Aveson, Robert, "Reminiscences of Long Trip from Old England to the Latter-day Zion Fifty-Three Years Ago," Deseret Evening News, 26 July 1919, sec. 3, p. 8
Well do I remember just before we started on that journey, Aug. 2, 1866, how we were called together to receive instructions pertaining to our travels, and sang the songs of Zion, then bowed in humble prayer to our Heavenly Father for the preservation of our live during our travels. At that time the Indians were troublesome. How appropriate then was that very popular hymn, written by William Clayton, one of the church veterans:
"Come, come ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear.
But with joy wend your way;
Though hard to you this journey may appear.
Grace shall be as your day."
In regard to the rations on our journey: We had our weekly allowance, per head, of flour, bacon, rice, dried fruit, etc. Traveling in the open air made us hungry and we relished our food. The only thing that troubled me, being a growing lad, was that I wished the allowance could have been larger.
There were some pleasant hours spent together, and also some sad scenes transpired during that long journey. It took years to obtain sufficient means to pay the way to the frontier, and especially so if there were many in the family, for the mechanic and laboring man had long hours and small wages in those days in old England and other parts of Europe. They lived economically to make the sacrifice. Often were they deprived of many comforts of life through their sacrifice, in order to accomplish the heart's desire—to gather to the land of Zion.
One of the sad scenes on the journey was when death occurred on the way, and there were nine deaths on our company. In our days of affluence we have many advantages and blessings here which could not be obtained before immigrating; conditions for prosperity in this country were so far ahead of those obtainable in the land of our birth.
I was speaking of the sad scenes we had to contend with on our journey. Compare the facilities for burying the dead on the plains to what we behold at present. Take a peep at most of our funerals here—beautiful caskets and fine linen clothing for the deceased the meeting house filled with sympathizing relatives and friends; the stand draped in white covered with lovely bouquets and flowers; some excellent singing and music, and comforting eulogies spoken. The remains interred in a selected grave dedicated to await the morn of the first resurrection. This is a grand picture, especially if the deceased has lived a faithful life to God and his fellow men.
Why I can almost now imagine one of the sad scenes on the plains, far, far away from village or town. After a hard day's travel just as we finish the evening meal, there is a commotion in the camp only a short distance from our wagon. "What is the matter?" some one inquires. "Old man, Rogerson is dead!" We gather around the wagon. His wife and children are in tears. They knew he was anxious to gather with the Saints in Utah, and what a sad thought to think that he died before reaching the end of the journey!
There is not much in the shape of facilities for burial on the plains. The corps is meagerly dressed, and then covered with a sheet, after which it is wrapped in a blanket, and is thus consigned to Mother Earth. The funeral service is brief; a large number of the company, including the captain. (Joseph S. Rawlins) and the chaplain (John Nicholson) are present. There is no choir, no solos, no music, one or two hymns sung, consoling words spoken, benediction offered, and the grave dedicated.
It is a sorrowful scene to witness at the roadside grave on the plains a widow or widower who is bereft of a partner through life. Words of consolation are soothing, but they are inadequate to heal the wounded heartstrings. At such sad events our efforts are feeble. What is required is divine influence—that Spirit which leads and guides into all truth. Our faith and prayers must ascend to our Eternal Father—"He can all our sorrows heal."
There is not much time spent in ceremony on such sad occasions. The company must travel on. In speaking with one of the teamsters of our train, he said the graves were generally dug by the teamsters, assisted, if necessary, by the immigrants. The burials, as a rule, took place at noon or evening, when the animals were grazing.
After the grave is covered, some brush is placed on the sacred spot and a fire is kindled. This is to prevent the wild animals, who prowl around from getting scent of the dead. Also, if obtainable, large rocks are placed on the grave, and a small inscription written on a rock or on a large bone of some dead animal—the name of the dead and when died. It is rather a poor substitute for tombstone or monument.
But to resume my story. We were near our journey's end September 29, 1866, being seven miles up Parley's canyon. Next morning was Sunday, a bright sunshiny day. I was up early determined to reach Great Salt Lake City before the company arrived. So onward I sped. On the way I rode a short distance in a wagon, and then continued on "shank's pony."
Emerging from the canyon, what a lovely valley I beheld, bedotted with villages and farms here and there, and in the distance I beheld that much talked of city of the Saints.
As I approached the outskirts of the city, my eyes feasted on the lovely sight before me—the beautiful orchards, with the late peaches, pears, plums and apples fast ripening. And the gardens, with various kinds of vegetables ready for gathering.
Oh, how intently I gazed on the lovely scenes. How different to what I had been used to, living in a crowded town, where smoke filled the air from iron and steel works, factories, etc. Onward I sped through the wide city streets, and was much interested in gazing at the comfortable homes and gardens owned by the residents. Approaching the Temple Square I observed the people engaged in religious worship in the old tabernacle, the new tabernacle was in course of construction, and the Temple walls were just a few feet above the foundation.
Sunday morning, September 30, our company started from Parley's canyon and camped on the Eighth Ward Square, where the City and County building is now located. Next morning. October 1st, they entered the big gates of the tithing yard, which was then enclosed with a high stone wall. As the newcomers passed long, you could have observed their sun-tanned faces and dusty clothes. But it was a day of rejoicing for them, for they had reached the end of their long journey. A host of relatives and friends, who had immigrated years before, were there to greet them and take them to their homes or places of abode.