Faulkner, James, Letter, 1856 Mar. 1, to Dear Friends, Salt Lake City [Utah].
Great Salt Lake City,
March 1, 1856
I take this opportunity of writing to you to give an account of my travels and journey, and the loss of my dear little children and their mother. Our passage from Halifax to Boston was something longer than common and the children were all sick. Mary Ann seized with diarrhoea [diarrhea] and was very ill for sometime. Nevertheless she recovered and was very well till we had traveled two hundred miles.
As soon as I came on shore I proceeded to Mr. John Burke’s and I believe they were glad and happy to see me. At all events they used me very well. The next day I returned to Boston in the cars and company with Mr. and Mrs. Burke. By this time Sarah and Eliza Welch was present. Sarah joined our company and arrived in safety. Mr and Mrs Burke were present when we placed ourselves in the cars. So we parted I suppose to meet no more on this earth.
On Saturday at 11½ o’clock we started and arrived at Albany at 12½ o’clock that night. It was raining very hard. We had to cross the Hudson River and went to seek lodgings that hour of the night. There were many inn keepers present to invite us to their inns. It reminded me of the sectarian ministers saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it”. Not being able to follow them all I selected one and went to his inn, and remained over the Sabbath till Monday.
Our fare cost $16. From there we set out for Buffalo, all in good health. Albany is a beautiful city 250 miles from Boston. On Sabbath I went out to view the country. I set out on a quick pace along the canal and was sitting on a bridge musing on the condition of that enterprising people. The canal was lined with boats chiefly laden with lumber 8 feet above the deck drawn by two horses. I was much delighted at seeing the boats pass through the locks. At that moment I was struck with wonder and astonishment to think what an immense quantity of water was running to waste in Musquodoboit River. A darkness, in part, has blinded the people in this respect as well as the true light of the Gospel.
We renewed our journey, passing through an immense back country. Town after town till we came to Rochester. There we stopped for breakfast after remaining in the cars all night. While partaking of that meal, the cars moved to take in wood. Stephen and Eliza, not being aware of this movement till too late, Stephen with great exertion made out to get in and finding his sister left behind, threw himself off when the cars were in full speed and both were left behind.
Arriving in Buffalo, I proceeded to the telegraph office to send for them. The dispatch arrived and persons sent to seek the lost children. They were found and sent on that same evening. All this time I was running through the town to the different depots with a leather belt about my waist containing $1200.00 in $20 dollar gold pieces. It chafed me very much and caused me much pain. Our passages were all paid to St. Louis from Halifax, 54 pounds.
From Buffalo we went on board of a steamboat for the purpose of crossing Lake Erie. We set out with speed, before we had gone far we were hard up in the ice. There was great fear of breaking the paddles. She made her way through the ice before morning.
I thought to view the Canadian shore but in this I was mistaken. You might as well try to view the shore of England from the shore of Nova Scotia. Passing over this mighty deep we came to a town called Toledo where there was cholera enough to kill all the people of Musquodoboit. In one day from thence we travelled in the cars through the state of Illinois. This is a most beautiful state. We went to a town called Chicago till we came to St. Louis.
This immense country is abounding in fruit of every description, all in full bloom as we passed along, not a stone to be seen, the soil as black as tar. We came to a town called Alton on the Mississippi, down a stream to St Louis. This is a very large town and it grows as Halifax every year. All in good health, every one of us, we embarked on a steamer called “The Golden Gate”. From here we were 700 miles from Atchison, a small town on the Missouri, where we had to fit up for the plains.
The second day after leaving St. Louis, our little son James was taken sick with an affection of the bowels and died on the 29th of May with cholera and was buried on the banks of the Missouri River. What a trial to his dear Mother. We then freighted on that river to join our company which was at a place called the “Mormon Grove”. We camped there to fit out, four pair of oxen, two wagons, 1200 weight of flour, 150 pounds of bacon. Cost of the oxen from $80 to $100 a pair, wagons $85 a piece. Sugar, tea, apples, buckets and tubs and other necessaries. With these we set out on the 11th of June.
At this time the children all had the measles. At this place you might look around in every direction, not a bush to interrupt the sight, but the wide open prairie, wet grass in some places up to your middle. We traveled through this wild extended country till we came to a stream called the “Big Blue”. Here we lost little John June 27th, Stephen Walsh died June 29th, Mary Ann (his wife) died July 5th, on a stream called the Little Blue 200 miles from the Missouri River. Stephen died July 7th, little Burke died July 9th, sister Nancy died July 10. Little Burke was buried by her side on the Platte River. The tears are falling on the paper.
We were then 250 miles on our journey at a place called “Fort Carney [Kearny]”. There are many soldiers kept to k[e]ep down the Indians.
So you see I am a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. We travelled on the south side of the Platte when we came to another fort called “Laramie”, occupied by an American garrison. 350 miles from Carney [Kearny] we found plenty of grass but no wood, so we had to cook with dried weeds and buffalo chips. From here we travelled and crossed the South Platte. By this time there were three companies together.
This river is a mile in width but not a foot deep. From here we went through valleys, over hills and mountains to a certain spot called “Ash Hollow”, on the North Platte, where was a battle fought between the American Soldiers and the Indians. 30 of the Indians were killed. We saw scores of Indians, all very civil, very much for shaking hands. We came to a stream called Sweet Water, where the ground was covered with saleratus. In camp the same night at a place called the Devils Gate. Here my best oxen died of poison, one of a very superior pair. I then had to place a first rate pair on one wagon, they drew it 100 miles. I then bought a large bull and paid $50 for it. Travelling day after day till we came to a small valley in the mountains where we gathered a small quantity of tar that was sprung up. Had to keep guard every night on camp and cattle.We started out early every morning and on the 7th of September I was sitting in the front of my wagon passing around a mountain when the first thing that caught my eye was the appearance of the Great Salt Lake. It appeared like a great sheet of glass just as the sun was setting. The city laid of four squares, containing a population of 1200 beside the settlements north, east and west numbering 60,000. The city is four miles square.
I must come to a close. How do you think I must have felt after leaving my beloved companion and our dear little boys behind. But I rejoice knowing that they died for the Gospel sake. Edward and Eliza are going to school. I want you to be careful how you lift your voices against these people. Jim Walsh has written as I understand. I know he has not told the truth. I am fond of this people and I trust that I may never leave them.
Give my compliments to Mr. James Cruickshanks. He acted the gentleman with me. The girls all had the cholera but all recovered. I remain your worthy servant, James Faulkner. I would like to hear from you and if you think me worth your notice, you can write. You can look at this and send it on to Musquodoboit.