Pickett, John W., "Pioneer Sketch: Story of John W. Pickett"
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PIONEER SKETCH: STORY OF JOHN W. PICKETT
by John W. Pickett
I was born in England August 2, 1846. My parents joined the Church before I was born. I came to America with my parents, when I was a small boy. We lived in Winter Quarters for a short time, where my mother buried her youngest boy. He lies in the old Mormon cemetery there. We crossed the plains in Niel and Canfield's Independent company. Father had two yoke of cattle and one yoke of cows, and a wagon with a jackknife brake above the ranch.
Nothing out of the ordinary occurred until we reached the Raw-hide creek where the Pawnee tribe of Indians lived. The creek took its name from an event which occurred there sometime before our time. A man from the east declared he would kill the first Indian he ran across, which he did. The Indians demanded the man who did the killing or they would massacre the entire company. The man was given into their hands and they skinned him alive.
When we were making camp that night and the right wing of the train had formed the usual hollow circle and had unyoked the cattle, the cattle in the left wing stampeded. Cattle and wagons went pell-mell in all directions, women screamed, men shouted, and children cried from fright. Fortunately the men succeeded in rounding up the cattle and calming them down without any serious accident.
We encountered some fierce tornadoes while in Nebraska. The thunder and lightning were so fierce that the cattle were frightened and ran bellowing in all directions, tents were blown down and the rain came down in torrents wetting everything.
Packs of big prairie wolves as large as yearling calves hung about our camp at night. Game of all kinds was abundant--buffalo, deer, elk, and antelope could be seen at almost any time. The Indians were very troublesome that year, killing people in trains before us and behind us, burning the wagons and running off the cattle. We arrived in Salt Lake Valley in October having been eleven weeks on the journey from Winter Quarters. . . .
My uncle, William Pickett, had come to Utah in 1848, and I went to live with him and herded his sheep and did chores for my keep until the spring of 1863. Peter Allen and myself did the plowing. You could not tell which was the masterpiece of the plow, as they were made out of old wagon tires by our blacksmith. We wonder how the farmers ever broke up the hard baked sod with such flimsy tools. . . .
I worked for this man later, and was in his employ when the bishop asked me to take seven yoke of oxen and go back on the plains and help belated emigrants. John Anderson, a boy of my own age, was to go with two yoke of oxen and a wagon. We were ready in two days. All of my belongings except the clothes I wore were tied up in a red bandanna handkerchief.
We left Tooele with two yoke of broke oxen, the others were wild steers. We got a yoke of steers in E. T. City from an old couple named Moss. When all was ready we discovered we were short a chain. I saw one on a fence and appropriated it. The woman refused to let us have it. I told John to attract her attention while I secured the chain. I returned it to her when I came back. We managed to get the yokes on those steers and never took them off until we reached Green River.
We took some potatoes and onions along and sold them at Fort Bridger for nine dollars a bushel, and like the Jews. we were sorry we didn't ask for more. We took turns driving the two yoke on the wagon and driving the other seven yoke behind. We traveled twenty miles a day. We would meet people who would ask, "Where are you two kids going to? Don't you know the Indians are bad, they will kill you?" We were scared enough without that suggestion. We lived on bacon and flapjacks, cooked in a frying pan over a camp fire. At Green River we overtook the rest of the rescue party, who were going east on the same mission. We were mighty glad to come up with them as we had traveled entirely alone throughout an Indian country. We did not dare to make any fire at night for fear of Indians, although the weather was very cold. John R. Wimmer was in charge of the company. We began to meet the emigrants near North Platte. They were in very bad shape. Their wagons were heavily loaded and their oxen weak and poor. Feed was scarce.
I was asked to hook on to a Newton wagon which was loaded to the bows. Among other things in the wagon was a piano, bales of factory, and sets of blacksmith tools for Oscar Young, a son of President Young. The emigrants were dying through exposure and cold. We buried two, a man by the name of Collins, and a woman, an elderly lady, in one grave on the Muddy opposite Fort Bridger. This was my first experience as a grave digger. But afterwards became quite expert at it, on succeeding trips. From Fort Bridger to Salt Lake, we buried some one nearly every day. The early winter storms had set in, the ground was frozen, and we could only travel from eight to ten miles a day.
There were sixteen men in our mess. H. H. Lee and myself were the cooks. There were several returned 2 missionaries in our crowd, among them being Henry A. Dickson, whose descendants still live in Providence, William A. Fotheringham, who later went on a mission to India was along. He located in Beaver and died there.
The hard work and poor feed was fatal to our cattle, and some of them just quietly laid down and died by the wayside nearly every day. One ox broke his neck just as we got into the pass in Parley's canyon.
We reached Salt Lake November 11th. . . .
In the spring of 1865 there was scarcely any work for boys outside of freighting, or driving team in some outfit going to Montana, or back to the Missouri river. I was given charge of a four mule team. We loaded our wagons with grain, and provisions, oats for horse feed, etc., which was to be distributed to the various stage stations for the Overland Stage companies. At this time I was in my 19th year. We found the roads in fairly good condition and we made splendid time. We could travel much fast with mules than with oxen. Nothing of importance happened until we reached Bitter Creek. While camped one day at noon four Indians made an appearance. We had a train of about 40 wagons and about 50 men in the outfit. Joe Sharp was wagon master. Two men were on guard at the time, a young man named Jensen and a man we called Dad Kirkham. When the Indians came in sight the alarm was given and we all got our guns. The sage brush was pretty high. The Indians came toward our teams with the evident intention of stealing some of the animals. The Jensen boy started to run and the Indian opened fire on him and killed him. We then turned loose on the Indians and they made off as fast as they could. We followed some distance, firing when opportunity offered, but they got away. We did not get any of them. We made a grave and buried the Jensen boy there by the roadside. We now traveled as fast as we could to get out of the Indian country, and maintained a heavy guard at night about our teams. We were on the lookout for Indians at all times.
We reached Fort Leavenworth in due time and loaded our freight as quickly as possible. Our wagon master took personal charge and worked so hard that he got sick and died on the return journey. While at Leavenworth, we were eating dinner at the restaurant one day when some tough said he would like to see a d_____d Mormon. Joe was not afraid of anyone, and he jumped and grabbed a chair and said, "D___n you, you can see three or four of them mighty quick." He made for the gang, knocking them right and left. The room was cleared in short order.
We made the return trip in record time. The Indians were bad, and there was trouble ahead of us and behind us, but we escaped without serious loss. We returned by what was then known as the "Sweet Water" route. Somewhere near the Three Crossings, our wagonmaster died. We made him a grave by the roadside as we had done the Jensen boy. Later his body was taken up and brought to Salt Lake and buried. We reached Salt Lake in September. . . .
1866 While in Tooele a call came for ten trains of from 50 to 75 wagons each to go back to Missouri for emigrants, as the church had arranged for an unusually large emigration this year (1866). The bishop called me to go back again, telling me that I knew the road. He gave me the pick of the teams. They were all ox teams and if there was any choice I could not detect it. I had three "broke" oxen out of four yoke. The others were as wild as deer, never had had a yoke on. They were four and five years old. Our bishop was asked to furnish eight teams of four yoke each and eight teamsters and a night guard, all to be exemplary young me. The teams, wagons, etc. were all to be donated, also the food, to the cause, to enable the saints in Europe to come to Zion. To illustrate, one man would furnish a wagon, another an ox, another a yoke and others chains, flour, potatoes, meat, etc. My wagon was Lynch-pin iron axle wagon that had come to the country with Johnson's army ten years before and was a pretty rickety old relic. Two wheels would be running northwest and the other two southeast at the same time. I promised myself that if I could ever obtain forgiveness for starting out on a twenty-two hundred mile journey with a wagon like that I would never do it again. It devoured wagon dope like a sow takes to swill. I had to grease it three and four times a day, especially on the sandy road along the Platte river, to keep it from running hot, like a car box.
We started up Emigration Canyon on the first day of May 1866. There were 45 wagons in our train. We had all kinds of trouble. Many of the oxen were wild and hard to handle and the result was that tongues and reaches were broken, wagons toppled over daily. There were snow banks to be dug through, roads to be repaired, streams to be bridged, and a hundred other difficulties to be encountered. We were a whole month going to Fort Bridger, 113 miles.
The remainder of our train overtook us at Silver Creek in Summit County; we were organized into a company with Henry Chipman of American Fork as wagon master, and A. G. Driggs as assistant. We made very slow progress on account of the poor condition of our cattle. Some of them were so thin that you could see daylight through them when they were 3 between you and the sun.
When going up Blacks Fork we saw the bones of about 500 oxen and mules lying in a heap where the animals had been frozen to death on the night of November 14th, 1857, when Johnson's army was caught in a blizzard while trying to reach Fort Bridger. They went no farther that winter.
We found in Ham's Fork a swift running stream, and rising rapidly—in fact it raised a foot while our train was crossing it. We had to tie a long rope to the yoke of the leaders, and one of the night guards would ride ahead with the rope around the horn of his saddle and pull the oxen along to keep them from being carried down by the swift current. At Green River we had to swim our cattle across and ferry our wagons over on a boat. Cattle do not like to take to water, and we had to force some into the stream and compel them to head for the opposite shore, and the others would follow if the pressure was great enough.
The company cook has no friends, so no one desires the job. I was young and inexperienced, so in an evil moment the responsibility was forced upon me. There was an understanding that the first man to kick against the grub had to take the job as cook. I determined to get rid of the job so I mixed a batch of bread, two parts flour and one part salt, which I hoped would produce results. They all ate it without a blink except one fellow who blurted out, "This is the damndest," then a pause, when he added slowly, "best bread that I ever ate." So I had to continue on the job. While the outfit was crossing Green River, I went over on the first boat and made preparations to cook dinner. I had a sack of beans along and decided to cook some. I was innocent of the ways of beans, so I filled the kettle full to the brim. Some one told me to put in some salteratus (baking soda), which I did, and they turned as yellow as saffron. When they began to swell, I took out some. This operation was continued every minutes until I had several pans full of beans. In fact, every utensil I had was requisitioned to take care of the overflow and still they came.
From Green river the roads were good and we made good progress, until we reached the Sweetwater River. We saw the spot where the ill-fated Martin company camped in 1856, and where 17 persons died from exposure and cold in one night. The river was so high and the weather cold, and one of the men bet five dollars that not a man could swim over and back. Parley Driggs won the bet. He swam over and back without a whimper.
After leaving Goose Creek, a tributary of the Sweetwater, we made our way to the North Platte River. We had a number of oxen with sore necks and feet; two of the men took turns driving them close to the train. One morning the train moved out as usual, and the boys were supposed to follow close with their loose cattle, but they lingered around the campfire smoking, when two Indians came out of the brush, stole two of the best steers and stripped the boys of the pants and told them to "Pike away." They were pretty badly frightened and when they came into camp looked more like ghosts, or the missing link, than ox drivers.
At Deer Creek station the mountaineer keepers kept a stock of moccasins and buffalo robes to sell. We all laid in a stock of them to sell at the river. The road now was bad and very rocky. We crossed the bridge over the North Platte and left there all our sore-footed cattle, and part of our provisions, intending to pick them up on our return. There was a military post here and a company of soldiers.
From the Platte east we passed graves of people who had died on the road or been killed by Indians, every day. Sometimes we saw graves where the wolves had dug out the body and left the bones bleaching in the sun.
At Fort Laramie we found a great gathering of Indians, who had assembled to hold a pow-wow with government officials. There were 500 lodges. The Indians had some fine horses and mules with them which they had stolen from passing trains. We were no[w] on the prairies between the two forks of the Platte. Beautiful waving grass could be seen in all directions, some of it two feet high. Droves of antelopes could be seen in all directions. Buffalo were scarce. One of the boys shot into a drove of antelope and killed two with one shot.
On June 8th I found a pistol and belt some one had lost, also an ox that had strayed from some company the year before. We are now 35 miles each of Fort Laramie. We are to make a dry camp today so we all fill our canteens and kegs with water. The Rawlins and Chipman trains had traveled together since leaving home. A very sad accident occurred today. While a young man in the Rawlins train by the name of George Cook was filling his keg, a teamster named Gos was fooling with his pistol when it was accidentally discharged, the ball hitting Cook in the fleshy part of his thigh. We gave him every attending we could, but owing to lack of proper medicines and the hot weather, blood poison set in and after three or four days he died. The young man was going down to the river to meet his mother who was coming from England. His death cast a gloom over the entire camp. A shelf grave was dug, into which we lowered the body. Short services were held and we laid sticks across the grave and then filled it with earth. There was not a dry eye in the company, as he was a favorite with all of us.
When we reached the river his mother came to our train to inquire of her son. She had with her three or four small children. She said her son, George Cook, was to be with the Rawlins train and was to meet her there. Maybe it wasn't a task to have to tell her that her son would never meet her again this side of the grave, but it had to be done.
When we reached the Platte river crossing twelve miles above Fort Ke[a]rney, and 213 miles from the Missouri, we found the water very deep, and the river half a mile wide. We had to tie ropes across the tops of the wagon boxes and put our provisions and bedding on there to keep them from getting wet, as the water filled the boxes. From now on we made forced marches of from 25 to 33 miles a day, one wagon crowding closely on the other. The reason was that all the trains were hurrying to get in first so they could load first and get on the lead for the return trip. If my memory serves me right we made 213 miles in five days. We kept a night guard out every night to see that the other trains did not pass us in the night. We reached a little landing place on the river called Wyoming, six miles above Nebraska City and 56 miles below Omaha. 4
We had traveled so fast since leaving Kearney that we had done but little or no cooking, so when we reached the river we were all half starved. We took possession of a small restaurant the morning after we reached Wyoming. The meals were 50 cents, but we asked him what he would charge to fill us up. He said one dollar each. Well, we ate him out of house and home before we got satisfied. I never saw such a wolfish bunch.
The night before we reached the river we encountered one of the worst storms I ever saw. Lightning and thunder were something terrific. The lightning lit up the heavens so that we could plainly see the trees on the river bottoms four miles away. While at Wyoming I made several trips down to Nebraska City, which even at that early date was quite a town. We had sold our moccasins, buffalo robes, etc., and invested in cook stoves, dishes, etc.
Soon after our arrival the emigrants commenced to arrive, coming up the river on steamboats. They were under the direction of Isaac Bullock and Thomas Taylor.
There were two mule trains arrived and loaded before we arrived. One of them should have crossed the Platte at Kearney, but thought they could cross lower down, which they could not on account of high water, so they went to Omaha and crossed on a ferry and came down the east side of the river to Wyoming where they crossed back.
We got our loading done early in July and started back. It took six or eight days to load up. Many of the wagons had twelve passengers and their baggage to a wagon. Appolis Driggs, assistant wagon-master told me that there were two large boxes almost enough to fill a wagon, down at the landing. They contained plate glass to be taken to Salt Lake City. In addition to these I was to have two of the night guard sleep in my wagon during the day. I also had two passengers, Samuel Like, and his wife Emma, and their luggage. Then I had to find room for the provisions for the return journey.
We started back on the 11th of July. The weather was terribly hot. We took the same route back that we had followed coming. I celebrated my 20th birthday crossing the Platte River at Julesburg. We were two days getting our train across the river. We had to double twelve yoke of cattle to a wagon. The quicksand was so bad that it was impossible to stop in the river. One wagon got stuck in the river on the second day and it took 25 yoke of cattle to pull it out. The water was pretty deep, and all the freight in the bottom of the wagons got wet. All stuff like gingham, calico, factory, candy, boots and shoes, etc., had to be unloaded and dried.
Our route ran between the two forks of the Platte until we reached Ash Hollow, where occurred a big massacre in 1851. We now passed Chimney Rock and Scott's Bluffs. The sand was very deep and we made slow progress. The poor old oxen would tug at their yokes all day, with their tongues hanging out. We saw lots of skulls which had been dug out of shallow graves by the wolves, and left to bleach in the sun.
On Sunday the 19th day of August, we reached La Bontje [La Bonte] Creek in the Black Hills. We had strict orders when we left Fort Laramie, from the officer in command, not to camp near timber at night, and to put a double guard over our stock, as the Indians were killing people and burning trains ahead of us. We were camped at noon, and the right wing of our train turned their cattle up the creek and the left wing turned theirs down the stream. The Indians made an attack upon our animals during the noon hour and got away with a good many of them, most of them from herds which went up stream, although we all lost some cattle. We had a running fight with the Indians up a ravine. When it was all over we returned to camp and counted our loss. We found they had secured 93 head of cattle and horses. We immediately yoked up and pulled out on a hill, where we camped for the night. Three soldiers who had deserted from Fort Kearney caught up with us that night. One of the young men by the name of Forbes was a telegraph operator, and he climbed a pole and sent a message to President Young telling him of our loss, and asked him to send us help and provisions as the Indians had sorely crippled us. It was Sunday and the President was in meeting when the message came, but steps were taken to send relief at once.
A young man named Garner died about this time and was buried by the roadside. I think this was my last experience as a grave-digger. A great many difficulties came up in camp which had to be settled, so we maintained a kangaroo court, with Charlie Green of American Fork as judge. All cases were tried at noon. Any of the teamsters found "sitting up" on ox yokes with the girls of an evening were duly tried, found guilty, and were sentenced to be "bumped." The judge wore a stovepipe hat, an old pair of spectacles without lenses, and like the Medes and Persians, there was no appeal from his decision.
Twenty years afterward, while traveling in Southern Utah, I came across the town where "Judge" Green lived, and after supper I hunted him up. A gray headed man answered the door. I knew him at once. I said, "Is this the place where Judge Green lives?" He said, "My name is Green, but I am not a judge." I said, "Perhaps not now, but you surely were judge of the kangaroo court in 1866." We spent a very pleasant evening recalling old times and companions. Often on this trip I would make inquiry for some of my old comrades and on being told that they were dead I would go up into the cemetery and look up their graves.
On August 20th we yoked up our remaining oxen and made shift the best we could to continue our journey. We wanted to get out of the Indian country as soon as possible. We made 20 miles this day. The Indians had cut the telegraph wires and burned the stations from there to Deer Creek. When we reached there we found the station in flames, and all of the fine buffalo robes were still smoking. We hurried on to the Platte, where we had left our lame oxen and supplies on the down trip. We gathered up all of the cattle belonging to all of the trains and took them along until we should find help. Between the Platte and Sweetwater is a stretch of country without water. We carried water and made dry camps that night. There were always bad Indians there but they kept in hiding. A man in Captain White's train went out hunting and was captured by the Indians, and was held prisoner for two or three years, but finally made his way into salt Lake City.
There was a train for Fort Reno ahead of us, and in the night the Indians ran off all of their cattle, and they came in our direction. Before they knew it they ran into us and we got out and recaptured all of the stolen cattle. We yoked them up and drove them until noon when we met the captain of the Reno train, who claimed his stock and we gave them to him.
Nothing else of importance occurred until we reached Sage Creek, where a train was snowed in the year before. The train was loaded with whiskey for the Sweetwater mines. It was customary in those days to bury unnecessary things to lighten the loads, and finding a grave at this point Charley Green and I wondered what had been cached there. We dug into it only to find it was a body. We covered it up mighty quick.
Our provisions were now beginning to get short, on account of the loss of our cattle. We had about 500 emigrants. We had stopped for dinner one day at a point on the Big Sandy where Lot Smith had burnt the Government wagon trains belonging to Johnson's army In 1857. While resting and eating our dinner, we saw some one coming towards us from the west. It proved to be Captain Hinckley, who had been sent with a supply train to our relief. We were very glad, for the food and additional teams as our cattle were very poor and the loads were too heavy for them. Every passenger that was able to walk had to do so. We now made better progress and reached Salt Lake City about the middle of October. We now unloaded our freight, bid adieu to our passengers, and departed our several ways, I for Tooele. Before reaching home one of my oxen laid down and died within three miles of home, after having stood the journey of 2,200 miles.
To be a teamster on the plains in those days was no holiday picnic—it was a man's job. It was a long hard wearisome labor from first to last. Still there were compensating advantages. We formed acquaintances with the incoming emigrants which has lasted all our lives, and also came in contact with men who have become the leaders in our States since that time. It was worth something to know these men. They have all crossed the "Great Divide" since then. There is scarcely one to be found today.
There were ten Church trains across the plains that year, seven ox trains and three mule trains. The following men were captains: John R. Murdock of Beaver; Bishop Holliday of Santaquin; Scott of Provo; Lowrey of Manti; Henry Chipman of American Fork; Joseph R. Rawlins of South Cottonwood; Peter Nebeker of Box Elder; Thomas E. Ricks of Logan; Samuel White of Beaver; and one more whose name I have forgotten. They were men worth knowing.
I omitted to mention that while going back that year, out on the Sweetwater, we found a place where a train had been burned by the Indians the fall before. The iron from the wagons was lying about, and as iron was valuable in those days, we gathered it all up and buried it, to be picked up on our return. The Indians were in evidence as we passed through, and we could see their signal smokes and fires for days.
Nearly every person who has crossed the plains remembers that there is no firewood to be had for hundreds of miles, so we had to collect buffalo chips to cook our food with. We who had crossed before knew just how to meet an emergency, and we would hang a sack on the back of the wagon. Every buffalo chip we saw as we journeyed during the day we picked it up and put it in the sack, thus we always were provided with fuel for our meals. . . .
HISTORY OF JOHN W. PICKETT
As Related and Compiled by Some of His Children
. . . He was chosen as one of the young men to go back to Winter Quarters to help bring the emigrating saints to Utah. Five times he crossed the plains, twice to bring the saints, once to take horses belonging to the Young brothers to bring supplies to Utah. He tells of the trip in 1864 as follows:
"In the spring of 1864, 500 teams were sent to the frontier for the emigrating saints. I shall explain to you how they were raised by donation. I shall use Providence as an illustration. The Bishop would receive a letter from President Young: 'We want five teams from your ward, four yoke of oxen to each wagon; select some of your best young men as drivers to go back. You will have to take provisions enough for your trip, lasting six months and return, or means to purchase the same. You will be organized into a company on Silver Creek, east of Salt lake City. Your Captain's name is Chipman, of American Fork; his assistant's name is Driggs. Your night guards will need good, strong Spanish ponies.'
"There were generally 65 to 96 wagons in a train. Our outfits were raised by donation. One man would turn in an ox, another a wagon, another a sack of flour. A poor old widow woman would donate a pair of socks, another one two dozen eggs, which we would pack in salt, and so on, until our outfit was equipped. The young men were called as missionaries, with no pay, all 18 years or over.
"In the month of April from the 18th to the 27th the trains would be moving through mud and snow almost every day. I have been for a month never knowing what it was to go to bed at night with dry clothes. We had no overcoats. We were 31 days going to Fort Bridger, a distance of 100 miles; the oxen, some of them wild and poor. After we would strike the sandy bottoms of the Platte we would make good time to the Missouri. Emigrants arrive, trains are loaded to start on our return trip. It is now the 9th of July, all trains have gone but ours. Our train was a Church train, with cattle and wagons bought by the Church in the States. There are 96 wagons, and nearly all emigrants for teamsters.
"Here was where my hardships began, me only a boy. I had to help them yoke up their oxen. Some had never seen an ox yoked up, and these were the kind most of the drivers were who were to drive 1100 miles. Imagine conditions, if you can. We start on our homeward journey, wending our way up the Platte. Cholera breaks out in our company. Many take sick and die. We stop long enough to bury them, often two in one grave. Our cattle die. It is now near winter, and we are on the Bitter Creek, 300 miles from home, in the latter part of October. The groans of the dying are heard in our camp. For weeks not a day has passed but someone has crossed the Great Divide.
"We are now at Salt Wells, Nellie Bailey died tonight, October 29th, 18 years of age, from Kent, England. Stop here in my narrative while I explain. I went to England on a mission in 1881, and while traveling in Kent, I called on an old couple by the name of Bailey. I asked if they had any relatives in Utah. Sister Bailey said, 'No, we sent a daughter out in 1864, and she died on the plains. We never could get any news, only that she died and was in Warren Snow's company.' Then I told her all about Nellie's death and burial. It was a relief to the Mother to be able to talk with someone who knew of her daughter.
"Coming back to my story, I have seen the tears roll down our poor old Captain's face when he would be talking of our conditions. We cross Green River today and arrive on the Muddy River. Two die tonight, a man by the name of Collins and a woman whose name I have forgotten. We have no time to lose—wrap them in an old blanket, dedicate the graves, make them with a stone, and move on. We arrive in Salt Lake November 12th with our clothes worn out, our oxen nearly exhausted. Ninety-eight passengers die in our train in 1864.
"In 1866 I am again called to go back—62 wagons in our train this time—same experiences—mud and snow for the first 100 miles, all rivers are swollen. We have to wade streams up around our armpits—cattle turning down stream. Our blankets are lashed across our top beds, tied to the bows, our provisions on top. We are now 10 miles below Fort Laramie. Two trains camp together her[e], and a teamster by the name of Cook is accidentally shot and killed. We bury him in the sand on the Platte. At his funeral there were 102 men in the camp, and not a dry eye among them. He was going to meet his widowed mother and sister who are among the emigrants. Imagine her grief when we had to inform her of her son's death. On this trip, we start back on the 11th of July. I am taken sick and come near death's door.
"We are attacked by Sioux Arapaho Indians in the Black Hills in Wyoming, have 93 head of oxen and 3 horses stolen in 10 minutes. They cut telegraph lines and burn every station to Platte Bridge, a distance of 50 miles. We have three deaths thus far. Indians capture an emigrant on the Sweet Water, and keep him captive for several years. While camped here, we have more trouble with the Indians. They burn wagons and kill some emigrants who are on their way to Oregon and california. Before and behind us are Missourians. I have seen their bones bleaching on the plains. The Prophet Joseph Smith prophesied we would see this. On the first of September the Indians run 50 head of cattle into our camp, as we were hooking up, which had been stolen from a government freight train. We arrive home on the 16th of September, 1866, in much better condition than on our '64 trip.
"I have seen the hand of God in various ways in my travels. I have given you an index of my early experiences. I seldom mention some of it, as it brings up terrible thoughts in my mind—a man about 20 years of age, wading rivers and swamps to gather the poor to Zion. I have seen hard times in my early days, but I have never had a doubt about the truths of the Gospel. Many prophesies I have seen fulfilled. I would say to the Daughters of the Pioneers, 'Stick to Mormonism. It will carry you into the Celestial Kingdom.'"