Helen Mar Whitney, "Scenes and Incidents at Winter Quarters," Woman's Exponent, 15 September 1885.
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On the 5th we had the first rain of the season, accompanied by thunder and lightning. It cleared off fair in the afternoon, when some of father's wagons were started out, going three miles as far as his stacks. President Young had sent his camp three or four miles ahead. That evening another meeting was held at Sister Sarah Ann's room, for those of the two families that were not there the evening before.
Conference was held, on the 6th, at the stand, it being a warm pleasant day.
Wednesday.-Horace mentions his father's packing their provisions, and says: "We made the last packing arrangements to-day."
On the morning of the 8th the rest of the wagons moved out. Horace says: "Before starting, Father Lott blessed Orson and myself and gave us many good promises of health and safety-that we should return to our friends again, etc., etc. Started with my wagon at 11 a.m., myself and Orson, and went three miles, where the rest of the boys were camped. Brother and Sister Kimball went with us. Porter came up on horseback and informed us that P. P. Pratt had just arrived from England, and that John Taylor and Orson Hyde were soon expected." Father and mother invited Horace to return in the carriage with them, and his father--Bishop Whitney--to spend the night, which he accepted, "leaving the wagon in charge of Orson and little John." It was arranged for Horace to drive and care for the horses, and Orson was to attend to cooking and washing, etc.
The morning of the 9th witnessed the final departure of the Pioneers on their way to the mountains. They were four days traveling to the "Platte" river, to where I will follow them, after which the journal closes at Winter Quarters. Horace wrote: "Fair weather for traveling. Brother Kimball, Father, Brigham, and Dr. Richards started this morning, and went in Brother Kimball's carriage. Orson drove my team, and I rode Brother Brigham's horse as far as his camp, where we arrived about noon, seven miles from home. Went on three miles further and camped by the side of a beautiful spring, having made ten miles to-day. Orson on guard.
Saturday the 10th. -Fair day as usual. Father did not at first intend going on with us, but finally concluded to go to the 'Horn' by Brigham and Heber's request. Travelled about 15 miles to-day and encamped on the prairie near a ravine, where we could get water, about six miles from the 'Elk Horn.'
"Sunday the 11th. -Fair day. Traveled on and arrived at the 'Horn' about 2 p.m., and crossed the river on a raft drawn on the opposite side by cattle, with the assistance of ropes on either side. Brother [Thomas] Bullock, Dr. Richard's clerk, took down the number of wagons as they crossed, which amounted to seventy-two. Went about a mile after crossing down the stream and encamped-the wagons formed in a line; our horses being hitched to stakes, and fed on cottonwood trees, besides their allowance of corn. Brother Kimball told the brethren this morning he hoped that they would not go hunting or fishing, for if they did so, they should not be prospered as this was a day set apart for the service of the Lord, not for trivial amusements. Stood on guard to-night-the last watch."
Monday the 12th. -Brothers Brigham, Kimball, father, Brother Benson, O. Pratt, G. A. Smith, Dr. Richards, and a number of others went back to Winter Quarters. Before starting, it was agreed by the council that the remainder of us left behind should travel on about twelve miles to the 'Platte,' in order to get across an extensive bottom that intervened, lest it should rain and make it bad going, accordingly we travelled on and encamped on the banks of the Platte, the sun being about two hours high. Formed our wagons in a kind of semi-circle, under Stephen Markham's supervision, who has the cannon in charge. Brother Markham called the people together this evening and told them it was the wish of the Twelve that some should go ahead and look out for a good track to follow. Father [James] Case, Jack [Return Jackson] Redden, and two others volunteered.
Tuesday the 13th. -Father Case, J. Redden, and the two others appointed went out. Returned and reported this evening that they had ridden for twenty or thirty miles, and found a low marshy country in general.
Friday. -The Presidency having returned, the camp were called together and organized-two captains of 100's viz., Stephen Markham and A. P. [Albert Perry] Rockwood were appointed; also five captains of 50's and fourteen captains of 10's. There are 153 men and boys on the list of pioneers, three women, and Lorenzo Young's two little boys, and 73 wagons."
The names of the women were: Harriet Young, Clarissa D. [Decker]Young, and Ellen Sanders Kimball. Horace speaks of Brother J. C. [Jesse Carter] Little, who was among the late arrivals, bringing some valuable presents from Colonel Kane to President B. Young, father, Porter Rockwell, Father John Smith, and Aunt Sabra Granger, an old nurse in Father Whitney's family, to whom he sent a box of black tea. He remembered a number more. Among them was Don C., my husband's little brother, to whom he sent a complete and valuable set of fishing tackle, having seen him often during his (the Colonel's) sickness at Cutler's Park.
About 2 p.m. the camp started, and Father Whitney, J. C. Little, William Kimball, Joseph B. Nobles, Lyman Whitney, little John Whitney, and other returned to Winter Quarters, bringing the last mail from the Platte. We were glad to learn that they had gone on, thinking it would hasten their return home, besides their stopping so near made it seem much harder than as though they were traveling on. But we were not slow to improve the opportunities to correspond. Every messenger was the bearer of letters and tokens of affection while they remained there, for we did not know when we should have the chance again. How far they were going, or how long would be our separation, no one could tell. They were going beyond the trackless wastes of the Great American Desert-to what was then an almost unknown country, among the wild beasts and red men of the Rocky Mountains. Nor were they to turn back till they found some suitable spot where they could form a colony, and make homes that they thought would not be coveted nor encroached upon by their white brethren, who had so mercilessly driven them from their midst. The out look was indeed a gloomy one, and needed all the faith and hope that could be mustered to sustain us under the circumstances, for death was sweeping away its victims, and want and suffering seemed to be staring us in the face, which required courage, and a mighty effort to obtain the requisite amount, to be able to bear up under it. That was among the saddest chapters in any history; and it made so vivid an impression that though years have elapsed, and erased many a scene of later date they have not been able to obliterate it from my memory, nor can I ever dwell upon it without weeping. But the Lord was very merciful, and it was only through His interposition that so many were spared to meet again in the flesh. For all we were brought into tight places, and many even to the point of death, there came deliverance when most needed. There was always a bright star of hope glimmering between the heavy clouds as they bore down upon us, till at last it seemed as though the very heavens were being opened to pour down a healing balm upon the wounded and disconsolate-proving that "Earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot heal."