Burbank, Sarah Southworth, Autobiographical sketch, 1924.
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In June we camped in a place called Winter Quarters where the company was organized in companies of fity with a captain over each. D.M. Burbank was our captain. Then we went on our journey among the Indians. At night we had to guard the oxen so they would not steal them. We chained the cattle to the wheels of the wagons. The bugle was sounded in the morning and all the camp called together for prayers. The cows were yoked with oxen and traveled many miles before getting water and wood. On the first part of the journey when we came to streams of water we found willows to make bridges so that they could take the wagons over.
When we came to a stream we would wash our clothes and dry them on the grass for we might not get a place again for fity or one hundred miles. We gathered dried dung or buffalo chips to make a fire to cook our food, dug a hole in the ground, put the skillet in the hole with a tight lid on it, put the buffalo chip on the lid and set it afire. It baked the bread fine. That was the way we did our cooking until we got where there was wood again.
Then we went along the Platte River where we had the cholera. Five died with it in our company. My youngest sister was born on the planes. My oldest sister gave birth to a baby on the planes and many other women gave birth to babies but the company was not hindered in their march as they would move on the next morning making quite a hardship for the women. My husband’s wife Abby [Abigail] died with cholera and buried without a coffin by the Platte River along with others. We had to go on in the morning never to see their graves again. The night that Abby was buried the wolves were howling. It was awful to hear the dirt thrown on their bodies. A young lady and I were the only ones to wash and dress her with what we could find, her under clothes and night gown. We sewed her up in a sheet and quilt. That was all that could be done for her burial. All the women in the camp were afraid to prepare the body for burial for fear that they would catch the Cholera from her. This young girl and I were not afraid to take care of the body. We were only sixteen years old but brave in that case.
We started in June and were four months on our journey before we arrived at the Salt Lake Valley. Three months after Abby died I married D.M. Burbank on the Plains. Captain Walker of another company that camped by us married us one evening. The bugle called the camp together to witness our marriage. We had cedar torch lights instead of candles. It was by Green River in September. There I mothered four children that were sick with scarlet fever. My husband and I had great trouble with sickness the rest of the way. We also had a number of oxen die and had to stop for the camp to get cows instead of oxen. A hundred Indians took D.M. Burbank a prisoner. We thought he would be killed but the Chief gave him up to us if we would give them flour sugar and coffee. We rejoiced when we saw the Captain alive. He had gone to hunt a buffalo that he spied through a spy glass. He had killed buffaloes before when hunting for a camping place. The poor cows furnished us with milk or we would have suffered for a drink as the water was so bad for hundreds of miles. We had to grind parched corn in a coffee mill to eat in milk to save our flour. We would eat it at night in milk. We parched a sack full before we left home. I stood over a fire place and helped mother do it. The oxen stampeded and ran away with the wagons toward the river. One woman was killed. I jumped out of the wagon with mother’s babe and came nearly being killed. It rained so hard that night that everything was wet through. The wind blew so hard that we had to sit up and hold the covers on all night. That happened many times.
When fording streams we could just see the oxens backs and horns and thought our wagons would go under, but we got out alive by the help of the Lord.