Pioneer of 1854: James Eardley
View this source online
In May 1854, I and my wife [Zurviah] and others left St. Louis. Horace Eldredge had charge of the whole company of ten. At night they formed a camp or corral with our wagons. Once we were camped within fifty yards of a band of Indians, and while I was guarding the cattle some of them came near to the camp and shot. A bullet passed by me so closely as to almost graze me, but my life was preserved.
A Brother Turpin who was in the same company died on the plains leaving a widow and some helpless children. A meeting of the brethren was held to decide what had better be done in Sister Turpin’s case as there was no one to drive her ox team. It was decided that it would be better for her to return to the East, but I spoke up saying that I was not willing that this widow and her children should return alone, and rather than that she should go back, I would drive her team to Salt Lake. Brother Orson Pratt said to me, “If you dare to leave your team in the care of Grandfather J. [John Gilmon Barron] Haynes (who was my wife’s stepfather) all right.” And I drove the widow and her children here.
Of the varied experiences on the plains I wish to say I was as happy as ever I felt in my life, and never looked upon the journey as a burden. I had never seen an ox team before I left St. Louis. Some who were employed with me in St. Louis said that during all their acquaintance with me they had never heard me swear. But they would wager before I reached my journey’s end that I would swear, for I could not drive an ox team far without indulging in bad language. I, however, did no swearing though my slow team often tried my patience.