Moesser, J. H., "A Pioneer in California," Deseret Evening News, 3 June 1897, 5.
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Interesting Reminiscences of an Old-Time Resident of Utah.
Santa Ana, Cal.,
May 23, 1897.
I crossed the Plains from Missouri river to Salt Lake Valley in 1847 with my mother, [Magdalene?] Moesser, and was the oldest of five children, my father, Frederick H. Moesser, having apostatized in Nauvoo, coming no farther; I was born in Pittsburgh, Alleghany Co., Pennsylvania, going from Pennsylvania to Ohio, then to Missouri, then to Nauvoo in 1888 or 1889, to the best of my recollection. I was well acquainted with Joseph and Hyrum Smith. I saw them when laid out, after being killed at Carthage, in the old Mansion House in Nauvoo. I crossed the Mississippi in July, 1846, coming west and stopping at Winter Quarters, fall and winter of same year, sharing all the hardships of that winter and next spring.
I started west for the Great Salt Lake Valley about the 4th of June, 1847, and arrived in Salt Lake Valley, September 24, 1847, traveling in Peregrine Session's 50. Daniel Spencer was captain of our 100 and Bishop Sheets captain of 10 and I [think?], I passed through most, if not all, of the trying times of the early Pioneers, breaking the virgin soil, killing grasshoppers and big black crickets, and fighting Indians, and between times trying to raise enough to keep soul and body together for another year.
After leaving Winter Quarters we came to Loup Fork, stopped [their?] about three weeks, organizing for the journey across the Plains, when we again took up the line of march northward. Talk about hard time! I drove two yoke of oxen and one yoke of cows across the Plains for one pound of flour a day and [boarded ...?], and getting a little over 100 pounds for my summer work, as it took us at that time about thirteen and a half months to make the trip. But in the spring of 1848, I did some better, for I got a pound of flour a day and [g ...?] for driving three yoke of oxen, breaking [Illegible] which I considered doing very well, as flour was worth a dollar a pound.
The winter of 1847 and spring of 1848 was the most trying one of all, as we had very little to eat, and scarcely any clothes to keep us warm, wearing moccasins in the ice and snow, and digging roots and eating greens, and every part of the cattle that we had to kill, even to their hides. That is hard to believe, but I have done it. We fought crickets and grasshoppers to save what little we had in the ground, so we could live another year. In 1849 when the great [gold?] excitement was [at in height?], everything changed; plenty of men and everything in the way of wagons, tools, bacon, flour, sugar, etc. [we change?]. Why, I have seen good, [four?] wagons sell for $10, Kentucky rifle [pouch and powder burn?] for $1.50 and so on.
I was in every Indian war in early times; the Black Hawk war, the [Tiotle?] war, and so on. I lived to see Salt Lake City grow from a desert plain to a fine city and the valleys to blossom as the rose until now you can have all that any other community enjoys.
There is one thing I forgot to mention and that in that in traveling along the Platte river we frequently detailed men to go ahead of the wagons and drive the buffalo out of the way so we could pass along the roads, or I do believe that I have seen 100,000 at one time. Along about the middle of the day they would come down to the river to drink and soon lay down, below the buffalo, oh where to be?
I think I am an Indian war veteran as well as a Pioneer. I am now living in Santa Ana, Orange county, Ca. at the home of [illegible] Bowen, but always have a friendly feeling for the people of Utah, the beautiful valleys and mountain and clear running mountain streams.
J. H. MOESSER