Christopher Merkley, Biography of Christopher Merkley (Salt Lale City: J.H. Parry & Company, 1887), 28-30.
View this source online
I remained and ferried until July 5th, 1849, when I ferried myself across the mighty Missouri, and bid farewell to the home of the white man and started across the great plains in a company of fifty, over which Enoch Reese was captain. We traveled to Elk Horn, where we overtook the other company, over which Allen Taylor was captain. They had been detained through the raft being water soaked. The rope broke and let the raft go down stream about a quarter of a mile.
When our company arrived Captain Taylor, knowing that I understood ferrying, called the people together and had me appointed by a unanimous vote to take charge of the ferry. I took a survey of the surroundings, selected the place for the ferry, called for twenty yoke of cattle and drew the raft up stream to the place I had selected. After placing it in position we ferried one company over and they started.
The next day we ferried all across, and again started on our journey. We traveled until we reached the Platte River, where we found the first company, who were again at a stand still, as they could not find a ford. Captain Taylor again appointed me to look for one. I started up stream to find it, judging the water to be shallow by the ripples. I carefully went in until I got to deep water, when I would swim back. I was occupied all day seeking a ford, but found none;
and the next day I was sick through being wet so much the day before. Captain Taylor, however, insisted that I must go. He furnished me a horse to ride, and told me not to get out of the saddle, but direct the others how to proceed. I went to the place where I started from the day before. On looking at the river I told the captain I believed there had been a ford made in the night. I directed the men and they found I was right, for they went across. We then hitched up and crossed by doubling teams, and all of both companies got across except two wagons.
The next morning part of the ford had gone, but by going down a little way, we found it, and got the two wagons across, and start on our journey. When we got opposite Grand Island we came upon a lot of oxen that had stampeded. We secured them and took them with us.
Several days after we came up to a California company who had lost all their cattle. They had been stampeded several nights before. They were very thankful to us for bringing them on. Some time after, our own cattle had a stampede in the night. They went about one and one-half miles, where there was another camp. They heard them coming and all hands went out and succeeded in stopping them. Soon after we got there and took them back and herded them the rest of the night.
In the morning when we went to drive them into the corral, half of them had gone in when suddenly they again stampeded. As I was in the midst of them, I had a narrow escape, but being fleet of foot I ran with them and watched my chance, and got out from among them. The horsemen finally stopped them, and we brought them back. After we got them quieted, we drove them into the corral, yoked them up and sat down to breakfast. While we were eating they started on another stampede and in getting out of the corral, they upset a wagon in which was an old man. They broke the axle-trees in their mad flight, crossed a slough and then ran against a big wagon loaded with sixty hundred. Two of them broke their shoulders, and several got their horns broken. We found them sticking in the ground. The horsemen again headed them and brought them back. We fixed up and started on our journey. Soon after this we divided the company, and traveled in two separate divisions. After we had separated, the other company had another stampede, in which one sister was killed, and several of the wagons broken.
Nothing particular happened to us until after we had crossed the Big Mountain. We camped in the road late in the evening. The night was very dark.
The next morning we found nearly a foot of snow on us. The next day, being October the 3rd, we arrived in Salt Lake City.