[George A. Smith and Ezra T. Benson letter to Orson Hyde, 5 August 1849], Frontier Guardian, 19 September 1849, 4.
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Sunday, Aug. 5, 1849.
BR. O. HYDE [ORSON HYDE]: While the bright and glorious luminary of day is mounting up from his Eastern temple, and the camps of Israel is carreled on the open prairie, with the canopy of Heaven for their coverings, (except their canvass,) and the herdsman is guarding the cattle with their rifle in hand, and the camps are busy in doing the duty devolving upon them by our request, our clerk has seated himself to write a hasty sketch to you, for the Guardian, and to all others whom it may concern. We received with joy the letters you sent us by Capt. Cane on the morning of the 2d inst., and we wish you to embrace every opportunity, in doing the like, and we will cheerfully return the compliment, we have had no serious accidents in our camps—all have enjoyed tolerable good health with one or two exceptions-we have met with no losses of cattle, indeed in everything, we have been blessed for which we feel to raise our prayers and hearts of thanksgiven and gratitude to our Father in Heaven, surely the angel of mercy has gone before us, and round about the camp of Israel. We have had two or three stampedes, before we adopted the plan of chaining and tieing up our cattle, since then, none in our camp has occurred, but our cattle rest in peace and quietness. We carrel our loose cattle, horses, and sheep, inside, and our oxen outside, which we think the safest plan, in case of fright, or stampede, and we find it answers well, and we recommend to every company coming to adopt the same plan, tie up, and to the Merchants in Kanesville to keep on hand a good supply of ropes, of good quality and strength for the purpose, and let none come without a supply sufficient for their cattle. In Capt. Richards [Silas Richards] company a stampede took place last Sabbath evening, but not serious, and without loss, they carreled. His company we expect is at Elm Creek thirteen miles ahead of us, on our journey thus far we have passed seven graves, some of gold diggers, others of the Saints, all but one (an infant) died of cholera, as the head-boards inform us. Among others we see the name of A. Kellogg at Prairie Creek, one hundred and fifty-seven miles from Winter Quarters, died of cholera 23d of June last. Also Samuel Gully, Capt. of 100; in Br. O. Spencers [Orson Spencer's] Company of Saints, lies one hundred & eighty-five miles from Winter Quarters, in the open prairie, his grave neatly turfed over, died of cholera July 5th, 1849, aged thirty-nine years. Along side of his lies another, Henry Vanerhoof [Henry Vanderhoof], of the same Company, bound for California gold regions, died of cholera July 4th, so you perceive the destroyer is on those vast Plains as well as in the cities and towns.
We found a note from Capt. Allen Taylor, left on the grave of a gold digger, a few days ago, informing us, that his company had found a few miles below the Fort, fifty-one head of oxen and steers and four cows, and from some men that has been from the camp to the Fort we further learn this morning, that between the Fort, and where they found the first cattle, they, found some fifty head more. The company stopped opposite the Fort, sent over for the officers, to come and see if the cattle belonged to them, ie. The Government, the officers said they did not, and they proceeded on with them. In the note Capt. Taylor wishes "we had a few yoke of them to help us" we have accordingly sent on Capt. Patton with three on four others to get a few yoke, as our wagons are heavily laden, with Church property, &c., and the roads has been very heavy, muddy, and miry, rendered so by the incessant rains we have had on the Plains. Yesterday morning we experienced a very heavy shower of thunder, lightning, wind and rain, mingled with hail, some was supposed to be one and a half inches in diameter.
Capt. Richards Company discerned a new ford across the Loup Fork, about 6 3/4 miles below the upper ford, opposite to an old Pawnee Village. The ford is a good one, we think, far superior to either of the others, we crossed upwards of one hundred wagons in a little over half a day, together with our cattle, sheep, &c., laboring under the disadvantage of a high wind, all safe,—a good place for camping on the opposite side.
Since we wrote you concerning our organization at the Elk Horn, we have had a reorganization at the Platte Liberty Pole, which we deemed advisable. The rules of the Camps are the same as those adopted by Prest. Young's Company last year. The camps are denominated G. A. Smiths' including the Welch Company, and E. T. Benson's, including the Norwegian Company. It was thought proper to divide thus on account of numbers, and so separate the camps, but keep close to each other. The others are as follows:
Isaac Clarke, President of both Camps.
In G. A. Smiths' Company
W. I. Appleby [William I. Appleby], }
Wm. Draper [William Draper], } Counsellors
Elisha Everetts, Captain of 100.
William Patten, Captain of 50.
Asael Thorn, Captain of the guard.
Capt. Dan. Jones, Marshal.
Thomas Jeremy, }
Daniel Daniels, }
Lysander Gee, }
Gashum C. Case, }
Miram Tanner [Myron Tanner. } Captains of tens.
Cable Tary [Caleb Parry], Clerk.
In E. T. Bensons [Ezra T. Benson's] Company.
Charles Hopkins, Captain of 50.
Samuel Malin, Captain of the guard.
James Cragin, Marshal.
Azael T. Talcott [Asael G. Talcott], }
Elisha Wilcox, }
Sherman Glibert, }
Christian Hyer, }
Henry Boley, } Captains of tens.
W. I. Appleby [William I. Appleby], General Clerk of both Camps and Journalist.
The reason why we are anxious for all companies coming this way to tie up there cattle, is because of loss and danger. Indeed, there are but few that can comprehend the terrors of a stampede, picture to yourselves, there or four hundred head of frightened oxen, steers, cows, &c., running, bellowing, roaring, foaming, mad and furious, then ground shaking beneath their feet like an earthquake, chains rattling, yokes cracking, horns flying, and the cry of the guard, "every man in camp turn out." Horses mounted, and in the darkness of the night, through high grass, sloughs, mud and mire, pursue the bellowing and furious herd, leaving the women and children frightened with a few guards with rifles to guard the camp. After an hour or two perhaps, the cattle will begin to get weary and quieted, and if luck and good fortune attends, the horsemen will head them and drive them back to camp, except those that sometimes swim the rivers, &c. The terrors of a stampede are not soon forgotten, with good chains and ropes to tie up will prevent all this.
We close by saying, may peace and the blessings of Heaven attend you all, and let your prayers ascend to Heavens' throne for our welfare, and not only us but all the camps. Send us on some newspapers whenever you can, and other intelligence. May we meet again in the Valley of the Mountains of Joseph, is the prayers of,
GEO. A. SMITH. [GEORGE A. SMITH]
EZRA T. BENSON.
W. I. APPLEBY [WILLIAM I. APPLEBY], CLERK.