Hobbs, William, "From Missouri to The Valley, 1,000 Miles by Hand-cart," Deseret News, 4 June 1921, 4:8.
We sailed from England on April 11, 1859, on the sailing vessel, "William Tapscott," from Liverpool, landing in New York May 15. We left New York by boat, called the "Isaac Newton," going up the Hudson River to Albany, and took the train there for Toronto, Canada, by the Niagara Falls route. From there we went overland part of the way, and on railroads part of the way to St. Joseph, Missouri, then to Florence, Nebraska, where we waited two weeks, for the hand-carts to come from St. Louis.
When the hand-carts arrived, they were put together for the journey to cross the Plains. I was employed by George Q. Cannon to drive an ox team, three yoke of oxen, the wagon being loaded with flour. The train consisted of five wagons loaded with different kinds of provisions. The wagon train always stayed in the rear, the hand-carts going in front. One hundred pounds of flour was put into handcarts, as there were not teams enough to haul all of the flour. The company had so many trunks that they had to be left on the camp grounds, under guard.
We started out on our long journey singing a song known as "Hand-Cart Rolling." George Q. Cannon came out to the first camp that we made and stayed with us that night, then bade us "Godspeed," and a captain was appointed for each ten cars. We had a string band along with us. Brother [Ebenezer] Beesley was the leader of the band which consisted of two violins, a bass viola and a piccolo. They made good music, music which cheered us on the journey.
All the men who were strongest were put to guarding the cattle at night, taking shifts in their turn. Thousands of buffalo were in sight almost continually on the Plains. You could buy all the buffalo hides you wanted for a dollar per hide. There were buffalo skulls on the route, with the names of the captains on them who had gone before us.
The first Indians we encountered were the Pawnees, who swarmed through the camp, the old chief having a lot of ponies which he wanted to trade for a white woman, and would not take "No" for an answer at first. He finally left without his white woman. Some of the young bucks started out and killed a buffalo and brought it into camp and cut it up for us. They camped with us that night, and the next day they hooked on to some of the hand-carts, with their lariats and pulled the young girls' hand-carts by the horn of their saddles.
There was a great stampede in those days for California Gulch, at Leadville, Colorado, and hundreds of people were coming and going along the route, so we had plenty of company as far as Ft. Laramie, Wyoming. An outfit from Missorui overtook us and camped with us a few nights. After they left us, we found a buffalo on the route which they killed, and put on the body of it a notice saying, "For the hand-cart company." We traveled on, and reached the Elkhorn River where we found a small settlement called Genoa, built by the Morning people, who gave us all the milk we wanted, and we got along all right until we reached Ft. Laramie, where we obtained more provisions. Many times on the journey we came to sand hills and had to take the provisions out of the carts and carry them to the top of the hills, then come back and pull the empty carts up the hill through the deep sand.
In passing through the alkali flats, two oxen I was driving died from drinking, alkali water. As they had not died from any disease, they were cut up and eaten by the company. When we got to Devil's Gate, we had only about two pounds of flour left for each person. The Ben Holladay stage drove by us every day, so we sent word of our condition into Salt Lake by the stage. We were looking for relief every day, and the last two days before relief came, we went hungry, having not a thing to eat. The next morning we saw teams in the distance, coming toward us, an they had provisions for us which were sent out by Brigham Young, in charge of John Taylor and Franklin D. Richards. We then had provisions, such as flour, bacon and onions, to last us through to Salt Lake City. The teams went on East to meet the last company that was coming out that fall.
We lost an old man on the journey by the name of Shanks. He was from Liverpool. He was afterwards found by the stage driver partly eaten up by the wolves. His wife died also during the journey.
We came across the Weber river and followed the old stage route over the Big and Little Mountain, and when we emerged from Emigration Canyon, there was the city lying at our feet that all our songs and hopes and prayers were centered in, and we landed in the Tithing Office yard thus ending our journey of a thousand miles by hand-cart.