Margaret G. Clawson reminiscences, 1904-1911, Volume 1, 43-70.
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Our first night out after starting on our journey we Camped on the prairie, father had unyoked the Cattle, and turned them out to feed on the grass. He had too look after them to keep them from straying away[.] We had picked up enough fuel to make a good fire, and Mother was getting supper, when all at once there came up a most terriffic thunder storm, the rain poured down in torrents[.] we were all drenched, altho we got into the wagon as soon as we could, the wind blew the rain with such force that the
However, the next morning, the sun shone bright, everything got dry, and we jogged on our journey. I dont remember how long we were getting to Council Bluffs but I do remember that we camped there one month waiting for companies to be made up[.] They had to be organized for protection against the Indians. Oh, the Monolony [Monotony] of camp life. when not travelling. How delighted we all were when we started on our journey for good. Everything was bright and beautiful I was young and healthy. All was color de rose for me. The responsibilities, anxieties and cares rested on my parents. In traveling as we did one day was very like another. After jogging along all day we Camped at night. The men took care of the cattle <while> the women got supper. After that was over the young folks
generaly generally made a bonfire, & Sat around it, talked, told stories, Sung Songs, and &c There were several nice young men in our company which made it interesting for the girls
On the fourth of July we camped for the day not entirely to celebrate, but to wash and do mending and various other things that were necessary. We camped in a pretty place near a creek. I was to wash with Phebe's help. She was only
twelv twelve, but very energetic. We selected a place <quite> secluded, close to the creek where we could have plenty of water. Well, we were making the suds foam when a dapper young gentleman from New Yo[r]k, a nephew of our captain, <who was going on his way to California> discovered us and brought us a bottle of wine, and a large piece of delicious fruit cake which <was> made to celebrate the fourth on the plains. A rather Embarassing position, to accept this compliment in the midst of soiled linen and soap suds, for I had not been introduced to him before However, I accepted the cake and wine with great patriotism, and from that time he often called at our Wagon. That is, our wagon yard. Everyone was supposed to own all the land that was occupied by ox yokes, camp kettles, and everything that goes to make an outfit for travelling, so when any of the young folks called I was as much at home sitting on <in> ox yoke, as if I were <sitting in an easy chair in> a parlor in an easy chair. Such is life on the plains. There were several very nice young men in our company, Especially one. He used to say such lovely things to me that <Told me that> I was beautiful and intelligent, and even went so far as to say that I was amiable, something I had never been accused of before. Said I was the only woman that he ever loved, and that we were just siueted <suited> to each other. And I began to believe him and when he proposed What Could I say But yes[.] Well, the course of true love did run smooth. At least, until we got into the Valley. And then we had the usual lover's quarrel buet <but> not the usual making up. And In a short time, he let me know that another girl appreciated him, if I did not. For He married one of the girls of our company, whose ignorance he had ridiculed to me many times while on <our> journey. Such is the constancy of man! I understood she made him a good wife, but stood in <great> awe of him, who <the man> had honored her so highly. The fates sometimes seem to interfere with our plans <all> for our best good. My brother drove an ox team for a widow and her little girl. The little girl was very sweet and amiable The mother rather peculiar. He said <that> she would ask more questions in a day than ten men could answer <in a week>. He was a born joker and could no more help joking than he could <help> breathing. He could never tell her anything so absurd or rediculous but what she believed it. He got so tired of her questions, such as "Riley, <I wonder> how far have we traveled today and I wonder how far we will travel tomorrow, "I wonder if we will get to water "I wonder if we <will> see any indians, "I wonder what they will do? "Will they be friendly or savage?" Her wondering got so monotonous he could hardly stand <it> At last, he had his revenge. When we came in sight of Chimney Rock (anybody who has crossed the plains either by wagon or rail will remember seeing this a land mark. It is very tall and shaped something like a smokestack and probably centuries old.) At the rate we traveled it could be seen several days before we reached it. So She began her speculations about the rock, then he told her in a most confidential way that as soon as we got to it he was going to push it down. That he was <sick> and tired of haring hearing so much about Chimney Rock, that it had stood there long enough, any way, and as soon as he got his hands on it over it would go. Well, she begged and implored him to let it stand, that other emigrants might see it who came after us, But but he was obdurate. She then threatened him to tell Brigham [Young], when she got to the Valley. That was always her last resort. Well, he kept her anxiety at fever heat for two days until we were within about a half a mile of it. He then gavie in to her pleadings and said he would let it stand. She was so delighted that she gave him an extra good dinner <and supper> that day. He little intended his last joke with her to turn out as it did. By the way of amusement, he had been telling her before we came to the last Canyon, Emigration, that her wagon was going to tip over, in fact he knew it would. She said <that> if it did she would tell Brigham. And sure enough it did tip clear over and lifted on the bows. It was a very hard canyon for men to drive <down> and she Riley was awfully surprised. and being and He was only a boy and was terribly frightened. No one worked harder than he to get it righted. With the help of the men in the camp, he got it up into the road which was very sideling. It looked pretty dilapidated with the bows all smashed down, but did very little damage to the contents, and as it was out last day before entering the Valley, she managed very well. Riley never heard whether she told Brigham or not. After jogging along several hundred miles the monotony was broken by our cattle stampeding. It seemed the longer we went and the harder the cattle worked the easier they got frightened. The one that terified <terrified> me the most was at night. We had had one <or> two before so the cattle were prepared for one at any moment. I think it was on account of the Indians or it might have been the large herds of buffalo that we saw daily, That our company was counciled [counseled] to corral their animals every night. When we camped At night the cattle were turned out to feed, they were watched and herded then brought into the corral. It was made with wagons formed in a large circle with the <wheels touching> each other with one opening to drive them in, then log chains put across the opening, so they were perfectly secure. We were in a buffalo country. We had heard what a terrible thing their stampedes were that not <long> before a large herd had started on their madning mad run <& that> when the foremost those in front came to a high bluff of the Platte River, they dashed in and made a bridge for the last ones who trampled to death and drowned their companions. One night about two oclock the whole camp were peacefully sleeping when all at once there came an awful sound of tramping and bellowing, The ground shook, our wagon trembled and rocked. It flashed through my Mind in a moment. that a herd of buffalo was stampeding and in a minute that we would all be trampled to death so I covered up my head and prepared to die, Mother soon called out to Phebe and myself, but not hearing anything <as there was no sound> from our little bedroom (the front end of the wagon) I gave a smothered answer from under the bed clothes that I was alive. All at once there was a change. It was our own cattle broken out of the corral. Something had frightened <them> and then they started on their wild mad run. They had run around and around inside, and then broken through the log chains. Nothing could stay them. They scattered over the country for miles and miles. It took our men days and days to gather them back again, and a sorry looking lot they were that is what <those that> were left for some died from exaustion and others were killed. One pair of the captains cows ran up a very steep hill, fell backwards and broke their necks, one pair less to pull his wagon and one pair less to milk. (Oh the delicious milk, what a luxury on the plains.) In that stampede there were two or three[.] <men> hurt, one quite badly, he was a gold digger going to California. He <who> had overtaken us and was travelling with our company awhile. The California emigrants traveled much faster than the Mormons emigrants. In trying to stop the cattle he was knocked down and trampled on. His groans were pitious. I did not see him again until one day the next winter when he called on us during <all> the time he was there he was down on his knees. He could stand up, But Could not sit down. I never heard from him again after he left for the gold mines. Old cattlemen say <that> tame domestic horned cattle are the most crazy and wildest of all animals in a stampede. It is very singular. But they seem to all <start> at once, <just> as if a bolt had struck every one at the same instant. Our next thrilling adventure was <one> pleasant afternoon as we were slowly jogging along, when all at once our whole train was flying <in every direction> with lightning speed in every direction over the plains I dont think the fastest horses could have kept up with our cows. Father sat in the front of the wagon talking to and whipping his staid old oxen to keep them going right along. He was afraid the cows might get mixed up with other teams that were running, or might whirl around and tip the wagon over with us all in it. We went over hump and bump sometimes our heads would be thrown up to the top of <the wagon bows,> then we would alight anywhere it happened inside the wagon. Nobody can appreciate the situation without the experience[.] Again death was staring me in the face and again I covered up my head If I had to <be> killed I did not want to see the process. Mother soon snatched the covering off my head, and when we came to a stop she gave me a sound lecture to always be on the lookout and watch the best chance for escape. Well, after the cattle had run as long as they could they stopped. There were several accidents but the worst was and a woman <was> killed. She was knocked down and trampled to death. She left a family of children. How we all dreaded stampedes. There is something dreadful in a lot of panic stricken cattle. Even human beings are not responsible when fright overcomes reason. One cow in our team was very intelligent. In fact, she was so bright that she used to hide in the willows to keep from being yoked up. But when Father found her and yoked her she was a good worker and good milker. She got very lame at one time & could scarsley travel. My parents were <very> much worried having already lost one. They were afraid they could not keep up with the company, so Mother said she would <make a> poultice and put <it on> as soon as she laid down for the night. She made a very large one that covered all over her lame hip.
Well, the next morning, when Father went to get the cows up he called out, "Why, Mother you have poulticed the wrong hip." <Mother> said, "Never mind, its all right, it has gone clear through," and sure enough she limped a very little that day and was soon as well as ever. I know there was a great deal of faith mixed up with that poultice.
Along in the early fall, we used to find wild fruit such as choke cherries, servise berries and a little red berry called buffalo, or squaw berries. All of which we enjoyed very much. One day, I decided to have a reception that evening so after we camped I asked some of the girls and boys to come and spend the evening at our campfire after their chores were done. Verbal invitations, and short notice never gave offence <then>. All were delighted <to come.> No regrets. In the meantime, I had asked Mother to let me make some buffalo berry pies. Of course she did. Pies were a great luxury and seldom seen on the plains. I wanted to suprise my guests with the sumptuousness of my refreshments. And I did. Well, I had hardly gotten the ox yokes and some other things artisticley [artistically] <arranged> before my company arrived. Not so fashionably late then as now. After we had chatted awhile and sung some songs, I excused myself to go into the pantry (a box under the wagon) and brought out my pies. In passing the pie, I rather apolegetically remarked that they might not be quite sweet enough. One gallant young man spoke up very quickly, saying, "Oh anything would be sweet made by those hands." And I believed him. After serving the company, I joined them with my piece of pie Well, the first mouthful, oh, my, it set my teeth on edge, and tasted as if it had been sweetened with citric acid.
Oh, the perfidy of man That ended my pie making on the plains. I often wondered how they could have eaten it but etiquette demanded it. I dont think there was enough sugar in the camp to have sweetened that pie.
The best of all meals to me while on our journey was our midday luncheon Mother used to make a kettle of corn meal mush in the morning then wraped it up to keep it warm. After the milking was done the milk was put in a tin churn and wrapped to keep it from slopping over[.] When we camped at noon to let the cattle feed, Mother used to bring out the mush and milk. Why, it was too good for poor folks. Sister Phebe never liked it. She said it always made her so hungry. I never heard any one complain of a poor appetite <while> crossing the plains. Any kind of food was sweet except my pies. Bread and bacon was more delicious then than plum pudding or pound cake now. How environments change our taste[.] The greatest hardship I passed through on our journey was the day before we got to Larimie [Laramie], the cattle were tired and foot sore the travelling was very hard, so Father told us that one morning we must all walk. No riding that day. I shall never forget that memorable walk. Sand ankle deep to men and women and much deeper to the cattle and wagons. When we camped that night, we had travelled ten miles. I thought it was a thousand, and wished many times that day that I was where people did not get tired. At last, we came to the end of our <long, tedious> journey, and on the evening of October 15, we camped at the mouth of Emigration Canyon. Oh, what a glorious sight to look down into the Valley of the Great Salt Lake!
The next morning we were up bright and early, and soon drove down.