Oliver Boardman Huntington, Diary, Volume 9.
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- Source Locations
- L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Overland Trails Diaries, Transcontinental Migration Archive
- Related Companies
- Brigham Young Company (1848)
- Related Persons
- Hyrum H. Blackwell
- Oliver Duncan
- Absalom Pennington Free
- Hiram Gates
- Stephen Hezekiah Goddard
- George Davis Grant
- John Young Greene
- Lucy Groves
- Oliver Boardman Huntington
- Zina Diantha Young
- John Moburn Kay
- Maria Kay
- John Doyle Lee
- Isaac Morley
- William Gant Perkins
- Gardner Godfrey Potter Sr.
- Zerah Pulsipher
- Nancy Haven Rockwood
- Lorenzo Snow
- Levi Stewart
- Cyrenus Henry Taylor
- Martha Taylor
- Obed Thompson
- Obed Vaughn Thompson
- Daniel Hanmer Wells
- Ira Enos West
- Gad Yale
- Joseph Angell Young
- Joseph Bicknell Young
Tuesday May 16, 1848. I started and moved about 7 miles on the road to the valley where was a good feed and water and a large camp of wagons waiting for a general move to the Elkhorn River where the Company’s were to organize, and whenever any moved from the first camping place, they had to go in large numbers to awe the Indians; though they would attack any openly; warlike. Caroline, Williams wife rode out with us and stayed until Thursday, when he came out and paid us the parting visit. Then Presendia, William, Zina and Oliver were all together once more upon the earth and but a short time ago, a few months, and, not one of our Father’s family was with another and thousands of miles separated us. We were united and agreed, and felt to bless each other when William and Caroline left us and walked back 7 miles, to Winter Quarters and then they had 10 miles to go to get home. While Caroline was with, we had 2 joyful seasons of speaking in tongues, and much was said to our joy and comfort.
Friday 19th. The day was excessively hot. I rode down to the City (so called) in an ox wagon, and back again in a bug[g]y with William Cutter. His buggy looked curious, when I realized our distance from white settlements, the land of pleasures. Just after I left there the steamboat Mustang came up with a load of Mormons, mostly from England and Scotland, lead [led] by American elders, Franklin and Samuel Richards, Wheelock and Cahoon, with several English saints I knew, and I went up to see them.
Sunday 21st, on horseback and that night it turned off and rained very hard. Some of the English lay out doors and those in the little huts were not much better off, and the next day when I saw them them [they] were all very happy and content. It gave very curious feelings to see them there, who a few months before I had seen 5000 miles from there and in the day of trial, and across the Atlantic Ocean. All the surrounding circumstances ran through my mind at once, and it seemed as though I had a vision before my eyes. They were all as glad to see me, as they seemingly could be. Monday I returned up to my place of encampment in the midst of a rain and Tueday 23rd it rain[e]d all the forenoon while I was herding cattle, and the wind came with the rain so that we had to drive the cattle all in, about noon, to prevent them from running before the storm and thus we would lose them, we came near it as it was. The afternoon I can express only by saying it was clear, windy and cold as fall.
By this time our camp ground was well trod up and all dung and mud which made us all in a hurry to be on our journey; or on another camping ground. I was considerably unwell for three or four days previous to this. I had stood on guard half the night, the regular tower. Getting wood and water was quite a chore there but not so much, as often afterwards.
Wednesday May 24th. That morning we expected to move our camp and turned our cattle out in the yoke, (for every night, there we yoked and chained up the cattle) it was not long before one of the herd boys came in and told me my cattle (one yoke) were mired. I took chains and ropes and another yoke of cattle with three or four men and got the poorest one out, the boys having got one out previous.
We had only got that done and a runner came to us, saying that Brigham had come and were [we’re] to move on that day, so in with the herd.
But before this had taken place we had moved our wagons out a hill nearer the road and farther from wood and water, but a clean place and Heber’s and Brigham’s wagons had all formed into one circle, or corral, called in the west, and just as we were fixed, a rich man came moving on in a company by himself—seven wagons, and as was common he had a yoke of cows on one wagon between two yoke of cattle so as to break them to the yoke, but as was uncommon just as they had got opposite to our camp one of the cows, nice and fat, threw herself overend and broke her neck. Her throat was immediately cut. She was drawed a little way off the road and dressed. The owner took the tallow and 20 or 25 pounds of beef and gave all the remainder to be divided through the whole camp. It gave a plenty fresh meat to each family.
When we had all started from that place and just under way, a girl that had been some time wishing herself dead, sat on the tongue of a wagon and thought to lean against the foreboard, but learned too much to one side and fell under the wheel, which passed over her back across the shoulders, put one out of joint and crossed one hand, injured her considerable, but nothing to what I should think a heavy loaded wagon would.
We soon went on, but the first hill of consequence we came to the devil showed his spite, to hinder us again, for two of the horse teams bawked [balked] which detained us all, for in the wilderness is not a nice thing to be left behind to form a short acquaintance with the Indians, perchance it might be so.
Brother George Grant soon cured them for that time and all went on again, about 5 miles, from the old camping ground, and formed into a corral for a few days camping again.
About there was a fine range of cattle, but wood, ½ miles off and water ¼ a mile. That night I stood guard among the horses inside the corral the first half the night, and the latter part towards day the wolves gathered about in great numbers and set up such a howling that I was broken much of my sleep, which made me feel none the better the next day.
The cattle were surrounded with the strong guard at one side of the fence for them on one side. The sheep were in the center with the horses.
Thursday 25, May, 1848. Brother Cyrenus Taylor arrived in Camp with his effects for the journey, having found all he lost at the Erie. Zina had been troubled for several days with an ulcered tooth which made her down sick, but which broke, (having swollen her face extremely) on Friday 26th.
Saturday 27th after the teams had eaten sufficiently and the saints had all had breakfast the word was, gather up your teams and roll out to the Elkhorn River, which was about 15 miles, and which we done by sundown, and that night turned all the cattle loose to range and pick for themselves without any guard, and that that night came a very terrible thunderstorm, so that in the morning some of the wagons stood knee deep in water, but by forethought mine was dry.
Sunday May 28th, 1848, all day still and rested; although a kind of ferry had been made and near 200 wagons crossed and it was a very urging time nothing was done that day, and there then lay ready to be crossed near 200 more wagons were constantly coming.
The manner of the ferry boat was simple and good. A raft of logs very strongly pinned and fastened together with hewed slabs 3 inches thick, fastened across the raft at the right distances to receive the wheels of a wagon, and butmants [abutments] for alanding on either side of the river, then lastly of all to consider, was that it was situated in a very short bend of the river at the extremity and a chain was hitched from the raft to the shore, in a direction streight up from the center of the river at the extreme bend, so that when the raft was loaded (which took but one wagon) by letting loose the fastenings it swung within a few feet of the opposite butmant but had to be drawn back by a rope, and there was always men a plenty for that, and a wagon was crossed in five minutes the day through.
Monday May 29th 1848 all of Brigham’s team and company crossed the river and stopped just on the edge of the prairie and Tuesday we formed in a line nearer a good washing place about one half a mile up the river, and Wednesday 31st 1848 Brigham’s company was organized and I came into Brother Free’s company of ten wagons. Levi Stewart (clerk).
Thursday June 1st, 1848 H.C. Kimball’s company arrived from Winter quarters in the evening old Sister Taylor, Cyrenus’ mother died. She took the measels [measles] on the steamboat coming, and after them the canker set in and carried her off. She said all the time that she should die, she was mortified before death. The next day she was buried and the burial sermon left to be preached at the valley. The grave was dug very large, and for the want of boards hewed slabs were got and the corners let in together in the grave so as to form a kind of box. Three for a cover. She was let down on a board which formed the bottom. Many attended at the grave. The corpse was carried in a carriage and the mourners rode in Brighams carriage. She was carried near one half mile, and burried near the Liberty Pole erected by the first company of pioneers. That day Bro. George Thompson from Batavia came and the rest of some acquaintance, and behold he came unexpectedly to see his old neighbors wife, burried [buried].
He brought news from Winter Quarters that the Otve and Omaha and Pawnee Indians were all quarreling about who should have the vacated city; and it was probable, that the Siouxs [Sioux] would come and burn it that neither should make a kind of fort of it.
Saturday 3rd Brighams division or company got all ready to start (indeed near fifty had gone) and it looked likely to rain and he gave orders to tie up our teams and wait. We done so and there came a dreadful rain.
Sunday June 4th, Heber had a meeting in his division and Brigham had one in his. Met in the open pra[i]rie and had an excellent meeting, just the thing that I had long been wanting and it done me good.
Brigham spoke first upon our being free from our enemies and were where we could worship God as we pleased, and he wanted all to serve the Lord faithfully, to pray regularly, and not let the cares and bustle of traveling hinder any from doing the duty to God. Wanted every body to exercise faith for the safety of the Camp,and for all Israel. He strenuously enjoined upon all to be humble, peaceful, meek, long suffering and in the great troubles, bustles and cares of a camp life, never get out of patience nor get snappish or say anything to hurt anothers feelings. Be careful of one another.
Then he turned the meeting into a prayer meeting at the liberty for any to speak or pray as they felt. Several spoke; to my great satisfaction and benefit. The companies were then all organized and the word was given at meeting for a general start of Brighams camp on the morning following before the cattle were fed any. The Church was not exempt from wicked bad men even then going into the wilderness and good advice was given against them. They would follow on, and yet I feel to make great allowance for I know that poverty makes men dishonest when they would be otherwise.
Monday June 5th, 1848. We started before our teams had eat any and traveled 12 miles and camped on the Platt River, where is another Liberty Pole. Soon after we were started all the wagons topped which formed a string near 3 miles in length, and as I was near the hind end I saw a man come back for the Doctor; Sister Groves had got run over her body, and her leg broke. She was not likely to live. Now the Camp went as I might say feet firts [first] for it was organized as if Brigham was going a head his family and officers as near his carriage as possible, and then such as had a preference, or sought a preference <to be near his person; but when we came to travel he turned it about> the other way and those who had sought to go at the forward and were thrown behind.
Tuesday 6th, we did not get started until late and drove 13 miles. Nothing of importance occurred that day, although everything nearly seemed near for the camp life of traveling was only begun.
Wednesday 7th. Left our camp in place on the Platt River rather slow to give Heber a chance to overtake us, and besides, our teams were getting gradually enured to traveling. Traveled only 10 miles and that very quick as it looked likely to rain and was cool. It rained just as we came to Shell Creek, the bridge wanted repairing and for want of fair weather we corralled on the east side. A very good camping ground, plenty of wood for use of cooking and water handy.
Brother Potter killed an Antelope that evening, the first I ever saw.
Thursday 8th in the forenoon it raied and we stayed there all day. In the afternoon Cyrenus Taylor, Ira West and I went out hunting on horseback, saw one deer and some turkeys, killed nothing.
Friday June 9th, 1848. Travelled 18 miles. Some heavy sandy road all straight ahead almost dead level road all the way up the Platt bot[t]oms, and as yet we had not left them. That night we camped on the right hand side of a small Lake or glen, clear water and fish in it. About 2 miles from there to where we struck the loop fork of the Platt. That day Oliver Duncan was run over by a wagon and his thigh broke. He was one of Brighams teamsters, and B. set his leg. Weatherwas fine.
Saturday 10th. A warm day for man and beast. Sheep suffered much from a kind bearded grain that grew all over the prairies. Their point was sharp and bearded, so that they worked into the flesh and nearly killed many sheep, did kill some the year before. Watered teams twice, travelled 18 miles if I recollect right. This distance was all measured by the Pioneer company, from Winter Quarters to the Salt Lake, and posts set up every 10 miles.
Sunday June 11th 1848, the weather was still warm. Our camping place was at the mouth of Lookingglass [Looking Glass] Creek, one mile from where we crossed it.
At 12 o’clock the bugle was sounded at a signal for meeting in the corral. Bro. Morley spoke first upon the order of the camp and how teamsters ought to do. Then Brigham spoke and told how everybody must do; and that was to obey the orders of their respective captains of 10s or fifties. The order of the Pioneer Camp was read as a kind of sample for us. He gave liberty for all that did not want to go on with him to just withdraw from the camp whenever they pleased.
After meeting was near closed Brigham added that the Sab[b]ath had go[t] to be kept, that it must be reverenced on that journey as well as anywhere, except where the good of the Camp required labor. But individuals must keep that day for a day of rest and worship.
Towards evening a company of men was sent on to fix the bridge and ford, over the Lookingglass [Looking Glass] Creek, so that the Camp need not be hindered in the morning. The Camp traveled in two strings making two roads where there was not already, there being from one to four tracks considerable of the way.
Monday June 12th our roads were good and weather warm. Crossed Beaver River about noon. A rather hard ford, sandy botom and bank. That night we camped in the best feed and most beautiful country I ever saw, I think. On Plumb Creek, near where it empties into the South Fork; and close to where government had established a large Missionary station to convert the Indians, and learn them to live by farming.
There was two farms there, good, hewed log houses, rail fences and out houses. Everything convenient. The remains of all this stood; but a year or two previous the Indians had driven the missionaries all away and all was left without an occupant. So we occupied what rails we wanted for fire wood and some barr [bar] iron that was found. Traveled 16 miles.
Tuesday 13th. Had rather a hard road, many rivers to cross. Crossed Ash Creek and camped on or within one half mile of Cedar Creek where it was hard getting wood or water. Some wood was got from the ruins of an old Pawnee Village about one half mile off.
Had passed one other village that day, more entire, but deserted and left alone. Traveled 17 miles.
Wednesday 14th 1848. Roads some hilly for a prairie country though it was only now and then a small ravine except Indian creek which had steep banks. Traveled only six miles and three fourths and camped at the ford of the South Fork; where on the opposite side lay Lorenzo Snow’s camp. Zera Prilciphers [Pulsipher’s] 50 and John D. Lee’s 50 constituting Bro. Perkins, hundred. Had our teams turned out by noon. Wind blew a hurricane all day, so that it was unsafe to ford the river; the banks and bottom being sand and of a curious nature, easily moved, and the channels changing nearly every day. The river was about 40 rods wide, but we went one half or three fourths of a mile to get over, crooking about among the sandbars up and then down the river.
There was very little timber anywhere on the river and that was all cottonwood or willow, scrawny shrubby trees. The hills and highest prairies were growing sandy, feed rather poor.
Thursday June15th 1848. The teams of the companies that lay on the west side came over in the morning as soon as all had fed and doubled teams on all out wagons to help us over the river. Every wagon had from 4 to 10 yoke of cattle before it. Horses were not used. The nature of the sand would not allow a wagon to stop a minute, lest its wheels be burried or undermined. Water then was but about knee deep where we went.
The first few wagons that crossed sunk into the sand, and then the road became bedded harder, and curious the wheels would rise up on the sand, the sand break and let the wagon fall, striking hard and the same constantly repeated rapidly, gave a sensation of riding over a stony road.
After all were across we went about half a mile down the river and camped beside a little wood to wait for brother Kimballs company, to wash and blacksmith a little. A simple efficient moveable shop was soon set up.
In that wild wilderness country, was we were traveling and four camps scattered over a road of 140 miles, expresses and communications were constantly kept up, for we were in some danger from the Indians, and in much from government troops lingering in the West, for government being afraid of the Mormons and Indians, made forts or strengthened fortifications wherever the saints went.
When Winterquarters [Winter Quarters] was made, a fort (Fort Kearney) was made on the Missouri River below there. In the spring of 1848 just in advance of us a train was sent up to Grand Island in the Platt River to build a fort, right on our road about 200 miles from the Winter Quarters.
About 80 of our brethren were teamsters hired by the government for the summer, but just as were about all started on our journey intelligence came that all those men were discharged and sent away. A sad disappointment to them and a mean treachery by government officers. This with other circumstances seemed to indicate a plot against us when we should reach that wild country, and far [for] this reason it was Brigham’s orders for all the camps keep together until safely passed that country, that from that cause, by the blessing of God they might be over-awed; but much to our disadvantage to travel in so great a body.
A short time after we were camped on the west side of the South-fork. Squire Wells returned from Heber’s camp with a letter from him to Brigham and all the saints. It [is] written on the bank of Cedar Creek and the contents about this. The day after we left the Elkhorn River some of the herd boys came in and said that the Indians were driving off the cattle. A company, some horse and some on foot were immediately sent to bring them back. William Kimball, Eagan and Rix [Ricks] on fleet horses were first among the scattering lurking Indians, one of whom Egan discovered preparing to shoot William. A quick as thought Egan drew a pistol and discharged it a the Indian, his gun
fell he reeled a little and went off. The gun in falling went off and the ball lodged in the hip of Williams horse.
In an instant two Indians fired from ambush. Two buckshot lodged in the back of Rix who fell. The third shot hit the horse in the neck which made him wheel and go towards camp. A ball struck Egan on the rightarm [right arm] above the wrist and disabled it for further use. This pistol fell to the ground, he soon [w]as faint with the loss of blood and had to be held on his horse. This occurred about 4 miles down the river from the camp. A wagon was sent after Rix. The cattle were all drove to camp save one ox that the Indians killed and took off. (The firing I suppose) had assembled about 150 Indians, who when the wagon came took it down the river about a mile farther and plundered it of a great deal of valuable property and let them go back again. As soon as Rix arrived in camp, hands were laid upon him and he revived immediately Both the wounded were doing well. That day they were calculating to start, but this hindered that they got only four miles from the river.
All was well and doing well in his camp and there had been an addition of four since they left Winterquarters.
Friday June 16th 1848. The best part of the previous night, the wind had blown and rain fell most furiously in which many of our cattle broke loose and run forth on the prairie to seek shelter, but all I believe were regained. The guard (which was kept up every night) were constantly catching and refastening them during the storm. Yet some got away.
That night brother Kay’s little daughter died. She had long been ill. About noon Heber’s camp arrived at the ford but the water was too high for crossing. I rode over on horseback with Cyrenus Taylor but a sudden storm rising I did not go back that night, stayed with Presendia. Heber’s Camp consisted of 226 wagons, Brigham’s of 195 or 200.
Saturday June 17th 1848 An abundance of teams turned out and went over to double all of Heber’s teams and bring them over at once, that is in a continued string, and then it took nearly a half a day.
No accident happened. In the evening I baptized my little nephew Oliver Buell, eight years old.
A meeting was also called to enquire the minds of the brethren if we should start Sunday noon, as we had stayed in one place long enough, and it was a hay [day] and a half’s travel to any water from that river and over sandy roads mostly. The voice was to start, but on Sunday it pleased the Lord to give us another whole day of rest by sending rain, until it was too late for Brigham’s hundred to start, as Lorenzo Snow’s hundred and brother Perkin’s hundred in separate camps had to take the lead and started on Sunday afternoon the 18th of June 1848.
It was so late when the[y] were gone that we did not start, as we had calculated that day but started on Monday morning, June 19th and after we had traveled about 8 miles on bottom land, bluff and some wet strange looking wet land we stopped and bated for noon. Then after we had bated and traveled a couple of miles, came to a very sandy and hilly road of 6 miles. All dand [sand] hills, which took the ox teams until stopping time and as yet the teams had no water since morning, nor could they get any short of going 7 Or 8 miles farther.
After our teams had eaten a plenty (and it was tip top feed) we began to start on. Brigham and a few of the best teams had pushed on through the prairie Creek the nearest water, and the remaining teams stopped all along the road just as they pleased and just as it happened. The day was very warm and going very hard. Many teams were nearly done over. Some were quite and I saw one ox drawed off from the road, that dropped dead in his yoke.
It was a hard day on all and all were at Prairie Creek by sunrise the next morning; I started from the sand about an hour after dark with one other wagon only and got to the Creek just one o’clock. It was a dangerous night to our camp, but all came through safe. No Indians were seen, and I only saw one wolf, that came along close beside the wagon.
Tuesday 20th. As we had overtaken Snow’s and Perkin’s companies at prairie Creek we waited for them to start out and while waiting Heber’s camp came up and what a host there was around that Creek where there was not a brush; and a wide outspread level prairie as far as the eye could reach, and thousands of cattle. Antelope were very plenty that day and the day before. We were just in among the game and many antelope were brought in. They were easily got.
That day we traveled 13 miles and the dust flew very bad, so that we were all black at night, all of a color, and wagons full of dirt that the inside and outside were about of a color. Camped on Wood River, a good place for wood and water.
Wednesday June 21st. Traveled as near as I could judge 14 miles and stopped on a fine prairie full one mile and a half from the Platt[e] River whither we drove our cattle to water taking buckets with us. Here was plenty of old signs of Bufffalo.
Thursday we traveled near 11 miles and camped on the banks of the Platt where was a plenty of wood and water handy by. There was a post set up with 217¾ miles to Winter Quarters which however was too much for the route we came. On a little rise of ground east of the stake or mile post sister Vanfleet buried a little boy. Infant.
Friday June 23rd was a warm and dusty day, very uncomfortable. In the afternoon I went a hunting on Cyrenus, horse; saw one buck shot at three. Antelope all abreast about ¼ of a mile. Shot at a wolf near the same distance and saw many more. Got to camp just dark. Camp ½ mile from the Platt; very little wood. From this time had to burn considerable Buffalo dung which being pure vegetable burned much like the Irish turf or sod. The dung was thick in most places, and like chips and score blocks, for this and the sake of softening a hard word they go by the name of Buffalo chips.
This day and Saturday the day following we went through a great many prairie dog villages. This little animal is not quite so large as a wood chuck or full grown cat. Its head is like a squirrel, the rest of him is a little like a dog and sometimes it chirps more like a squirrel or some birds, than a dog, but the sound goes forth suddenly in succession some like the bark of a small puppy.
Saturday 24th we crossed a deep dry creek and Elm Creek. Distance from Winter Quarters 221. Plenty of Elm here but no water.
Camped on the open prairie 4 or 6 [5?] miles from timber, beside a kind of standing creek, the water was good and <a> plenty of chips. Feed was midling good.
Sunday June 25th 1848. Moved about 6 Or 7 miles close beside the river, plenty of wood on an island close by. L. Snow and Perkin’s camp lay a little down the river from us. There was the first fresh sign of Buffalo seen.
Here the Platt[e] was near 2 miles wide and could be waded without weting a man’s pockets. Here we allstruck for the river as soon as wood and fires were on hand; each man with his shirt under his arm. Some of the women did not fail to join, a little above.
This place is 244½ miles from Winter Quarters. The head of Grand Island is about 23 miles below here according to Claytons account.
Monday June 26th, 1848. All the camp was busily employed some
hudling, some unloading and repacking, some fixing broken wagons and blacksmith shop well employed and as many hands as could work around it, and at an early hour 4 small colepits [coalpits] were burning. Snows, Perkins and Pulsiphers companies were also in waiting for Heber and employed as we were. And I can say that I never saw so busy a time as in traveling with the camp there was hardly ever a minute to spare to read write or even to pray. As soon as we stopped at any place I had to spring right to my regular daily duties, to get through by bed time (9).
Our daily tasks were regular. As soon as we had struck our wagon in the corral, unyoke the cattle, gather wood, or buffalo chips for cooking, and usually to save fuel, dig a hole in the ground about 3 feet long, one wide, and 6 inches deep. This prevented the wind from blowing the heat away. Our wood generally being dry, burned well.
The next thing was to get the cows (they were drove all together clean behind all the company) and milk, then drive stakes to tie the cattle to an[d] about this time the drove would come in and then get the cattle and tie them.
These were regular and sometimes as many more, according to camping ground, sometimes have to go a mile and a half for water and sometimes had to dig wells. each ten herded their cattle and every man and boy able to do it took their regular turn according to the number in the ten. In the ten I was in there was in there was an increase until the number of wagons amounted to 24 and 25 persons to herd, and it came each ones turn once in 5 days taking 5 to each days company.
The guarding of the camp fell one each man proportionally same in 7 and and sometimes 6 nights, and then half the night, only. The herding and guarding together with my daily tasks, kept me beat down and wore out all the time. The women were as well drove beat down as the men.
Sundays were scarcely a day or [of] rest nor could it be if we travelled on Monday.
Tuesday June 27th 1848. Bro. Kimball’s Camp came up and Snow’s started on. That afternoon as soon as Kimball came up by the help of the spy glass he discovered 2 mules and a horse on the other side of the Platt River which was near a mile and half wide there; 3 of his camp and one of ours went over and caught them, which proved to be as was supposed upon good grounds, traders horses that had got away.
In that wild prairie country, and among the buffalo especially, the tamest horse if he gets away will clear off from master and wagons will run as wild as the buffalo themselves in a day or two, and some will turn wild if they get among buffalo, if they have never seen them before.
A great many wagon tire[d] were set this day and on Wednesday 28th all the camps moved on 17 miles and ¼ except Snows who was ½ a days drive ahead. This was the first day we had seen Buffalo, and they were on the south side of the river.
Thursday June 29th traveled 16 miles. A buffalo was killed that day and we camped just at the foot of some very heavy sand hills which extended to the river. The next morning we crossed them, pretty hard work, and traveled 16 miles and camped by the best spring of cold water, and the largest I ever saw in my life. It afforded water sufficient to carry a sawmill or grist mill. It almost spouted (but boiled up); at the foot of a high bluff and on the level bottom land. It was pure, good tasting and just cold enough for drinking.
Saturday, July 1st, 1848. Traveled 9 ½ miles the most of the way heavy sand, roads. Crossed Car[r]ion Creek and camped close by the river and close to an island with wood on it 4¾ miles west of Car[r]ion Creek. This day we saw plenty of buffalow and their flesh abounded in camp at night.
This was the first I ever saw the buffalo roaming wild, and so near as to discern them minutely in every part. They are an easy animal to hunt. I could get within pistol shot of them easy, but they are very hard to kill. I might have shot some but it was late and 4 or 5 miles from camp, that I could not go to camp and get a team to haul it in. I thought it not right to shoot him for sport, or for what 2 could carry in to camp This camping ground is 203½ miles from Winter Quarters.
Sunday July 2nd. The day was fine. Heber’s camp within one fourth a miles and and an island of timber within 100 yards of our camp and plenty of grass one mile back . Sand bluffs a mile and a half back from the river. Thus we were well situated but that was to be the last time we could have wood on the north side of the river until we came to Fort Laramie 200 miles or more. Buffalo were plentiful and the trees were more smooth with their rubbing. Great quantities of their wool which they shed yearly lay all over the island, and all over the prairies (more thinly) for more than 100 miles great quantities were gathered by the camp, it is fine as sheeps wool and very serviceable.
Now here I have been telling of wor[l]dly matters in the records of a sabbath day but nowadays it is all sabbath with us and our whole time spent for Him. But to finish the Sabbath we had a first rate meeting between the two camps. Brigham spoke long. He spoke of our condition then and that we had no Christians farm to go around, as when coming through Mo. from Nauvoo, and speaking of the Sects he did not mean nor never did depreciate them all, nor did Joseph. Said he, “Their religion they [their] schools, their morality is all good as far as it goes. They are honest. I was honest when a methodist as now. But they may yet find a greater and better way with us. The Priesthood they have not got. But the time will come when the whole earth will know that we have the power of God with us, for we shall grow until we spread the Priesthood and its right and authority all over the earth until every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, for God will have his only begotten, in the flesh established and acknowledged. He is the only begotten by the Father—in the flesh. We are all begotten in some other way. I have many things to tell you when I have a time and place.
He said as I had heard him say before, that our enemies have always prophesied at every place we have ever settled “the Mormons cannot stay there long,” and it has always turned out so, but now they say, “if the Mormons get settled in the mountains all hell can not rout them. And that will be even so except we get divided and quarrel among ourselves. He prophesied that we should never be driven from there unless we done it ourselves and he was determined that the law of God should be observed by all that should go to that land; and if any man would mind his own business, not infringe upon our laws, be peaceable and not take the name of God in vain he was perfectly welcome to go with us, he being of the methodist [,] Presbyterian or any other faith, but they that lifted their voices in cursing this people and reviling them, I will just blot them out of existance, and if any man will curse and swear he can not have a place among us. Thus he spoke but his is far short of conveying all the ideas he did.
Brother Kimball related an accident that happened in his camp a day or two previous. A small boy of only 7 years old was run over his body by a wagon with forty hundred of freight in it. He was riding upon the seat with his Father the next day as usual, about his business. Nothing less than a miracle, Heber said.
Monday July 3rd 1848. Traveled 15 miles and camped between Black Mud Creek and North Bluff Fork having crossed 2 other creeks. Had some sandy hills to cross, and some near every day to Laramie.
Tuesday I think we traveled 11 miles, we did not always stop at points recorded as a place of a certain distance, therefore I will be less particular about distances except on Sundays.
Wednesday 5th the hunter for our ten killed 2 buffalo one of 4 that went with our teams to draw them in near 3 miles, and while there he shot a calf. Our ten being a double ten, gave us all we desired and some to spare, besides what we dried.
Thursday 6th. Every days travel was about alike and as near a monotony as anything I ever saw, the roads all near alike, each camping place alike, and all the time by the side of the River Platt. The most common days travel was 14 miles.
Friday July 7th as a little change from a monotony we passed over a very high sand hill, very high and hard to surmount. Feed began to grow short and the 7th was the last day we saw any buffalo, for the feed was too short for them to live. They are fond of short feed or grass and when they get into a range they feed it so close that the next year nothing scarcely grows, which is the nature of all prairies, feeding or mowing runs out the grass.
The prairies here are somewhat different from those in the states. Spots are very frequent where the ground is covered with a white substance, the thickness of a knife blade, tasting of salt strongly, of alkali and of salts, and yet it is near the nature of saltpeter so that it is called so. Cattle are fond of it and need no salt in this country.
There is a plant grows her resembling the poppy and affords plenty of opium. There is another much like sage and smells just like. Another smells and is much like the old eastern wormwood. There is the prairie tea and wild rose. Prairie apple and pea exactly. And the there is the prairie pine and cedar; growing about a foot or 18 inches high, taste and smell much like the trees.
After all the Indian soap root, which they use in the place of soap a good substitute grows on sandy land. These all grow wild and a great many other species of tame fruit shrubs and plants. A very great variety of bitter weeds adorn the prairies.
Saturday July 8th 1848 we passed the lone tree cedar traveled only 10½ miles and camped opposite the mouth of the Ash and Cedar. Ash on the bottom land and cedar on the bluffs. This was on the other side of the river from us.
There was six wagons camped on that side. 2 were Indian traders loaded with buffalo skins tanned, and the other four were Mormon runaways from the valley, though brother Fields was with them going back on business. Good news came from the valley but rather hard times for provisions, the growing crops gave them good hopes.
Sunday July 9th was my day to herd cattle which I done all day. We were then 380½ miles from Winter Quarters and had traveled 78 miles the last week. As yet the camp and in fine, all the camps had got along well, and with few accidents. Three had been run over in our camp and one wagon turned over which was brother Gates’. He blamed his women severly for it, and what mortified him worse than all, it disclosed a bbl. of wine; before unknown. The wagon turned square bottom side up, no one in it. That night he quarreled with his wife and whipped. The guard about 11 o’clock saw it and when the hour came to cry, he loudly cried 11 o’clock, all is well and Gates is quarreling with his wife like hell.
I wrote a letter to my wife and sent it to post by brother Fields on the 9th of July.
On Friday before, the 7 we first saw stone sticking out of the bluffs along the river and Sunday high bluff rocks.
Monday July 10th 1848. Warm and dusty roads but good. Traveled 17 miles. Crossed Watch Creek and Camped by side the Platt in good feed for cattle.
Tuesday 11th traveled 15 miles. Towards night 3 Indians came across the river to us. One held up a fine sword as if for sale, no one paid any attention to them and they soon rode off on a gallop over the prairie bluffs out of sight.
About 9 o’clock that night 3 Young men from the valley came into camp. Had left their teams with a company of about 18, that came together with them from the valley, at brother Snows Camp 12 miles ahead of us. John Green, Joseph Young and a Young Allen were the three.
John Green had only been 4 days in the valley from California when he started with the company of teams to met us.
All was pretty well in the valley considering circumstances. A great scarcity of provisions, but a good prospect of crops. He had been to California for mules and cows and could get good mules there for $20 and $25 cows and dollars, which were 25 in the valley.
Wednesday 12th were very late in getting started on account of setting some tires and fixing wheels that gave out the day before just at night.
That day we had a little change in the face of the country from the monotony which had hitherto marked the country.
A little after noon we came to cobble hills very high stony peaks and then 1 ½ miles from there we came to ancient bluff ruins which very closely resembled the ruins of castles and towns in the old countries. I did not go among them, but at a distance down a water course which was then dry, I saw a large mass of cobble stone, cemented with a fine and solid cement as I ever saw. Whether formed by nature or art I could not tell.
There is a large portion of the bluffs along here very high and in shapes and appearance like ruins of art. From cobble hills we could see chimney rock, 30 miles distant, on the south side the river rising high up towards the heavens a small ship perpendicular rock like a factory chimney.
Camped that night about 4 miles from the ruins and in the neighbourhood of Snows, Perkins and Pulsipher’s campanand [camp and] opposite an encampment of Sioux Indians. Many were in our camp soon, with their interpreter trading moccasins and skins for a little corn and meal. A pair of moccasins for 3 pints of meal.
Thursday Heber’s camp came up and besides that the day was spent in disposing of those wagons that had come from the valley. Some went back to Winter Quarters after their own families who were only started until the relief teams were met.
The few that came were quite a relief to such and to some over-loaded teams.
Friday June [July] 14th 1848 we all decamped and went about 12 miles. Roads sandy much of the way.
Saturday we traveled about 14 miles and came near opposite Chimney Rock which is on the south side the Platt and not all rock but rock and clay mixed. The journey this day was over the most desolate region I ever saw covered with buffalo bones which said that grass had grown there once, and in fact from where and before me saw the first buffalo the whole face of the earth to Laramie was covered with bones, of buffalo deer antelope and many other kinds, so that some were always in sight.
The country had become so poor, and the chance of feed for teams so bad, it was impracticable for so large bodies to travel together, and on Sunday June [July] 16, 1848 Brighams and Heber’s camps being camped about a miles [mile] apart met half way, held a meeting and divided each camp into four parts. It was a good place there for camping all but water for teams. Water for ourselves we generally got by digging wells, the depth of was from 2 to 10 feet. There it was a mile and a half to the river and our wells 5½ feet deep. There was some water in low places close by but water very muddy, yet some of the cattle drank it, and thus proved it to be saluratus [saleratus] water, for they nearly died. Their insides welled and they could hardly breath[e]. One of mine drank it. I gave him pork and sweet milk and he went on his journey.
Monday the 17th we went about 14 miles. The bluffs from below Chimney Rock a few miles to Scotts Bluffs 19 miles above is a curious scenery in nature as eyes often look upon. They are of such a nature that they have washed into various shapes closely resembling houses, edifices, courthouses, churches and public buildings of every order of architecture. The bluffs are high and at a distance of from 2 to 6 miles, give an actual appearance of mamouth cities.
Tuesday 18th passed Scotts Bluffs and camped 4 or 5 miles above. Wednesday we traveled 17 or 18 miles and could yet see Scotts Bluffs and most of the time see Chimney Rock.
Campted in good feed and let our cattle run out all night unguarded, and a dreadful thunderstorm scattered them some by morning. Tuesday Heber’s 4 camps crossed the river and one ten of Brigham’s. It was said to be better roads on the south side, and The feed could be no worse, for many days we found hardly grass enough to give a color to the ground at a distance.
Thursday July 20th Porter Rockwell, Louis Robison and 2 others met us from the valley. They stopped the express that was sent to the valley, at the first camp they met to wait to carry answers to letters they brought. They left us, to over take the express, on Saturday morning.
Friday July 21st, 1848. There being no feed but a little brush and some grass near the water edge, and the road all sandy to Fort Laramie, on the north side and went 2 or three miles up the river for that days work.
On Thursday we came to a plenty of timber, and at night had another good rain. The country here began to grow hilly and spotted a little with cedar and pine, and kind of pine, and the bluffs came down to the river in some places, and nearly to it all the way, so the road began to be hilly. Some Prickly pears and mountain sage covered the face of the land. The prickers on the pears were dreadful on cattle and sheep, and the sage was good for nothing. Saturday 22nd our cattle had nothing to eat and traveled 15 miles over a sandy hilly country and camped 5 miles west of Fort Laramie which lays a mile and a half from the road but in view and up a branch of the Platt. Old Ft. John, now deserted lies on the Platt here where we crossed the fork. At night when we turned out our teams they were so hungry they eat the dry sage, and would feign have eat the pears. We swam them across the river where they got a little brouse and less grass than a little. Sunday morning they were gathered up and drove a couple of miles up the river, where there was a little feed, just enough to keep them alive. The Forts were made of adobies or large sunbaked brick, and merely a place for trading with the Indians. Built pretty strong against the Indians.
This week we traveled 77 miles and the week previous 72 miles, and each week layed still a day and a half. Now we were just commenced on the last half of our journey.
Sunday July 23rd 1848. I went to the high hills which surrounded the little hollow we were camped in on two sides, in company with Squire Wells, Joseph Young and Bro. Blackwell; each with one of the fair sex. The day was cloudy but the hills were delightful observatories, of a beautiful variegated country, with the Platt at far beneath us, but the hills themselves were nearly matted with prickly pears, which forced us to wander slowly and cautiously along from the point of one hill to another naming one Mount Joseph another Wellses Mount another Blackwells Peak and soon favoring our own company with the honors belonging to those of the first settling of any new country, until finally we descended to the low land through a fine pine orchard or grove which bore the name of Huntington’s Park. The appearance of a shower approaching called us back to camp after well enjoying pleasantly the forenoon of a day of rest.
In the afternoon I went to the well known Fort Laramie to pay that a small visit, it being only about 3 miles across in a straight direction, and when there I found Heber’s camp just corralling a half a mile up Laramie fork. I went to the fort and saw some half breed French traders a few Indians, plenty of Buckskins and other hides for trading, of which many of the brethren bought. Went back to Hebers camp and had a good visit with Presendia and Heber.
It looked delightsome to see anything like a house; and that old fort looked like a palace , though too bad inside for civilization, for like all adobe (sundried brick) houses. The inside was lined by bed bugs to an incredible degree.
Monday July 24th. Our camp moved on under a new organization. Each ten to take care of itself but this partly fell through, as all wanted and would be near Brigham when there was good feed.
As soon as we came to the mountainous country I began to have luck at hunting so that that and other things kept me from writing my journal from there (Laramie) to the South Pas[s] or nearly there, a distance of nearly 250 miles, and this I shall try and make out by copying a letter to my father-in-law and my wife, dated.
Head waters of the Sweet Water River
9 miles from the South Pass,
Monday Aug. 20th, 1848, 1 o’clock p.m.
Dear Father Neal:
Once more in a distant clime and in the service of God I have the privilege of sending a few words of information and consolation to those I respect and much love.
We arrived here yesterday; and as many of the Brethren with teams have to return to Winter Quarters, this was though the mosr [most] fit place to unload and remain until those teams arrive from the valley, which are expected in 12 or 14 days, being now on the way here as we learn by mail received on the 17th. It is getting late in the season also and high time for those having to return to be moving for we are in sight of snow capped peaks, and here had plenty of frost this morning. However, that is common here the year around, and it is said that grass grows best here when snow begins to fall plentifully and frost pinches hard, for else than that, there is little to dampen the ground. My health is good, and it is a general time of health. Some few down with the mountain fever. But cattle are dieing off as though we did not need them any more. Every day takes some. Seven since we stopped here. Hollow horn and tail and bloody Murrin [murrain] seem contageous. I have not written any journal since we left Fort Laramie, but I will try and give you a short sketch of our journey from there here, which I hope will not be entirely uninteresting, together with the news received by last dispatches from the valley. From Laramie we entered the Black Hills which lasted for upwards of 90 miles; through there is very little feed for cattle and many days none but an abundance of black, red and yellow currants, chokecherries and goose berries for all who do or may travel this way. Zina has dried enough for her winter sauce.
Several wagons have broken down on the way, but as yet we have been able to mend or leave them and get along just as well. We are as comfortable and happy as most of the stationary communities. For is [if] we have not all that our wants may call for, we have the art of lessening our wants, which does as well.
We reached Deer River Aug. 4th which is 619 miles from Winter Quarters. In the bottom of this stream is a bed of stone-coal, where the camp laid in a supply for the journey. Trout in this stream contributes to the travellers comfort. I will return to the 31st of July and related a little circumstance of that day as we were camped on A. La Perelle [Prele] River. The day before being Sunday and we in no feed, we traveled all day without feed until 8 or 9 o’clock at night.
Early in the morning of the 31st Bro. Henry Gibson, Obed Thompson and another Young man and I started on a hunting expedition, to a mountain about 6 miles distant. The mountains were the best hunting grounds. At the foot, Obed and I came partners alone and as soon as we could get to the top I shot an antelope. Each took a half and backed [packed] it to camp. The other two hunted until night and came home empty, but having wounded a buffalo.
It was a heavy load, half an antelope and our guns. After I had eaten and rested a while I went out again with another Young man to a nearer mountain, and even to a valley on the other side, and there shot a buffalo about 4 miles distant from camp. Were until dark taking out his heart and tallow which we packed home, and ere that was completed, the wolves were loudly crying for their portion. As soon as done we struck our course through a pass in the mountains, with much certainty, to a little around a mountain to avoid climbing it; and after wandering a few miles we were about to give up and lay down on the Prairie till day light should show us the country and the course, we struck a road which following a short way we recognized a spot and found we were north instead of west of our dead buffalo and yet at near the same distance from the camp, where when we arrived, we found both old and Young joined in the dance, and all hearts merry, but none more glad than ours.
Next morning 3 of us went back and got each about 40 lbs. of the best meat. the wolves had just taken their first choice of all game, the insides.
The day we reached the upper crossing of the Platt, Aug. 4th a high mountain lay in faint view, through the smoke which beclouded the atmosphere, which some guessed to be one, some two, some three miles distant, and so on. Next morning in company with my previous hunting companions and one horse I stepped the distance which I found to be about 8 miles as near as we could judge.
It was up hill 6 or 7 miles, where we parted and Gibson and I went together and took the horse with us about ¼ a mile up the mountain side as steep as we could climb with the horse and there left him being too steep for him to go farther. We climbed about one and a half mile farther and were at the summit or near it and though we were nearer heaven than ever before. The whole mountain side to the top, was covered with pine and fir interspaced among the rocks. On the plains above were groves of fine tall fir full of pheasants, squirrels, chipmunks, old eastern robins, raspberries, mulberries etc. like the eastern countries. There we all met again and ate two pheasants for our dinner and parted again. The other two descended a deep canyon for water while we ranged along the top.
Shortly we saw at a distance, 8 or 1o  objects, new to us, appearing like graven images, all alike just in the horizon of a hill. Large heathen gods, thought I.
One with his side full in view revealed to us that they were mountain sheep, all having horns alike, that we saw. We soon managed to get a shot at them, at a distance of 8 or 1o  rods. All ran off at a distance perhaps of 30 rods, and stopped to form a further acquaintance. We soon spoke to them again with steady aim, but all ran away, and we began to wonder that none would stop with us but soon gave them a third introduction to the white mans art, nearer and more sure than ever. They served us the same trick as before, but on going towards them again, the flock ran but 3 Or 4 lingered behind as if not in a hurry. We stopped, and 2 of them lay down. I shot one over, and he was tanned to white mans art. Henry Gibson shot the other, but he being more stubborn, pitched and crawled and tumbled from cliff to cliff near ¼ a mile to the water below, and there lay down, until we bled the other. All got together and dragged the first down to the last. Either of them would weight 250 lbs. after dressed.
Our shooting drew other hunters that were come from camp, and among them a man with a mule who took ¼ of one sheep to camp. We four with one horse managed to get one whole one to camp where we arrived just 10 o’clock at night. Next day three of us went back for the remaining half and picked our way through the worst brush I ever went through, up the canyon, where also we packed all our meat on our backs through brush and up and down rocks. We had not gone far, and we saw more sheep, but would not try to shoot them it being late in the day, but soon we were forced to shoot other game for one of our company (John) rather curiously left us and went up the hill and found a dead sheep; probably one we shot the day before. As he turned from that he saw on the opposite bank of the canyon and partly over us, a black bear, lurking along and watching Henry and me, like a cat does its prey. He fired in a hurry and shot away my wiper, but the bear took no notice of ought but us. Then he cried with his might to “Take care there is a bear.” We could not tell where he was or what he said, but knew which way he went, and so we ran that way up the steep bank thinking he was in distress. In about 100 years we met him running down, and out of breath said, “down behind that rock is a bear, and just then we saw him emerge from where <we started to run. When he came to open view and about 50 steps off I> leveled my small boared [bored] rifle and John his yawger. Both fired the same instant. Henry reserved his charged gun in case we should have a charge from the bear but she showed evident signs of a good acquaintance with the art of shooting, and sheepishly ran into the brush. After giving him time to sicken and lay down, which should always be observed in shooting large game through the body, we pursued him and soon heard him fall from a cliff. On coming up and examining him one small hole just back of the left fore leg, told that the hide belonged to me.
We all had horses at the mouth of the canyon to where we backed [packed] the bear and sheep at two trips and reached camp near the same time as the night before.
The bear skin is a nice one. The sheep has hair like a deer and not wool. Their horns would weigh, I think, 10 pounds each, and curious but true as seen by us, they pitch from cliff to cliff and light upon their horns.
Fifty miles from here we came to the Saluratus [Saleratus] Lakes, which for wonder and curiosity surpasses all discriptions you had ever heard. I have got about 100 pounds taking to the valley. About these lakes and in the neighborhood, there is a very disagreeable smell, like that of a soap factory. Three miles from these Lakes, on the 11th of August we struck the Sweetwater at Independence Rock. From the Platt[e] to that place is a very dangerous road for teams, for in one place is a poisonous spring, much of the way no water but alkali water and where there is good feed the ground is covered with salaratus [saleratus] dust. The saluratus from the lakes is good, has a little saltpeter mixed but can be taken out by melting and purifying like black salts.
August 21st This morning there is ice on the water pail sufficiently strong to hold the water if turned bottom up. We are nearly out of the range of buffalo, and today I intend t o go out with a horse to get meat to dry.
We have only got about 40 or 50 lbs. of dried buffalo and antelope. Brigham has found me a horse heretofore, some and I have hunted for the camp, but now I shall hunt for myself; and lay in meat for this winter, for meat is high in the valley. Their harvest is over and estimate 10000 bushels more than they need for their winters use—for those now there. Corn done well as that in the states. Wheat suffered much from the crickets and a lack of proper knowledge of irrigation. Lorin Farr arrived here yesterday, from the valley. Wheat can be raised there as well as in the states, to a good advantage as well as everything else.
All kinds of garden sauce they have in abundance and are about eating of the second crop of peas this year. We have had news from there 6 or 7 times along at different times since we left Winter Quarters.
Three and 4 men can go together safely through this wild country. There is a great deal of travel on this road, and it is a mistaken notion that money is not wanted west of Winter Quarters. Entirely the reverse.
I have heard often from Dimick. He is the Utah interpreter and doing well, smithing for them and traders, making arrowpoints and hatchets and trading horses which are cheap there, for the Spaniards have flooded the valley with them and mules. Decent horses can be got for $25.00 each and right good ones for $35.00. Wheat $2.00 and corn 50c [cents].
Remember that money is plenty were the Spanish are, as they have much to [text missing]
The Salt Lake Valley is little more than nominally the place of gathering as I hear talked of, the Utah Lake Valley and all the tillable valleys of the mountains thereabouts that can be found. Francisco Bay and a place half way between there and Salt Lake.
Adison Pratt is in the valley waiting for his family, which are with us, to take them to the Society Islands to live. The work is rolling on like in a new sphere, and the saints are becoming established here in the wilderness to make it blossom. As ever with kind attachment, I remain your son.
O. B. Huntington
I will here insert another letter, but enclosed in the same, written to my wife, from the same place; and same date.
My dear Mary:
As ever, with the good will and affection of my whole heart, I address you a few lines directly, and do not wonder why I did not write formally, this whole letter to you. You are sure of the news if any one gets it.
Mary, I hope you are well, and that all is well this is my greatest wish, and that you were with me bodily as well as in mind, would be my next wish.
My health is good, and I am getting able to bear considerable fatigue and hardship. I have grown tough fast, and believe if you could be once get into the wilderness you would in a short time be tough and rugged and enjoy good health.
Sarah came to our wagon a few nights ago and made a short visit. Her health is good, and if I could whisper to you, I would tell you how well she gets along.
My kindest love and good will to William, hoping he will continue at school and not miss so good an hour of improvement. I want to spend two years going to school to him when he comes to the valley.
Saturday Aug. 26, 1848. Since I commenced this, we have had busy times with the cattle, for as soon as they get a little rested, they keep going to find the fence. Many get mad and die with the bloody murr[a]in. Day before yesterday I went out hunting and killed two fine Buck Ante[l]ope.
I have got me a pair of mountaineers fashionable pants, made of doe skin. Got them of a mormon trader from Bear River; came out to meet the emigrants. The teams start back for Winter Quarters tomorrow. An express came in last night from Heber. He is 26 miles from here back, and his daughter Hellen is so ill she cannot be removed farther at present. She was confined a few days ago. The child is now dead. Besides that so many of his company’s teams have died that others have to go the road three times over to keep all up.
Today Brigham has sent back for his help to this place, 20 wagons and 60 or 70 yoke of cattle. We expect some teams to arrive here from the valley in a week, probably less, it is hopeful so, for we are among the mountains now, where the snow will fall before long. A plenty in signt [sight] now, on Fremonts Peak. At midday it is warm enough, but nights are frosty.
I do not know as I have much more time to write in and must close soon, though had I time I could write much more, and perhaps no more interesting than that already scribbled off; But I feel as though I want to talk with you, and would be glad of a more social chat than this, but am thankful for this much, hoping that ere this reaches you, days of happiness and gladness will have commenced, greater than you have yet seen; and when you see me I hope they will be heightened. I want to send some word to all the neighbors and friends, but time will not allow me to personify, so wholesale it for me, to all the saints first, then to all who have not committed the unpardonable sin.
Mary, please pardon all mistakes, and whatever you may think an error in principle, or aside from the path of true virtue and kindness, for this is from the plain and simple heart of your husband.
O. B. Huntington
P.S. Will you write as soon as you get this. Direct to Cain P.O., Potawatomie Co. Iowa, and wherever I am I shall get it sure. Forty sweet kisses to my dear little. May God bless her I would go barefoot from here to the valley to see her. May the peace and blessings of our Father in Heaven rest upon you both, like the dews upon the mountains.
Lovely little family, and thrice lovely when I meet you again.
Little Mary, your father’s in the mountains
Dressed in skins of wild beasts.
Seeking to drink from the allwise fountain
Yet to run through all the East.
As nobler Mary
Thy husband is gone from thee a long while,
Gone to serve the refiner of gold,
Who sends his servants to far distant Isles
As well as to mountains and rocks so bold.
But day or two after writing this I was called upon to go back with a team to he[l]p up Heber. But three teams together, and layed in our wagons nearly bare, as to bed covering, and then there were frosty night regular. When we got there found Goodger [Goodyear], a mountaineer quartering close to the camp with his large drove of horses, with which he was going to the States for market. He had lain about Brighams camp several days, probably to let his horses recruit, and when with us he thought himself pretty secure from Indian encroachments.
This Goodger had lived for many years in the same valley we were then going to. Had many cattle horses mules goats and some land improved, all which, one of the brethren had bought, so that G____ had no home left there of any consequence. He had been so long among the Indians, that he had nearly become one also.
That night I loaded up and the next morning early we all started back. By this time the camp was nearly ready to move on and did in a day or two. That night we turned a little off the road into quaking asp grove and found good wood, water and feed, a thing pretty rare.
We had only got to the last crossing of the Sweet water, and a mountain storm came upon us and our cattle as well as people came near perishing. First it rained, blew furiously snow and hail in abundance, but not cold enough then to freeze the ground solid. This weather detained us until the First of Sept. when in an hour of sunshine, between showers Brigham with such as could get their cattle (for many cattle were wandering all over the country) started. My cattle were all to be found save one, which kept me until the next day, when Zina’s cow and sister Rockwoods cow were missing. The women with one boy to the two wagons started on and I stayed to find the cows, which I did in about 2 hours as I then had a horse to ride. There were now but very few families or parts of families left on Sweetwater. I had only started with the cows and storm of snow and rain passed over the pass and soon found all the dry cloth about me, and set me to shaking and kept me at it for more than 2 hours and a half.
At length (all alone) I came to where the land begang [began] to descend to the westward, and to the right a fresh wagon road turned off, which I followed and at just dusk, found the two wagons camped again on Sweetwater, but we crossed it not more.
About the pass is an abundance of beautiful Cornehen stones and large. But it was so cold we thought of nothing but to get as near to comfortable as we could and keep our cattle alive whilst we should also keep them from running away anymore.
We all make out to live until morning when we found the wagon cover stiff with thick ice, and the ground frozen hard and the snow just beginning to fly.
This was on Sunday and the 3rd of September. The scene was so unpromising, dreadful and distressing I can neither paint it, nor forget it.
To get but a few miles from that place and good; or better weather would smile upon us, so we hitched up and drove on, after the cattle had beated [bated] a little on the frozen grass. The snow soon ceased, and at the distance of 12 miles we found Brighams camp comfortably situated on Pacific Creek.
That day I came through the pass I got so extremely cold, and wet, perfectly chilled through, that I did not get over it until some time after getting into the valley.
Sunday the 3rd Brigham returned in his carriage to see what was detaining the few that were yet behind of his company, and then Heber was yet behind all the other companies.
Early Monday morning we started and I think traveled on an average for 3 days, 20 miles a day. We were forced to do it for want of feed and water. Except where we camped, on little creeks, for more than 100 miles it was the most barren and entirely desolate country we passed over the whole journey, for neither sage nor greas[e]wood could hardly be seen.
Greasewood grows from one to three feet high, and generally in the neighborhood of alkali grounds, and the left, or round oblong kind of green looking substance, very tender; has a very strong taste of saltpeter. The bushy wood when dried, is very hard, and the Indians use it a great deal for arrow points. The cattle used to at times appear fond of the leaf.
From this time we were constantly in sight of snow capped mountains. The Bear River mountains on the right, and Winteer Mountains on the left. We now descended pretty fast for several days. We came to Fort Bridger on a branch of Ham’s Fork about 225 miles from the pass and 125 miles from the valley. But before we reached there we had some snow and a great deal of rain and mud. Crossed a number of considerable streams, for instance Big Sandy, Blacks Fork and Hams Fork, branches of Green River and Green River which was a very bad stream to cross.
In passing the pass we passed all the game until we got actually into the mountains, which was between Bridger and the valley. Then the game was elk, bear, sheep and antelope. The Green River is a great curiosity, in passing through the Winteer Mountains. Many mountaineer have tried to trace it through the mountains but none have ever succeeded. Several have attempted to descend it and were never heard of since. Many state, that far among the mountains they have approached the edge of the cliffs which overhang the river; have seen cataracts surpassing the niagara [Niagra] in depth of fall, and precipices beyond conception. For the river passes through a chain of high mountains and it is probable there are precipices perhaps of some thousands of feet. This tale is affirmed by all the mountaineer in that country; and they descrive [describe] some of the wildest and most romantic scenery on the earth. Indeed from what I have seen of those western mountains I have no inclination to doubt. I have seen that which two years previous to the sight, I would hardly have believed my best friends had they told it me.
As we approached nearer the valley our way grew rougher and more difficult, from deep ravines and high mountains.
The curiosities of the country also increased, many of which escaped my memory, at that day and those times I had no time to take notes of the country.
From the first of September to the first of January next following I put not a pen to paper to note anything in my journal. A day or two after passing Bridger we came to a spring, the water of which which was as pretty soda as any man may want to drink. I think three days from Bridger we camped near Farr Springs, where many got considerable quantities tar or oil by boiling the earth taken up about the spring.. The earth for a considerable space around is of a black salvey nature which when boiled considerable time in water yields a great proportion of tar for the bulk of original earth. It requires a considerable heat. Here brother God[d]ard the leader of the choir was accidently shot in one of his arms by Bro. Gad Yale. The ball passed directly through the bone of the arm a little above the elbow; and yet he got entirely well afterwards.
The next day but one after leaving Farr Springs we commenced going down hill at a rapid rate and for two days and a half our cattle or teams had to pull the loads but twice or three times so constantly descending was the road, and many times had to lock wheels a considerable distance at a time, and on a Saturday night we ended that descent by coming into Weever [Weber] Canyon where we stayed over night and moved up another little Canyon 5 or 6 miles, the day following so as to get the distances over three mountains rightly timed. The night we camped on Weever [Weber] River a little after dark my brother Dimick and his two boys Allen and Lot came to us, from home that day, a distance of 40 miles or more. Every active mind will imagine the scenery of meeting, the deep feelings unexpressable, yet but a faint imagination will be. I had not seen him for three years and but a short time previous I was in England and he and family in thea [the] army in New Mexico a distance of 6000 miles apart, and although generally poor I then saw him in the best circumstances to live, he had realized since he went for himself. Had plenty of horses and cattle, to eat and to wear, although much of the apparel of the saints then was skins of wild animals.
Three days more took us over three considerable mountains and landed us safely in the valley of the Great Salt Lake. From the top of the middle mountain we had view of the promised land, the valley.
Among the mountains every night was very cold and frosty. Very often we heard from the valley, the much longed for place of our anticipated rest, we no more anticipated our arrival there, than those there already; longed to see the presidency that better order might be prevail, for as long as there was a greater authority known they much anticipated their presence. Their anxiety was so great they could hardly wait the arrival of our camp; but we were so long within hearing that the effect of our entry was partially enjoyed beforehand. Yet great numbers came out to meet us when within two or three miles of the Fort. (Two adobe forts were completed and two more nearly finished. In these lived nearly all the inhabitants[)]
We entered on the 20th day of September A.D. 1848.
[Scanned images of diary and text transcription also available on "Trails of Hope: Overland Diaries and Letters, 1846-1869" web site, http://overlandtrails.lib.byu.edu/.]