Cantwell, James Sherlock, Autobiography, reel 3, item 30, 1-3.
- Related Companies
- James G. Willie Company (1856)
I camped near the Church office and employed myself cutting wood for the steam ferry boat and assisted James Kinney and Andrew Cunningham to cut and haul timbers to make sleepers for the cloth making machine. I assisted to write in the Church office for the emigrants and occupied my time very profitably.
I purchased two yoke of oxen, and got ready for starting on our trip to Utah. Sunday, August 17, at about 1 P.M. we started on our Journey for Utah, I had two yoke of good oxen as ever stood in a yoke.
The company was organized a few days before we started by Elders George D. Grant, William H. Kimball, and James McGaw. James G. Willie was appointed captain and Millen Atwood, councilors. At the meeting a man named Levi Savage spoke against starting on so long a Journey at that late season of year. He said the company was not clothed or shod to face the mountain storms and they would freeze and suffer death, many of them. He said he knew what the country was in winter as he was well acquainted with the climate of the mountains.
At the conclusion of his discourse, James G. Willie denounced him as a recreant to the cause of truth and a disturber of the peace of the brethren and an opposer of those who were placed over him and called upon him to repent..
James G. Willie was filled with the spirit of enthusiasm and had a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. Levi Savage still maintained that he firmly believed all he had said, but said he was ready to go if the authority here said so; and if he lost his life in the journey it was all right.
It was resolved that we should commence our journey and we started on the 17th of August.
The company was organized with the afore mentioned officers and there were 10 wagons and 76 hand carts. The wagons were owned by W[illiam]. H. Kimball, John A. Jost, Andrew L. Silver, William Wilford and myself. Andrew L. Silver took charge of the last four wagons and J. G. Williams the other wagons and the hand carts.
On the 24th of August we encountered a severe prairie storm which tested the capacity of man and beast.
Friday the 29th of August we were 170 miles out from Florence. Some of our men killed a buffalo or two. We lost an old man who was unable to walk. When he was missed the Capt. sent men back to find him. They found him about two miles back from camp.
In the evening we came to a large camp of Omaha Indians. They were greatly overjoyed to have us camp with them and wanted us to stop with them always. We exchanged for buffalo meat. We stood double guard all night and stationed picket guard outside.
Those Indians were afraid of the Cheyenne’s and were at war with them. Sunday Aug. 31st Almon Babbit overtook us. A man named Sutherland was with him, also a woman named Nancy Stewart. The woman left them and came as a passanger [passenger] in my wagon.
Monday, Sept. 1 Almon Babbit and companion pursued their journey and in a few days after they were killed by indians while they camped at noon.
Thursday, Sept. 4, In the evening our cattle stampeded; a herd of buffalo having gotten among them. There were altogether 16 yoke. I lost one ox. We had to go without them. It weakened our travelling capacity very much.
Wednesday the 17th of September as we were descending Scott’s Bluff my daughter Ellen was bitten by a rattlesnake in the first two fingers of her right hand. It being noon we were camped. We had great difficulty in saving her. She suffered until the month of January. The virus settled in the back of her hand and ate out the flesh insomuch that the bones and sinues were discernable. The scar is still visible.
On the first of Oct. we came to Fort Laramie where we stayed. We were in all four wagons, and James G Willie left us with the handcarts and we stayed behind to wait for Capt. William B. Hodgets as they had plenty of cattle.
In crossing the Platt[e] river on the 19th of Oct. we encountered a very severe hailstorm which the experienced declared was the beginning of winter. Several men from the valley came out to assist us in. They councilled on immediate start which was complied with and we travelled on day by day in snow storms. Our cattle continued to drop down in the yoke one by one every day, and sometimes 5 or 6 would die at a day until the 4th of November when we arrived at Devil’s Gate.
On the 5th Capt. John Hunt’s company came in.
To give any just description of the 6th, 7th, and 8th of November, the time we stayed at the above place would be impossible. It was a combination of wind, hail, and snow and cold in terrible reality. Many of the remaining cattle died and our travelling power fell so short that it was deemed advisable to leave one half the wagons behind and all the freight and take nothing except good [food] and clothing. A company of about 20 young men was left behind to guard the property with scant food, arms and ammunition. Those who advised the above course were George B. Grant, Robert F. Burton, and Synes W. Wheelock.
Nov. 8, 1856, I accordingly went into the wagon belonging to Andrus L. Silver, adding what team I had to his and started on my journey. After a cold and perilous trip we arrived at Fort Bridger on the first day of December. The weather had moderated during the time we were at Fort Bridger[.] several teams arrived from Salt Lake City for the express purpose of conveying the people to the place. They were sent out by Pres. Young.
December 4, 1856 in the evening while we were at supper a team drove up to us and stopped. They inquired for me. I responded and two men got out. One of them I recognized to be Wm. Dawson a man who I was acquainted with at Florence. The other was a man named Alonzo D. Rhodes, They came from Lehi to assist the people in.
I made arrangements to assist myself and family to Salt Lake. On the 6th of December we commenced our journey. My son’s James and William traveled in a wagon belonging to John Skeen of Lehi. After a quick tripp of 8 days we arrived in Salt Lake on Sunday the 14th of Dec. 1856. We were taken to the Tithing yard.
In our ascent and descent over the mountain we encountered a formidable amount of snow. At the summit it was 18 feet deep. It took about 66 of us to dig our way thru it occuping about two hours time to do it.
The cold was intense and when the passage was made the people were hurried over as fast as possible. By order of Bishop Edward Hunter we were lodged in the council house in company with many more and were visited by many of our friends who extended invitation to us to visit them at their homes.