Joseph B. Elder journals, 1856-1857; 1871-1879, 21-28.
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Tuesday 6th – Arrived at Florence just at sunset[.] the large herd had just got over and they had not yet let down steem[.] we found sum cattle strung along the road[.] we gathered them up and drove them into camp[.] oh how glad I was to get back again to old winter quarters[.] I supose because I liked it was that it was the nearest place to Zion I had yet been[.] many of my friends also rejoised at my safe arival
Wed. 7th – I thought to have had a little rest but Bro. VanCot called upon Brother Clough and I to take charge of the herd imediately etc.
Thurs. 8th – herding
Fryday 9th – the handcart company exspected who would take a part of the cattle
Saturday 10th – the Handcarts arived true enough[.] there was about a hundred of them and about five hundred persons[.] I was agreeably surprised at the health and good feelings and cheerfulness of the camp[.] they traveled from 15 to 18 miles per day[.] the spirit of the Lord was with them[.] the greater portion of them was in better health than when they left Iowa city ---- that night a fiew of the Devils that walk in gents Boots who reside in Bluff city came over to fulfill their mision and do all they could against the handcart emigration[.] quite a muss
Sunday 11th – I herded cattle all day
Monday 12th – awkward herds[.] man to help
Tuesday 13th – meeting at night[.] sweet singing – a favorite song composed by E. Hill
Wednesday 14th – herding as usual from daylight until dark
Thurs. 15th – long and tedious days[.] at night about 10 oclock I was waked up by sum of the Boys[.] they said I was wanted[.] I got up and went down to the corell[.] they proposed my starting with the present handcart company on the morow and drive their teem until they overtook us on the planes[.] short notice[.] however I determined to start for Utah
Fry. 16th – colecting my teem[,] loding and geting a waggin[,] prepairing etc.
Sat. 17 – got all togather and rolled out overtook the company and now from this time until I reached the Valley I had not time nor opertunity to keep a memorandum as I went along[.] therefore I will set down the circumstances without date
we took up our line of march for the valleys of Ephrem [Ephraim] or G.S.L. City distant over one thousand miles[.] it was quite an interesting sight to see the carts roll out in their several divisions and to see the people in such good faith[.] although the Planes had never been crossed by handcarts yet they believed they could accomplish it[.] the company had 7 waggins also to hall the extra flower and the lame and sick etc. and mine which was considered one of the company and 4 indapent waggins made up the trane[.] in all about 450 Souls[.] our captain was James Willy [Willie] and there was also other captains over hundreds and tens[.] we rolled on well[,] the carts in the front of the company and they would often outrun us but we would overtake them when night came[.] it truly was a pleasant seen [scene] to see the camp of Israel moving through the wilderness
we soon arived upon the banks of the Elk Horn[.] this streem we had to ferry in an old flat boat[.] I well remember that streem for in going out of the boat up the bank of the river the teems stalled and the men and women took hold and pulled the waggins up the hill[.] here we came out into the old Platte River bottom up which we was to travel[.] the next River we came to was the Loop [Loup] Fork[.] this we also feryed[.] we traveled up its botom a long way and then put across to the Platte again[.] on elum [Elm] Hollow we passed through a large hunting party of Omahas[.] they numbered about eight hundred[.] it was a great sight to sum of the company[.] they stod along each side the road as we passed through and as I passed along I looked upon them and wondered at their condition[.] I thought of the people they once was yet they were a stout robust hardy looking race of beings[.] we camped that night close by them and of all the trading that I ever saw what folowed took the lead[.] they brought us a letter from the comanding officer in fort carny [Kearny] stating to us the danger of the Shieans [Cheyenne’s] and of the murder of Col. Babbits company of 4 waggins which took place about 4 days befour we reached the spot where the poor fellows fell a prey to the redmens anger[.] we caught a yoke of their oxen the next day[.] I well remember the chase I had on my pony to head them although they were yoked up[.] I allmost ruined a musket beating them over the heads[.] I finaly circaled them into our herd and then by degrees we tamed them – (Col. Babbit overtook us that night camped with us[,] went on to carney[.] passed him[.] he again overtook us and in an open waggin with two others aginst the advise of all who knew the circumstances he put ahead and this is the last that ever was seen of him) we now began to see buffalo off from the road[.] I got impatient at a distant view of them so I went out for a hunt[.] I chased a herd 4 or 5 miles shot at them but to no affect[.] I had to return to camp with ondly a pararia [prairie] dog[.] the bufalo is an awkward looking annimal[,] especialy when they run[.] their motions much resemble the elephant[.] we crossed ellem crick [Elm Creek] about noon[.] by the advice of the captain Broths. [John Alexander] Jost and [Andrew Lafayette] Siler and myself went a buffalo hunting[.] I wanted to go one way and Syler another[.] I finally gave up to him as he had hunted them before[.] he soon got tired and left us[,] went to camp[,] but Broth. Jost and I continued the hunt[.] we at last found 2 old bulls[.] we fired upon them but our eyes had deceieved us[.] we was to far off[.] after sevarel shots we succeeded in killing one[.] with wonder and great delight we examined him for it was an enormous big old Bull[.] I sat down upon him to keep the woolvs off whilst Broth. Jost went to camp[.] I had a pretty lonesum time for it was dark but at last he came with lots of men and carts to cut him up and hall it to camp[.] we had a jolly time[,] the first bufalo in camp[.] when I got to camp I was tired and hungry so I and Broth. Jost cut off sum of the hump[,] a great big chunk[,] and rosted it[.] I thought I never tasted so good meat in all my life[.] it is very healthy meat and we had a real feast etc.
we next crossed Buf[f]alo crick[.] here the Bufalo began to be numerous all around us[.] sum of the boys went after them but got none[.] we next went over the hills which are in the Platte botom[,] they are wholy surounded by a level Plane[.] just as we got through or rather on the top[,] a large herd of bufalo started from below the road and ran directly across towards the north just as the carts were passing[.] they ran helter scelter right through the company[.] the company was prety hungry for meat and to see the Buffalo come right to them seemed to them as a great Blessing of kind providence[.] the seen [scene] that followed would have made a hunter laugh to see them shoot[.] sum with shot others with little fizees that would hardly have upset a june bug come tareing along and up and pop pop they would go[.] but some of them had muskets and amongst the whole they managed to kill two[.] I was to far behind to help any being with the waggins but I could see the performence and then of all the Bragging about who killed them[.] sum declared they hit him after he fell etc. that night we camped at a small lake away from any crick or river[.] here as in many other places we had nothing but Buffalo chips to burn which serve prety well in the absence of wood[.] it rained and stormed awfuly that night[.] the next morning when we drove up our cattle to yoke them great was our suprise to find that about one half of our oxen was gone as the Buffalo had passed close by a litle after dark and considerably frightened the cattle[.] we was afraid that the Buffalo had got them[.] we started out for to search for them and on acount of the rain and numerous herds of buffalo was all around us we was not able to find a trace of them[.] we hunted for three days and then the company moved on the best they could and I and Bro. A. Smith by the desire of the capt. took the mule and my pony and went back down the Platte Bottom determined if possible to find them[.] my pardner declared he saw three Indians one night when he was a little behind me[.] though I did not see them I could not dout his statements for he was a young man of integrity[.] for no doubt they were folowing us and as we had been off the road to rest a little but through the kind mercy of our heavenly father we arived at carny in safety[.] we would have gone further but the officers of the Fort prevented it[.]
after we had waited 2½ days the missionarys arived at the fort on their way to Utah[.] we rejoiced to meet them[.] they were very sorry to hear of our loss of cattle[.] the company consisted of about 12 Broths. F.D. Richards[,] G.D. Grant[,] W.H Kimball[,] D. Spencer[,] J. Ferguson[,] J. VanCot[,] C. Web[,] J. Young[,] J. McGow[,] McCalester and Dunbar and S. Wheelock[.] when we overtook the handcart company again they had traveled better than could have been exspected under the circumstances[.] they were camped upon the north bluff Fork[.] I had made my arrangements such as to go on with them[,] that is the missionaries[,] but owing to the advice of Brother Franklin and others I chose to remain with the handcart company and to asist them all that I could[.] well my time was mostly employed in furnishing the camp in meat[,] most of which was Buffalo[.] many were the interesting hunts which I had for hunting Buffalo is the greattest sport for me of any sport that I ever partissipated in
we reached Fort Larime [Laramie] about the first of October[.] quite a fussing in camp[.] sum grunted[,] sum lyed and sum apostatised[.] sum folowed us after we was gone and beged the captain to receive them again into the company[.] we moved on better than we antisipated under the circumstances for we had fine weather ondly one storm all the way up the Plat[t] and I do not believe we would have had that had it not been for sum of the mean conduct of sum of the company
after we got onto the sweetwatter [Sweetwater] River I mostly gave up hunting for game got scarce[.] it was at the commensement of the 16 mile drive without watter that we gave out the last of the flower[.] we was then 28 miles below rocky ridge which made it about 50 miles to the South Pass and we had not yet herd whether there was any help comming to meet us or not but we were determined to do all we could[.] that day about noon there came up a snow storm[.] it blew directly in our faces[.] the company that was ahead with the carts stoped and sheltered themselves from the storm[.] I was driveing the foremost waggin[.] it was severe for the people was weak having been on short rations[.] I determined to keep ahead until I overtook the carts anyhow but by the time we caught up with the carts the clouds dispursed and the sun shone out and as we looked ahead Lo and behold we saw a waggin coming and it was close[.] such a shout as was raised in camp I never before herd[.] it came from the hearts of faithful saints who felt that their lives was in the hands of their God[.] but what made them shout[?] was it meerly the sight of a waggin for we had met waggins before[.] no but it was that the spirit of the Lord bore testimony that they were saviors comming to their relief and truly it was[.] it was Brothers S. Wheelock[,] Jos. Young and 2 others[.] they brought us glorious news. they had been to Zion and were returning with many of their brethren with teems and provisions to help us through
the next morning when we got up we found the snow about 6 or 8 inches deep[.] the camp was hungry naked and cold[.] to rush them into the snow would be certain death to a great many of them for we had not yet met the relief company ondly one waggin which passed us and went on to the other company behind us[.] Brother Willy who was the captain of the company left the charge of the camp in the hands of Broth. Atwood and we started ahead in search of our brethren[.] we rode 12 miles where we exspected to find them but they were not there[.] we asended the rocky Ridge[.] the snow and an awful cold wind blew in our faces all day[.] we crossed the rocky ridge and upon the west bank of the North Fork of the sweetwatter we found a friendly guide post which pointed us to their camp down upon the sweetwatter in amongst the willows[.] when they saw us they raised a shout and ran out to meet us[.] great was their joy to hear from us for they had long been in search of us[.] they could scarcely give us time to tell our story they were so anxious to hear all about us
their camp being 27 miles from ours the next day they hitched up and went over to our camp and the second day afterwards we crossed over the rocky Ridge again[.] the whole company except those who went on to the next company behind[.] that was an awful day[.] many can never forget the seens they witnessed that day[.] men[,] women and children weakened down by cold and hunger weeping[,] crying and sum even dying by the roadside[.] it was very late before we all got into camp[.] oh how my heart did quake and shuder at the awful seens which surounded me[.] the next morning we buryed nine all in one deep and wide grave
we rested one day and then again persued our journey[.] the health of the camp gradually increased and the people revived as we moved towards Zion and in a fiew days (for the weather moderated a litle) the camp gradualy grew more cheerful and many were the pleasant evenings we enjoyed ourselvs seated around our campfires[.] though it snowed and blew and sumtimes seemed as though we would be oerwhelmed in the storms in the mountains yet still we was ablt to persue our journey[.] though we suffered a great deel yet the saints endured it very well[.] on the way we met many of our Breathren going on to see what had become of the other company for as yet we had not herd a word of them since the missionarys left them away below Ft. Carney and many more met us to help us in
we continued a steady march and at last to our great desire we arived at Great Salt Lake City on the ninth of Nov. 1856
Sunday 9th of Nov. – this morning we harnessed up our horses to complete our journey[.] I got along pretty well except I got stalled once upon what is called the litle mountain[.] well at last we imerged from amongst the mountains and the beautiful valley with all of its loveliness spread itsself out before our view[.] my heart was filled with joy and grattitude[.] the lovely city of G.S. Lake lay about 5 miles distant in full view[.] we entered it[.] the houses at first looked odd being built of adobys or sundried brick[.] truly it is unlike anything I ever before had seen[.] the journey was ore at last and the people were soon distributed amongst the sevarel wards and I put up with my old friend Wm. Kimball[.] after I had washed and put on sum clean clothes and got my supper I felt first rate