Hampton, Benjamin, Autobiographical sketch 1905, 1.
In April, 1853, I left home for the far west, traveling by steamboat to Council Bluffs or Kanesville, thence by wagons up the Missouri River on the Iowa sided to a point opposite Winter Quarters, now Florence, where we swam our cattle and horses across and flat-boated the wagons, went into camp until organized for the long trip across the plains to Salt Lake, and reached our destination in September of the same year, where I went to live with Jedadiah M. Grant, my mother's friend.
. . .
In October, 1856, I was with the first relief party sent east to aid the "Hand Cart" sufferers. We met them in November on the Platte River, snow bound, and over 400 miles from Salt Lake. After assisting them to "Devil's Gate" -- sixty miles -- they were put into wagons and sent on to Salt Lake. I remained there during the winter with others to guard the stuff the wagons had contained and about 400 worn out hand carts. It was a tough winter's experience - four months on poor meat, without flour, and the last three weeks on rawhide, straight.
The following spring, 1857, John R. Murdock, in charge of the first overland mail enroute east to Atchison, took me as a helper. It was the quickest trip ever made by one set of men and animals, without relays; over 1200 miles in less then 10 days. There were not stops day or night. This was the hardest job I ever had up to that time, and I had some tough ones. We returned to Salt Lake in October of the same year, just ahead of Johnson's army. We passed and repassed them several times before reaching Fort Bridger.
In 1858 and '59 and part of 1860, I worked on the Grant farm at Woods Cross, and other things. In 1860 I engaged in business with my borther-in-law, William S. Godbe. This business took me east each of the following years: 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and 1866, purchasing and forwarding goods across the plains from Missouri River points, from Florence and Omaha in Nebraska, to Atchison, Kansas, sending out each year from 40 wagon loads at the beginning to as many as 125 wagons, and requiring from 300 to 800 oxen, besides hundreds of mules, all of which had to be selected and broken to work; then same with the teamsters. We were kept very busy before the goods reached their destination. I made several trips to Denver, San Francisco and Montana during these years, and all by stage and wagon, purchasing and selling goods, oxen, mules, wagons, etc. This was before the railway days.