Reeder, Robert, Reminiscences, in Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Logan Camp, The Daughters of Utah’s Hand-cart Pioneers: A History (ca. 1938), 92-94.
- Related Companies
- James G. Willie Company (1856)
After arriving in New York, the emigrants continued their journey by rail and arrived at Iowa City, June 26, 1856. From there they traveled up the river to the Iowa camping grounds, staying there some three weeks while they made hand-carts and tents. They left the camping spot July 16 with 120 hand-carts and six wagons. The day the company started from there, my sister, Eliza Hurren, gave birth to a daughter. They left her there until the next day, then carried her and put her into a wagon drawn by a span of wild mules. In three days they traveled only a short distance and in two weeks the baby died. She traveled on to Winter Quarters and from there walked and assisted in pulling handcarts eight hundred miles or more across the plains, never once getting into a conveyance to rest her weary body.
The Church had a herd of cattle grounded at the camping grounds which was a general outfitting station. While waiting there we had to herd those cattle night and day. There were a number to change off if all would have taken their turn, but it was a very rainy country and some would not take their turn, in the night, especially. I can well remember those who had charge used to come to us and say, "Will you go and herd again tonight, as we cannot get anyone else to go." My father, Brother Hurren (my brother-in-law), and I have gone three and four nights out of a week in the pouring rain, wet through from head to foot and part time in water up to our knees. We would do anything to help get fitted out and started on our journey.
Eventually we got our outfits, consisting of about four wagons drawn by ox teams and loaded with flour which was calculated to take us to Salt Lake City. The calculations for sixty days were one pound of flour for each grown person per day and half that amount for all of the children under twelve years of age. Besides that we had one wagon loaded with bacon and groceries for the trip. One saddle pony belonging to an Elder returning home was used for hunting camp grounds. The rest were hand-carts. As a general thing there was one to each family. In some cases two young men and two young women, one each. The hand-carts were loaded with their baggage and children that were not able to walk. In this way we traveled up what we called the Florence, this side of the Missouri River. We were again detained, waiting for some Independent emigrants that wanted to travel with us, as it was very dangerous to cross at those times over one thousand miles of wild Indian country. One outfit belonging to A. M. Babbitt, consisting of about five men, one woman, and one child about three or four years old, concluded to start two or three days early or before we were ready. I think we left this place about the tenth of September with an addition to our outfit of about thirty head of cattle, some cows to give a little milk, and others to kill for beef.Our company came to where the Babbitt Company had camped. The Indians had killed all of them, had burned their wagons, nothing being left but the irons and half buried bodies. This looked very discouraging to us and we traveled on, looking back for nothing. We were surrounded by Indians on two or three occasions, but got out by giving them some flour and tobacco which some of our company had with them. We got out about three hundred miles on the road and our cattle stampeded, most all of our best oxen leaving, which left us in a bad state to move any further. We stayed there several days hunting as far as we dared to find some of our cattle but could not find any, and believed the Indians must have driven them away. Then some of the flour was taken out of the wagons and put on the hand-carts according to the strength of the party drawing them. Some had one, others two, and Brother Hurren, being considered one of the strongest men in the company, had five sacks put on his cart besides two small girls that were not able to walk and all of his baggage and cooking utensils. Then we made up with the few cattle we had left, one yoke of cattle and one cow to each wagon, but on account of such weak teams and handcarts loaded too heavy we could travel only a few miles per day. Our provisions were going fast and we were making little headway. Our rations had to be cut down to half in order to hold out longer. By this time men and all began to weaken and many became sick.
My father would start out in the morning and pull his cart until he would drop at night on the road. He did this day after day until he reached Fort Laramie, Wyoming, where he died. When we were out nearly 500 miles from Salt Lake, our rations were again cut to four ounces of flour a day. Being in such a weakened condition, some would sit down by the roadside and die. My younger sister, Caroline, after traveling all day and seeing camp being made for the night, took off her apron to tie up some sage brush to bring into camp. Being so tired, she sat down to rest and leaned against her bundle in an exhausted condition. When found she was in a dying condition and they carried her into camp. She died in the night without gaining consciousness. And so it was with others, thirteen being buried in one grave. Soon after that we camped at the Sweetwater at Three Crossings and in the morning we awoke covered with eight inches of snow and not a morsel of anything in camp to eat for man and woman, or child. We could not move any further and still three hundred miles from Salt Lake. Brother Hurren went out to gather sage brush to burn and while doing so found some pieces of rawhide. He gathered them up, took them to camp, scraped, cleaned, and cooked them and gave them to the children, who ate them with relish.
Weakened to such an extent, we had given up hope of moving any further. Having heard assistance was on the way, we still had hope. We still had one pony and one mule which were not entirely given out. Two of the men took these dear old animals and started out to find some relief, which they did after traveling to Pacific Springs. Here they found the relief party camped on account of the snow, but they heard the report and came to us quickly as possible, leaving part of their wagons and doubling up teams, and reached us after we had been in camp forty eight hours without any food. But they dared not give us much for fear of killing us, which most likely would have happened with the few that were left. Potato peelings and rawhides off old handcarts were good when we could get them. I myself have sat by the fireside with Brother Hurren and scraped and singed hair off a piece of rawhide which had been taken off discarded handcarts that had been pulled through the sand hundreds of miles. It was hard, but we would boil and soften it and cut it up into little pieces and put it in our pockets to chew on the road the next day. It helped to keep life in us.