Addison Pratt autobiography and journals, 1843-1852.
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When we arrived at Pleasant Valley, we found that some waggons had got tired of waiting & had gone ahead. Also, three men had been sent a head as pioneers. As we had broken one axletree, the tongue & one of the hounds of our waggon, we began to find we had too much load for it & here we threw out a part of it. Some we sold & som we left. We staid in pleasant valley two days & started ahead & overtook all the waggons that had gone ahead <&> on the 4th of July, near a valley we called Slie's
ranch, in honour of the man that found it. We had with us two brass cannon, 6 pounders, that we had bought from Capt. Sutter, with these we saluted the day, which made the mountains ring. Here we went into camp & remained ten days, while we sent out ten more pioneers to explore & see if the road was practicable, for we were now high up in the mountains, where before, a white mans foot had never trod, with loaded teams to the number 17, & about 250 head of oxen, cows & calves, besides 200 head of horses & mules, there were 40, men & one woman who was Br. [William] Cory's wife.
We organized into a military boddy <for> mutual defense, ten men in a company. While we were in camp at this place, I was attacked with fever and ague. I was also lame with a bruise, that I had received by falling from a horse that took fright and jumped stiff leg'ed, A trick, well known to any one, who had had anything to do with California horses. These with the unpropitious prospect of our journey, the ungovernable condition of our California team, & neither John or myself were teamsters, as I was reard at sea, & he in a printing office, & unaccostomed to a mountain life. All of this combined, served to bring over my mind all of those dark clouds of evil forebodings, that I had so much dreaded. And I was with no little persuasion that the company kept me from turning back. But while in camp, we found a young man who was a teamster & with him we agreed to drive our teams. I was provided with a horse & was to help drove the loose cattle, when I should get able. And <for> to get rid of the ague, I took three tablespoon fulls of common salt, desolved in a jill of hot water. This answered both as an emetic & cathartic, & dissagreeable as it might [be] to take, it had the desired effect. At the end of the ten days, our pioneers returned & reported that a road could barely be made with much labour & this we were prepared to do. But the three pioneers that had been sent out from pleasant valley, they could find nothing of. There had been much unpleasant feeling express'd by the company about them, but when they returned without them, & their trail could be trac'd no more than ten or twelve miles beyond where <we> were. Much anxiety was express'd as to their whereabouts.
We moved on from here & camped in Leek Spring Valley. We gave it that name on account of the great abundance of that kind of vegitabl that we found growing there. Here is a beautiful valley with a great abundance of feed for cattle. Nothing can exceed the beauty & fertility of the many & spacious vallies, we pass'd through in crossing the Sierra Nevada range. When you first strike timber at their foot, it is a variety of Oak, & of large size. But as you ascend, they become more dwarfish & become intermixed with dwarfish pines and firs. But as you continue on, the oaks become extinct, but the pines, fir & cedar, increase till near the backbone of the range, when you find the most splendid timber I have ever seen. We saw pines that were ten feet in diameter & from two to three hundreds feet in height, from seventy five to a hundred feet to the first limbs & straight as a line. There is a variety of kinds, but all favouring the pitchpine. They produce a large bur that is full of seeds about the size & taste of a beachnut. On these the Indians nearly subsist in winter. There is one kind that produces a white dry kind of gum, much the semblance & taste of manna, with a slight turpentine tang. We ate of it freely & found it posses'd a purgative quality, & no doubt it contains excellent medical properties. This is called the sugarpine.
From here we sent out a company to clear the road. When they returned, they reported to have found a new grave, made by the Indians & marks of violence as <if> murder had been commited—about the spot, & during the day, some of our men were out finding cattle & saw a wild Indian who had on a vest that was supposed to belong to one of those missing men. We now began to feel that the many fears that we had entertained about them being murdered by Indians, was to [be] realized. The next moove we made was to go to that place & camp, & examine it thouroughly. We camped & that night examined the ground which bore strong suspicions. We intended to stay here till we had made a thorough search. And the next morning we commenced.
By the side of a large Spring that was pouring out of the mountain side, there were marks of a recent fire & the ground around it bore strong indications of an encampment, & on it, we found a number of Indian arrows. Some were broken & bloody & other were entire, near this was a new mound, after the order of indian burials. This, we commenced to open [19 July] & in the bottom of it, we found to the utter astonishment & dismay of all present the bodies of our three friends, entirely divested of every article of clothing & bearing marks of horrid violence. One of them having a with about his neck, indicated that he had been killed some distance from there, and that had been put on <that they might> drag him to the grave. On a re-examination of the ground, we found some stones with blood & hair adhearing to them which we supposed had been used for the purpose of breaking in their skulls, & among the grass we found a buckskinbag containing som gold dust & som coin. It had been suspended to the neck by a string of the same. And from the position in which it was found & the blood & fresh cut that was upon it, that the wearer was in the act of flight, when he received a blow upon the back of the head & neck which cut the string & fell'd him to the ground, & as they were striping off his clothes it slip'd among the grass, & as the tragedy was no doubt acted in the night, it was left undiscovered by the savages. We reintered them & as there was plenty of rock in the vicinity, we built a <square> wall, some three feet high, raised a headstone filled in the wall (which inclosed the grave) with dirt, & paved over the whole with stones, & carved an inscription to their memory on a large Spruce tree, that stood at hand,— I have often read of such occurrences, but to be a mournful participator in such a discovery leavs impressions that are not easily obliterated. Their names were Daniel Brewett, Nelson Allen, & Henderson Cocks. I had formed an acquaintance with Br. Brewett, at Sutter's fort, & found him to be an excellent man, & one beloved by all that knew him. The buckskin bag, spoken of was known by some of our company, to belong to Nelson Allen,— We now begin to feel that we were in the midst of an enemies country, & that it required much vigilance to shield us from surprise by them. As we expected, they were on the alert for us. And by sunset we had all the cattle & horses drove near the camp & surrounded by a strong guard, & every man was to lie down upon his loded arms, so as to be ready at a moment's warning, should they be called on. Our Cannons were unlimbered & loaded. The guard was Stationed, & the night was Still & rather dark, as there was no moon, when about 9,oclock the cattle made a rush from one side of the corral to the other, & this they repeated the second time, when we supposed that there were Indians that had frightened them. At this we made no delay but whealed out one of the brass pieces & discharged it. With the fright that they had received before, aided with the report of the cannon, the whole herd took a stampede & away they all went on our back track, with the fury of a whirlwind, & left us only the camp to guard. We had now ascended to the elevation of some 10,000 feet above the leven of the ocean, & the concussion that the report made upon the atmosphere at such an altitude was tremnduous, the hills & vallies in evry direction echoed with an astounding roar for some seconds after. We hunted two days, for the cattle & horses & found all but one leader ox in my team, him we supposed the Indians had eaten, but when the next company came on after us they brought him on to Salt Lake, & told us he came to them in Pleasant valley, the next day after he left us. We gave the name of this place Tragedy Spring.
After we left this camp we pass'd some beautiful Lakes, among the mountains, that we supposed abounded with Trout. We drove over some snowbanks that we supposed were some 40 feet deep. In all the vallies where the snow had desapeared, the grass was young, tender & in abundance, & the flowers of which there was a variety, were just in blossom, & notwithstanding it was the latter part of July, it seemed like April. This day we capsized two or three waggons in crossing snow banks. We had up to this time broken & repaired many of them in our company. One hind wheal, had evry Spoke Broken out & it was filled again with pine, as that was the stoutest timber to be found now. This was done at Tragedy Spring.
At night [we] camped near the Snow, & it was so cold as to freeze over some of the Streams. Two wild Indians came into camp. We took their bows & arrows from them gave some supper & put them under guard till morning, when we gave them their weapons & breakfast, & they took leave of us seemingly well pleas'd. It was evident that we were on the borders of a strange tribe, to that, that had killed our brethren. As these made signs that they were at war with those in our rear, And gave us to understand that they were bad Indians—
We mooved on the next morning & had some steep mountains to descend which brought us into a lovely valley that surrounded a beautiful lake, here was plenty of grass & we went into camp for two days, while here one of the brethren killed a black tailed Deer. There were many large gray Ducks about the Lake, but we saw no signs of fish. We found the Lake was formed in part by a Beaverdam,
that was that was built acrost the outlet. Some fifteen or twenty Indians came into camp to day, they had some beaverskin quivers, som fresh venison & a preserved buck's head with its horns on, & shewed us they they used [it] to decoy, when in the chase. Notwithstanding we had began to decend the mountains, we were still on the head waters of the American fork. We left this place & the next night camped on a ridge that divides the waters of the Americanfork & Salmontrout rivers. Many Indians shewed thimselves upon the surrounding precipices & gazed with much curiosity at our waggons & cattle, the first perhaps that they had ever seen, but seemed unwilling to come into camp.
The next day we decended some of the worst mountains there is between Sutters fort & Salt Lake, & camped at the head of Read Lake, the headwaters of Salmontrout river.
The next day pass'd on down the river & camped at the head of four mile canion, it took all hands that could be spared from the camp four days to make a passable road through it, as I had not yet recovered sufficiently from my sickness to be thought fit for labour, it was recommended that I should spend the time at fishing, as it was discovered that there were a plenty of mountain trout in the river. I did so, & the most that I caught in a day was thirty-five. Many others fished also when they could be spared from the camp, but I seemed to be the most successful. While here I also shot several mountain Hens, they are a species of Pheasant & near the size of a domestic hen & excllent flavoured. I also shot a Woodchuck & here I saw the first prairie dogs. They seem to be a link in natures Chains between the woodchuck & the California ground Squirrels.
After the road was prepared, it took us one day [4 August] to transport our stuff to the lower end of the canion. We had now got over the worst of the road & we now began to loose sight of those snow peaks that had been such a dread to me & my health & spirits were fast on the mend. & I could smile or even laugh as in other days. (I should have observed that at the head of this canion, we had the coldest nights that we experienced on the road, ice, making in a bucket two inches thick, the last of July.)
We now began to feel as if our fetters were broken off & that we could make good days travels. As we kept down the river & passing through some beautiful bottomlands we saw large herds of Antelopes & shot one. The Indians, or rather one came into camp & saw us dividing the meat & from that time they commenced stealing our horses & cattle at evry oppertunity. They also terrified us some at night by making innumerable fires on the mountain sides, which was supposed to be a signal of attack by some of our party who had been used to Indian Life. But we hadout a strong guard & we were not disturbed. We were overtaken by a company of packers at the head of four mile canion, & had kept company with us to here, & were now about to leave & go ahead. The next night after they left, some Indians crept in to camp & stole som horses. We remained in camp the next day & gave them chase, recovered some of the horses & Shot at & Supposed to have mortally wounded an Indians. After that they troubled us but little while on that river.
Where ever we now left the river bottoms, we came in contact with Sage brush, as there are many millions of acres covered with this vigitable, it will bear noticeing. It is a shrub, varying in height from six inches to six feet, but its average height is not above three or four feet & I believe it subsists with the least moisture of any vegitable I have ever seen. It grows in bunches, their diameter being about equal to there height—The main branches grow in layers, one against the other instead of inclosing each other <other> like other kinds of wood, it is covered with limbs & as the under ones are always dry & thorny, & that makes it verry disagreeable to travel amongst it. The ends of them bear a sort of lifeless looking leaf, that something resembles sage, both in looks, taste & smell. Among it, are a plenty of prairie hares, & a fowl called Sagehen. The cocks are near size of a hen turkey. The Sage bears a sort of tassle, & those fowls live on that, & their meat would be verry dellicate food, were it not for the sagey taste that it has. There is an oily substance in the wood that makes it burn readily, & it makes tolerable firewood. We continued down this river where found plenty of grass & of a good quality. When we supposed we were near its termination we left it & struck a N. Westerly direction & one days smart travel brought us to the bend of Trucky's [Truckee] river & here we struck the old emigration road, leading from the U. States to California.
As there is the longest drive without grass or water between Trucky and the Sink of Mary's river which is forty five miles. It was necessary that we should recruit our teams a little before we undertook it & we Staid here for two days. There was Strong indications of a plenty of Indians about there & they are said to be verry thieveish, but by keeping up a strong guard, we were not surprised by them. There we found plenty of grass & the water in the river most excellent. Nothing can exceed the purity & excellence of the water running in all the streams comeing down from the Sierra Nevada, as they are fed by the melting Snow, all Summer long. As our cattle were now well prepared for the rout, we started erly in the morning & five O Clock we arrived at the cellebrated hot springs, which Freemont estimates to be several degrees hotter than boiling water. It is a dismal looking place & reminded me of the anecdote of the dutchman that saw the hot springs in Kentucky, & said hell!! could not be one mile from that place. The water boils out in several different places, one forms quite a basin, and the water verry clear but has a strong sulphury taste & smell, our cattle were suffering with thurst, but most of them would not taste it when cooled. We had a dog with us that steped down to the basen to drink & steped one foot into the water, the scald caused such <instant> pain that the dog made a leap & landed about three feet from the rim of the basin <&> as the water was deep, the dog sank under a few inches, died instantly & almost without a Struggle. We camped here & when the moon arose, about eleven o clock we started on. It was about these springs that I saw the first head & horns of a animal of the deer kind, called the mountain Sheep. The largest of the bucks are said to weigh four hundred pounds & their flesh is said to be the sweeeist venison, of any of the deer kind. Their horns resemble a marino bucks, but not so much curve. I <saw> several along the road that were large as a mans leg & have been known to weigh eleven lbs. each. Like the goat, they are verry fond of barren and rocky mountains. We drove all <of the> ballance of the night at a rapid rate, & the next morning after sunrise we came to some pools of water strongly impregnated with Salaratus, here we Staid two days & found but little grass. While here we were met by a company of emigrants from the U. States, & some brethren from Salt Lake, were with them. They were all much elated at hearing about & seeing the California gold. There were some wild geese, ducks, & curlews about those ponds. It is a dismal looking place here, on account of the immense mud flats that had the appearance of being under water a part of the year, but were then dry & hard as a brick.
One day's drive more brought us to where there was a little running water in one of the numerous sluce's that are found among the multitude of willows that grow here, & here the Indians were verry bold on account of the cover & that the willows afford for them, here they wounded several horses with poisoned arrows & they all died. The next days drive brought us to where there was quite a stream running, & a plenty of grass, but the water was quite turbed, & the next days drive brought us to where we saw plenty of small fish,
& the next day, after camping we caught with hooks, some fish, called chubs,
& the next day we came to where the river forked, & the branch we followed up was clear & sweet water & in it we found plenty of mountain trout, some of them weighing three lbs. each. We followed this river between two & three hundred miles & found immense quantities of excellent grass all the way. There is no kinds of wood growing along the river bottom but willow & sage, & the mountains on each side, are verry dry & barren, presenting but verry little vegitation, untill you get near the head of the river, & then there is little dwarfish cedars & pines. We followed up the river till our road led along the dry bed of the, it being fed below us, with a cold clear stream that came down from the mountains to the right. Among those mountains we could see groves of timber, & an Indian brought a few quarts of choak cherries to the camp for Sale. As we camped for a day or two near the junction of this mountain stream & the dry bed, I took my rifle, hook & line, & with some of the brethren went up stream. I caught a large mess of trout. It is a beautiful clear rapid stream & the water verry cold. We went into a wigwam where there was a sick squaw, who had a young child, & the old Indian had just come in with one of the largest antelope's I ever saw.
We traveled one day up the dry bed & came to a canion where there was water again.
The next day we passed through to the canion & crossed the stream 9 times & camped at some large springs, that are the last that we saw of maries river.
Here is a beautiful valley of grass. It was reported that there is a cutoff from this place & we started on to it, but miss'd it, & returned after one night to the springs, while here a party started out gunning. I took down the stream that conducts the water from those springs, till I came to where the water ran verry deep & the surface <mostly> covered with a floating vegitable something like lilly pads, saw a trout break water among them. I soon prepared by hook & line bated with grasshopper. I threw it in & it was soon seized by a trout, & I soon had a string of fifteen or twenty, the largest of them of a bout a pounds weight.
After we left here we pass'd over a ridge & came into warm Spring Valley, & camped at the wells, [east of present Deeth]. These are a curiosity that abound among all the mountain vallies in the region of Salt Lake. They are generally where there <is> no streams near & they have to be fed by springs, & are from one foot acrost their mouth to fifty feet & many of <them> have been sounded with the longest lines that could be produced & could find no bottom. They are always known by high grass or willows growing about them. The soil about their brink is higher than it is else where & they <often> have a stream running from them that sinks in the dry dirt after it gets a few feet from the fountain. The water in them is generally clear & cold & of the best quality. Cattle often fall into them & if not helped out they will soon drownd.
One days travel from this place, we came onto the head waters of Goose Creek. This is one of the tributaries of the Columbia river & we are now in the territory of Oregon.
Goose Creek is but a small stream where we first struck it, but we found a plenty of trout in it, but like the stream they were small. But as we followed down it, it soon began to increase from the many little tributaries that were running in to it, & in one days travel, it increased to near the size of Maries river. Here we camped with a plenty of good grass (as it abounds all the way on this stream). Here we found the greatest abundance of Trout of any Stream I ever saw. The largest weighing about one pound & a half. And we saw no other fish in the stream. There were a great abundance of fresh water lobsters or crawfish. There were signs of an abundance of otter, on this stream we saw the first undisturbed graves that we had seen on the road, as it is a regular practice among the Indians to rob all the graves of the whites, that they can find, for the sake of grave clothes & the corpses after they are strip't are left upon the ground to be devowered by the Wolves.
The next day about noon we left the creek & ascended some of the worst hills between Sierra Nevada & Salt Lake & camped in the mountains near some cold springs.
The next day we left Fort Hall road, at the rock Gemini, & made a waggon road from here to Salt Lake. That night we camped on the headwaters of Casier [Cassia] Creek. This also discharges its water into some of the larger tributaries of the Columbia. The next day we traveled down & camped again on the Casier. Here the stream was large & afforded plenty of Trout. We left this stream & followed a packtrail that led through an ascending valley & camped towards evening on a mountain stream that ran down & "sank" near where we stopped. But I could see by the course of the dry bed of it below us, that in winter or spring it communicated with Casier, & of course I concluded there must be trout in it higher up where there was a running stream. After our camping affairs were arranged, I took my rifle & start off towards the head of the stream & soon came to running water, & as I expected I found a plenty of trout. I soon obtained a goodly string & returned to camp with my fish, to the astonishment of all hands. And they gave it as a general opinion, that I could catch a mess of trout, if I could only find rainwater standing in a cow track.
We continued on a circuitous rout the next day & camped at night on a mountain side at a spring in sight of Salt Lake, but on the opposite side from the City.
The next day we decended the mountain at a regular slope & crossed
& crossed a large dry sageplain, in <the> center of it we found a large cold Spring, about noon, at night we camped on deep creek. All the streams we crossed from here to the City discharge their water into Salt Lake.
The next day we continued our rout oer hills & vallies & Camped at a cold Spring that is in a deep vally between two high mountains, & notwithstanding the Spring affords a large stream, it sinks in the valley not more than a quarter of a mile from its source. Here we lost an old cow that had been much trouble to us to drive on account of her being a slow traveler. What become of her, we could never find out, we hunted near a half day for her.
The next day we continued our rout over an uneven country well grassed & but little sagebrush. We camped at night in a valley where there were a number of warm springs, <they> came out & formed a large stream, the water has a brackish <sulphery> taste & smell, & was the only bad water we camped on between the Sink of Maries river & S. Lake.
The next day we came in sight of S. Lake again, & a smart day's travel brought us to [Malad] creek. This was the worst creek to cross of any we found on the road, on account of its banks being mudy & the water near up to the waggonbeds, ours got over safe, but some others filled with water or capsized. We found an abundance of fish in it call'd chubs. The circumstances that gave the creek that name are these. Some years ago some Canadian French, camped on it, to catch beaver, of whitch there was an abundance at that time, & their general food is willow, but as there is none of that on that stream, the beavers lived on the roots of a vegitable called wild parsnips or meadow finnel, & it possesses some poisonous qualities, but it does not affect the beaver. But when the hunters ate of their flesh it made them all sick and they gave the creek that name.
This is but three miles from Bear river, the largest stream between Sutter's fort & S. Lakecity.
The next day we crossed it & found the water at a low stage & the crossing good. The bed of the river is about fifty yards wide, & the banks high, & in the spring of the year it is a formidable stream, and a verry strong current.
We campedAfter crossing we traveled six <miles> down the river & camped at some springs, here we found the grass green & fresh & the cattle ate till it seemed as if they would burst. We saw no green grass after we left Trucky & notwithstanding the grass is dry & yellow, there is no rain during the summerseason & it is full of nutriment & our cattle kept fat.
We had a snow storm about the first of September near the head of Maries river & frosty nights. But while here we had a fine shower, & from the appearance of the grass it is a common thing here all summer long, & bear rive valley is a beautiful one & verry wide & affords an immense <quanity> of grass.
We now began to feel as if we were nearing home fast. Some Indians came to us here & appeared verry friendly, ( I should have mentioned while at deep creek, some fifteen or twenty of them came to us & camped with us over night & sold us some buckskins, &c) We left here and pass'd down the valley leaving a high range of mountains on our left & bearriver & S. Lake on our right, crossed a rappid & clear stream of cold water called I believe Cottonwood Creek, & camped at some of those deep wells, some of our cattle fell in them, but we got them out without harm. A smart day's drive from here brought us acrost Ogden's Creek. This & Weber's Creek form a junction just before they fall into Salt Lake, & in their fork is situated Gudger's Fort, & is 40 miles from Salt Lake city.
This situation was bought by James Brown, Esqr. after his return from the [Mexican] war as he was one of the captains in the Mormon batalion. He also bought cattle, goats & hogs with it & was now keeping a dairy[.] We bought cheese of them at twenty cents per pound, ten cents per pound was the price before we came along, but they supposed that we had been drawn through the gold mines with our hides greased & that a perfect shell of gold had grown over us about two inches thick, & for us to pay a double price for a thing, was only relieving us of our burthen's. Captain Brown, was gone to Salt Lake City, himself, but had a large family living there at the fort. We staid here one day & recruited our teams as we had drove hard for several days before.
I inquired here after <after my family> but could get no news of their arrival, but several of the brethren <that> heard of their families being at the city left us here on horseback & tried to persuade me to go with them, but I told them No!! for I had got so habituated to disappointments during the five years past, that I would not run the hazard, for if I went down there & found they had not arrived, my anticipations would be at an end, but if I staid where I was, I should have the pleasure of hoping that I might find them there when I arrived. So they went away & left me.
Another days travel from here bought us <to> herd creek. When we were about halfway we met a waggon & a young man was with it by the name of James Park, who told me that my family were at the city, that they had arrived the week before with a large emigration company that came in <from winter quarters>,
the week before. I asked him if he was sure of it? He said he was, for he was one of a company that were sent back from the city to meet & assist the emigration, & it fell to his lot to drive my families team for them into the city, & that they were all alive & in good health. At this news my heart was filled with gratitude to my Father in Heaven for his preserving care over us, during this our long separation.
I now traveled on with new courage, & soon after met Capt Brown, whom I was glad to see, as he was an old acquaintance. He told me he had seen my family while at the city &c. & after passing some jokes (for which he is celebrated) I passed along & we went into camp at Br. Hates [Hector C. Haight], who was herding cattle in company with some others, at herd creek, about twenty miles from Salt Lake forts. He told <me> he was herding a yoke of oxen that belonged to my wife & we left some of our spare cattle there.
The next morning after the teams were ready, I with some others mounted our horses & started a head, Bro Hates accompanying us. As we drew near the forts, we began to meet our friends coming out to meet us. Br. Hate told me he knew the house my family lived in & he would conduct me there. We found them in the South fort, in a house with Sister Rogers, whose husband we had met at the sink of Mary's river, on the road to California.