Smith, George A., "Correspondence of President Geo. A. Smith," The Mormon, 21 Mar. 1857, 3
- Related Companies
- Company Unknown (1857)
Severe Weather on the Plains.
ST. LOUIS, MO., March 9, 1857.
EDITOR OF MORMON,—Dear Sir :—On Saturday last we had the pleasure of meeting in this city, our old friend, Ephraim R. Hanks, just arrived from Great Salt Lake City. He left that place in company with Feramorz Little, Esq., on the 10th December last, and after enduring the fatigue, toil and exposure of the journey, unprecedented for severity in the annals of Mountain or Plains traveling, arrived at Independence on the 28th Feb., and delivered the Salt Lake Mail at the Post Office there, since which it has not been heard of. They met the last ox trains on the Weber, and the hand-cart companies were all in before they left the city, and had all found homes. The road to Bridger was passable in consequence of the wagons having passed over it; but considerable snow. At Big Sandy they encountered much snow in drifts, and continued until they left the Rocky Ridges, from there considerable snow to Laramie, but no serious obstruction, still the weather was very cold, and extremely stormy. From Laramie to Kearney was one continued storm, and no possible means of travel, save on the ice down the Platte river, which was accomplished with much difficulty and danger-the ice breaking through many times each day. At Ash Hollow they found some men who had been teamsters in the employ of Messrs. Major & Russell, United States Freighters, who had left Laramie, on their return for this State, but could proceed no further in consequence of the severity of the weather. Major Drip's train was also at Ash Hollow, and his cattle, also the cattle belonging to another trader, were all dead, and the men compelled to remain, having secured the best shelter they could fix for the winter in consequence of the heavy snows and severity of the weather. Although Major & Russell's men had made several attempts to come on, and some of them were severely frosted, and each time compelled to give up, they concluded to try again in following Captain Hanks' track, who supplied them with buffalo meat with his gun, and conducted them safely into Fort Kearney. At this Fort Major Wharton remonstrated with Capt. Hanks against his proceeding further, stating that the Mail from Iowa Point had made several attempts, and was obliged to return to the Fort, and had remained there a month, and that several persons had perished immediately in the neighborhood of the Fort in the storm. Major Wharton manifested every kindness in his power to Messrs. Hanks & Little, and manifested feelings and kindness towards them, that would well become a father toward his children. Twenty-two miles from Fort Kearney, called the Hole in the Prairie, they encountered a storm which continued two days and three nights, and so severe that they could not see their mules which were tied to their wagons, and without the least cessation, and not get any fire, and the mules partially fed on ropes of straw from their collars, and the wonder was when the storm was over, how they had existed, they having no shelter, cave buffalo robes and blankets, part of which they eat, and all the lines and straps within their reach. From this place to Patterson's Ranch, on Big Sandy, they encountered from two to twenty feet of snow, and had to make a temporary bridge to get on the ice, in crossing Big Blue, and afterwards reached Independence without much further difficulty. The secret of the success of this journey lies in Messrs. Hanks and Little's success in training their mules to eat buffalo meat, this was done in the first place by boiling the meat and dipping it in flour, and after the supply ceased, from having left the buffalo country, the mules then began to fall off. The mules suffered severely from being cut about their feet and legs with ice, and they had to provide against this by cutting buffalo calf-skins and tying around their feet and legs, without which, they could not get the mules to step over any icy ground, but with all these precautions, nothing but the overruling Providence of the Almighty, seconded by the skill and great powers of endurance of Messrs. Little and Hanks, could have brought them through such a journey, and they give God the glory for their deliverance. Captain Hanks looks the same hardy Mountain Tiger he did at home. The encountered Smoke's band of Oglialla [Ogallala] Sioux Indians, near Upper Platter Bridge. Smoke entertained them in his Lodge, and gave a variety of dishes of buffalo meat, served up in a variety of ways, after the most approved style of Sioux cookery, and otherwise made them welcome. There were about sixty lodges of them. Smoke informed them that he was now friendly to all whites. At Ash Hollow they saw another band of Sioux Indians, about sixty lodges, who appeared friendly. About fifty miles above Kearney they encountered a large band of Pawnee Indians, who had been on a hunt on Cor River, but had failed finding any buffalos, about 1000 of their horses had perished for want of food, and the extreme cold; also their squaws and children had suffered severely, and many died for want of food, and many of the mothers had eaten their own children in the extremity of their suffering, also others that had frozen to death. The oldest Indians do not remember so much snow and severe weather. They met Messrs. Gerrish and Goodhill at the Devil's Gate, bound for Salt Lake, a small party of about twenty men with Capt. Jones, left to guard the goods left by emigrant trains, were in good health, and well provided for the winter at that place. Also they met the Nov. mail which left Independence for Salt Lake, at Willow Springs, about 354 miles from Salt Lake City. Bishop Heywood was along with the mail, and in good health and spirits.
There is a great improvement taking place here, in St. Louis, many of the Saints have renewed their covenants, and nearly all are preparing to do so, and the Spirit of God is manifest in the meetings, and a general reformation going on. Brother Snow is somewhat indisposed at present from severe cold, and great exertion to accomplish this reformation, but we hope he may soon be restored to sound health again. We send along with this the only number of Deseret News we have received, and refer you to its contents for Valley news, yet hoping you may have some per mail direct. I will now conclude. The Lord bless you. Your Brother in the Gospel,