Claridge, Samuel, Autobiography [ca. 1910], fd. 274, 2-4.
Our first days drive will always be remembered. The roads were very bad, and there came very heavy rains, and we could go no further. We could not pitch our tents, so twelve of us had to sit and lay in the wagon the first night, and someone struck up a song–"Zion When I Think of Thee."
Next day we got a good camping place and stayed there for two or three days. Then we got along fine until we reached Council Bluffs, and here we had to ferry our wagons across the Missouri River. The owner of the ferry thought it was too windy and rough to cross, but our Captain, Joseph W[atson]. Young, took the responsibility, and we crossed safely. I assisted in ferrying our fifty wagons across.
Our journey through Iowa was quite pleasant, and one day I made the following verses as we travelled along:
See Israel Camp, a lovely sight
On hills and plain through woods and grove
It fills the heart with fine delight
To watch it as it onward moves.
Here Saints from almost every climb
Who are bound for Zion in the West,
And as they travel truth sublime
Engages the thoughts of every breast.
Oh father Abram oft become the weary traveller yet
And grace were called of God
To leave his home
And find one in another place.
We talked of Israel years ago
Who pitched their tents upon the clods,
And labored hard as we do now
To find a place to worship God.
And so, the Saints of Latter-days
Forsake their friends, their earthly all,
To walk in God’s peculiar way
Obedient to his heavenly call.
And now we pray for Joseph Young,
The captain of our Israel camp,
That he may both be wise and strong
And guide us with a spirit lamp.
And when we reach the promised land
Where blessings to the Saints are given,
We’ll gladly yield to God’s command
And learn the royal laws of heaven.
We travelled along through the Indian country, and oft met some of the redmen who were quite a curiosity to us. At one time about two hundred warriors came riding up, and we halted to talk to them awhile, and then we all donated a little flour and a little sugar, and after that we travelled four wagons abreast to keep us closer together, every man packing his gun, but we marched on and had no trouble.
At evenings our wagons would all be drawn close together forming a circle, which made a corral for our cattle. See, all the fire[s] now were made from buffalo chips and all busy, some fetching water, some wood, all cooking their bread and bacon, some singing, some herding the cattle, and so it was routine every day.
We now reached Fort Laramie about half way. Our cattle did very well up to this time, but our loads being heavy, we didn’t make good time. Our cattle began to give out, and all of our luggage that could be dispensed with was thrown out, such as feather beds and so forth. The health of the people were very good. Few deaths occurred on the journey.
By the time we came to Sweetwater Summit, a number of our cattle died, but our Captain, Joseph W. Young, went to the valley to get fresh oxen, and when we came, we got along all right, passed Fort Brigger [Bridger] and other historic places. In crossing the big mountain, we had to put ropes on the wagons, and a half a dozen men holding behind, we got down safe and got into the valley on the tenth of October, 1853.