"From Elder Orson Hyde," Frontier Guardian, 2 October 1850, 2.
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From Elder Orson Hyde.
The following letter we received per mail on Monday evening 23d ult., from our much esteemed friend and brother, Elder Orson Hyde. Our friends and readers at home and abroad, no doubt will be anxious to hear of his progress and welfare, and also his company; we therefore submit it for their perusal:
UPPER CROSSING OF THE PLATTE,
July 30th, 1850.
DEAR SIR:-We crossed the Platte yesterday, ferried over wagons and swam our horses, leaving Capt. Milo Andrus and company on the banks crossing, all well. We came on about nine miles through sand and encamped-turned out our animals and drove them about half a mile from the road to find grass, and in the night they wandered off. Bros. Miller and Kelly are after them on their back track. They may go back to the ferry. Bro. Daniels who is in company with us, has just come in off the hills and says that the men and horses are coming in the distance. Indeed, they have just fired a gun to let us know they are coming. All is right, we have only been hindered about three hours. This will learn us a lesson-no more to trust our horses to run at large during the night.
Grass is very scarce, through the rains through the black hills have been constant and powerful. But how the vast multitudes of cattle and horses are to get through, God only knows There will be no lack of water, but grass is eaten out root and branch, and in many cases the animals have even eaten out the wild sage. Our health is good, but the mountain air is too strong for me, yet I think that I shall soon become accustomed to it. The health of the emigrants is generally good, and their teams have improved on the journey until they crossed the Black Hills. Since then, they have fallen away a little. Bros. Miller and Kelley have just come in with all the animals safe sand sound. They wandered back about seven miles. The word now is, "pack up and hitch up," so I must stop writing for the present, but will resume it again when opportunity offers.
August 1st. at Independence Rock on the Sweet Water-all well. We have just passed through the Valley and Shadow of Death,-a country of about fifty miles in extent where the waters are deeply impregnated with Nitre, Saleratus, Sulphur, &c., &c. There is little or no grass at all through this region, but is mostly a sandy desert. The carcasses of horses and cattle lying along the road side are very numerous, having perished through fatigue, hunger, and through drinking poisonous waters. This country lies between the upper crossing of the Platte and the Sweet Water River, on the banks of which, we are now comfortably encamped. We have proven that horse teams will stand the journey from Fort Laramie, westward, far better than oxen. We are now beginning to overtake the California and Oregon emigration. They have suffered much in the loss of teams and animals: And oh! the sacrifice of wagons, clothing, fire arms, beds, bedding, Buffalo skins, trunks, chests, harnesses, and in the loss of life. The road to gold is strewed with destruction, wretchedness and woe; and yet, thousands and tens of thousands follow on in the way with the hope of securing the wealth of this world. Many will succeed no doubt; yet when it is obtained, it makes not its possessor happy here, nor secures to himself happiness beyond the grave.
There are riches that are durable,-there is gold that will not perish. For it, we need not seek in mines of California, but in those mines far more valuable where truth lies hidden from the vulgar eye, but is found of those who dig for her and who seek her with all their heart. Those mines are on every man's farm-in every man's house, and even in the kitchen of the servant maid, and the printing office should be a rich place. That this may be the case with the office of the Frontier Guardian, you have my best wishes and most ardent prayers.
We have not progressed quite so rapidly as we anticipated when we left home. The trains of emigrants have held to our skirts as we passed them, and we have stopped and given the most of them a lecture or discourse. They have been greatly afflicted, and feel themselves chastened of the Lord. They are humble and child-like generally-familiar and generous. We felt it our duty to give them all a word of comfort so far as we had an opportunity.
There are about five hundred new graves on the route south of the Platte, and but three deaths are reported at Laramie as having occurred on the north side. We intend to return on the north side of the Platte and faithfully examine every foot of the entire distance on both routes. We are taking points and distances, and making observations which we think will be of essential service to the emigrating public another year.
If wood were as plentiful as tools, wagon tire and iron in general on the road, we could have our hot dodger, coffee and fried or broiled bacon whenever we pleased. We are now on the Sweet Water, about thirty miles east of the South Pass. It is Monday, Aug. 5th, if we have not lost our reckoning-one month and one day out. We have broken an axletree to our wagon to day and have been engaged in putting in another. This is all done and we are in full rig again, ready to start in the morning for the South Pass. There is no grass through his country only on the margin of the creeks and streams. I portioned out our last horse feed to-day; but fortunately we have borrowed two sacks of flour of some Californians to be repaid in the Valley. This well help us through. We have left three horses on the way that had given out.