Sarah Lucinda Lee, Biographical information relating to Mormon pioneer overland travel database, 2003-2017.
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The companies were organized in fifties, fifty wagons or families to a company with a Capt. at the head. These were subdivided into tens, each with a Captain of ten, so that all measures of safety and business could be conducted without jar or friction, and not the least unit be neglected. Here I have another glimpse of memory. The wagon I was in proceeded a short distance and stopped facing the Great Missouri River and I looked out of the front of the wagon at the dark rolling flood and wondered if it were possible for our horses to wade through it. I must have fallen asLeep and missed the crossing in a flat boat, for the next thing I remember was looking through the back of the wagon and wondering how the river got behind us.
The Omaho Indians on the west side of us were friendly, but by the time we reached the Platte River, we had left all friendly Indians behind us. Captains cautioned the women and children to stay with the wagons. My mother had a very vivid dream that made her extra cautious. It seemed that because her children grew very restless in the wagon, for a little change she alighted with them to walk a little. The Kentucky boy and the Alabama girl were able to use their own little trotters but the Texas girl who was puny and ailing had to be carried in arms. The children ran from side to side in the road and wanted to examine every new object, making so little distance that the mother soon saw that this would not do. On raising her eyes she was frightened to see the last wagon, which happened to be her own, disappear round a point of the hill, and she could not hurry the little ones even enough to catch sight of the last train. Soon she was surrounded by mounted Indians who leaned from their horses and caught up the last helpless ones. She remembered the dash into the hills, the weariness of the swift face, the fretting of her teething babe, the silent fear of the two older children held in the arms of the naked savages; and her own blank dispair; also the cold sLeepless night spent on the bare ground with the children in her arms. But the culmination of horror came at dawn when the screaming children were torn from her arms and born away in three different directions and herself in a forth. She awoke sobbing and shaking to find herself and her darlings still safe; and to resolve never to be guilty of the smallest indiscrition of that kin
The Indians hovered round some time succeeding, in spite of all care, in killing an ox or a cow or in stealing a horse; but did not capture any stragglers, or ever really attach the train.
At one crossing of the Platte, two of our cows brought forth beautiful heifer calves; but since they could not travel and there was no means of transportation, the pretty little things had to be killed and their poor lowing mothers driven away without them. The grass was sweet and young and these cows gave an abundance of milk, which was a great blessing to their owners and others. The Indians soon killed one of our oxen and my father was obliged to put the dry cow into the yoke. The poor uneducated creature fretted and worried and wasted what strength she had and it was not very long until she was so reduced to a poor skeleton, with tender feet and sore shoulders. then she could no longer walk, besides her ill tempered yoke mate. One of the other ones was substituted and it still wa a failure the cows could not take the place of oxen.
My father's health continuted ot be very poor and although he managed to do his part of guard duty, take his turn at driving te loose stock etc. he was poor help around his own camp fire. Timber was very scarce and the travelers would have suffered from lack of fuel had not the noble buffalo, who at that time roamed those plais in vast herds kindly strewn the earth with droppings which the travelers could use for fuel. Mr. Clay the driver of the ox team proved to be a surly ungracious churl, who would look after his team but never lend a hand at any thing else. Once while mother was gathering chips for cooking supper and her baby fretted and cried in the wagon. Clay lay on his back contentedly until a neighbor said, "Clay why don't you gather that fuel and let Mrs. Lee tend her baby?" He answered grufly "I earn my salary by driving ox team and never bargained to do womens work"? "Oh bother your bargain," persisted the neighbor, "while a little tired woman waits on your lazy bones while a baby cries for its mother." Nothing seems to effect him.
When Cholera broke out Mr. Clay was one of the first victims. He suffered terribly and mother did all she could for him but he soon succumbed. We wondered whether or not he met those who had befrauded him. Numbers of others old and young passed away with that dreadful desease and were burried the best way possible with a fire burned over each grave to keep wild animals away from the grave.
The refugees who had been driven from their comfortable homes with curses and boarsts and rejoicings from their enemies that if the wilderness did not swallow them up tha savages surely would, had resolved to face all these dangers with songs and galadness and never show a sign of fear. To this end they conducted public prayers and almost nightly concerts around their central fires. and further more they often brought out a violin or two and danced under the stars.
The deaths in camp interfered with the singing and dancing in some degree but did not supress it altogether. Did not prevent Sunday servces. The death of Mr. Clay left my father with both teams on his hands, and the days when his chills were on him he was not able to walk all day beside the oxen, as all ox drivers do, so on tese days mother was obliged to drive the ox team. She had never done such a thing before, of course, but she never quailed under any new demand of duty born of the experiecnes of the times;. On such days the two younger children rode in the ox wagon with her, and here I remember another incident. Mother had been up in the wagon to comfort her baby and when ready to get out again, did not stop the team for they would have stopped every one behind it, but set her foot on the tongue and sprang to the ground behind the off ox which kicked at her with both feet as she went. This ox was a black one and hated Indians worse than his owners hated cholery and small pox. He often gave warning by snorting and tossing his horns, when Indians were any where near, especially if they were to winward and several times when Lees black ox, came bolting in to camp from the hurd ground the gaurd was doubled.
The train had not proceeded far on its way until our heavy wagon caught on fire, i.e. in the axle tree and one wheel had to be taken off and lashed on the back and the poor tired oxen made to pull the wagon with one axel being drug on a pole. At camp that night the wheel was fixed.
Since both wagon and team were growing weak my father cast about for some means to lighten his load. Among his fellow travelers he found one who was willing for a reasonable consideration to take one box to Salt Lake City for him.
When the time came that they could get another teamster they were glad to hire him, he proved to be altogether better than Mr. Clay had been. His name was Moore.
Now the way became strewn with bones of animals, part of household furniture, abandoned wagons etc. etc. The Chief Capt. whose name mother refuses to tell for his own sake eternally forbade any one of his company to pick up anything no matter how desirable it may be, for fear they might contain infection of cholera.
One day this Capt. came to my father and informed him that some ones team was weak and that Mr. Lee aught to take part of that load for the rest of the trip. My father explained that his own team was too weak to haul any more and the Capt grew angry and remained so the rest of the trip. Some in the company had to throw away some heavy articles to lighten they loads.
At one time the baby had canker of the mouth and had found a pickle to chew at., mother was frightened thinking that would prove dangerous, but a neighbor said "Why that is good for canker" so afterward they kept the pickles for soar mouth in children. They had to stop every once in a while to wash clothes, do hunting for food etc.
Word came that tomorrow they would cross the Platte again, which meant that they were leaving the longest part of the journey behind them, which was good news to all.
In a little while Bro. Lee lost an ox and was left behind his company, but another one led by Shadrick Roundy came along and he joined his company on Bro. Roundy's request.
On the Larmie plains occured what mother calls the great stampede the teams were tired, but one day suddenly, without known cause the whole outfit of oxen flung up heads and tails and with dreadful bellowing set off at a wild gallop, scattering out on both sides of the road totally unmanageable. Mr. Moore was seated on the wagon tongue to give his weary feet a brief rest when the race began and he leaped in haste into the foot path, stepped on some thing that rolled and fell spraining his ankle badly. He spraing up and hobbled on in great fear for he knew he could not overtake them, they were headed directly toward a bluff, and Mr. Lees little boy was in the wagon. Prividentially, some men on horse back who had been out looking for game, rode in between the frantic oxen and the bluff, and gradually brought them into the road again, where they slowed down and stopped panting and exhausted. When the driver came up with them the young Kentuckian looked out and cried cheerily, "I had a fine ride didn't I Mr. Moore"? How often do we escape deadly danger without knowing it has been near us.
When within a few hours drive of Salt Lake City the company went into camp for the purpose of having a general washing and cleaning up. It occupied two or three days and was so thorough that even the wagons were brushed and dusted, the horses curried, the men shaved and cropped and the children put into clean aprons. Mr. Moore was anxious to push on to California before the 49ers should get all the gold but he was equally anxious to have his own wardrobe put into some kind of order. He stayed by, gathered fuel, carried water, built fires, lifted tubs, hanged out wet clothes, amused children and helped in the good work all that a mere man could.
Then all was prepared in putting the best foot forward, they drove down to Salt Lake City, the three year old haven of refuge where the exiles hoped to have no fiercer foes than the red man, who is as prod to display the scalp of a child as that of a fighting man.
Here the goldseeker and the Mormon family, whom he had so faithfully served, parted with mutual kind regards, and good wishes, never to meet again. This family had been six longs months on the road. They waited beside the Missouri for the grass of spring, and before the journey ended the nights were frosty and the grass sere. It was with profound thankfulness that Bro. and Sister Lee took possession for the winter of a small two roomed log house on Big Cottonwood, which they were so fortunate as to rent from Bro. Homer Duncan, and there on the lat day of the year 1850 their forth child was born. Their little Utah girl.