Derry, Charles, "Autobiography of Elder Charles Derry," Journal of History 1, no. 3 (July 1908), 270-73.
Our journey hitherto had been far from pleasant; but here were trials of a different nature. To use a Yankee phrase we were “green,” our cattle unbroken, and we had never seen an ox yoked up. I had seen them harnessed like a horse in England, but that was a rare sight. But to catch wild cattle, yoke them up, and hitch them to a wagon and drive them through rivers, swamps, over sand-ridges and mountains, was not a pleasant task to those who were to the manor born, and to us it was a terrible task; but it was “root, hog, or die,” and we chose to live. Some died with the terrible worry and fatigue, among the rest my cousin William Littley, who with his family was in our ten, passed away in a few days after our starting overland. Our little boy [George Nephi Derry] still lingered, growing weaker every day. And one day after traveling several weeks my wife [Ann or Angelina] suggested after arriving in camp that night and seeing the children safe in bed, that we should take a walk as she had something to tell me. We did so, and then she revealed to me her forebodings, first saying, “Charles, you never deceived me in your life. But I feel I have not always done my duty by you, and I want you to forgive me wherein I have lacked.” I assured her she had never failed in her duty to me, she had always been faithful and true, and I could not ask her to do more, and if anything was lacking it was on my part. She then told me she was strongly impressed that she could not live to reach our destination. I tried to dispel those fears, but in vain. I sat down upon a grassy knoll and took her upon my knee and tried to comfort her. I then arose and laid my hands upon her head and prayed God to rebuke the destroyer and to spare her life, that she might train her little ones in the fear of God, as she earnestly desired; but, strange to say, from that hour she became ill, and lingered for several weeks, growing more feeble every day. One day she sat in the wagon looking at her little babes, and big tears rolled down her pale cheeks and her heart throbbed with anguish as she saw that she must soon leave them forever. Those tears caught the eye of little Alice, and in an instant she sprang into her mother’s arms and sobbed upon her bosom, and mother and child wept together as mother afterward told me. She, like her little boy, had no appetite, and our food being sad bread and fat bacon, such as I could prepare with my own hands, was not calculated to entice her appetite at all.
There was a man in the company who had two wagons well loaded with provisions and just his own family and a servant-girl to care for. Being a blacksmith I had shod this man’s cattle on the journey without charge. Wife told me one morning that she thought she could drink a cup of coffee. I had none to give her; but I went to this man and asked him if he would kindly give her a cup of coffee. He refused the little kindness. I returned with a sad heart to wife and told of his refusal. She did not complain but tried to comfort me. Three weeks from that day his servant-girl brought a mug of coffee for the wife, who was now too weak to help herself in any way. I asked this servant-girl to hold wife as she tried to sit up on the bed. I then turned around to give her the coffee, when my heel caught the vessel and knocked it over, and that moment the spirit of my wife departed, and I was left alone with my two sweet, motherless babes, and one of them apparently at the point of death. Only those who have passed through the terrible ordeal can judge of my grief. Neither pen nor tongue can describe it. My hopes were blasted. The only being on earth except my mother, who had sympathized with me in my trials, and given comfort and cheer to me in life’s dark hours, had passed away. A little while prior to her departure she spoke of some one being near to her bed. Was it God’s angel sent to bear her blessed spirit away? She was indeed an heir of salvation. I was satisfied she was in her right mind, but I was not permitted to see any person there. The day of her departure was the seventh day of September, 1854. The place of her departure was called “Ice Springs,” on the Rocky Mountains, and in about two hours from her death, she was buried from my sight, only a piece of board to mark the spot where lay her loved remains. Five short years had spanned our married life. She had borne me two sweet babes, upon whom must be concentrated all my love and care, next to God and his cause. True and constant through life, faithful even unto death, she has passed to the paradise of God, to await the glorious resurrection, when I trust mother, husband, and babes will greet each other, where separation is not known, pain is not felt, and privation and grief have no place.
Life did not seem worth living; but my motherless babes absorbed my care. I must live for them. I clasped them convulsively to my heart, and dedicated them and myself anew to God. I sought guidance from his hand, that I might fill my obligations to them and my God in carrying out our united purpose to train them up in righteousness. It seemed as though a mother’s love had entered my heart. I determined to watch over them with jealous care, nor would I enter into any condition that would render their young lives a burden. But how unqualified was I to act in this capacity and perform the tender offices of a mother, and such a mother as she had been! And if I could not, who could? Surely not a stranger! Hence, feeling the weight of my burden, I went to my Father in whom I had trusted hitherto, and asked him to direct events for my children’s good.
On the 30th of September, 1854, we landed in Salt Lake Valley, being eight months since we left our home, and seven months of travel from Liverpool, by sea, rivers, and land.