History of Nelson Wheeler Whipple
Pioneer of 1850
Written by himself
Phyllis Clayton Pettit
La Brea Camp
Los Angeles County, California
[Editor’s note: I have tried to transcribe this manuscript almost exactly as I found it. I have only added a few punctuation marks where I thought necessary and fixed spelling mistakes that were obvious. All other errors are inherent to the manuscript as I found it. Question marks (???) denote text that was unreadable. – Darrin Lythgoe]
Nelson Wheeler Whipple was born in Southeastern New York in the town of Sanford, in Broome County July 11, 1818. He died in Salt Lake City, Utah, July 5, 1887. At some time previous to his death he wrote the reminiscences contained in this account. He lived in an interesting time in the history of the country and passed through some interesting scenes. He had only six weeks of schooling in his life and until his later years worked very hard to sustain his family and himself. He begins his story by giving the history of his parents.
History of Daniel Whipple
My father Daniel Whipple was born in Brattleboro, Vermont, which is in Windham County, in the year 1779, August 27th, where he resided until he was six years old, when his father moved to Pennsylvania. Here they lived until his mother died. How long that was, I do not know, but when or shortly after she died he went from his father’s house and lived in different places until he was married, which was about the year 1804, at which time he was twenty-five years of age. At what place they lived when they were married I do not know, but shortly after, he moved to Deposit, a small village in Broome County, New York.
Here he followed lumbering most of the time for about five years when he moved to Sanford, in the same county about four miles from Deposit on Acquaga Creek, in the forest in a valley between two mountains, where the soil was extremely poor and subject to frost in summer and deep snow in winter. Here he built a house and cleared off a farm of twenty or thirty acres of the heaviest timber, which cost him much labor for which he received small pay as the soil was not productive.
While living at this place my mother¾ Mary Tiffany¾ did much towards the support of the family by carding and spinning wool, spinning flax for her neighbors and by this means clothed her children and mostly fed them. In this place they lived some thirteen years. Here four of the children were born including myself, I being the youngest. My father was not at home but very little, being attending a saw mill or running lumber to Philadelphia, down the river Delaware. My father laboring hard and having made but poorly out, thought to seek a better location in some other place, so he and my eldest brother Samuel went to look out a place in Tompkins County in the same state, where some of my mother’s kin lived. Having found as they supposed, a better place, they returned and made preparations to move, sold his place and most of his house furniture and hired my cousin Erastus Stewart to haul us to the new location, he staying behind to arrange his business, to leave in 1823.
We, after three days travel, arrived at my uncle Nathan Stewart, who married my mother’s sister. Here we stayed for several days and then went two miles to my uncle Jared Patchin’s and lived with them several months. My father came here some four weeks after us and he and Samuel went to moving a block house which my father had bought; and putting it up on the farm he had taken. During this time we lived at my uncle Jared’s. After having completed the house we moved into it. This was upon a high hill or mountain where we had an extensive view of the surrounding country in all directions. I was then nine years of age and had to perform a great deal of the outdoor labor, such as plowing, harrowing, cutting wood, making fences, etc. But I will continue the history of my father down to his death and then that of my mother and the older children, my brothers and sisters.
The winter of 1828-29 was very severe and we, living on a high hill where the wind had a free sweep, we found all we could do to keep ourselves and our cattle alive. Having passed this winter my father commenced farming, a business that he was not much used to, but he made out very well at it for some years. But the price of grain being very low and money scarce, he did not succeed in paying for the land he had taken, which was to be four dollars per acre, but the interest had run up to about eight dollars per acre. Circumstances being as they were he found it impossible to pay for the land and therefore concluded to sell his improvements and try some other place. He therefore sold to Joseph Baker and Jefferson Collins for the small sum of forty dollars. He then went to the farm of Jacob Tester (? ureadable), a part of which he rented. He built a house on the part he had taken, but the land being very poor he soon gave it up for a bag bargain. During the time he was on those two places he did something at lumbering and shingles, so that he made a living with the little that he raised. When he left the above mentioned place, he went to a worse one. He took a farm on a high hamlock (?) hill where nothing would grow but buckwheat and turnips and they were not a sure crop. Here we built a house in the woods and endeavored to raise some wheat, but did not succeed. My Uncle George Tiffany and his family and two of my sisters had gone to Ohio a year before he took the last mentioned ???? (unreadable). We had received letters from them which spoke much in the praise of that country, which inclined my father to go to Ohio.
In the latter part of the same summer of 1833 my father made preparations to remove to the state of Ohio. He therefore sold everything he had; his cattle and wagon, household goods, etc., and in the month of November 1833, he hired a young man by the name of Madison Knettles to take his family to the head of Cayuga Lake, a distance of 12 miless, there to take steamboat for Montsuma. This lake is a small lake in the central part of the state of New York. It is forty miles long and eight or nine miles wide. A small steamboat named DeWitt Clinton was the only boat that was run upon it, except canal boats.
We arrived at the lake in the evening and stood ourselves in the warehouse till morning and then took the boat for the Bridge. This bridge was built across the foot of the lake, two miles long. Here we shipped aboard of a canal boat and went to Montsuma¾ seven miles¾ and here we had to ship again on board another boat for Buffalo, where we arrived in six days. Buffalo is at the foot of Lake Erie in the state of New York. Here we shipped again on board the old Pennsylvania steam boat, for Cleveland, Ohio. The first night we were on the boat we witnessed the long to be remembered sign in the heavens above. Between two and three o’clock in the morning I heard the watch come down into the cabin where I lay, and tell the passengers of the sight to be seen in the sky. I immediately got up and went to the upper deck of the boat to behold the wonderful sight. And a wonderful sight it was, for the stars were flying in every direction through the heavens. I stood and looked at them till I was nearly chilled through, for it was very cold. I returned to my bed wondering what such a thing could mean. My father did not get up to see it. In the morning the wind blew almost a hurricane and very cold. The lake rolled in, tremendously and the captain was afraid to start out and here we lay for three days, but the wind did not cease but rather increased. But the passengers were so anxious to go that the captain said he would go, or go to hell a trying, for he could stand it if they could. So on the fourth morning he put out, but found rough weather and we all wished ourselves back to Buffalo again. We went twelve miles to a point on the Canadian side, where we anchored and lay for three days. A severe snow storm came on then with a heavy wind, which drove several boats back to Buffalo. On the fourth day we started from there and went as far as Erie in Pennsylvania where the boat belonged. Here the captain had the boat drawn up and said he would not go any further that winter, so we had to make the best shift we could for Cleveland. Here the most of the passengers of the ‘Pennsylvania’ shipped on board the ‘Sheldon Thompson’ which doubled her cargo. This boat was out of repair and dangerous at best. We had to pass from one boat to the other in the night, in a steam scow. It was raining and freezing which made it extremely dangerous. After having got aboard of this boat we went on towards Cleveland. We had no chance to lie down or even sit down as the passengers were so thick in the cabin. So we spent the night in standing up, amused with the jokes and fun of some of the many crowd. The next day we tucked at Fairport in Ohio and stayed till the next day, for repairs. The boat starting on towards Cleveland, we met a heavy snow storm, which came on with such fury as to cause the captain to turn back to Fairport again. Here we stayed another night. The next day we started a second time for Cleveland, which we made out, the day being fair. We had then been two weeks on Lake Erie and landed almost without money, food or clothing, as we had lost some clothing on the boat. My father hired a cart boy to take us out of the city, that we might have some chance to get to Eaton in Lorraine County, the place of our destination. Having gone a few miles, we came across an old farmer going home from Cleveland. He we got to take us to his house. Here we stayed over night and left all our goods in a barn and pursued our journey on foot in the mud, a distance of twenty miles. My sister was sick and hardly able to walk. We got as far as Ridgeville that night and stayed at the house of a Mr. Kibbey over night. They treated us with great kindness.
On the following day we arrived at George Tiffany’s in the town of Eaton, Lorraine County, Ohio. This was the place of our destination. We found our relations settled in the woods, half a leg deep in water, in small log shanties, with a few acres cleared around them. On arriving at my brother-in-law’s, to our surprise we found Sylvanus Aldrich and his family, living in the same house. This was my half brother, my mother’s oldest child. He had come from the state of New York. We had not seen him for many years. On meeting with our friends we were somewhat cheered, notwithstanding our had fare and past troubles. Here we lived through the winter in a house 14 x 16 altogether fifteen in number. We were mostly dependent on them for our provisions as we could not earn anything; father being sick all winter.
In the spring my father assisted George in building another house and we lived in the old one and my father worked in the saw mill of Mr. Abby and I chopped for five dollars an acre through the summer. In the fall we moved to Carlisle and took a saw mill belonging to Mr. Johnson in the village of La Porte. Here we lived until the spring of 1838 when we moved to Elyria in the county seat of Lorraine. Here my father took a small piece of land of Herman Ely, on which we lived and worked for a year and did job work of different kinds for a living. In the spring of 1838 we moved across the river and took another small piece of land on which was a good orchard. He repaired the house and fences on this land and done much hard labor and we raised considerable corn, vegetables, etc., which with what we earned other ways made ourselves quite comfortable.
On the 18th of September 1839, as my father and I were gathering corn with a yoke of yearling steers, the only team we had at the time, the weather being wet and unhealthy, we were both taken sick at the same time. My father was taken with inflammation of the bowels and I was taken with bilious fever. On finding ourselves in a bad state, we sent for Doctor Howard, a skillful physician, who attended us faithfully, but in spite of all endeavors my father died on the 9th day of his illness and thus ended the days of Daniel Whipple at the age of sixty years and one month. He was a man of remarkably strong constitution. He had very little sickness in his life or met with any accidents to harm him, except that we once fell from a building and hurt his back which made him grow crooked as he grew older. He was a man of good morals, but did not belong to any church at the time of his death, although he had been a Methodist for a few years of his life, but had left them on account of the inconsistency of some of their doctrines and notions. Had he lived to hear the Gospel he would have embraced it no doubt. He condemned all churches because they had not the gifts and ordinances according to the order that Christ and the Apostles taught. He also told me that the time would be that a church would be established according to the order in the last days, for the scriptures said plainly that it should be. He also told me that if I lived to be fifty years old, in all probability I would see it. In less than one year after his death, the Gospel was preached in the same house that he died in, by Elder John Hughes; but my father did not live quite long enough to hear it.
I remained in Elyria and bought a lot and built a house and moved my mother back to live with me. Here we lived through the winter and the next summer. During the time my mother and three sisters were living in Chatham and Litchfield the Mormons came preaching in that county and they all joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On investigating the doctrines taught by these people called ‘Mormons’ turned my attention to the same and soon became satisfied of the truth of the principles and began to make arrangements to go to Nauvoo in the fall. The first sermon I heard preached in my own house by Elder John Hughes in 1841.
Susan Jane Bailey, my first wife, was baptized about the same time that my mother and sisters were, in Litchfield, Medina County, Ohio. We having been intimately acquainted for a long time and her parents nor any of her relations belonging to the church and knowing her desire to go to Nauvoo, I proposed to marry her and take her with us to the west. This she agreed to. We were married on the 6th day of August 1843, in Elyria, Lorraine County, Ohio, by Elder John Hughes in the house of her step-father on West Enau(??) Street. Having made all necessary preparations for going to Nauvoo through the summer I left Elyria on the 7th day of September 1843.
On leaving Ohio, I and my wife left numerous friends and relatives who seemed to regret our departure, but who could not persuade us to stay from gathering with the church, so great was our determination to follow out the plan of salvation.
At Henderson, Knox County, Illinois, we made a halt. Both myself and Brother Tiffany, sick with ague and out of money. Brother Gibson had stopped at ??? about one hundred miles back and also ??? ???. Placed in this situation we hardly knew what course to take but we found the people very kind and we soon procured houses to live in and something to eat. I was directed to a Doctor Cooper in the same town, who, I was told, could cure us of the ague, so I went to him and asked him if he would give us some medicine for that complaint. He said he would cure us both if we would chop him one cord of wood when we got well. This I thought was reasonable enough and took it according to his directions and it broke the ague forthwith and we got well soon. On beginning to recover my health I began to study what I should pursue for a living while I should stay in that place. Having some knowledge of Turning(??), etc., I thought to make chairs and spinning wheels, which proved to be a very good business in that place. I therefore put up a lathe the best I could and proceeded to prepare for such work. When I had got ready Brother Tiffany came in to work for me and we did very well at it. Provisions of all kinds were low¾ wheat 37 ½ per bushel, corn 25, potatoes 12 ½, flour 1 ½ per pound, fresh pork the same and good salt pork 2 cents per pound, eggs 3 cents per dozen, sugar 6 cents per pound, so we could live very easy by our work.
At this place I remained until the 6th of May 1845. During this nineteen months I having bettered my circumstances and thinking I had stayed quite long enough, I concluded to start for Nauvoo. During our stay here, my wife was very sick for several weeks and I had a severe attack which lasted about ten days, but no one could tell what ailed me or her. We continued our work through the winter and in the spring Brother Gibson who stopped at Ottawa on the Illinois River sent to me to come if I could and help him up to where I lived. So I took my horse and wagon and my wife and went back to Ottawa and assisted him in getting ready to come on and returned to our home in about two weeks. After we returned I witnessed one of the most terrific storms that I ever say in my life. It swept over the country for a long extent, taking houses, trees, fences and even wagons and almost everything in its course.
On the 3rd day of May we, my mother, my wife and my sister Gerua left for our destined home, as we supposed, in Nauvoo. We had a pleasant journey of seventy-five miles, unmolested, although we passed among a people who held the most bitter enmity against the ‘Mormons’ as we were called. We arrived at Brother Tiffany’s house in Nauvoo May 6, 1845, all well and in good spirits. Brother Tiffany lived in a large log house on Bain Street, two blocks direct north of the Temple.
The next day after arriving we went to see the Temple, the walls of which were about half up. This building was of whitish rock of a course kind of marble taken from the banks of the river about one half mile from the Temple. On seeing this building, its size, the curious workmanship, the numerous workmen engaged upon it, etc., I was rather surprised. We viewed the work as far as it was done, walked about the city all day and returned to Brother Tiffany’s, very well pleased with what I had seen.
I was informed that every man in the city was required to stand guard the half of every other night in the streets of the city, in consequences of the many ruffians that were continually committing depredations upon the saints. Accordingly I was involved with a big hickory cane, into a company called deacons, in the ward in which I then lived with Brother Tiffany.
I, with my wife, my mother and sister Gerua, remained in the house of Brother Tiffany about three weeks, during which time I furnished flour and he fished and we lived high on head and catfish. During this time I found a house that I could buy, bought it, repaired it and moved to it, on the corner of Young Street and Granger Street, one half mile west of the Temple. Having done this I went to the Temple committee, paid my property and money tithing in full and my wife her penny subscription and got our receipts. Finding no profitable employment in Nauvoo I went with Brother Conley and Johnathan Partridge up the river to Burlington Island to get timber wood, and so forth and raft it down to the city for our own use. We started on the first of July with a skiff, the river being very high and the current so strong it took us three days to row up to the place were we expected to obtain our raft. On arriving there we found the islands nearly covered with water to our knees and some of the time to our waists to cut our logs and raft them. Here we worked nine days in this way and slept in our wet clothes on the wet ground, got a large raft, run it to Nauvoo, landed it safe and went home. When I got home I found my wife sick with fever and my sister with the ague and was informed that nearly all Brother Tiffany’s family was in a similar condition. In a few days my wife began to mend and I began to feel the effects of my visit to Burlington Island. I was taken with severe chills and fever every day for three days and the third day the chill came on as usual but no fever to throw it off and continued for three days at which time I was thought nearly dead. My wife and other friends having tried all means in their power to restore me and becoming alarmed at my condition insisted upon sending for President Young to come and see me, which I objected to, on account of the great amount of business he had to attend to as well as the hundreds of sick that called for him day and night. But when I was so far gone as to be unable to answer them and, they thought I was struck with death, as it is commonly called, my wife determined to go for Brigham and so did, while the rest, Brother Tiffany, his wife, Brother Gibson and wife, my mother, sister Gerua and many others were at my bed, supposing me to be the same as dead. My wife soon returned with President Young, Heber C. Kimball, Truman Tillet and one or two others. I knew them when they came in, but could not stir nor speak nor could they see I breathed.
Brother Brigham told my wife as soon as he came into the house to put her heart to rest, for I was not going to die for many years and would live to do a deal of good yet, before I died. This cheered the crowd of friends that had gathered around me and they proceeded to lay their hands upon me in the name of the Lord and rubbed my legs and arms with brandy and cayenne pepper, which brought them to some feeling as they were cold and blue to my body. I having been so far reduced, was very weak and could not walk about for three weeks, at which time I went up to the Temple and to Brother Tiffany’s. As I became able to walk about I went to see after my wood logs and so forth, which we had hired Doc K?ug to haul out of the river and found that most of it had been stolen as the others had been sick as well as me, but what was left I hauled home.
I was not able to do but little labor during the summer and fall but tend my garden, fix up my place, etc. In the month of September my mother was taken sick with bilious fever. For the first time she was ever sick since my remembrance. This fever was very severe, growing worse, I sent for Doctor Bernhiesel, but could not help her and in the ninth day of her illness, she died on the 15th day of September 1845.
At the time of my mother’s death I was still unable to do but very little as I had taken cold and had the ague every other day, but not being able to get a coffin made, had to make one myself, as there were so many dying that coffins were hard to obtain.
We were informed about this time that we were to leave Nauvoo and go west in search of some other place where we could live in peace if such a place was to be found. This was rather unexpected to the most of the Saints, though some had understood it for years before, that we should at some time go to the wilderness. All through the summer and fall of 1845 our enemies were raging against us on every side. Mobs were collecting, driving in the small settlements to Nauvoo, burning their houses, driving off their hogs, sheep and cattle, destroying their grain and in some instances shooting the men as they were trying to save their stacks of wheat after they had been fired by the mob. In consequence of these proceedings on the outside, times were rather hard in the city as all had to gather there, and few were permitted to fetch any provisions with them. Many of the streets of the city were fenced up, plowed and planted to corn and other grain and vegetables to support the people, as nothing could be got from the outside. After the word came that we were to leave for parts unknown, all were organized into companies to prepare for the general move.
Wagon shops were erected in all directions, timber gathered and wagons made of green timber in short notice. I was joined to a company under the superintendence of William Huntington, father of Dimick(??), William Oliver Huntington. We worked in the Nauvoo house that was partly up at the time we were called to go west. In this house were Joseph the Prophet and Hyrum the Patriarch, first laid after they were shot in Carthage Jail; but were taken up and buried in Joseph’s garden and very few knew the place of their burial. In this house we worked and made many wagons. I got able to work some 18 days, turned about one hundred hubs, made a wagon for August Stanford, who afterwards left the church and went with old Father Cuttery, but he paid my labor tithing up to the first of January 1846.
While I was thus engaged, a company was being raised as guard to guard the authorities of the church on their flight to the wilderness. I was therefore called to go as one under the direction of Hosea Stout captain of the guard. I therefore made preparations as fast as possible to start in this service, feeling proud of the place I was called to fill where I might make myself useful and of service to the servants of God in the last days and especially at this critical time. We were called into the Temple cellar to organize and receive instructions from our captain and other officers concerning our duties, preparations and so forth and were told that we were to leave our families. With this instruction I went, determined to carry them out. My wife was well pleased with the idea, although this movement might separate us for life. At this time we had to stand guard at our shops and in the streets of the city and many times called up in the night and informed that a large mob was rushing into the city to take our arms, but they never came while I was there.
Shortly after my arrival in Nauvoo I was ordained as Elder at General Conference meeting and appointed clerk of that quorum and acted in that capacity while I remained there. Much business was to be done in the quorum as the Temple was then finished and all were anxious to receive their endowments before leaving their homes for the wilderness. Although many were refused that privilege on account of the short time we had to stay, notwithstanding this, Father Williams the president of the quorum got our names in and the names of Brother Tiffany and wife to go through on the eighth of January 1846 but we were taken through in a hurried manner and were not as fully instructed as we might have been if we had not been so hurried.
During this winter we plainly saw that our property in Nauvoo would fetch us very little or nothing and there was no legal title to the land or at least a large portion of it, so we saw our situation, having to leave all and flee to the wilderness to do the best we could. Having made necessary arrangements as far as my means would permit and the time having arrived for us to enter upon our duties as a guard we took our leave of Nauvoo, the place that we, only a few months before had supposed to be our permanent abiding place. We, the guard, crossed the river a little above Montrose and the 10th of February 1846, in boats, the river not being frozen over. There was no snow and the weather was warm and pleasant. A day or two before we left the city I was standing upon a mound of earth near the Temple with some others and a cry was raised that the Temple was on fire and in a few moments a great smoke arose from the roof of the building and Joseph Young called from the tower for every man to go to his own house and get a bucket of water, if he did not live more than a mile off. They did so and in fifteen minutes there was a perfect stream of water pouring on the fire, which was soon out. At the very same time a boat was sunk at the head of an island in the river in which were many of the saints crossing, who narrowly escaped drowning and lost some of their goods.
We lay on the west bank of the river some four or five days awaiting the arrival of President Young. During this time we were permitted a few at a time, to go back to Nauvoo if we wished to see our families or attend to any business that they might have left undone. I went back on the third day and stayed one night and returned the next day bidding my wife and Nauvoo as I supposed, a long farewell. On the arrival of President Young and his thirteen wagons and a part of his family, we were organized into companies for travelling¾ tens, fifties and one hundreds. Captains placed over each company. The guard was organized also into tens and Hosea Stout voted as captain of the whole which amounted to twelve tens, I think. We then moved from the bank of the river to find a suitable place to camp to wait for Bishop Whitney and some others who had not got ready to start. We traveled twelve miles west to a small creek called Sugar Creek in a grove of timber where we camped and stayed about three weeks, in which time the snow fell about six inches deep and the weather very cold. Here we were required to stand guard night and day for our safety as we well knew that there were hundreds of our enemies that would steal our last cow or horse if we would give them half a chance. We also learned that mob-o-crats in Carthage, Warsaw and the surrounding country had offered one thousand dollars for the head of Brigham Young and the same for that of Hosea Stout. We therefore kept a sharp lookout for them for we knew as they had slain Joseph and Hyrum so they would slay Brigham, Heber and the twelve if they could. During our stay in this place Brother Stanford, the captain of our ten, Brother Williams and some others thought it best for me to go back to Nauvoo and get my wife who was alone with only one or two in the city with which she was acquainted and she had sent me word that she had been ordered to leave the house she lived in, which I had bought and paid for. On being persuaded by these I asked President Young what I should do. He told me to take the baggage wagon of our ten and go forthwith and get her and what I could fetch and bid goodbye to Nauvoo.
I did as he had told me and found my wife at Brother Richardson’s on the west side of the river. The river was partly frozen over so that we could not cross that night so we stayed at Brother Richardson’s all night. On the following day we crossed the river on the ice that had stopped in the strong current and frozen together covering perhaps one third of the surface. On these we wound our way from one to another until we reached the other shore, the river being one mile wide. When we reached our house we went immediately to preparing to start again for the camp early the next morning. We continued all night in selecting some few of our best clothes, books, dishes, etc., a few tools, four bed quilts, a frying pan, tea kettle and dish kettle. All we took except our bedding and cooking utensils were put into a box three feet long and sixteen inches deep. In the morning I borrowed a hand sled of a boy and put our things upon it and went to the river not knowing how we should get across, but when we got to the bank we found ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ Stoddard going across with a team. He said he would take us over. Accordingly we got aboard his sleigh and rode to the other side where our baggage wagon and teamster were waiting for our return. We then rode back to camp. The weather was extremely cold and tedious and disagreeable travelling but we arrived in camp before sundown. Our ten were glad to see us again.
President Young had called all such as he thought proper to go in the first company and the rest he counseled to say in Nauvoo till spring or summer, but a great many regardless of this had followed on so that the whole amounted to some two hundred wagons. The next day after we returned to camp the whole company moved twelve miles and stopped for the night. This, I think was the worst days travelling I ever done, the mud and snow was about six or eight inches deep, the air very cold and raw, my feet wet and my body very poorly clothed. When we camped for the night the ground was one continued stretch of snow and mud, nowhere to set or lie down but in the water and snow. Sister McArthur told my wife to lie in their tent on some corn stalks with her daughter and she accepted the offer. Father Williams and myself also lay in the tent on a single blanket on the snow and when we waked up we found our blanket frozen to our sides. As the weather had turned very cold, so we sat by the little fire the rest of the night. The next day we moved on to Richardson’s Point as it was called, near a small creek called Cheques. Here we stayed for something over a week. It rained almost constantly. The snow had all gone and the ground nearly covered with water. Here I was called on guard at Brigham’s tent at dark and was to be relieved in two hours but it rained so hard that our ten scattered in all directions for shelter and was not to be found, so that I stood in the rain and mud till day, when I went to look for my company, but could only find my wife lying on a spot of ground a little above the rest in wet bed clothes and Father Williams sitting by a little fire he had managed to keep burning. The rest had fled. After the storm had somewhat abated we went, I mean to say the food company, to husking corn for the inhabitants, on shares to feed ourselves and the horses belonging to the twelve and others. We also built a house for corn, and pork and some beans. We, our ten, lived over three weeks on boiled corn alone.
While we were camped at this place Edwin Little died of consumption having been sick a long time. He told Charles Decker one day that he should die at about such a time the next day and he wanted him, Charles, to come and see him. He went as he had requested and found him about to die. Said he, "Charles I do not care for dying," and saying this he lay down and died.
From here we continued to travel on from day to day, guarding nights suffering much in storms and cold and some hunger. Nothing of particular note occurring and making me stop, only at Locust Creek, where we had a snow storm. Here we stayed seven or eight days, waiting for better weather. My wife was sick at this place for several days. While at this place I was sent back eight miles to get some pistols and other church property from P.P. Pratt’s camp. The mud was so deep that it took three yoke of oxen to haul about five hundred pounds. We moved on from this place without making much halt until we came to the headwaters of the Chariton River, where we stopped again for a week or more, disorganized the guard and placed us around in different places, some driving team for such as needed them and we had to stand guard every other night. I was given two yoke of oxen and a wagon to come on with. The wagon had a double cover on it and made us a good shelter, which we had not had since we left Nauvoo. At this place we got twenty pounds of flour and seven pounds of bacon, which was quite a treat, as we had lived on corn so long. We were given some corn meal while here which we could not eat though we were very hungry. It had been a kind of law in camp that none should shoot any game or at any mark only those that were appointed to hunt for the camp, but being very hungry and seeing many animals in the woods, determined to have some, as I had a good gun and knew how to use it as well as most men. So I went out unbeknownst to my captain and killed five fox squirrels and two pheasants and when they were cooked we invited our captain to eat, which he did and seemed to be grateful for the opportunity.
We left this place (Chariton) and came on for many days. It rained much of the time so that the streams on the prairies were almost impassable, many sticking in the mud, having to stay there overnight, women and children trudging all day in the mud and water and then having to lay on the wet ground at night. The next place that we made any considerable stay was named by the company "Council or Hickory Point." Here we stopped for three days. A company was sent from here to the settlements in Missouri to work for provisions for the pioneers, and the camp was called together to see who had the necessary provisions and other articles for to continue their journey. After this was done we moved on to a grove of timber on a branch of Grand River where they had chosen a place to make a settlement. When we arrived at this place it was one continuous bed of onions as far as the eye could extend in all directions in the tall oak timber that stood so thick on the ground without underbrush. On account of the vast amount of onions the place was called "Garden Grove." When we arrived at this place we had eaten but very little or nothing for three days. The last we had was but eleven ears of corn some week or more before. When that was gone I went to Brother A.R. Rockwood, Captain of fifty and told him our situation and he told me if I knew of any who had plenty to go to them and tell them if they would let me have some meal, he could pay it back as soon as we got to the place where we were going to make a settlement above mentioned. Accordingly I went to Brother Erastus Snow and told him what Rockwood had said, knowing that he had plenty, but I could not persuade him (Snow) to let me have the least mite although I told him my situation and how I came to be in this fix. On the morning before we arrived in Garden Grove a man named Samuel Smith, who had had my rifle, had killed a deer, but did not get into camp until we were just about ready to start, so we could not cook any of the meat until we had got to Garden Grove at noon which made about three days and a half without food. On coming to this place it was understood that we were to make a settlement here and that some should stop here for the present and would be a place where the poor that would be coming up after us could stop and recruit, raise a crop if they chose, etc.
After our teams were turned out, etc., we took a notion to see who could cut and split the first rails to make a fence. Myself and one Amos Davis took our axes and went a few rods from the wagons which stood in the thick timber and felled a tree and made four rails, but just as we had almost done this, Amos Rogers cried out that he had split four rails, so we were beat at last. After we had split our rails we sat down on the log. Brother Davis said I seemed unwell or that something ailed me. I told him I was well enough but had not eaten anything in about three days or more. He arose and went his way. As I still sat waiting for my venison to cook, which my wife had put boiling as soon as we stopped, I saw President Young coming to me. As he came up he said, "I think you have done wrong." This set me to thinking I had done as I thought I had done about as well as I could. Says I, "I do not know what I have done out of the way." He then said, "Brother Davis told me you had not had anything to eat for some days and I think you have done wrong that you did not let me know about it." I told him I thought he had plenty to feed without me at which he said, "I have plenty now and when this is gone I know I shall get more." He said he loved to feed those that would work and do the best they could, that he had seen me in every crowd where there was something to be done. "Come," says he, "to my tent and you can have enough of such as I eat." I got a sack as he had told me and went with him and got it full of sea biscuits. He told me when that was gone to come and get some more. This was a kindness that I can never forget. These with our venison went fine and we did not go without again for the present.
When we arrived at Garden Grove companies were organized to stalk ploughs and to build houses, to make fences, etc. I was called on to stalk ploughs and worked at it for several days. I was then called on to make yokes for Lorenzo D. Young. After having made seven yokes I was called upon by A.R. Rockwood to go to Missouri to work on a job taken by John Busby and Frank Tower, about forty-five miles down the river, building a jail. I told him that I would go upon condition that he furnish my wife with provisions while I was gone from camp. This he agreed to do. I therefore made arrangements for the trip, to stay not less than one week or over three. I was told by Rockwood that it was twelve miles to the place and that it was not the jail job as he knew we had heard so much about that job, that we did not like to go there to work. But had he told me the truth I would have gone just as soon. On, I think, the fourth of May, we started in company with John St. John with his team and H. Peck’s smith tools. Brother Peck, Sister Tower, Brother Richmond, Father Williams and some others. I by mistake, went without any bedding as I supposed my wife had put it into my tool chest, but however I managed to share with the rest for bedding. Rockwood informed us before I left, that he had furnished Brother Richmond with plenty of provisions for the journey for us both, but when I felt hungry I inquired of Richmond, who knew nothing about it, but said he had nine small biscuits and he would give me half of them. This was rather short rations for one day, much less for three days. We traveled on a prairie without a track or any one that had been before. No one of us knew the way of course and we got a good deal out of the way and wandered till night which was quite cold and no timber nor other fuel. Some lay down on the wet ground upon a tent that was little better than nothing. In the morning we found ourselves perfectly soaked and cold and without any fire or anything for breakfast as the rest were as scant as myself and Richmond. On mustering all there was in the whole company and dividing it around, it amounted to three small crackers and a half apiece. Having been on short rations for some time and shorter the day before and now shorter still, we began to get rather faint. We started again for the settlements below, according to our best judgement, without road, track or pilot, but in the course of the day we struck a wagon track that led us to a house, at which we arrived in the afternoon. A man by the name of Rockhold lived here, of whom some of the company got some meal and bacon and I having lain down on the ground and fell asleep, they went on some distance before I was aware they had gone. When I saw they were off I got up and took their track and followed, but becoming so faint I thought I could not go further, lay down not knowing whether I should be able to rise again or not as I was so fatigued, starved and worn out and sick in the bargain. Supposing the company had all gone on I was surprised at hearing the voice of Father Williams, who had also stopped behind. He sat down and asked me if I could not go on. I told him I could not. He said I must, saying that he would help me on to the wagon that had gone ahead. I thought that if a man near seventy years of age that had fared quite as hard as myself would offer to help me, I would make a desperate effort to go ahead. Accordingly by his assistance I arose and by his assistance I went on till we came to the wagon and company, who were cooking some corn bread and bacon. I sat down upon the wagon tongue and was immediately presented with some half baked corn dodger as we called it, and some bacon, which I soon devoured and felt some better. After having some dinner of this kind and making a neck yoke for our horses, the old one having been broken, we went on our way rejoicing as it was the first time for a long time that we had had enough to eat of anything. Towards evening we began to come to some settlements and passed the house of an old mobocrat by the name of Dave Fairley, who had, it was said, been engaged in driving the saints from Missouri.
I will here mention a circumstance to show the fears of those most ignorant of all ignorant people that I ever saw in my life. When they heard that the Mormons were coming, we heard old Mother Fairley above mentioned made her children sleep with their shoes on so as to be ready to jump and run if the Mormons should come upon them of a sudden. We camped again in the timber about eight miles from the place where we started for. While we were camped here a number of the inhabitants came to see us, asking many questions about our belief, etc.
In the morning we proceeded to Princeton where there were four or five log houses, one of which was a kind of store or grocery. Here we found some thirty of our boys engaged on the job of building a jail. This was built of hewn timber one foot square and two feet thick to the walls, with a floor of timber ten inches square, two thicknesses, across each other. This took a good deal of timber. The first night after I got to this place I was called up about midnight to make a coffin for Sister Green who had died of black canker. It was a rainy night and I had to work out of doors. I got wet, took cold and was quite unwell. The next day I was lying in a tent without ends to it and without any bed clothes. I was lying in the center of the tent with two rows of men that lay on each side. When fast asleep there came a heavy shower of rain and before I was aware of it, the water had rundown through the tent and wet me completely through. By this I took an addition to the cold I had before and made me down sick, so that I could not work for six or eight days after. While I was sick I was told that Brigham had sent for me and some others to come back to camp, as they wanted me to go with them, but I could not get back, so they went on and left me and my wife behind.
After I had recovered my health so as to go to work, I hewed timber for two weeks, making in all over three weeks, which was the full time that I was to stay. I felt at liberty to return to camp. Having obtained some soap from Sister Lish, wife of William Lish, I washed my clothes and started out on foot for camp and alone, having heard of some of the artillery boys who were camped some ten miles up the river. I thought to stay with them overnight and reach the camp next day. It being farther to their camp than I expected, I did not reach them till after dark and not being properly directed I wandered in the woods till a late hour in the night in search of their camp without success, until I found a small brook or creek and felt in it with my hands to tell which way it run and followed down it, thinking it would lead me out to some place. I followed this perhaps half a mile and found the boys in a shanty fast asleep. On waking them, they appeared glad to see me and got up, gave me some supper and I lay down and rested the rest of the night. In the morning I took breakfast with them. They directed me a nearer way to the camp which was about twenty-five or thirty miles, which distance I walked that day without dinner and reached camp.
On reaching camp I found that the main camp had gone on to Council Bluffs, leaving some thirteen families. I found my wife in a little shanty, that Father Williams had built for her after he had returned from Missouri, of bark and stakes. This did not leak and was quite comfortable. As I before stated, Rockwood agreed to furnish my wife with provisions till I returned, but during the three weeks of my stay he gave her only two pounds of flour and the same of meat, but lucky for her she got a chance to do some washing for a man named Johnson and he gave her seven pounds of bacon and Father Williams found a horse shoe on his way back from Missouri and sold it to some person for one half bushel of corn meal and he furnished meal and my wife bacon, so they lived.
When camp was about to leave there, Bishop Whitney came to my wife and told her to unload the wagon in half an hour for he wanted it. It was raining pretty hard, but nevertheless she obeyed and put her bedding, etc., out in the rain and when night came, Father Williams took her things to the tent of Sister Pettingill, sister of Brigham Young, where she stopped until Father Williams built the shanty where they lived when I returned. When I returned I found myself almost destitute of pantaloons, one leg entirely gone to the knee and the other but little better. My wife, in walking about the old camp grounds happened to spy something in the ground that looked like cloth of some kind, picked it up and found a good pair of cottonmade pantaloons that fitted me exactly. They had got down in the mud when it was so wet and the horses had trodden them into the mud and they answered my purpose at the time. It may be that the owner needed them as bad as I did at the time, but must doubt it.
Having looked around a day or two I saw no kind of chance to get any kind of provisions there. I thought to go back to Missouri and trade off a few things that we had brought from Nauvoo, such as a few choice books or the many I had, a few dishes, etc., but the question was what to do for my wife while I was gone. John Gene’s wife was some acquainted with her. She went to see her knowing that John had sent her some meal and she got a loan of a bushel which would last her, Father Williams and Neuman till I should come back. I found Brother Knapp that had a good yoke of oxen and wagon and wanted to go down to Missouri but was unwell and did not want to go alone, so I went with him, traded some meal six bushels I think, and some bacon which was enough to last a long time. We returned in eight days, bought a barrel of bacon for Brother Peck and some others. When I was within one half mile of home I ran into a slough of mud and had to leave my load till morning, when I went and dug out my wagon with a hoe, in the rain again and again took cold. The inflammation again set in my side and became very severe. I was then about two weeks more confined to the shanty and got so bad that I could scarcely move or be moved. They tried all the time to do something that would relieve me of the pain but without effect until Father Williams thought to try steaming me. He sat one day looking at me very earnest a long time and got up and went out and came back shortly with some small basswood blocks which he put into a kettle and boiled for half an hour, then took two to my side until they were partly cool and then put them in the kettle and took out some hot and so changed them a few times in the course of an hour or two. It almost instantly relieved me so that I got up and went out. After I became able, I went to work to build a house which I did by splitting some of the fine oaks into planks and made a house fourteen feet square, covered it with long shingles, laid poles on them and lived without floor or chimney till fall when I made a floor as I did the walls of split stuff and a chimney of dirt and sticks. In the fall I went back to Bonapart on the Des Moines river with Ben Johnson stopped there and at Bentonport two weeks, worked and got four hundred pounds of flour some little store pay and saw Brother Tiffany’s folks who had got out as far as there and got my sister Gerua who had been living with them and returned to Garden Grove, Home.
Being destitute of a pail or bucket and having to fetch all our water some distance in a jug, I found it necessary to try a new trade that I had never thought of doing before, that was coopering. I picked up some bits of pine boards some one had sawed off from their wagon box and made a bucket. This gave me a trade and every one came to get churns, buckets, tubs, etc. So I followed this mostly as a business through the summer, while I shook with the ague and grunted with the fever every day till fall, when I went back to carpentry.
During the summer many had come up from Nauvoo to this place and stopped for the winter. Many poor and many widows that could not earn a cent towards a living and had to be supported by the one tenth or one fifth of that which was brought into the settlement by those that went and worked for it. There were fifteen widows and their families that had to be fed in this way and their wood furnished them through the winter. There was much sickness in that place in the fall and many deaths among which was Father Samuel Bent, President of the stake, Sister Lewis, also the wife of Samuel Williams who had come up from Nauvoo in the spring, and many others. For those that died I made all the coffins and buried them. The coffins I made out of black walnut, split and hewed down to an inch thick and planed up, which made a very nice coffin, but took much labor. For those jobs I got very little. I mention another death, Sister Norris, wife of Brother Norris who was killed by a cannon in Nauvoo, from the mob, in the time of battle. Sister Norris had a young child that died at the same time and I put them in the same coffin and buried them together. This was the mother of Liza, wife of Charles Decker.
Some time in the fall of ’46 a man came up with some goods, selling for Paul Johnson and stopped at the house of Brother Stringham. His wagon standing out in the yard one night some seventy dollars worth of goods were taken out of the wagon by some persons unknown. Brother Fullmer sent for me. I went. He told me to get men and search for the goods. I did so and found them in a trunk belonging to William and Sam Childs, a portion of them in the house of one John Carter. The trunk, however, was in the house of one John Davis. We broke open the trunk, took the goods and returned them to the owner. The Childs boys had fled, but Charlie Carter was at home. We followed. The Childs brought back William but let Sam go his way, kept William till morning, brought him and Charlie Carter before President Fullmer for to answer to the charge made by Brother Duvall, the peddler of goods. They acknowledged and C. Carter said that Bill Hickman came to him and the Childs and said that it was the instruction of David Fullmer to steal all the man’s goods. This Fullmer knew nothing about.
Bill Hickman did not make his appearance in the trial. Fullmer decided the boys should be whipped, one twelve and the others fifteen lashes. I took twelve men beside myself into the woods and tied them to a tree and applied the penalty very light. I believed others were much more to blame than they were, but this ended the affair.
J??? ??? came to me and ??? to have some secrecy to reveal to me and we went into the woods and sat upon a log when he said to me, "Don’t you think you could make dies for making half dollars and quarters?" I told him it was a job I had never undertook and knew but very little about it. I asked him what he wanted to do with them. He said he could make money that would pass in Missouri just as well as any. He told me of several ways that it might be done and that he could make them as well as not, but I told him I was quite busy and could not attend to it.
In the winter of ‘48¾ ’47 President Fullmer thought proper to divide the branch into two districts for the convenience of the inhabitants to hold meetings as they were considerably scattered. He called upon me to preside over one portion, to appoint a place for the holding of prayer and other meetings and carry them on through the winter according to the best of my ability. I therefore got the privilege of the house of a Brother John King to hold meetings twice a week until April conference and did so and had no difficulties.
Sometime in the forepart of the winter Brother Tiffany got a chance to come up with a man to my place and lived in a room I had built for a shop. We built another shop and worked through the winter at chair making. The chairs we sent to Missouri and Iowa and sold for fifty cents apiece, giving one half for peddling them out and fetching us the pay. Thus we got twenty-five cents for a chair and gave one fifty of that to the poor, but we lived well at that. I did considerable gunsmithing also, during the winter which paid little better than the chair making.
Brother Fullmer thought proper to appoint a High Council to assist him in his business and try cases, as many difficulties arose in the Branch. He therefore called upon me to act as one of them which I did till I went to Wisconsin the next summer.
In the spring of ’47, I with Brother B. Gibson started on the first day of July for Wisconsin. My brother-in-law Gibson to endeavor to regain some property taken there by a Mr. Edwards who had collected it of the man to whom said Gibson had sold his farm in Ohio and this Edwards turned ‘Strangite’ and went to Voree with the property. I went for the purpose of seeing my half brother and family, living in that state. We took our clothes on our backs with provisions enough to last us to Keokuk, a distance of one hundred and eighty miles. I got so lame in the cord of my left heel that it seemed impossible for me to travel. After eight days travel and lying in the road nights on the prairie, we reached Keokuk on the Mississippi River. When we arrived in Keokuk we were much worn out by our eight days travel but we went to work to obtain money to go on with. We went down the river twelve miles to tear an old steamboat to pieces for one Hatz and bring it up to Keokuk. We stayed in the place some two weeks and started for Galena in the steamboat ‘Prairie King’ but got stuck on the rapids and we left it and went on board the old ‘Lynx’ boat on which we went to Galena. Brother Gibson was sick part of the time. I worked my passage and his to the above named place. On our arrival at Galena we started across toward Lake Michigan. We passed Shullsburg, saw the lead mines, went to Freeport on the line between Illinois and Wisconsin, from there to Pecatonica on Rock River, from there to Bloit, from there to Janes ville, from there to Lake Mills Village four miles from my half brothers’. Here we heard that his wife had just died of a fever. We learned that his daughter lived in the village where we were and also his wife’s sister Fanny. We went and saw her that night and returned to the inn. In the morning we went to the house of my half brother, found the family and some others waiting for the preacher to preach her funeral sermon. The family of course felt bad and not much like talking about anything. At length the minister came, preached as they called it and then went to bury her. While they were gone I talked some with the boys and looked about his place which was a very pleasant one, except rather low. When they returned my half brother asked me if George Tiffany was damned fool enough to stick to the Mormons yet. I told him he was just big fool enough and so was I. As soon as I said this he began to ridicule the Mormons and Joseph Smith saying that he knew him a long while ago and that it was a damned good thing that he was killed, that he was glad to hear of the murder, etc. He went on in this way most of the time when I was with him and never asked us to eat nor stay in his house from that time, while we were there. We returned in Lake Mills and I hired out to a man named Bragg, a Presbyterian, and Brother Gibson to a man in Ancient City (Azatalan) fives miles from Lake Mills. I worked for this Bragg for two weeks and did not feel very well and it being so very sickly about there I thought best to start for home again.
Accordingly I drew my pay for what I had done, went to see my half brother again and bid him goodbye. Saw Brother Gibson and left for home. The first day I had a sick spell and lay on some logs by the road side as the rattlesnakes were so thick that I did not lie on the ground. In the afternoon I felt a little better and went on. Toward evening I felt worse again and stopped at a house and got some aloe and whiskey, lay done a while and got up and went on again. The next day I felt some better but having to lie outdoors as I could not get lodging in any house as there were so many sick, I took cold and the fever came on again every day for three days but still I traveled till the fourth day when I passed a small lead mining village called Exeter. When I got through this place I called at a public house and got a glass of liquor. A doctor in the house told me I had better stop and let him doctor me but I could not think of stopping. So I went on to the top of a hill where I lay down for several hours, made several trials to get up and go back to the town but could not till towards evening. I made out to get back to the doctor and he gave me some camphor and something else and they carried me upstairs and laid me on a bed and I had no recollections of anything from that time till some four or five days. When I came to myself again I was sweating tremendously. I felt that the fever was done but I was very weak but began to think of going on again. After two days I told the woman of the house that I should start the next day for Galena but she tried to persuade me not to go until I got more strength but I depended upon some power that she did not think of.
In the morning I told the Doctor I was going and wanted to pay my bill. He said I should pay Charlie the landlord or his wife as he boarded there. So I got up for the first time since I had been sick and went downstairs and told Charlie he must take some goods I had taken at Lake Mills for my work. He would not look at them but wanted the money. His wife was looking through the door of the dining room and said, "Charlie, I can settle with that man." The woman came in and took the goods at a much higher price than I had given for them at Lake Mills. She then told me that if I would go, she had prepared me a good breakfast. I went in, she had enough for two men and wanted me to eat it all. I told her I thought she wanted to kill me, but she said not. However I ate as much as I thought proper and left. I must mention the kindness with which this woman treated me while I was sick. A mother could not have been more kind and careful than she was. Her name I have lost though I had it in my journal which is lost. After taking some cakes for my dinner I bid goodbye to the woman and took my departure for Galena. This day I walked thirty miles as light as a cork. My feet which were very sore had got well and my budget was much lighter and I felt as fine as ever. At night I stayed at a house on Picatonic River with two young ladies, as the old man and woman had gone to Galena. They treated me first rate but did not know I was a Mormon or I suppose they would have been afraid of me.
The next day I walked to Council Hill, eight miles from Galena and stayed at a Grocery. I will mention a conversation that took place that evening between some Irishmen that sat playing cards at a table. "I understand," says one, "that the United States has called upon the Mormons to go and fight for them in the Mexican War, after having drove them from their homes in Illinois." Says he, "I would see them all damned before I would go to fight for them if I was in their place." In the morning as I went to start a man came in. He asked me which way I was going. I told him for Galena. He told me to take a glass of brandy with him and ride to Galena in his carriage. I did so and got to that place about ten o’clock. When I arrived in Galena I immediately looked about the landing for a boat on the down trip and found the old ‘Iron City’ bound for Montrose. I stepped aboard and told the mate I wanted a passage down. He said if I would help load the boat with load, seventy-five pounds to the bar, that I could go. I thought I would try it for an hour or so and did so. When this was done I got me a little provision and a pint of whiskey in a little bottle in which I had some bark and roots for bitters. We started down. The cook aboard told me if I would saw his stove wood on the way he would furnish me the best the boat could afford, victuals and drink, all the way down. I sawed him about one fourth cord of wood and he was as good as his word.
I think we were five days on the way and when we landed at Montrose about sunset I went directly to Keokuk, twelve miles, that night. When I came there I found someone direct from Garden Grove who told me my family was all well a few days before. I went to old man William’s and had my board there for two weeks. Shortly after I went in the house someone knocked at the door and behold it was Isaac Allred. He had been down the river to Memphis, endeavoring to collect something for the poor saints in Garden Grove and was on his way back home. He was one of my near neighbors and I was very glad to see him. In the morning we consulted the matter and concluded to stop in Keokuk about two weeks and work and get a little something to take home in the shape of clothing. We went to hunt work and I went to work for a brother named Folsom. I had $1.25 a day and paid twenty-five cents a day for my board which left me $1.00 a day.
Much of the time while I was at work here I was far from being well but continued to work for two weeks. We drew our pay and started for home on foot and on the second day we were both taken sick with a fever and the third day were so sick that we could not travel. But as good luck would have it, we found a man going to Garden Grove without a load and we agreed to furnish him on the way up if he would haul us home if we lived or bury us if we died. Brother Allred was very sick but in about nine days we reached home. When we arrived home we found our families well and glad to see us again. I found the organization made by Brother Pratt before we left broken up and their tens raised under a different order of things to go to Kanesville. This was Brother Fullmer’s doings but I confess that I did not much like the arrangement.
When I returned from Wisconsin I was invited by certain parties to be adopted into the family of A. Shurtliff but refused the offer. This did not suit all parties very well but no matter to me. I thought I could do just as well as that so declined the offer. Brother Allred and myself had thought to go back to the mouth of the Ohio river to cut stone as there was a great call there for that kind of mechanics, but as Brother William Champlin came down from Council Bluffs to take out his brother-in-law John Ring, who would not go, he offered to take me and my family if I would drive the team as he was sick. I told Brother Allred who counseled me to improve the opportunity to get ahead as fast as possible towards the valley. So in eight days I settled my business, sold or rather gave away my two houses and a large shop, two acres of corn for eight dollars to Isaac Allred. At the end of five days I had the wagon loaded and ready to start for the Bluffs, as it was called. Brother Champlin and wife came and we bid goodbye to our friends and Garden Grove October 5, 1847.
We traveled alone, had very pleasant time only I was sick most of the way. When we passed Mt. Pisgah I was not able to get out of the wagon to look around, so I saw very little of that place. We camped just west of Pisgah on a creek. We were two days going up to the Bluffs and arrived at the house of old Father Williams after dark, found him comfortably situated and very glad to see us once more. His boys and Wallace Rumont had just returned from Missour with some hogs and other property they had earned in St. Joseph or thereabouts. They treated us well and the next morning I went down to Brother Joseph Lish’s in the hollow on Little Mesquite Creek. He showed me a good place to build a house and I went and brought my family down and unloaded the wagon on the spot where I was going to build and agreed to pay Brother Champlin fifteen dollars as soon as I could for bringing us up.
I borrowed a wagon box with a cover on it, the only shelter we could get at the time, but after we got a tent from Widow Pullsipher which made us more comfortable. While living in this way a most tremendous storm came on, of snow and rain which continued twenty-four hours at the end of which time we were in a bad fix, completely wet, the wind having blown our tent down. Our things were covered with mud that ran down from the hills on to us. The weather cleared off fine and we fared better. I went to work forthwith to build a house, which I accomplished in just two weeks, built of split oak logs, fourteen by twenty-two feet, covered with split stuff and dirt. We had a ground floor. Having accomplished this I went over to Winter Quarters to see my friends on that side of the Missouri River. On arriving there I found Brother Tiffany rather uncomfortably situated for the winter, living in a sod house and burning green black walnut wood and eating buckwheat bread ground in wooden mill stones. I told Brother Tiffany that I thought he would do much better to go over on the east side of the river to Springville Branch and stop with me through the winter and then get some land and build a house and prepare to go to the valley as soon as possible. He concluded to do it. On endeavoring to return to the east side of the river to stay all night with Neuman Williams we found the water had run over the ice considerably and we walked down the river to try to get around the water, as it was rising slowly on the ice. I with a long willow pole in my had was trying the ice as we went. Neuman cried out, "Hold on," at which I stopped at once. He said he thought he saw water close by me running swift at which I drew my stick back a little towards me and it went down the length of it which was about eight feet into swift water. Another step would have carried me into it, out of which it would have been next to impossible for me to have got. This I called a narrow escape from death. At this we turned back and stayed at Brother Tiffany’s all night. After we returned to Winter Quarters we went to Brother Edward Bunker, who had returned from California in the Mormon Battallion. He was my nearest neighbor in Garden Grove. He went in that company and left his family in my care. He was a very good and faithful man. When we went to see him he had just gone to bed, but related to us some of the incidents of his journey and sufferings during the eighteen months he had been gone from his family. We then went to Brother Tiffany’s and stopped till morning, saw Brigham on the street and talked with him as we returned home.
When we came to Springville Branch Joseph Meecham(?) was President but Samuel Alger accused him of lying and other things and got up a kind of fuss through which he was set aside and Samuel Williams appointed to fill his place. When Father Williams was appointed he called upon me to assist as his first counselor and Joseph Lish his second. I had most of the business to do as Brother Williams was sick a good deal of the time, not able to attend to it.
A short time after I returned from Winter Quarters Brother Tiffany came over with his family one very cold day and some of them were very near frozen. They missed their way and were out much longer than they expected, but when they got to my house they found a warm house and a good fire and were soon made comfortable. We lived through the winter very comfortable although our food was not the most delicate, we had enough to eat of it. It consisted mostly of corn bread and bean porridge or pottage. The corn we had to grind by hand in a little mill of Brother Lish’s. This was rather tedious but we had very little else to do except go to meetings, parties, visit our friends and so forth. Toward spring, thinking I could do better I sold my place to Joseph Lish and went and built a house in a hollow by a spring a short distance from where I was before and when we got this house done we went and built one for Brother Tiffany on a piece of good land that he had selected and he moved into it. This was, I think, about the first of March.
Jane Gibson, then a little girl, was then living in Brother Tiffany’s family. In the spring of ’48 I not being exactly pleased with my location concluded to move my house up to the head of the hollow on the prairie and the brethren turned out and hauled it up and I put it up and made a good house of it. During this winter a large house was built at Kanesville for holding meetings in and all were called on to do something towards it. I made the sash for the windows and worked one day on the house after the outside was finished. There was held in this, what was called a Soldiers’ Jubilee for the Mormon Battalion who had just returned from California. They had a high time. The April conference was also held in this house and Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards were appointed the first presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which quorum had not been organized since the death of Joseph. At the same conference I was ordained an Elder of the Seventy or to the Apostleship under the hands of Joseph Young and his council.
During the summer of ’48 I fenced in three acres of the best land upon which we raised a good garden. I worked at gunsmithing, chair making and making spinning wheels, etc., and sold some of them to the stores in Kanesville, but the first store pay we had after we left Nauvoo was five dollars worth, the money I borrowed of Brother Ellsworth when the first store came to Kanesville. During this summer Miranda became almost blind and remained so until 1850. When we were going to Great Salt Lake Valley she could see again nearly as well as ever. My sister Gerua was sick all this summer with dropsy and canker and suffered much and died in the month of September. She was buried in the graveyard on the hill at a point of timber near by house. A man named Jeffs was struck by lightning at this place and was instantly killed. This summer I bought a cow of Brother Terry for nine dollars, the first cow we had had since we left Nauvoo. Nothing of any particular note transpired during this summer as I can think of.
Many gathered up from Nauvoo and other places and made heavy settlements in all directions on the good land that abounded in the country. The winter of ’48 and ’49 was very severe. For six weeks the frost flew in the air every day and snow about two feet deep. A man could go but very little way without freezing. I got my toes badly froze in walking three miles and the weather was then moderate to what it had been for weeks before. Brother Perry Durfee furnished me a team to haul my wood that winter and a boy to drive it, and did not charge me anything for it, neither would he take anything during the winter. We were permitted to have dancing parties which were held in the schoolhouse. There were about twenty of us and we enjoyed ourselves first rate. Many were born in this place in ’48.
In the spring of ’49 I concluded to move again for the purpose of getting on a more public road with my shop when the emigrants would pass for California that I might stand some chance to get a little money that might help towards an outfit for [the] Salt Lake Valley. A large company of emigrants came in the spring and camped near my house and I did a good deal of repairing for them, by which I got a good deal of money. It was quite remarkable that there was but very little corn that spring that would grow. A good many after planting their corn two or three times tried to sprout it, but it would not sprout and trying through the country a very little was found that would grow. In consequence of the early emigration that depended on corn to feed their horses on while on the plains the corn became scarce and rose to $2.50 a bushel and its common price had been fifty cents. After the emigration had passed it came down to that again. Soon after the Mormons went to Kanesville Brother O. Hyde came up and brought type and press and commenced publishing a paper which he called the ‘Frontier Guardian’ which he edited himself. The paper in my opinion was a very excellent one. I took them from the first number to the last. My house and shop was on the land of Brother Coon and when I got ready to leave for the Valley I sold my house and shop to him for $20. Ten dollars in money and ten for which he was to take my tools to the Valley, an anvil and bellows, which he had had the use of for two months before starting and which would be of much use to him and others on the way. I started for the Valley a few days before him and left the tools with him as he had not got quite ready when I left. When I had crossed the Missouri River and had gone six miles I was told that the man Coon that had my tools to fetch had thrown them out of the wagon and was not going to bring them any further. He was then on the east bank of the river. As soon as I heard this I gave my whip to Mr. Robert Y. Williams to take care of my team and went right back across the river to Brother Coon’s camp and asked him if what I heard was true. He said he thought he had not team enough to venture to go on with them. Brother Frank Taylor was in the same company and heard what had been said. He stepped up and said he would fetch the anvil for ten dollars and take his pay after he got to the valley. I told him to take it. Brother Coon being a little ashamed said he would take the bellows and vise and Brother Frank Taylor said he would see the tools in the valley. So I returned to my camp feeling contented as I knew that Frank would do what he said. I arrived at camp about dark having traveled some fourteen miles. I ran most of the way. My tools came to the alley but Coon left them several times and Taylor would bring them on, and make Coon take them again, so you see it was not through Coon’s good will that I got them.
Having made the best arrangements I could for the trip I made my wagons, laid in my flour, meal, bacon, candles, sugar, coffee, tea, clothing, etc. On the ninth day of June 1850 we set out for the Great Salt Lake Valley, the place we had long desired to see. My team was one yoke of good little oxen, loaned me by my friend A. Rament, and one yoke of cows, a light wagon and a good outfit for the journey. My cows had never been yoked before so did not go very well of course but they soon got tamed so that I could drive them without leading. I made all my outfit in the spring of 1850 not having anything towards it before. The first night we stopped at Brother Tiffany’s, four miles from where we started from. The next morning we ??? ??? to the friend went on down the river to a place called Bethlehem and camped to await the arrival of others and to be organized for travelling, etc. Brother Tiffany went a long way with us and then he turned to go back; our feelings were such that we could not bid him good bye, but he knew our feelings for he felt the same.
In a few days Brother O. Hyde and Brother Joseph Young and some others came down and examined our wagons and our outfit, organized us into tens, fifties, and one hundreds, appointed captains, etc. Brother David ??ing was captain of the first fifty and John ??? of the 2nd fifty. There were one hundred and five in all. We crossed the river very well without accident except an old cow that was fool enough to jump overboard and came near upsetting the boat and caused us to drift down stream a long ways below the landing, but we towed up and got ashore.
The Omaha Indians were there very plentifully and some were afraid of them, but they manifested no disposition to do anything to any of us or our property. We went six miles from the river and camped on a small creek where the mosquitoes were so thick that they like to run us all crazy. On that night the cholera appeared among us. One, Joe Millet that was with the Hatch boys was taken sick about dark and was very bad through the night but nobody seemed to take much notice of him and did not know what ailed him. The next day he got pretty near over it and we went on for several days. We had not gone far before we saw a grave with the name of Charlotte Thornton on the head board, a young woman with whom we were all acquainted. We soon came to a camp where two or three others had died, one the wife of D.B. Dalby. At this many were much alarmed but this did us no good, for we had to face the cholera if we turned back and if we went on we could run away from it. After travelling a day or two we came to the old Pawnee Village on the south side of the Platte River. Here we stopped early in the afternoon and Samuel Williams and his brother and myself went to examine the village and got some wood for night, etc. Their wigwams or houses were built quite substantial of cedar wood which they had floated down the Platte from Grand Island, a good many miles above. There was no timber in sight of the village. There were places of ground that had been cultivated and much corn had been raised, but there were no fences. There were large holes like wells, dug into the sandy soil where they had deposited their corn. The Indians were all gone, having been driven away by the Sioux Indians. While we were looking about I began to feel cold and a deathly feeling came upon me and I got two small sticks of wood and started for camp a distance of perhaps forty or fifty rods, but before I got there I dropped my wood and made my way the best I could for the wagon and when there I told my wife that something ailed me and thought it was cholera. She was alarmed at this of course and thought that she would be left a widow in short order. She asked me if she could do anything for me. We had a wooden box full of some pills. I told her to give me some of them. She gave me the box and I took one and one half of them at once and had Father Williams come and administer to me with some others and for a few hours I suffered much, but after that I seemed to feel better and told my wife I would take the balance of those pills and did so. In the morning I was comfortable again, but through the night I was so restless that I could not lie in one position a single minute, but rolled and tumbled in the wagon and finally that was not big enough so I got out upon the ground and rolled there for hours.
At the time I was the worst, Mr. Robert G. Williams(?), a brother of Phineas Pettigrew’s wife, was lying in the wagon next to ours who had cholera and died. I saw him breathe his last, but it did not alarm me at all as to my situation. I do not know as I thought of dying while I was sick. In the morning I was able to letter a head board of cedar that Brother Pettigrew had shaved out in great style for that purpose. There were five or six died of cholera in our company. As we passed along, the great number of new graves by the road side was astonishing. We met scattering remnants of companies going back as so many had died that the few who were left had turned back for home, thinking that they had got quite enough of gold hunting. Many of the bodies of the gentiles were dug up and eaten by the wolves which were most numerous in Platte country. There bones lay to bleach on the desert.
I shall not endeavor to give a very particular account of the journey across the plains but of any circumstances worthy of any note that might be interesting to my relatives. After I had the cholera we passed on the day after day and saw many graves of the California emigrants and many of our people who had started before us. Nothing of note occurred until we got near the South Fork of the Platte when one of the oxen of Brother A.P. Ramant that I had, lay down while travelling along and died in a few minutes. This left us in a bad situation as there were very few spare cattle in the company. For a few days Brother Ramant put on another yoke of his own oxen but soon found his load too heavy to spare any teams. The captain took a cow of Ethan Burrows that was able to work and let me have her to work with the other oxen for quite a long distance until we got to Scotts Bluffs where one night as I was guard, an ox came limping into camp. I took him and tied him up and in the morning examined him but could not see anything the matter with his foot, but he walked quite lame. Captain Evans told me to take him along to a trading post that was a short distance ahead and trade him for a cow or something that would help out for a team. I did so and got for the ox, a cow and put her into the yoke and worked her on for about three hundred miles when her feet got very sore and I put her into the loose herd. Brother Evans let me have a two year old heifer until we got to the Valley. The feet of all the cows got very bad. I used to throw mine and clean out the dirt and gravel and nail on sheet iron shoes. Those would stay on about a week when I would have to do the same again.
I had been told that vast herds of buffalo along the Platte were so numerous that the teams could hardly get along for them, but we did not see anything of the kind. Some few were seen along the road and one or two were killed, but they were very wild and hard to catch. We experienced some of the most terrible storms along the Platte that I had ever known in any country, but still we received no particular damage by them. Very few cattle died out of the company and the health of the people was good after we got away from the cholera, which was about two hundred miles from the Missouri River. We generally had peace in the company and very little difficulty or contentions between brethren as has in some instances occurred. After we passed the South Pass, as it was called, the captain told his company that if they felt like dancing to dance and enjoy themselves as he felt as though we were delivered from under the hands of our enemies, who would not have the power to abuse us as they had before done. Miranda and Mary were sick almost all the way through and required the attention of my wife most of the time, but Rosetta was a splendid hand to help on the way so that Jane had but very little to do but see to the children and take care of herself. The distribution of property on the plains this year was immense in consequence of the much sickness and so many starting out who did not know anything about what they needed on such a trip or how long they could got along best. I am speaking of the gentiles. Wagons, wagon iron, guns, chairs, beds, shirts, quilts, pants, tools of every description, kegs, barrels, etc., were strewn along in great abundance. I saw twelve rifle barrels in one place that had been broken and bent and the stocks knocked off to prevent the Mormons from being benefited by them.
We were just three months on our journey across the plains, a long tedious time of it as every one well knows who has crossed the plains with ox teams or hand carts as many have done. Our provisions held out well and our cows gave a little milk all the way and in short, we got along very well I suppose, but it was the hardest three months of my life. While we were on the Sweetwater, we met Anson Bell(?) and others who told us to take the new road that was called the Golden Pass. This turned out to be the Weber River from the mouth of Echo Canyon and over into Parley’s Canyon. What his object was in telling us to go that way I do not know, but the road was almost impassable, much worse than the other way, but notwithstanding, we got over and on the night of the 13th of September 1850 we came down Parley’s Canyon to the Valley, or near it and camped. I was wet to the hips as I had to lead the heifers on the load(?) and wade at every crossing, which were not a few. Late in the night after we had camped they got up a dance and those who felt like dancing joined in but I did not, but went to bed anxious for morning to come that I might see what was before me. In the morning I walked up the bluff on the bank of the mouth of the canyon to look about. The first thing I noticed was a good lot of snow on the mountains on the east side of the valley. I next began to look for Great Salt Lake City as I was told I could see it from that point. I discovered something at a distance of about one mile to the north that looked like a few low huts or cabins which I supposed must be the city or a portion of it. I saw a small part of Great Salt Lake and the islands in it which all looked barren and dreary and desolate and the whole view had the most lonely and isolated appearance that could be.
My feelings were very peculiar when I reflected for a moment on the condition of a handful of people here located at least a thousand miles from all civilized inhabitants in this isolated region of the Rocky Mountains, to sustain themselves, become an independent people I knew they had to do some work in those mountains. After pondering here for a while alone, I returned to camp. They were hitching up to start, some for the city and some went south and some west and scattered and I have never seen all of them since.
Father Williams and myself and some others went to the city. I found on going to the city that it was about six miles from where I took my first view of it, instead of one as I had supposed. As we went towards the town things began to look more cheering. We passed where Brigham was building a grist mill at the mouth of Parley’s Canyon. There were houses and gardens and to our astonishment all vegetation was green as ever, when two nights before in Parley’s Canyon, ice was near one inch thick in the morning. As we passed along we had to go through what was called the Big Field. On this field we saw corn and potatoes in abundance and some wheat that was not cut yet although it was the fourteenth of September. This encouraged us, seeing that things would grow here to sustain man and beast. When I had fairly got into the city, I looked upon the adobe buildings as merely temporary mud houses, they had built to answer till they could do better and when I was told that flour was ten cents a pound I thought surely a poor man must live on less than half rations.
When we got to the city I commenced my search for Samuel Alger an old acquaintance of ours. I was told he lived in such a house and went there and found a woman in the house. She could not speak English nor understand it, so of course I did not get any information of him. I returned to Brother Pettigrew’s where Father Williams and the rest had stopped. We took our cattle where they could get something to eat and began to walk about town hunting for a house that we could rent or a lot that we could get or employment, as we were all nearly out of provisions. In a few days I found a lot that I thought I could get and moved my wagon upon it and went to work on the public works for two dollars a day cash. This I thought would not support my little family, but I soon found it would, very comfortably. At this I was encouraged again.
I found very few of my old acquaintances in the city and those I did find seemed as cold as cucumbers and I did not trouble them much. In a short time I could not get the lot I was on, so inquired what course I should take to obtain one. I was informed that Heber C. Kimball was the one to apply to for lots, that I must put in my application to Thomas Bullock at the office and that Heber C. Kimball wanted some of us to come every Saturday and he gave the lots to each one as it seemed him good, and they paying one dollar and a half could have their lots. My lot was located where my house now stands. I did as I was told and a lot was set off to me in the nineteenth ward, lot four on block seventy-four in the new survey in the northwest sixty of the city. I was directed by Brother Bullock where to find it and on my way there I found Father Alger who told me where the lot was and I went and saw it and found it half covered with water. I saw by this that I was not going to be able to do anything with the lot that fall, if I ever did. When I was returning back to my wagon I found Peter Nebeker, who recognized me, although I did not know him. He inquired what I was going to do. I told him that it was a hard question. He offered me work all winter and to build me a house, etc. This I considered more like a friend than any I had met within the city. I took him up at his offer and went and removed my wagon over near his house and camped upon the very ground where my house now stands, although I did not think of building there for several years after that.
I went to work for Peter Nebeker shaving shingles for his house. This was hard work for me and brought on the cramps in my stomach which I had been subject to for many years, by which I suffered very much. While I was at work for Peter he inquired if I did not understand tending a saw mill and I told him I did and he said his brother John wished to employ such a man to go to North Mill Creek Canyon to work through the winter. I was soon looking after this job as I thought it to be a good chance to make my living until spring. A man not belonging to the church named Charles Snow had charge of the mill at the time. I saw him and agreed to go and made preparations according. A great storm of rain and snow came on which prevented us from going until it cleared off again. We got John Nebeker’s ox team, gathered what flour, meat and potatoes, cabbage, etc., I could get and set out for the canyon, twelve miles north of the city. The weather was very fine and all looked fair for to make a living, but still we, on leaving the city, both felt alike, sad and sorrowful for some cause unknown to us, and continued so till we got to the mill where we found Mr. Snow, who was so glad to see us come and so jovial and cheerful that it revived our spirits and finding the place much better than we expected, we felt better. When we arrived in North Mill Creek Canyon I was quite unwell and dare not eat anything more than a little bread soaked in water or a little broth, but when I had been there two weeks I felt much better and could eat as much as I pleased of any common food. Here we stayed through the winter and had everything we needed brought to our door and plenty of firewood and a tolerably good house. Toward spring Mr. Snow went to Laramie with the mail and I having sawed all the logs and had nothing to do became rather discontented and went to the city and rented a small room of Ellen Ludington in the Twelfth ward for four dollars per month and on the tenth day of March I hired Thomas Kneakes(?) to move us to town. The weather was very warm and pleasant and the roads dry and good.
This spring a company was called to go down and settle San Bernardino in Southern California and a good many of my acquaintances went there. Some of them I have never seen since. When we got back to Salt Lake City I went to work or rather went in partnership with Brother Isaac Decker at joiner work, stalking plows, repairing wagons, etc., and continued with him until toward fall. George was born in this room above mentioned, on the twentieth day of March 1851 and the next day I started for Tooele valley to get a cow as I had sent my two cows over there to Rich’s and Williams’ here the fall before. I was gone three days during which time I suffered extremely, having to travel twice more the distance that I expected and not having near enough to eat. When I returned home I found my folks doing very well. By the assistance of Brigham Young I obtained a lot in the twelfth ward and fenced it and rented a house near it, plowed it and planted it and made preparations for building a house and by mutual consent dissolved partnership with Father Decker and went back to tend the saw mill in North Mill Creek Canyon August 1, 1851.
I worked in the mill until the last of September when I was taken sick and lay there for two or three days in the old house which leaked so that I could not keep dry and I was not able to go out and get any wood and no one in five miles of me. On the third day Brother Davis came to my assistance and made a fire, administered to me and did all he could for my comfort and the next day I was taken to the city by Heber Kimball who left me a mile from home and that mile seemed to me like fifty, but I managed to get home. When I got home I thought sure I would have something done for me, but I was disappointed in this for I was worse and worse for sixteen days and nights, with a swelling in my throat and glands so that I could not eat and had a raging fever all the time. On the morning of the seventeenth day while my wife and Sister Utley were at breakfast I sat up in bed and thought I could live no longer, when suddenly my mouth and throat were full and I rose up when Sister Utley discovered that the gathering had broke. I came near strangling but finally got my breath. I then began to recover but found myself very weak and has been without sleep so long that I could not sleep when I had got free of pain. It was about two weeks before I could go to work at all and I gained strength very slowly. When I got able to work I commenced to build a house on the lot I had got and by the first of January 1852, we went into it and ceased to pay rent. This house was fourteen by twenty-four feet with two rooms and was very well finished off and comfortable.
I had set out a good many cottonwood trees along the street and in the lot about the house which stand there yet (1862) and are large trees and make a handsome shade although they are only cottonwoods.
In the spring of 1852 I went to work at gunsmithing and continued through the summer and did very well at that business. In the fall Brother George Tiffany came on from Iowa. I heard he was coming in a certain day and went out to the foot of the Little Mountain to meet them. It was late in the afternoon when they came down the mountain but I persuaded them to come on into town that night. It was night before we got to my house and totally dark. We could see nothing and had to feel our way through the streets till we found our house. Clymena Gibson who came on with Brother Newell came to my house and she with Brother Tiffany’s family lived with us until the twentieth of January 1853. Three months and twenty days, when they moved to Ogden city or to Brigham’s fort a little north of Ogden. Brother Tiffany and his family were most of them sick near all the time they stayed with us and being fourteen persons in a small room made it a little unpleasant but we passed the winter very well.