Robinson, Rachel Smith, Life Sketch of Rachel Smith Robinson, 1-2.
Trail excerpt transcribed from "Pioneer History Collection" available at Pioneer Memorial Museum [Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum], Salt Lake City, Utah. Some restrictions apply.
We traveled by rail and water 2000 miles, landing in Florence Nebraska, here we camped two weeks, while arrangments were being made for the long trek across the plains. Here the grim reaper took his toll again this time he claimed our little son Johnny age three.
When the company was ready to start, there were 240 people men and women and children 40 carts, 10 tents, 6 wagons and 36 oxen. We were lined up 6 teams were put in the lead, the carts in the rear. Then came the people some pushing, some pulling the carts, and the rest who were to young or weak dragged themselves behind the best way they could.
The carts were painted beautifully the tongue had a cross piece about 2½ feet long fastened to the end, and it was against this cross piece the people leaned their weight. They called this pushing instead of pulling. The carts had bows over the top covered with heavy canvas, in these carts we carried our few possessions and food. It was a common thing to see young women between the age of 16 and 20 with a harness over their shoulders shaped like a harness then fastened to the tongue of the cart. Some 4 or 5 to a cart pushing and pulling all day long through the hot dry sand with hardly enough food to keep life in their bodies.
This company was one of the last of the hand cart companies to cross the plains, the rest to follow came with ox teams and did not have quite the hardships these handcart companies had although all the pioneers had plenty of hardships.
I was assigned to come with one of the wagons, but I walked a great deal of the way.Before starting on our journey accross that baron waste desert I made noodles and drided them, these I shared with the sick, I also made yeast cake, and light dough bread, all the way across the plains.
At times water became very scarce, and could only be found at low boggy places, we would with shovels and spades to [dig] a depth of three or four feet before we found any water and when we did it would be yellow with alklaia.
At night when camp was made, the carts were placed in a circle leaving an opening of about ten feet. This circle was used as a correll for the animals. The oxen were unyoked inside the correll and driven perhaps a half mile away where they were guarded until midnight by two of the men, when they were relived by two others; when morning came they were brought back to camp, and each man yoked up his own oxen. As soon as breakfast was over we were ordered to line up to resume our long march through the hot dry sand. Our food and bedding and the little children if they became too tired or their feet got so sore they could walk no farther, were put into the carts to ride. It became a more daily occurance to see, women as their shoes dropped from their feet, bare footed leading their barefooted children by the hand through the scorching sand. When ever we camped we always had prayer and song and every body seemed happy and contented with having given up their wealth and comfort for the Gospel. Our journey was very peaceful[.] we were not molested by the Indians although several bands of them passed our little company.
At sweetwater River we found the river litterally full of fish and every one had all they could eat. As we had, had no meat of any kind excepting salty bacon since we started our tedious journey at Florence Nebraska, these fish were indeed a most welcome treat. At green River the carts wagons and people were taken across the river in ferry boats, and the oxen had to swim. At one time when food was very low and provisions failed to reach us my husband swam the Platt[e] River and made arrangements for supplies to be sent to camp. Provisions were weighed every week to each family from the beginning of the trip accross the plains, at one time our food got so low that each family was cut to one half pound of flour a day. It was at this time when the supplies were so low that two wagons loaded with provisions came to our rescue.
At the mouth of Echo Canyon on the Weber River [la]id a small town called Henefer, it was named after the only people living ther at that time. Here we camped for two days Mr. Henefer donated to us five bushels of potatoes, if we would dig them. The Weber River was full of fish so atter [after] the potatoes were dug and the fish were caught (and cooked) every one had a feast.
We reached Salt Lake Valley Aug, 27, 1860. It took almost eleven weeks to make that long wearisome trek. Wagons, carts, oxen, tents and every thing that was used on the journey across the plains were turned back to the church.