Bassett, Charles H., [Letter to James H. Hart], St. Louis Luminary, 1 September 1855, 162.
In camp, near FORT KEARNEY, Aug. 9, 1855.
Dear Brother Hart—Thinking perhaps that a few items of news from the plains, might be interesting to the readers of the Luminary, I improve the present opportunity in writing a few lines. President Snow and myself left Mormon Grove on Friday the 3d inst., at 2 1-2 o'clock, P. M., with a light carriage and four mules. The same afternoon we passed a portion of the last company of P. E. Fund Saints, twelve miles out, on Stranger Creek, getting along well. Six miles further on, we came up with the church train, in charge of Captain Alred [Isaac Allred]. We stayed over night with this company; they are travelling slowly, not having a sufficiency of teams, but I believe brother Snow made arrangements to procure more. We took supper with Capt. Alred; it was prepared by sister [Elizabeth] Hardy, who knows how to get up the good things on the plains, as well as at home. She selected a clean spot of prairie grass, on which to spread her cloth, and we seated ourselves on the ground, cross—legged, like a company of tailors.
Next morning we were up as soon as it was light, and drove off in company with the mail party, who left Independence for Salt Lake on the 1st inst.
Sunday morning, about 8 o'clock, we came up to Captain [Charles A.] Harpers company, and took breakfast with brother Harper and sister Harriet. They were seventy-five miles from Mormon Grove, and getting along finely.
Monday morning, we reached Big Blue, and found camped near the river a train of merchandise belonging to Messrs Hooper & Williams, in charge of Captain Knowlton, brother Godby's little company was here also. They had lost many cattle, and were getting along slowly. Captain Hooper, who was a passenger in the mail coach, stopped here to regulate the affairs in the train, and to procure more oxen.
Tuesday morning we breakfasted on Sandy Creek, while there, six Pawnee Indians came into camp, we gave them some breakfast and then they tried to beg everything we had, provisions, blankets, clothing, and everything they saw. One even urged me to give him my shirt, which I respectfully declined doing.
Just as we were starting, one very honest looking young warrior, came to me and cordially shook my hand, and also President Snow's, and bade us an affectionate good bye. I cracked my whip and off we started; just at that moment the Indian stepped behind the carriage, and with his hunting knife cut loose our camp brass kettle; brother Snow saw the motion, and sprang out and caught him, and took the kettle away from him, he gave it up very good naturedly. We started again, and while brother Snow was getting into the carriage, the adroit thief stole our bucket of wagon grease, which hung behind the carriage; we did not miss it till we stopped for night. These Pawnee's are sly thieves, and require close watching; they have now left the road and gone up on Big Blue for a hunt, so our late emigrating companies will not be annoyed by them.
We met the July mail, that left Great Salt Lake City on the 3d ult, yesterday on Little Blue. They were detained several days at the Devil's Gate, waiting for an escort. From Mr. Branham, merchant, returning from Salt Lake, we got a copy of the Deseret News Extra, containing an account of the death and burial of Hon. Leonidas Shaver, associate Justice of the Supreme Court, for the Territory of Utah. From the mail party we learn that the companies of Saints that are forward of this place were in good health and getting along finely.
Elder [Seth M.] Blair left his company near Ash Hollow, about the 12th ult., and went on to the Valley with the July mail.
We arrived here to-day, about 12 o'clock, having averaged fifty miles a day, and our mules are still in tolerable condition. The soldiers here are preparing for an extensive expedition against the Sioux. Gen. Harney is expected here on the 12th inst. The Indians on the road are reported quiet and friendly. The expedition of the Government troops is against the Sioux Indians, over on the Missouri river.
The conductor of the mail party has just applied to the commanding officer here, for an escort, but did not succeed in getting one. He says that he has orders to hold everything in readiness to march on the Indian expedition, at a moments warning so we shall be obliged to go on without an escort.—There are eight men in our company, and we have little fears of being disturbed by the Indians. President Snow is in good health, and wishes a kind remembrance to all the Saints. Give my love to brother Swales and family, and all who enquire after your brother in the Lord.
CHARLES. H. BASSETT.