Peter Olsen Hansen papers, circa 1869-1893, Journal, circa 1876, 75-77.
View this source online
Another faint recollection I have taking S[i]s[ter]. Nancy Egan somewhere when the road took us onto a very narrow ridge and as we found that we were going in a wrong direction and I had to go right off & go down the hill side, which went well as the cattle were well broke.
The winter was long and the snow was deep. In the spring I was sent with br[other]. Meakes [Meeks] and others to [line erased] St. Joseph in Missouri after some goods to take with us to the Valley; and after receiving the goods we drove on to Father Winchesters place opposite Old Fort Kearney. Here we tarried a fortnight fitting out By this time we had heard of gold being discovered in California & that many were talking of going there to try their luck, and while in St. Joseph I saw some young men <who were from the gold diggings> trying to break three span of mules, when the mules got scared and ran with the big waggon dragging on one side, smearing the cover with mud and breaking the bows. After receiving the goods we drove up to Father Winchesters place opposite old Fort Kearney. Here we tarried a fortnight fitting out. One day I found a wild ducks nest with twelve eggs in, which I carried to the house, but they were not fit for eating. Our cattle were on good grass while there, and I think it was the tenth of May when we started from there and crossed the Missouri river. After crossing we drove some distance before we struck the Platte, and among the streams we crossed were the little & the big Blue. But how great the distance or at what point we struck the Platte I can not bring to mind.
Saints A number of families had joined us so that we numbered 22 waggons and br. [Howard] Egan was chosen Captain of the company. We had the mail to carry. as yet there were no postal arrangement made by the government, and he studied the shortest route in order to make the trip as quick as possible, and we did make it in eleven weeks.
It stricks [strikes] me that we struck the Platte at New Fort Kearney[,] Grand Island and from there onward we saw more or less of Soldiers & gold hunters most every day, and we learned that nearly 2000 soldiers were on the road to Oregon and California, and that more than half of them deserted by the way. We traveled on the south side of the river <all away up and passed> and I rather think we crossed over below Laramie many waggons, chests, piles of bacon and of iron left by the gold hunters when their teams gave out. One time while on the plains we found some military baggage waggons in the mud, and by the request of the officer we hitched some of our big oxen to the waggons and pulled them out. In the Black hills we found the grass was ate and had to take our stock several miles up to get feed for them. On such occasions I often had the privilege of riding a black stud belonging to a Dr. [G.H.]Hoyt.
Another time while on the plains the following unpleasant incident took place. The seven first teams in the company were Br. Kimballs. Capt. Egan drove the first which was a mule team. I drove an ox team, and the other five teamsters were <mere> boys. In one of the wagons was a barrel of whiskey, and one day 3 of the boys had bored the barrel and let out some whiskey and drank,
this was and the Captain noticed their been acting a little silly and found that the bared barrel had been bored, and thinking that I must know of the doings and have shared in the fun, he kept from speaking to me a whole week, not until one day he had an occasion to come right close to me, I spoke and asked him what was the reason for his not speaking to me, when he smiled and told me what had occurred and how he had <thought> that I must be guilty with the boys. I told him it was the first news to me, nevertheless I remembered seeing them uncommon playful one day, but had not mistrusted any such thing as w[h]isky drinking, and he said he [k]new I would not lie, and he had ful[l] confidence in me again. I afterwards found that the two youngest boys were ignorant of the mischief as well as me. These youngsters caused me a good deal of unpleasantness, as he held me some-ought responsible for their conduct. [blank space] I remember well coming down on a narrow ridge thro' Ashhollow and camped on the bottom, I and how we went back to the hollow to pick currants and chock cheries [chokecherries].
Coming over by the Pasific [Pacific] Spring we overtook & passed by Pomeroy's merchant train. This gentleman had learned from one of his hunters that some seventy deserted Dragoons with 1-2 horses to a man, were encamped a few miles north in the direction of the Wind river mountains where we sure enough saw a smoke, and that they were [a]waiting Pomeroys and the Morman [Mormon] train to come, that they might plunder them for provision[s]. Mr. Pomeroy proposed to our Captain for both camps to break up at 12 oclock in the night when the moon would rise, and thus get out of the way of the danger. Our Captain agreed and when the moon got up we were going along at a good piece [pace], and it is well known that cattle will travel faster by night than in the day time. The road we had before us was very good, but by exertion the cattle got thirsty and we did not get to water till some time after day light, when we reached Little Sandy. One of my leaders <a beautiful fat steer and a pet of mine> dropt dead by the water right after drinking. Another ox <worth 50 dollars> of the longest yoke we had died also after drinking, and so did two more head of
in the company <Kimballs>. This was a sad occurance & threw a damper on our feelings and as bro. Egan had good reasons to be proud of diligence in the line of his duty, he felt sorry that such should happen.
Just before crossing the Muddy we had a long and steep hillside to descend, and although we roughlocked both hind wheels it was very hard on the tongue cattle for there was scarcely any soil and the hill consisted of peples [pebbles] & small round cobble stones w[h]ich gave way under the wheels a[nd] rolled downward. I had a bark mill in the fore end of the wagon which broke the endgate. going down.
Boston. As to the english language I had learned
remarkably fast so well on the sea that I was entirely independent and could ask any necessary question, and people used to say that I was usually quick to learn it, notwithstanding I was in Boston two months before I understood that I did not sound the E properly.
When we came to the upper ferry of Platte I unfortunately had my near fore wheel broke some by the tire running off, and there we laid more than a week waiting for the water to subside while a lot of soldiers crossed over on boats brought along with them. One day a drunken dragoon undertook to swim his horse but as he got scared he pulled the rains [reins] so tight that the horse could not swim with his might and they both drownded. The dead horse was seen afterward a little distance below.
Out blacksmith Frederick Jones had been doing a good deal of work, mostly setting tires, and when done
& we still had to wait for the water to come down, he took his rifle barrel, believing that he must have put the cartridge the wrong end in, as he could not get the gun to go off, and stuck the bud [butt] end in the fire for to melt the bullet, holding the musle [muzzle] in one hand & blowing the bellows with the other. When the iron got red hot, the powder within ignited & sent the bullet into his stomach with the conviction that it had not been put wrong end in. I think the poor man lingered four days before he expired. He was a brother to Nathaniel V. Jones who was with us at the time. He [illegible] had not obeyed the gospel, w[h]ich neglect he now regretted, saing [saying] that he had believed mormonism to be true, but had had a disposition to eavil [evil] & gainsay[,] & now he desired to be baptized for the remission of his sins & that he might die a member of the church. He was carried to the water by four of the brethren & after being baptized he was ordained an Elder, and he felt thankful and asked his wifes forgiveness for keeping them out of the church, and exhorted her to never leave it. When he died he was burried not far off and on the same day, we forded the river in safety and after the getting [illegible] drove up the river a little ways to camp, where Jones's widow was baptized before going any farther.
On this journey it was
twice if not oft several times revealed to me that now was the I would be sent to Denmark my native land as a missi with the gospel. Not in th words, nor by hearing a voice. But it was I sensed that the information was imparted to me & yet I could not account for it. But as often as it came it made me glad. After passing Getting down into the Green river country I proposed marrying the widow for I understood she was a good woman. But before revealing my thoughts to the lady, I spoke to Brother Nathaniel [Jones] about it to know whether he had any thoughts of marrying his brothers widow and he said he had not had any such thoughts & He had no objection to my marrying her, but then he told me that it was her wish to be married to her husbands brother otherwise she would had no objection, and that which I told him of, and this ended my courtship.
I do not recollect of anything further transpiring on our way worth noticing here untill the [blank space] last day, when we were met in Emigration Kanyon by Brother Kimball and his [blank space] oldest son W[illia]m. The meeting was a pleasant one to all, and when the good father turned his smiling countenance on me, I broke forth saying: You appear like one come down from heaven—This was because I was not only tired but pressed in my feelings by reason of things that had transpired on the way, and his fatherly smile spoke peace unto my soul. Getting out into the bench I beheld Salt Lake City which had been built in my absence which was a year and a half, and the sight was very pleasing to me.