Nibley, Charles W., Reminiscences of Charles W. Nibley (1849-1931) (Salt Lake City: 1934), 16-22.
By the spring of 1860 my ever thrifty and prudent mother [Jane Nibley] must have had saved away some two or three thousand dollars. There was nothing but war talk in the United States that spring and lest my father [James Nibley] and older brother [James] should be drafted into the war which was just then beginning, it was thought that we had better pack up with what means we had and start for the west rather than wait longer to try and accumulate any more. Accordingly we auctioned off our belongings in the month of May, 1860, and started for the west. We first went to Boston where we joined a company of emigrating saints, from Boston to Albany, New York, then up the Mohawk Valley over the present New York Central Railroad route to Buffalo, Niagara Falls and on the Michigan Central Railroad through Canada and Detroit to Chicago. From Chicago we traveled by rail to Hannibal, thence on to St. Joseph on the Missouri River. That was the farthest west that any railroad had extended in 1860. At St. Joseph we took the boat up the river to a place called Florence which is six miles above Omaha.
Here we met large numbers of emigrating saints congregating there and outfitting for the travel across the plains. It was here that I first began to get the least insight into Mormonism and Mormon methods. Meetings were held regularly, hymns sung everywhere and oft and the religious enthusiasm and spirit of the people were entirely different from what we had left behind in the east. A great number of the emigrating saints were assisted by the Church through the perpetual emigrating fund, but luckily we were rich enough to buy an outfit of our own and travel in what was called the "Independent Company." The family of Thomas D. Dee, who was then a boy of fourteen, was in the same company. J.D. Ross was the captain of the company. George Q. Cannon was in charge of the emigration and was there at Florence buying cattle, wagons and supplies for the emigrating saints. I think in June we first saw Apostles Amasa Lyman, Charles C. Rich and a young boy who was not then an apostle, Joseph F. Smith by name, who were on their way to fill missions in Europe.
Our outfit consisted of a brand new Schetler wagon, two yoke of oxen and two cows. We had a new Charter Oak stove in the wagon and our tent, bedding, provisions, etc.
We camped at Florence for nearly a month, as I remember. We lived in an old shack of a house during that time which was just enough shelter to keep some of the rain from wetting us. The house was located right where the reservoirs of the present water works are which supply they city of Omaha with water, the same being pumped out of the Missouri River into these reservoirs and filtered. I find from Jensen’s Church Chronology that our company left Florence, Nebraska, June 17, 1860, and arrived in Salt Lake City on Monday, September 3rd. The company consisted of 249 persons, 36 wagons, 142 oxen, and 54 cows.
Our journey across the plains was of the usual ox team kind. There was little of special note that transpired. On the 4th of July we were near where they city of Kearney now stands and we heard the artillery from across the river at old Fort Kearney. This is about 200 miles from Omaha. We traveled about 90 miles a week which was an average of 15 miles a day for six days a week. No traveling was done on the Sabbath. It was always a day of rest and religious worship. I remember how green we all were with respect to yoking up cattle or milking cows or greasing the wagon or in doing anything that pertained to frontier or pioneer life.
At Florence when our two yoke of cattle and wagon were turned over to us, my father got on the off side of the cattle and tried to drive them. Of course, they were frightened and ran away down the hill to where the present engine house of the Omaha water works now stands at Florence. But we soon learned to manage things. The little tent which we had would be folded up carefully and tied behind the wagon. The tent poles, the two props and the roof pole would be tied together and there was a place for them in the wagon. Our bedding was all carefully taken care of and so we journeyed on. At noon the cattle would be unhitched, perhaps not always unyoked, and after eating a little we would give them a drink, and in the course of an hour and a half or two hours we were plodding on our road again. Of course, there are inconveniences and more or less hardship in that mode of travel but as I was a child of 11 years of age I do not remember the hardships; on the contrary, I rather enjoyed the whole trip. One thing that I distinctly remember is seeing tens of thousands of buffalo on the hills west of Kearney.
Sometimes the captain would have to stop the train and allow herds of buffaloes to slowly cross the wagon road and as they were in very large numbers this would occupy sometimes an hour. We often had buffalo meat to eat. It was very sweet and good. We would get long strips of it and hang it up to dry in the hot sun and when it was thoroughly dried it could be kept for days and weeks and was much better eating than chipped beef.
Every night the wagons were formed in a circle at some level convenient place for camping near water and each wagon would start its camp fire and cook supper, what little cooking there was to do, which consisted mostly of baking bread in an iron skillet, a utensil about eighteen inches in diameter, about four or five inches deep, made of cast iron. It had a heavy lid and it had three or four short legs to raise the body of the skillet from the ground and admit the fire underneath and then we put coals on top of the heavy lid. We often had difficulty in finding wood to burn as there were so many trains and so many camping places and no forests, whatever. It was a question to find something to make a fire. The best fuel we had on the plains where there was no wood at all, was what was called "buffalo chips," which in reality is simply sundried buffalo dung. After the cows were milked in the morning the milk that was not used would be put in a tin churn and strapped along side of the wagon and by noon it would be thoroughly churned and butter could be gathered and buttermilk could be had for lunch.
The thunder and lightning and rain storms that transpired periodically along the plains of Nebraska were something terrific and occasioned us some inconvenience and considerable fright. The Indians were very plentiful and sometimes a little troublesome although we never had any conflict whatever with them, but I can remember that they were a haughty and insolent lot, as they would ride upon their ponies decked in their feathers and paint and would frighten most of us people who were not used to them.
We young ones walked with bare feet most of the way across the plains. We soon got used to the wagon and tent and campfire life. Our bedding was rolled in bundles in the morning and the bundles simply unrolled at night upon the ground, thus the beds were made again. Altogether it was rather an enjoyable time for a boy of my age than any hardship. At least if it was hardship I did not feel it so. Of course to my father and mother at their time of life it must have been very different, and, no doubt, they suffered great inconvenience and more or less trial and sacrifice in it all.
We suffered no loss until we reached the crossing of Green River on the old immigrant road. At this point one of our best oxen laid down and died. This left us with three oxen and two cows. We yoked up one of the cows with the odd ox and traveled right along, as our load through consuming our provisions, was becoming lighter each day. The last Sunday of the trip was spent near Parley’s Park, a day’s travel with oxen from Salt Lake City. George A. Smith and other leading brethren came over the mountain to greet us and welcome us to our new country.
On Monday, September 3rd, we came out of the canyon and onto the bench near Fort Douglas, and I can very well remember with what joy and pleasure each one of our company, and even I, myself, looked upon the little growing city in the wilderness. We felt that all of our troubles and trials were practically at an end, when as a matter of fact, they had only just begun. For all the changing vicissitudes of pioneer life had to be undertaken and gone through with. Many things were difficult to learn and carry on.