Mary Minerva Dart Judd sketch in Library of Congress collection of Mormon diaries, 1935-1938.
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In the spring of 1850, my father sold the farm for cattle to complete out [our] outfit for Salt Lake Valley, then the objective point of the wandering Saints, when on our journey about two days the waggon which uncle Julian Roberts had made for my father, in Bridgeport, Conn., and father had supposed would last for years got so dry that the wheels began to give way, He succeeded in trading it for a larger and better one.
We gathered with the saints at the general camp ground, at the mouth of Platte river, It was a beautiful place, with groups of waggons here and there among the groves of large trees,
I had never before seen so large a collection of waggons, It was the place appointed for the Saints to rendervous [rendezvous], for the purpose of organizing into companies and receiving instructions before starting out on the plains. They were first organized into tens, comprising ten waggons or families with a Captain. Five of these ten’s constituted a fifty with a captain over them. These were supposed to be strong enough to take care of themselves in the ordinary emergencies of travel. Two of these fifties were fifties were expected to travel near enough to each other to consolidate under a captain of hundre[d]s in times of danger from Indians.
Every family was expected to be prepared to live for six months, and to have bread for one year. After we had organized and crossed the Platte river we considered that we were fairly started on our journey across the Plains.
One thousand miles of travel where we should only find savage Indians and not much less savage mountaineers. During the first days of travel, we found that the pestilence was keeping us company, A number of children were running along on foot. We saw a boy about 12 years old laying by the road-side under a tree. At first we supposed that he was asleep. My father stopped his team and going to the boy found that he was so nearly dead that he spoke with difficulty. We gave him some prepared brandy and pepper which we carried with us. This revived him, He said his fathers name was Rollins, he had a large family and for that reason had perhaps had not missed his son, He was in Captain Wall’s company just ahead of us. We took him to his father who had camped with two or three companies on a rise of ground, That night the rain descended in torents, Our company traveled on the south of the Platte river the route usually traveled by the overland emigration to Calafornia [California]. The Saints were counseled to travel on the north side of that river, following the track first made by the Pioneers to Salt Lake Valley.
We had considerable dificulty in getting through a miry place of ground which resulted in breaking our waggon tongue[.] while stopping to repair damages, my mother [Lucy Ann Roberts Dart], my sister Harriet [Paulina Dart] and my brother [William] Goerge [Dart] were taken with Cholera.
When repairs were completed we started on. Soon after brother George said, “Father I want to get out,” Father took him out a short time, and as he laid him back into the waggon he was dead.
In this sorrowful condition we traveled on to the camp about four miles distant, after arriving there and turning out the team, father laid the remains of my brother under the waggon. It was nearly dark, I was very sorrowful. After walking around a little I came back to the waggon and found the body of my brother had been taken away, at a little distance I saw a light and started towqrds it. I was met by my father and asked where is my brother? He replied he is allright now he is buried… It brived [grieved] me much that they had carried him off without my seeing him. It was perhaps wise to not permit my young mind to be impressed with the rude coffined way in which they were obliged to put his remains into the earth.
Fortunately for the young the keen edge of grief soon wears off. Father kindly got us into the waggon and to sleep as soon as possible, For him and my sister, Ph[o]ebe [Maria], there was no sleep[.] They watched over the sick and dying. Early in the morning it was evident that the elements were gathering for a storm. I slept until the raging storm awoke me. My assistence was then required to keep the wagon frim [from] being turned over and the cover striped off.
This, at any time was an unfortunate occurrence for a traveler across the Plains, but in that night of sorrow it would have been doubly afflicting. About 4 o’clock in the morning my sister left us to keep company with her departed brother, Before leaving Council Bluffs, she had kept company with a young man who was on his way to California. Her last words were a message to him, expressing her desire to meet him in Salt Lake but she could not.
In the morning we buried her on a small rise of ground away from human habitation. Among the howling beast of the Plains.
As nearly as we could judge my brother and sister died about twelve hours apart. The first about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and the latter one about 4 o’clock in the following morning.
My mother was quite sick but we indulged hope of her recovery. When father talked to her about our dead. She replied “I shall notice it more when I get better, Disease had deadened the keener senivilities [sensibilities] of her nature.
Arriving near Ft. Laramie we camped for the night on a beautiful plot of grass, Here about midnight our sorrows culminated in the death of my mother.
The departure of our loved ones were characteyed [characterized] by unusual disturbances of the elements aroung [around] us. It was a terrible stormy night when our brother and sister departed. The evening before the death of our mother a circle was formed with our waggons, inside of which our cattle were confined for the night.
The jingling of bells and the ratling of chains warned us that the cattle had become panic stricken, and were endeavoring to break the enclosure and run away. Ours was the last waggon on one side of the entrance to the corral, and Captain Foots [Warren Foote] the last on the opposite side. Chains were hung across from one waggon to the other to complete the enclosure, The poor cattle in their frantic rush smashed two brass kittles which were tied on the back end of our waggon box, but they probably saved the end gate from being crushed in.
This stampede was couble [doubly] unfortunate on this night of our supreme sorrow,
A brother Clements [William Clemens] had previously been killed in a stampede when we were travelling.
My mother died on the 6th of July, about 4 miles from Ft.-Laramie. There is a feeling of supreme loneliness connected with burying our dead a long distance from human habitations, as we traveled on and saw the fort, we learned that our mother might have been buried nearer the living.
But circumstances pressed us onward and all our grief and tears would not bring our mother back, nor bury her only on the little hill where we had left her to rest until the resurection day, The song or humn [hymn] was sung at her buriel, “Come come ye saints no toil nor labor fear all is well all is well.”
For sometime we had been so absorbed in our own trails [trials], watching and sorrows that we had not time to sympathize with our fellow travelers in theirs, a number of families had suffered. A man who traveled next to us lost his wife. Perhaps the most grievous case was that of Mr. Rollins, whose little boy my father had picked up nearly dead by the road-side.
Twelve out of fifteen in his family had passed away, Passing Laramie we camped in a beautiful place by a group of springs for a week, to rest and clean up our waggons, and clothing, Here a gentleman died, and as soon some doubted his being dead, he was put into a grave and it was left open for some time, hopeing he might come to life.
I think the fear of death gave the pestilence a greater hold on some persons than it otherwise would had.
The cholera had swept of[f] many of the Calafornia [California]emigration who had preceeded us on the route South of the Platte.
We saw places where it was afidant [evident] companies had camped and buried many of their number, before moving. In some places clothing had been spread out on the bushes and left near the remains of their owner, the living having no use for these infected mementoes of those they had buried.
We saw several places where the dead had been dug up by the wolves who had picked from the bones the flesh the pestilence had left, Here and there lay a skull lost from the frame to which it belonged[.] Out of some graves a hand or a foot would project, These eminiiscences [evidences] of past sufferings, connected with the terrible realities we were passing through made a scene of horror which I hope humanity seldom witnesses, and which once seen can be forgotten.
The following is a wonderful testimony of the care the Lord has for his people. While the cholera was very bad on the south side of the Plat[t]e river, on the north side the pestilence was harmeless, I was informed that companies of saints, who traveled on the north side of the river did not even use [lose] an ox.
As we approached the mountains we felt more vigours and healthy[.] As we approached the bauffalo range we saw immense heards of them. When we emcpintered [encountered] one on the move our captin would order a halt in order to take better care of our animals and prevent them from stampeding with the buffalo, of which there was considerable danger. We dried considerable quantities of buffalow meat to last us into Salt Lake Valley. On the alkali groun[d]s west of Laramie we lost a cow. A lake covered with ice from two to four inches thick was a great curiosity to us. Our curiousity had been much exericed about a salaratus lake which we were to find in time of our route. The idea of gathering a tiral salararus by the sack full was in deed a novel. In this however we were not disappointed, for we found a lake and large quainty of the articles were manufacturing so[a]p. On the banks of the Sweet Water we found streams where we found many wild currants also a red and yellow fruit which we called Buffalow berries in honor of the noble animal which roamed over the country we traveled in. We crossed several streams where we were under the necessity of raising our waggon boxes, by putting block under them to avoid wetting our goods. The passing of Ft. Bridger, the crossing of Bear river and other streams indicated that we were approaching the object of out [our] tedious journey. Echo, so named from the echoing back of sound from its precipitous sides, was a point we had long been anxious to reach. For three mo[n]thes we had been traveling away from a civilization which had cast out the Saints, to build up a better one in the Deseret, After our long desent travel Salt Lake city was beautiful to us, with its streams of crystal water murm[ur]ing along the streets. There were not many houses but there were enough to give it an iar [air] of civiliaziation and comfort. We left our home in Bridg[e]port, Conn[ecticut] in April 1849 amd arrived in Salt Lake City in September, 1850, We had traveled about 3000 miles and passed through many changes a and vicisitudes, some of them of a very trying nature. Three of our dear ones had passed throught the gateway of death, we trust to a better life beyond. They ended their work[.] we still live on to accomplish ours.