Woodhouse, John, Autobiography , 22-25.
There is plenty to try patience in crossing the plains and sometimes funny incidents happened. A brother Ralf [Richard Ralphs] from St. Jo[s]e[ph], M[iss]o[uri]. joined our company. He had two teams. In conversation with him he showed me his new wagon, telling me he had carefully selected each piece of timber and had it carefully made, as he supposed new wagons could not be had in Utah and that one might last his life. We often got our wagons stuck in bad places, and would double our teams and also we had a long rope, that many men could pull on to aid the teams. One day a wagon was stuck and the Captain asked Brother Ralf [Ralphs] to hitch on and pull it out. Brother Ralf [Ralphs] objected and said, that as he had two teams he could double his own, and so did not need aid of any one else. This view was not approved and some high words followed. Brother R- remarking he could travel the plains alone. Next day Brother R- came riding up much excited, and said, "Boys a tire on my new wagon has broken". A brother remarked, "That does not matter as you can travel the plains alone". Brother R-Said, "Boys I was wrong, you must forgive me and help me fix the tire". The company halted[.] a black smith outfit was gotten out (that was owned by Brother Daft and Hague, afterwards well known in Salt Lake City) and the tire was fixed, welded and reset, with buffalo chips for fuel. At evening prayers, the Captain thought it a good opportunity for a few appropriate remarks. Brother R[alphs]- got angry and said he would withdraw from the company. Next day the tire broke again and again Brother R- was penitent. The tire was again fixed and in a more substantial manner. It came through to Utah all right, and next spring went through to California, along with Brother R.
At this time Buffaloes were numerous on the plains, although our company saw but few and only killed two for meat. The large herds in passing were dangerous to the companies. We heard of one company that was completely trampled down by them, wagons, tents, and all trampled down and destroyed. Our night guards were instructed that if Buffalo came in sight, they were immediately to cry out, Buffalo, Buffalo and under no other circumstances was such a cry to be made. One night I was on guard. Captain Jepson came out and in conversation remarked that if such a cry was made, I wonder what kind of a response we would get. After further consideration we decided to try it and so we commenced to cry our Buffalo, Buffalo. The response was all that could be asked. The people swarmed out of their wagons, in all kinds of disheval, and much excited and asking of each other, "Where are they". And none could answer. That seemed to increase the excitement. I noticed Brother Daft come out of his wagon with a gun in one hand and a pair of pants in the other. Others left their wagons exclaiming, "Bill Jack Buffalo". It was quite a long time before the excitement was allayed. And the Captain explained, and it was agreed that no more experiments would be made. The Jack referred to above was afterwards, the Hon[orable] Jack Clark, once mayor of Salt Lake City and member of the grocery firm of Clark, Eldridge & Company.
We had in our company an elderly sister and daughter, that had been in the expulsion from Nauvoo, and had gone down to St. Louis and gone in to business and accumulated sufficient to come on to Utah. They also had a teamster Josh (short for Joshua). They had taken passengers, Sister [Eleanor Davison] E[llett]- and daughter [Eleanor E. Ellett], (who had been ship mates of ours) their passage and board being paid in advance. The wagon was a light one and often broke down, and the company had to stop to fix it. But the wagon was finally exchanged with a Brother T- who had a heavier one and lighter load. Afterwards they got along all right. Sister H- seemed rather presumptious, and the first public dispute occured when Mother H- claimed the sugar was all gone. Sister E- denied it and as she had paid for it, insisted on having it. Mother H- insisted until Sister E- went to the wagon and brought out a large end of a loaf of white sugar. As Sister E- had applied to the Captain for redress the matter was turned off with a laugh, and the understanding that sugar would continue to be used. Mother H- divided the lump, put one piece away and used the other. When that was used up she again claimed it was all gone. But Sister E- had found the other piece one day, she brought it out, took an ax and cut it up offering some to Mother H- and to some others. Mother H- complained to the Captain, but as she had denied having any, no redress could be found.
On commencing our journey our leaders told us we would not find much to try our faith, but plenty to try our patience. We found this to be true, and a many run short of the article (patience). We found one little incident. We made a nooning on a big sandy river. A cold drizzly rain was falling. Most of us had done some cooking and were eating in our tents and wagons. Mother H- and her company in their wagons. Josh, the teamster was perched on the hind end just inside the cover. The tea placed on a piece of board. Sister E's girl complained of being cold, Sister E- covered her with a quilt that was laying handy. The quilt belonged to Mother H-. She jerked it off the girl. Sister E- returned it, Mother H- jerked it off again. Sister E- struck her with the piece of board. Josh interferred in her behalf, (result) Josh and the tea pot came tumbling out of the hind end of the wagon, both reaching the ground about the same time. Sister E- had thrown it at him with sufficient force to bring them down.
All along the Platt[e] valley, buffalo chips, the dried dung of the buffaloes, was a great plenty. They made good fuel when dry to cook with. I went back in 1862 to bring on our emigration from the Missouri river. Then all the chips had disappeared, being used up and fuel to cook with had become very scarce on the treeless plains. Also the plains were strewed thick with buffalo bones doubtless the accumulation of centuries of Indian buffalo hunting. But when I was back in 1862, they were all gone having been gathered up and sold to the phosphate mills, by the early settlers.
A freight train belonging to Halladay, and Warner, Salt Lake Merchants, was along at this time. We often passed and repassed each other, as they travelled on Sundays and we rested on that day. They would leave cattle broke down, we would take them up, nurse them along a few days of easy travel and then could work them some, and then we gave them back to the company. About Fort Bridger a relief train met them, sent out from Salt Lake City. The wagon master presented our company with some bottles of wine and some provisions for our kindness in the cattle matter. And also as provisions had been sent out by the relief train and more than they would need, and some of our company being short, they decided to sell some to those who might need it, such as bacon, groceries, etc. As we had no money, the wagon master just took account of what was sold to be paid for after we arrived at Salt Lake City. I will here add that as the company scattered on arrival, the accounts were sent to the various ward Bishops for collection and were paid.
A wagon with four men on their way to California had joined our company and travelled along with us, they seemed nice people. I was sitting by their fire, one of them came up and said, "Had not we best get a piece of meat from these wagons". One answered, "Yes, if you can get it without money". He said, "He is selling to these Mormons without money and why not to us". Answered, "All right you go and try him". He went[.] I went along with him, he selected a piece of bacon, (the meat laying on some ox yokes and said, "Please weigh this for me". The wagon master looked at him and said, "You are not one of these people". He answered "No, but we will stay the winter in Salt Lake City and will pay you there". Answer, "You cannot have it". Question, "Why". Answer, "These people are going to make their homes there, but the devil knows where you will be." They did not get the meat.
We were nearing the south pass, so called, although it is not a pass properly speaking, but merely a lower place in the mountains, and over a mile wide. Brother T- was the only one of us who had a decent whipstock left by then and one day I noticed that he had cut off his whipstock. I asked him why he had done so. He said, "I thought it might be too long to drive through the South Pass with". Quite a joke on him as we found out on our arrival at the Pass.
It took us over three months to cross the plains at that time, as we started early in June and arrived in Salt Lake City early in September, not having averaged over ten miles per day, including all our rest days. We arrived in Salt Lake City in good health and condition, although the Cholera was bad on the plains that season, and we passed many new graves of the California emigrates every day, yet our births and deaths on the way were about equal. I think about three of each, and no deaths from Cholera.
On our arrival in Salt Lake City and as we were passing down Emigration street, a kind sister ran out and gave me a half of a musk mellon, that being the first fruit of Utah I had tasted and found it very good.
After our arrival in Salt Lake City we and our partner divided the team, each taking a yoke of oxen. The cow we had each owned from the beginning. As we could not divide the wagon, we sold it to a friend of our partner, he paying us in flour which supplied us thru the coming winter.