Broom, John, Letter, 1890 Mar., Ogden, Utah to Dear Brother.
The first river to cross was the Missouri, one of the largest in the world, we went over this on a flat boat towed by a long rope, one of the company had the misfortune to lose a span of fine horses and carriage, they accident[al]ly went off the boat while crossing and floated away down stream. They belonged to Orson Pratt, one of the twelve Apostles,. The mishap caused Brigham Young, who was present, to remark "What was got over the Devil's back, was sure to go under his belly". The point in the remark being that Orson had gotten a large stock of things from the Saints in England in a way that Brigham did not fully like, and was making off with them to Zion.
After crossing this river we were fairly started on our way in a journey of a thousand miles to Utah through an almost unknown country.
The usual route taken by emigrants after crossing the Missouri river is in the direction of the North Platte river but this river being high and considerably overflowed along ist [its] banks, owing to the spring freshets now prevailing, we took another direction one further north, so as to avoid the Platte, This new route was one that had never been travelled before by any one, so we were the pioneers over it, it led to the Horn river which we reached and crossed at a point about four hundred miles from our starting place on the Missouri, we had to make a bridge over this stream, as there was no ferry boat.--fortunately however along its banks grow [a] large quantity of timber and by cutting some of this down we were enabled to construct a bridge that we could cross on.
I think I am safe in saying that we were the first white people to come over this route to this point where it again struck the regular emigrant trail. And the suffering and the hardships which we bore during this four hundred miles, still brings tears to my eyes while I write about it.
On the way we had to travel through a sandy desert, that was sixty miles wide. Some nights we were forced to camp in it without a drop of water for ourselves or animals after along [a long] hard day[']s travel through the burning sand. Whenever we came to a good camping place, where there was plenty of water and grass, we would lay over a day or two to rest and refresh. The womenfolks made use of the time in washing the clothes and straightening up things, and the men would put in the time going out hunting for game, every kind of which was very abundant. Our fresh meat was mainly buffalo.--the country was full of these animals, roaming around in large herds.
The hunters did not have to go far from camp to shoot one. After killing one, they would come back to camp to get a wagon to go out and haul it in. We then cut it up divided it amongst the families. This meat when cooked was very sweet and delicious, what we did not cut fresh, we cut up and hung on our wagons to dry in the sun as we travelled along the road. This meat and what other game we shot along the way, served to make the provisions which we brought along hold out longer.--besides buffalo, we found elk and deer quite plentiful, so that altogether we fared very well in respect to fresh meat.
When about midway in our journey, we came upon a great many Indians, They were almost naked, they would come into our camp to trade with us.--their articles of trade consisted of robes, skins, and furs, such as buffalo, elk, deer, mink, beaver and so forth. They also brought in game to trade with us. They had large herds of ponies. These Indians were very friendly and peaceable, and it was quite fortunate for us that they were so, for they were so very numerous around us that they could easily have taken our wagons, our stock, our everything including our lives in a short order if they had felt so disposed. When the Indians are peaceable they are very generous, but when they are hostile they are perfect savages, and it was not a[c]tuall[y] uncommon for emigrants on this same route to fall in with hostile Indians and get killed by them or to have their stock run off and stolen by the Indians. We were four months on the road from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake City. When we were nearing Utah, we were met by some friends who had come out to meet us with supplies if we should be in need. They came from Ogden and we were very glad to meet them because we were running out of food, and there was still further pleasures in meeting them because they were old friends that had left Rotheram for the Valley the same time that we did, but had got through here first[.] We finally reached Ogden all tired out by the long tedious journey.