Preston Thomas: His Life and Travels by Daniel Hadlon Thomas (1942), 277-312.
View this source online
Wednesday 14th [Sept 1853].-- This morning about nine o’clock I started on my journey for Salt Lake having now made all things and bidding all the saints farewell. We set off beingaccompanied by Brethern Mich[a]el Minnich, Jos[eph] Harmon, Franklin Coats, James McPherson, and a young man by the name of Tha[d]eus Crandel, who does not belong to the church, but goes out with a view of wintering in Salt Lake and then go on in the spring to the gold mines.
We have two light wagons, four mules and four horses, our wagons are drawn by the mules, two each. I drive my own wagon and Bro Michael Minnoch [Minnich] drives his.
Today the weather has been very warm and the flies bother and tormented our mules most miserably, the road most of the day has been good with some rocky hills excepted. After traveling some 22 miles we camped near a creek where we had some good water.
Thursday 15.-—This morning we were off by time; just before starting a thundershower came up which lasted for a short time only, In the afternoon we arrived among the settlements of Cherokees at the crossing of the Virdigris [Verdigris] river. Before we reached the river within one or two miles we came to a deep creek with very muddy banks. Here my wagon stuck fast in the mud and the mules were unable to pull it out, and I was compelled to wade; and then it was with great difficulty we were able to get it out with both teams hitched on to it. After it was pulled through I had nearly the whole load to pack across the stream and up the hill, a distance of more than 200 yards; unfortunately at this particular time Bro. Franklin Coats and Joseph Harmon were gone some several miles down the river to a settlement in search of some brethrenand did not arrive until I had over the whole of my load which was packed upon my shoulders, and the mud for several rods was up to my knees; darkness came on about the time I had all the load across and was camped upon the banks of the creek. Here we had poor grass but having plenty of corn I fed my mules well upon that, and I went to bed worn out and worried with my hard evening’s labor.
Friday 16.-—This morning we were off very early and were soon upon the banks of the Virdigris [Verdigris] River. Here we found some difficulty in crossing owing to the banks being washed badly, then we had to dig down so as to drive our wagons over in safety. At t[h]is river in the last of the settlements which is on the east side. Here lives a Cherokee half breed by the name of Cooley and there are others living around. The place is known as the Hickory Bluffs on the Virdigris [Verdigris]—here the people tried to dissuade us from going upon so long a journey so late in the season and with so few men as they said we should certainly fall into the hands of the savage Indians, for no one ever thought of trying to pass over this route with so few men, being only 6 of us. But I was not to be dissuaded from my purpose of making the attempt to go home, for this was the whisperings of the Spirit to me and I felt to just put my trust in the Almighty for protection and safety. After crossing the Virdigris [Verdigris] which we effected without difficulty we set off to explore an unknown country to us in finding a way to the home of the saints. In about four miles from the Virdigris [Verdigris] is a large creek to cross and a good camping place. From here it is 16 miles to where we crossed the same creek again here we camped and it is a good place for the purpose. Soon after we got into camp, an Osage Indian came into camp. He seemed half starved, begged for something to eat. He appeared to be of the lowest order of human beings, I have ever seen. His appearance in camp admonished us to be on the lookout for our mules and horses, and it certainly stirred up the boys to watch with double diligence. The poor fellow after we had fed him made signs to go away but I tried to induce him to tarry until morning, thinking by this means to prevent him from carrying the news to his band, until we should be on our way tomorrow morning, and thus have the advantage of the time to get out of this country but I could not prevail upon him to stay, but when I proposed to take his pony out to grass with a rope and offered him a blanket to lie upon, he seemed to guess at my reasons for trying to induce him to stay and he was evidently, confused.
Saturday 17th.—-This morning we got a late start owing to Bros. Minnich and Harmon having broken one of the harness of their wagon and a new one had to be put in before starting[.] however at 8 o’clock we were off rolling over a beautiful country resembling very much the country west of Council Bluffs on the Missouri River. The whole face of the country is covered over with a very heavy coat of grass which is still as green as midsummer, ever and anon we crossed fresh Indian trails admonishing us that we are now traveling in an enemies’ country and it is necessary for us to keep wide awake. Today we have hauled our load over twenty miles and camped near a small creek where we had good water, and grass, and would be a very good place for a train. We took our horses off to a good spot of grass some three hundred yards from camp and watched them until 9 o’clock when we brought them in and tied them up to our wagons in our manner and fed them corn and kept one man on watch during the night. The night we divide in three watches, the first is until half past eleven, when the second goes on which ends at 2 o’clock, then the last goes on which ends at early morning. When all are well each one watched the corn every other night but now during Bro. McPherson’s sickness it comes a little oftener.
Sunday 18.-—This being the Sabbath we have not traveled but have lain still in order that we might rest and let our animals rest, and indeed it has been a rest day to me, for I stood very much in need of it, so much labor has to be performed and thru standing guard for three hours every night that I hardly have time to p[r]ay and I am worn down for sleep and rest is most needed. Brother McPherson still continues as sick as ever, and appears to suffer a great deal. We miss his help very much especially in standing guard at night.
Monday 19th.—This morning we were off in good time and were rolling over a beautiful country, but soon the face of it changed to rather mountainous and occasionally very rocky which made traveling with wagons very unpleasant and we have had several very severe hills to pull up. Along all the road which we have traveled thus far water and wood have been sufficient for large companies of emigrants at convenient distances and oceans of grass. This afternoon we spent traveling, we have passed no water and the rocky hills have been less frequent, the rock has changed from sand stone to hard limestone and the soil which is of a reddish hue appears very rich, camping time coming on and finding no water near the road we turned off down a steep large rocky hill about one mile from the road where we found water, wood and good grass. Today we have traveled some 28 or 30 miles.
Thursday [Tuesday] 20th.-—This morning we were off early and rolling over a beautiful country covered with a luxurious growth of grass, but no water and it was nearly noon before any was passed on the road, but when we found it there is a good camping place with wood, water and grass. Timber which has been very plenty all along the road is now becoming more scarce and apparently we are verging upon the vast plains lying East of the Rocky Mountains, extending almost the whole length of this continent. The weather which has been very hot ever since we started[,] last night changed to very cool and today a strong north wind is blowing and it is fine traveling; in the afternoon several higher elevations were passed[.] At night; we camped at the foot of some mountains on a beautiful creek—a lovely camping place. 25 miles today.
Wednesday 21st.-—This morning we were off at an early hour, pretty soon we commenced ascending the limestone mountains, the ascent was long and gradual and consequently easy for teams. When we reached the top we found the country almost a plain ahead of us, not, and the road somewhat rocky. We have almost lost sight of the timber. The day has turned cool and is lovely. This afternoon we began to observe the real Buffalo grass in considerable quantities and several kinds of antelopes were seen. We camped tonight at the edge of a beautiful valley and in the absence of any other name, I called it “Solitude”. Through this valley runs a beautiful creek with skirts of timber along its banks mostly walnut trees of a gigantic size. We passed over the stream and through the Valley to the foot of the hill to camp and hauled wood from the creek, mosquitoes were quite plenty. 25 miles.
Thursday 22nd.-—This morning we got rather a late start in part owing to two of our company having taken sick last night with chills and fever, namely Franklin Coats and Joseph Harmon, Bro. McPherson is recovering and is able to help a little around the camp. This forenoon we have traveled over a country, mostly level and a good road, crossed one creek and stopped to move on the banks of a large creek, with a broad strip of walnut and huckleberry timber on its banks. Daily we observe much Indian sign but have met with but one on the first evening after we crossed the Virdigris [Verdigris] River. Camped this evening on a beautiful camp with creek hearby [nearby], and with walnut timber skirted along its banks. This evening we saw signs of buffalo. 25 miles.
Friday 23rd.-—This morning we were by times and rolling over a beautiful country, no water was met with until late in the afternoon, and then we have hauled over a country destitute of timber not a tree to be seen. We camped without wood or water but good grass, many antelopes were seen today. 28 miles.
Saturday 24th.-—Today we have met with no wood; at noon we cooked some dinner with buffalo dung; this when it is quite dry makes a very good cook fire, early in the afternoon a beautiful small creek of clear pure water was crossed. Late this afternoon we reached the Sota [Santa] Fe and Independence road, the Ft. Gibson road intersects it just at Turkey Creek; here we camped, no wood, but water standing in holes, and grass poor.
Sunday 25th.-—Inasmuch as we have no wood and poor grass at this place we have concluded to roll on notwithstanding it is Sunday and our custom is not to travel on Sunday, but in this instance it seems we would be justified[.] We have traveled 20 miles today over a splendid road and camped on the banks of the little Arkansas River, very poor grass and water, but wood through Buffalo Hills, was found today[.] This day I have been observing a Fast before the Lord in order that I might enjoy His spirit and that He may help us on our journey and save us and our mules and horses from the Indians, prosper us upon our journey, which things may be granted us for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ and bring us safely to my home. Brother Franklin Coats is still very sick, the other brethren who were sick are fast recovering. 20 miles.
Monday 26.-—This morning we were up at the break of day, and soon after the sun was up we were rolling along—-we traveled over a good road this forenoon and have made good speed, stopped at noon, without water although we have crossed several creeks but they were dry, no doubt there is water in most of them somewhere, one buffalo bull was seen this morning with a herd of antelope. This afternoon we crossed a creek with deep channel and a small stream of running water, supposed to be Corn Creek, here we filled up our jugs, watered our animals, and drove on some 7 miles further and camped on very poor grass without water. Here I killed an antelope which was very acceptable as we were all without meat, butter or anything of the kind, his skin was quickly taken off and a game at roasting and frying commenced, and kept up until all had satisfied their keen appetites. None of my companions had ever before eaten antelope and they all pronounced it good meat. This day we have seen a number of buffalo bulls. 25 miles.
Tuesday 27th.-—This morning we were off by times and at 11 o’clock reached a large stream of water running over a broad wide bed of sand. This we afterwards learned was the Arkanasas [Arkansas] River. Here we watered our animals and drove on, stopping after a few miles to drive to noon, we then went on and late in the afternoon came to a large creek known as Walnut Creek. Here we discovered a large herd of Buffalo watering some half mile above the crossing of the creek, our party was stopped and myself and Bro. Michael Minnich went out in pursuit in order to try to kill one. Large numbers of them were coming down into the stream to drink, and after crawling on our hands and knees for a long distance we came in gun shot, and I succeeded in killing two large fat cows and Michael two poor ones. I immediately went after our wagons and left Michael butchering one. We soon were all on the ground, camping arrangements attended to, and all went to taking care of the flesh of the two cows and a little after dark it was mostly all carried to camp. This one is the last camping place we have had for sometime, good grass, good water and plenty of dry oak wood; this was much better than the Buffalo chips we have been compelled to use of late for fuel; our supper was of the best for no flesh is more palatable than hot tender buffalo cows. This afternoon a train of wagons were moving west on their way in to Independence. They informed me that they had been to Santa Fe. I obtained some matches from them as we came off without any and have been much troubled to kindle fires at campings for the want of them. 25 miles.
Wednesday 28th.-—This morning I obtained 4 sacks of flour from the quartermaster of a government train which passed us whilst we were taking care of our buffalo meat this morning. From the officers I obtained some information in regard to the road we are to travel, it seems from their information we travel the Santa Fe road yet more than 100 miles, then it crosses the Arkansas River and our road does not but goes immediately up on the North side of Burtsport. We also this morning obtained from a freighting train who had camped near us some soap and also some medicine for Bro. Franklin Coats who still remains very sick. Today we have traveled some 20 miles and camped on Ash Creek; we passed today a noted rock known as “Prairie Rock” the only one we have seen for many a day.
Thursday 29th.-—This morning we were off in due time but we have found the roads rather heavy from the rain which fell last night. The weather today is cloudy and a thick fog is resting upon the earth, the air is chilly and things look quite gloomy to us lonely travelers out on these vast prairies, with a long journey before us and winter fast approaching, and we have the Rocky Mountains to pass before we reach home, and the prospect is we shall have plenty of snow before we get thru. This forenoon we crossed a large stream of water known as the Pawnee Fork of the Arkansas River. I feel to be hurrying on with my little party as fast as possible trusting in the Almighty who gives me his spirit daily. I know He is with me and my faith is He will preserve us, but one can’t help feeling a little gloomy, such a wintry day as this on these plains amid such a vast solitude and with so small a party as I have with me, and the Indians are on the alert all time to steal, to rob and to kill, but I trust the Almighty will preserve us through and bring us sagely [safely] at home. We found a camping place on the banks of the Arkansas, but no wood, only buffalo chips which burn badly and cooking is difficult. Today we have traveled some 25 miles, several small herds of buffalo were seen on the high lands a good way off from the road.
Friday Sept. 30th.-—This is the last day of the month and here we are some 400 miles from Fort Gibson and 7 or 800 from Salt Lake. The weather has cleared up but the wind blows strong from the north and the day is cold and wintry. Soon after sunrise this morning we were off and rolling on up the Arkansas over a splendid road. We camped at a bend in the river where we found an old dry cottonwood log which made us a good fire—traveled today 25 miles.
Saturday Oct. 1st. This morning whilst we were eating breakfast about sunrise a large train drove up and stopped near us to cook their breakfast. From them I borrowed some information in regard to the road ahead of us, some of their men had the scurvy. I gave them some buffalo meat and some antelope. I wrote a letter to Bro. Barron and sent by them to mail for me at Independence. We soon were off, took in in the afternoon old Fort Atkinson, now a deserted post. The United States officers and troops we met at Walnut Creek some 100 miles before, were from this Post, and had but just evacuated it, which was by order of the War Dept. at Washington City, which I think was a wise step in evacuating as the Post was built of mud and not a single tree within some 30 or 40 miles. We drove on beyond this post some two miles and camped. 25 miles today.
Sunday Oct. 2nd.-—Today we have remained in camp and rested ourselves and our animals and indeed it has been a restful day to us all. This is my general custom in all my travels when I have the control to observe the Sabbath as a rest day but more especially because the Lord has commanded us to observe it as such.
Monday 3rd.-—This morning we were off soon after the sunrise, our mules seemed much invigorated by the rest on yesterday and I am sure we did ourselves. Soon after starting we met a large train from New Mexico, the wagons were all drawn by mules, soon after this we passed some ox wagons in camp on the banks of the river, these belonged to Mr. Bent of Bent’s Fort, a well known trading post some 180 miles down on the Arkansas, they were bound for the states, from them I purchased a splendid buffalo robe for $6, about 2 o’clock today we left the main Santa Fe Road immediately where we left it, it crosses the Arkansas and our road follows up on the north side without crossing it at all. We stopped for dinner soon after we left the main road. Here we had some very good grass. We then drove on until after sundown before we could find a camping place which at last we did upon the Banks of the river. Here we found a pile of flood wood, which we used for fuel.
Thursday [Tuesday] 4.-—This morning we were off by times – as we drove along I discovered a flock of geese near the road; took Bro. Michael’s shot gun and fired among them and killed two very fine ones, camped for the night on the banks of the Arkansas and waded – across the river to procure a little wood to cook with. It is a curious fact that althought [although] there are always trees in sight yet none are to be found upon this side of the river. This afternoon both Bro. McPherson and Thadeus Crandel are taken sick and both were compelled to forsake riding horseback and rode in wagons, and Bro. Franklin Coats was compelled to ride horseback, altho he was hardly able to do so, and I tied my pony to my mule in my wagon and led him in this way.
Wednesday 5th.-—This morning we were off soon as the sun was fairly up and rolling over a splendid road and in fact we have had a most extraordinary good road ever since we came into the Santa Fe Road. Since we left it we have seen a great many bands of antelopes which were very scarce before, we seem to be out of the buffalo altogether and I have seen but very few for a nu[m]ber of days. We turned into the river and camped on its banks where we had a little driftwood for a fire. 27 miles.
Thursday 6th.-—Last night I dreamed I was with Brigham Young and Willard Richards and had some conversation withem [with] them in regard to my mission to Texas. We got quite a late start this morning stopped at noon on a good spot of Mountain Blue Grass, traveled today some 25 miles and camped near the banks of a small chute which makes out of the main river across which Bro. Jos[eph] Harmon went and cut down an old dead dry cottonwood tree which made us a splendid campfire, but it cost us some hard licks to get it. Bro. McPherson our little Scotchman still continues very sick and Thadeus the Gold Digger who is with me has the Ague and Fever every day and is scarcely able to do any camp duty.Friday 7th.-—This morning we were off by early times and rolling over a splendid road. Last night I dreamed of seeing some of my old acquaintances among the Saints and some of youthful associates who have long since been dead among them Charles Law was one, and my sleep was secret. Whilst we were nooning today two Indians of the Shian [Cheyenne] Tribe came to us and begged something to eat. We gave them bread and buffalo meat, they informed us that their party was in camp on the Arkansas some distance, just at camping we came in sight of the horses belonging to the band and we turned in on the river and camped; soon after camping an Indian came to camp and informed us his band was camped just above and that they were Shians [Cheyennes].
Saturday Sat. 8th.-—This morning we took an earlier start than usual that we might be away before the Indians started to come to our camp to annoy us. We soon found their lodges some 20 or 25 in number. Several of their principal men came out hailed us and inquired if we saw many buffalo on the river as we came up. We informed them, Yes. They next inquired if we saw any Comanchus [Comanches] or Pawnus [Pawnees]. We answere[d] them No. All these questions and answers
d were given by signs. They said they were Shians [Cheyennes] and seemed to us to be quite friendly. We then drove on and after driving some 10 or 12 miles we met an Indian on horseback with a squaw behind him. He said he was a Shian [Cheyenne] and we passed on, soon after I looked back out of my wagon and saw that he had turned about and was following us. He continued with us some mile or two and turned into the timber on the Arkansas, making signs to us to follow him, this however we took care not to do, soon after he disappeared in the timber a party came rushing out on horseback armed with guns, pistols and bows and arrows, and rushing forward on my train (for I was in advance) by signs demanded of me to stop. This I did and by this time a number of them had come up. Then in a murmuring manner demanded of me sugar and I offered them a little in a tin cup. This they would not accept but demanded more. I made signs to them and gave them to understand that I was on a long journey and had but little. They still persisted. I filled up the cup, they accepted this and wanted more. I made an attempt to drive on but two of their party interferred and made signs if I did they would shoot me and one with a pistol drawn stood just in front of my mules. After consulting with the rest of my brethren it was thought best perhaps to give them some more sugar and perhaps this might satisfy them. I did so until I had given them three cups full. They seemed as little satisfied at this as at first. I refused to give any more. They then wanted several other articles. These I refused[.] they then gave me to understand they had a pair of Mocassins which they wanted to trade for more sugar. I gave them to understand I did not want to trade for I had very little sugar, but they persisted so with guns and pistols pointing in our face, that some of the brethren thought it safest to take the moccassins. I did so and gave them a cupful of sugar. During the parley about the sugar some of them attempted to put their hands into my wagon and take up little things, but I thrust them out. I now begun to feel as if their intentions were to rob us of everything and having but little choice between death and being robbed of all our provisions and clothing on the plains at this season of the year, the weather now cold and freezing, with these reflections I resolved to free myself from them, and pulling my rifle near and my large butcher knife lying on my seat just at my right hand, I demanded of them to get out of my way and let me drive on, they refused. I struck my mules, a pop with my whip, the mules started, and Indian sieged [seized] the bridle of the mule on the right side, this frightened them, and they jerked away from the Indian, the Indian struck the mule with the barrel of his rifle as the mule was passing him. This so frightened the mule that he stampeded and turning square off the road, my team running at the top of their speed for more than the two hundred yards before I could get them stopped. This done I whirled about immediately and returned to where the other wagon and the rest of the brethren were[.] I found the wagon surrounded by Indians and making demands of Bro. Jos. Harmon who was its driver, he had given them some flour and [they] had reached their hands into the wagon and had taken several little articles and still wanted more. After I drove up some of them wanted to approach me but I would not suffer them. Bro. Joseph at last got free from them, about the time we were starting it was found the Indians had taken my skillet from out of my food trough, frying pan, and one or two other things. However I recovered my skillet again, it being found hid in the grass near by, but Bro. Joseph and Minnich did not recover theirs. We then drove on, the Indians making no attempt at following us. We then drove on a few miles and stopped for dinner and to water our mules and let them graze for a short time. Some of the brethren were not for stopping at all, for I told them it was of no use to try to run away from the Indians for we were too far out on the plains and too far in the Indian country to think of running away from them. We then drove on until the usual camping time, 5 o’clock when we turned in near the river and found come splendid mountain blue grass for our mules and plenty of good dry wood, an old fallen & dry cottonwood tree; here we camped for the night. The events of the day made up the subject for the evening’s conversation, no one feeling comfortable at our situation.
Sunday 9th.-—This morning some of the brethren were for driving on and not resting until we were out of the Indian country, but I told them it was of no use to think of trying to run away from the Indians with our tired, worn down animals, but we must content ourselves to abide our fate for to overdrive our teams would be as bad as to be robbed by the Indians. I prevailed upon them to again stop and rest as it was the Sabbath-—we have found it a rest day indeed, both to ourselves and animals. This morning I walked out across the road at an early hour. I fell in with an Indian, on foot. He said he was a Shian [Cheyenne] and that his party had gone another way. I took him to our Camp and fed him well in order that perhaps we might induce him to stop with us during the day and not go on and give information to his band that we were passing thru their country until we had gone on, for we dreaded to come in contact with another band of them after yesterday’s adventure. My scheme worked to a charm and my Shian [Cheyenne] was induced to stay all day and night with us.
Monday 10th.-—this morning we were up by times and as soon as the sun was up we were rolling over the plains up the Arkansas wending our way towards my mountain home. But, before starting we gave our Shian [Cheyenne] some bread and buffalo meat for his dinner, for he had taken breakfast with us. After we had been travelling several hours we passed a number of lodges of Shians [Cheyennes]; some distance to our left in a bend on the river, one old man galloped after us overtaking and begging us for sugar. I, by signs give him to understand that the Shians [Cheyennes] whom we had met with before him had begged it all away from us. I gave him some hard bread and a piece of fat buffalo meat and he went away seeming satisfied. We rolled on until camping time when we turned in near the river where we found some very good grass. During the day we have crossed a great number of Indian treks freshly made going towards the river and crossing and going over on the Purgatwave River, which comes in on the west side of the Arkansas—the mouth of which we passed this afternoon about the upper end of what is called the “Big Timber” on the Arkansas which we have been passing for several days.
Tuesday 11th.-—This morning we were off soon after sunrise and rolling over a splendid road, which seems to be about the same from day to day, should this road continue from here to Salt Lake as good as the part we have traveled it certainly must become one of the great thoroughfares across the plains to Salt Lake and California. This evening riding ahead of the wagon I discovered the cattle of Mr. Bent for which we have been looking out for several days and camping below in a bend on the river[.] I rode up to his camp and had a conversation with him. He seems to be a man of intelligence and is an old Indian trader, and has been out on those plains trading with the Indians for 21 years. His old Fort which is now in a state of delapidation we passed early this afternoon, and is a noted place on the Arkansas River. I found him quite communicative, he now has a train of wagons with goods and is moving down the river, He has a large herd of cattle and horses and stock as he travels over the country trading with the Indians and going to and from the states.
Wednesday 12th.-—This morning we started just as the sun was rising and as we passed Mr. Bents train yet in camp we made a short stop. Here Thadeus Crandel sold his horse [to] one of Mr. Bent’s men for $2.00. I advised him to do so as the horse was about giving out and could not possibly hold out to go to Salt Lake. Mr. Bent proposed to swap some corn with us for flour as he was out of flour and Bros Jos. Harmon and Minnich were feeding their mules on flour, but Mr. Bent would not give only measure for measure, and this the brethren thought was not enough. So after stopping for a short time we drove on and after making a tolerably fair day’s drive we camped beside the Arkansas where we found some pretty good blue grass. We are now getting fairly in sight of the mountains and Pikes Peak looms out in grandeur for [far] above the other peaks and the eternal snow with which it is covered, glistens beautifully[.] the rays of the morning sun rays upon it. It was first visible on Monday and yet we are a great way of[f]. I learn from Mr. Bent the road passes immediately under it. I[t] must have been a great way off when first seen by us as we travel about 25 miles per day.
Thursday 13th.-—At sunrise this morning we started and rolled over all day, during the afternoon I kept a constant lookout for the mouth of the “Fountain La Buzon”, or “Boiling Spring” a small river running down from Pikes Peak, up which the road goes, leaving here the Arkansas and which Mr. Bent had told me was only 40 miles distance from his camp, but we did not reach it until just at camping time and we camped in the bend below. I had been the more anxious to reach this place as he told me he knew a Spaniard or Mexican who had some corn to sell. I rode to his house and had a conversation with him. He had corn and asked $6 a “Fonagan” this is a Mexican measure and is two and a half bushels of our measure.
Friday 14th.-—This morning we were off very early and drove up to Mousaline’s for this I had found to be his name, we bought of him four Fonagans of corn for which we paid him $24[.] He had a blacksmith shop but no blacksmith, he tendered us the use of it with his tools and I went in and filed up and nailed on shoes on several of the horses and mules of the brethren. This man only settled her[e] last Spring and intends to establish a farm for the purpose of raising grain to sell to emigrants and no doubt the soil will yield well but must be irrigated to promote vegetation. Here we have [leave] the Arkansas River and go directly up the Fountain Klu [La] Buzon, the Arkansas here no longer maintains the character which it has on the plains with low banks, shallow sandy bed with placid current, but here it assumes the character of a mountain torrent surging and roaring over its rocky bed with its waters clear and pure whereas on the plains they are muddy. At 12 o’clock we started and after driving a few miles we stopped to noon on the banks of the pretty Fountain Klur [La] Buzon. At night we camped upon its banks where we had some good mountain blue grass for our mules and dry cottonwood for fire.
Saturday 15.-—This morning we were off at sunrise and wending our way up the Fountain Klur [La] Bozon, all day we had a good road but in the afternoon there came on a hard shower of rain which made them muddy in places and of course heavy going which wearied our mules very much. At night we camped on the stream where we had poor grass.
Sunday 16th.-—This morning soon after breakfast I took my rifle, walked up the banks of the beautiful Fountain Klu [La] Buzon, that I might find a secret place to pray and also to search if “preadventure” [peradventure] I might find some better grass for our mules, finding some and as I was returning I discovered a band of deer on the opposite side of the steam. Feeling the temptation to shoot one was greater than I could resist. I reached the stream, crawled up, and with my rifle shot and killed two. I went to camp with my conscience bothering me for hunting on Sunday, in all my travels and journeyings this is the first time in my life I have felt to hold this day sacred and at times when crossing the plains I have seen the Elders shoulder their rifles and go hunting on the Sabbath, but I could never be induced to join them. I returned to camp and we moved up to where I had found the grass and then the three of us went and took care of my two deer which occupied most of the remainder of the day. So it turned out to be a day of labor with me rather than a day of rest. And, of course I did not feel as happy as I should have done had I let hunting alone, and I also was in dread lest the Lord be offended at me should in some way chasten me.
We are now in camp just under Pikes Peak, right at its foot. Last Monday its top was first visible to us when we were just above the Big Huber, on the Arkansas, and it has taken us one week’s hard travel to reach it, but today it is cloudy and only occasionally its top looms out through the clouds and the snow on its lofty peaks glisten with dazzling splendor in the rays of the sun.
Monday 17.-—During last night it rained frequent showers and this morning the ground is muddy and the grass very wet. I had to crawl into my wagon and sleep doubled up at the feet of Franklin Coats and Thadeus Crandel, now both sick with ague and fever, and of course I lay uncomfortable enough. For sometime they both have been sick and I have give up my wagon all my bedding except a buffalo robe to them, and my hands have been more than put in in attending to 4 horses and doing the cooking, waiting upon them, and bringing wood and water and standing guard almost every night. The Lord knows I am growing weary enough of it. We got a pretty early start this morning and after traveling some 10 miles up the Fountain Flu [La] Buzon we found we had taken the wrong road, this one being made, no doubt, by Indian traders. Night [Light] kept growing more and more dim until it ceased to be passable for wagons altogether[.] we had to retrace our steps. Bros. Minnick and Coats we sent ahead to search for the right road. When we got back it was the place where we had started in the morning. We camped for the night. Soon after the brethren who had been sent in search of the road came into camp and informed us that after much riding and searching they had found it and that it was very close where it rurned [turned] off, no traveler would ever have taken it unless previous instructions about it. Neither Bro. Bent nor Mousaline had told us anything about it, from the signs of travel whole teams have been misled as we have been.
Tuesday 18th.-—This morning we took an early start and were soon on the right road, it leaves the Fountain Flue [La] Buzon just after crossing a big sandy dry creek, goes for some distance to the creek, then follows a Dirroh [?] and gradually for many miles ascends until you reach the top of the dirroh between the waters of the Arkansas and the South Fork of the Platte. We traveled the whole day without finding any water until just at dark we found a small running creek making towards the Platte. Here we had good grass and plenty of wood of the Pitch Pine for fuel.
Wednesday 19th.-—This morning we got a very early start and commenced descending towards the Platte[.] the road most of the way was very good. In the afternoon we struck the head of Cherry Creek down which the road winds to its mouth, where we are told the road crosses the Platte. We camped upon the banks of this creek where we had good grass and the best of dry oak wood for fuel.
Thursday 20th.-—This morning we were off by times and rolling upon a splendid hard road whivh [which] follows immediately down Cherry Creek. We called a halt at noon for din[n]er where we had a small spot of the best mountain blue grass for our mules, about this time there came up a sever[e] storm of wind from the northwest, with a little rain which was very cold when Bro. Minnich and myself went to the creek for a load of wood which was some half mile distant. We found some dry cottonwood which we carried to camp and soon had a good fire. After halting for one hour and a half we drove on until camping time; when turning in to the creek found it was entirely dry[.] we continued on down searching for water and grass but could find neither, about dark we halted where we had little dry grass for our animals, during the night another storm of wind came up attended with a little rain and it suddenly grew very cold.
Friday 21st.-—This morning we were early up and having no water with which we might prepare our breakfast (the little we had brought in our jugs being exhausted) we harnessed up our mules and drove on, at half past nine o’clock we came to a small river, which is no doubt the South Fork of the Platte, here we called a halt and prepared some breakfast and let our mules feed upon the grass which grew in plenty upon the west side of the river, but of which seemed to be a very poor kind. After halted for two hours we drove on and in about six miles we came to a large beautiful creek rushing down off the mountains. For several days we have been traveling on the plains with a high range of mountains immediately on our left hand. Early in the afternoon a dark and portentious cloud seemed to rest upon the lofty mountains away far to the northwest, which soon drew nearer obscuring the mountains as it approached. Soon the sun which had shone very warm and brilliantly all day became hidden, the day grew dark and at three o’clock it commenced snowing fast with a violent northwest wind. We drove in two hours facing immediately the storm, the snow driving in our faces with fury. The brethren who were on horseback were obliged to dismount[,] tie their horses to the wagons behind, take it on foot in order to keep themselves warm or from freezing as it had grown intensely cold. At 5 o’clock we descended a steep hill but could not see what was at the bottom for the driving snow. Ever since the snow commenced I had feared we should find no wood for camping purposes and we should be compelled to do without. I had felt considerable alarm about it, but now whilst descending the hill, I began to have hopes we should find some stream and wood upon its banks which always is the case in the mountains that upon almost every stream small patches of cotton willow may be found. Sure enough when I reached the bottom of the hill I descovered a large tree dimly through the driving snow. I shouted to my companions behind, for I was in advance of all, “Timber”-—and turning my mules from the storm in order that the snow might not enter in my wagon whilst I was gone, for I started immediately to the tree I had seen. I found it a large dead log of cottonwood and standing on the banks of a dry gully and nearby a thick patch of willows and some good grass close by not yet buried beneath the snow, I returned as quickly as possible to my wagon, the others by this time had come up and I informed them of my discovery and we immediately drove to the spot. In a very short time we had a fire kindled with some pitch pine we had brought along with us for the purpose, the large cottonwood tree was soon cut up and supper prepared in the midst of the driving snow, our mules were staked upon the grass after being fed their scanty allowance of corn which is not yet quite exhausted. The brethren soon all retired to their wagons to bed, and I was left alone to watch until half past 11 o’clock[.] in the meantime the snow increased and continued to fall faster and faster, the wind blew frightfully and conditions began to look gloomy for reaching Salt Lake this season. My watch expiring I awoke the relief and retired to my wagon to bed but not to sleep for my mind was too full of anxiety for sleep, many reflections rolled across my mind. I thought of many of the frightful circumstances I had read of travels being undertaken and finishing up in snowstorms. I thought of Fremont’s unfortunate expedition, some years ago, when his party nearly all, with all his mules, perished in a snowstorm in these same mountains, not a great distance to the south of where we now are. I thought of the party some years ago who were snowed up in the great Sierra Nevadas west of Salt Lake and had to eat one another and most of the party perishing, and many other awful catastrophies came up to my mind but in the midst of all felt contented and serene for I knew I had been on the Lord’s business and had been faithful and was now returning to my mountain home in obedience to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, and felt no self reproach at the course I had taken in life and ever since I had been an Elder in this Church now nearly ten years I have been a faithful member and have borne a faithful testimony to this generation, if ever a Servant of God did to the things which the Lord required me to do. With these reflections I fell asleep and I dreamed I was with my Father (long since dead) and though I saw others of my kindred and communed with them upon the great principles which the Almight[y] is revealing in these last days for the salvation of the human family. When I awoke I felt comforted. I thought of my blessing which the brethren placed upon my head in the Tabernacle at Salt Lake City just before leaving for this present mission for Texas “that I should have power to return to my family and friends and should find my family enjoying the spirit of the living God.”
Saturday 22nd. This morning still snowing fast, snow nearly one foot deep, grass nearly buried out of sight, mules all drawn up, backs humped up and heads, from the storm, long icicles hanging from their sides and manes, poor creatures they look pitiable. The wind is still blowing fearfully, in the midst of all this I arose at daylight, before anyone saw the guard was up-—rounded up the brethren and in the driving storm prepared our breakfast, which consists every meal of the same thing, buffalo meat and flour bread; baked every meal by our hands and shortened with buffalo tallow, which I prepare in the following manner. I take the clean fat of the buffalo, salt it well let it lie in the salt for a day or two, then dry it and mould it into large cakes which I consider better for cooking purposes than anything save it be butter. The snow continued to fall fast until ten o’clock when it almost ceased and the sun could be dimly seen through the thin clouds and falling flakes of snow. I wished at once to move on to where we might find water and more wood, for our little steak [stake] of water was exhausted and we were compelled to resort to melting snow for both cooking and drinking and our poor animals had none since early in the afternoon yesterday. Some hasty dinner was prepared and at half past eleven o’clock we started, the wind blew very hard immediately in our faces and the cold was intense; pretty soon it commenced snowing very fast and I began to fear we had started too soon. The road was very hard to find in the deep snow and could be discovered at intervals when the snow had partly drifted out of it. However, pretty soon the snow ceased falling and the wind became more less and the sun became more plainly to be seen but a thick frozen fog rested upon the earth and entirely obscured the lofty mountain range at whose base we are traveling. We found it very heavy pulling for our mules in the deep snow. After traveling some five or six miles we came to a dry creek where we found plenty of wood and after searching we found a hole of water at which we watered our animals and filled up our water vessels, both kegs and jugs, and after searching up the dry creek I found some good feeding grass almost entirely buried beneath the snow which lay upon the grass nearby up to our knees—here we concluded to camp for the night and spend our Sabbath.
Monday 23.-—This morning the sun rose brilliantly and the highest peaks of the lofty range of mountains at whose base we lay encamped, loomed out above the clouds which concealed the main plain from our view and filled the mind with admiration and in my contemplations could compare them to nothing but my ideas of the towers of a celestial world, and under other circumstances I could have viewed the scene with unusual pleasure and delight, but our forlorn condition, here alone among these vast mountain ranges, with several hundred miles yet intervening between us and our home, the road to us unknown, but we know from our knowledge of the geography of the country it must be through and over vast mountain ranges, upon which at this time must lie a great depth of snow, our animals too are poor and are our only hope of carrying our provisions, added to these reflections, the fact that my young Texian [Texan] brethren are almost strangers to cold weather having been raised in a tropical climate (the southern part of Texas) some of them never having seen the ground covered with snow in their lives, and but little used to toil and hardships, having been raised in different circumstances, reflections like these tended greatly to mar the pleasure I felt at contemplating the scene spread out before me. A good warm breakfast was soon prepared of steak made of as good buffalo meat as ever we [had] eaten and warm wheaten bread, some baked and some fried in buffalo tallow, to which we all did ample justice save poor Thadeus Crandel who still is very sick in my wagon. The day I have spent mostly in writing, my brethren in scraping away the deep snow so as to uncover the grass for the poor animals, cutting down the tons of the sweet cotton for them to brouse [browse] upon, etc.
Monday 24th.-—This morning long before it was day we were all up and preparing breakfast and at an early hour we were pursuing our journey wending our way towards the home of the saints. The day has been quite warm and pleasant although the nights are intensely cold. Large pieces of buffalo sat freezing solid in my wagon and the creeks frozen hard enough to bear a man, the snow during the day pretty much all melted out of the road and the road became tolerably dry so as to be comfortable traveling. At night we camped upon a small dry creek with poor grass. Today as on every day since we reached Pikes Peak we have traveled alone at the base of a great mountain range [illegible] leaving it to our left and ever and anon we cross cold running creeks rushing down from the kanyons of the mountains.
Tuesday 25th.-—This morning the sun rose beautifully but was soon obscured behind a dark cloud which from before daylight had rested upon the mountains and about nine o’clock it commenced snowing which increased until about noon, when it was a storm almost equal to the one through which we have but recently passed though not quite so cold-—at one o’clock we reached a considerable sized river which no doubt is Laramie, Fork of the Platte, after crossing the stream we found some very good grass and a large dead dry cotton wood tree-—here we camped and staked our mules. The cottonwood tree was soon pulled and a large fire kindled but the wind blew so furiously and the snow fell so fast that no comfort could be taken.
Truly things now are unfavorable aspect for reaching Salt Lake this season with our wagons, a few more such snows and we will find it too deep for our mules to pull our wagons across the mountains. We retired to our wagons to bed and still the snow falling furiously.
Wednesday 26th.-—This morning I arose very early and found the snow nearly over a foot deep, the clouds were broken and promised to soon disappear. We thought the snow too deep for us to travel so we remained around a good log heap fire attending to various little affairs attending traveling and camping. About eleven o’clock the sun was shining very warm. We prepared some hasty dinner and set off but the snow was so deep we found it hard traveling but notwithstanding we continued on until dark and found no good grass but camped by a dry gully where we had some dry cottonwood for a fire. Truly the cottonwood is the tree of the desert.
Thursday 27.-—This morning we were off by sun up and after starting on, an Indian overtook us on horseback and said he was an Arapaho. I bought of[f] him a brown skin and a small buffalo robe, the skin he afterwards stole. He went with us for a mile or two, we crossed a small river which he told us was the Medicine Bow; from the direction which it was running it evidently falls into the Laramie’s Fork. Soon after crossing this stream, the roads around the mountains we pass at the kanyon out of which the Medicine Bow emerges after going for a mile up the kanyon, then the road turns to the right up a small dry kanyon; here we met a large band of Arrapahoe [Arapaho] Indians, some of the first we met acted as though the[y] intended to make a show or that they intended to rob us as the Shians [Cheyennes] had attempted to do, but an old chief coming up in a friendly manner and asking for something to eat gave us more confidence. We gave them all some things and they seemed satisfied. I had considerable talk with the old chief, he asked me what Indians we had met. I informed him. He then asked me where we were going. I gave him to understand we were Mormons and were going to Salt Lake; at this the old chief shook his head as much as to say we could not reach that place this winter on account of the snow. Hh [He] made signs showing me how there was upon the mountains snow, upon snow, upon snow, and showed me it was up to the sides of my mules. I gave him to understand that we must get there or at any rate we must try and I thought we should reach there. He bid us goodbye in a very good humor. And, we passed on. For a mile or two we kept meeting, mounted upon mules and ponies with the Lodge poles and all the moving paraphanalia [paraphernalia] of a moving tribe of Indians, not even the dogs excepted. We were glad when we were alone and done meeting them. During the afternoon our road lay between the continuous mountain ranges, the road was good and we continued to ascend until about our usual camping time where we found a good spot of grass and spring of water just at the top of the road where the road turns down the mountain.
Friday 28th.-—This morning we took an early start Brother [Joseph] Harmon driving my team and took my rifle to walk ahead of the wagons in order to kill a deer, if possible, for we are getting scarce of meat and our supply of buffalo tallow is getting very low. I saw a great number and fired at one large buck. He ran off, however sprinkling the snow with blood, but I had not time to follow him. I continued to walk ahead all day but saw no other deer nor antelope in the after part of the day, however, I shot one of those beautiful little mountain foxes just as we were going into camp. The day has been one of the coldest we have yet experienced. The wind blew a perfect gale all day, right in our faces, with occasional flurries of snow. This together with reaching the deep snow caused men and mules to be completely worn out by the time all got into camp, and some of the men fell down as they came in unable to do anything towards camp duty.
Saturday 29th.-—This morning we started early notwithstanding the intensity of the cold. The wind continued to blow a perfect gale, night stared ahead, all day we continued to ascend, it was up, up, up, etc.-—it grew colder and colder, the road was more rough than any day’s travel since we started on this trip. At night we camped upon the top of the mountains in a little hollow without grass or water, but plenty of pitch pine wood and we were all smoked as black as “tar turners.”
During the whole night the wind continued to blow with such violence that it was impossible to warm but one side of a person’s self at a time, and as for cooking, it was almost out of the question. Nothing I can here write can carry any idea of the fury of the wind, and the intensity of the cold, so fearful was it that not many of the men were willing to stand guard and myself and Bro. Harmon had to stand although it was not our turn.
Sunday 30th.—About 10 o’clock this morning we started, we found great difficulty in getting around the great banks of snow which were drifted in places in the road. Pretty soon however we began to descend towards the North Fork of Platte River-—and soon descended into a broad open valley where we found plenty of good grass and a beautiful small stream of water—here we took up camp for the day.
Monday 31.—This is the last day of October-—and notwithstanding the intensity of the cold we started at an early hour; all day we traveled in an open valley without wood or water, but in the afternoon we came to a river which we supposed to be the North Fork of the Platte, as we have no knowledge of the existence of any other river in these mountains, we found excellent grass here and camped for the night.
Monday Nov. 1st.-—This is the first day of Nov. and here we are in the mountains, yet how far to Salt Lake I know not, but this distance must be considerable. The day has been intensely cold and at night we turned off the road to go to some timber at the mouth of a kanyon which seemed to be a mile or perhaps a little more, but in the distance we were very much deceived for it turned out to be three or four and our horses were entirely worn out before we reached the place and it was sometime after dark, first we found an old fallen dry cottonwood tree which made us a good fire and a beautiful little stream of water.
Monday Nov. 7th. Here I find myself in camp on a considerable river, which when we were in camp yesterday I was certain was Green River, but when we came to the water I at once saw it could not be for it was running north instead of south as Green River does. We all felt a sad disappointment for this certainly must be the North Fork of the Platte and not the river we crossed on last Monday. We felt that we were much further from Salt Lake than we had anticipated, and of course all felt dejected. During the past week we have toiled up mountains and over snow banks, some of which we have found great difficulty in passing often times we have had to go around on the sides of mountains to avoid these great snow drifts, sometimes dig away the snow with shovels, our labors here have been arduous. The cold on these lofty mountains has been intense, our animals are almost all worn out, several have given out and from present appearances not many of them will be able to hold out much longer, and to add to our misfortune we have been annoyed very much by the Indians, and have had to divide our scanty supply of flour with them after giving them all the sugar I had. On last Thursday night we were visited by a whole band of those creatures who seemed to be in a starving conditions and nothing would do but we must make them a feast, and accordingly we set to work baking bread in our only two little skillets which the Shians [Cheyennes] had left us, and our camp kettle the only one we have which holds about one third of a bushel, was filled with the meat of an antelope, for our buffalo meat being exhausted I had only the day before killed one, and it was soon in the morning when we had eaten our last piece of buffalo meat for supper the night before, and all in camp seemed to acknowledge the hand of the Lord in sending us meat just when we needed it. But to return to the feast of the Indians, in the midst of our forlorn condition I was forced for a time to forget all in watching the etiquette, manouvers [maneuvers] of the Araphahoos [Arapahoes] as they dispatched the passing of soup and antelope as it was sey [set] before them. The whole amount of our tea board which we could parade for the important occasion was two plates, two small baking pans, two pint cups and a small wash pan and three spoons, all of tin, except the spoons which were of Iron. Bro. Harmon and myself drank soup out of a three quart tin bucket as I had him introduced to the Chief as the big Mormon Chief, and of course I must honor the feast by partaking likewise, but previously while the feast was a preparing, I had sat and smoked the pipe of peace and conversed freely by signs with the Chief. After all was over and dark had come upon us most of them went away, two of the chiefs remained, soon two squaws made their appearance who had not arrived in time, these the head Chief modestly informed me had no[t] partaken of the feast but would like to have something to eat. I tried to excuse myself by telling him it was growing late and my men were tired, and wished to go to bed, but it would not at all do, they must be fed for they were persons of distinction in the tribe. So at last I went to work myself, prepared some of the ribs of a fat antelope, made a fresh camp kettle full of soup, and set before them inviting the principal Chief the only one now remaining to partake again. This he readily did, I joining in myself heartily for I had eaten very little of the feast, first prepared. After remaining for some time the Chief proposed to sell me some beaver skins for flour and they all wanted flour. I gave him to understand I was not a trader but only a traveler passing through his country and had but a very little flour, but informed him that in the Spring when the snow was all gone if his band would take their beaver skins to Salt Lake he might trade for as much flour as all his ponies could pack as they had great quantities of it there. I asked him if the Arrapahoes [Arapahoes] were allowed to have more than one wife, he replied Yes. I then asked him how many he had. He modestly replied by holding up the four fingers of his right hand. After stopping still for a while longer he arose to bid me farewell. This was done by a hearty shake of the hand and as a token of great friendship gave me a warm hug around the shoulders which I retaliated as well as possible. At this he went away, his squaws and all following.
Monday night Nov. 7.-—Today we have remained in camp during a rest day as we traveled on yesterday and it is my custom if I travel on Sunday which I never do unless grass, wood or water is scarce, but if I do, I always try to observe a day during the week as a rest day. Our situation is becoming quite precarious, we are a long way from home, our animals almost worn out, feed for them all gone and flour for ourselves getting scarce. The weather however is more favorable than it has been, not being so cold and windy. May the Lord God of Heaven bless us and prosper us and bring us to our homes in peace and safety. All day today it has been snowing upon the mountains but quite pleasant in the wide open valley in which we are in camp.
Tuesday 22nd.-—Here we are on the banks of Green River, having arrived we camped in order that our animals might have a little rest and some grass for them for they have had very little since leaving the North Platte Fork which was this day two weeks ago. Since that time we have had three snowstorms and some very severe cold weather. The morning after we left the Platte a mountaineer and a Snake Indian followed after us and overtook those who were behind and gave them some information in regard to the road to Green River, the distance they said was some 200 miles, they further said there was no grass or as good as now, and not a single stick of wood upon the whole route, that they had just passed across from there and that they were nine days in crossing-—that it was the damdest [damnedest] hardest road they had ever traveled in their lives and no money could induce them to return that way. This very unfavorable account of the road to Green River completely discouraged some of the party and when they came up to where I was they (for I was some distance ahead and did not see the mountaineer) proposed to go back and winter upon the Platte or trade for some ponies from the Indians, after consulting together sometime it was agreed that Bros. Harmon and Minnich should go back and try to t[r]ade for some ponies and the rest of us should go on with the wagons. This plan was carried into effect and we accordingly went on and camped without water and a very little grass, but we had a good fire out of the wild sage. About noon of the next day the brethren who had gone back to trade for ponies with the Snake Indians overtook us, bringing still more unfavorable accounts of the road ahead of us. They were unable to trade for any ponies, and had made up their minds to return back to the Platte and winter there as there was buffalo in the neighborhood. According they began making preparations to return and Bro. MacPherson not wishing to return and asked me the privilege of putting his clothes in my wagon and going with me. I consented but rather reluctantly for he had no flour nor anything else to eat and we should have to share our scanty allowance with him, but as my manners is never to leave behind any saint who wishes to gather, if it is possible for them to go, I at last consented and I did it hoping I might be able to kill an antelope or a buffalo and thus procure meat, our arrangements were soon all made and we set off and Bros. Minnich and Harmon started on their return to the Platte. The next day we had a severe snow storn [storm] and we suffered intolerable cold, in a day or two we eat the last piece of our antelope and we had nothing but one sack of flour containing 100 lbs. and a little salt. I immediately put all upon half rations, from during today I hunted faithfully. I found both buffalo and antelope but could kill none and although I had good chances at the buffalo yet could not kill anyone, reason was I had a very poor gun, it was one belonging to Franklin Coats, and was entirely too small for buffalo. I had an old one which Bro. Sims Matheny gave me but it was almost broken and on the first occasion of shooting in attempting to reload it broke off at the bruch [breech]; from day to day we have traveled in the snow with only half rations of flour with nothing else but a little salt, daily we have grown weaker and weaker and our horses and mules are still weaker than we are, very little grass was found and several times we were two days without water for our animals and our chance for drinking and cooking was to melt snow over a wild sage fire. I continue to hunt but without success—saw only a single sage and a mountain rabbit I killed. The road we found to be pretty good but the scarcity of grass and water and the want of wood for fires caused us to suffer and our mules and horses intolerably. We at last reached the summit of the Divide, where the waters of the Continent of American [America] run each way, some running East flowing into the Gulf of Mexico and some flowing west into the Pacific Ocean. We found the descent was rugged for about two days journey when the road follows immediately down Bitter Creek and is tolerably good. We were six days from the top of the Divide to GreenRiver [Green River]. The [that] night we lay at or near the top of the Divide, then fell,
xxxxxx a deep snow which greatly impeded our progress. After this the weather turned intensely cold and on the second night after, my splendid mule “Texas” was frozen to death. This was a severe loss to me and I felt somewhat mad at his loss. The saints whom I came with from Texas purchased him at a cost of $125 and gave him to me and he had served me so faithfully for so long a journey. I could but feel sorry at his loss, but his value through [though] very great to me I cheerfully parted with as I have for the sake of this kingdom suffered so many sacrifices in friends and relations in Missouri, and in lands, in homes and farms, in silver and gold, in toils and sufferings, that now there is hardly any sacrifice that I know of which the Lord might call me to make, which I would repine at. But upon this trip my heretofore indomitable spirit almost failed me beneath my accumulated sufferings and three times when lying down at night I prayed to the Almighty that I might never awake to see another morning so great were my sufferings, my feet were badly frost-bitten my old boots were entirely worn out. I had a new pair but they hurt me so I could not wear them, the snow was deep and I was obliged to walk with all the brethren save little Thadeus Crandal, who from long sickness has been confined to the wagon and now is barely able to drive from the team. This we have been compelled to do from the weakness of our team. My companions are worn out in body and spirit, much more than I am, they seem as spiritless as little children and they look to me as their savior but I have carefully concealed from them my own feelings, for I knew if I perished my whole party would instantly do likewise. I feel assured that it has been the special interpretation [intervention] of the hand of the Lord that has saved us thus far, this spirit has been in my heart by night and by day and my slumbering moments have been lit up by the most splendid dreams, sometimes I would dream of being in the congregation of the saints and visiting with my old friends, then I would dream of conversing with Bro. Brigham Young and Bros. Kimball and Dr. Richards, then I would dream of my wives and children and they would be inviting me to come on! Oh, come on! and then I would--------my sweethearts in my dreams and then be at splendid feasts and parties among the saints, and after I had prayed that I might depart and go into the spirit world, in order that I might be free from my great sufferings, then the spirit whispered not yet, you have a great work yet to do on the earth. Thus from day to day we have struggled through the snow with not half enough to eat, upon reaching Green River found good grass, it was early in the morning but we camped and turned out our mules and boiled a little rice[.] all we had left[.] we then raked up a little corn which lay scattered upon the bottom of our wagon it having been spilt in pouring out of the sacks in order to feel [feed] our mules. This we washed thoroughly and put on to boil, that we might eat it. Whilst this was going on and writing, three or four mountaineers rode up on the opposite side of the river. I hollered to them to cross over, this they quickly did. I soon began to question them if they knew anything concerning the saints in Salt Lake. I found one of them had recently been on a visit there to purchase flour and gave me considerable information concerning matters there. This was the first reliable information I have had from the saints at home since I left there over a year ago. I then inquired if they could furnish us with anything to eat, the[y] replied they had plenty of beef and would sell us as much as we wanted for ten cents per lb. I went immediately with them to their camp some two miles down on the river. I soon returned to camp with a supply of beef which when the boys in camp saw it, they smiled and preparations were immediately entered into for cooking and a feasting commenced. Never in all my life did food eat so sweet, nor enjoyed. I ate with a more grateful heart. Thus after several weeks of scarcity, we had plenty at last to eat. While here we swapped off two of our animals, one mule and one horse we had to give a large boot[y], $60 in each case. So now we were fitted out with a fresh team and all felt elated with the prospects of a more speedy trip home. While stopping here I had a Snake Indian Squaw make me a pair of moccasins of soft well dressed buckskin. These I found a great relief to my sore feet and after this I suffered but very little from them.
The next day we set off for home, the weather being beautiful but the road we found to be quite rough until the second day when we intersected the main road coming through South Pass and Laramie. This was on Blacks Fork of Green River some 45 miles below Ft. Bridger, from this point we had a good road until we reached Bridger which was on the fourth day after leaving Green River. Here we procured some flour at fourteen cents per lb. and a fresh supply of beef. The night we camped near this place. We had a severe snowstorm. Here we received some intelligence from the saints at Salt Lake but nothing very definite.
The next morning we set off facing one of the coldest winds we had experienced since we had been on this long journey. The snow we found to be deeper and deeper as we ascended towards the top of the Bear River mountains which compose the rim of the Great Basin or Divide between the waters which flow into the Green River and then into the Gulf of California and those which flow West into the Great Salt Lake, on the top of this divide the snow was about one foot deep and in thro Bear River Valley it was some six inches deep. At Yellow Creek, some 75 miles from Salt Lake City, I left the brethren with the wagon and started to go in ahead in order to send out some help in order to get our wagon over this Big mountain. All day I traveled alone upon my little Cherokee Pony, just at dark I reached the Weber River, after traveling down the valley some two miles I turned aside and camped in a little kanyon some distance to the right of the road, solitary and alone I camped where I had good grass for my pony,—-good wood and good water. The night was clear and beautiful and I felt very happy alone as I was. I ate my small loaf of bread and rolled up in my buffalo robe and slept as sweetly as if I was in Eden.
The next morning I arose early and making ready, started just as I was emerging from the little kanyon into the road I looked up the road and I saw the mail man coming after me. He soon overtook me and informed me he had been in swift pursuit of me all the day before as he had passed my wagon soon after I left and had hoped to overtake me and camp with me, could not come up with mee [me.] I now joined him at night and traveled with him to the City where we arrived at 10 o’clock.