Stephen Forsdick autobiography, circa 1927, 15-26.
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- Source Locations
- Church History Library, MS 164
- Related Companies
- Jacob Gates Company (1853)
In Camp at KEOKUK.
When morning came it found most of our baggage in a large warehouse on the levee and we began to look for the camp. It was located on a bluff about half a mile north of the business part of Keokuk.
At that time the business part of Keokuk was confined to about one street, which I think ran west from the landing.
The Morman [Mormon] camp consisted of a long street with wagons on either side of it. We were shown our camp, which consisted of about twenty wagons with bows on them, that was all.
As we belonged to the ten pound company, we were told to divide ourselves into groups of ten and each ten to take possession of a wagon.
During the voyage I had become acquainted with a man from Newport Pugnell, in Bedfordshire, the county adjoining the one from which I had come by the name of John Bignell.
He was a man every inch a man and had a wife and little boy, named Sammy. He proposed that we go together and pick up another family to make our ten.
We picked up a family by the name of Butler. There was a man [John] and wife [Elizabeth Archer Butler] and six of seven children, but as two of the Butler children were small and the Bignall boy just a little fellow, we only averaged ten adults.
Many tomes on the trip, we wished that we had packed som other family. Butler was a shoemaker and was fit for nothing else, while his wife was entirely out of her element on the plains. They had two good sized boys, but one of them was too lazy to eat, the other one, Jack [John Ockford Butler] did fairly well.
As soon as we were supplied with a wagon cover and tent, Bignell said that his wife and child and Mrs. Butler and their small children would sleep in the wagon and the rest of us in the tent.
From that time on I pitched the tent with the help of one of the others. Some bacon and flour were served out to us and we commenced camp life.
In the meantime some wagons had been hauling our goods from the river to the camp and we picked out what belonged to us and put them in the tent or wagon.
I remember that it was very muddy. We had lots of rain, so that our first acquaintance with camp life was not very flattering.
We went to the timber to get wood for the fire. Eggs were cheap in Keokuk, so we bought some eggs, fried bacon and eggs and made pancakes and felt like we had had a feast.
Bignall’s and I messed to gether and the Butler’s by themselves, except when Mrs. [Lucy] Bignell would take pity on them and help out.
After being cramped up on shipboard for so long, it felt good to have plenty of room to run about and we enjoyed it to the full. After we gathered plenty of wood and water, we went fishing and hunting and thus two weeks passed.
Some of the camps moved off and we became anxious to be on the move, but were told that our cattle had not come.
Men were down in Missouri buying them and had to go farther than they expected to[,] hence our delay.
While we were camped here a lot of us concluded that we would visit Nauvoo, Illinois, from which the Mormons had been driven seven years before.
One morning we started up the river to Montrose, then crossed the river on a ferryboat and were in Nauvoo.
We visited the ruins of the Mormon Temple who had hardly finished it before they were driven away. In fact, quite a number of the big men had left, but recrossed the river to assist in the dedication. A few nights after it was dedicated it was burned.
The Mormons always claimed that the mob which drove them out burned it, but I was afterward told that it was burned by orders from Brigham Young, so that the gentiles could not learn their secrets.
We visited the house that Joseph Smith built, as he said by direct revelation from God. We found his widow living there, but she had married again.
She told us that Brigham Young had no right to lead the church, that he was a false prophet. They might just as well have tried to turn the Mississippi river up stream as to make us believe that. Our faith was too strong, so after wandering around until we were tired we went back to camp.
A few days later the cattle came and then the fun began. Mr. Bignell had been a teamster in England, so he and I went among the cattle and picked two yoke of oxen which we chained together and called “Our team”. We then picked out two yoke of cows and drove them out of the corral and began to break them.
It was easy for him to do, but lots of the men had never driven a team in their lives[.] They did not know Gee from Haw and could not put on, nor take off a yoke. They could not get their own oxen near the wagon tongue and it took lots of patience, as many of the men were greener than the cattle.
It would take two or three men to each team, some on one side and some on the other and why there were not more accidents is something that I could never understand.
The BEGINNING OF THE TRAIL.
After driving the cattle around for a few days and getting the men used to their teams, about the first day of June we broke camp and started our long journey, overland.
We drove out a short distance wher the grass was good and there a meeting was called for organization.
Jacob Gates was appointed President and he chose Richard Waddington and a man named Noyer [Jonathan Moyes] to be the Captain of fifty, that is; each one would be Captain of half the wagons
Each three wagons were under a Captain, called the Captain of ten and it was their business to see that they all got through the mud holes and all came into camp each night.
I pitied some of the captains at the start, but before the journey was ended I had the experience myself.
The first few days we made short drives, getting the cattle used to the work, as we were very heavily loaded.
It had been promised us in England that we could take a hundred pounds each across the plains with us, but before we left Keokuk, the leaders told us that we could not take that much. We had to throw away our trunks, boxes and some of our books and make bags for our clothes, so that I do not think we averaged sixty pounds each.
By the time we had flour, bacon and other provisions for ten people, our clothing and bedding packed in the wagons, we were very heavily loaded.
The year of 1853 was a very wet year in Iowa and we soon found lots of mud holes. As we got further west many of the creeks had no bridges and we would have to wallow through the best we could. Several trains were ahead of us, so that the roads were badly cut up.
When we came to a mud hole, our Captain Gates would be in the lead, but he had three good teams and usually got through all right. Then some of the next ones would get stuck and we would have to double teams and it was slow work. Perhaps the same thing would happen several times a day.
Sometimes in crossing a creek, the banks would be very steep on both sides, then those who were not driviing would have to put their shoulders to the wheel and help push the wagon out of the creek.
Going down, one man would stand on the bank and lock the wheel or wheels, depending upon how steep the bank, another man would stand in the creek and as the front wheels struck bottom, he would unlock the hind wheels, without stopping the wagons.
The lock was just a chain in two parts fastened to the wagon box and by slipping a ring the wagon was unlocked.
We crossed the Des. Moines River at Farmington on a bridge. After we were about a hundred miles west of Keokuk, the roads began to improve. There was very little settlement and the road could follow the ridges.
We found plenty of rabbit and quail to shoot and saw some wild turkeys, but did not get any of them.
As we neared Council Bluffs, owing to the oxen and teamsters getting better acquainted, we made better time. The last of June, the first stage of our overland journey was ended and we camped just west of where the Chicago and Northwestern Depot in Council Bluffs now stands.
At that time about all their was to Council Bluffs was up in the hollow and it did not amount to much. The town was founded in 1847 by the Mormons and was called Kanesville.
The settlement around there was under the Presidency of Orson Hyde, but in 1851, Brigham Young called all the saints in Pottawattamee [Pottawattamie] Co., to come to Salt Lake City and about all the faithfull left.
Soon after they had gone the Gentiles changed the name of the town to Council Bluffs, because for a long time the bluffs, had been a favorite rendezvous for the different Indian tribes to meet and hold council, to make treaties, or to break them and go on the warpath.
Here we found some people who had crossed the sea with us, but who had left Keokuk before we did. They had concluded to go no farther, their faith having failed them.
Some of the ones who crossed Iowa with us, also decided to stop, among them was John Doggett, who had been my berth mate on the ship.
He was an old man and quite lame, but had been compelled to walk nearly all the way, which we all did.
He came to me and told me that he could go no farther, that he could not pay me the money that he borrowed from me in Liverpool. There was a steamboat going to St. Louis and he could deck passage and would pay me when he reached St. Louis.
I bade him goodby and the old man reached St. Louis in safety, only to die among his relatives. He was a good old man and it was sad to see the painful effort he made trying to keep up with the train.
In those days all companies crossing the plains were called “Trains” either ox trains, horse trains, or mule trains, as the case might be, so do not understand that they were railroad trains, because at the time there were no railroads west of the Mississippi river.
When we went into camp, we found that the Missouri river was very high and as there was a large train ahead of us, we settled down to wait and look around.
The ferry boat crossed the river about where the railroad bridge is now. It was called the Lone Tree Ferry, because only one tree stood on the river bank on the Nebraska side.
The territory of Nebraska had not then been organized and all the land west of the river belonged to the Indians.
At that tome there was quite a strip of timber on the east side of the river and one day I shot a fine deer, that ran out of it.
There was a big slough in the timber, but the river was so high that they could sail from the extreme edge of the slough to the other side of the river.
It was the fourth of July before the train ahead of us got over, and by that time the river was falling, so that the ground between the river and the slough was out of the water.
This made it necessary to keep one boat in the slough to ferry across it, and the other boat in the main river.
There was only one man with each boat, so that we had to do our own work towing the boat up the river by hand far enough that we could make a landing at the right place on the other side.
Volunteers were called for to man the oars and towline. I volunteered and was assigned to the boat in the main river. It took us ten days to ferry the thirty-three wagons and the cattle across. It was hard work, the river was high and the current strong and lots of snags on the Iowa side.
I have wondered since that none of us were drowned. We did not know the dangers of the river, nor how easily the banks caved, and we did not use the precaution that we should have.
Fortunately there were no accidents and on the fifteenth of July, we had the last wagon across the river.
Here we learned what Mosquitoes were, some of us were bitten so badly, we could scarcely see. We had not learned that smoke would keep them away.
I should have stated that when we were organized that a Captain of the Gaurds was appointed and all men and boys of fourteen or over were enrolled for Gaurd duty.
We were divided into two sections, Section one composed of all the able bodied men was called the Night watch, the old men and boys constituting the Day watch.
It was the duties of the Day Watch to herd the cattle from the time we camped at night until eight o’clock and from four in the mor[n]ing until we were hitched up ready to start.
The Night Watch was divided into two divisions, the first section going on duty at eight o’clock until twekve [twelve], and the second division from twelve until four in the morning.
ON THE PLAINS
Crossing Iowa our gaurd duties had been very light, merely to keep the cattle from straying, but as we were now in Indian territory, stricter rules and greater vigilance was necessary.
The Captain of the Gaurds had a list of the names and the first eight names called had to stand gaurd, four in each until all had been on gaurd duty, then it commenced over, and the same with the day herders.
Some trains always corraled their cattle at night, but we never did. Sometimes they would be close to camp, sometime they would be guite [quite] a distance from camp, if the feed was better.
As soon as we camped at night, the cattle would be driven to water and then turned out to graze. As soon as some of them would begin to lie down, we would bunch them up and station ourselves around them.
Generally they would lie still untill two or three o’clock, when they would get up and go to feeding.
If the night was stormy, or the wolves too thick, or a herd of buffalo near, they would get restless and often we would have to call for help. A herd of buffalo could stampede a herd of cattle sooner than anything.
As a general rule it was not much trouble to get out the second watch, but you will always find some shirkers in every crowd, we had them. but they had to take their turn.
Our Captain Gates would not travel on Sunday, unless we camped Saterday night where the feed was poor, then we would travel Sunday untill we found good feed and then we would stop.
He said that our cattle were our salvation, and as on ship board we had prayed for fair winds, so we now prayed that “God would bless our cattle and make them strong”. Mr. Gates never failed to hunt the best camping grounds, where feed and water was plentiful.
He was a good man of good sence and judgement, always letting the cattle fill up in the morning before starting and making the noon long or short according to the feed.
Our train consisted of thirty three wagons drawn by two yoke of oxen to each wagon and we had probably a hundred cows and young stock with us. Part of the time, the hundred cows were hitched up, but as a rule they were driven behind.
There were about three hundred people in our train. while on the Iowa side we had taken on more flour and bacon. We also had salt, sugar[,] tea, coffee and other things. At that time I neither drank tea nor coffee., unless the water was especially bad. We had two cows to each wagon, so that we had some milk to use.
Our bread was baked in cast iron kettles, by putting some coals under the kettle and some on top of the lid. When we had good wood, it was not such a hard task, but when the wood was wet or poor, or when we had to use wet cow chips, (which we often did) then baking was a hard job.
The women did the cooking and baking generally. In those days, we had no yeast foam, but they saved a piece of dough from one baking to another[.] The bread was mixed in the morning and by night it was ready to bake. It was not always good, but it had to do.
Our day would begin about five in the morning. It was get up, eat breakfast, then gather up everything, roll the bedding and put it in the wagon. Then strike the tent, roll it and pile it in the wagon and fasten the tent poles, to the side of the wagon.
Then came the order “Bet [Get] up the cattle”. The day herders would start them toward the corral and we would drive them in. They were then yoked and hitched to the wagon and the lead team would start out and the other[s] fall in line.
A corral was formed by dividing the wagons into two parts. In going into camp, the Captain would select the spot and the lead team would drive to a certain place and stop. The next wagon would drive up so that the end of the tongue was close to the hind wheel of the wagon ahead.
The others would follow, until the seventeenth wagon made half of the circle. The eighteenth wagon would pull haw and come up opposite number one and leave a space of twenty or thirty feet between them. The other wagons would then close up the other side, thus making two half circles, with an opening at either end.
When the order was given to get up the cattle and wagon
s tongues would be lifted and fastened with a chain to the wheel ahead, thus making a fence, with some one standing at either end.
The tents were always pitched and the fires built outside the circle. This was done so that in case of an attack by the Indians, we could get behind the wagons and the firelight would show us the attacking party.
Another kind of a corral was made by clossing the front end, by having the wagons stop close to gether, leaving only one end open. Still another kind was made bu driving the wagons close together with the tongues on the inside.
This kind was only used when a train was attacked when on the move. We were never attacked and always corraled like the first Discription.
When we stopped at noon the cattle were not unyoked but were unhitched and allowed to graze and we did not corral at noon, but stopped with the wagons strung out. Our noon meal was never much more than a lunch.
At night after we had corraled, the first thing to do was to get water and wood and get supper. We would pitch the tent and we who slept in the tents would make our beds on the ground.
After supper almost every night it would be bake bread and on a stormy night, this was anything but a pleasant job.
The watch would then be set and some meetings held and usually by nine o’clock the entire camp was in bed. Next morning it would be the same thing over and every day passed much as the day before.
Sunday we laid still if the feed was good. That was ussually wash day in the camp and if any of the cattle needed shoeing, or any blacksmithing or wagon greasing it was done.
We usually had two or three meetings on sunday and the rest of the day was spent in hunting, fishing or anything we cared to do, bur [but] the main thing, was to let the cattle rest.
We started from the place where the city of Omaha now stands on the seventeenth day of July and two days later crossed the Elk Horn river on a rope ferry and camped on the Platte bottom.
Several days later we crossed the Loup Fork on a rope ferry and it kept several of us scooping sand to keep the passage open for the boat.
We had now left civilization behind us and found the road good, except where we had to ford a creek. Feed was plentiful and we could usually get all the wood we wanted from the Platte river.
Our Captain had been over the route before, having gone out to Salt Lake and back. We had a guide book compiled by William Clayton, who crossed the plains with the pioneers in 1847.
This book gave the distance from point to point. Every creek was noted and whenever we saw “R.R.& T.” we knew it was a good place to camp, as the letters stood for River Road & Timber
The distance was measured [in] 1847 by a roadmeter and it was correct. When a strip of sandy road occurred, it was noted, as also were rocky roads, or dangerous places in the mountains.
For the first two hundred mile[s], the days and roads were much alike, unless we encountered a rainstorm, until we got near Wood River.
Here the first party of our group died. His name was [George] Horsfall, he came form London and was about forty five years old. The poor fellow, he walked as long as he could, then lay day after day in the hot wagon, jolting along with nothing but creek water to drink until he died.
We dug his grave along the bank of a small creek, which I think they called Rattlesnake Creek. We sewed him up in a sheet and laid him down in his grave. How long he lay there will never be known. The country was full of wolves and they would dig into a grave.
It is hard to bury our friends where we can visit their graves, but to put them in the ground on the bleak prairie and go on, leaving them possibly to be dug up by the wolves, was indeed hard, but it was the best that we could do.
After we were west of the present town of Grand Island, wood began to be scarce and finally failed altogether and for over two hundred miles, we had to rely entirely on buffalo chips for fuel.
We had a visit from a band of Pawnee Indians about a week after we left the river and as we got farther west scattering band[s] came to put camp.
I remember that Mr. Bignell [John Bignal] traded a pinto of sugar to an Indian for a good buffalo robe. Some of the others traded for mocassins.
As the wagons were heavily loaded, no one except small children, sick folks and very delicate women could ride. When we came to a creek, we would pull of[f] our shoes and stockings and wade across, both men and women and later we waded rivers the same way.
After we were west of the forks of the Platte river the roads became more sandy, the grass not so tall and in due time, we came in sight of Chimney Rock.
This rock was on the south side of the North Platte river and at that time was visible for about fifty miles. It looked very much like the chimney of a large factory.
This rock is still standing and is just two miles south of the present town of Bayerd, Nebraska.
Another or two brought us to Scotts Bluff, also on the south side of the river and a few days later we arrived at Fort Laramie. From here, we got our first glimpse of the Mountains. Laramie Peak was the first we could see.
It is on the same range as Long’s Peak and was about a hundred and fifty miles northwest of us, when we first saw it.
We reached Ft. Laramie on the twenty second day of August and we were about half way to Zion on our overland trip.
I shall have more to tell about Ft. Laramie later, so that I will defer a description of it now, but I little thought as I went through it, that one of the most important events of my life, would occur at that place.
CROSSING THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE.
We stopped a day or two at Ft. Laramie and then started on the last stretch of our long journey.
At this place we crossed the Platte river, the water coming up to the hind axle. The river was clear, with sandy bottom and the current ve[r]y swift.
After crossing the river, we followed the Oregon Trail as far as Ft. Bridger.
I have found that there are a great many people who are confused as to the routing of these two old trails, so I will briefly outline the two different trails.
The old Oregon trail started from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas and went in a northwesterly direction to Ft. Kearney, Nebraska. From there it followed the Platte river to where its branches and kept olong the South Platte to about the presant corner of Colorado. It turned then to the northwest through Ash Hollow to the North Platte river.
It did not cross the river, but followed along the south side to Ft. Laramie. From ther it went almost west for a hundred miles and again turn north to the Sweetwater river, past Independence Rock, over the South Pass to Ft. Bridger. From Ft. Bridger it went northwest to Oregon.
The old Mormon Trail or as it was sometimes called, the California Trail, started from the present town of Florence[,] Nebraska, then called Winter Quarters.
It followed the Platte and the north Platte rivers across the entire state, keeping to the north side of both rivers. From FT. Laramie to Ft. Bridger it followed the Oregon Trail.
Where as the Oregon Trail continued to the north and west from Ft. Bridger, the Mormon Trail branched to the south and west, through Echo Canyon to Salt Lake City, thence on to California.
After leaving Ft. Laramie we left the river and did not see it again for nearly a hundred mile. This was the best part of our entire trip.
The roads were good, water wood and feed plentiful. There was a good deal of gravel, which made it necessary to shoe a good many of the cattle.
In about a week, we came to the Platte again and on Saturday night, camped near the mouth of Deer Creek. There was a fine vein of Coal up the creek a short distance and the blacksmith and others got several sacks of it.
We camped there for several days, shoeing cattle, washing and cleaning up generally.
Our cattle, thank goodness due to the good judgement of our Captain, were as a whole in good condition.
We had several teams that had been stuck so often they had become balky and caused a lot of trouble.
The Captain of ten, to whom they belonged became discouraged and gave up the office and I was appointed to take his place.
For awhile I was late into camp almost every night. I finally decided the only thing to do, was to keep the other teams belonging to the Ten back and when these cattle balked double teams and simply pull them through. By doing this we could manage to keep prety close to the rest.
The night before we left the Platte, I shall never forget. We had overtaken some droves of sheep, which were being driven through to California. Someone in camp found a stray and had it tied to the wagon.
The wolves were so thick, that the camp guard had to almost stand over the sheep to keep the wolves away.
During the night a big storm came up, thunder, lightening, wind and rain.
I stood at one of our tent poles and [John] Butler at the other and by firmly bracing ourselves, we managed to keep our ten upright. A good many of the tents blew down and our tent was soon filled.
After the storm abated, it looked like a cyclone had hit us. The only thing to do, was to set up the tents and pass the night the best we could. Our blankets were dry, but those whose tents blew down were wet.
After leaving Deer Creek, we crossed over the north side of the Platte and left it entirely.
From here we struch across country, through sand, sagebrush and alkali to the Sweetwater River. This was the hardest part of the journey. Feed and good water was scarce and could only be found in certain places. We were compelled to make several long drives to find a good place to camp.
Alkali was very plentiful and it required extra vigilence to keep our cattle from getting it, as a very little of it would kill them. We soon began to see lots of dead cattle, that the trains ahead of us had lost.
I have said nothing about buffalo hunting. We only had one horse in the train and although we saw Buffalos by the thousands, we only killed two or three.
About this time, an old Scotchman, named Heggis [John Duncan Heggie] in getting out of a wagon, while in motion fell and the wheel went over his leg breaking it.
He was put back in the wagon. We fortunately had a man with us, who had been a doctor in Liverpool, who set the fractured limb, but he was unable to walk the rest of the way.
Soon after this we came to Independence Rock, on the Sweet water river, named we were told because General Fremont had camped there on the Fourth of July, some years ago or before.
Yuo will remember that I told you in the beginning that I had seen the picture of this rock in London and I readily recognized it when we came to it.
It is a rock nearly half a mile long and from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet high. At that time it was covered with names. Some painted, some chiseled and some in pencil. As I remember it, most of us wrote our names on the rock in some form.
Some of the boys climbed to the top of it and said it was shaped like a basin and contained water, but I did not go up.
The next day we crossed the Sweetwater River, which at that place ran through perpendicular cliffs, about three hundred feet high and was called “The Devil’s Gate.”
I remember right in the gap by the side of the road was a grave, with a big boulder for a head stone, with a name chisseled in the rock.
The roads now became very ro[u]gh and rocky, requiring carefil driving, not to break the wagons.
We drove along the river for several days, our progress being necessarily slow, one day crossing the river three times.
Each time we were getting nearer the summit of the Rocky MTS. We finally crossed the river for the last time and found ourselves on a fine plateau.
The road was smooth and hard as a floor, with the mountains on the north and south of us. This was the south pass.
After traveling this way for eight or ten miles, we came to a small stream and found that the water was flowing to the west and knew that we had crossed the Continental Divide.
The decline became more pronounced and wa [we] soon found that the descent was being rapidly made and we camped at a place called Pacific Springs.
ZION AT LAST.
The country from here to Green river was very barren, nothing but sand and sage brush. There was some vegetation on the river to the north of us.
This stream was called the Sandy and emptied into the Green River. At this place we had to level the road and go to the river and camp. We shot some sage hens and found them good eating.
By this time there were several people in camp sick. A man named Squire [John Squires] from London had two children sick.
He called my self and some others to administer the ordinance of annointing with oil and laying on of hands. The practice was for some two or three to lay their hands on the heads of the afflicted person and one would do the praying.
I felt that thee one for whom I prayed would get well and according to the general rule, I said “BY virtue and authority of the Holy Priesthood invested in me and in the name of Jesus Christ, I rebuke the disease and say unto you, that you shall be restored to health.”
The party praying over the other child did not seem to have any faith that it would recover and in a few days it died, while the one over which I had prayed got well. Now I offer no explanation of this, I am simply recording the facts.
When Horsfall, the man we buried on Wood River died he had no relatives, but it almost broke the hearts of the Squires’ to bury their child on the bleak prairies, where they could never again see the grave.
I think they took a vhest [chest] they had with them and placed the child in it.
In a few days a young man from Lincolnshire died. He was alone and we buried him near Green River. After filling the grave partly full, we rolled big rocks into it, so that the wolves could not scratch him up and then we finished filling it up with dirt.
He was a nice fellow, we all liked him and with sad hearts we left him there alone.
Soon after bur[y]ing Frank [Francis Crowther], we came to the crossing of Green River. It was quite a large stream with a rocky bottom. The current was very swift and the water came up to the wagon box.
It was decided to double teams, so that the women could ride across. This was rather slow work, as the teamster would have to take the cattle back through the river for the next wagon.
We managed to get across all right and camped that night on the river bank and found the mosquitoes very bad.
We left Green River and going nearly west, crossed Black’s and Ham’s forks of the river and camped on Ham’s fork on Saturday night quite early.
We cut willows and made charcoal, as there was lots of blacksmithing to be done. I have neglected to tell you, that every train crossing the plains carried a complete blacksmith outfit, so that repairs could be made as we went along.
By this time we had begun to get short of meat. Our supply of bacon being about gone, we commenced to kill some of the cows.
Our loads had become somewhat lightened by eating the bacon, flour and other provisions, that the oxen could easily draw the wagons.
In a few nights we camped at Fort Bridger. Here we found a company of the Nauvoo Legion, a Mormon Military organization, which had been ordered out by Brigham Young to quell an Indian outbreak.
We found some old acquaintances who had left England three years before. We spent the evening in speaking, sin[g]ing and visiting and felt that we were surely nearing the end of our long journey.
Fort Bridger was named after a trapper and hunter, who had built the fort and traded with the Indians. When the Mormon Pioneers passed his place in 1847 and told him, they were going to settle Salt Lake Valley, he told them they would starve to death.
He told them that he would give them a thousand dollars for the first ear of corn they raised there. I do not know whether he kept his word or not but I do know that they raised corn in the valley.
Leaving Fort Bridger, in about two days we came to Bear River and here another one of our party died.
His name was Janius [Junius] Crossland. He had a wife and two or three small children. It was pityful to here [hear] the wifes lamentations, when we took him out of the wagon, sewed him up in a sheet to bury him.
We dug quite a deep hole or grave and filled it with loose dirt part way and then we cut logs and rolled them into the grave and finished filling it with dirt and left him to sleep the sleep of the dead.
This made four of our party we had buried since leaving the Missouri river.
Bear River was not as large as Green River. Green River flowed south and after leaving or forming a junction with Grande River was called the Colorado River and emptied into the gilf [Gulf] of California. Bear River flowed northwest and finally emptied into the Great Salt Lake.
The second day after leaving Bear River, we came to the celebr[a]ted Echo Canyon and camped that night in the canyon.
We saw how easily an army might be held at bay, as the bluffs rise almost perpendicular hundreds of feet. We little thought at the time, that in less than four years the United States soldiers would be compelled to retreat and take up winter qua[r]ters at Fort Bridger, having been met by the Nauvoo Legion who refused to allow them to advance any further.
At the mouth of Echo Canyon we crossed the Weber River which also flows to Great Salt Lake. Here we commenced to climb the mountains.
The second day we ascended the Big Mountain. For four miles the road was a gradual incline, but near the top it was very steep and we had to double teams.
Once on the top, we felt like I know the Israelites of old must have felt when they arrived in sight of the Promised Land, for Lo! through a cleft in the mountains, we caught glimpse of the valley, with the mountains to the west.
The descent was very steep and part of the way down, we had to rough lock the wagons.
The next day we entered the valley, through Emmigration Conyon [Emigration Canyon] and encamped that night on the Public Square in Salt Lake City, the Mormon’s Zion, for which we had traveled so far almost eight thousand miles.
From the twenty fifth of February until June the first by water and from June first until September thirtieth overland, a distance of fourteen hundred miles and almost every mile of it on foot.
Here I met an old chum of mine who had left Watford the year before, named Steve Woods. He invited me to go home with him, so gathering up my belongings, I bade adieu to my fellow travelers and my long hard journey was ended.