Cornaby, Hannah, Autobiography and Poems by Hannah Cornaby, (Salt Lake City: J.C. Graham & Company, 1881), 30, 32-35.
Our journey to Liverpool, and the incidents of the sea voyage are described in the poem, entitled "Crossing the Atlantic Ocean." After our arrival at New Orleans, we took passage on board the steamer, Rob Roy. Our voyage to St. Louis was unmarked by anything worthy of note. The season being too early for us to proceed up the river, we were compelled to remain in St. Louis several weeks. Our stay here was rendered quite pleasant by the kindness of brother Amos Fielding and family.
. . . we left Keokuk. I wish I could afford a page to a description of our starting. The oxen were wild, and getting them yoked was the most laughable sight I had ever witnessed; everybody giving orders, and nobody knowing how to carry them out. If the men had not been saints, there would doubtless have been much profane language used; but the oxen, not understanding "English," did just as well without it. But it did seem so truly comical to witness the bewildered look of some innocent brother, who, after having labored an hour or more to get "Bright" secured to one end of the yoke, would hold the other end aloft, trying to persuade "Buck" to come under, only to see "Bright" careering across the country, the yoke lashing the air, and he not even giving a hint as to when he intended to stop.
Through the previous exertions and skill of our never-to-be-forgotten friend, William B. Woods, our team was made somewhat tractable; and was hitched up for the start with very little trouble. Imagine, if you can, the operation of starting over one hundred ox teams, chiefly by men who had never done anything of the kind before; but through the controlling power and ability of Captain Cyrus H. Wheelock, even this was accomplished; and we performed the journey of four hundred miles from Keokuk to Council Bluffs, in one month and two days, reaching there the third of July. Our road lay through a broken, sparsely settled country, much of the way through clearings in the woods, the stumps of the trees still standing, and sometimes through swamps and morasses; but by the blessing of God, we performed the journey with but trifling accidents. At Council Bluffs we stayed a few days to make final preparations for our long, long journey across the plains. There we made our first acquaintance with Indians, purchasing some moccasins of them, which we found much more comfortable than shoes in dry weather.
We were enabled, by selling some of our surplus clothing, to provide ourselves with many little comforts, and even what were then considered luxuries. Among other things, we purchased a good supply of groceries, an extra tent and some cooking utensils, also a lamp and oil, which we used to good advantage when the train halted a few days for repairs, &c. My husband [Samuel Cornaby] also procured a good outfit of fishing tackle, and being an expert angler, supplied our "table" with wholesome fish. By a little forethought and management, the daily routine of camp life was by no means irksome. I often think that the weeks spent crossing the plains were as full of instruction and interest as any part of our lives. Admiring nature, we had abundant opportunities of beholding its varied beauties. Especially did we admire the flowers,8212;growing in some places in great profusion—handfuls of which daily adorned the wagon and delighted our child [Edith H.], which was in the care of a sister, who was too feeble to walk. The delicious wild fruits met with at different stages of the journey were much relished, and afforded, a wholesome variety to our diet.
In consequence of the wagons being heavily loaded, all who were able, walked. It was a very interesting sight each morning to see our company break camp; the long train of wagons stretching itself out like a huge snake and winding its slow length along the boundless prairies. Those on foot starting ahead of the train, presented a motley appearance in their travel-worn dress, walking in groups, chatting, singing, laughing, talking principles and politics, or passing jokes as the case might be, all care being left behind. Some might be seen rambling on the prairies gathering flowers, others picking berries; sometimes an inviting stream would present itself, when fishing tackle would be in requisition. Those who were expert at hunting would go in quest of game, and would sometimes supply our camp with fresh meat.
At night, when we camped, the wagons were drawn up in a circle for protection, also forming a corral into which the oxen could be driven to be yoked. The teams, being unyoked, were driven to grass by the herdsmen, who guarded them through the night. Our camp presented a busy scene, some gathering fuel (which consisted mostly of either "buffalo chips," or sage brush,) some bringing water, others building fires and preparing supper, or baking bread for next day's journey. After supper, groups could be seen around the camp fires, singing the songs of Zion, talking of bygone days, or the hopes of the future, until the bugle call for prayers, when all except the guards (for we watched as well as prayed) retired to rest.
After proceeding some distance, and grass becoming scarce, it was deemed wisdom to divide our train, and it fell to our lot to travel the remainder of the way under the captaincy of Elder George Kendall, our associations with whom have always been remembered with pleasure.
While traveling along the Platte river through the Sioux Indian country, buffalo were abundant. We sometimes saw immense herds of them, a short distance from our line of travel. Here we often met with Sioux Indians, who were quite friendly, and on one occasion, we camped near one of their villages, where we held a big pow-wow, smoked the pipe of peace, and paid them a tribute of sugar and flour for the privilege of traveling through their domain. We also purchased from them buffalo robes and dried meat. Reaching Fort Laramie, we made a short halt when many Indians visited our camp; the squaws being particularly anxious to exchange their commodities for groceries, &c. I remember one squaw in particular, who took quite an interest in our dear little daughter; measured her foot, and next day returned with a very tastily embroidered pair of moccasins which she placed upon her feet, refusing to take anything in payment.
During our journey we passed and repassed other companies of saints traveling to the "valleys," and we had an opportunity of exchanginig news. On one of these occasions, we heard with deep sorrow of the death of sister Martha Harris.
As we neared the Pacific Springs, the pleasurable part of our journey came to an end; provisions became scarce, the grass failed, and many of our oxen died; some wagons were abandoned, and the contents cached, or buried; we also encountered some heavy snow storms at the Springs, when our buffalo robes came in requisition.
When at length, from the top of the Little Mountain, we caught a first glimpse of the "Valley," our delight and gratitude found vent in tears of unfeigned joy, and when, on the morning of the 12th of October, 1853, we emerged from the mouth of emigration Canyon and beheld the "City of the Saints" we felt more than repaid for the nine months . . . .