day, by traveling a little later than useual, they managed to cover thirty miles. That night a woman died & was buried by a creek a little further on the road the next day.
At their next stop they did not have good water to drink, but that night when they camped they found plenty of clean water & the weather was warm. They had to cross the river twice the next day & camped that night by it. They continued on their way & crossed the Green River. A few of the wagons crossed on the ferry boat instead of the usual way. As they knew there would be no water available for several miles, they took some with them from there, however, they found water that night where they camped. There were some soldiers stationed there, but they were not to be trusted, so guards were stationed to watch that night, & the men were on the alert.
They traveled on & had water from the Green River, crossed it, & camped on the left side. After many miles they passed a house & some trains. The water was scarce where they stopped for dinner. Further on they saw some miners going the opposite way.
They did not travel one day because it was raining quite hard. They had some potatoes from Salt Lake for their dinner & everyone was thrilled with this luxury. The Listsons [Litsons] could not travel on with the others the next day as some of their mules got lost & they had to search for them. They found the mules & started on. They crossed many bridges & toll bridges & finally caught up with the others.
It was a pretty dry camping place, & some of the mules went in search of water making part of the co. hunt for them again. They found the mules & caught up with the other wagons before noon. They passed Cush Cave on the right hand side of the road & camped for dinner at Echo Canyon. A little further on they met Joan Jeanetta Litson, dau. of Richard Litson, & friends who had come in Hammers’ Great Salt Lake Express to meet them.
The next day the Litsons & the friends, Bro. Glade & his little girl, started out before the rest of the train & traveled on, reaching the mouth of the Canyon & passing through Coalville, having breakfast at Elizabeth Kates. Traveling on they soon came in sight of the city, arriving at 4 o’clock.