Ellen Jane Perks, Biographical information relating to Mormon pioneer overland travel database, 2003-2017.
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Brother Bunker was made captain of a handcart company. He had his own wagon, two yoke of oxen and one yoke of cows. There was a teamster called Sandy, a Scotsman. The company gathered at Iowa City, leaving 24 Jun 1856. It consisted of four wagons, four mule teams on one wagon and four oxen on each of the others, and Captain Bunker’s outfit. The rest were all handcarts. These were ferried across the river at Florence or Winter Quarters. The three wagons carried the company’s supply of food, consisting of flour, bacon, beans and occasionally some vegetables purchased at settlements we passed. These supplies were issued about once a week.
Every Sunday was a day of rest, except two of them when we had to travel on to water so that we could make camp. Brother Jones was too weak to make the trip and died at Sweetwater, just one hundred miles from Salt Lake. He left a wife and son.
One time on the Platte River, two other little girls an[d] I took a handcart loaded it with little children, too small to walk, and went for a trip after we had our dinner. We thought it was going to help the company out. The road was sandy and hot, the cart very hard to pull, so we pulled off the road to rest, thinking we would see the company when it passed. But, we missed it. We had t[o] travel along the dark road alone, until at last we saw the campfires ahead near the river. They had eaten their suppers, then sent some men to hunt for us. We were very tired, but received a lecture, never to be forgotten.
Occasionally the company had to call a halt because of great herds of buffalo moving to new feed grounds.
When ever we were near an Indian camp, they would come and want to trade with us. Sandy, the teamster, didn’t have much to trade, so he teasingly said he would trade me for a pair of moccasins. The Indians took him seriously and followed the wagons for three days to get me. I was hidden under the supplies in the wagons to keep them from finding me. This was another lesson learned about Indians.
President Brigham Young sent a relief company to meet us, but we were in good condition, so they went on to meet the next company. We arrived in Salt Lake on 2 October 1856, just three days before the General Conference.