Robison, Daniel, Autobiographical sketch, 1-2.
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On the seventh of May 1860 we left all this and started west to Zion where we could be free to live our religion, for which we had sacrificed so much, unmolested. As we were nearing Niagara Falls, just across the line in Canada, another little daughter was taken by death[.] This child was eight years old. Which only deepened our sorrow because of having had her with us longer. As we were traveling under contract, the train in which we were riding was not Allowed to stop; our little daughter was carried away' by a Negro porter and buried we know Not where.
We traveled by rail and water 2,000 miles, landing in Florence, Nebraska. Here we camped for Two weeks while arrangements were made for the company, which was one of the last of the Handcart companies to cross the plains. The saints that followed came with ox teams and horse, which made traveling a little easier. It was while we waited there in Florence that death called again. This time we lost our third child, a son Johnny, age three.
When the call came to "team up["] six teams were out to lead, and the carts were in the rear. The people pushed the carts. The boxes and carts were painted beautifully, and had wooden bows over the top, these were covered with canvas. The tongues of the carts had a crosspiece 2 feet long fastened to the end. Against this crosspiece two persons would lean their weight. This they called pushing instead of pulling[.] It was very common to see young girls between ages 16 to 20 with a harness on their shoulders in the shape of a halter, a small chain fastened to that and then fastened to the cart. There were four or five people to a cart. Some pushing, some pulling all day long through the hot, dry sand, with hardly enough food to eat to keep life in their bodies.
I was appointed Captain of the company. Although it was one of the last companies, it was one of the most successful in its journey. I tried very hard to avoid any trouble, which might arise and was very much respected by all the people in the company. Provisions were weighted: out to each family once a week. At one time we were rationed ½ pound of flour a day[.] water at times was very scarce and on some occasions the only water to be had was in boggy places. After digging three or four feet we would strike water, which was very yellow and resembled rain water, which has stood a long time. This was caused by the alkali in the soil. When we camped at night the carts were placed in a circle leaving an open space of about ten feet. This circle was used as a corral to unyoke the oxen. They were then driven perhaps a half-mile Away to feed. Here they were guarded until midnight, by two of the men, then they were relieved by others. In the morning each man "yoked up["] his own oxen. Breakfast was hurriedly eaten and we were lined up for another hot day. The carts were loaded with cooking utensils.
One time the little children were put on the carts if their feet had gotten to tired to walk any farther. Most of the mothers trudged along on the scorching ground barefooted. Some carried young babies, others leading barefoot little children by the hand, pausing now and then, trying to do something to relieve the pain in their blistered feet. Only our prayers and the knowledge that we would soon be to Zion kept us going those long hot dusty miles. We often felt kinship to the children of Israel, wandering in the desert, looking and waiting for the Promised Land. When we camped for the night we always had prayer and songs. We seemed very happy. We were cutting [putting] our trust in the Lord and were not deceived, for our journey was a peaceful one.
Several bands of Indians passed our camp but we were not molested. At one time our food failed to reach camp. I swam the Platt[e] River and made arrangements for provisions to be sent.
Arriving at the Sweetwater River we found the bottom teaming with fish. Everyone had all they could eat, which was a treat after eating salty bacon from the time we started until now. We had no meat of any kind except the bacon, because we could not keep it. We did not see any animals we could kill except an occasional rabbit, which fed only one family. We ran very low on provisions after we crossed the Green River in Wyoming. We became weak with hunger. We however did not get discouraged or lose our faith. We had pledged ourselves with the Lord and would not permit ourselves to think of anything Other than the Lord would provide. As we Were struggling on our way, fighting against despair and hunger, a wagon drive up loaded With provisions. This proved to us that we had not put ourselves in the care of the Lord in vain. He will always provide if we put our faith and trust in him.
We camped at the mouth of Echo canyon on the Weber River at a small town Henefer which was named after the people living there at that time. Mr. Henefer donated five bushel of potatoes if we would dig them. The fishing was good in the river. After the potatoes were dug and the fish caught and cooked everyone had a treat. As we were near our journeys end we camped here for several days and got a much needed rest.
We reached Salt Lake Valley on August 27, 1860. It had taken nearly eleven weeks to make the journey.