Bolton, Curtis Edwin, to Curtis Bolton, 9 Oct. 1848, in Cleo H. Evans, comp., Curtis Edwin Bolton: Pioneer, Missionary, History, Descendants and Ancestors , 153q-153r.
October 9, 1848
My Dear Father;
The excessive fatigue of a tiresome journey is my only excuse for not having written to you before, but I am almost worn out with the incessant toil day and night of the last four months, and I feel as if the energies of both mind and body are perfectly prostrate and need a long rest to wind them up again to wanted activity. I am so limited for time that I shall be obliged to defer description of my journey until a future time. Suffice a few words at present. I left Winter Quarters with two little teams about 1st of June. From over exertion a sick ox died a few days after starting, and two or three weeks after a fine large ox of mine fell over a precipice while feeding and broke his back. This ended my loss of cattle, but weakened an already weak team so much that I was obliged to put away part of my load and had to double the team at every little pitch and at every little mud hole, if ever so small, and though I would start an hour or two before the rest in the morning and keep jogging all day then arrive at the camping ground three or four hours behind the head team. You can readily see that this mode of proceeding was wearing out both man and beast. My cattle got poor and disheartened and I was obliged finally to break off from the companies and travel alone. This I did from Independence Rock to within a few days journey of this place.
I then broke my axle and after making and breaking two others I would make no more as nothing but soft wood could be obtained, so I put most of my load into other wagons and left that wagon there. I start back after it tomorrow morning, having two high mountains to cross and a most horrid road, sharp turns, stumps, trees, mire holes, some of these so deep that the front of the wagon would plow into the mud a foot. This road was smooth and good when the first company passed over it. Just before I reached it, it rained for several days and the land being a deep, rich loam, a ½ dozen wagons would cut it all up.
I arrived here last Saturday a week ago and have been busily occupied in hauling fire wood and securing my tent against the winds. And I was so fortunate as to obtain an acre of corn. This I partly cut up and staked and ought to secure the remainder today, only that the mail leaves tomorrow morning for the United States and I must fulfill the filial duty of letting you know of my whereabouts and welfare.
"I and mine are in perfect health. Curtis (the baby who was born when the mother died) is remarkably healthy and happy. I am hourly expecting another little stranger to add to my present number.
"The purity of the air here is almost incredible to a person accustomed to only the impure miasma of the great portion of the U.S. I can distinctly distinguish hills and ravines and separate trees at a distance of fifty miles, see cattle ten miles and distinguish cattle and horses seven or eight miles, and easily distinguish my cattle over two miles. Anyone not accustomed to this purity would be constantly deceived in the distances. For instance standing above the city on the table land and looking over the city towards the Salt Lake, the towns appear about a mile off and the lake eight or ten, while the city is really five or six and the lake thirty five. The opposite mountains bounding the valley on the west appear about five miles, and it is over twenty to the foot. This purity is most conducive to health and not withstanding the most extreme exposure to which as a people are exposed daily and nightly from the new born babe who has to be dressed in the open air and its bed an old quilt laid upon the ground, to the aged and infirm who seem already to have lived out their days, all are becoming healthier and consequently happier and more cheerful.
"The cattle that were brought here last year are now the fattest I ever saw except those that have to work hard. They are in fine order and most generally go on a trot like horses. A perfect contrast to our newly arrived, leg-weary, half starved, who from Fort Laramie to this place have had to travel over five hundred miles where scarce anything grows but a bush called "wild sage" and the prickly pears, and over the black hills for several days we obtained no grass at all, but cut down a tree called red willow (like cottonwood) and let them browse. The lack of rain this season made pastures scarse. A large number of cattle died from having been turned out without taking care to water them at the running waters. When stopping for the night they would be thirsty and drink the first water they came to, surface water being everywhere to be found from the Platte there. They would drink that—which being filled with salerates was almost certain death. I took care to water mine at the running streams only—and lost none from poisen.
"At Independence Rock I gathered about 75 lbs of the most beautiful saleratus I ever saw. I wish I could send you some of it to let the Doctor analyze it. There are innumerable lakes of it covering the face of the earth in every direction commencing as soon as you approach the Rocky Mountains until this place, and here in the valley I can see a number of salerates Lakes. . . .[”]