"Handcart Reminiscences," Deseret Evening News, 24 May 1913, 21.
My experience with the handcart company coming across the plains gave me many evidences of God's providential care over his people.
When God organized this the Church of Christ through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, he did not leave it there to be driven about by every wind and doctrine and the vain philosophy of men, but said, "Lo I am with you to the end of the world." With this consolling assurance the Saints who have taken upon them his name will do or dare all in harmony with the gospel.
Great faith was exhibited in God and his servants when 258 men, women and children belonging to six different nations and speaking as many different languages, gathered together and with handcarts containing all their belongings faced a wilderness, where the principal natives were savages of whom so many dreadful stories are told with no means of protection, and no physician or medicine chest in case of sickness; but God proved our protector and physician.
At 3 p. m. we marched out in Indian file to make our first camp in the open city, it seemed like a large picnic party, all were so merry and happy.
One of the marvels to me of that wonderful journey is now in the months of June, July, and August when the sun at meridian was pouring down its powerful and scourging breath upon our defenseless heads, and the narrow wheels of the handcarts ploughing through heavy sand that we encountered many times on the journey, how it was that I had no sunstroke, headache or sickness; neither did I hear or any in camp.
Another instance of the care of God manifested towards this company of handcarts was that on one occasion traveling in a part of the country where there was no water except by digging for it, I had had no water and was famishing with thirst, when accidentally I noticed a hole in the ground and going up to it found there was water in it. I immediately lay down flat on my stomach and without any thought of bacteria I drank like the camels without fear of typhoid.
So far as the Indians were concerned they were our friends all the way. They gave us no trouble whatever; they frequently offered to help the sisters to pull their handcarts for them, which was politely refused.
One evening we camped about a stone's throw from a band of Indians who seemed very friendly to us; we had finished a pleasant night's entertainment, singing and reciting around the camp fire, then after prayers retired quietly to our lodging on the ground. We had retired but a few minutes when we were startled by Indians warwhoops and unearthly yells, which at that time of night were quite alarming. A few of us got up to learn the cause of the procedure and to our relief we were told that they were serenading the captain.
Next morning two mounted Indians came into our camp and as they stood by the side of their ponies conversing with a few of us, two buffalo were seen near the horizon. The Indian quickly threw off all the trappings from the backs of their ponies and scampered off after the buffalo; we enjoyed the chase as long as it was in sight. About an hour after they returned with strips of buffalo meat laid across their ponies which they very gallantly distributed to the fair sex. I mention these incidents to show the unusual influence that existed between Indians and "Mormons;" all the different tribes we met showed the same kindly feeling.
While traveling through the country where the Sioux Indians are located, a chief belonging to that tribe took a fancy to a Mrs. Seymour and offered six ponies to the captain for her. After some talk the captain assuring him of the impossibility of such a transaction, he seemed satisfied.
An effort was made to make better time on the road., as the provisions were getting low, so we started one morning at 6 a.m. At 12 we rested and hour for lunch and started again to make a good record and with the hope of finding a camping place. At 6 o'clock our usual time to halt and rest for the night, no sign of a camp, no wood, no water were visible. We must go still further. We go on in silence; nothing is heard but the rattle of busy wheels over the hard road and nothing seen but the lovely moon as it hurriedly emerges from under a cloud to help us. It is now 9 o'clock; there is no help for us but to lie down under our carts, as the pilgrim came straggling in to close up together, to our great surprise a band of mounted Indians rode up close to us, looking at us for 5 or 10 minutes and then, without uttering a word, rode off as quickly as they came; where they came from was a mystery as the country seemed a wilderness for miles around. These Indians never had a better opportunity if they had felt so disposed of doing us an injury than at this time for we were entirely at their mercy. We felt that this was another instance of divine care over us.
In Psalm 107, verses 4, 5, 6, and 7 our condition is plainly set forth. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in, hungry and thirsty their souls fainted within, but they cried unto God in their troubles an he delivered them out of their distresses and he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitations."
Next morning we were up early and were soon on the road again with the hope of soon finding wood and water that we might camp when the captain called a halt, and said he wanted volunteers to go back after two young men named [George] Reid and [ Richard] Mills an that if they did not feel like coming on to get the handcart with the clothing which belonged to a sister. None would volunteer so the captain named three. Wilson, Ben Hilbert [Benjamin Hibbert] and myself. After securing a few cakes from a sister who kindly told us that we would need them before our return, we started. We had only been on the road about a mile when Wilson backed out and returned to the company leaving us to fill the mission. We traveled all day and at sundown surprised the delinquents, and after making known our message to them from the captain and some pacific speeches from me they agreed to go on. Soon a train of four wagons hove in sight. Our boys would not go further until they learned the disposition of this train. As soon as the captain approached, he inquired if we were the boys that were left behind, and if we would like to go back with them. I told him I had been sent for the handcart and contents and that we meant to have them, but the boys might do as they pleased. They asked us then if we had any percussion caps which fortunately we had and gave them a few. He saw by this that we were armed. We got what we came for, and the boys went with us to the train. This captain, who was very tall and strongly built, might have refused to give up the handcart and a sack of flour that was in it, and sent us away minus anything. Again we were blessed and very much pleased to get along so well. We traveled all night, the wheels of the handcart in the still of the night as they rattled over the hard roads awakening the wolves. In the early morning we were glad to notice the dying embers of the campfires and pleased to be with the train again and find all well.
A lady named Elizabeth Watson, age [illegible-73?]  was absent from camp on the evening of Aug. 2. Next morning a search saw made for her in all directions, but nothing could be learned; we waited a day hoping to hear some tidings of her but nothing could be gathered to show where she was, so we gave her up for lost, but hoping some one would find her that would treat her well. On the 15th of August on arriving at a trading post on the road we were very much surprised to meet her as after 13 days we had given her up for lost.
"I traveled all day when I [illegible] the handcarts till darkness overtook me, and here I lost my way, and gave up all hope of seeing camp that night. I passed that night without fire or food. Next morning I started out cold and hungry to find the camp; but without success. For two days I traveled without food, or covering at night, and on the third day I came upon an Indian camp and without fear I gave the Indian to understand that I was hungry and wanted something to eat. He soon made a cake and with some beans and milk I had a very good meal. I got him to understand I wanted to cross the river, so he kindly ferried me over and put me on the right road. I traveled on again without seeing anyone and at night quite exhausted laid down to sleep. The wolves paid me a visit, but walked off without doing me any harm. Morning came and I arose stiff and cold, but by walking I soon got warm; I had not gone far when I saw three men and felt glad, for I hoped to hear something from them of the handcarts or help of some kind. When I got up to them they questioned me very closely. I told them that I was a 'Mormon' traveling with the hand carts and that I had been without food for three days excepting the meal I received from the Indian. As soon as they learned I was a 'Mormon' one of them said he would kill every one that came in his way. And took hold of me using me very roughly, and it seemed as if he was going to put his threat into execution but I was soon hustled out of this disagreeable scene by one of his companions, who showed me to the road. I almost lost all hope of ever seeing the handcarts again, when I noticed ahead of me a wagon. I went to it and was glad to find with it a very agreeable man who helped me into his wagon. He told me I had just escaped from a band of robbers. He treated me kindly and left me here until my friends with the handcarts should arrive."