William H. Walker reminiscences and diary, 1843 September-1897 April, 127-31.
View this source online
So that in starting out on the plains I had one more wagon and six more oxen than I had last season, and all paid for.
I got my provisions and supplies for the journey on credit. On starting some 20 wagons of emigrants were added to my company. Capt. David Evans, handcart company, started about the 3rd.
I had traveled three days, when Br. E. [Erastus] Snow overtook me on horseback. He sent a man into camp to see who was there before he came in. About this time there was considerable excitement all along the frontiers with regard to the army being sent out to Utah and the brethren were a little anxious to know whose company they fell into. Br. Snow had a very bad leg, much swollen and a running sore, very much inflamed. I made him welcome in my private wagon. I procured cow poultices and dressed his leg several times a day. He slept with me.
I traveled about eight days when Br. John Taylor and four or five others overtook us, with light wagons and mules, going through on an express. Br. Snow was now much better and could walk about comfortably. They called a meeting and gave us some good instructions. They wanted to get another horse for one of their guard to ride. I offered them my mule, which they would not accept. Said I needed it and would not take it from me. There were others that could spare one better than I could.
We were then camped five miles from the Platte River. Br. Snow informed Br. Taylor that a man by the name of Buttler, was traveling and camping alone with 4 boys. Br. Taylor gave me instructions with regard to them. This Buttler was a very long faced pious man. Prayed every night and morning, both loud and long. A few days before he drove up to some well ahead [of], Captain Evans company, and insisted that his oxen should have water before those that were drawing their handcarts over sandy roads. As the Capt. Did not allow him to do this, he cursed him and all the people, making some hard threats and drove on, and would not camp near us as he had done before, and had driven his oxen to our herd to be guarded, as he did not like to guard at all. As Br. Taylor passed him on the Platte he advised Buttler to come back and travel with me. He would not be advised. Two of the boys came to my camp. The Indians were very bad and they were afraid they would be killed.
I had laid over for the day at the Springs. After a while the old man came over for the boys, inquired of me where they were and made a great many threats of shooting, etc. As the old man went out to hunt the boys I asked some of the brethren to entertain him. In the meantime I sent two men to fetch his team back, which drove up just at dark. When he saw that the team had come back he went on in a terrible rage, threatened to shoot. Finally when he did not succeed in scaring anyone he wanted to take the team off to one side so that he could worship. I told him he might worship as long and as loud as he pleased, if he would go out to one side so as not to disturb the camp. That he could have provisions that would do him; but it would be necessary for the team to remain in camp to haul provisions for the boys. He had previously struck two of the boys with a gun, which was not an uncommon thing.
I drove over to the Platte River and camped.
The handcart companies camped at the Springs. Next morning Capt. Evans sent me word that their oxen had stampeded and all run off with the buffalo and he could not recover them, and wanted assistance. I [sent] teams to move the company up to our camp.
As I had got poison ivy so that I could not sit on my saddle to ride, I lent my mule to Capt. Evans, and some men went to assist him in trying to recover the oxen, but they could not find them.
I succeeded in getting some oxen of those that were not very heavy loaded and took on some of their flour. As also some others did, and took the company right along with us, and many were very accommodating in letting the sick and weary ride.
We took them all quite comfortable for a few days until nearly all had lost from two to three head of their cattle, consequently they demanded theirs back from Capt. Evans. Finally the crisis came. About half of my company were not only willing, but determined, to go on and leave the handcart company. I tried to reason and prevailed on them not to leave them on the plains to starve. As they had only provisions enough, at best, to do them if no delay. I was finally obliged to insist that no one should leave camp until arrangements were made. Yet the leader of this faction hitched up and drove out and others followed. I rode out in front of their teams and said, without any threats, though, plainly and positively, that not a team can leave this camp until all arrangements were made.
I had a pair of Colt revolvers on my saddle which I carried all of the time, and never thought of using them. The leader said he was afraid of my pistols. I told him I did not want him to be afraid; but he could not go nor no other man, until arrangements were made to take the whole company along.
I finally succeeded and took the company along till we crossed the Black Hills and the last crossing of the Platte River. Here we met quite a number of the brethren building a large station and working in the interest of the B.Y. Express Company. Here the handcart company obtained assistance.
I made arrangements with Br. Thomas E. Rise to take charge of my train. He being an old experienced hand and competent.
I started alone and rode 100 miles. Came to a station that Br. Stephen Markham had charge of. The night before I ate some sardines that were a little stale, which made me very sick. Br. Markham got me something to eat and I felt a little better. Next morning he informed me that the Indians were very bad between here and Fort Bridger. That it was dangerous to travel alone. That I would have to be very cautious. There had been one man killed lately. Therefore I stopped in daylight on some eminence where I could see a long distance in every direction and only off saddle to let the mule roll, then saddle up again and hold the mule to eat and not camp any where I might be seen and off the road.
I arrived at Fort Bridger. Got something to eat. I had a little dry bread with me, and no change to buy anything more.
I met one Indian. He wanted to see my pistol. I took it out and let him see it. They were new and bright and attracted his attention. He wanted to take on[e], I said no sir, you can’t. I arrived at Salt Lake City, Sept. 1, 1857. Having rode some 400 miles in eight days. Having gone five years, lacking 15 days. I traveled during that time 30,000 miles by water and 10,000 by land. I arrived home in the evening just at dark. I asked if I could stop over night, was not recognized for some little time.