Fox, Ruth May, "My Story," 11-13.
Trail excerpt transcribed from "Pioneer History Collection" available at Pioneer Memorial Museum [Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum], Salt Lake City, Utah. Some restrictions apply.
In July, 1867, Father [James May] thought that he could make the trip to Zion. So we started. It took us nine days by rail to reach North Platte, the outfitting post, because we were traveling on an emigrant train and were side-tracked on every possible occasion. We stayed part of one day at Niagara Falls, a glorious treat for us. One night we spent on the Missouri River on a cattle boat. You may be sure there was bellowing a plenty, but what did that matter?; we were on our way to Zion.
Arriving at North Platt[e], which was then a little railroad town, we found that the company would be delayed one month. This situation was a serious one; every day meant loss of time and means. Several excuses were given for the delay. One was that some of the brethren were in the East on business. They had been detained and must return to the Valley with this company. Another was that the Indians had burned a trainload of provisions and more supplies must be purchased. Still another was that here was fine grazing and the cattle must start out in good condition.
Meanwhile there we were with our trunks and traps. The full quota of wagons had not yet been purchased and the housing of men, women and children was a real problem. Finally the railroad people tendered us the use of a great barn of a building, which happened to be empty, and here we set up some kind of housekeeping for the coming weeks.
After buying his supplies, Father found himself with money enough to purchase one yoke of cattle only. So he arranged with a Brother [Samuel] Gentry, who had one yoke, to join with him, and Father would drive all the way for his share in the wagon. Fourteen men, women, and children with all their worldly possessions crossed the plains with these accommodations. The owners of the wagon, of course, had the prior right to riding space, so you may be sure our family of five did not ride very much. (The fifth member of our family was a little girl named Tilt, whose transportation had been arranged for at North Platte.) Kind friends, however, occasionally gave us a lift. A small tent, just large enough for five of us to sleep in side by side like sardines in a can was strapped to the wagon each morning and set up every night. Our train consisted of about sixty wagons, ten of them belonging to English speaking people, while the other emigrants were from Scandinavian countries. Our leader was Captain Leonard G. Rice. We traveled early and late, sometimes short days, sometimes long ones, under our Captain's directions always, as he was supposed to know where we might find the best camping places and where we might find water. This did not always happen. One crack of his whip on the tent or wagon cover, whether at 3 a.m. or 5 a.m. meant "roll out". Killing snakes, plodding through the burning sands, wading streams, climbing mountains with sometimes an Indian scare, a threatened food shortage, sickness, sore feet, and a snow storm at South Pass, which detained us two or three days, were trifles. One baby was born, and there was one sorrowful occurrence when a young man was accidentally killed by a stray shot. But withal we could still sing:
We may get wet a little
When we have a shower of rain;
The heat may skin our noses,
But they'll soon get well again;
And when we think of Zion's land
We'll forget the wet and pain.
So get up my lads, gee, whoa,
Push on, my lads, hi, ho,
For there's none can lead a life
Like we merry Mormons do.
One little picture that may be interesting. To make camp by a stream of water was one of the luxuries of the plains. This could not always be done, and occasionally there was great disappointment when we found a creek but no water. Whenever the Captain was fearful of such a result we were told to carry some water with us from our last camping place. One day we camped a short distance from a river, and we girls were sent for water. Apparently we stayed to long. While we were gone, Father had unyoked the cattle and being very tired had thrown himself on the ground to rest. One of the brethren came along and asked, "Brother May, how are you?" The answer came back, "Oh there isn't much the matter. I have a sick wife, two sore heels, and two dummies." I was one of the dummies.
At last the long journey was ended. We had pulled up the hill out of Parley's Canyon just as twilight shrouded the valley. We could still catch a glimpse of the city below, but I confessed to some disappointment as I asked, "Did we come all this way for that?" This, however was my first and last disappointment.