Mary A. Stearns Winters reminiscences, undated, 22-30.
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- Source Locations
- Church History Library, MS 119
- Related Companies
- Harmon Cutler Company (1852)
It was now getting to be the last days of May. One morning we heard a team at the door, and on looking out to see who had come, Brother Hyrum Winters stepped to the door saying, “Good morning, Sister Pratt—I have brought you a good wagon that I think will take you safely to the Valleys of the mountains. It is one of the best that has been made in our shop. It has a good double cover that will keep out the storms—there is a full bucket of tar under the seat; it is all ready to load and hitch onto for your company. May the Lord bless and prosper you and take you safely through.” Tears of joy and gratitude filled our eyes as she thanked him in behalf of all who had helped to do this kind work.
In a day or two we commenced loading our wagon and in one week after it stopped at our door, it started on its long journey westward. Just as the team was being hitched to the wagon, Sister Julia Babbitt, who lived on the hill just beyond us, came over to bid us good-by—she looked in the wagon and thought we could make out comfortably in that wagon, “but,” said she; “I see you haven’t any tent, and you will need one, I have a little one that will be just right for you—it is one that I took out last year when we went and returned. It did me good service, and you will find it very useful, and you are welcome to it, for I shall not need it. The hired man is coming with it and the table board. If you will send the little boys for the tent poles these can go right in the bows of the wagon and will not take up any extra room, and the table board will slip right in by the side of the wagon box.” The dear soul, had them all neatly arranged by the time she was telling it. She had crossed the plains twice and she knew what to do. As she kissed mother good-by, she slipped a pretty ring from her hand and placed it on mother’s finger, saying, “Accept this as a token of my love and friendship for you, and I will remember you and pray for you on your journey.” That was the last time we ever saw the dear, loving woman. She was good to everybody—white people and Indians—every want that she saw had her sympathy and help. Her trials have been great, but her reward is sure.
Mother had hired a boy with a steady yoke of oxen to hitch on the lead of our team to help us up to the ferry on the Missouri river, about eight miles distant, so just before two o’clock on the 5th of June, 1852, we started on our long journey toward the new Zion of the Saints. The wagon with four yoke of cattle and two drivers—the little boy on the lead, and Brother [David] Murie, with a long rope attached to the wheel team, gave an appearance of strength suitable to any occasion. Then came the passengers—foot passengers, of course—mother, Olivia, Roney and Jimmie Murie, with myself bringing up the rear, thus our outfit making quite a long train of itself. Mother kept as near to the wagon as safety would permit, to look after the numerous things that were tied to the outside.
We were all the travelers on the road at that time, as the others had started out earlier in the day, so we had the right of way all to ourselves. When we had gone two or three miles we came to Pigeon Hollow where some of the Saints had built houses and were striving to get means to take them the rest of their journey. They all came out to see who the travelers were, and among them was grandma Johnson, Sister Babbitt’s mother. She had been our next door neighbor at Kanesville, but was up here visiting some of her children. They had been gathering wild strawberries that day and she brought out a few for us to taste, with some bread and butter and a drink of milk and said, “You will neet it before you get to the camp ground;” and she also said, “I have been drying some of the seeds to plant, and I will give you some to take with you. If you will plant them when you get to the Valley you will have all the strawberries you need.” Here was another friendly surprise to cheer us on our way.
Some of our experienced brethren of the settlement gave an opinion that our load was too heavy and that we would hardly be able to get through without lightening it up a little, but Brother Murie was more optimistic, and thought we could go on all right. As we proceeded on our way, however, we all began to take notice, and by the time we reached the first camp ground five miles from Kanesville we were all fully convinced that our load was too heavy—and visions of breaking down on the way or losing our cattle were anything but encouraging. Something must be left and what would it be. Brother Murie had just needful clothing, a light feather bed and his provisions—nothing could be spared from these. Our clothing we must have, our provisions must go, and our bedding we could not do without. There was a stove, a nice No. 2 step stove that mother had brought from St. Louis on purpose to take with us to the Valley—we could live without that, and that must be the sacrifice; but to leave it by the roadside when we would need it so much at the end of our journey was not very pleasant to think of. If we had only sold it before we started it wouldn’t have seemed so bad. There was a company of Welsh Saints, of fifty wagons, camped near us. They were an independent company and reported to be quite well off, so mother went over there to see if any of them wanted to buy a stove. She found a young family that were not heavily loaded, and were just regretting that they had not taken a stove along with them, and they bought our stove with all the furniture, and paid ten dollars in money for it. It would be worth one hundred dollars to them when they arrived in the Valley with it. Then we were left without anything to cook in or a boiler to do washing with.
The next day I went back to Kanesville, with a buggy that was going that way—to get us a sheet iron camp stove, and a big brass kettle to do our washing with. At the tin shop they had been so busy filling orders that they didn’t have a stove finished, but thought they would have one ready by the next day, and as the buggy was going back again, I had the opportunity of going back the second time, and oh, how I did appreciate the privilege of seeing our neighbors and friends once again after bidding them goodby for the second time. The stove was ready, but the brass kettles had not arrived and I was under the necessity of going back the third time before I could get all we were in need of. As those three journeys to Kanesville were in the company of Brother Oscar Winters and were the beginning of the friendship and love that lasted through life and to be renewed in Eternity, I cannot pass it by unmentioned.
We had joined Bishop Cutler’s fifty and were the twelfth company organized for that year’s journey. Part of them had crossed the river—some of them were at the ferry—and our ten still at the first camp ground, but all ready to start on the next morning. Our team was considered too light for the journey, and another yoke of oxen was furnished us from the company’s cattle, but they were young and had not been worked much and there was still the problem of managing an unruly team. Brother Murie proposed that we get a very early start the next morning, and trust to those following us for any help we might be in need of—and we did not fail to be ready. He let three teams lead out to be encouragement to ours, and then he drove into line and the team walked up quite straight and lively and our hopes rose accordingly till we could seem to hear the greetings of our friends at the other end of the journey, but presently they stopped still in the road as if their eyes plainly told that they didn’t want to go any farther. The team behind had to stop too, and the driver, a stranger, enquired what was the matter; his team was quiet and gentle. His wife and children sat in the front of the wagon looking contented and happy, but all anxious to continue on their way.
Soon our team gave a start, went a few rods and turned clear out of the road. This was a good chance—and three teams passed us without comment, but the fourth man came and helped us drive back into the road again and the team went on for a longer distance than at any time previous. We were now coming to the open ground and the cattle saw the opportunity, started on the run and made a big circle like a race track and looked as though they were bound to take the prize. Brother Murie was still holding on to the long rope and running to keep up with them, with mother following as best she could to look after the things that kept dropping from the wagon in its wild flight, and I following her, for fear she would be hurt or that she would get sick from her long walk, and the hot rays of the sun. O, the agony of those hours, words would fail me to depict. Sometimes mother would hold the rope and Brother Murie try to get the oxen back into the road again, and once in wheeling, they wheeled around and came near crushing her between their bodies and the wagon, Brother Murie all the while trying to send us far away from the dangers of the situation. But which way should we turn? We had left the place we called home, and were adrift with strong head winds to encounter, but I will not say we were blown back, for with every lunge of the cattle we made a little progress and the next move they wheeled into the road as if by magic and just missed by a hair’s breadth, running off a little bridge over a ravine. After going a few lengths they stopped stock still right in the middle of the road, and refused to stir another foot. Mother advised that we stop right where we were till some one should come along and we would hire them to help us into camp, and then we would have to make some other arrangements before we tried to go any further. It was then about two o’clock in the afternoon—we had been on the move since early morning, were very tired, and glad of a little relaxation from our strenuous exertions. Brother Murie still stood at his post of duty near the head of the team while the rest of us sought a little shelter from the sun at the back of the wagon, all watching the road in both directions for signs of the help we were so much in need of.
After a time mother decried a horseman coming toward us—and while this did not portend very promising help, still we waited hopefully to see. The Traveler proved to be Brother Winters. and after enquiring what the difficulty was, he dismounted, asked Brother Murie for the whip, and with a gentle whoa-haw, the team started up, and with a little toss of the horns bent their necks to the yoke and walked off in quite a respectable manner. This last stop was about a mile and a quarter from the river, and after the team had gone about three-quarters of a mile in this peaceful manner, mother said to Brother Winters, “I believe we can get to the camp now, and will not detain you from your journey any longer.” He replied, “I am not going any farther today, and can just as well drive as not.” We were soon at the edge of the camp, when he returned the whip to Brother Murie and said, “Now, I think they will go all right, and you can drive your wagon to a place that suits you best for camping.” It was four o’clock p.m. when we halted on the bank. Of course, being so late we had to take our place at the foot of the line and be the last to cross the ferry, but we were glad to reach there at all, and thankful for the needful rest we could now have.
It was the afternoon of the next day when it came our turn to cross the river, and as they had gentle teams to place the wagons on the boat we got along as well as other people at the ferry and we camped a few rods from the landing that night, on the west side of the Mississippi River. The next day was Saturday and all were counseled to move to the higher land a few miles west, to camp over Sunday. It was cholera times and great caution was needed to protect the health of the emigrants. Our company moved onto a beautiful grassy bluff with trees sufficient for shade and there passed a peaceful, quiet, restful Sabbath day. Here was to take place the final organization of the company, and after we left this point it would not be safe to travel except in large companies. Mother’s strength was failing, she felt that she could not go on as we were doing. Our team had sobered down a little, and with the help of those back and in front of us, managed to get the road some way, but mother could not ride and she was not able to walk and, therefore, decided to hire a team to take us back and try and make a new start under more favorable circumstances. There were several buggies, one horse, and light wagons in the company, and mother tried to hire one to ride in till our team would become steady so she could ride in the wagons, but all were needed by the people who owned them and could not be spared upon any consideration, but just at the last minute before the start Monday morning, through the intercession of a friend, we obtained the hire of a horse and buggy to take us on the way. We had walked thus far, some of the time in a steady rain, but now the sun was shining, the day was fair and bright, and the thought of going onward filled our hearts with joy supreme, and our souls with gratitude to the Father who had again opened the way before us, and smoothed our pathway. Our team behaved a little better every day, following in the train, and we will not condemn them, nor yet find fault with the driver, for all were unused to the labor they had to perform. Brother Murie being a native of Scotland, was not used to oxen from his boyhood up as were most of the other men in our company, and as the team were to be our companions on the journey, perhaps it will not be out of place to introduce them by name. Dic and Darby were their names when they were purchased—Buck and Bright were handed over with their love for the journey. And Brother Murie called the cows Lady Blackie, Lady Milky, and Cherry, and the one that was so very vicious he said Lady Lucifer was the proper name for her, and those were the names they were called by everybody all the way over. It took us two days to reach the ferry at Elk Horn river, and as we were going up the bank on the west side we saw two graves, one was little Henry Beers about five years old who was drowned on the pioneer journey three years previous, and the other a young man of 19 who lost his life trying to save the little boy.
We had been intimately acquainted with Sister Beers in Nauvoo and Winter Quarters, and the sight of the graves caused a wave of sadness in our hearts, and also caused us to keep watch over my little brother Moroni. We made a nice camp that night—pitched the tent which Brother Murie and James had all to themselves and we retired with the prospect of a good night’s rest, but in the night a thunderstorm arose and it rained and lightning and blew a small hurricane, and as the storm increased mother proposed that we should be ready for any emergency. Our wagon stood broadside to the wind and with every fresh gust it seemed as if the bows would snap in spite of us. We tried to hold against the wind, but our strength was puny. Brother Murie had taken the same precaution that we had—was up and dressed and holding on to the tent to keep it at its fastenings. Jimmie, covered up in bed, was still asleep as were our children in the wagon. As the ground was sandy some of the pins pulled loose, and the tent collapsed and buried them in its wet folds. This aroused Jimmie and he scrambled round but cold not find his clothes, and it was with difficulty they could get out from under the heavy tent. Mother handed out a big shawl to wrap Jimmie in and they climbed into the wagon, and with our united efforts we pressed against the bows till the storm subsided. Mother fixed a place on the foot of the bed for Jimmie and covered him with some extra bedding and the rest of us sat and nodded until daylight, thankful that the Lord had preserved us from the destroying power of the elements. The sun came out warm and smiling as if nothing had ever happened to disturb our peace. The things in the wagon were comparatively dry, and the dripping tent and bedding were ready for the next night’s use, not much the worse for their drenching. We moved on up to the Loup Fork and crossed with the rope ferry. In the afternoon we had a chance to straighten and arrange our things a little better, and do some cooking. It took all the next day for the wagons to cross over and as there were not many in camp that were used to working a rope ferry, those who did know had to work very hard. Brother Robison and Brother [Oscar] Winters had worked all day and drank freely of the warm river water, and at night Brother Robison became very sick with cholera, and Brother Winters was the first to call for a dose of the medicine. Before leaving Kanesville, Brother Winters had gone to the drug store and handed the druggist five dollars and told him he wanted some of his best cholera remedies to take with him on the plains—all had been advised to provide themselves with cholera medicine, and mother had a good portion along with her, among other things a quantity of pulverized sifted charcoal. The day before we arrived at Loup Fork, Brother Winters brought his box of medicine to mother and said she would know how to use it better than he did. She told him we had brought plenty with us and he had better keep it himself, but he said, “No, you take it and deal it out to whoever needs it first as long as it lasts.” And that night Brother Winters was the first to call for a dose of the medicine he had so recently handed to mother. He knocked at our wagon in the early part of the night and in response to the question what is wanted, said, “Brother Robison is very sick with cholera, and if you will prepare something I will take it to him for he is in great need and I am going to stay with him through the night.” Mother’s preparation consisted of charcoal and molasses, laudanum or paregoric, camphor and a little cayenne pepper with as much raw flour as charcoal—and it proved to be a good remedy, for all that took it recovered except Brother Robison, and he passed away after two days’ suffering, and was buried near the banks of the Loup Fork where he had so faithfully labored to help assist his brethren and sisters to cross that river. Soon after the first call for medicine we heard groaning in a wagon near by, and as there were voices on the outside, mother called to them to know what was the matter and if she could be of any help to them. A young man came over and said, “Sister Pratt, for God’s sake, if you have got anything that will help my mother I wish you would let me have it—she is very sick and I am afraid she will die.” She was a widow and he her only child. The medicine was soon ready and it had good affect on her, for she got so easy before morning and soon recovered. Just after midnight two more calls came, they were strangers, but soon found out where there was a prospect of help for their sick ones. All were supplied and got well. Just before daylight Brother Winters made another call for medicine and said, “This time it is for myself. I have been sick for several hours and keep getting worse all the time.” He took his portion to his wagon, and by afternoon was much better. There had been quite a scare at the sudden breaking out of the disease in camp but we were relieved that it was checked up so favorably, with all but Brother Robison. The heavy rains had made it very wet and swampy near the river, and many thought that the cause of the sickness and were anxious to move on to higher ground, so twenty wagons including ours started on that afternoon and camped in a beautiful place to wait for the rest to come up. About two o’clock the next day some of the horses broke from the herd and ran off and the herdsman could not get them, and Brother Winters and some others whose horses were still there took them and started after the others. Brother Winters was repeatedly cautioned not to go, but thought they would soon overtake the horses, but instead they went many miles and did not get back till dark with the runaways. The exertion caused a relapse and Brother Winters was much worse than when he had the first attack. A number of others in camp were ailing, but not so severe as the first that were stricken, and many predicted that if we did not move on all would be sick. Brother Murie was of that opinion, so we with the twenty wagons proceeded on the next day, and at night camped where there was sufficient water, bounteous grass but no fuel. Mother had a few pieces of kindling in the wagon and a piece or two of wood she had picked up on the road and when we stopped she told me to look around and see if I could find anything to help make a fire and she would make a large kettle of porridge—we could have some for our supper and there would be enough for all the sick folks at night and morning to have a warm drink. I searched faithfully, but could not find even a twig or a straw or a dry blade of grass. and from that day to this if there is anything burnable to be had I can find it, no matter how small it is. This was a very discouraging time. The prospect was for the whole camp to go to bed with a cold supper if they were so fortunate as to have anything cooked. But the sick folks—it was too bad for them not to have something warm after the long drive, so we brought out the sheet iron camp stove, determined to do what we could in the cause. Just then a sister came along and questioned, “Where did you find anything to make a fire of in this barren place?” And when mother told her she replied, “Well, I’ve got a few pieces in my wagon—not enough to do anything with, but added to yours will help some.” This was quite encouraging, so we got everything ready, the thickening stirred and placed on the back of the stove to warm a little, set the kettle of water on the stove, hung something around to save the heat, and touched a match to the kindlings, then oh, how we watched and waited and prayed that the kettle would boil, and there would be heat enough to cook the porridge. As soon as a drop or two of the thickening would swim around in the water we put it all in, stirred it up good, put the cover on, threw something over it to keep the heat in and left it for a few minutes, with a hope that it would cook “done”. Mother called round to speak to the sick ones, and see how many there were, and found many of them very weak and dejected and discouraged. When we opened up the porridge it had stopped boiling, but proved to be well done, was piping hot, and after adding sufficient milk we started on our rounds of distribution. There were seven that accepted it joyfully and I believe the surprise, under the discouraging circumstances, did them as much good as the refreshment. And others that we took it to said, “Oh don’t give it to us for I guess there is some in camp that need it more than we do.” but mother assured them there was plenty for all of them that were ailing. We had a little of the porridge or gruel and with bread and butter made us a very comfortable supper. And right here I will say that the little sheet iron stove proved the greatest blessing to us on this night of any time on the journey.
The next morning mother was awake early—she had saved a portion of the gruel and covered it away carefully, but now it was cold so she took our little fish oil lamp and began the task of warming it for the sick ones. She had taken a table cloth folded inside a larger one and placed it on the projections of the wagon and placed the cups of gruel in the folds, not in cold storage, but in warm storage as it were, as fast as she got them warm till they were all ready. Then she roused me up to take them to the people, these were mostly sisters—only two of the men folks of this camp had been taken sick. This was a greater surprise than the night before, and tears filled some of their eyes as they enquired how it had happened, and some of them afterwards told mother that they believed that those warm drinks were the means of helping to save their lives. Now this had been a sick, a sad and a sorry time in our little camp, but I am glad to say that all recovered, and after that there was not a day’s sickness of that kind during the rest of the journey.
ENTERING THE VALLEY
The camp we left never caught up with us, and we traveled on day after day making good progress and prospering as well as people on that journey could do. The teams had all settled down to good work, had become used to traveling, were easy to handle, there was an abundance of grass and we went on our way rejoicing that all was so well with us. I think there were twenty teams besides the buggy we had. Part of the wagons were loaded with the machinery for the first Utah sugar factory that Brother [Joseph] Russell had largely helped to purchase. And he was also bringing material to help in building a home in the far off valleys of Ephraim. He and his wife were aged, and rather infirm and not used to the rough life they were experiencing. Their son Archie, a young man of twenty-two years, was an invalid, with consumption, and died one month after reaching Salt Lake City. Brother Winters had charge of all their teams and drivers and was termed, in the parlance of the plains, their wagon master. He had a horse of his own and could go here and there to help wherever it was needed. Brother Bradshaw, the one who drove their carriage, was also cook for the teamsters at camping time. There was a young girl with them to help Sister Russell, and their numbers were about one-third of our little train.
Others of our company were Brother Milliam, wife, daughter and son. Brother Frodsham, wife and three children, another family with four children and two wagons; the others were couples without children. We had no captain or special organization, but moved along peacefully and harmoniously, each striving to do his best for speed and progress. We were just beginning to enjoy the journey. Mother’s health had improved greatly, she could get in the wagon whenever we needed to, the strain we had been under so long had given way to peace and comparative rest. We now began to find messages quite frequently from the companies ahead of us and found we were not far behind some of the later ones. They were large companies and often delayed for different reasons, and before many days we caught up with the eleventh company and traveled a few days near them, but our teamsters found that the larger [the] company the more obstacles there were to encounter, to make camp at night or to get started in the morning. The only trouble we were liable to encounter is that mode of traveling was the Indians, and as Brother Murie said, “We will go in faith that they will not trouble us,” and I know that the blessing of the Lord was with us, for we saw very few Indians on the way, and nothing to harm or molest us. There was not an accident happened to any that were with us, nor a serious break of any kind. We never traveled on Sundays, but improved the rest of the time to the best advantage. We could now knit or sew comfortably, as the teams were jogging along on the level ground, and I made us some heavy skirts to use when the cool weather should come, and knit some cotton stockings to wear as we were going along. We had a new wooden tub and we would put some cold water in it in the morning and set out butter and other things in it, cover it thickly and it answered quite a good purpose as a refrigerator—not making the butter exactly ice cold, but better than salted butter. Our morning’s milk we put in our new tea kettle, placed a cloth under the cover, put a cork in the spout and tied a cloth over that and tied it to the reach under the wagon; and no matter how hot the day was, the draft under the wagon made it very comfortable too for our dinner, for there was a piece of butter the size of a teaspoon bowl, which was very fresh and sweet and the children took turns having it on bread.
And so we plodded on day after day, sometimes making a fifteen-mile drive, but oftener twenty—no hurry—you could not change the gait of the oxen, but had to wait patiently their motion. No danger of getting left—most anyone can walk as fast as a yoke of oxen can travel.
One day after a long forenoon drive our company concluded to camp for the night, and rest the teams for the longer journey of the next day. There were some little repairs to be attended to and mother and I thought this a good opportunity for us to clean house, or more correctly speaking, straighten up our wagon. Brother Murie and Brother Jones had gone with the herd, it being their turn to attend to that duty. Olivia and Moroni were there to help and we proceeded with much energy to the task before us. Mother handed out the things, the children and I carried them into the tent and we soon had the wagon cleaned to our entire satisfaction. The things were nearly all replaced in order and convenience. The sky had clouded over, but the shade was so agreeable to us that we had failed to note how near the storm was aproaching till a vivid flash of lightning and a tremendous clap of thunder told it had come. The children scampered into the wagon, I ran into the tent to get another armful, but mother called, “Don’t bring them out in the rain,” so I was shut in the tent by myself. That terrible clap had seemed to rend the heavens asunder, and the water poured down in torrents and for hours we remained in that situation—we could not hear each other speak or know what condition either was in. It thundered and it lightened till the flashes were hot in my face. And oh, how I did wish I was in with the others that we might all share the same fate. Mother had her watch, and the storm lasted just two hours, and stopped about as suddenly as it started and was much like the one at Loup Fork, except the wind. Our things were not much wet. The sun soon came out bright and warm and we were soon as well off as usual.
I was about the first one out from shelter and I stepped to a nearby wagon to inquire how they had fared in the storm and when they spoke I raised the corner of the cover and the man said harshly, “Here, put that down, you will let the water in!”
I did put it down quickly and ran into the tent and cried and cried and cried—it nearly broke my heart, for I was not used to being spoken to in that way, but I forgave him long ago and do not think of him as Mr. Crosspatch any longer, for I thought if his folks had to endure that kind of temper all the time I could surely put up with it for once; but I did not go near that wagon again the whole journey though the women folks and I were very good friends.
The next day we made a long drive and came to Wood River which was quite high on account of recent storm, and all hoped the river would be lower by morning. we went to sleep that night wishing we were on the other side and wondering how we would succeed in getting there. Three teams had crossed over and reported that the water had run into their wagon boxes, so the rest put blocks under their boxes and raised them up a few inches. The first wagons were loaded with machinery and wetting would not hurt as they would soon dry again, but the provisions would be spoiled by getting wet. Brother Winters on horse back rode at the lower side of the teams to keep them from turning down stream, and with help on either shore the teamsters waded in and landed safely on the other side. Our team was the fourth to cross, and mother with the two children, drove in with the buggy, right behind them, she preferring to go that way, and they made the voyage in safety. I went over in the carriage, and in the deepest place it floated a few feet, but the wheels soon struck the gravel again and we reached the other shore without harm. Each profited by the other’s experience and the rest made the crossing with but little difficulty. The only article we lost on the journey was our flatiron at this place. We had been using it and left it to cool till the last minute. Mother put it on the projections in the front of the wagon, thinking to go in and place it farther back, but they were ready to start and there was not time. The banks were steep and when they went down the iron slipped into the water. We heard the splash and Brother Murie tried to find it, but it was “gone beyond recall” and we had to borrow for the rest of the journey.
We went on much the same till we came to the Platte River, where we traveled along the north banks for over three weeks. Grass up to the wagon tracks, and each camp ground seemed the same as the night before, with the hot sun pouring down upon us all day, but we knew we were gaining miles on our journey and that made up for the discomforts attending it. That surely was “Plains” part of the journey, level as a field all the way, and if one lay down in the wagon for a sleep they never knew when to wake up for the jogging of the wagon would keep them sleeping all day. Our hands were so tanned that if we held them up at night one could count the white nails without a light.
There was one thing we enjoyed very much, and that was a bath in the river. The men of the camp found a convenient place down the river and had their swim in the day time. We could always tell, when they came into camp looking so fresh and clean, for most of the time they were a dusty looking lot. And the sisters each procured a bathing suit of some kind and we took our baths by starlight. We were afraid to go far from the shore on account of the quicksands. We would make a line from the nearest to the shore and the farthest ones out could get a good ducking without much danger. We were very still about it all, for we never could tell when Indians might be lurking around, and we slipped into our beds as quiet as kittens, greatly refreshed and thankful for the opportunity.
One night there came up a big wind storm, not rain, but a dry, hard wind, and it seemed to me that it blew harder and harder with every gust all night. Our wagon was just a few feet from the top of the bank and it was twenty feet down to the water, and I was on the side next to the river, and oh, how I did suffer with fear that night. I thought I could feel the wagon topping many times. Mother tried to comfort me, telling me of the many times the Lord had brought us through trying scenes in the past, and that His hand was still over us to protect and save. About daylight the wind began to abate and by sunrise it was a calm, still day again and we traveled on as usual.
In a day or two some one discovered that there was some nice timber on the other side of the river—saplings that would make good whip stocks, and for some other things useful in camp, and a number started to go over and see what was to be found. My little brother with other little boys were down at the river having a swim and he wanted to go over the river too, so one of the teamsters boys told him if he would carry his clothes for him he might swim over on his back, but my brother did not take his own clothes and was there in the hot sun for several hours and when he got back his face looked very red and had a peculiar expression. He told mother he had been over the river, but as he was safely back again she did not censure him, but thought she would talk to him another time. She gave him something to eat and still the distressed look was on his face. She asked him if he was sick, but he said, “No,” then she asked him if he had been hurt in any way and he said, “No”, to that also. She told him he had better lie down and rest, but he said he couldn’t for his back hurt him, and when she looked, his back was as red as his face with numerous blisters all over it. She undressed him and applied a generous dose of cream and sweet oil and covered it with cotton batting, and he had to lie on his face to rest, for a number of days, and always remembered that the sun could make blisters.
We had overtaken and passed several other companies and one day we came up with a company of Oregon emigrants and camped with them. They seemed quite well-to-do people and our company bought some provisions of them—some got flour and some dried fruit or whatever they had a surplus of. In the evening one came over to talk with mother and she inquired if there was anyone that had some asafoetida that she could get. She had been in the habit of using it before she left home and had brought a quantity with her, but is was all gone and she was very miserable without it. Mother told her we had a piece somewhere, but she didn’t know whether she could find it. She replied, “O you must find it. I cannot be this near to it and not get some.” She was over early the next morning, and mother hunted until she found it. (It was some we had a Kanesville in the small-pox epidemic and the children had little bags with some of it hung round their necks), and it was strange the effect it had on her, for she said, “Now I will be all right,” and she took it so caressingly in her hands saying, “Oh, I am so glad to get it and will pay you anything you ask.” Mother told her she was perfectly welcome to it and was glad if it would do her so much good, and she went back to her wagon a very happy looking woman. In a little while she came over again bringing a basin of beans and asked if we liked beans and could make use of them, remarking that they were tired of them and had more than they could use anyway. As we were Yankees we were as glad of the beans as she was of the asafoetida, and we had used what we had brought with us and were glad to have some more. Then mother told her we would be glad to buy whatever she had to spare, so she bought back a peck, charging fifty cents which she thought a very good price, as they were very cheap where she had lived, and their load would be that much lighter. They were just getting ready to leave camp, but as it was Sunday we were going to rest over, and when they commenced hitching on their teams the swearing began, and of all the oaths ever poured from mortal throats that beat all—for it was impossible to be any worse, and the nineteen year old step-son of the woman I have mentioned seemed to be past master of all the bad language in the universe, and it was said that all the company were about alike in that respect. We were awe-struck and silent and felt like holding our breath till they got out of hearing. And mother remarked that if that young man’s requests were heard an answered they would not be likely to get very far on their journey. The father had died just before starting, but as there were other relatives in the company the family had desired to go along.
And now an event occured which changed the current of life for me.
NOTE. Here ends the clear and lovely recital penned by the hand of Mrs. Mary Ann Stearns Winters. The embodiment of modesty she ended her narrative where her marriage brought herself into the limelight. She could write of others and of childish falls and incidents—but not about her deepest mature emotions and experiences. The event she refers to was her marriage to the brave young teamster and pioneer, Oscar Winters, referred to in her story. On the 16th Aug., 1852, just before entering the Valley the young couple were married by President Lorenzo Snow, who was on his return voyage from his mission to Italy.