Louisa Barnes Pratt journal and autobiography, 1850-1880, Volume 7, circa 1852, 145-51.
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President Young said I must go: that I must do what I could, and he would assist me. When I had decided to go, and asked strength and courage of the Lord, means came flowing into my hands. Things I had thought of no value, that I should throw away were sold for a fair price, to those who were not of our faith, or who were not prepared to go at that time. The Pres’t ordered my wagon made ready, a thousand pounds of flour was allotted me: a yoke of oxen in addition to what I owned: a man hired to drive my team. Fifty dollars worth of store goods was appropriated to clothe myself and children. this with what I obtained by my own economy made me very comfortable. I began to feel myself quite an important personage! It was hard for me to move the dread of, (as I felt,) a never ending journey!
I gave my eleven dollar house to a neighbor, who moved it across the river to Canesville. I started on the dreaded journey with a saddened heart, affecting to be cheerfull as far as possible! My good teamster was not permitted to continue with us, having been sent back to Iowa to bring on families left behind. The one hired was a stranger. The question whether he would <be> companionable or agreable, could not be a consideration; however important, it might be to us, so immediately concerned. We were organized in Pres’t Young’s fifty wagons, with Captains of tens; a head commander over all. Six hundred wagons in the whole company: travelling three abreast. as we made our own road, we could as easily make a wide one. We camped at Elkhorn river more than two weeks, waiting for others to join us. We were thirty miles from our starting point. While we lay encamped a sister by the name of Taylor died with the measles.
It was a sorrowful affair! She left a husband and four children to bewail her loss! To make a lone grave by the way side at the beginning of our journey, caused our hearts to flow out with sympathy for the poor young girls, left to pursue the wearisome route over the deserts without a mother! The company were generally healthy: even those who started on beds, were soon able to enjoy the amusements accessible to all such as climbing mountains and picking wild fruit. The gloom on my mind wore gradually away. When I had been three weeks on the way there was not a more mirthful woman in the whole company. The grandeur of nature filled me with grateful aspirations. The beautiful camping grounds, which were so clean, that one was led to conclude no human foot had ever trodden there! So green was the grass, so delightful the wild flowers, so umbrageous the grounds on the banks of the rivers!
The Pres’t counselled us to rest from traveling on the Sabbath day. He said, “write it in your day book when you travel on Sunday, then notice your success through the week, and you will find more time lost through accidents than you had gained by traveling on the day appointed for rest.” We were convinced of the truth of his remarks, were willing to rest from our labors and assemble ourselves together for publick worship. Sometimes the whole camp of six hundred wagons would be within visiting distance, then indeed it was like a City, of tents and wagons. The cheerful campfires blazing at night, far awayfrom the civilized world, reminded us that our trust must be in the Lord. He who clothes the lillies of the vallies, and notices even the little sparrows, would assuredly watch over us.
When we came to the Buffalo country, we were full of wonder and admiration. Nothing could be more exciting than to see them in large droves or herds, marching as orderly as a company of Soldiers: nothing seemed to daunt them. If they were headed towards our traveling companies, we would make a wide passage for them to cross our path and they would march along so majestically with their great bushy heads, turning neither to the right or left, not seeming to notice us at all; while we would stare at them with breathless anxiety, thinking how easily they might crush our wagons, and do us great injury were they to become furious. The men would not fire upon them when they <were> near us, but follow them to their haunts, capture one, kill, and haul it to camp with two yoke of oxen. The meat would keep sweet without salt till perfectly dried.
Nothing I have ever seen amused so much as watching the bufaloes. As well as I loved the meat when I saw the men pursuing one intending to kill him I always wished in my heart, he might elude them and escape with his life. I have seen them wade into the deep water almost over their backs, knowing the men could not follow them prompted by instinct they <were> impelled to strategy, like human beings. I felt it a crime to destroy the life of such a knowing animal. The Platte river country was beautiful! The women in small companies were often seen walking on its banks by moonlight, bathing in its waters; our hearts at the same time glowing with wonder and admiration at the beauty and sublmity of nature; alone in a great wilderness, far from the haunts of civilization; none but an occasional red man wandering along in search of game to gaze on the beautiful scenery and pluck the wild fruit.
On sweet water we camped for two weeks or more to recruit our teams; but it proved fatal to many. There being alkali in pools about on the range, the cattle drank it and several of them died. While we remained there teams were sent by the pioneers from S Lake to meet our company and help us on our journey. This gave us new courage. My daughters wore out their shoes, and
made I made them mocasins of buckskins. We had many rambles on the steep hills where we could overlook the surrounding country. The men talked of the great future when the “Brass Horse” would be winding his way over the silent vallies, and through through the rocky mountains; and thus pave the way for teeming multitudes to locate on the beautiful pararees! We traveled hundreds of miles without seeing a single tree.
When at length we came to a lone cedar tree we stopt our teams alighted and many of the company walked quite a distance for the pleasure of standing a few moments under its branches. Looking up we saw something lodged among the thick boughs, apparently for concealment. The boys tore it down. Wrapt in a thick buckskin, or rawhide, was an Indian papoose. There was a horn of powder and I think a knife. The men caused it to be replaced. A strange idea of a burial have the poor savages! Independence Rock was another novelty. The size was immensly large and rather difficult of ascent. A thousand names were inscribed on the rock, which proved we were not the first adventurers. Freemont had been there: also the pioneers to Salt Lake valley. We left our names with the rest, and as we desended in a crevice of the rock saw water dripping down into a Spring.
With much exertion we crowded through a narrow passage, and got to the Spring, and drank our fill of the sweetest coldest water I had seldom tasted. O, how delicious to the taste in a hot day! After being for months obliged to drink river water, (and sometimes from sloughs), to come to a cold Spring to quench our raging thirst was luxury we could appreciate. Although we had been compelled to leave Nauvoo we did not feel like outcasts. We realized that our Heavenly Father had made a beautiful world, and desired that his children should enjoy it; and if our enemies would not allow us to remain neighbors to them because of our being peculiar in our religious views, we found by launching out into the wilderness, how much romance and beauty, there was in nature, where she dwelt alone!
We found there was room for all. It is wisely ordered that those who are not congenial to each other can separate, and live, not as enemies. As we drew nearer the place of destination our hopes began to brighten. Runners from the camps already landed in Salt Lake Valley, came out to meet us with cheering news. A little Scotchman told us that Soldiers from the mexican war were on their way home, coming in the north route from California. That inteligence had reached the pioneers that Elder Addision Pratt was <in> their company. He says to my daughters, “I shall hasten my return, and go out to meet the battallion boys, shall see your father before you will; shall have the pleasure of informing him that his family are in the company and will soon be in the valley.” Our hearts began to swell with joy in view of of the prospects that were before us.
Aug 19th day Still traveling through Canyans [canyons], deep mudholes, willow brush, big rocks, steep hills, ojects that seem almost insurmountable, still nothing impedes our progress! Slowly we move along, gaining a little every day. We find an opening every night for camping, clean and pleasant. I feel now as if I could go another thousand miles. Frances our second daughter makes her fire the first of any one in the morning; it is her greatest pride to have people come to her to borrow fire, and praise her for being the lark of the company. Going through the willows a slat was torn off the chicken coop and the only surviving hen was lost out. We did not miss her till we camped at night. When the children found she was gone they could scarcely be restrained from going back on foot to recover the lost treasure. “Such an extraordinary hen, that knew the wagon where she belonged, and laid all her eggs in it and had travelled a thousand miles!”
20th This morning arose with cheerful spirits, anticipating the arrival of our Camp in the desired haven. We begin to think of green corn, cucumbers: how delicious they will be to the poor fasting pilgrims! We have ascended an eminence, where with a spyglass we can see the great Slat Lake in the valley of which the Saints are located! our hearts leap for joy!
21st day. yesterday P M -- we drove our teams into the centre of the town (so called).