Robert T. Burton autobiography, undated.
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I was quite successful here in obtaining means necessary for our outfit to the valley of Salt Lake Utah. March 26th, 1848 our first child Theresa Hannah was born. I now began to make more active preparation for the journey westward.
On the 17th of May we started from our home in Mis[s]ouri with a team composed of two yoke of cattle and two cows and a fairly good wagon. My father and his family consisting of his second wife (Widow Smith married to him Sept. preceeding) her daughter Julia and my youngest brother Charles Edward had an outfit similar to mine.
My father-in-law John Haven and family consisting of wife and daughter Eliza Ann also accompanied the starting place for the west, where we arrived on the 21st of the month remained in this vicinity get[t]ing ready organzeing companies, etc., until the May 31, 1848. I was organized in Prest. Young's company (second ten) was the Bugler. My father and family Brother William and family were organized in Heber C. Kimball's Company.
The teams of these companies were principally oxen and cows there being but very few horses and mules. Our march therefore was necessarily slow and tedious having to travel in large companies for protection against Indians. Up the Platt[e] River we traveled much of the way four teams abreast. Some difficulty was also experienced from the vast herds of Buffalo stampeding the cattle.
On arriveing at the North Platt and up the Sweet Water not knowing how to take advantage of mountain travel selecting feed ground etc. my cattle died by drinking poisonous or alkali water. So much so that my team and many others was so reduced that we could not travel until aid was sent us from Salt Lake Valley by those who had emigrated the previous year.
After a weary march of four months arrived on the site of Salt Lake City Sept. 23, 1848 with just one half the animals I had when leaving the Mis[s]ouri.
Early in Oct. in company with Genls. G[eorge]. D. Grant, William H. Kimball and some twenty others I was sent East to aid the last companies of the hand cart emigration who were yet some 500 miles from the valley and reported in a suffering condition. On arriving at the head of the Sweetwater river the weather became very cold, snow falling deep and no tidings from the Emigrants[.] sent forward messengers who returned reporting the critical condition of the handcart companies. We pushed on through snow and cold meeting them near the Platt[e] river[,] found them suffering from cold and hunger, much of which it was impossible for us to relieve, but we were enabled to bring them along slowly. In the snow and intense cold we were reduced to ¼ rations very many of the people falling by the wayside in spite of all our efforts burying as many on one occasion as 16 persons in one grave, but as we journeyed homeward in a few days began to receive additional aid from the valley of teams and provisions until arriving at the South Pass some 250 miles from Salt Lake[,] we were enabled to get all that remained of these companies into wagons and could now make good progress toward home. Here (South Pass) General Grant and Col. Kimball left me in charge of the company which finally arrived in Salt Lake on the last day of Nov. with 104 wagons and teams winding their way over the Big mountain. This indeed was a grand sight to us as we looked back upon the hardships and sufferings of this most critical campaign of my life. The hardships and sufferings of this company of people can never be told. Found my family all well.