Charles E. Fletcher autobiography, 1911, 145-52.
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. . . and done his chores and went to Shool [school] the next two Season[s] I haul wood on shares I work for diferant ones until 1864 when Bp. G.F. Sheets made a call on me to g[o] and drive a team down to the Missouri River and help bring the Latter day Saints up to Salt Lake valey[.] I was then 21 years old teams and wagons were donated by the people here for the trip.
everything was got ready by the first [of] May. I had six yoke of oxen when I started out and over into Weber Canyon and ther got 2 yok[e]s more making eight yoke[.] Money had been sent down to Wyoming landing on the Mosuri [Missouri] for another wagon to be bought there then four yoke of there oxen that I was driving down were to be used on the new wagon making two teams from our ward[.] I was told that I was to go in Captain Wm Hyde Co of cash [Cache] valey. I did not meet him nor any one going in his train for some ten days
After I left [the] city I keep going a little ways every day untill I got to Echo canyon there I met a Mr. Joseph Farmer of Sanpete who Said he was to go in Captain Hyde train also, So we stay together[.] We drove on up Echo and stoped there untill the rest came up [.] We found out they had not gone ahead of us So thought we wold [would] wait there. I remember it rained every day a little for Some eleven days. Made made everything green and nice. Othe[r] teams Soon began to come untill some ten had come. Soon the Captain came, he had gathered the teams along the road making Some twenty five teams We wanted a day or so getting organized then Orders were given to make a start[.] the company was divided in two parts as to form a correll [corral] one half on eather Side with a smal opening at eather end. So the cattle could drove in to yoke them up. The teamsters we divided up into what was called Messes about six in a mess one was appointed cook and was exempt from other camp duties. It fell to Lot to cook as cook had to get up erlier in the morning to get breakfast. We travel about 15 to 20 miles a day going down[.] we travel the old road going down on the old pioneer road as it is called after leaving the mountains the road follows the Platte River all the way or nearly so. Nothing unusual happened untill we Struck the South Platte. It was after dark when we camped that night as the captain wanted [to] get to <the> river that night[.] we drove on the River bottom and made camp[.] It was quite cloudy and threate[n]ing rain it had been raining nearly all the afternoon[.] we soon had Supper and went to bed[.] We generaly put most our things on the ground to make our bed in the wagons
The next morning or along towards morning it was discovered that the creek called Pole creek was coming down like a flood[.] It had raised Some 15 feet during the night and run over its banks. We were surrounded by water one foot deep through our camp[.] we had to wade about and get the cattle hitch up draw out on higher land. The South platte was one mile wide. The next thing was howe we were going to get acrosst.
The next day or two was spent thinking what could be done[.] We were informed by some people living there that it would be one month before we could cross it. We expected to get down to the Missouri by that time. We tryed one team and wagon to see if they could get through but the wago[n] turned over so they came back then we loaded the wagon with sod and tryed that way but the cattle could not pull it so had to give up trying to ford it[.] We tryed to find a ferry boat to take our wagon and things over but could not. It was thought we might make a boat or raft and get over that way but there was no timber there. So something else had be done with what we had there. So we took four wagon boxes and tied them together then took tar and rages [rags] an corked them as tight as we could there was a small board that was fastened on the bows of most of the boxes & just above the main box these were taken of[f] and used for making the sloping in front of the four wagon boxes that had been tied [to]gether took the reaches a[nd] nailed a piece [of] lumber on the Sides of them. for oars two in each box one man to each oar or eight[.] one man to each box to dip or bale the water out and a pilot which made up the crew. The wagon were taken to pieces and put in the boat and a start was made for the other side of the River[.] We floated down the River two or three miles before we got to the other Shore. We hired teams of the emigrants over there who were waiting for the water to go down so they could cross, The boat had to be taken four or five miles up the River so we could reach our camp, the trip was [a] Success so we continued we had all our outfit over[.] I stayed over on the East Side as cook as some had to Stay there After the thing were over. the next thing was to get the cattle over[.] they called for volentreers to drive them over there was not many that wanted to go so the captain called for those that had learn to swim. Some seven or eight in the train that had been used to being the water and could swim was call on to go and that none as should be harmed I was called to go so I was taken over to the camp on the West Side. I remember we had quite [a] time get[ting] the cattle to start acrost. We got steer that was quite wild and drove him into the water and driving out till finaly he struck out for the other Side. We keep him going. It was not over our head in depth only in places, the steer would stand where he could it was very sandy bottom & when he stoped the Sand wash out from under his feet then he would have to swim[.] One of us had a hold of his tail most of the way as soon as he started for the other Side the other cattle were drove in after him and follow. The men keep on eathe [either] Side as much as we could they being out acrost River[.] it was quite a Sight to watche them they would get on the Sand bars and stay a few moments and they would keep sinking all the time until they had to Swim again[.] it was about eleven oclock befor all had Started. The last of them landed on the other Side about seven oclock that night. Not one was lost[.] our back[s] were blisterd othouge [although] we keep Shirts on. We had been one week in getting all over. The emigrants that were going west wanted us to take them acrost and offer us good some [sum] of money if we would but the captain Said no. Said the Lord preserved us in getting over and would not give his consent for us to take them over. So we Soon had things fixed up again ready to travel again.
We Started next day and traveled a few miles and camped for the night[.] The captain toldt [told] us that there was another train on the north Side [of the] platte River going for the Same purpose we were and they were trying [to] beat us down there. So as to get loded first. Said we would have to travel fast or they would. So we got in a hurry traveling from twenty to thirty miles a day. We got thru just one day a head of them a ship load was expected in two or three day[.] they came but the emigration agent Said as the other train had father to go it was thought best to load them first and we would have to wait Six weeks we were very much disappointed all we had to do was cook and eat [and] take care of the Stock.
I was interested in watching the Steam boats that were running up and down the River the time seem to pass very slow as all were anstious [anxious] to be going home we knew it was along Journey. Finally the people came that we were to take with us[.] There was plinty [to] do then[.] We took about twelve hundred of freight for Salt Lake in each wagon then the things belonging to the people were loaded on top of the freight. In my wagon there was 8 passengers two familys Goodys [Goodey] and Thurgoods and [a] boy by the name Wm Spence[,] the wagon full to the top of the bows[.] Miss Goody was lame with reumatism so She co[u]ld not walk and no places whare She could get in the wagon. I saw the captain about it and had some of the thing[s] taken out eno[u]gh so She could sit in the front end[.] There had been Some fifty wagons brought while there making Seventy five in the train[.] Teamsters had to be taken from among the emigrants. Very few of them were use to driving oxen[.] Some of them never Saw an ox before So they just hearded their teams along there were four hundred people in the company The first camp we made thire [there] were two death. We all felt very Sad they were buried
the next day and we Started again. a committee was appointed to look after the Sick and to burry the dead[.] It seems every camp Some had to be burried. Some fifty two deaths befor we reached the valey. It Seemed the suding [sudden] change of livey [living] on Ship and land was great and when landed thus Seem crazy for the green stuff the captain told them they must Stop eating this green stuff or they would all be Sick[.] Lots of them took no heed to what he told them[.] We keep on traveling. The Indians were very hostile that Season although they never disturbed us[.] The mails had discontinued I remember of passsing mail stations that [had] been been burnt by the Indians and Still smoking a peace of board was drove down in the ground Stating that Six had been kill by the Indians Just the day before. The government Soldiers were after them.
When we got to fort Ke[a]rny we were Stoped. And not allowed to go on on account of the Indians[.] All trains Stoped here until Some four hundred wagons had been Stoped there[.] Then we were allowed to go on we travel two abrest making one one drive a day making a corrall so large the cattle could be keep in the corrall during the night
When we got up to the old South Platte we began to Scater out[.] the River was nearly dry quite a contrast to what it was when we went down. We had to put two teams together to get through So much Sand. We came back over the black hills going up the Poll creek some two hundred miles we got very short of anything to eat but Bread and Coffee but Suplys were sent back from Salt Lake So got through all right[.] It was a trip I think I Shall never forget[.] I never got a letter during the Six months 3 days I was gone. I remember seeing herds of Buffalows and lots of Antelope along our Journey.