Henry W. Bigler reminiscences and diaries, 1846-1850, Volume contents: (1) February 1846-November 1850, 91-106.
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Aug. 1848, Wed. 9th. This morning we got a late start, continueing down the river nearly an east course for some 15 miles and campted [camped], the country over which we past, is broken and sandy, no timber to be seen but willow and some cotton wood trees along the river. Here at this encampment the river makes a short bend in the shape of an ox Bow (U) and we call it ox bow encampment and is a very good place to camp, plenty of grass.
Thursday 10th. At 2 oclock this morning the camp was aroused by the g[u]ard that the horses were crossing the river leaving the "correll" that we had made by forming our wagons in a line across the narrow neck of the river, but it was found as we thought, no horses were missing. As soon as day light came we found that there was 2 horses and a mule was gone and it was soon ascertained that they were taken by Indians. The men went after them, overtook the red skins, got one horse and the mule an brought back to camp without much trouble except a slight wound[.] Mr. Dimond (who is not a Mormon) who received a flesh wound in his breast from a Indian who shot him with his arrow. One of our cows are missing, the calf came up with an Indian arrow, sticking in it. What became of the cow or how the calf lost its mother and returned to camp is rather a mystery, it soon died of its wound.
Friday 11th. Made 12 miles and camped on the river. A little dog belonging to the camp came up wounded by Indians it having staid back eating on the remains of the calf after we had left this morning. A fine hole of water in the river near camp for baithing [bathing] some of the boys gave this encampment the name of "Home's Hole".
Saturday 12th. Clear and very smoky. We traveled today rather a northwest course, some 25 miles and struck the Truckey [Truckee] river. Here we found the old road that we had been traveling on at the time we met Sam Brannan and Captain Brown about a year ago. The road today was rocky and bad our packers have left and gone ahead.
Sunday 13th. Clear, the camp laid by and held a little meeting. I baithed myself in the Truckey river.
Mo. 14th. At 7 AM the camp was on the march making today about 25 miles and campted at the Boiling Springs where the water is boiling hot of which we made our tea and coffee. There was a dog belonging to the camp that walked up to one of these boiling spring holes so near that he lost his balance and fell in and was scalded to death. In an instant it appeared to me that it was not a minute before the flesh was all off the bones. There is no cool water as we know of handy to this encampment either for us or our stock to drink. When we left camp this morning the road was sandy for about 8 miles, the balance of the way a hard smooth good road.
Tuesday 15th. In consequence of no fresh water we rolled out at 11 oclock last night for water and grass, had a good road and the moon shone nicely and bright, almost as day. At 6 this morning we reached the sink of Marys River (or Humbol[d]t River) where we halted and went into camp for the day. There is not much water, stands in holes and is brackish, the cattle do not like it. One of our cows mirred [mired] and in her exhertion to get out of the mud broke a blood vessel and died. This evening 18 emigrants wagons rolled into our camp and encampted for the night. They were from the States bound for California. They said they met our packers about 40 miles ahead who had traveled about 100 miles without water. We got but little news about Salt Lake matters as they did not come by way of Salt Lake Valley. I however met with one man and his wife that I knew and was at the time members of the church in good standing but now it appeared to me they were disaffected and was on the eve of apostaty [apostasy]. He had wintered last winter in Salt Lake Valley but left in March and went to Fort Hall and came on with this emigration, indeed he said he was dissatisfied with the situation of the place (Salt Lake) and with the people and had left. He said the people was plowing and sowing wheat all last fall and all winter that they had put in about eight thousand acres in grain. His name is Hazen Kimball. To me Sister K. did not seem to be so bad as her husband in relation to Mormonism.
Wed. 16th. Made today about 20 miles and encampted where there is a little run[n]ing water and is better. Grass is scarce and our stock looks gaunt not having much to eat since leaving the Turckey. The road today was good. We are now traviling up Marys or Humbolt River. We met 25 wagons of emegrants.
Thursday 17th. Made 12 miles, here is plenty of good running water but not much grass. We were followed all day at a distance by Indians, three however came into camp with bows and arrows and appeared to be very friendly. At evening when our animals were brought up we found that one of our horses had been shot by Indians. We took from our Indian visitors their bows and arrows and gave them to understand that they were our prisoners. In the meantime the wounded horse was brought and the wound was shown to them. They looked and appeared to examine the wound. They made a dreadful fuss and set up a pow-wow and the oldest actually cryed. The tears came freely and ran down the old mans face that I began to feel sorry for him. All at once he put his mouth over the wound and sucked out the poison for the animal had been shot with a poison arrow.
Friday 18th. This morning after giving our 3 Indian prisoners their breakfast and a little provision besides we gave them their bows and arrows and told them they were at liberty to leave. You could see and read it in their countenances that they were agreeably surprised and very thankful to have the privilege of going where they pleased. Moved camp today 12 miles or there abouts, the road very dusty. The country poor and covered with sagebrush. No timber except willows along the banks of the Humbol[d]t. Some of our cattle are lame and we have to throw them down and take the gravel out of their feet.
Sat. 19th. This morning we set off at the usual time made about 15 miles. We left a cow this morning, she was so lame that we could not drive her. Poor cow, her hoofs are wore out and of course she will make beef for the Indians. Here at this encampment we came in sight of a lot of Indians, men, and wimen and children. As soon as they saw us they all took to their heels and ran like good fellows and before we had been in camp two hours we discovered 2 of our horses walking around with arrows sticking in them. At this place there is no grass except along the river in among the willows which affords the Red Skins an [a] chance to skulk in and shoot our animals as they go in among the willows to feed. Our boys some rallied out, got sight of one or two Indians in the brush and fired on them, but to what effect I never learned besides the 2 horses that was shot there was a colt belonging to Sergeant Cory.
Sunday 20th. Camp laid by.
Monday 21st. Made today about 28 miles and campted. The road was so dusty that I could not see the next wagon in front of me. Two more of our horses and 2 colts we find are shot with poison arrows. In traveling up this river the willows are so thick in places on our route that our stock are shot in broad daylight as we drive them along the road and it would appear that the Indians prefer horse beef to any other as but few of our horn stock is shot by them.
Tuesday 22d. Made about 10 miles had a good dusty road, made an early encampment as here is plenty of good grass. This morning we were obliged to leave one of the horses that had been shot by the Indians.
Wed. 23d. Made about 18 or 20 miles. We were obliged to leave another wounded horse to die by the way for the Indians to eat.
Thursday 24th. Good road, made 15 or 16 miles and went into camp early. Here is plenty of grass and good water.
Friday 25th. This morning we found a horse missing, either strayed off or stolen by Indians. Nooned about 18 m. and campted. 7 Indians came in and appeared friendly and said they would not shoot our horses.
Sat. 26th. Good road, made about _____ or 20 miles, the wind blew and it was very dusty and disagreeable, was cloudy in the afternoon it rained a little. We met 10 emegrant wagons. The soil of the country along here is good but there is no timber of any kind but willows along the river.
Sunday 27th. Laid by, here is good grass and at 3 oclock p.m. the camp came together at brother Addisons Pratt's wagon where we held prayer meeting. Just as meeting was over Captain S. Hensl[e]y and company of ten men on packs came up. Mr. Hensly said it was not more than 380 miles to Salt Lake by taking a new route he had found and had just came, saying the route or road was good and easy to be found and it would save us 8 or 10 days travel and advised us not to go by way of Fort Hall which was our intention. Mr. Hensly said he had got defeated in attempting to go by "Haistings [Hastings] Cut off [Cutoff]" and had turned back and by so doing had discovered this new route and found it much nearer than the one he was trying to travel. We got a way bill or guide from the Captain and concluded to follow it.
Monday 28th. Fine and warm. At about 7 we were on the march, had a good road and blessed with plenty of dust, making 22m. I wrode horseback driving horses today for a change and not being use wriding horseback I got very tired and feel about half sick. This is my birthday according to my fathers family record. I was born A.D. 1815.
Tuesday 29th. Made 18 miles, past over the point of a hill into a valley where we had good camping. A company of emegrants has rolled in sight of us in front and have encampted about a mile above us on the river.
Wednes. 30th. The road today was not so good although we made some 18 or 20 miles. We bought of the emegrants some bacon and buffalo meats and got a way bill of Mr. Childs the captain of the company of 48 wagons. The bill or chart claims to give a nearer rout[e] to Salt Lake than the one Hensly gave us.
Thursday 31st. We had plenty of dust today, made about 10 miles and went into camp early as there was plenty of good grass and water here Hastings cut off leaves the main road our right leading towards a low gap or notch in the mountain some 15 or 20 miles off.
Friday Sept. 1st. Had a very good road today, making some 16 miles and at 3 p.m. it became cloudy and cold, the wind blew from the N.W. and about sundown it rained a little.
Sat. 2d. Rained and snowed and was very disagreeable, made 10 miles and campted.
Sunday 3d. Cleared up during the night and morning is very cold. The tops of the surrounding mountains are white with snow, heavy frost in the valley. As our present camping place is not very good it is thought best to move ahead until we find a better place and then lay over for a day or two, and we traveled some 20 miles before we found a suitable camping place, here several of Indians came into camp to trade, having dressed buckskins to give in exchange for knives, clothing and for powder; Some of them had guns.
Monday 4th. Camp laid by and killed a beef. Some of our boys went a fishing an[d] caught a nice lot of salmon trout.
Tuesday 5th. About 8 oclock we broke camp and had made about 2 miles then we discovered there was a horse and a mule missing. It was thought best to camp and hunt up the missing animals. It was further decided to send four men ahead to ascertain if possible where we shall leave this road and follow Captain Child's cut off and meet us day after tomorrow. This evening the boys who went to look after the lost horse and mule returned with them, but the mule has been shot by Indians through the thigh; at this encampment Lieutenant Clark lost a horse. He had eat something that give him the scours so badly that we were obliged to leave the poor animal to [--], of course the Indians or wolves without a doubt will have a feast.
Wednesday 6th. Good road today and we made about 20 miles where we found a paper with instructions from our 4 men to camp here. Here are plenty of chickings or grouse, some of which were killed by the camp.
Thursday 7th. At 8 we broke camp and went about 2 miles and entered a cannon [canyon] about 3 miles long and very rough in places, crossing the creek ten times the fording of which was bad in many places. At the head of this cannon we met our 4 men encampted for the night having made about 10 miles. Here is the head of the Humbol[d]t River where it comes out of the ground in springs, cool good water and after run[n]ing a few rods becomes quite a run[n]ing stream some three or four yards wide and deep, from which we caught some nice trout. The country looks nice and the head of the Humbolt is surrounded with low mountains covered with good grass and plenty of it. This evening the camp came together to hear the report from our 4 men who reported that they had been ahead about ten miles or more, had found no water, neither any sign or trace of Mr. Child's trail. Two of their men became sick and very thirsty for want of water and hence all had come back to meet the camp. It then was voted by the camp that we would not give it up, for according to Captain Child's map or way bill this must be the place to turn off, where upon it was decided that we send out 5 men to morrow morning taking a suply of water with them and search more close for Child's trail, while the camp was to follow after until they gained the Summit at the head of the river some six miles distant where there are a number of springs and there await until we hear from the five men or for a smoke that would be raised by our pioneers as a signal for the camp to come ahead.
Friday 8th. Early this morning our five men with our Hunter sit [set] out while the camp followed to the top of the mountain, at sundown four of the men returned to camp had found no water nor sign of any trail. At about 11 oclock in the night the other pioneer and the hunter came in, they had been a little further south, found a very little water but no trail where waggons had ever been. A meeting was immediately called to consider what was best to do whether to still continue to hunt Child's cut off or turn back and continue on the old road and if possible to find Hinsly's [Henley's] cutoff. It was voted to try the latter route which we think may be easily found judgeing so by the chart Hinsley gave us. And as out stock cannot be supplied with plenty of water from these springs and consequently they have not eaten much, it was decided that the camp roll back to our old camp ground where both water and grass is plenty and lay over til tomorrow and let the stock fill up and the next day take a fresh start on the old road for Hinsly's cut off.
Sat. 9th. Rolled back to where we left on yesterday morning, arriving there about noon. I make the following from my journel namely, from Captain Sutters to where we st[r]uck the Trusky [Truckee] river 230 miles, and from the bend of the Trusky [Truckee] to the sink of Humbol[d]t river 45 miles, from the sink to this encampment the head of the Humbolt 313 miles, total, 588 miles.
Sunday 10th. Fair and nice. At half past 8 a.m. we was on the march, passed over the mountain on a N.E. direction from our camp into hot Spring Valley, making about 24 miles and campted. About 6 miles before making camp we past hot run[n]ing water. Some Indians came in to trade. Wood at this camping is scarse, grass and water plenty.
Monday 11th. Good road today, rained some this morning, made about 15 m and campted, plenty water but no wood but sage brush.
Tuesday 12th. Clear, camp made about 4 miles and left Hot Spring Valley and passed over some tough broken country, the road in places very rocky. Made today about 16 m. and campted on the head of Goose Creek that seems to abound with plenty of mountain trout, grass not plenty and for wood there is plenty of dry willows.
Wednesday 13th. Cloudy and quite cool. We continued down Goose Creek some 15 miles, had a good road except two or three miles in a cannon that was rough. At this camp I caught a nice mess of speckled trout. Plenty of wood and grass here.
Thursday 14th. Clear. This morning an Indian came into camp while we were at breakfast, having with him a mule that he wished to swap for a horse. James Brown gave the Indian a trade, no doubt but the mule was a stolen one from some of the emegrants. After breakfast we were on the march, continued some 6 miles where the road lead into the mountain, the road leading up the mountain and near the top we campt near a spring of running water, making today about 12 m. grass good but not plenty. This last end of the road is steep. This morning we sent some men ahead to hunt Henslys cut off and after dark they returned to us reporting they had found it in about 8 miles ahead! This was good news to us for we do not wish to go by the way of Forthall [Fort Hall].
Friday 15th. Camp rolled out this morning in fine spirits, everybody feeling first rate, no one feeling out of sorts, and after traveling about 8 miles we came to a chain of low mountains and nearby on our left stood two towering rocks near each other which Brother Adison Pratt gave the name "The Twin Sisters". [illustration of the twin sisters] In the neighborhood of the sisters there are masses of rocks piled up a number of them, and this place was described on the chart we got of Hens[e]ly and was easily known and at this place we found Mr. Hen[s]l[e]ys "Cutoff", leaving the fort hall road we traveled east over rocks of granite and through sage brush for five or six miles and encampted on Cashier Creek, traveling today all told about 13 miles. Here is plenty of wood and poor grass for our animals, water plenty.
Saturday 16th. Continued down the creek some ten miles and campted for the night, wood and water plenty, grass rather scarce. We were met today by a party of Snakes (Indians) eleven in number on horseback and to me I thought they were inclined to be saucy. The road today was good.
Sunday 17th. Last night Azariah Smith one of the night gard lost the silver case from a valuable silver watch belonging to Ephraim Green and some little time was used up in hunting it but it could not be found and how it was lost the guard could not tell, it was all a mystery. Here we leave the Cashier Creek it runing northward, we continuing our course east having prity good road and encampted on the side of the mountain that was on our right on a small creek that is nearly dry, grass good but not plenty, wood plenty, the country poor no timber except some willows, but the mountain is covered with cedar. Made only 12 miles and went into camp early.
Monday 18th. This morning we can see what we suppose to be Salt Lake some twenty or thirty miles off. At this encampment I think there is indications that gold might be found, today traveled across a sage plain and campted on Deep Creek, making about 20 m. here is plenty of grass and water, 11 Sho Shoneys on horse back came in to trade and will camp with us to night. Sho Shoney means in english Snake.
Tuesday 19th. Made about 18 m. Here is plenty of grass and water, road good except sage brush we had to travel over and through as usual since leaving the forthall road.
Wednesday 20th. Lost a cow last night and what be came of her we do not know. Made today some 12 or 13 miles and campted by a spring of brackish water and feed poor.
Thursday 21st. Rained a little, made some 18 or 20 miles and campted on the west bank of Mud[d]y Creek. Here the boys caught fish most as fast as they could throw in their hooks and take them out, the road today good. The camp is now in sight of Bear River and all hands are mary [merry] and full of glee and the camp has the promise of a new song composed for the occasion by Brother Demmitt [Dennett] to be sang tomorrow evening.
Friday 22d. This morning in crossing the Mudy one of our wagons broke down. It was mended and soon we came to Bear River (Malad) the crossing of which is good and campt for the night on the east bank of the river and in consequence of the break down we did not make over 6 or 8 m. I think the Mudy has an appropriate name at least the crossing was so bad that a person would almost think the bottom of the creek had fallen out. Soon after we went into camp a fine shower of rain fell but about dusk it cleared up and every man had brought in his tithing of wood in order to have one good camp fire for all togather around to hear the new song. After prayers and supper was over the boys, I will say the camp just injoyed themselves in singing, telling stories, cracking jokes on each other etc., and we had a good time and the evening passed off pleasantly. From the best information we have we are now within 40 miles of Captain Browns, the first settlement and about 70 from Salt Lake City.
Saturday 23d. Made only a few miles and campted. We are now traveling south.
Sunday 24th. Good road, made some 18 or 20 miles. Our young stock are very tender footed especially the calves, we can hardly drive them. Yesterday some parts of the road was gravely. We seem to be travling down a fine open valley several miles wide with high ranges of mountains all around but we see no timber of any kind to amount to anything except it is in the mountains near by on our left where we see some cedar and pine, not plenty at that and every appearance hard to get but the soil of this valley is good covered with the best of grass.
Monday 25th. Made today about 15 miles the road good and although good yet we had 3 wagons to break down! We campted on the bank of Ogden Creek near a small settlement of Brethren. It is here where Capt. James Brown lives. I believe he and the few Saints had bought out an old mountaineer and trap[p]er by the name of Goodger [Goodyear].
Tuesday 26th. Laid by, the day was spent in repairing our broken down wagons as also in eating roasting years [ears] or young corn & melons which to us is a lux[u]ry indeed. All hands buisy at something, washing clothes, shaving beards, cutting hair etc. was the order of the day. I understand it is only 25 or 30 miles to the Great Salt Lake City, here the camp begins to break up, a few who have friends here will stop while the most of us will continue our march to the city. Some scamp has taken my Spanish spurr without leave.
Wednesday 27th. This morning the main part of the camp made a move, some however remained behind at the settlement while a few sit [set] out on horse back for the city. The camp made about half the distance and campted for the night.
Thursday 28th. Arrived at the main settlement, here is a city laid out and is called Great Salt Lake City.