Oliver B. Huntington diary and reminiscences, 1843 June-1900 January.
- Source Locations
- Church History Library, MS 1648
Monday Sept 22nd traveled hom to G. S. L. City 40 miles where I found all tolerable well; and soon after that, the first company of saints came in, that ever crossed the plains with handcarts, let by Edmond Elsworth.
They were poor and needy, destitute of food and raiment, worn out with the journey and without homes but by the kindness of the saints they were all provided with comfortable homes in a few days. I took a girl of 13 years, Jane Stoddart.
On the 5th of Oct. Geo.D. Grand Wm. H. Kimbal and several other Missionaries to England returned and reported 4 other hand cart companies in perilous situations, having only started on the 3rd of Sept. from Mo. River with not near enough provisions. A call was made, by Pres. B. Young for volunteers to go back to meet them with plenty of provisions for them and help them in, and also several wagon companies.
I volunteered among the rest and was about the first. Our orders were to start the next day. I took Bro. Freemans team of horses and started just as meeting closed at noon, on Tuesday Oct. 7, 1856 loaded with flour and clothing.
Wednesday Oct. 9th 1856 the company all met and camped at the lower Cottonwood grove on east Canyon Creek about 30 miles from the city.
Snowed all that afternoon and froze very hard during the night. Here we organized with Geo. D. Grant Captain, Wm. Kimball Capt. of the guard, Robt. Burton, clerk and Cyrus Wheelock, chaplain.
Thursday 9th we passed Weber River and camped 4 or 5 miles up Echo Canyon where several cashed a part of their horsefeed. Saturday we camped east of Bear River Mountains, and Sunday we reached Fort Bridger 115 miles from G. S. L. City.
Monday Oct. 13, weather fair and pleasant traveled 15 miles and camped on Blacks Fork with Bro. A. O. Smooth who was 2 days in advance of the Church train of 42 wagons. We had provisions and fresh teamsters for him, he turned back with us on the following morning and we met the train on Big Sandy 10 miles from little Sandy andy near 100 from Bridger on Thursday Oct.17th after dark and on the 18th 5 or 6 wagons of our company were freighted from the Church train, together with 10 or 15 teamsters turned back for the Valley ith Brother Smoot about noon, and I among them.
That night we camped with the main company on Big Sandy about 6 miles from where I turned about and without any feed. Cattle in the corral and horses tied to the wagons,
Friday 18, Sat. 19 I and James Davis who went out with me started about 2 hours before day for Bridger. Geo. Spencer accompanied us to pick up a broken down wagon, left on our outward trip about 8 or 10 miles east of Green River. I had 15 hundred in my wagon and 4 horses. Bro. Spencer a small span of mules. I cut and carried a pole from sandy to the wagon broken, and fixed it under the hind ex broken, with which we went to Green River and camped early and fixed an old gun barrel for an axletree that night.
Sunday 19 mules were lost and Bro. Davis had a fit, all of which detained us until about 10, when it began to blow and snow most furiously about one hour during which Bro. Spencer found the mules by the prayer of faith, and we rolled on to Hams Fork 14 miles and camped alone.
That night we were covered with snow about 2 inches deep.
Mon. 20th Commenced snowing soon after we started and kept it up until one had to keep ahead to find the road as the land was pretty smooth, and we could not see which way to steer our course, the storm was so thick.
About one o'clock reached Blacks Fork at the big bend 12 miles, there we nooned a little after the storm slacked. Traveled about 5 miles farther after dinner and camped by a thick patch of willows and among large sage. Turned the horses loose among the willows to shift for themselves except one and for it we run the two wagons together so as to form one half a square, as a wind break, shoveled away the snow for her to stand easy, doubled a wagon cover and tied it on her and fed her a few oats we had left. One animal sick and did not feed any that night. I passed the night very comfortably under the circumstances very cold and snow 6 or 8 inches deep.
Tuesday Oct. 21, 1856. Upon starting found the horse that was sick had one shoulder bruised to a jelly and badly swollen. Took it out and worked 3 horses to Bridger over 12 or 14 miles of very hard wheeling.
Friday 25 Bro. Spencer and I walked to fort Supply 12 miles where I purchased 5 or 6 bushel of oats and part of a load of wheat in the sheaf which Bro. Bingham took down to Bridger for nothing. It was so cold while walking up there that Bro. Spencer froze one of his heels. The same day Bro. Smoot came there for teams to help him to Brider, where he intended to leave a good share of his train and push on in to the city with the people and the ablest of the cattle as soon as possible.
Saturday 25th 12 yoke of cattle started back with Bro. Smoot.
Sunday 26th I returned to Bridger where I found the horses doing well among the willows on the Creek. O. P. Rockwells train was there shoeing cattle.
Monday Rockwells train rolled out and Smoot with the Church train rolled in.
Tuesday 28th 6 horse wagons were loaded with the sick, lame, lazy and surplus teamsters and started for the city about noon.
I had my old loading taken out, 1600 lbs. of bedding and clothing for 14 persons weighted into my wagon including provisions for the company for 5 days and my oats, having left most of the wheat for Allen Huntingtons team that should come after in the handcart company from which an express reached Bridger the morning I left, bringing doleful news of many deaths by frost and fatigue.
Five of my passengers were unable to walk at the start but by encouragement and fright they got so as to walk up all the hills in a day or 2.
Wednesday 29th We camped on Bear River where was but very little snow anywhere and no snow in the road which was good and weather fine. About 10 o'clock at night the express we left at Bridger overtook us, took supper and rode on.
Thursday Oct. 30th we camped about half way down Echo Canyon. Roads good and nights cold. At the head of Echo we began to meet teams sent out to help in everything that needed help and continued to meet them to the crossing of Weber.
Thirty First of Oct. a distance of 30 miles.
Sat. Nov. 1st 1856 camped at the east foot of the Little Mountain and had about an inch and a half of snow that night which made very bad getting over on the day following.
Sunday Nov. 2nd 1856 we rolled into the city about the close of the afternoon meeting.
I will here say that I have often felt the cold more severe at the same degrees while living in comfortable houses than while out on that journey with but light clothing and much of the way no coat, for the one I took with me was old and did not last long.
God strengthened us and protected us and also all the people that were in the mountains even until the 15th of December in almost unequaled cold and snow from 2 to 15 feet deep. A great many were frost bitten an some lost their limbs, while a few lost their lives, but not so many as generally died of diseases among the same number of emigrants in summer emigrations.