Henele Pikale (Henry W. Bigler), "Recollections of the Past," Juvenile Instructor, 1 December 1886, 365-66.
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- Source Locations
- Church History Library, M205.1 I59 v. 1-64 1866-1929
- Related Companies
- Jonathan H. Holmes/Samuel Thompson Company (1848)
About the 10th of June we left off mining and went below to prepare for going home, as it was believed that most of the snow was gone from off the mountains.
Arriving at the mill below it was thought by the brethren there that it would be a good idea for some of the boys to go ahead and select a place of gathering for all who were intending to go to Salt Lake.
Accordingly, on the morning of the 17th of June, John White, Jacob M. Truman and myself set out on horseback for that purpose, taking our axes, blankets and provisions. We found a nice little valley forty or fifty miles east of Sutter's Fort. Here we cut down timber and built a large corral.
On the 21st, parties began to arrive with loose stock.
The next day wagons began to roll in and continued to arrive more or less every day.
On Sunday morning, the 25th, Brothers Browett, Allen and Cox, being desirous to push forward, said that they would leave camp and go ahead with pack mules and explore and hunt out a route over the mountains while the company was gathering, and return and meet the camp. They were advised not to go, owing to the wild tribes in the mountains , but they thought there was no danger and so left camp.
On the 28th, James Brown and I prospected for gold, when we found a nice little field about two miles north of camp.
The next day I returned and washed out twenty-six dollars' worth; and
on the 30th, I washed out forty dollars. I let one of the brethren have this for a new Spanish saddle.
On Saturday, July 1st, I turned vaquero, as it was my day to herd horses.
On the 3rd, camp broke and moved forward, all except myself and Brother Hatch. Our oxen were missing and it was late before we found them.
The next morning we rolled out, following the trail of the camp, keeping up the divide between the American and Macozamy [Mokelumne] rivers. Just as we stopped to make camp for the night we were suddenly startled for a moment at the roar of cannon ahead of us. We were soon reminded this was the Fourth of July, the birthday of American Independence.
The next morning we overtook the company in camp. They had found a nice little valley down on the Macozamy side, which they called Sly's Park. Here we made corrals, the camp concluding to remain a few days to await the return of the three brethren who had gone ahead and to have a report from them before moving any further. Fears were entrtained that mischief had befallen them. A meeting of the camp was called and it was decided to send out ten men to pioneer the way over the Sierra Nevada, and to see if anything could be learned of the whereabouts of the missing men.
Accordingly, the next morning our pioneers set out and late in the evening of the 14th they returned. The camp was immediately called together and a report made. They had learned nothing of the three men, neither trail nor sign of them could be found after passing a certain point. They had found a pass but the road would have to be worked. It was decided to send four men ahead on the morrow to cut away the brush and roll rocks out of the way, and the camp was to follow after. That day we traveled about eight miles,
and on the 16th we continued our journey. At night we camped on the waters of the Macozamy.
On the 17th, we camped by some springs.
The next day camp lay by while a few men went ahead, myself included, to work and make the road. As we were returning we found where we supposed our three missing men had camped near a spring. Not far away was what we thought to be an Indian grave, as near by was an Indian wickeup. Brother Miller, one of our party, said he was of the belief that our brethren were in it. After returning to camp and making our report we organized (for we had not yet done so). Johanthan Holmes was appointed president, with Samuel H. Rogers and Addison Pratt as his counselors. Lieutenant Samuel Thompson was appointed captain in case there was any fighting to do with redskins.
Our number and outfit consisted of forty-five men and one woman, the wife of Sergeant William Cor[a]y; two small brass cannon—one a four the other a six pounder—besides our muskets; seventeen wagons and about four hundred head of stock, including horses, mules, oxen, cows and calves.
On Wednesday the 19th, the camp reached the spring near which was the supposed Indian grave. The tools from the wagon were soon brought and the grave was at once opened. We were shocked at the sight! There lay our brethren naked, one with his face upwards the others face downwards. To all appearance an ax or a hatchet had been sunk in Brother Browett's face, and a shot had penetrated his eye. A withe was around Allen's neck. They were in a shallow grave. In looking around we found bloody arrows laying about on the ground. Allen's purse of gold dust was found, it was readily known, as many of the boys had see him make it.
That night while at prayers something gave our stock a dreadful fright, causing at once a stampede. It was thought to be either grizzly bears or Indians. At once Captain Thompson gave orders to "limber up a cannon and let her speak." This was promptly done. The report and noise of our running stock was like an earthquake, fairly shaking the mountains.
Men were busy all the next day gathering up stock, a few of which were never found.
In the afternoon of the following day we enclosed the grave for our brethren with rocks so as to prevent wild beasts from disturbing them, as well as to mark their last resting place.
On Friday the 21st, having found all the stock except one or two mules, we moved four miles and camped in what we called Rock Valley. Clover and wild flax were found growing in this valley.
The next day a number of us worked and made a road six miles and the camp moved three miles. There were ponds near the tops of the mountains with no outlets, said by the boys who visited them to be filled with trout. In places we could gather flowers with one hand and snow with the other at the same time. I had never witnessed such a thing done before. In the pine timber were plenty of mountain chickens.
On Sunday the 23rd camp lay by and, like good boys, we kept the Sabbath day.