“Early Trail Blazer Interested in Aviation,” The Idaho Statesman, 3 July 1932, p. 2.
Early Trail Blazer Interested in Aviation
M[armaduke]. Hewitson, Active Blacksmith at 82
. . . M. Hewitson, who is now residing at Sweet, Idaho, enjoys recounting his adventures as he busies himself about his little blacksmith shop, where he is still engaged in the trade he has followed for so many years. . . .
Left London in 1863
As a lad of 13, Mr. Hewitson left London in June 1863. Over six weeks were occupied in crossing the ocean on the little “Hudson.” Although its capacity was small, the English ship took on passengers from a Danish emigrant boat which was so overcrowded that there was grave danger of capsizing. . . .
Trying Days Ahead
The party with which Mr. Hewitson set out left Wyoming City, situated 20 miles above St. Joseph on the mighty Missouri in the latter part of August. This was the last emigrant train of the year.
The long, scorching days followed each other in slow and tortuous succession, and until the South Platte was reached, the trip was quite uneventful. There the river was a seething, boiling cauldron of quicksand. Wagons had to be reinforced and floated across, and frightened cattle were coaxed and herded across the dangerous ford.
Flour $100 Barrel
Fort Laramie must have been a welcome sight to the weary, heartsick travelers, who had so intrepidly pushed onward. It was there that five 20-dollar gold pieces were offered for a barrel of flour. The captain, realizing the possibility of the food supply being exhausted before the train reached Salt Lake city, threatened to leave behind the drive who sold a cupful of the precious flour.
Fortunately, Indian troubles were averted by this train. Only once did a battle suggest itself. That was instigated by two white renegades, but because the cattle were too tired to stampede, their plan of running off the cattle failed.
During the latter part of the journey, the children alone derived enjoyment from the trip. They ran along beside the plodding oxen, gathering the bright-hued prairie flowers, and digging in the ant hills for the gay-colored beads which the Indians had lost, only to be found and hoarded up by the busy little colonists.
The death rate was appalling, and daily funerals were common. Most deaths were due to lack of food and water. Both hunger and thirst had to be appeased by such berries and herbs as could be found along the way. West of the South Platte, however, buffaloes were plentiful, and supplied the pioneers with meat. On one occasion, a great many of the shaggy beasts had to be slaughtered to prevent their wrecking the camp during a stampede.
Fisherman vied with each other in supplying the camps with fish during such times as the train stopped for any length of time. Mr. Hewitson has often laughed over one “fish story.” A clear, beautiful stream in Wyoming was the site of one halting place. As soon as the wagons had stopped and the small boys of the train had escaped from their various duties, away they raced to the brook. Patiently they fished, but not once were their pains rewarded. At last they gave up in despair, and one of their number chased some of the oxen into the water. Scores of fish began to rise. They were a kind of mud sucker, it seemed, and refused to bite until they were disturbed from their muddy beds in the bottom of the stream.
Sight Destination Nov. 3
November 3, the weary travelers sighted their destination, Salt Lake City. What rejoicing must have taken place among them. But the hardships of the travel-worn people were not yet over. The price of commodities was so high that the people were forced to exist on the least possible food. Flour sold at $25 a hundred, sugar cost $6 per pound, and other necessities were priced in proportion. “Coffee” was made without that product. Barley or crusts of bread were used to color the water when the settlers prepared the beverage.