Zadoc K. Judd autobiography, 1903-1907, 33-36.
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This man Sutter had two small brass cannon which he proposed to sell. It was proposed that the Battalion boys buy these cannon, and take them to Utah as a present to the authorities there. The cannon were bought, each boy paying a small pinch of gold to make up the price, which was about seventy-five dollars apiece. They were loaded into the wagon ready for transportation when all were ready to go.
It was decided that we would make a wagon road over the California mountains which would shorten the distance a few day's travel on a new route.
None were to go further than a little valley until all were there, for we must travel together in order to help each other work the road and be a protection against the Indians. A few of the boys went there before the others were ready. Two of them became impatient and anxious to be doing some good, concluded that they would go ahead and look up the intended route, saying that they would be back in the course of a few days, but they never returned.
When the company was ready it started, following on their trail. After traveling a day or two, we came to a place where they had camped and near by where their fire had been was a pile of fresh dirt. This looked a little suspicious and a shovel was brought and in digging into this pile of fresh dirt, we found that our companions had been killed and buried by the Indians. We covered them up and put a few stones over their graves and cut their names, Daniel Browelt and John Cox, on a large tree near by. We journeyed on a few miles farther that day and camped. And when all was dark in the night, it was proposed that we load and fire one of the cannon to frighten the Indians, if any were near. We did not know how much it frightened the Indians, but it frightened our stock and they ran and scattered, so it took nearly all of the next day to find them.
After traveling from here, we saw several parties of Indians, some of whom were wearing the cloths our comrades had worn. We did not molest them but traveled on in peace, occasionally stopping to do a little road work. We made good progress on our journey and left behind us a good road, until we got nearly across the mountains. In coming down a canyon we came to large rocks which were impassible with the wagons. They were from eight to ten feet high.
We had no hammers nor drill with which we could do anything with the stone. It seemed almost an impossibility to go further. Finally some one suggested that we build a fire on the rocks, and as there was plenty of dry logs and brush near, there was soon a good fire blazing on each rock that lay in our way. When the fire had died down and cooled off a little, we found that as far as the heat had penetrated, the rocks were all broken in small pieces which were soon removed with pick and shovel and another fire built with the same result.
After building three or four fires, we found that the rocks were not much in our way, and we soon had a good wagon road right over them, and we were a short distance of the old wagon road on Truckee River.
While crossing over the mountains, the wagon that I was interested in broke down and was left by the roadside. We got all of our effects out of the wagon and put them on pack animals.
We now had no more road work to do and concluded that we would divide into two companies, pack animals and wagons. I was with the company of pack animals and we could make better headway than the wagons, so we traveled ahead and left them.
All things went well until we reached near the upper end of the St. Mary's River. One day when camped for noon, one warm pleasant day, some of the boys stripped off their clothes for a bath in the river, I with others. We all had a fine time until I found a hole too deep for me to wade in, and being no swimmer sunk to the bottom. When rising again to the surface, some of the boys saw that I was in trouble, for I soon went to the bottom again. One man, a good swimmer, soon came to my rescue and when I came up again, he gave me a tremendous shove toward the shore. Of course, I sunk again, but he followed me and as soon as I rose he gave me another push for the shore. Down I went again and got another ducking. After a few such plunges I found myself on the shore and my head above water. This was the second time I came near losing my life by drowning. The first time, myself and several of my companions went into the Mississippi River for a swim. I got into the water where it was too deep for me to wade and sank to the bottom two or three times before I was discovered by my playmates; but when they got me out I was entirely unconscious and knew nothing about it, but after a time I came to and was able to walk home. I may have related this first drowning in the other book, but do not remember.
It seems my life was spared for some purpose and I hope will yet not be wasted for naught.
Nothing worthy of note happened on our journey until our arrival in Salt Lake Valley, September, 1848. Here I found my good old stepmother, Jane Stoddard Judd. She, with her family, had arrived the year before. . . .
Later in the season, 1849, my brother, Hyrum Judd, came in from Winter Quarters with his family.