James Mason Hutchings, 1848-49
Transcription of the Atlantic Ocean and California Trail travel diary (Library of Congress MMC-1892) of artist, illustrator and future Yosemite National Park advocate James Mason Hutchings. In the diary Hutchings records crossing the Atlantic from Liverpool to New York City in 1848. In 1849 he left New Orleans by steamboat, bound for St. Joseph, Missouri, where he began his overland journey. Hutchings' 1854-55 diary of his travels in California and Oregon is transcribed here.
of a ramble--commenced May 19th, 1848
Having gone through the government ordeal (with 267 others) of "passing the doctor"--which was simply "Put out your tongue." "You'll do." your ticket stamped with the official seal, away you go.
One poor fellow who had friends going and who were very anxious that he should accompany them found to their dismay that owing to some disease in the face he was disqualified to go. His money was paid, and, whether from the happy chink of that bright gold, or assisted by the disappointed friends, the agent hit upon a happy idea to help himself and the unfortunate at the same time. Issuing from his office as he spake the words "follow me" the whole party were on their way to the government surgeon, all were full of eager expectations of what the agent would say--what persuasives he would use--and the amount of influence such a man could have with an officer of her majesty's government until they had nearly reached the door; when their attention was suddenly arrested by hearing the agent's hand fall upon the shoulder of some stranger, and at the same time heard him ask the question "Do you want to earn a shilling in five minutes?" "What to do?" "This man good, and yourself no harm." "Oh! yes, he should like constant employment at the same rate of pay." "Well, then, you take this paper to the government surgeon yonder, and get it stamped, and here's your money." "He'll ask you to put out your tongue; and, thinking that you are going to America will stamp it at once for you, but don't you see that we're afraid this man won't pass if he goes--you'll know how to act now, eh?" "Oh yes!" Soon the man came out laughing, and with the paper stamped in one hand he held out the other for the shilling, all parties seemed equally pleased and satisfied with the bargain and having no conscientious scruples over the piece of deception they went their way with brighter faces--no doubt congratulating themselves and each other how they had "cheated the doctor" in passing him by proxy.
Well, then here we all are all ages, all colors, of almost all climes and all tongues, one large family, all ready, in one large floating house of 900 tons burden and which is called the Gertrude. Captain Sherman, a good stout fatherly looking man, is to keep us all in order and see that Gertrude acts her part properly. There is something in the appearance of Captn. Sherman that seems to say to you "You may confide in me, with certainty. I will do my best for your comfort, safety and speedy passage. I know my business and shall attend to it. I shall bear my part well, and shall most certainly require yours which is small, to be borne equally well with mine. There must be no mistake, gentlemen. I know my responsibility and am well prepared for it--please look to yours and we shall have a creditable voyage."
Then next there is a good-natured pimple faced looking gentleman, that takes snuff and says "he's sure on it, yes as sure as that he is holding that box--that if that woman doesn't see to that child's arm and wash it well two or three times a day with tepid water, and at the same time herself, that the child's arm will mortify, and herself eaten up with disease." "And you old man must get plenty of" "What's the matter with ye"--if ye plaze sor I'm virry poor" "Ah I see--I see, pull off that shart, and throw it overboard immejiately" "And--go without, yer onor?" "go without, no, put on a clane won--d'ye hear now" (the man, shaking his head) "I have but one sir," "well, then, put that on, and get the other washed" "if ye plaze yer onor, the one I have on is it." This was a poser for the good little doctor, so he shook his head, took another pinch of snuff, and went ashore to spend the night.
Next was the mate, Mr. Drake, who if he were as cross and distempered at home as he seemed on board ship his dear little duck would (if like some other ducks) prefer his swimming away at a distance. A business man though--and with the idea too that he knew something--and would soon let you see as much which you easily might, for all of it lay outside on the surface as he very soon proved. Mr. Button the second mate looks as though he would say "I should like to catch you at it, you don't put me about, I know, I've been to sea before, ha ha!" He reminds me of the question once put to Mursill of Leicester--"What do you think, Mr. Mursill of Dr. Murch of Stepney College?" "Think of him--why--if he could stand as a spectator, when the world is on fire, with his arms folded he would unmoved say, 'What a fire'."
Our crew numbered 22 and inclusive of the officers 25. We have been "going to sail tomorrow" now nearly a week; "no one allowed to sleep aboard" until this the 18th and now all are required to be ready as we may sail tonight or first thing tomorrow morning. Full of hope every day until "hope deferred maketh the heart sick" we all seemed willing and prepared to "wait a little longer." With hope newly revived we congratulated each other upon the prospect and retired to our new lodgings--"aboard ship."
Then here am I ensconced in a "state room"--second cabin at four pounds fifteen shillings. This state room is just 6 feet square with two berths on one side of it and is intended to "accommodate" four persons but happily for me there are only three of us and neither of the three are at all Falstaffian proportioned; or, two persons sleeping in just three feet of room would certainly be rather too closely "accommodated."
In one corner there is our barrel of toasted bread--upon that stands our box of sundries such as biscuits, butter, lard, flour, tea, coffee, sugar, raisins, pickles, &c. &c. round the side hang saucepan, frying pan, plates, tin mugs, tea pots, spoons, with all other such utensils as connoisseur cooking requires. Three qts. of water being allowed per man--or rather per head--above fourteen years of age and fearing lest I might have some left sometimes I have like others a tin bottle to hold 3 gallons. Then under the lowest berth are stowed trunks and boxes until it is quite full.
It is bedtime, and I and my companion Walter Millard "turn in" or rather upon an American moss bed--not to sleep, until some weary hours have been counted round--oh no!--such sounds no mortal ear like mine had ever been provokingly entertained with before--children crying--a fiddle half played by a hand like its owner, three "halves" drunk-- a drunken voice attempting to catch its notes, but always about three notes behind, and sometimes quite out of hearing altogether, the head having gone accidentally to sleep--cursing, swearing, talking in almost all the living languages (and for that night I wished them all dead languages, knowing that if such had been the favorable nature of the case, they would soon have grown tired of talking them).
Now I was just dozing in this Babel, when a louder voice would ask, "What o'clock is it?"--and twenty would inform the inquirer by way of answering his question that it was quite time he was abed and asleep. Then I was as wide awake as ever--listening to a chorus of snoring musicians until I believe I was either charmed by their notes to sleep or had been very nigh to that fairyland, when another voice near me exclaimed--"I can't sleep while those in that corner snore so--just shake 'em--will you--somebody--" "Hold your noise," shouts another--"and thus we passed the merry time" till nature, tired out, demands some respite and I joined the sleepers (if not the snorers also) . . . "Dear dear, whatever is the matter yonder in the steerage" asks my companion. I listen--"murder--murder--oh you rob me--you want moi moonie--help--help--ow moine pax--moine pax--moi moonie--help--him brooke moine hand--ow--ow-help--hoad him for me--owe I've kum, far moine [illegible]."
I was soon dressed and in search of a policeman--but then, as at many other times I found him only after a long and earnest search--and when again on board what did I expect to see but a man half drenched in blood and an arm or two broken? but no! oh no! yet I saw by the glare of the policeman's lamp a tall bony man with a very dark scowling face--red passion-lighted eyes, long crooked nose, half-horseshoe-shaped whiskers, and long mustache--habited in a small cap that reached his eyebrows, and a large long coat that reached the middle of his shins--with hand erected that only wanted a knife, and that knife would have been reeking with the blood of some supposed or real enemy. He called upon God to witness what he would do, and in broken English (for he was a Prussian jew, just imported) wished us to understand that God would justify the act. The policeman and I now went below and from what we could gather some man had passed him in the dark and had caught his coat against the jew's, and he being asleep on a very large box was awake--when he instantly took hold of the man by the throat and would have strangled him but for the man's wrenching away his hand by main force. No box or aught else seemed in any way injured. This great mountain being in labor brought forth a mouse.
At length morning came and found me in my berth fast asleep--and there I stayed until nearly eight o'clock. "Hurrah"--"hurrah" cry several voices. "The ship is moving." I was soon up to see it and soon busy in "lashing boxes." Now don't many of the dullest faces suddenly become bright--and as suddenly turn dull again, as I supposed at the thought of leaving "old home."
Hurrah--the dock gates are opened and by 12 o'clock we are being "towed" into the middle of the Mersey--the anchor is "dropped" and all inquire what is the matter. 3 o'clock comes and all are ordered on the quarterdeck, and there we are kept for about an hour while the ship is searched--one and another is brought out amid much mirth until you can count 15. Some without provisions, bedding or clothing more than they wore--others had made every provision for the voyage but paying for it, and all seemed in that unenviable state of mind called "looking down their noses." The waves seemed to toss the small boat in which they sat as if in remonstrance or mirth. I thought they said, "Come ashore" "do" "do come ashore" "I'll help you, if you'll come ashore."
At half past seven p.m. the pilot calls in a stentorian voice "heave"--mate says "heave" all the crew are there--the cable chunks--she's coming--up, up, up. "Betsy is a pretty gal hey ho! hey"--is the sailors' song while heaving--"She's up sir" is the cry--"Set the mainsail"--"foresail"--"flying jib"--"forestaysail," then the maintop and so on until sails are set and away we go, gently, gently; now faster; now pilot says "five knots" "hurrah!" is again shouted by some [illegible] near me--
All are not thus engaged, looking how sails are set, or how the noble ship furrows her way through the living water--what care they if the water be green or blue--fresh or salt, it is enough for their pained thoughts, to feel that they are distant far from those they love and every gentle breeze bears them still farther on, on: and that soon, very soon, Night will hide entirely that white kerchief that is still seen waving, but which distance makes yet much smaller, and the dear hand that waves it entirely out of sight. What a noble ship--but oh how cruel thus to separate those who love so much--away she still goes, on, on, careless alike of the heavy hearts she is bearing away as of those she has left behind. Now mothers are giving way to tears, and lady loves welcome the provision that nature has made for easing the sorrowing spirit--oh what so soothing, so comforting to the tight-heaving bosom--the agonizing heart, as a tear? How soon those living transparent gushings distill as gentle rain upon the parched earth or as dew--morning dew revives and cheers the withering flower! What heart can resist its influence, or deny its soothing power. There are times when the fevered brain, the frowning brow, the restless eye show feelings too intense for tears--yet, oh--let this soft messenger but once steal down the cheek, and although the first reaction leave a livid paleness there, that ease with patience may restore the mind and take away the deadly venom from the sting those partings plant in many hearts. And if repeated visits of memory's images bring and leave the painful tears will be still a balm for all those wounds--and like good friends in times of trial help to bear what cannot be removed.
Sterner hearts were there that must have said "goodbye" for if the features are an index to those deeper feelings of the soul--"goodbye" was plain engraved upon that earnest, steadfast eye and fixedness of look and attitude--"goodbye" was the deep drawn sigh, the quivering lip and oppressed breathing. What would a tear be worth to one of these? But no, the manly spirit--burdened as it was--would bear it--and willingly too--it was the burden of the thing--the one thing it loved and what could it--what would it not bear for her--"goodbye" was indeed responded although the tongue said it not--nor the hand waved it, or the tear-filled eye wept it--'twas too deep engraved upon the heart for oral expression or either of nature's friendly interpositions--it would bear it--alone--yes, alone--leave me alone would have been the response--the only response the spirit could have given.
Yonder too in happy contrast children are at play--"they know not of 'bear' nor his twin brother 'time'--those remorseless twins that are forever striding through their human forests, notching as they go--" They feel not the pang of separation now--oh no--yet, yonder little fellow weeps because he sees his mother weep--Now I was half inclined to join their gambols--could I like them forget I might have selfishly obtruded my ill-timed and unwelcome sportiveness upon the serious scene--then I wished myself a child--a momentary thought--yet did I not envy them--that I could not do--nor did I wish to probe those wounds that separation gave, by unfeeling levity--so I looked at those good wives who seemed to look upon the whole as a business transaction and who were already not only prepared but doing their part to "raise the funds" or save the funds--their private ones--by knitting stockings, repairing linen & etceteras--whether they thought that I was learning the mysteries of housewifery or the art of every man his own milliner and washerwoman I couldn't tell but they looked at me and I exchanged them. The utility of such things might have been some reason for my taking lessons, and being in the unenvied state called bachelor I have had occasional need of such exercises--but my own thoughts led me to the ship side where with my head upon my hands and my elbow upon the bulwarks I continued gazing at the last objects of fatherland--nor can I describe the thoughts that lingeringly clung to these objects as though there were a charm in them as belonging to that land wherein those I loved still lived--and I was home. There but dimly seen, and every moment grew much smaller. It could not longer be borne hearts still oppressed were beating by the bulwarks of that ship, "and yet they looked for home or friends until great nature's curtain--night--dropped gently down" and closed the scene.
Now the lighthouses and lightships were looked for, and talked over as objects of importance. I think it was a general attempt to cheat ourselves one and all into forgetfulness--of home. But all the endearing recollections that flock around that dear word "Home"--as if to protect it from profane intrusion--would not admit of so unworthy and frequently inhuman guest as "Forgetfulness"--not even for a brief season of respite for the generous and selfish paradox--ease.
Away we sail, on, on--passed the lightship and can see the light at the Isle of Man. Tired out I go below, to sleep, after the partial repetition of last night's entertainment--again awoke with--"Stop that noise there--I can't sleep while you make that noise, you card players--d'ye hear--eh--you yonder--aye hear hear . . ." By such a question often put, we are most of us wide awake again to wish that the noisy owner of that voice was asleep--right fast--Now mothers were singing their lullaby to their frightened and crying children, and several disposed for quarreling--as most people are when unnecessarily awakened from a sound sleep--made sleep at a premium--and about an hour after I drew mine, and slept until ½ past 5 o'clock on the morning of
This morning introduces us to sea customs, such as washing on deck--cooking our provender. Not much of the latter work done, for the vessel beginning to heave makes us feel giddy and seasick. "See yonder" exclaims a voice and away you look in the direction pointed, and see some two or three holding their head with one hand and themselves as steady as possible--under the circumstances--with the other--while the backs of all rise and fall alternately--engaged in a violent and summary process of ejectment. "You saw Mr. so-and-so just now pointing in derision at those who were sick"--yes--"Now see him"--I begin to feel very queer myself--I'm afraid it's catching--oh--d e a r--oh--hee, hee--"What are you sick Mr. H."--ye--hee, hee, hee--yes, a little--sir--"Well now (says our round-faced doctor)--"Take and bind something tight round your head, and go to your berth, and turn in, upon your back--upon yer back mind"--thank you sir, I'll do so--"Be sure you take nothing on your stomach." I thought this quite an unnecessary caution as I couldn't have done it for a large premium--and as I could take nothing except advice I took that and a few minutes after found myself in the prescribed position. Somebody is for a different exercise your nose finds out--why it's bacon--or something very fat--you exclaim--well, then there is consolation to know that all are not seasick--hee, hee.
Presently I felt a little better and went on deck--but now people were as poorly as I had been, in all directions. Retailing the doctor's advice to all I saw, I took a view of the Welsh mountains in the distance and a bird's eye view of some villages near the coast and then thinking it a very fine night (--in one way of viewing it though only, as I was no better than I wished to be). The setting sun reflected upon the water and upon the distant hills had a fine effect--yet, below deck it seemed cloudy enough in several senses.
Many were still very ill--many more were as noisy as ever. Others were in momentary expectation of a change in their stomach's affairs--and I, poor I, getting better of seasickness grew as suddenly sleepy--part from exhaustion, and the other half from being a pretty sound sleeper in general.
Many sick--some singing songs--one fiddler made many dancers--oh what a fearful way of spending the hours of a Christian sabbath--that too surrounded on all sides with danger, I looked over the bulwarks and enjoyed my own religious thoughts--still being sickly inclined I could enjoy but little. After dinner time the captain fetched out an armful of tracts and handbills which were soon distributed--some were soon read and pocketed to resume dancing--others gratefully received and as diligently read them. In evening the Wicklow Mountains attract partial attention. Dancing and singing is kept up until quite dark, on deck--and is renewed below.
I felt something must be done to end this on the Sabbath.
Thus ended a very fine day.
Still in sight of the Irish coast. Saw a fishing smack which engaged to be "the post" for our worthy surgeon's letter. Weather still fine. A fresh face was seen about, the owner of which had contrived to stow himself away; some said in a sailor's chest--but he said that he was aloft while the search was made, and at night hid himself below. The mate soon ordered him to work and he satisfying his hunger first--"turned to" with eagerness for an hour or two--soon grew tired, and continued--lazy.
May 23rd.What a bracing morning--makes you hold your hat tightly and look out at the same time for something to cling to, as a preventative of downfall--hey there goes Mr._____ he says it's very slippy, and so it is, but then this high wind while it dashes our noble ship through the water at the rate of 9 knots. It makes some feel giddy and some seasick. Few can "walk the plank" today although many try it for sport and amusement.
Some of us having grown tolerably well we consulted together how we might ensure a comfortable and healthy voyage so far as good rules strictly kept could ensure such a very desirable end. A public meeting was called and poor I had to officiate as chairman. Having stated how desirable a blessing was health and that comforts might be enjoyed by all, if we attended well to a few simple rules--several expressed a great desire for proper rules and offered their services in the general cause--
At the close of this meeting three of us were chosen to draw up some rules. Having discharged this duty, another public meeting was convened--at which our worthy doctor presided--who by the influence of his position and the judiciousness of his remarks made a great effect upon the meeting, while the following rules were proposed, seconded and passed
That two persons rise every morning in their turn to clean the stove, light the fire and carry coals. Rise at half past 5 o'clock, and all to be finished by seven o'clock.
That every person in health be up at half past six o'clock, every berth to be cleaned & all filth and slops thrown overboard, every morning by half past seven o'clock.
That no person be allowed to make any offensive filth--or to wash any clothing whatever below--
That every person retire to rest every night at ten o'clock, to prevent all annoyance to others.
That should anyone be taken ill of any contagious disease, he or she shall be removed to a separate apartment, to prevent its further progress; and be provided with attendance, and all other comforts; that may ensure their safe and speedy recovery. To defray the expenses of which a public subscription shall be entered into among the passengers as the case may need.
That two persons be chosen weekly by ballot at public meeting from the second cabin, and two from the steerage, to superintend the foregoing resolutions.
That should any person be found guilty of violating any of these resolutions, the officers chosen shall have the power to stop their allowance of water for one day, and for every offense shall daily repeat the same.
It is also requested by the surgeon that every person abstain from eating meat once or twice every week, to prevent scurvy, etcetera. And every person is requested to assist the officers in the discharge of their duty--that we may under the blessing of God be kept from sickness during the voyage.
Signed on board the ship Gertrude
May 23rd, 1848
David Sands Sherman, captain
Robert Stronge M.D., surgeon
This day the sun has been very hot, with [a] light breeze.
Wind almost a dead calm, sun hot. Cries of "here's a sail, making towards us" every body capable of locomotion found its way to the ship side and eagerly awaited its coming alongside. As I was rather more venturesome than some others, I climbed over the side and stood on the "main chain," a position I afterward found of some responsibility, for being outside and near to the after cabin and the sail in question proving to be a fishing smack from Kinsale, county of Cork with some fish on board for sale, I bought a large one for 1/- for myself and companion. This brought me many requests to buy others for friends and strangers and as I could refuse no one that gave me the 1/- I became general bargainer and bought all they had; except a large cod which the captain bought, for a bucket of pork. These poor fishermen had been out 6 days--had eaten all their bread and as we had indulged in generous sentiments the day preceding, I proposed a bread subscription which was most heartily responded to, and the poor men had as much as they needed. Now a new thought came through the skull of some white [sic], and was conveyed throughout the ship as quick as by telegraph--that these fishermen would post letters--"Will you wait," cried one, "while I write a note home"--"yes"--"who's for writing home"--"who's for sending"--presently several appeared with letters daubed and blotched--they, most of them, had a small amount of patience in the general excitement, for the thought of writing home seemed to make some of these letter writers frantic with joy and incapable of doing it so that rather than be disappointed they wrote some, and some were tried to be written, which turned out to be a something not decipherable. We made a parcel of them, including half a crown to pay them for their trouble. This departed, and left us to our thoughts of home, and to our fate upon the seas and retiring for the night we all slept tolerably well and awoke in health on the morning of
Our eyes fairly opened, and the seawater ablutions attended to, "a sail ho" was espied and as quickly published down the three hatchways--those who were dressing, and those still in bed were alike anxious to see this sight and for a few minutes we remained in doubt as to whether they had taken lessons from the sailors upon the art of quick dressing. She proved to be the Wallace of Glasgow in ballast to St. Johns, New Brunswick for timber. During the day we spoke [to] the Brittania sailing ship, bound for Liverpool. Still in sight of Cape Clear, Ireland and becalmed.
About 5 o'clock p.m. a fresh breeze springing up we commenced sailing about five knots per hour. Evening cool. Day hot.
May 26thThere seemed a contest as to who should be the best tempered, for the wind carrying us at the rate of 8 knots per hour caused the shortest of faces and the longest of tongues and all good humored. This I dare not omit as it was not always the case. We didn't care though the tongues were even longer and went as fast as Rip Van Winkle's wife's tongue so that unlike hers they were good-humored. There was some Mrs. Green, a very near neighbor of ours that always seemed unhappy except her tongue was cutting away most of the comforts of her submissive spouse; and yet this same lady was not heard to indulge in her usual & amiable exercise of tantalization, on this morning. Even during the process of "giving out the water" (which generally commenced at eight o'clock and was finished by ten, or a few minutes after) few complained, as nearly the whole of them, wishing to see with their own eyes the rumored speed, had struck a bargain with themselves to forgo the indulgence of the bed for the gratification of seeing a sight that had never been seen by them before--so that the officers had to contract their usual report of rule second having been violated by--so and so &c. &c. &c. &c.
Even here I must be a faithful historian of events and say this was a case to be recorded as not having occurred before. The usual morning's entertainment of "giving out the water" commenced (as before said) at 8 o'clock when the carpenter, with the key of the lower hatchway, and someone of the passengers with the pump, and another with the measures, would descend when our water secretary Mr. Mousley would announce that Terry O. Gorman was entitled to 6 quarts of water there being two in family--Denis Quinn 3 qts.--Mich. Swatz 9 qts.--Mr. Buckler--oh, his water is stopped this morning for his wife not rising at the proper time--give him 3 qts. instead of 6 qts. Then there was an outcry--and a complaining--and a threat by a meager-visaged man of about 35 years of age, with as small a body as his mind could and did prove an excellent match for. "Hulloa down there"--"well, what is the matter"--"why you've stopped my water; and I shan't have it stopped"--"but it is stopped." "Oh! I should like to know who stopped it. I'd soon let 'em know"--"well then what are you going to let us know? It was I that stopped your water?"--"then I'll mark you"--"oh"--"yes I will--what right had you to stop our water?" "Right! you know that your wife violated rule second--being in bed at half-past six this morning." "I don't care, you shan't stop her water"--now there is a general laugh--and he adopts the last resort, of going to the captain to complain. The captain hears his tale, and the way of telling it, and then advises him to assist rather than complain of the officers--also, that "he cannot interfere as there is no doubt but that they will be quite just--it is for the health of your wife and you that the officers take the trouble to interfere with you or anyone else--I would rise in time myself if I were you and ask my wife to do the same, then you will not have your water kept back from you." He shakes his head--threatens the officer--which by the bye was about the same proportion in strength as a man of 26 or 30 with a boy of about 12 years of age, and the officer being that man. It blows over, and some of the most unpronounceable names are called out as near as possible as can appear like the right one--what laughing--what punning is here, until someone else had his water stopped for not rising in time to light the fire. This woman for washing and hanging clothes below to dry. Now Mrs. Buckler would come to help this poor female fellow sufferer attack the officers--this exchange of sympathy served woman-like in helping the oppressed, but like many other appeals of the same nature in different places ended in mere w i n d. Glad when the last water was served would be each and all, except the disappointed--these of course were generally ill-tempered and almost speechless the whole of the day.
"A pig overboard"--"a pig overboard." "Where? where?" "On the starboard side." A rush of lookers out were on the bulwarks, and those that came from below after the alarm, finding themselves too late to have a place, were content to look at the water where the pig had been, and at the pig that was saved, after the others had taken the first place, and the first sight. There, down by the ship side was little Mr. Pig with his mouth open and his throat closed--he didn't so much as speak one grunt--but, piglike he swam against the current and took the same way as the big ship--his piglike, contrary nature saved his bacon for had he gone with the current, while it would have been the easiest swimming it would have been the hardest living for if he had put to sea he might have run the risk of dying for want of bread, and having too much water, or drowning for want of a boat and he being unaccustomed to swimming far without one.
One of the sailors, however, descending a rope took the pig out of the sea, and whether from ingratitude or fatigue, or fear, he didn't so much as thank his deliverer--with a single grunt or squeak--not one.
Wind a dead calm--what rocking backward and forward larboard to starboard! Landsmen would have pitied us, for when we were making the pudding--which was a better one, the rocking obliged us to hold the basin with one pair of hands and borrow another pair to stir it--to put it in another basin--to tie it over--and, after it was properly boiled we had to cling to a pillar with the left overs and hold our tin plate in the hand belonging to it, and feed ourselves very awkwardly with the other. Unexpectedly down went the sugar pot--smash! (our boxes in front of our berth formed our table) one would catch at a plate, and miss the dish, and down went meat and potatoes (the pudding was in a departing state and was very properly in good hands or stomachs and was saved). Of course when we saw these good creatures of God lying prostrate at our feet we stood erect and looked at them in sheer surprise. At last we took courage and lifted them upon the table-box and thus for their own value and our loss's sake we delivered them from destruction--at least destruction in that way although with great loss. Today also were given out the ship stores consisting of oat and pea meal mixed, and hard biscuit exceedingly coarse and made chiefly of coarse wheat and pea flour. Everybody complained--some remonstrated but it amounted to "we cannot help it. If you don't like it you are not obliged to have it." As some did not like the breadstuff in the first place, and the answer in the second place they cursed the "givers out" and left it, for their own eating; if they had made choice of it wanted such trash for their own use. I took mine intending to give it away to some of the poorest Irishmen but it was with difficulty I could even give it away, until their own grew short. However they made the oatmeal and their own dissatisfaction into cakes and both were digested.
May 28th--Sunday.How many thrilling associations of days--sabbath days spent happily--and I trust in some measure usefully at home with friends beloved--crowd themselves in painful contrast with my present condition. Here, at sea, without even the outward symbols of a Christian sabbath; most of the passengers are in their week's accumulated filth--some are gathered round Dennis Quinn who is tuning his fiddle. Others are busily making their oatmeal into cakes, and every place at the cooking stove and steerage fireplace is full; someone telling tales and alternately singing, and yet no song of Zion rises on high. Is there then I thought no Christian on board? Is there not "two or three gathered together" for a blessing, oh no. How my conscience reproved me for my cowardice, and false bashfulness. The wind was quite calm, we did not move onward one mile, this joined reproof to admonition, and my lack of spiritual, vigorous life in the soul urged me to look around. I had seen one or two looking serious, we had spoken to each other about the welfare and health of the whole company but had not as yet even alluded to religious subjects. The thought of the last sabbath day's immorality and the sight of one with a book decided me to try to raise a public service for God's honor. I accosted the man with the book but found him too much ashamed to engage with anyone for such a purpose. I tried again by asking another if he thought there were any Christian professors on board. He thought there were--there surely is some. I asked him if he could inform me of any whom he knew, and who would join in holding a public service. Well, he said, I profess to be a Methodist but there seems nobody who would hold a service. I said that if we could enlist another or two to sing that I would read a chapter if he would give out a hymn and engage in prayer. He agreed to engage in prayer if I would give out a hymn--I consented--but we yet wanted someone to set a tune; I applied to one that I had heard humming a tune to "Grace 'Tis a Charming Sound" he very willingly complied and about half-past eleven we commenced. What a novelty--what a relief--some who could sing joined us, and we had a tolerable choir. After the hymn I read one psalm--the 107 and Sixth of Matthew. Then Mr. Walstan (for that was his name) fulfilled his part of the engagement and prayed most fervently and suitably for us--there on the sea amidst dangers seen and unseen. For courage to the timid and acceptance for all, that God would give the winds and the waves charge concerning us--both for the just and the unjust--but more especially for the careless, that their lives might be spared and their hearts changed, with many other suitable subjects for the time and place. I gave out another hymn, and after that was sung I wished Mr. W. to speak a few words but he refused and wished me to do so; I could not refuse, so I address a few words, on the day as belonging unto God, the uncertainty of life, and the unfitness of the sinner to lose it. The care of God over his creatures, and the power of that God, who held the mind in his fist and yet stooped to superintend and watch over his creatures, exceeding even a father's care; and concluded with an appeal to the claims in full of gratitude for every creature's life to be devoted to God's service--we again sung and I closed with prayer. It was a season of benefit and enjoyment to my own soul, and I hope and pray that it may win some erring and wayward sinner to the cross of Jesus and bless and renew the spiritual life of each of us who have professed to love Him.
When this was over, I was pleased to see several of the Irish Catholics reading together in turn and aloud. There was a discontinuance also of the fiddle. This was as source of much encouragement. Afternoon the wind rose quite afresh and carried us at the rate of ten knots.
Evening we held another short service, but it was very cold and we had not so large a congregation as in the morning--some were sick with the heaving of the ship.
May 29thA very fine day for pleasure but not for sailing, until evening when it blew afresh and we were making 7 knots.
This morning I commenced making two benches for the quarterdeck, the carpenter occasionally assisting. This was indeed a treat to me once again to handle the bench planes.
Anything that has the least claim to change is welcomed at sea. The captain was surprised to see me working at my trade, and wonderingly inquired if I were a mechanic.
May 30thThis morning there is a brisk headwind that forces us to change our course a point or two south. Several vessels are seen near the horizon--some approached us, but not near enough to speak [with] us. What an interesting proof that the world is round is the fact that the smallest royal on a topgallant sail is seen before the mainsail, and the hull seen last although of the largest bulk. Now an entirely new subject of interest is opened to us--to us landlubbers and freshwater sailors (as most of us have been).
Cries of "Oh!" "Oh!" Oh!" brings us all on deck to see the cause of this wonder. "Oh, what are those?" "Why porpoises to be sure." "Porpoises" is ejaculated and borne from the one end of the ship unto the other, "Where?" cries another, "Yonder." In the green briny waves great numbers from four to 8 feet long were seen sporting up and down, and darting athwart the ship's course, just under her bows. The sea was rather rough, and while the white top'd waves were curling and foaming it seemed to be the time of amusement for the porpoises, as though they were just let out of school and were determined to show it by playing at leapfrog one over the other--dashing through this wave and over that. Their appearance I thought was much like a pack of foxhounds just emerging from cover; only. These differed in color from the hounds. They have a very rapid speed and their sharp pig-like noses seem designed for cleaving their way through the watery world. I was not a little amused to see them breathe through a round hole just above the eyes and in the center of the forehead--whale-like they threw up a small mist of water; and dash along at the same time. For two hundred yards on both sides [of] the ship they were to be seen.
May 31stA most splendid morning--just the morning for working--and I worked at benches--others worked at cooking, others knitting, some at sewing, most at looking on and eating. Yet there was a working mania--except with the ship, and she did very little, and that little very badly from unfavorable wind.
Even the spray that is lashing over the larboard bows, and making the steerage fire hiss and look gloomy--is laughed at--"case whoy" ('cos why). It spoils both the dinner and the fire and sends the male and female cooks away dripping with salt water. Those too who sat (as they thought, secure) on yonder water casks, rush from their sitting amid a shower of spray--and shake their coats as boys do when they emerge from water.
Towards evening everyone complains how very cold it is, and go--to stay--below. Many too are seasick.
June 2ndThe wind though not so strong is favorable, and what it lost in strength is made up (in one sense) by its intensity; for it is most bitter cold, and soon brings out the secret as to where the overcoats are kept. You see but few on deck. Now too brings out inventive genius, for old Father Time has hung some leaden weights upon the hours, and taken them off the clock. There is card playing and quarreling. There is recitation and singing. There is talking and laughing, and snoring and gaping. There is reading and feeding, and all sorts of joking with all kinds of complainings; and those that are unable to do either lounge about the doorway on the front of their berth--while the rest "turn in" and listen, or sleep.
The doctor too has omitted to send the "chloride of lime" round today; but, not to take snuff. The former was needed when the weather was warm to keep out the fever--the latter is used to warm and to tickle now the weather is cold; and, I suppose to keep clear the head when the heat is intense, for needed or not it always is taken--that is by the doctor and one other--the Jew.
Today found our toasted bread going moldy and cut out the bad to save the good. It was a serious case for the staff of life to fail at sea; but having a good stock the loss was not so grave as the first sight made it appear.
We found our flour and biscuit very good and then deemed it prudent to exchange some of our bread for rice--and this latter article was the one relished most.
July [sic] 3rdThis morning and a good breeze came in together, the wind having failed at midnight. Sea was rather high and made some of us reel, but I was tolerably well, and finished the benches for [the] quarterdeck.
Grumbling day this ought to have been headed, as being the day for giving out meal and biscuit. The officers refused to weigh out such trash, but being persuaded for the sake of peace, they resumed their duties of "giving out."
The captain sent me some of their own sea biscuit & promised some flour. He also fetched me a bundle of New York newspapers which pleased and astonished me. The Sun was published at one cent (or one halfpenny English). The advertisements were to me very amusing--being so abrupt and pithy and beneficial as informing me of trade and tradesmen--I found carpenters were advertised for, and board to be obtained at $2¼ and upward per week.
July [sic] 4th SundaySunday always possesses a charm and interest to me if I can engage in religious worship--and while "times past" would visit my memory, and paint the happy seasons I enjoyed, while passing to the villages of Shively and Kings Norton, either to preach, or to teach in in the sabbath school, I was frequently sad at the recollection. How indeed are those privileged who (like the Jews of old) can sit under their own vine and fig tree at home; or, engaged in some sphere of usefulness and carrying the grapes of the heavenly Eschol to the guilty and the dying and telling them what God hath done for their soul; and thus in their lives show forth the fruits of the heavenly Canaan--having been to the cross and received them from the hand of Jesus. As on the past sabbath so today I took my sabbath-school Bible and from the capstan as my pulpit I addressed the people on the voyage of life--who are sailing, what kind of company met with, the kinds of entertainment, and the ports gained were some of the topics spoken on. Afternoon held a prayer meeting but the wind being rough and cold there were but few who attended--and as we had a lack of brethren to engage we continued it but about three-quarters of an hour.
The Welsh too today had the courage to hold a service also, below.
Wind rose very high and the waves dashed the spray over the larboard bows, very much. It increased in coldness also.
July [sic] 5thWind cold and rough--another sight of porpoises. Several stormy petrels, and "Mother Carey's chickens" came hovering round us. These being new to us of course caused many questions to be asked of the seamen.
On every rough day I spend much time upon the bulwarks looking at the white spray rising up and rolling out. Sometimes on a green sometimes blue and sometimes on a purple ground--the various forms and colors assumed were to me very interesting.
About three p.m. the wind blew in gusts and that so suddenly that one of our stunsail booms was broken--and the others being hauled in quickly were saved.
July [sic] 6thThe weather wet and cold, many crowded the cookery and being ill-tempered rose a quarrel between two women.
How great an influence the weather seems to exert upon the spirits and temper of most people--few today were good tempered. The card players sitting just in front of our berth (being about the best lighted and most airy of any part of the ship) annoyed me very much and as they were in the way of persons going up the hatchway I wished them to move which (after a few sour looks) they did. I spent most of my time below reading. The captain having inquired for me I went to him when he said "as you are a minister!!! Mr. Hutchings perhaps you would feel interested in reading the life of a good and useful minister." I thanked him and accepted his kind offer--but informed him that I was not a minister, although I sometimes felt anxious for and addressed my fellow sinners upon religious subjects. He replied that having been one of my hearers he thought doubtless that I was usually engaged in such an exercise and hoped I should continue to do so and devote much of my attention to it, adding that he was much pleased to see me thus engaged. The book he lent me was "The Life of David Sands," a Quaker who had evidently spent much of his time in traveling and preaching--and who had been a very useful man.
We are supposed to be on the banks of Newfoundland. The breeze has quickened and having passed a small ship with considerable speed and at some hazard a watch is placed on the forecastle and the ship bell struck both night and day.
About eleven o'clock a.m. one of the most heart-rending scenes that I ever witnessed presented itself. I had just taken my position upon the bulwarks looking out at another shoal of porpoises when the soul-thrilling cry of fire! fire! fire! was cried from all quarters of the ship--where, where, I eagerly inquired. The steerage, the steerage--the answer and the question alike unheeded by me I sprung upon the workbench and commenced cutting away the fire buckets from beneath the boats--down they fell one by one, some caught in falling, others were picked up in a moment: All being cut down and in the hands of someone or other, a voice calling out Mr. H.--Mr. H.--Yes sir--I rushed to where the voice proceeded [from] and found the captain looking pale, but firmly standing on the quarterdeck and as firmly giving his orders--Mr. H. will you please to send every woman and child upon the quarterdeck? Yes sir--I of course ran upon my mission, and the scene presented made me almost powerless either to run or speak. The dear children clinging to their mothers as their most certain place of refuge. The mothers frantic with fear some were wringing their hands, others holding and pressing their children to their bosom, others exclaiming oh! oh! what, what shall we do? what shall we do? Agonizing despair was deeply engraved in almost every countenance. (Many of the men were not less overcome, and as vacantly stared in any direction, running first one way and then the opposite one, finally clung to the ropes on the bulwarks as though they had in despair resigned themselves to fate.)
Some, rushing naturally to the cabin doorway, were crying out my dear child--my dear wife--oh we shall all be burnt--oh where can we go--what shall we do. The captain's strong voice was heard above the general confusion, "Women, come up here."
After I had sought all out and told them to go upon the quarterdeck, I went aft also and there the sight of many in despair and tears filled me with a thrilling shiver and I involuntarily felt--God alone can save--and prayed God to save so many souls from the jaws of death.
Eager joy lighted afresh the eyes still wet with tears and while that joy was sparkling in the eyes shone forth like jewels set in dew. 'Twas also playing on the cheek--Despair's deep creases gave place to Hope's round dimples, and where the stormy shadows of Danger before had lowered beaming was now the sunny calm of a cloudless sky.
To others--who while the danger was at its topmost height were manfully fighting with the enemy, and knew no timid or fearful feelings, these, the bravest stoutest hearts were melted down--a respite came to their exertions and they looked back upon the fire as upon a conquered foe, and when they saw the danger to which they, with others, were exposed and saw deliverance there their hearts were filled with gratitude spontaneous and while their limbs were trembling the eyes were filled with tears they fought but in vain to repress their emotions. Thus is it with human nature's noble-hearted and undaunted sons.
Now we had time to inquire how the fire was caused and were soon informed that the sailors in obedience to the captain's orders had taken a bucket full of tar and a red hot iron below to smoke the steerage and second cabin for cleansing the air and fumigating the berths, as well as to compel many to go on deck who would otherwise not have gone there until they were at the end of the voyage. As these were thus engaged in seeking to promote the health and save the lives of all, how soon were those lives periled by the bucket of fiery tar being upset and which commenced running among the boxes and under the berths--but which was purely accidental. This plan was never afterward pursued throughout the voyage. Forgoing the benefit to prevent the danger--although it would have been a most sanitary mode of purifying the unwholesome air--breathed and rebreathed by 268 living beings.
This is a day to be remembered with unmingled gratitude to God who thus interposed and saved us. How truly fearful must be a fire at sea, where all hopes of flight are cut off--death from drowning or from fire being the only fearful alternative.
Mr. H. Russell has most graphically delineated such a scene in
The Ship on Fire
Hark! what was that? Hark, hark is the shout,--
Fire! Then a tramp--and a rout,--
And an uproar of voices arose in the air,
And the mother knelt down,--when the half-spoken pray'r
That she offered to God in her agony wild
Was, Father have mercy--look down on my child:
She flew to her husband, she clung to his side,
Oh, there was her refuge whatever might betide.
Fire! Fire! it was raging above and below,
There were eyes full of tears and hearts filled with woe
The cheeks of the sailors grew pale at the sight
And their eyes glisten'd wild in the glare of the light
'Twas vain o'er the ravage the water to drip,--
The pitiless flame was the lord of the ship
The smoke in thick wreaths mounted higher and higher,
Oh! God! it is fearful to perish by fire;
Alone with destruction--alone on the sea,--
Great Father of mercy, our hope is in thee!
Sad at heart and resigned, yet undaunted and brave,
They lowered out the boat--a mere speck on the wave.
First entered the mother enfolding her child;
It knew she caressed it--looked upward, and smiled.
Cold,--cold was the night as they drifted away;
And mistily dawned o'er the pathway the day
They prayed for the light and at noontide about,
The sun o'er the waters shone joyously out;
Ho! a sail! Ho! a sail! cried the man on the lee;
Ho! a sail! Each eagerly turned their eyes o'er the sea.
They see us! They see us!--the signal is waved,
They bear down upon us!--thank God we are saved.
-----------"Now friends let us all go and have a bath" was my cry--"I say first thing, a bath." We accompanied Mr. Levi to his friends in Walker St. where there was a bath but as we were going we were all thirsty and had a glass each of "raspberry soda water"--this was delicious--
Almost 5 o'clock p.m. we saw the upspouting of the sea and soon after a large "black fin whale" came within about one hundred yards of the ship, in company with several "black fish" and a shoal of porpoises. This sight was a great treat to us. The whale swam with his back only out of the water and the "black fish" did the same. I concluded that they were young whales, but was informed by the mate that they were of a very different kind--they seemed about the proportion of a herring to a full grown salmon.
June 7thThe weather still very cold and foggy--was more like drizzling rain than fog. Sounded and found 25 fathoms water. This was done by several of the sailors standing at different distances outside the bulwarks--the one on the ship's bows holding a lead weight about 16 inches long and 2 inches in diameter--hollow at the bottom to receive grease; that, falling on the sand or stones below, might tell what kind of bottom as well as how deep the water--attached to this weight was a cord about the thickness of sash line--each of the other sailors held the cord, while the first or second mate had the outermost position. The captain cried "heave"--"heave" cried the mate, and soon the man on the bows threw the lead a short distance from the ship. The mate cried "bottom"--"at 25 fathoms." Before sunset the fog was very thick and we were sailing about 5 or 5½ knots. The ship bell constantly ringing her signals to other ships.
June 8thWeather cold, and fog breaking up--still sailing five knots. Everybody complaining of the cold, it was not the most pleasant season we have had. This morning I was standing on the forecastle--the fog falling as thick as small rain, and so intense as to prevent one seeing more than 80 or 100 yards before us--when the watch call'd out "starboard the helm" I saw a large smack lying at anchor fishing, I looked with almost breathless anxiety, as it was just straight in our course--a few moments relieved me, for we just passed it although exceeding close.
Had the man at the helm misunderstood the signal we should most certainly have run her down and risked the lives of those on board her. How important is one word in times of danger! indeed at all times.
June 9thLeft the fog entirely behind us. Here doubtless the clouds receive some of their rich treasures to carry them to water the earth. We saw the thick fog-like clouds, after we had passed them and they seemed rolled up both top and bottom--or their edges turned inward.
Wind very favorable and sailing 9 knots--sometimes 10. Saw another large shoal of porpoises and black-fish. In the distance too we saw another whale throwing up the water with breathing. Wind still very cold.
June 10thThe wind has changed right ahead of us, and yet by "tacking about" we sailed at the rate of 8 knots, and made (the captain kindly informed me) about 5 knots.
Now the spray was dashing over the bows most furiously--putting out [the] steerage fire, making the washerwomen run, and those who generally lounged about the galley fire were glad to shift their quarters and smoke their pipes elsewhere. This was a great blessing to those who wanted to cook their ham and boil their "taters"--to bake heavy bread for light stomachs--or to make oatmeal "stirabout" of water and pea-meal chiefly. Dear me, what an important affair this cooking is on board ship--it seemed to me like a Sunday in old Brumagen [Birmingham] among the working (as well as other) classes--not only the whole of the time taken up but all the native genius that can be brought together purposely to concoct something nice, and cheap too, and that also to be done from "the small stove, laid in ashore" and when the palate was in a sort of "land-taste," never dreaming that the sea most likely would change it.
Everybody seemed to be always cooking or preparing and that was the chief thought and occupation yes and amusement too. Some brought flour and nothing to lighten it--indeed all the cake and bread makers and bakers had plenty of receipts for making light bread--but none of them--not one--had ever tried them before and they proved useless now. The hard biscuit was hard for the teeth as well the taste while to eat it was denominated "hard cheese." So now they would have made cakes or aught else that wasn't biscuit but there was another evil in the way for they had neither lard or butter to spare. They would have stirred it with milk, but "there was the rub"--they lacked the cow! So that most of the cakes were made of oat and pea-meal mixed, and which was given them by the ship--as these dried they generally cracked, and here again they were not to be defeated for after making up the cake they cut it into quarters and then baked it.
We were highly favored as our toasted bread was a first-rate treat, and having flour, sugar, lard, butter, currants and raisins, and what was a greater treat to us than all we had rice we fared tolerably well; but yet how we longed for some new bread. We agreed with the ship's cook for the voyage, at 5/- each the three in our state room. Having spent much time in conversation with the captain and doctor, and being invited to sit with them occasionally when the steward knew how badly we longed for new bread, he kindly offered to make us a loaf if we would bring our flour. This we were glad to accept--and very soon found ourselves in possession of a loaf; but, as we had invariably invited one another to share in any little treat, our loaf was soon worn out, and we applied for another to be made--and another. If we saw any of our circle of "state rooms" with anything nice, or that our appetite would take, if they did not invite we did that part ourselves, by asking the possessor "did you call?" Whenever one wanted to make a pudding and lacked any ingredient--it was soon offered by the other--knowing that it would become general property when ready for eating. This state of feeling smoothed the solitary ruggedness of sea life very considerably. By the bye sometimes when eating we had to cling to the pillar with one arm; and, holding our tin plate in that hand fed ourselves with the other, and frequently we had to put our dinner or tea things on the floor to save a more dangerous descent.
Lorne Brookes drop'd the main hatch-head on Mr. James' head who was standing just underneath at the time talking to us. His head was badly cut in front and he was stunned with the blow. With the doctor's attentions he was soon dressed and put to bed.
June 11th SundayBrought us a most splendid morning--how beautiful for contemplation!--yet how soon is it interrupted with the hum of voices and the dashing of water on the decks scrubbing and singing succeeded the stillness of sunrise and quiet--cooking followed. Giving out the water too was one of the necessary nuisances of sabbath mornings.
This day too is Whitsunday--all those who could raise a change of diet did so. Knowing it to be Whitsunday we had united our ingredients and made a very large family pudding purposely for it--and very nice it was.
Before dinner held service--well attended. Afternoon the captain gave out more tracts and handbills.
About 3 o'clock p.m. the wind changed very favorable and we sailed on briskly. At times we were tossed about rather more than the comfort and ease of our upper story approved of. But that was "nothin'."
June 12thFound that the wind--like false favor--had taken another turn and was now dead ahead against us. Yet what a lovely morning--soon I was in bed with a little seasickness; and was very much annoyed with two young men turning to for fighting just in front of our berth--there being more room there. Soon a crowd gathered round, some were for parting--others cried "now Cochlan" well done Brooks and this Brooks was one of our officers; it was soon over, and Cochlan put in irons. It arose out of cooking.
This fight seemed introductory to another [one] of the gentle sex, both women wanting and persisting in having the same place on the cooking store. This was soon over but not so soon the conversational gossip concerning it.
There is a strong wind against us now and every appearance of a rough night. Bargained with the ship carpenter that in case of a storm he would come and call me to see it.
June 13thHave slept tolerably well--carpenter didn't call, the night not bringing a storm. Wind still "ahead" and rough and the sea still high.
Mr. Brown lost his pocketbook--offered £5 reward and we unitedly made every inquiry and search but without success.
Evening nearly the whole company below--as the heaving of the ship and cold atmosphere were uninviting to the timid and the seasick--this was the roughest sea we have had. Several of us were standing to windward, looking at the angry foaming of the "great deep"--the heaving and lurching of the gallant ship still dashing undauntedly through the boiling brine--the heavy surge topping over our bulwarks near the larboard bows, we were infinitely amused at the pranks played upon innocent visitors of that locality. We laughed and soon were caught by a heavy wave breaking just over us,--some run and were part drowned. I put down my head beneath the bulwarks and escaped the bulk and received the fragments. One Welsh youth ran and slip'd down--and in falling broke his leg. I instantly rushed to his assistance--not knowing of the accident when I found the poor fellow couldn't stand. Holding him up until assistance came, we conveyed him to his berth. The doctor requesting me to assist in setting it--and the captain wishing to see it, came to hold the light. Sitting down on a box he pulled me on his knee at the same time telling me not to fear sitting down as he could bear me, and would hold me as tight as wax--while I held the splinters [splints] &c. Of course it was me who did it and we proceeded to the end; when the youth being put back in his berth; it was finished to the satisfaction of all parties.
June 14thThis morning Mr. Millard is again seasick and obliged to keep his bed--poor fellow he has not been free the whole of the voyage from a sickly feeling, and violent headaches.
When the "fire-lighters" were just about beginning their morning duties--they were surprised by finding a half-formed infant lying in the grate. How this indecent exhibition was placed there, and who was the mother were alike the theme of conversation and conjecture; but without discovering the unfortunate.
One of the steerage passengers is reported to the dangerously ill and wished to see me; of course I visited him immediately and there met the surgeon who informed me that his disease was dysentery--that he had come aboard with little provisions and had most willingly worked to assist the sailors in cleaning the decks in a morning, when they in return for his help and from sympathy for his condition had given him pieces of salt beef and pork. This was too much for a stomach having had about two years training to the hard fare school--Ireland--upon one pint of cornmeal per day--and thus brought on this disease. Accordingly he being in a very unclean and neglected condition we sought to carry out "rule five" and appointed two persons to superintend his comfort--engaged a woman at 2/- for the first day and 1/6 per day after--to watch and tend him--bought him a blanket, coverlet, sheet, pair of trousers, &c. Carpenter constructed him a separate berth upon the steerage hatchway. After all these things had been attended to we made a collection according to "rule five" and realized the sum of £1 3/10.
Evening I again visited him and found him worse, and on conversing a few moments with him perceived his mind exceedingly dark upon religious subjects.
Night, wind still high, cold and ahead of us.
June 15thWind quite calm--fog thickly upon us, and everything and everybody dull. This morning I shaved the poor old man--after which I requested him to be washed hands, arms and neck which were still dirty. Held a short conversation with him when he had sufficiently recovered [from] the fatigue of washing--but oh--how dark--dark as midnight upon eternal subjects.
About 7 o'clock p.m. a vessel passed almost close to us, but we could not discern her name for the fog.
At nine o'clock fog cleared off and left us a very fine evening.
June 16thI left my hard moss bed between three and four o'clock and climbing to the end of the "topgallant yard" I sat looking out among the twilight and the clouds for the sun's uprising. The sea was smooth and the sky clear, except where the streaks of light were shooting up among a group of golden-tinted clouds near the horizon. The hues of which were from deep chocolate to white, interweaved not only with nearly every color but every shading that those colors threw upon each other. At last up rose the sun. His giant crest was sparkling with the pearly mists of morning's exhalation from the briny treasury. The clouds rolled backward as if preparing for his welcome visits to a needy world. The sea with gentle ripples seemed playing with brightest diamonds, where the glorious sun threw out a broad path of light athwart her slumbering breast; and all were clothed in rosy dress.
Oh who could witness this glorious scene without feeling emotions of delight and gratitude to their great Author. Now wonder why the poor Hindoos and Brahmins should worship this the most glorious of created things, in the absence of divine and revealed light. My soul was melted into awe while it drank in the deep sublimity and my heart filled with thankfulness when I thought of its great work of goodness through the world.
The sun was very hot--today the wind & sea calm--evening a light breeze sprung up from southeast--and carried us about 3½ knots. Visited sick man twice.
June 17thArose early to see the sun rise but was disappointed by a cloudy sky. The day however was hot--the thermometer standing at 90 degrees.
This was another day of trial to poor old Swatz for some person not more honest than needy helped themselves to an old coat and two sovereigns--so that the cry this time was not "moin bax" but "moin coat" "moin mooneys" " tiefd"--
Again visited the poor old man and after tending to his natural wants I urged upon him the need of a savior in such a season to comfort as well as to pardon him. He began to tell me of a dream he had had in which "he had seen a man with a book, who called to him, and told him to wait until he came." I urged him to place no trust in dreams but to believe in Christ as he had no doubt need of Christ. He replied, "Oh yes I've read about him--I'm a Protestant"--but--have you believed in Him, and trusted in Him as able and willing to save you; I inquired. Looking me full in the face--after a long pause, he said--"I'm waiting for the man with the book"--and who do you think the man with the book is--I questioned--"I don't know; but, he told me to wait" and what do you expect he will do for you--"Well, I can't tell, but I suppose he had something for me by telling me to wait." I earnestly desired him to dismiss such a thought, and believe now on Jesus--who died to save sinners, and asked him if he was one--he replied "I am--I am"--well then I said you are on the very edge of eternity--and the doctor has told you that you will not be able to recover--if you don't believe in Christ now, without trifling any more of such previous time away you will--you must be, lost--lost--forever--lost--oh, think of it--think of it--and fly now to Christ.
I left him to his own thoughts.
June 18th, SundayA heavy fog; which cleared off about twelve o'clock.
I was exceedingly pained to learn that the two who had taken the lead in our singing had been swearing and using filthy language. We had no one else to set a tune and we fear that if we began public worship these would come uninvited, again to sing: and in consequence bring disgrace upon the cause. We therefore decided not to hold one but to read to ourselves--or meditate as we felt disposed. About half-past three the captain beckoned me--when I went up to him he inquired if we were not going to have public worship. I acquainted him with the circumstances and he commended us for the course we had taken. It seemed almost a pity--I partly reproved myself for allowing so good an opportunity to pass away unimproved, for when the fog had cleared off it was very warm and everyone was required on deck that the airing of the berths below might be the more complete--and the airing of the body and lungs above might be more healthy. The hatchway steps were removed to prevent anyone going below for several hours. So that this was a temptation and a strong one too to take my own feelings in preference to our united decision, but I did not give way to it. In evening we had a large family group, reading all round from our Bibles, and each one selecting their own chapter. After which we united in singing several hymns but this was soon abruptly terminated--by the presence of one of the swearers amongst us.
June 19thWas foggy--and fine--and hot. Evening we saw the English emigrant ship California returning from New York having disembarked her living cargo.
But we did not speak her.
Sick man still growing worse. His mind still dark and unchanged. My earnest prayer is that God help him.
June 20thOur rice being out and there being none provided for the passengers by the agents we had made up our minds to do without, when the good little doctor accosted me "did I hear you say that your rice was gone"--yes sir--"ah! I thought I did, and there is none provided except for the sick--but hear me now, Mr. H.--there is none allowed except for the sick"--I believe not sir, and more's the pity--"That you're not sick, was you going to say now, that you might get a little, ha! ha!! ha!!!"--no sir I [would] rather be excused the sickness, and lose the rice"--Ha ha--but hear me now (whispering) you shall be one of my patients and I'll soon get you some rice--eh? ha, ha, ha" I thank you sir; I think though that one of your pills would do me some good--"Ha! ha! very good, very good, ha! ha! ha!!"--My bag was soon stocked with rice but I didn't get the pill--having taken one or two a few days before.
We have a fresh breeze and a cool one this morning. The sea was rather rough and our feelings not very smooth--for between light seasickness and excitement one was almost giddy. Those who have been but thirty days upon the sea having but comparatively little change either in divertissement or provender may judge with what eager anticipation every hour is passed and with what delight the smallest sign is recognized that bears the welcome news of drawing near to land. The imagination pictures in vivid colors all the hoped for and longed after changes that will soon greet us--above all--most of all that guided every penciling of my own mind--and the very climax of my luxurious wishes, was a bath. Even the new bread and fresh butter--the fresh mutton and green peas--the raspberry and strawberry tarts--were second only to a bath. I felt almost the gentle splash, and the warm genial glow of its invigorating influence already upon me. In the dim and hazy distance a small dark speck was seen that someone said was a "pilot boat"--a pilot boat, is that do you think sir, I inquired of the mate--ye-ye-yes, I think it is. A few minutes convinced us that it was a real "pilot boat."
"A pilot boat" was shouted down the hatchway--and oh what a scramble--the breakfast crockery was left to the tender mercies of the heaving ship and restless sea and they being careless if not contemptible of crockery ware--broke them, spilt the tin plates--and hissing frying pans, upon the floor and gently slided the sugar pots, teapots, salt and butter into one heap among the crocks. Then there was a scramble back again to catch them--but alas they returned only to find "the wreck of matter and the crush of" pots!!
But what a splendid sight was that little messenger the "pilot boat." Had she have been the ugliest craft afloat we should have been unanimous in her praise. But she was the prettiest speediest merriest, prancingest lightest built little swimmer that we had seen. Now she was up on the wave--now down in the furrow--now she is on our starboard bows--now on our larboard stern--far behind us--and is as soon up with us again. Now she launches out her boat and sends it off with a pilot for us--hurrah, hurrah!! Soon the boat is at our side, the ship is stopped by turning the yards and the impatient sea is dashing that small boat against our large ship--and attempting to pitch her small living cargo overboard--ha! ah! but they're used to it, and are not going to be served so--oh dear no! The yards are again turned and away we go, seven knots an hour, "soon be there now" cries one--"oh yes" says another as he winks his eye aye yai says a sailor and bursts out singing about the lass that is the fairest etcetera, all seem happy by this change. "The pilot has brought American news Mr. H." says the doctor "would you like to see it"--very much sir. In possession of the news and only having one I had to be "a reader" for the general entertainment. One paragraph first caught my eye and renewed the imaginative feeling--"4000 baskets of strawberries at four cents per basket." How my mouth watered for but one good cabbage leaf full; but, I had to "wait a little longer"--oh what disappointments--or rather enjoyment delayed. You may as well look for the post boy at sea as any trifle you didn't provide ashore before sailing.
Ours must be a good sailing ship too for we have just passed the Cambria (brig) that sailed four days before us from Liverpool--spoke her.
We are now in hopes that we shall be able to carry our poor sick man ashore. He seems a little better tonight--the doctor has given him a slight stimulus, perhaps the appearance of improvement is deceptive--
June 21stI awoke with the first rays of morning and climbed the rigging to see the sun rise. I had just time enough to look around me for land, and to my great joy
The sun as it arose shone brightly upon the green sea and didn't neglect to shine out gloriously upon the glass windows on the shore;
I prepared a testimonial for our worthy surgeon (who contemplates settling in America) which is as follows.
"We the passengers on board the ship Gertrude--bound from Liverpool to New York--beg leave to present you with our most cordial and grateful thanks, for your continuous, courteous and skillful attention to the comfort and health of every passenger.
"In thus acknowledging your many and efficient services, we feel that we are but discharging a debt of obligation which our hearts spontaneously tell us that we owe to you (under the blessing of an ever kind and watchful Providence) for preserving the health and lives of 268 passengers and 26 of the ship's company.
"We therefore beg you to accept our thanks, and with kindest wishes and fervent prayers for your welfare and happiness--the only return we can make you--we remain yours, sincerely--Here followed a long list of names headed by Capt. Sherman.
"(To Mr. Robt. Stronge, M.D., surgeon to the passenger ship Gertrude)"
June 21st, 1848About 7 o'clock p.m. we saw the black smoke of one of the English mail steamships, rising up near the horizon on our larboard side. We thought of those we had left behind and then wondered if any letters would be awaiting us at the New York post office.
At 9 o'clock p.m. we dropped anchor being just outside of Sandy Hook and in sight of the green hills of America and without the least breeze perceptible to any of us, the sails hanging loose and motionless.
Again visited the old man and found him almost in the arms of Death. He told me he was very ill and thought that he was near his end. I thought so too. I still felt anxious to know his spiritual safety--but all that he would say was that he was very thankful to me for so much kindness and should never be able to repay me. If I would pray for him he should be glad, I entreated him, while the spark of life yet lingered with him to believe in and himself pray to Jesus the friend and the savior of sinners himself. He requested me to write to his wife. I promised him I would--prayed for him, and left him. About ½ past 10 p.m. the man who attended him came to say he wished to see me, but when we went to him he was dying and lay with his eyes partly closed until about 11 o'clock p.m.--and then ceased his breathing forever. Solemn thought.
We had hoped that the peaceful repose of a comfortable bed in a dwelling house on land would have saved him--but alas he was too far gone for medical skill or kind attentions to recover him. This is another instance of murder by the hand of poverty--oh cruel, merciless poverty will no one arrest and punish, yea destroy thee? Yes--Him whose hand formed Man, will judge thee in him, that puerile selfish tyrant that caused thy being, and by his own acts made himself rich by making others poor. Oh blessed consolation "there is a God that judgeth uprightly" and the cry of the poor entereth the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.
The captain and surgeon were immediately informed, who consulted together with a few passengers; and, as the poor old man had neither relatives to receive him, or money to bury him, and, that if he were kept but one day--the sun being very warm--he might prove contagious; it was agreed to bury him in the sea, at 3 o'clock the following morning. As everyone wished me to officiate in the solemn duties of Christian burial I consented to perform those duties on condition that I be permitted to omit part of the burial service of the Church of England and substitute scripture--or that I take the whole service as generally attended to by dissenters--reading from scripture, address, and prayer. It was left entirely to my choice--and, as I could not conscientiously read the whole--and many of the passengers being Church of England--I decided to take part of the service appointed to be used at sea from [the] book of common prayer--and introduce part of the dissenter's plan of burial. I then went forward and saw the seamen take the body and wrap it up in the bed linen and blankets used by the deceased, putting several large pieces of coal at the feet--and sewing up the whole with yarn, then laying it on a plank left it for the night.
June 22ndA few minutes before three o'clock this morning I heard a gentle knocking at our door--then the mate's voice assured me it was time to rise to attend the duties of my engagement on deck. When I was dressed, he called aloud to those who wished to see the funeral, to make haste. Many were taken by surprise, not knowing that the poor old man was dead--but a goodly number knowing of it had informed others and in the cool sea air came to witness the ceremony. While the plank was being attached to a pulley at one end, and the other placed in the midship larboard bulwark--one after the other came stealing half-dressed up the hatchway until we were entirely surrounded. There we stood in the soft moonlight and beneath the twinkling stars, surrounded by stillness deeper than the grave--not a breeze or sound was stirring--indeed the sea (as if conscious of the solemn act) might have been called "the dead"--it was calm, clear and still. This solemn stillness was broken by my commencing to read the service for the burial of the dead at sea. I finished, and another stillness, deep as the former, ensued for a few moments, when the plank was raised
Presently rose up the sun--crowned with a wreath of many-colored clouds which gave as many colors to the mirrored sea. With that sun's rising commenced the usual duties of the morning. The decks were washed, the stove cleaned, the fires lighted, the cooking and face washing begun, [
Now all the choice eatables of high value--that have been hoarded throughout and part spoiled--became common property in the general market at this the close of life's dealings on shipboard! given away!! this currant and raspberry jam--those fine pickles--with all the etceteras of connoisseur selection!!! now useless. A general sale of sundries is also among the orders of the day--Mothers bargaining with bachelors for their stock of earthenware, spoons, tin plates and cooking utensils. Those who undertook the duties of the scullery were presented with the whole stock of some of us. Look over the ship sides and you see boxes, barrels, beds (with considerable livestock [i.e., bedbugs, fleas and lice]) all floating down the river, from our ship--a general clear-out. Time speeds on--the anchor has been weighed these 2 hours and we are yet, but very slowly, sailing.
"Here comes a steamer! Here comes a steamer!! is the cry. It is pointing towards us," says a second. "No doubt the owners have sent it to fetch us" cries a third--"he coarse not" cries a third--"that's allos left wee the captin"--On, on she comes--dashing through the water with such ease--"Ain't she a foine steamer, Joe."--"Aye" replies Joe, "she's a stunner for sailin'--if we'd had sich a one, why we should ha bin here in less than no time--doan't you think so Bill?"
Sh-sh----sh----is bourne along from aft to forward. "Cap'n ahoy"--"aye sir"--"want a tug sir"--"what do you ask"--"seventy dollars"--Captain shakes his head--"well, then, if you like I'll take you up for $65 or I'll take you to quarantine for $45"--"too much" says Captain--a pause ensues--"Well, cap'n, how is't to be"--"I'll give you $50"--"can't take it"--"I don't mind adding five" says Captain. "Can't take it"--"then I'll go up without, if it takes me a week to get there"--another pause''--"Well, cap'n, I'll take you up for 60"--"No" says Captain--"can't do it less, nohow" says tug. "Can't give it." Away speeds the Ajax steam tug, and all on board watch her as she sails with such ease and speed up towards that city their own eyes wish to see--and their thermometer of feeling falls twenty degrees in one minute--Captain looks, and in each face reads, Disappointment. "I'm very sorry Mr. H.--but, he asks too much"--we are all very sorry I replied--we will raise the difference between you, among ourselves Captain. I'll give a dollar says one--I'll give a shilling cries several. "Aye but you see he is gone now"--and walked back to the farther corner of [the] quarterdeck. The pilot waves his hat--the doctor waves his--and the captain of "tug" is seen to recognize it. They're coming, they're coming, cries some with almost frantic joy. Thank you Captain--how much shall we have to raise asked two or three in a breath--"oh, nothing" says Captain. "Ask Mr. H. to step this way" soon Mr. H. was with him, when he said, "Mr. H. I want you to do me the favor of seeing that all are properly cleaned, that we may have no difficulty in passing the doctor, when we arrive at quarantine ground" with pleasure with the reply; when proceeding on my mission I was informed that "there would be nothing to pay as the captain had said so"--I requested all to clean themselves from head to foot; and, presently you might have seen some bleeding ears from stiff, high and dry shirt collars. In a short time everyone was cleaned--and ready to pass the doctor, with happy as well as with clean faces. I informed the captain of the fact, he laughed, and thanked me. I was now informed by the gentleman himself that he saw how much we were all disappointed and couldn't think of allowing any of us to pay aught towards the "tug," as he would be as pleased as we should [be] to arrive there, and that he had felt exceedingly obliged to us for keeping everything in good order the whole of the voyage. On behalf of the passengers I thanked him for the "tug."
The tug Ajax is alongside. "How tempting those green peas look" and everybody is for having green peas the first thing ashore. Next kidney beans--then some were for the peas and all for beans.
What a beautiful bay--what a beautiful river. There we are sailing on it after a voyage of 33 days--across the "wide Atlantic." Thanks, how many--and how sincere does the heart spontaneously offer up to Him who hath "held the winds in his fist" and restrained the violence of fire--here! and in safety too--oh who can refrain singing the anthem of the Psalmist "Bless the Lord, oh my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name." I have been afraid lest the scenes around us at sea should make my mind less tender in its affectionate outgoings after God; for there is a hardening influence in sea life that makes me less susceptible to holy and grateful thoughts as we daily witness the sublime wonders and fearful dangers of the wide, wide sea. Things transpire one day after the other, and so much alike, that there is a danger of being hardened as we look on them with the "matters of course" kind of feeling.
The sloping sides of the river's bank, with its groves of trees, its gaily painted wooden houses--light stone colored sides and green--grass green--blinds and doors--from the smallest "shanty" to the merchant's noble edifice (they have no noblemen, as we understand that term in Europe) all and each united make an excellent landscape for the artist--especially after a similar voyage. The trees to us looked greener--the hills more verdant, the houses more gaily painted, after so long a period shut up to all things except "the blue above" and the blue, purple and green "below." But nevertheless, the bay and river entrance to New York is the finest I have seen for beauty and extent. We have arrived at quarantine. "Look at the Marine Hospital"--"here come the government officers"--"no"--"yes"--"This is the doctor" were the various exclamations. Presently everyone was ordered on deck and aft of the main hatchway two men--one of whom (if not both) was a surgeon. Now we have to march "forward"--"one by one"--"put out your tongue"--"you'll do." Those that looked unwell were remanded for further examination. After we had all passed by out of 286--11 were detained and sent to the hospital--although singular enough but two of those were in any respect unwell the whole of the voyage. It was moreover the cause of considerable disappointment and expense, as husband and wife and friend from friend were separated, who were bound for the "far West" in company, and who would have to wait a week or perhaps a fortnight for each other. Our worthy and good-natured doctor was rather excited and threatened to have them--the doctors--exposed. He would write to the papers &c. but with the feeling went the resolve and both died before they reached the public--through the press.
All is bustle--here we go again. "There is the Battery," there in the distance is the object of our hopes--the city. Now Ajax--well done, here we are at anchor on the East River side of New York--"hurrah"--"hurrah"--"thank God." "Who's going ashore"--"may we go ashore"--"No"--"Yes" cried a multitude of voices. "Have you any biscuits to sell"--this question was put by some lean speculators in that commodity who had come aboard and offered ten cents for half a bushel of biscuits--but they were not worth that only for the New York "scavengers" (the street cleaners proper being called "collectors"). Now a host of boarding house keepers called "bunners" were thrusting cards and asking for residents "temporary or permanent." Steamboat "lads" were inviting those for the "far West" to come to their particular office "who would deal honestly with them, and that was saying a great deal." "Cherries, who says cherries?" All those who had any half-pence bought a bunch. I was disappointed to find that an old "English penny" would pass but for one cent. So I roguishly went to a "next-door neighbor" to get change for it, and then told him of the trick, then shared our cherries. "Cakes, cakes"--"any cakes wanted"--there were numbers of buyers for everything that came (as any, and everything was fresh). I am for going ashore said our "neighbor's" party--and we all said so, and in five minutes we had engaged a boat and were on the "row"--"row" to shore. Here we are once again on "terra firma." My heart from its deepest gratitude thanked God.
At last we reached the baths--"The Knickerbocker Baths" "Bowery" There we laved our limbs and trunk--not omitting the head, in a pleasant warm bath--how delicious the "banquet"--how invigorating the exercise--clean linen--a good dinner and a bath, we all thought the three best things ashore.
As the afternoon was advancing we thought it prudent to "look out" for "lodgings" as we were now horseless--and in a land of strangers we succeeded and slept at 274 Pearl St. I forgot to say that we were in time for tea, where we took lodgings. We had some very "thin" tea--cakes--meat--butter--bread and broiled apples for that meal and being too tired to walk about the street we retired very early to rest.
June 23rdWe arose early and breakfasted by seven o'clock, at which meal there was hot beefsteak, sausages, cakes, bread & butter, tea & coffee. At breakfast Mr. Mousley who "slept" in the room above us had informed us that he killed during the night 17 bugs. Mr. Millard & I who slept in the room below came off without the encounter with a single one--but we agreed to "move our quarters."
Our first business took us to the ship--lying at the foot of Wall St. where we found considerable activity in the removal of trunks, boxes &c. Old Swatz was in a strange way, having lost his dog. He next gave us to understand that he had drowned that before the burial of the old man. Here of course there was a general salutation and inquiry as to how we had fared since the day before--what we thought of New York--with interrogative etceteras sufficient to tire old "Rip Van Winkle's" wife's tongue and old Van's patience to answer; so we took the ferry to Brooklyn, just opposite New York. There we were pleased with the avenues of trees (as in some of the streets of N.Y.) growing on both sides [of] the street--which shaded us very agreeably from a pretty warm sun. After a while we recrossed the river and we visited the ship.
I had scarcely entered when Mrs. Cook (one of our neighbors) came up to me with an agonized expression of countenance and said, "Mr. Hutchings, do you know anything of Mr. Mather? (one of the three in our "state room") "No--that is, no more than what I have seen of him on board ship--why?" "This morning he sand Sarah (one of the daughters about seventeen) went into the city and were to return one hour afterwards and have not come yet. I'm afraid they're gone off somewhere together." I endeavored to assure her that all things being new that they would see, had no doubt enticed them to loiter about the city longer than intended and would soon come--or perhaps had missed their way."
This did not seem to satisfy her--I saw the struggling emotions of her motherly bosom--and inquired--"can I do anything for you or her?" She said, her eyes filled with tears, "Oh I should be so glad if you would seek them--and if you find her, under any circumstances, take charge of her. I am her mother--and my heart is full--I am anxious concerning her--I fear she might be entrapped by some villain--oh, do take charge of her and I will repay you any expense." "Well, Mrs. Cook, as you wish--I will take charge of her--I will act as would a brother towards her, for your sake, and especially as you have such confidence in me." "Oh, Mr. H., although I have known you but since we came on board, I could trust you with anything and everything I have--I shall feel more comfortable now you have promised to take care of her--and please send her on as soon as you can." I promised, and commenced looking for her. A few minutes before the sailing of the North River boats for Albany she and Mather entered the "slip" (or pier). I soon acquainted her with her mother's anxiety and we commenced looking for her friends without success--when I found that the last boat for that evening had sailed, I informed her of her mother's wishes when she instantly took my arm and kept pretty closely to me. I commenced a search for a boarding house without so many of the chocolate-colored night-runners [bedbugs]--and found good accommodation at the "Franklin Hotel."
June 24thAfter a good night's rest and a good breakfast we went down to the "morning boat pier" and having paid her fare and lent her money for the other conveyances and provisions to Rochester the boat sailed--and which we hoped would reach Albany or Troy in time to meet her parents. We revisited the ship--Old Swatz had lost his daughter, wife and luggage. The daughter, Mr. Banker and one part of the luggage taking one dray--the wife and remainder of [the] luggage another dray--and he losing both. All were very busy getting out their luggage--and all greeted us with the same hearty cordiality as though we had been old friends, who, after a long absence had met at last. Thus is it with us in a strange city--no kind friend to meet and greet us, though every street tells us that hundreds have such friends and welcome them within our hearing--but we have none, so, after a 33 days companionship we are "old friends" in a new country.
Judging that our new lodging would suit us we took a room at $3 per week and hauled our luggage to it. That is three dollars for board and lodging. Here we had every luxury that the season offered in fruit and vegetables, sweet cakes, meat &c. &c. for tea. Now, having good lodgings and plenty of time on our hands we took to "treating the eyes" but all the things or any of them it would be impossible to describe. The Yankees have ways and sayings so different to the English. They drive their horses to the "right side" we to the left. They call a dray "a cart," a cart a ____ (I forget), a cab "a coach," a coach "a carriage." They respond to your inquiries, that, to such a street it is so many "blocks." The street sweepers are called "collectors" and the hogs "scavengers," and if there were half as many collectors as there are scavengers no city would be so clean as that of New York. Many of the streets have "lime" and "sycamore" trees growing on either side of the streets and which are refreshing by the broad shade they cast on a hot day in June. The shops too are more tastefully fitted up within but in no way equaling the English without--these are called "stores," such as a "dry goods store" (drapers)--a hardware store. I see no public buildings of any note--the "city hall" is the principal and is situated in "the park" where there is several good promenades for the citizens; in the middle of which is a fountain, but which seldom is playing. There is another promenade called "the Battery" at the extreme end of New York island; and several squares. The principal street is Broadway and reaches about 3 miles but there are several long and very regularly built streets.
June 25th SundayThis being the first sabbath in America--after 5 spent at sea--I was very eager to seek a place of worship--and which whether Episcopal or dissenting is all called "churches" and taking my New York directory and guide, decided to visit "the Puritan Church" of Mr. Cheever, with whose lectures on the Pilgrim's Progress and "Puritan fathers" I had become acquainted in England.
On entering this church I was surprised to find such a beautiful sofa-like range of pews--with doors about 1 ft. 9 high and divided into two panels with Gothic heads in each--the "elbow" being of a scroll-like formation from the back down to the door like this [illustration] and which I think could be introduced with some advantage into England. The preacher was a most interesting young man of about 36 or 37 years of age, with unassuming style and who gave us a most elaborately studied and strong minded discourse on Noah--the ark--the flood--the people who lived and those who perished--finishing with a glowing appeal to the unconverted--yet not so pointed and forcible as I had expected from the former portions of his sermon. I very much enjoyed it--
Afternoon visited "The Sailors' Home" in which there is a very good library--a museum--and every convenience as a boarding establishment in which the sailors pay $3½ some of our sailors being there--and with whom I had been a favorite throughout the voyage--showed me throughout the building, from the top of which there is an excellent view of the city--and harbor. At half-past 3 o'clock went to the Bap. Colored Church, Pearl St., where I heard a poor superficial commonplace sermon from "a white" who seemed by his preparation to have thought anything good enough for blacks. There was excellent singing. There for the first time in my life I saw a spittoon in the middle of the pew. But, listening with great eagerness every mind seemed engaged. The scene was interesting; and, as I looked upon the dark faces with the whites of the eyes and teeth shining out I thought of the time when my heart was in Africa and my body about being sent there. These people seemed to feel the heat more oppressive than I did as the fans were vigorously in motion the whole of the time.
I took a walk after tea down Broadway--and which appears a favorite promenade.
June 26thLooked unsuccessfully after business. After dinner I saw Miss Cooke who having gone to Albany and finding she had not money enough to carry her quite to R. had returned for more--her other friends thought that Mr. Mather was the object of her return.
At 6 o'clock we furnished her with the necessary cash and Mr. Mather at his own expense went with her on the Isaac Newton steamboat for Albany. But against our united wishes I felt it my duty to pointedly caution and affectionately to advise her. With tears she thanked me and promised to attend--although so young she is evidently anxious for a lover.
June 28thWent to Greenwood Cemetery by steamboat. After about three-quarters of an hour sail we "came to" about a quarter of a mile from shore opposite to the cemetery. Sun was pretty warm and enticed us to take a glass of "ice cream"--lemon flavored--after which we rambled through a fine and very extensive enclosure called "the cemetery." What capacious grounds magnificent scenery--and (one at least very beautiful) beautiful monuments. The most beautiful was that of a young lady whose marble figure stood in graceful beauty--canopied with exquisitely worked wreaths of flowers supported and
July 1stWent to Staten Island, took a view of the river, buildings &c. How beautiful the broad river, the tall-masted shipping, the swift-footed steamboats appear to the eye of a stranger.
July 2nd SundayA fine summer's sun greeting our eyes this morning, as usual, after breakfast I went to the Baptist Church, Broadway--heard a poor sermon. Afternoon visited the sabbath school Mulberry St. where I was invited to take a class--was introduced to pastor and two of [the] deacons. The formality of all the Christians surprised and chilled me--one might suppose the people were all machines who shook hands by system--and yet whose faces were as inexpressive of pleasure or aversion as the wooden figurehead of a ship--not only to strangers, but to each other. Evening I heard the pastor Mr. Lathrop preach a very well composed sermon, in such a difficult way that I felt pain in hearing him. He seemed anxious to be useful. There is a very well assorted library of some four to five hundred volumes and which some of the scholars were anxious to obtain. The librarian inquired what I thought of America. I told him "for and against" when I praised, he smiled; but, when I suggested the imperfection of some systems comparatively trivial, his countenance fell. You cannot honestly speak your opinions of American habits, manners & systems to an American, or you will offend his patriotic pride--so dear to every American citizen. This have I already discovered--and I would rather be silent than grieve or offend anyone except at the expense of principle. Congregation thinnish.
July 3rdSpent most of the day at home--it is very warm
Tomorrow is the fourth of July--"the glorious day of independence"--already there is a considerable stir, especially in the pocket money of the juniors--who tip out their last cent to buy fireworks--bing, bang, pop, pop, bang, bang, pop, bang, bing, b-o-o-o-n-g are the chief sounds, indeed the crackers, pistols-rifles, cannon with all the pyrotechnic catalog of sounds and sights are exceedingly annoying--not because I am an Englishman--oh no for I love liberty as much, and rejoice in its acquisition proportionately with my American brethren--but the noise is so frequent and so continuous that the head aches with their deafening.
July 4thThe greatest holiday in America--the statesman, mechanic, professor. The young, the old, the ugly, the pretty, the generally idle and the habitually industrious--the gay--the serious--great and small--all classes, all colors--make up their minds and mingling their means--make up a trip to Coney Island, Long Island Sound--Sandy Hook or somewhere else. The town goes into the country and the country visits town--all seem to ride, or walk, or talk, or dance, or sing, something all must do to testify a national rejoicing for independence--but oh those dizzy dunning, stunning, whizzing, fizzing, popping, sounding and rebounding bing bong bangs make my brains sore--and they have no need to be--I could dance or sing--talk or walk, if that were done with but I have enough to keep my head balanced while that is kept up. It began before night yesterday and I am informed will continue for a day or two more. The fountains are playing--the soldiers are reviewing, the firemen are meeting--all are "dressed--in their best--from top to toe."
Steamboats, rail cars--omnibuses, coaches, all are ready to break or sink with passengers--going in all directions--I joined in the rush and had a crush in seeing the evolutions of [the] military--the movements of the many fire companies. Scanning the countenances of the ladies--
At night we went to "the park" to see the grand display of fireworks, and which were provided by the corporation in honor of Independence--it certainly was well worth seeing. It was a time of crushing and I did the gallant not exactly by allowing a young lady to stand on my feet--but in allowing her to stand just before me on a rail and lean on my shoulder with one arm--for which she abundantly paid me with a very pretty smile and "I thank you sir"--to which I of course replied "not at all"--"beg you won't mention it" &c. &c.
July 5thA memorable day in my experience as being the first day of profitable labor in
America having engaged to work for Mr. Wm. Thompson 442 Washington St. for 1½ dollars per day or 6/3 per day English. Took board at Mrs. Gazley's 20 Jay St. for $2½ dollars per week 10/5 English.
July 6thPhillip Bush--one of our fellow passengers and neighbors on board the Gertrude being tired of America set sail for England in the Sarah Land propeller. He was to be a partner with Mr. Levy--one of the best fellows that ever lived, and one of our neighbors on board ship. Mr. Mousley--another of our neighbors--took the evening boat for Albany on his journey to Galena (county of Joe Davis) a city of "the far West."
July 7thFetched our luggage from Franklin Sqr. Hotel. This was a very reluctant step, for Mrs. Vanderveen our hostess was so motherly, kind and honest--her accommodation so good that nothing but the long distance from business would have tempted us to remove. She very kindly invited us to come and see her at any time and not to make ourselves strange--but drop in to dinner on Sunday or any other time, and be welcome--although but about thirteen days with her. We felt her kindness in a strange city.
July 8thIn evening took a walk to the Gertrude, was welcomed by the first mate & steward--Captain Sherman having gone home (Poughkeepsie) for a few days. It is pleasant to visit our home of the sea--where we have received kindnesses, and by which we have been brought across the wide sea. I feel an attachment to the very yards on which I have often sat to see the sun rise--and certainly not less for the hull--she is a good one and "taut" built and a first rate sailer.
July 9th SundayAnother sabbath day with its sacred calmness dawns upon the eyes--and not less so is the holy calmness of the spirit as it soars to the land of rest and feels that there is yet a place for your unworthy self at a kind savior's side, where rest is change where change is rest, and where the noblest activities of the soul have fullest development. How pleasant to think that there is no need of parting there from from beloved objects--where, although newly entered among its glorious inhabitants, "we are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God"--and "shall go no more out for ever." How wide the contrast to my present circumstances--now all things, all people here are strange to me--
This morning visited the Mulberry St. Bap. Church where one man was immersed--Mr. Lathrop preached.
It is painful to my mind to witness so much stiff formality when Christians meet who seem to know each other they shake hands like a pair of automatons with countenances as immovable and as inexpressive as the figurehead of a ship.
Afternoon accompanied Mr. Coupland to the Mission School, Duane St. I was very much pleased with the good order of the scholars and the friendly spirit of the teachers. The superintendent Mr. Cruikshank is the author of a most select tune book for sabbath schools. At his request I addressed the school. These mission schools are conducted by Christians of several denominations.
Night heard Mr. Thompson at the Tabernacle, Broadway. This is a very large church--and Mr. T. is one of the superior class of preachers--he seems anxious to be useful. He reads his sermons. When on my way home "dropped in" to a colored church and heard part of a good common-sense discourse from a colored man.
July 15thChanged our boarding house for 299 Hudson St.--at $3½ per week.
July 16th SundayAt half-past eight set out for Mission School and couldn't find it. About 11 entered Trinity (Episcopal) Church, Broadway. This is considered a fine building--but--I don't think it particularly so. I thought the sermon very commonplace--people very finely dressed. Afternoon visited Dr. Cone's church Broome St. This is the first Baptist Church in the city--it is Gothic and has battlements like a castle. Dr. Cone is a clear and forcible preacher--57 or 58 years of age; is active. Night attended Bap. Ch. St. John's Sqr. heard a very good political sermon.
July 19thWeather very hot. Received a letter from Mr. Green--how long and anxiously have I waited for this letter. I felt ashamed to be seen at the post office I had been so often to ask. But it is like water to the tired traveler--or rather like home gained after a toilsome journey--for it spoke of home to me and which soon took my imagination to the old armchair at home; with those I love--I have long hoped for such a cheering visitor from home--and felt
"How many look anxiously, day after day,At 10 minutes past twelve the steamship Caledonia left her wharf just opposite our workshop on her way to England. How interesting every object becomes that is connected with "Father land" when far far away.
For the form of the postman to pause on his way?
He approaches--how high does the hoping heart leap?
He passes--they turn to their chamber and weep. (I couldn't.)
Oh I know not a sickness which life can so shade
As that of the spirit when hope is delayed--
And when 'tis delayed as drear days pass along
Oh! the heart that still bears up, indeed must be strong!"
July 23rd SundayMorning at Mission School after which visited several churches. Afternoon (after school) accompanied Mr. Coupland to his tract district amongst the shipping. They were well received. At night took a walk to North River Seaman's Church.
July 27thToday our friend and fellow passenger Mr. Levy (having been left in a strange country by his partner with whom he came out and who had grown homesick and had sailed for England nearly a month since) thought proper to take his passage on the Roseius to return again to old England.
This I very much regret, as one after another of our fellow voyagers leaving us--some to return without even making their expenses--some to proceed to the "far West" make us feel our loneliness to be even more lonely--and besides Mr. Levy is one of the best natured and kindly souls you meet with but occasionally and who was "our next door neighbor" in our sailing city--the Gertrude. We have spent many very agreeable hours in his company on shore, and socially his departure will be a loss to us. His agreeable manners, benevolent disposition and lively temperament united with an untiring willingness to serve the interest of all the passengers through the voyage has endeared him to others as well as ourselves. I pray God to speed his course in safety across the briny sea.
Aug. 6thVisited the Gertrude, found Captn. Sherman glad to see us; offered us a passage to New Orleans, whither he was about sailing on the morrow. We declined his kind offer as we were unprepared to leave so speedily although we intended sailing there in about a month hence. He offered to wait 6 or 8 hours if we would go. We of course gratefully acknowledged his kindness although we prudently declined his offer. In taking leave of him we felt again how soon another of our late made friends was leaving us. "Good luck! to him."
Aug. 7thBusiness and supper being both over I and Mr. M. took the ferry to Hoboken. What charms are there in the solitude of this woody retreat--the fireflies (lightning bugs)--the tree frogs with the perpetual hul-hul of some insect or bird give a pleasure to the novelties of this sylvan scene. To us perhaps, after so much sameness on the boundless deep, it was more enchanting. The rows of trees on each side of many of the streets in New York City were as agreeable as they were new to us, but this exceeded all. The birds were singing their finale for that day's performance; while the moonbeams made us think of fairy land, and . . . fairies at home, in our own dear native land.
Aug. 12th SundayHaving heard much of American camp meetings and there being one today I felt a curiosity to see and hear how they were conducted. At 8 o'clock I was on board the American steamboat, and soon on my way to Nyack--a village about 40 miles up the Hudson River. The appearances and novelty of the scenery took most of my attention--when I heard a tune to one of the songs of Zion being sung by some four or five individuals--I hastened to join them, but, either from the jeering ribaldry of the bystanders or from the difficulties of the tune, I happened to be too late to hear or yet to sing. After about half an hour I heard the old hundred tune being sung--and, again, ran on to join in it, when to my surprise I heard the following words given
Oh yes! he sought to injure me,A burst of laughter followed--and then the psalm tune sung--I feared lest the casting of pearls before swine should end in their being trodden underfoot. With all our zeal how necessary is prudence?
By cutting down my apple tree;--
He did not injure me at all,
For I had apples all for all.
We arrived at the village of Nyack; the houses (with their green-painted blinds) stood on the hillside--and were as uneven as the roads and more picturesque. After about half an hour's walk up hill--on very uneven roads with an extra supply of dust, and a broiling sun, we arrived on the camp ground--too late for the first service and too soon for the next. We deemed it an especial duty to attend to the pleadings of our stomachs and at the same time feast our imagination on a splendid forest scene. 'Twas well worth the trouble of itself--but when the gathering of the worshipers was completed and the venerable heads of the ministers were seen upon the platform
[end of 1848]
May 16th 1849Left New Orleans on my way to California. "Ho for California!!" this was the general cry and as it suited my taste to go--and to go by land--I engaged a passage on the Grand Turk for St. Louis. Was no sooner aboard than a violent thunderstorm gave me a good opportunity of seeing--"a thunderstorm on the Mississippi" with every variety of shade in color and shape of the elements called the "thunder and lightning" there was the broad flash and broadside peal of thunder--then the forked flash with its accompanying rat-tat-tat-tung-dung-bung-rumble-rumble-rumble-umble-mble-ble-eee--next a flash that was neither broad nor forked--but one resembling an anchor; and the peal which followed sounded almost like the rattling of the anchor chain through the--hole--and all these were attended with heavy storms of rain. About ten o'clock p.m. the signal "loose her" was given by Captain Roberts and away we sailed on the broad deep bosom of the "Father of Waters." "Stop her" was given and after sailing alongside of a ship we took in a large number of German emigrants who were bound for the "far West." Oh what a noise of indistinguishable sounds like that of an emigrant ship on the other side of the Atlantic, filled with a representative of every country under heaven. At length I found time to sleep.
May 17thBroke upon us both gloomy and cold. I was the possessor of a bad headache which I ascribed to the motion of the machinery aboard. Morning we called at Lafourche--noon we called at Placquemine 120 miles from New Orleans. About 4 o'clock p.m. we stopped at a sugar plantation and took in a large quantity of sugar which took the time until dark. I took a walk meanwhile in the plantation--the Negroes gave me milk and a bouquet--my headache better. We have had fine weather since about 11 o'clock a.m. Thermo at 84°. The country all around is bounded by swampy land, the Mississippi River being higher than the land, the sugar plantations are obliged to be near the river on account of the low land back of the plantation--the high land being deposits of the Mississippi. The deep calm sweep of this river is majestic--it is wooded in many places to the water's edge; with here and there a solitary log cabin, and wood pile marked "for sale"--
May 18thI have enjoyed a good night's rest. This morning we passed several cotton plantations--also two small bluffs--one of these struck me as a picturesque residence that I should have no objection to if it were near some large town. Something having gone amiss with the boiler we had to stay at the next stopping place to repair--here, for the first time I bathed in the Father of Waters--but owing to the deep cross currents it is dangerous bathing. I enjoyed this bathe, although I was near being taken out into the stream once, and had to use great exertion to save myself. Presently the bell rung and we were off--but alas only to stay about 1 miles distant to take in wood--this took three hours. At 10 o'clock p.m. we arrived at Natchez, & being night I could not see the town. The day has been fine. Thermo at 82°. (I forgot to say that at 9 o'clock this morning we passed Red River.)
May 19thWe arrived at Grand Gulf about 6 o'clock a.m. passed Big River about 8 o'clock. About 11 o'clock a.m. we were all alarmed by a sudden shock occasioned by the boat striking a "sand bar"--this shook the boat from prow to helm and from keel to chimneytops but all was soon righted and we were on our way as though nothing had happened. At 3 o'clock p.m. we arrived at Vicksburg. The country around Vicksburg is rather hilly. At 5 o'clock p.m. passed Yazoo River. A few miles above the Yazoo the Miss. becomes narrow--not more than a quarter of a mile wide; but on account of the swiftness of the current our progress was slow. Just as the sun was setting we opened again on a wide and beautiful scene--the placid water--the many hues reflected--the woody hillsides--islands in the distance--also a large flock of pelicans sat quietly on the water until we came very near them--all united to make the scene diversified and pleasant. The day has been very fine. Thermo at 78°--
May 20th SundayA strange day for a sabbath day on board a steamboat; it is so strange that it is not known--or, if known, is certainly not regarded. It began strangely and tragically too; for, this morning about 2 o'clock I was awoke by some men running, when I heard the captn. call out "help all hands a man overboard." I instantly jumped out of my berth and ran aft, where I found several of the boat's crew engaged in lowering the longboat--the steamboat having been stopped. I endeavored to catch a glimpse of some floating object through the dim starlight on the boiling and swelling stream, but in vain, ah no--the longboat was unsuccessful and all of us although straining our eyes across the angry current looked in vain--he had not been seen since he had left his berth--no one had seen him rise--so that with his sins upon his head--under the influence of delirium tremens--he had jumped overboard, and without one farewell to his wife and children had sunk to rise no more.
This afternoon--while taking in wood--I took a walk alone and once again enjoyed sweet and holy communion with God--reminiscences of bygone days revisited me--and I sung with dear friends the hymn we had sung together during happy seasons past. Returning I was accosted by some slaves belonging to the plantation and had a long conversation with them on religious subjects. This is a large cotton plantation and numbers over 120 slaves besides 57 children of various ages. They seemed comfortable and contented, two or three of the men were tolerably well informed.
The children ran away as I was making up to them or I should have liked a "talk" with them, but the bell rung--and away we went.
May 21stAbout 5 o'clock this morning we passed the mouth of the Arkansas River. At sunset a violent thunderstorm commenced and continued until about ½ past 12 midnight about which time we arrived at Memphis. Thermo during the day at 82°--
May 22ndDuring the night a man was taken with the cholera and died about 7 o'clock this morning--he was a German--had been taken from the ship lying above New Orleans--was entirely without friends. A box was made; and, about 4 o'clock p.m. while taking in wood we buried him beneath the shade of a large cottonwood tree--without any religious ceremony. Although the deck passengers were nearly all German and all had congregated to see him buried, not one would touch the poor fellow's corpse--when invited to do so they would shrug their shoulders and turn away--some of the firemen threatened--but all was in vain. I could not gather the reason for their refusal--whether from a superstitious dread of cholera, or any religious motive could not be learned; even some of the firemen although ready to dig the grave, would not touch the dead man's box. As the scene all around was peacefully serene so let his spirit peacefully enjoy a blest eternity--so prayed my spirit. The day has been very fine and the scene around this graveyard in the forest beautifully so--the two islands that stretched above us gave their shape, with the tall trees around us, to the placid stream and when the shadows were lying among the varied hues of the calm water, all seemed to throw upon us an enchanted prospect. Had this been but the graveyard of a lover, then would the living mourner have pictured this as the elysium of his hopes. Had it been the cemetery of some useful Christian, whose labors were living in the good works done--it would have been a theme of poetic inspiration but alone, nameless--and a stranger--a poor German emigrant found this his last long resting place.
A large snake was killed here. There are millions of grey mosquitoes that pounce upon you and bite immediately. These were very annoying and their proboscis sharper and more venomous than any I have had to encounter. About 4 o'clock this morning we passed a chain of bluffs on the Tennessee shore--
May 23rdWe arrived at Cairo at the mouth of the Ohio River about 4 p.m.--here I bought newspapers which informed me of the great fire in St. Louis. I do not know where this city is but about a dozen or fifteen houses were all that I could see--eggs were bought here retail at 10 cents per dozen--and a peculiar kind of nut was very cheap.
May 24thWe passed a long chain of high bluffs on the Missouri shore; at the top of one was an old summer house which looked the worse for Time's hard dealings--it had never been elegant, but was now giving signs of speedy dissolution. A short time brought us to Jefferson barracks--also on the Missouri shore. The situation of this national military depot is exceedingly fine; and commending a view of the surrounding country. About 6 miles below St. Louis we came to a finely situated town of considerable size named St. Genevieve--the sun was just setting which gave me many regrets for in addition to the beautiful scenery around I had hoped to have had a view of the country below that queen city of the West. About 9 o'clock p.m. we came within the precincts of St. Louis and soon we were made fast a little below the smoking ruins of burning steamboats 28 of which had burned down to the water's edge. I went and found indifferent accommodations at the Missouri Hotel; after a passage of about 12 hundred miles in 8 days we were safely landed here on our way to California.
May 25thSpent in purchasing provisions, cooking utensils with other necessary etceteras for our journey--not forgetting to feast my eyes with the scenes of this growing city, its trees down each street above Commercial St.--its public buildings--and also the burnt ruins of between four and five blocks of buildings. Having a letter of introduction to Milton Knox Esqr.--from C. C. Lathrop Esqr. of N.O. I called to deliver the same but as he was unwell was not at business today.
May 26thI secured a berth on the St. Joseph for Independence which promises to sail this evening--all things are aboard--purchased a U.S. rifle for $15 and being all ready was disappointed to find that the St. Joseph was not able to sail before Monday--then I took private board on Fourth St. to spend
May 27th SundayEarly this morning I took a walk to see if any religious bodies were engaged in early prayer but could not find one. Noticed the chaste designs of churches--being the most suitable to my notion of churches than any I had ever seen. At 9 o'clock visited the Baptist sabbath school this numbered about 125 scholars and these seemed to be allowed to trifle just as they pleased. I was offered a class and accepted it--and found great difficulty in securing their attention. At ½ past 10 heard Mr. Peck Bap. Min. preach a very plain Christian-like sermon. I could but admire the pulpit--or platform--of the church. This the first Bap. Ch. in St. Louis although the neatest building I have ever seen belonging to dissenters would be denounced by the denomination in England for its fine spire in front. At ½ past 1 o'clock p.m. visited the colored sabbath school in Spruce St. and took a class of 17 colored boys and young men, all these were for laughing immoderately at nothing that I could see. Of course I informed them that I could not allow any such kind of proceedings and eventually they desisted. One boy had the largest mouth I ever saw and especially when he laughed. The superintendent requested me to address the school at its close--I did so. After school he very kindly invited me to make my house his home [sic] while I protracted my stay in the city--this I declined--I found that he was from Lancashire England. We went together to a prayer meeting at the First Bap. Ch. on Sixth St. This prayer meeting was miserably dull; I was glad when it was over--when I was introduced to a Mr. Bryan, who was formerly of Birmingham, England--this was sufficient to rouse my wishes to know him better--the sup. and Mr. B. were discussing which should have me home and as I found that I should have to go with the one or other of my countrymen, I was most in favor of going with Mr. B.--the other very reluctantly gave me up--of course this kind hospitality in a strange city gave me great pleasure. On accompanying Mr. B. home I found that Mr. B. & wife were residents in Birm. and were both members of Cannon St. Ch.--knew Mr. Maybry, Mr. & Mrs. Sable--the Phillips, Mr. Powell (my brother-in-law) very well--here I found myself perfectly at home--knowing Mr. B.'s sister Mary of Broad St. He asked me many questions concerning old times and with the agreeable company himself--wife and family I spent the happiest evening I have spent since leaving the old country. I think they seem very comfortable and happy--I should think they have 7 or 8 children--Mrs. B. is sister to Mrs. Weston of the Horse-Fair Birm. Eng.
May 28thAccepted Mr. Bryan's invitation to see the process of making and refining sugar--was pleased with the manner of boiling the sugar by steam especially. Also, I visited the shot tower with Mr. B.; ascended to the top, from whence I had a very extensive view of the surrounding country in addition to the process of making shot. Mr. B. was anxious to send his son Lindley with me to Cal. Afternoon visited the sup. of sabbath school who took me over the gas house of which he is superintendent. I took tea with him and left to be at the steamboat in time. I do not remember having felt so deeply interested in any family after so short an acquaintance as I did with that of Mr. Bryan--and should I ever visit St. Louis again I shall without fail try to find him out.
We left St. Louis for Independence about 11 o'clock p.m. and reached the Missouri River about 3 a.m. of
May 29thWhat a change in the water--the Missouri River being much thicker with mud than the Mississippi--and I am informed that the Miss. is quite clear a short distance above where we left it. The shores on either side of the Missouri River are much much bolder than those of the Miss. The snags and floating trees are much more numerous than on the Miss. comparatively.
May 30thAbout 10 o'clock a.m. we reached Jefferson City--this city is about 150 miles from St. Louis. The shores are studded with villages and towns, and the scenery beautiful in the extreme. We arrived at Boonville about 7 o'clock p.m.
May 31stVillages, villages--The river is rising rapidly and brings yet larger quantities of floating trees and the current being much stronger we cannot make such speedy headway--the large snags are now very dangerous. Between Boonville & Lexington the country is flat on the river's edge. We wooded twice today.
June 1stThe country we have passed through today has been "rolling"--passed the town of Liberty--by the bye if this town were an emblem of American property I should think it would shortly be quite rotten as the whole town seemed hastening in (not to) decay. One old shanty that stood by the levee was "running" to its own downfall the posts having fallen out of upright about 2 feet in 8 or 9 feet of height and the roof lower at the one end. I had a laugh with an American over this. We arrived at Independence about ¼ past 3 p.m.--but as I learned that mules could be obtained much cheaper at St. Joseph's and the road from thence across the plains considerably nearer--I went on by the same boat as this was her destination. I had a long "confab" about the journey across the plains from an old traveler. A short sail brought us to Kansas from which we sailed about 8 o'clock p.m. and half an hour afterwards we passed the mouth of Kansas River.
June 3rdWe arrived at Fort Leavenworth about 9 o'clock a.m. after leaving some soldiers and other passengers we made for Weston, where we arrived about ½ past 10 o'clock a.m. Here I met with a minister of the German Reformed Church to whom I had been introduced in St. Louis--also on his way to California. He had 3 of his church members. I should have liked their company on so long a journey--but they were unable to join us as some had gone inland to purchase oxen or mules. He said that he would join me at St. Joseph. Today we have passed some fine open prairies on the Indian side of the Mo. I thought it a great pity that so much good land should be uncultivated or unstocked. I saw also an Indian's canoe by the river's side.
June 3rd SundayWe arrived at St. Joseph's about ½ past 2 o'clock a.m. but remained aboard until daybreak when all our effects were put ashore. After breakfast took a walk into the country round about St. Joseph--the scenery is pretty--partly wooded, partly prairie--found a nice bed of wild strawberries. Fell in with Mix Smith & Smith Glover's encampment. They informed me that they had come thus far on their way to California--but would be obliged to stay until next fall, and then go by sea; as all their outfit, purchased at St. Louis and consumed in the great fire, being lost prevented their proceeding according to their wishes. I left them with a promise that I would see them tomorrow on business, and returned to St. Joseph about 1 o'clock p.m. After dinner I visited the Baptist meeting house (or rather log cabin)--but there was no preaching--repaired to the Presbyterian, and there found that a debt was owing to the builder of the church and that the builder had locked it up until the debt was paid. The Methodists are the most numerous section of religionists here and the Catholics are the smallest. There are but four different sects in St. Joseph although the population is estimated at 8000 persons. Saw a man lying drunk in the street. The country round about this city is fine for agricultural purposes--and well watered.
June 4thThis morning, according to promise I visited Smith & Glover's camp--they at first proposed selling me their horses. But as I discovered that they were much disappointed at the thought of being unable to go--I offered to purchase all necessary provisions with other etceteras for the journey and to have an equal share in all effects belonging to the company, and that they go along--taking the 5 horses and wagon at the first cost--I to sell my wagon (which I had made in the shape of a boat to cross rivers with) and paying all an equal proportion and owing an equal part of the whole--and this to be paid when convenient. Thus agreed we formed ourselves into a company of Mix Smith, Smith Glover & Mr. Shore and myself. Mr. Shore had come from New Orleans with me. Having thus agreed we commenced buying our outfit.
June 5thStill preparing--visited the Mansion House Hotel and found a number of entries of persons who had arrived--and which were laughably written. One had been there since April and the book informed the reader that if he remained much longer that the price of whiskey would have an upward tendency. The drunken man whom I saw on Sunday has been drunk ever since--shopkeepers throw water on him, and then run within.
June 6thWe gathered up our stores and packed them in our wagon. Sold my wagon by auction, it fetched $54. All begin ready we went out of St. Joseph's about half a mile and encamped. While the others returned to town I shot a rabbit and a quail or dove. We pitched our tent for the first time--did not sleep much. Awoke early on the morning of
June 7thWe left our encampment as early as possible to proceed some 4½ miles for Duncan's ferry. The road was very indifferent and owing to some delay we did not reach it until 11 o'clock a.m. Now another difficulty arose--the water being high and the current of the Missouri River very strong the ferryman could not attempt to cross without additional strength. We waited until about 3 o'clock p.m. when the whole strength that the ferryman could muster from among the woods and farms arrived. Before we could cross we had to help (all hands) tug up the ferryboat against the current for about 1 mile below this taking us about 1 hour--we left the United States by crossing into the Indian territory about 4 o'clock p.m. "Now row"--"now pull"--"steady"--"pull hard on the starboard oar"--"keep tight the starboard oar"--"tight"--"tighter or we shall go downstream"--"more help at the oars"--"keep those near horses' heads fast"--"now boys"--"now"--"she goes"--"she goes"--"slacken your larboard oar"--"a little harder larboard"--"now pull with all your might, you, you at the larboard oar"--"send her head round"--"now we strike the current, men at the larboard pull hard--hard--larboard more strength"--between "larboard" and "starboard" and a little restlessness of horses we make the opposite shore. Then farewell U.S.; farewell old friends we are on an enemy's shore. When we had crossed the river we found a high and steep bluff up which we were obliged to carry our provisions on our backs, and these being about 200 lbs. to the sack we found the task to be rather difficult--but--as a good heart was needed and ready hands to accomplish it we set about it with zeal, that we might get all up (one-third of a mile) to the top before sunset. The horses had sufficient for their strength to pull up the empty wagon. Just after sunset all were up, and we soon sat down, when a quarrel ensued between Smith & Glover. I apprehended danger from a fighting attitude they had taken. (I do not like fighting of any kind especially with deadly weapons.) I stepped between them and entreated them to give up, telling them that on a long and tedious journey like the one before us--fraught with so many dangers and privations--there needed all the brotherly love and kind assistance that all of us unitedly could give to each other--to make our toilsome journey tolerable, and as pleasant as possible; with some difficulty I succeeded in persuading them to better conduct and a more becoming spirit. For which they seemed to dislike me--but I had made up my mind to act right as far as possible and leave the consequences to a better guide and protector than erring man. We pitched our tent kindled our fire, and I went in search of water, in which I was unsuccessful for ¾ of an hour--at length having found it--being exceedingly tired and hungry we partook of our tea with a relish--but all this took us very long being entirely unaccustomed to such exercises.
We arranged our guard and retired. We deemed a guard necessary now we were on the Indian soil.
June 8thNow we are started on a long journey of about 2000 miles to the land of golden promise--how strange. We think of friends who have smoothed our pathway through a strange country--of things, of men, and women that unitedly had made me feel reluctant in my leave-taking. I felt that death might lay me below the green turf, or dry desert soil; and that I perhaps might never see those left behind again. This thought did not make me feel low-spirited--oh no, for I felt a monitor within was telling me that I was doing right by risking so much for a future good. The scenery around would not allow of melancholy--all was beautiful and serene. The beautifully undulating landscape--the hill and vale carpeted with green grass and flowers--here and there a clump of trees--the chirping of birds and the hum of the wild bees--all seemed to harmonize with each other. We gathered some wild strawberries which were pleasant in their flavor. About noon we halted to rest our horses and refresh ourselves at Cow Creek when a thunder storm overtook us and drenched us to the skin, but the sun shining out powerfully soon dried our clothing. We came up to a grave at the head of which was a stick driven down and a piece of bread-barrel head nailed across on which was written the name of Saml. Cambell died May 27th who was from Mobile, Alabama, also another grave that was nameless. After traveling about 14 miles we encamped on a fine spring by the roadside. Now the cooking and the watching commenced--there being only four of us--one stood the watch until 1 a.m. and the other until 5 a.m. We made about 14 miles today through a rough road. On the morning of
June 9thAfter the duties of cooking and eating had been faithfully performed--we commenced the day's march; and, shortly after came upon an Indian graveyard--around which were flowers and fine ripe strawberries. I gathered of both and joined our wagon just as we came upon an Indian village of perhaps about 80 or 100 inhabitants, for the most part naked except a blanket (which they used as a wrapper). There were some of the squaws at work in an enclosure. In a few moments we were joined by some 7 or 8 rather tall and well built men--one of whom--the tallest and finest built Indian I had seen--acted as spokesman. He understood sufficient English to ask for 50 cents toll and as we were passing through their territory I thought it just and gave the sum demanded. We made signs and asked the Indian to help push our wagon on the opposite side of Wolf Creek--the chief consented and the whole number came and put their shoulders to the back part of the wagon--by the noise they made one might have supposed that they were pushing the whole weight of the wagon without horses drawing one pound, but instead of pushing they had their arms down the funnel of the stove, then in at the door, then down the kettle-stand hole, first with a look of surprise, then with a laugh gave out a shout to push--but, if their tongues would have done it there might have been some hope but being too much for the horses they failed and we had to unload and carry nearly the whole of our provisions up the steep bank on our backs--while the Indians preferred to help eat the raisins or the bread to carrying either--but as they would not do the one we would not allow them to do the other--except one little fellow that was lame. I gave some to him.
About eleven o'clock we arrived at the Mission--composed of Fox, Sac [Sauk] & Iowa Indians. I made some necessary inquiries concerning the road wagons that had passed, safety from and with Indians, of some Frenchmen who were shingling a small house belonging to the trader's store--informed me of perfect safety for several hundred miles. There was one fine looking chief painted in the usual style of the Fox chiefs--he was buying some trinkets at the store. I was surprised to find the Mission farms in such a forward state of cultivation. The enclosed fields were full of waving wheat that appeared very healthy.
About 3 o'clock p.m. we saw a large train of wagons which to appearance were returning, but on coming up with it we found that it was a U.S. train for Gen. J. Wilson (and family) the appointed Navy agent for California and Indian agent for Salt Lake. This train was under the command of Capt. Morris from Fort Leavenworth.
We had scarcely time to exchange the civilities of fellow travelers when a party of Sac Indians rode up and the chief giving us a paper we found that he also wanted toll; we informed him that we had paid toll at Wolf Creek; we could see that this statement did not satisfy him and we inquired "how much"--he showed us a quarter dollar, so giving him a quarter we soon satisfied him and he rode away and some of his party followed him, but others came up to me and wanted "pic" "pic" feeling at my pocket I made signs for them to keep hands off and as they were very clamorous and evidently wanted to frighten me I wouldn't concede [to] their demands and rode off--but they were soon at my side again and asking for "pic" yet without success they rode off.
Have passed two more graves today--
The roads from St. Joseph and Fort Leavenworth join each other about 9 miles beyond the Mission or 33 from St. Joseph. We have made about 32 miles today, and now we are thus far from the Missouri River the country is more level and the roads consequently better. We encamped with the U.S. train and Lieut. Haines and Major Wood (the quartermaster for Fort Kearny) invited us to travel with the train--and after a consultation among ourselves we accepted--for a few days. Day fine.
June 10th SundayAs the train was anxious to proceed, we had to proceed with it, although I entertained a strong aversion to traveling on Sunday. We broke the commandment--the animals want one day's rest in seven--and equally so does man, to fit his physical nature to the hardship of land travel upon the prairie, as much as when in the crowded city his body yea and mind too requires that rest and change so welcome to him on the sabbath day--at home--then why not abroad? Do not the same ennobling exercises of worship to, and obedience of the commands of God want as great respect--and confer the same favors in every place and under every possible variety of circumstances? I think they do.
We have passed through a beautiful and rolling country--the long and gently rising hills, fertile in bounteous beauty--in grass, flowers &c. We have traveled about 18 miles today. Passed graves.
June 11thBefore 7 o'clock the whole train was in motion, and to our great inconvenience were soon overtaken by a thunder-storm which pelted us well for about two hours, during half of which we were obliged to stop--this being over we were soon rolling over the district of fine pastoral country between St. Joseph's and the Nemaha River. We passed several graves--also a stone upon which was rudely cut the name of Dr. Ryan died May 27th 1849. By the roadside today I saw a red rock which in this prairie country is quite a novelty. Near too were plenty of limestone--should this country ever be settled by white men--which it will before the present century is out--it may be of great service. We reached the river Nemaha about 5 o'clock and encamped--after making 25 miles--
June 12thWe remained in camp until evening, when the animals were hitched too to cross the river--we crossed every wagon with safety although with great difficulty--as the crossing on the eastern side is very difficult. This is a picturesque stream and the water very clear and soft.
I employed the day in bathing--writing, repairing and cooking, as all the duties of cook and housemaid have to be performed by your own fingers. I wished that I had taken lessons in the art of "every man his own washerwoman, cook, and general housewife" before I had started. The day has been gloriously fine and continued so until
June 13thWhen to our great dismay the elements were against our progress for more than an hour and [a] half after our usual time of starting. The storm cleared away--the sun shone brightly out, away rolled the caravan, and all went briskly onward although the morning's rain had made the roads soft and anything other than good for traveling. The roads are excellent in fine weather and the wagons roll over the matted grass-turf, with the same ease as on a good turnpike road. This good was not to continue, for after we had traveled about ten or 12 miles over a beautifully diversified rolling country--with many beautiful flowers woven in the carpet of Mother Earth--the heavy rains began again with redoubled fury, as though they were very angry with us, or at least wished to show as much. I had stood the other rains with confidence, that, although they saturated my clothing to the skin, the warm sun would soon dry them again, with the consoling idea that they might be improved in cleanliness by a shower bath; but now it continued without any sign of abatement for more than four hours. I noticed the black rolling clouds pass and repass, backwards and forward for four different times, and the lightning came flash upon flash with its companion thunder, until the whole of "heaven's artillery" seemed engaged in the conflict. I saw one vivid flash strike one of the dragoons and running down the buttons of his overcoat, run off without doing any harm. The wagons all stood of course--and I stood in shelter of a wagon-side with my India rubber cloak on--for a wonder--it kept me quite dry upwards--but don't say anything about my pantaloons and socks. The heavy storm melted away into a gentle and steady rain and as the ground where we then stood was unfit for camping our Captn. ordered us across the stream about half a mile distant (the Little Nemaha). After some of the forward wagons had crossed the river rose too rapidly to allow of any more crossing that evening. One wagon had just crossed with difficulty and the teamsters of the botanist's wagon was following when some of the mules were taken off their feet with the force of the current--the teamster perceiving them fastened by the traces and unable to escape, jumped into the stream and cutting them loose rescued four of them--but two of the poor mules were drowned. An idea of the river's rapidity of rising may be formed from the fact that during the time of the teamster releasing the animals--not exceeding five minutes--it rose more than two feet and was soon up to the top of the wagon sides and half-way up the cover. We being among the backward wagons we had to stay where the rain found us--and another difficulty was how to gather firewood to cook supper. At length a good armful or two of wood being gathered I began to kindle a fire--but before I could get any wood to kindle I had to cut off the wet and taking the dry sit over it while lighting (just as though I belonged to the tribe of roosters and had something which needed my protection) the rain still falling fast and steadily--well done I at length (say ¾ of an hour) exclaimed! the fire was kindled--but as soon as the smoke made my eyes smart I had to give way--this had liked to have proved fatal to the fire, but putting on the frying pan, bottom upwards, it acted as an iron umbrella, and in spite of the rain we soon had a good fire. The difficulty of cooking supper in a heavy rain having been overcome we went to work at the pleasurable exercise of eating it. This was no small luxury for the morning being rainy our breakfast consisted of raw ham, pilot bread and cold water--which by the bye is not pleasant to travel upon. "Difficulties never come singly" as some old saying croaks out, and so it proved to our small company of four--for unfortunately the other three fell sick with diarrhea, two had the cramps. I was afraid that the wholesale murderer cholera had visited our small party, and that probably some of our bodies would lie by the roadside to be seen no more, or our graves only by the passing traveler. Even now there was one blessing that we were not all down sick on the cold wet grass--soaked and saturated with rain as it was--and only the shelter of a tent--far from home and friends; I by God's good mercy was spared--well--to do the duties of humanity. No few are the things that require attention--first I had to be "doctor" next "nurse"--and as the boys were too sick to sleep, I sat up and attended to the few wants they had--although the rain and warmth made me feel sleepy at times. By God's blessing they were much easier in the morning and continued to improve. I found my hands quite full on the morning of J_____. The Little Nemaha is thirteen miles from the N.
June 14thA fortunate fact for our party--we couldn't cross the river. I busied myself in the duties of doctor, cook, hostler, sportsman and nurse, and to my great comfort found the boys improving. Having shot a bird and made some soup, without the boys knowing it until it was ready. This was so grateful to their taste and so unexpected that from this time I became a favorite. I mention this because my having the misfortune to being born and reared an Englishman, two out of the three sick being American, I was hated or at least was coldly received with them although I had found the means and they had gladly accepted it to start for California. The usual antipathy to an Englishman being overcome by these two, we got along well. About one o'clock p.m. Mr. Butterfield came up having rode from St. Joe alone--he is the unfortunate comrade of my companions who lost their all in the St. Louis fire, and being taken sick with cholera was unable to join us at starting. The boys had waited four weeks for him in St. Joe, and were unwilling to wait any longer. He brought two horses. Day fine.
June 15thThe boys having considerably recovered and our addition being in tolerable health now although very weak we resumed our march about 8 o'clock a.m. and crossing the Little Nemaha found a large pile of damaged paper and flour which had been necessary to throw away from the unfortunate botanist's wagon.
Our road lay through a fine open and gently rolling prairie occasionally wooded, and after traveling 30 miles we encamped within about one mile of the Blue River.
June 16thWe commenced the day's march along the banks of a small creek at 7 o'clock a.m. and about 11 o'clock a.m. we reached the Big Blue River and forded it with little difficulty. This stream is about 70 yards wide and 3 feet 6 inches deep--the water is very clear. Here we found a fine bed of strawberries, which reminded us again of home and its luxuries, of course we did our duty in the usual way when we meet with such things, namely, eaten all that we could.
After our wagon was safely across, I went hunting and started four wild turkeys larger than any I had ever seen in civilization, also a young fawn, but I could not get near enough for a shot. This was too bad in the way of luck, as I followed them for three hours, and strayed several miles away from the train. I reached camp while the wagons were corralling about four o'clock p.m. after traveling only fifteen miles.
Our encampment was by a "prairie spring" (which means a pool of standing water, after rain).
Today one of the mules broke his leg, and was shot by one of the soldiers, to put him out of pain. Two mules also "gave out" which means "won't pull any longer for nobody!"
June 17th SundayI do not like this Sunday traveling, as the mules and men alike require rest on one day in seven, besides our mules seem to want rest, as they are very heavily loaded--or at least the wagons are. Today we met Major Belger with his provision wagon and an escort of four dragoons. He was in command of a train to Oregon, belonging to "Uncle Sam" but is recalled. About 11 o'clock fortune favored us with another fine and very extensive bed of strawberries--how very refreshing are such wayside donations from an all Bounteous Hand--how these preach silently to the soul of God's ever watchful care. While plucking these strawberries I enjoyed a sweet sabbath of soul refreshing, and this fruit I plucked and enjoyed as the table of communion with my Lord. It was equally so for I felt that I was enjoying personal communion at the Mercy Seat with those dear Christian friends I had left far away in civilization and in the enjoyments of the sanctuary--which blessings were debarred me--and will continue to be for many months--perhaps years to come. Today we passed five more graves, and two we passed yesterday, all of which I keep account. The day has been rather cloudy--but no rain has fallen. What a truly beautiful country for the emigrant--if there were more wood. We encamped about 7 o'clock p.m. on Fox Creek after making about 25 miles. Just before we reached camp I found a grave with the remains of an unfortunate emigrant named John Deguire
June 18thFound me sleepless, for the wolves made such a dismal noise the whole of the night. I wished that they would come near enough for us to stop their howling by a leaden present, but they kept their distance. At about half-past seven o'clock the train started and after we had crossed the creek I thought I saw an old campground and two graves on it, at a short distance from the road. I went out towards it and found that I was mistaken in the graves as they were old trees--onward I went thinking that I would strike the road at the curve of the ridge. I was in a valley--I kept walking on and rising ridge after ridge and thought that I should be sure to strike the road on the next one--but no, oh no--onward I kept going and bearing more northward to find the road--at last I saw several horsemen advancing toward me, so that then I could not be far from the road--when I heard the sound of the horses, I turned round, nothing doubting but that some [of] our party had like myself missed the way and were striking for it when to my surprise I found that they were Indians. I trembled from head to feet, in meeting with such a disappointment as I was totally unarmed, but after the first surprise I gathered courage and turning round to them I shouted "how do" and smiled at the same time, offering to shake hands, but they grinned and refused. I thought this a bad omen and began to wish myself with the train. I thought "well, I can't die but once," and this thought gave me confidence--so I went up to them, looked at and patted one of their horses, and they laughed chattering something to each other. They made signs as to which way I was going and I answered them in signs towards the setting sun, they nodded their heads and seemed satisfied. One of them inquired if I were "Morm?" which I interpreted as Mormon, I shook my head--he then said "Meriken" I nodded my assent and they smiled,
While this was going on up came a number of others on horseback and on foot, but while these were advancing one of the first comers shouted "shoniah" ["money"] I shook my head, to say no--another shouted "shoniah" pointing to my pantaloons pockets but I hit my hand upon my pocket and shouted "no shoniah" and prepared for advancing towards the road--up came the others and escorted me for some distance and shouted "shoniah"--"shoniah" I shook my head and thumped my pocket--saying "no shoniah" then one of them wanted my shirt but I shook my head--then all the horsemen gradually filed off and left me to the footmen--one of these was very impatient for a red flannel shirt which I had worn as an overcoat--but I had lost my nervousness and I took hold of him by the sides of his blanket and pulled it up together at the neck making signs that my shirt was the same to me as his blanket was to him--whether he thought that I was going to choke him or to shoot him or what I do not know but the poor fellow trembled and edged his way to the outside as soon as I had loosed him. Upon the brow of a hill I saw a number of Indians on horseback looking over the top of the hill as though they were upon the watch for something. This I conjectured might be the road, and the train passing. I found that I was right in supposing it to be the road and I soon gained it. I lifted up my heart in thankfulness to God. I could not tell whether the train had passed or not, as the wind had blown the dust from it and I could not see any tracks of wagons or horses--the Indians made a sign for me to sit down, and before I was scarcely seated (for I wanted to wait for the train if it had not passed) a large number of Indians came from a short distance off the road. I thought that they surely meant mischief and I was quite unarmed, I hadn't even a knife to defend myself with in case of an attack: I made myself as comfortable as I could under the circumstances and inwardly wished myself out of the scrape--but I knew that it would not do to seem so to an Indian especially--so I looked at their bows and arrows and blankets--pouches--and also at an old English musket that one of them had--they in return looked at my shirt, whiskers, wanted to feel in my pockets but I gave their hands a rap and laughing shook my head. At length I saw a number of mounted men riding in the road towards where I was sitting. I concluded that this was the escort, part of which generally headed the train--so I smiled and nodded to them wished them "good morning" and went off to meet the escort--I saw an old Indian sitting by the road smoking his pipe, I nodded and smiled & made signs that he was enjoying his pipe, he smiled and nodded, and I passed on--when I had come nearly up to the horsemen I saw fresh tracks of wheels and fresh horse dung--now I could see that I had made another grand mistake for instead of its being the train I wanted, it was a long train of mounted Indian warriors. I knew it would be of no use running away, and I didn't feel much inclined to such an exercise, as my mind don't approve of such a thing, so putting on the best face I could I walked up to the chief putting out my hand, he took hold of it and shook it very cordially, then I nodded at him and waved my hand to the others and to himself, smiled and wished them "good day"--they smiled and seemed pleased at the honor and confidence I had bestowed--but had they have known the whole of the facts, I question whether I should have got off so well. I could hear them laughing and chattering as I walked briskly off. Now I could see unmistakable signs that the train had passed. I had to pass through the whole crowd of squatting Indians, and they chattered--I looked, and nodded to them as I passed.
After I had got about ¾ mile from the mounted warriors I saw something by the roadside in a hollow--and as I advanced I could perceive that it was an Indian with a musket. When I had got within musket shot, I saw him poise the musket and aiming it at me. I immediately rushed up towards him and in an angry voice demanded what he meant--he kept still on one knee and still aiming his musket at me, when I put my hand in my shirt bosom as though feeling for my revolver, and advanced still more rapidly--he jumped up and laughed. I thought, so you are playing a joke on me to try to frighten me, eh?--but I perceived it was the same Indian that had been so clamorous for my shirt. He kept alongside of me for between three and four miles, constantly watching the movement of my right hand in my bosom. When he began gradually to side off and when about 100 yards off he took to his heels as fast as he could run--and finding the course clear I did the same, and in about 3 hours overtook the train. I felt inwardly glad at the sight of the train once more.
We have passed three graves today--one, an old man from New Albany aged 76 years. Whatever could induce an old man to undertake so dangerous a journey with its necessary fatigue, exposure and privation is hard to conjecture.
We encamped on a brook about 6 o'clock, having made 22 miles.
June 19thAbout half past seven the train was in motion. Glover and I went out equipped for hunting--we soon however divided the one on one side and I on the opposite. I had not sooner crossed than I saw a large wolf busily engaged in tearing up some prey. I immediately fired and wounded him in the shoulder. Much surprised, he stood a moment and looked at me and I began reloading, but he allowed three legs to carry him off. Saw four deer and one large elk but the country being comparatively flat, I could not get within rifle-shot. I pursued them or rather attempted to take them by surprise in a circuitous direction--tying my horse. After we left the river our road lay through a sandy hilly country so that we made only 17 miles--day fine.
June 20thAnother trouble awaited our rise at daybreak this morning, our best bay horse which we call Blucher is missing the lariat being cut--we tracked him across the dry sandy creek upon which we encamped--we found an Indian's knife marked "Old English Steel"--saw also the prints of their moccasins--several of our party went out in different directions but they found nothing. I wanted five others to join me and pursue the Indians, and take the horses from them at any risk. Col. Johnson lost one fine horse also--but the majority thought that we had better not lose the time, or for 6 men to run the risk of encountering the whole Ottawa tribe. I would have done as Kit Carson did--that is ride 100 miles with only one man to accompany him--both well armed--and ride straight into a camp of over 300 Indians, and take the lost horses before their eyes. I thought it wrong to allow the Indians to keep what they had stolen lest it should prove a double motive to rob others.
We felt the loss exceedingly--as poor "Kit"--my favorite mare was lame from a nail-prick.
We struck the Little Blue River soon after starting and continued upon its banks for about 17 miles and encamped--the whole day having been wet, and accompanied with heavy lightning and thunder--made the roads bad and traveling very uncomfortable. Several of the mules "gave out."
The country is indescribably fine.
June 21stAs we had left the watching to the usual watch-guard of the soldiers, and found that it was inefficient for so large a train we proposed to organize a proper guard--which was generally approved. My watch commenced about 11 o'clock p.m. About 2 a.m. I saw an Indian come stealing up like a large dog--upon "all fours" but, just as I was raising my rifle according to the commands of the Captn. he saw what I was doing, and, jumping just like a dog, cleared a small bank of the river and escaped. About 3 o'clock a.m. just as morning was breaking I saw a something, in shape like an elk, and not wishing to lose such a chance for game I leveled my rifle, fired, and hit a stump just in the center. Glover made it out that I had shot at an Indian, all laughed at me, and when daylight came, they again laughed at me and declared that it was an "excellent shot." We left the camp ground about 8 o'clock and continuing our course on the banks of the "Little Blue" about 11 o'clock we fell in with a strange looking something and upon coming up found it to be a blanket built shelter, and two men in it, one a Major Henry--the other a Mr. Hervey; who had on Saturday last June 16th early in the morning lost the whole of their animals, six in number, four horses and two mules.
It appears that the Pawnee Indians had "stampeded" them during a very heavy thunderstorm. Mr. Hervey was on guard when about 1 o'clock a.m. he was suddenly startled by a horse rushing into camp with dry skins and bones tied to it, which immediately frightened the whole number of animals picketed round the camp--they snorting pulled up their picket-pins and rushed off in a few moments. At daybreak Hervey went in search and found the Pawnees driving them off. There being only two of them and a number of the Indians they concluded that "the best part of valor is discretion" and allowed them to walk off with their animals.
So that here were two men alone on the prairie without the means of advancing on their journey or returning to the States. Major Wood who was going to Fort Kearny as quartermaster took Major Henry and his baggage, and Captn. Morris took Hervey and offered him a teamster's place with $20 per month and rations--for the whole of the journey--which he gratefully accepted.
We have been visited by great numbers of the Pawnees today--we wanted to trade an old pony and a blanket for a mule--but they wouldn't consent--making signs that they wanted all that they had got and as many more as they could raise, that were better--they being at war with the Sioux Indians. About 3 o'clock p.m. several rode up to me and wanted to shake hands, and, although their heads and hands were very greasy--especially their heads--I shook hands with them. I was on foot and about a quarter of a mile from the train.
One young squaw came up and after shaking hands wanted to put on my hat, but as her head looked too greasy and very ugly, I shook my head and laughed, with that she rode off. Another came up--shook hands--and she also fell in love with my hat, and as she was much cleaner a little less greasy and better looking, I allowed her to put it on, when she burst into an immoderate fit of laughter, nodding and sideling with evident pleasure and satisfaction. When she was satisfied she handed me the hat again and continued by my side, making signs that there were buffalo in three days' travel--this was good news to me, and well repaid the act of gallantry with the hat. We came to a large flat covered with water, which I must either wade through or go a long way round. I was for going round, when she made signs for me to jump up behind her--which I of course did, and much to the pleasure of the Indian lady--she laughed and showed her white teeth and red gums to perfection. When we had crossed I smiled and nodded my thanks to her, which she understood. She kept alongside until we arrived in camp--showing me her bow and arrows and other trinkets--when after the camp was arranged I gave her some salt and sugar--with which she was much pleased--especially with the salt. The whole company encamped about 200 yards from our camp. Some of the boys had rode some sort distance from the road and found a young steer--which was soon shot and eaten--the Indians coming in for a share. The young squaw wished to examine my rifle, bullets, caps, knife etcetera--when I drew out my long bright knife she shuddered and looked frightened for the moment--but soon recovered when I had put it up. She also allowed me to shoot with her bow and arrows showing me how she did it. Night coming on I wished her "good night" smiled and left her. We have made about 21 miles.
June 22ndWe still kept near the Little Blue. I went across the turns of the road and saved several miles. I believe there could be a much nearer and equally good road made in each day's traveling while on the L. Blue, as the river makes a gradual circuitous course from west to north. Although frequently behind the train, I could, by striking across, hunting, be an hour ahead of it in 8 or 9 miles. Today I saw and gathered some fine green peas. Made about 22 miles.
June 23rdWe left camp about 7 o'clock and after traveling about a mile we left the Little Blue and crossing over to the Platte River had to go without wood or water for about 24 or 25 miles. I walked on ahead of the train and under a hot sun I became hot and very thirsty--at times my thirst was so great as to make me feel sick and giddy. I thought of Mungo Park on the African deserts--at length I espied a shallow pool of water--made by recent rains--and was about promising myself a hearty draught, but, when I came up I found it about the color of dark vinegar and not only warm but hot from the unclouded sun. However, I could not desist laving my thirsty lips with this water and felt how grateful it was to a parched mouth. I walked on quite refreshed, and coming to a deep wheel rut I found some water not much warmer than new milk and I know that the sides of the rut were soon broken down and my lips at the water--here I took a hearty drink, sat down to rest--then taking another drink proceeded onward in hopes of gaining the Platte River before I could drink again. About an hour before sunset I reached the Platte Valley--but found it 3 or 4 miles wide and several miles out of my way to go to the river. I therefore bore with my thirst, and following the road about an hour after sunset--saw the light of a camp fire, and to my good fortune found it to be the camp of Major Wood--who instantly welcomed me and supplied me with the hospitalities of food, drink and blankets, of which I stood in need. Our road today has been up hills and across vast plains until we descended to the valley of the Platte--and when I saw the bright bosom of the river reflected by a new moon I think that my joy was indescribable. We have made about 33 miles today.
June 24th SundayAs I saw nothing of our train coming up I accepted the offer of Major Wood to journey to Fort Kearny with him only about 8 or 10 miles distant, and we arrived there about 11 o'clock a.m. I of course inquired if there was any church to which I was replied with an "Oh dear no, nothin' o' that here." I thought it a great pity that so many soldiers should live in this wilderness place without the means of God's Grace. Fort Kearny is situated on the Platte River bottom about 17 miles from the road-entrance into the valley. It is composed of low adobe (or turf) buildings--not very spacious and one might suppose that the "officers' quarters" was not overburdened with comforts. The soldiers (privates) live in the usual camp tents of the army and these appear much more regular than the
It seems a pity that the various tribes of Indians should be in perpetual warfare with each other.
I went back to the train--about five miles from the fort--where they had encamped on account of good grass.
Gen. John Wilson for whom this train is provided, and who is being sent out by the U.S. government as Navy agent for San Francisco--and Indian agent for Salt Lake District--is gone round by old Fort Kearny (now called "Council Bluffs") and has not yet arrived so that we may have to wait several days. The distance from the waters of the "Little Blue" River, by the road, to Fort Kearny is about 42 miles.
June 25thWe marched from our encampment to about 1½ miles beyond the fort--here we expect to remain until Gen. Wilson arrives. Today I sunk a well near our wagon and found good water about four feet from the surface. Major Reynolds--paymaster of the train--came to me today and inquired if I were not a mechanic. I of course pleaded guilty, being a "chopstick"--he said that the train had very imprudently started without a carpenter--and their wants had very materially retarded their progress, if I would consent to become the carpenter of the train I should oblige them and receive wages, and rations, and have all my baggage, tools &c. carried. I had no objection I told him--and after I had consulted my company I would inform him if they acquiesced. They were pleased with the idea, and thought that as we were traveling with them why we might as well work for them as not to do it; besides the baggage and tools being carried would lighten up our own wagon considerably, they readily agreed to cook and attend to all the duties of the camp and free me entirely from such things. I informed the major of our decision, he immediately went to the Capt. and in ten minutes I was in the service of "Uncle Sam"--a thing I never dreamed of. Today I have felt poorly, as though I had been drunk last evening.
June 26thI commenced by making bread and writing letters until about 10 o'clock when the wagon master wished me to commence working in my new business of wheelwright.
June 27thAdams came up and having made a poor bargain at St. Joseph's by joining the Pittsburgh company now wished again to join ours, but as he acted meanly before; we it declined altogether.
June 28thToday Gen. Wilson joined us. He looks like a plain honest old farmer--one that is shrewd enough to know what is right and tact enough to know how to get it. Major Wood, who is the new quartermaster of Fort Kearny, very kindly invited me to take the post of head carpenter and wheelwright for the fort--offering me $45 per month and rations. I thanked him for his offer, but declined it, saying that nothing on this side [of] California I thought would be a sufficient inducement to defer my making the attempt to reach it this fall. Showery yesterday & today.
June 29thWe recommenced our march and made about 15 miles up the Platte River, seven of which were soft and wet for wagons. The Platte River is but very lightly timbered anywhere upon it and what we found for fire was brush and willows. The islands have some timber (cottonwood) also the north bank of [the] river.
I was very much disappointed that the botanist did not join us on account of his loss at the Little Nemaha. He however informed [us] that he would come to Salt Lake and there winter--making California next spring. Weather fine.
June 30thLast night the mosquitoes assembled in great numbers and feasted uninvited at my expense. This morning was very foggy but the day and evening very hot. Mr. Hervey preached a very commonplace sermon, on the love of God. It was very indifferently received--most of the men in this train seem to belong to the class of "hard cases." After Hervey had finished, Mullinder, one of the teamsters, took up the subject where Hervey had left it, and turned the whole into a universalist topic. Although his logic was indifferent and his theology worse, his style and command of language was far superior to the other--it ended like a farce after a tragedy!
July 1st SundayLast night I provided against a second mosquito feast by looking up my mosquito bar--kindly given me by a lady in New Orleans--made expressly for the journey. I slept too well even to dream of the mosquito bar-giver, which might seem ungrateful.
We began our march this morning at ½ past 6 o'clock and continued along a fine prairie bottom until ½ past 5 o'clock p.m., making 23 miles. The Platte River is studded with islands--the whole bottom being still destitute (or nearly so) of timber. The horseflies have been very troublesome to the animals--making the blood run down. About an hour after we had encamped we had a light thunderstorm. Day however has been fine.
July 2ndWe have had a rough time of it nearly the whole of the night as the storm which began lightly last night, after nearly taking leave of us, again returned and brought a fresh reinforcement, and threatened us with bombardment--its cannon of thunder was rolling near us the whole of the time, preceded by a very broad flash of lightning and succeeded by heavy rains. It came in sufficient quantities to satisfy any reasonable man. I for one could have well dispensed with it, as I felt the water coming under me rather faster than convenient--my buffalo robe and some blankets which we had beneath us were soon soaked through and we had the satisfaction of knowing that our backs and sides were kept tolerably cool with it for the whole of the night--but as we couldn't avoid it we took it as it came--"natural, wasn't it?"
The road had been rather heavy and the ground rather uneven so that we made but about 17 miles. Platte still lighter timbered.
This morning we took a wagon to pieces leaving the wheels and axletrees. Another heavy thunderstorm commenced about ½ past 6 p.m. and continued I-don't-know-how-long, for being tired I soon was thundered asleep.
July 3rdAwoke with another pair of wet sides, and with wet back into the bargain and as we couldn't travel well with a wet and soft road below us while there was a dry, hot sun above us, we remained in camp until about ½ past 10 a.m. when the train again commenced its march and continued slowly until about 5 o'clock p.m. when, the mules having for the most part "given out," we came to a halt and encamped.
I was a short distance behind the train and about a mile bfeore reaching camp a voice coming from a strange camp accosted me with "This way, stranger," "This way, for some good buffalo meat," "No, don't go to him," cries another voice, "Mine is cooked better than his"--"Mine is just hot from the fire," cries a third; "Come this way." I was making my way to join the one who had first hailed me, but I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard a well-known voice pronouncing my name and with it the assurance to the others that I was an old friend of his and [he] should claim my company to supper. I accepted, and was soon partaking of what I had often heard praised, but never before had seen or tasted. The zest with which I partook of it would have told the tale that it certainly was good, yet, as "a good appetite is always the best sauce," why, I could not act the part of a just connoisseur, yet think the flavor very fine although the meat was rather tough. I suppose it was cut from "an old un."
After I had well eaten, I was supplied with a good store to take to camp and having divided it, several were for going hunting immediately as if intoxicated with the thought of buffalo.
They started, and in about two hours returned having very unchivalrously chased and killed a poor old bull, which appeared sick and unable to run--we joked them over it, and wished to see some of the meat, but as he was so old and looked so sick, they would not bring any part of him into camp. The only excuse they pleaded for killing such a helpless creature was that he was the only one they saw.
July 4th Independence DayNo one of course wished to travel, and the greater part had caught the buffalo fever and were for a hunt--the captn. amongst them--and as the mules were fatigued with heavy roads, and as the hams and part of the bacon were spoiling from the want of air--these were attended to and all of us were for celebrating the fourth of July--some went hunting--others had a private jollification in their own tents--some washed up all their dirty clothing. And I, having caught the fever in moderate symptoms went over with my rifle, afoot, towards the Platte hills intending to fire the first salute from the highest peak. (Our company very willingly allowed all the horses belonging to us to rest and not to use them for hunting.) While crossing the Platte River "bottom" towards the bluffs I saw a very fine elk and wishing--if possible--to take the first game into camp, I strived to hide myself and come upon him unawares, but he kept too keen an eye upon my maneuvers and I was obliged to give him up, rather disappointed--as he out-generaled me.
I struck the bluffs and ascended the highest peak that I could see and there fire a salute in honor of the day, then setting out among the hills I followed track after track and trail after trail for about eight hours and without seeing one four-footed animal--then seeing myself near the Platte bottom and night coming on I deemed it prudent to make for camp. This I did not so easily accomplish as I had struck the P. about 8 miles above camp, which took me two hours more. I walked about 32 or 33 miles and as I could not find an animal I would not shoot at birds. There is considerable timber, consisting of fir, cottonwood and cedar--among these hills. The mounted hunters returned soon after sunset--with jaded horses, and after killing three buffalo, could not bring them into camp, so that we obtained no fresh meat.
July 5thThe whole train was in motion at about ½ past 7 o'clock a.m. Our road lay across several dry ravines running into the Platte River, some these were rather steep. On descending one of these ravines a fatal accident occurred to one of the teamsters named Levi Freddenburg. It appears that he had, when coming off guard (he was on the same watch as myself) carelessly thrown his rifle into the wagon without taking off the cap, and as he was descending one of the ravines--a deeper and steeper one than the rest--the rifle slided out at the front of his wagon--and bouncing on the wagon tongue, startled him, and on looking back he saw the rifle falling through between the "tongue" and the "hound" he instantly caught it and snatching it quickly up the rifle cock caught the tongue and in a moment the ball struck the bone of his left eye--taking away the skull to the ear. He fell and in about 4 minutes he expired without a word. I was but a short distance from him when he fell--and on coming up what an awful scene presented itself, the blood and a portion of the brains were running out (but I forbear description). Little did I think when on guard last night--he being out of his place--I saw someone at the outskirts of the mules and challenging him with the usual watchword of "who goes there"--he gave his name as Levi F.--that this morning I should see his mangled head and dead body lying by the roadside. I had advanced towards him last night with my rifle cocked--thinking it might be an Indian--and deplorable as was the sight this morning I had much rather see it as it was, rather than as having died by my hands, from his own imprudent position.
We put his yet warm body into the wagon--wrapped in one of his blankets--and carefully took it to camp; where the melancholy tidings threw a gloom upon the whole company.
We traveled about 25 miles today. The Platte River bluffs are here about 500 feet high.
July 6thAt daybreak I arose to prepare for the interment of Freddenburg's remains--also made two grave-boards one for the head and the other for the feet, upon the former of which I printed his name, age, place of residence--when at home--and the cause of his death.
The ground upon which we were encamped being very watery we took the corpse up near the bluffs, and by the side of the road where--without Christian burial--he was placed in the earth--perhaps to be displaced by wolves--although we dug the grave deep. He had been in the Mexican War--was there taken prisoner by the Mexicans--and was released when peace was secured. Thus, poor fellow, he had survived the dangers of war to die, alone, on the desert, without one dear friend to mourn his unhappy fate--and aged only 30 years.
Our road today lay close by the side of the bluffs, and upon the whole was tolerably good although we had to cross several ravines. At noon the road took across the hills as here the hills had gradually melted own into an undulating and open country. At sunset we struck the Platte again about 2½ miles above the lower ford. A storm of wind came suddenly upon us just as we had pitched our tents, and had sat down to supper. This blew down several tents including ours, and against our taste and will peppered our meat with sand. Of course like all other unfortunate occurrences we put up with it as the only alternative!! This was not all, for the lightning and thunder came glaring and rolling--much to the annoyance of the timid. Out of the many swarms of buffalo that one sees every day in this district--I saw one out alone--the largest I have yet seen. I and one of the soldiers--then off duty--proceeded towards him--but as we advanced we found him on the opposite side of a wide marsh--so that we gave up the chase. Glover--one of my mess--was out upon the hunt, and, as a bull had given them chase and he and his party were upon the retreat he fell from his horse. The bull however very fortunately took after the retreaters; and he although considerably hurt was not seriously so; they eventually wheeled about and gave the bull another chase--this time successfully--and bringing part of the tenderloin into camp we discussed the fried buffalo and the accident together. Three others were killed and one of them just by camp. We have had no lack of buffalo for three days now. Have made about 23 miles today.
July 7thWe struck the Platte hills again at starting, and continued crossing them for about 5 hours--after which we came upon the river again, and continued along the southern bank until about 5 o'clock p.m. when we encamped, having made 23 miles. There is only here and there a solitary cottonwood tree to be seen, and that upon the opposite bank. Several hundreds of buffalo again made their appearance--and Mr. Wilson giving them chase killed a large calf and very kindly brought our mess a piece of the tenderloin--which was very fine flavored.
The roads today being very sandy and uneven 26 of the mules "gave out," and many of the wagons were brought in with difficulty.
July 8th SundayA fresh arrangement in the march of today was given by the captn.--namely the wagons belonging to the commissary department, and the most heavily laden were to start at 6 o'clock a.m. and to lie by three hours at noon. The other started about 1½ hours after and continued as usual. This plan has succeeded well and the mules came in better than for many days past. One thing contributed, and that was a good road--yes as good as any turnpike road I have seen. As one of the teamsters were sick and as I had nothing else to do, he wished me to drive for him, which I did.
I have seen but one tree--and one small group of trees the whole day's march. The soil through which our road lay today is light and sandy--the grass thin, yet studded with every variety of flowers. Being alone today I had some sweet communion with God and humming several familiar and sweet old hymns I had great enjoyment--my mind too was taken back to the society of dear friends in a distant land with whom I had united in singing them. We have made 18 miles.
July 9thAs I perceived a singular object in the small group of trees on an island of the Platte, I started to the riverside about daybreak to see what it could be--but I could not tell. Not liking to be in the dark concerning it, I threw off my clothes and finding the stream deep by the side of the bank I swam off, and a few moments after caught my knee against a sandbank--now I thought that I would walk across but the second step brought me with a plunge up to my chin--I again swam, and between walking, falling and swimming I reached the first island, but as there was not only a thorny bottom but plenty of rattlesnakes I went back again for my boots--at length I reached the island and the group of trees--and upon climbing the one with the curious object in it, I found that it was an Indian grave. A very nicely contrived and interwoven kind of basket--flat at the bottom--oval to the top--egg-shaped, and its length 4 feet, and width 2 feet 6. It was made of raw buffalo hide, and peeled willow sticks. In the inside was an Indian's body wrapped up in four fine buffalo robes--a bow and arrows--a pair of finely worked moccasins and a very beautifully ornamented "frontlet" with several other trinkets--no doubt intended to be used by the deceased in the spirit land--where "His dog and gun will bear him company" according to Pope. My curiosity would have led me to stealing--but my respect for the views even of the poor Indian said no, "hands off," so that after a second examination I replaced and there left them.
About 6 o'clock a.m. we commenced our journey and after traveling about 6 miles further along the Platte bottom we arrived at the fording place of the South Platte. Here the river is about four-fifths of a mile wide.
The wagons having all arrived arrangements were made for some of the wagons crossing to the opposite side about 10 o'clock. As the first team would have to test the depth and strength of current the best team was selected. It was my lot to join it, after being asked if I could swim, in case of an accident, and I having given the affirmative, soon all was in readiness and "away we go." The bottom of the Platte River is like a quicksand--the moment you stand still you begin to sink in. The wagon wheels jerked and jumped about as though they were locked or were moving on deep snow. This minute we were up to our knees the next we were up to our waist in the water--now we kept the ridge of a sand bed by having someone going ahead to feel for it--then we were off it and in deeper water--some were afraid of being drowned and so hung on to the wagon--others had to flog the mules to keep them moving--with the risk of being taken off their feet by the current--others on horseback had enough to do to look after themselves and horses--now in the worst place the "fifth chain" broke and one of us had to return to get another, and extra mules--at length we got safely across. There were more mules to return with than there were men to ride them. I jumped upon one good strong mule that had never before been attempted to ride, and although very fiery and frisky (mulelike) he cut up no capers in the water, and I returned in safety although much fatigued.
I went twice across and once halfway during the day, and at night did not want either a featherbed or a cradle to sleep in, to make sure of a sound sleep. Two men fell off their horses and all went a considerable distance down the stream but at length got safely to land and were at the expense of considerable mirth for the whole company.
Just before sunset, three rather good looking "Cheyennes" Indians came up to us--one a squaw (all rode horseback alike, both male and female). They were peaceably disposed although they looked at the best of the horses with an expression of countenance which we interpreted as "I should like some of those horses, and the owners will have to watch them closely or they may find them missing in the morning."
About three quarters of a mile above us on the south side of the river there is the burial place of a chief and his wife--the two faces lie partly exposed but the bodies are both wrapped in buffalo hides--or rather "robes"--but we could not ascertain what there were placed by their side in the shape of weapons and trinkets--they were covered by a large round tent--called a "lodge" made of buffalo skins and straight willow poles. There was plenty of room for 30 or 40 others--and a tolerably good entrance. Today the sun was unusually hot.
July 10thBy eleven o'clock all the wagons (29 in number) were over; we had to borrow 40 or fifty yoke of oxen from a government team bound for Fort Hall with provisions, ammunition, clothing etcetera--before we could get the wagons over as the previous process was too slow and the mules had grown tired. There has only been one wagon much injured--and that broke an axletree and other little matters. Several Cheyenne Indians visited us again today. We wanted to trade for a fine mustang mule they had, but they wouldn't trade. About sunset however a blanket was missing--belonging to Lytle; and, as the ones whom he had suspected were several hundred yards off--with guiltily looking behind them--he saddled a good horse and taking a revolver with him rode off after the Indians--the other Indians in camp seeing this rode off at full gallop after him. Then several of our company seeing this and thinking Lytle might be taken advantage of rode off to his assistance and overtook the whole of them where they found Lytle haranguing them with motions of what he wanted--one, that appeared as a chief, told him that it should be sent into camp in the morning by sunrise but nothing was seen of them or the blanket anymore.
The air here at the ford is fragrant with wild wormwood.
July 11thWe started about 6 o'clock a.m. and after passing through a succession of rolling sand hills for about 14 miles we reached a canyon of limestone formation, and which is called "Ash Hollow." There are quite a large number of ash & cypress trees growing here from which it is named. The North Fork of the Platte River which we see in the distance looks like a scene in a panorama, and owing to the suddenness with which we came upon it we were taken by surprise and [it] looked so different to the wide banks of the South Fork--yet still there are but
July 12thStarted this morning shortly after five o'clock and soon reached a very heavy sandy road where sand was 10 inches in depth, and about 10 o'clock we halted to rest--nearly all of the animals having given out; after resting about 3 hours we again started and after traveling about 2 hours more were again necessitated to stop--and encamp. It was 7 o'clock p.m. before the mules were all in camp, and yet we have only traveled 17 miles. There has not been a tree or a bush seen since we left Ash Hollow, nor any buffalo on the sandy limestone bluffs along which we have passed today.
Mosquitoes have been very troublesome today although it has been unusually cold until one o'clock p.m The grass has been very indifferent.
July 13thWe did not leave our encampment until 3 o'clock p.m. our animals being over fatigued from yesterday's exertion; and some of our men who had been to the river reported the road much better by the riverbank, we accordingly started towards the river, and found it much better traveling than yesterday. After making about 6 miles we encamped in fine grama or buffalograss. The mosquitoes are very large, very numerous, and very troublesome. Today I had a washing spell.
July 14thThis morning we started about ½ past 6 o'clock and although we were nearer the river and the road a little better, the sand is still very heavy and troublesome and hard upon the poor animals. Not a tree have we yet reached although in the distance on bluffs running north and south we see a few. After traveling about 16 miles we encamped opposite to some sand bluffs on the other side of the river, resembling a large city in ruins, and in appearance rising like a scale of mountains in an atlas. The weather still remains uncomfortably cold and quite a number of the men are sick--chiefly of diarrhea.
July 15th--SundayThe only regret I seem to have on this journey is that my sabbaths are spent so differently to those with beloved friends at home and in a Christian land. Our company travels and I from necessity have to follow--not from choice.
Riding alone today I had my Bible and with the remembrances of my much loved mother I enjoyed a sweet season.
We started about 5 o'clock this morning, the sand being our enemy for about 10 miles we traveled slow and rested about 10 o'clock. We had a different view of "Court House Rock" and "Chimney Rock" about 7 o'clock this morning and encamped nearly opposite "Court House Rock" about 6 o'clock p.m. having traveled about 21 miles the last eleven being better roads than for several days.
"Court House Rock" or "Solitary Tower" as it is called lies about 9 miles from the river, and, owing to the bold and singular front that it presents and the way the bottom land lies, it is very deceptive in distance--few persons think it more than ½ or 2 miles, and before getting opposite many are deceived in distance, and think to visit it, and after traveling several hours they think that they get no nearer to it and turn towards the road again, and are frequently until eleven or twelve o'clock at night before they reach their encampment. This singularly formed rock in the distance looks much like a large ancient building but as you draw nearer it assumes more the shape of a court house. It is nearly square with the sides nearly perpendicular, and stands upon about twelve acres of ground and is about 250 ft. to the dome and 50 ft. more to the top and like all of the rocks or bluffs in this section of country, such as "Chimney Rock," "Scotts Bluff" &c. are composed of a kind of earth or soft sandy limestone of a bluish color and is easily cut with the knife--and many names are cut (and even steps by which men climb to the top) into the sides, yet there are small projections a little slanting up which men climb.
The weather has again grown warmer and more pleasant. Much of the grass that we have passed through has been very dry yet some has been fine and green. We saw a solitary horseman on the opposite side of the river and among the bluffs and at first thought him an Indian but soon found it an emigrant.
Still we do not see a tree upon our road, nor buffalo, nor Indians--consequently there is no excitement today. We passed 3 graves by the roadside of men who had died of cholera and within four days of each other. I have felt exceedingly the goodness of God to my mind this day.
July 16thStarted early and after traveling about 13 miles over a beautiful road, very hard and level we came opposite to Chimney Rock. This I visited; it is about 3 miles from the road and 3½ from the river. This rock is a singular and solitary rock that in the distance very much resembles a shot tower, or chimney of a factory, and can be seen for more than fifty miles; there is a singular casement upon which this chimney stands and about 160 ft. to where the chimney commences. The base stands upon about 5 acres of ground and the shaft or chimney is about 20 ft. square and 120 ft. high from the top of the base: the chimney is cracked for about one-third of the length of it from the top. There is but one point--the southeastern--where emigrants can climb to the chimney; and every part of this singular structure has names upon it at the base and even as high as 30 ft. up the chimney--men to accomplish this first cut places to put in their feet, then cut places to hold by, and each venturesome climber seems to wish to put his name just above the last one. As there is but about 2 ft. to stand upon at the base of the column, and even that 2 ft. inclining outward, with nothing to lay hold of--2 ft. between one and eternity, I felt as though I had rather not risk the taking of such a sudden and dangerous "cutoff" without plenty of wood and water, and consequently cut my name lower down. One poor fellow fell and was killed. There can be no doubt but that all these bluffs have been washed into their present shapes by the very heavy rains that visit this section of country.
I followed up a ravine near the chimney and came upon some gooseberry bushes bearing fruit of a singular but pleasant flavor; also a fine cold spring of good water, and as the day was hot, and the climbing hard, a good cooling draught was not "hard to take." A little below I came upon a spring of water so thoroughly impregnated with lime as to make it utterly unfit to drink. Oh my eye!! what swarms of mosquitoes also some rattlesnakes. After two hours I overtook the train, as they had encamped about 4 miles west of Chimney Rock about 4 o'clock--having made but about 17 miles.
July 17thThis morning we sent some mules on to Fort Laramie with the hope of making an exchange, ours being so badly worn down as to retard our progress seriously. We left our encampment about 7 o'clock a.m. and journeyed on towards "Scotts Bluffs" until we reached the forks of the road, one road passing through an aperture in the bluffs and very rough the other taking to the left hand up a hollow--here we halted for 3 hours; when we continued our journey up a valley for about 3 miles, the road very good; on either hand in the distance the bluffs risking for 250 or 300 ft. assumed every conceivable variety of fantastic shapes the memory could compare or the imagination could conceive. The first sight of these singularly shaped bluffs reminded me of an impregnable & fortified city of immense dimensions, or a strong citadel with breastworks and outposts; and, as we ascended the valley, barracks, ruined cities, miniature mountains of a conical shape, old decaying castles, nearly in ruins, or indeed anything else that the imagination can liken them to, the sides being nearly upright like a wall. They are not however continuously unbroken but sometimes a quarter of a mile apart, some round, some square, and some oblong. Upon the whole I thought this one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. We continued on up this hollow or valley until we came to a deep ravine where there was a spring--here we encamped. A short distance higher say ½ of a mile there is a large Indian village of the Sioux tribe with between 50 & 60 lodges. (These lodges are their tents, formed of buffalo hide prepared on purpose, about from 10 to 16 ft. across and at the top a little open to let out the smoke, the fire being built upon the ground in the center of these circular lodges, and they contain from 5 to 15 persons.) This village only numbered about 250 inhabitants chiefly squaws and papooses, the men being on a hunting or war expedition. I paid them a visit and was introduced to "War Eagle" (or "Gray Eagle" as he is sometimes called) their chief, who received us cordially, shaking hands with all of our party who were with us, and after looking around us we wished him "good day"--he shook hands with me again and made signs for me to come up and see him "by um by." After supper I went to pay him another visit--and on going up towards the village I was greeted by the unfriendly barking of a large number of dogs which showed their teeth more plainly than pleasant, but their owners soon silenced them. Indians invariably have dogs in great numbers and very much like wolves, there can be no doubt of the breed being crossed with the wolf. War Eagle came out to welcome me to his tent and introduced me to "Mrs." War Eagle, a tolerably clean looking Indian squaw--who was then cooking supper--he invited me to smoke the pipe of peace with him and invited me to find tobacco, but as I did not use it I apologized and he fetched some tobacco and some leaves (looking very much like dried willow leaves) when he smoked, and I smoked, and as I had been shown a seat and other friends of mine host dropping in and being shown a seat beside me, we all smoked the pipe of peace together. Until supper was ready, when he invited me to eat with him but I told him that I had taken supper, and being afraid of some grasshoppers being mixed with it, I was not sorry for the excuse, although at his request I tasted it, and found it to be dried buffalo meat pounded up very fine and made hot by their usual hot stone process--quite palatable, however, and a young shaver of a papoose offered me a root that he was eating. The Sioux, both men and women, are not only better looking and having finer built and more erect bodies but are better dressed than most of the Indian tribes I have seen as yet.
Mr. Robidoux has a trading post near here, and there are several traders who intend wintering at this point, having Indian squaws for wives--these men take it Indian fashion in their lodges.
Before leaving Scotts Bluffs I may as well notice that this name was given from a man of the name of Scott having been engaged with several others in fighting Indians some 60 miles west of these bluffs, and being wounded was left in the care of 3 comrades who soon after their captn. had left had the heartlessness to leave poor Scott alone in an Indian country and helpless from his wounds. He had walked and crept as far as these bluffs and from ornaments found about his person his bones were identified the following spring and from that time these were named after him.
July 18thThis morning we were honored with the presence of all the warriors who were left to take care of the squaws and lodges [and] children &c. and shortly after by the women, who timidly kept a short distance from us. One of the warriors was busy showing me how he had buried his tomahawk--there in his hand--in the skull of a Pawnee Indian--this and the Pawnee tribe are at eternal war with each other. About 18 of the warriors had understood that we had presents to give them, and came and formed a circle, when what ornaments we had to give were given into the hands of their chief--Grey Eagle--as they saw the glittering gilt baubles the women were highly delighted: These ornaments were soon distributed as far as they would go, and two had to go without a necklace each; they looked disappointed but complained not. I was invited to go and see some of their lodges and when we entered they were preparing breakfast--one squaw was engaged broiling some dried buffalo meat--while another was beating some with a large pebble fastened in a tough stick which was bent around it. The ladies with me were invited to eat some of the pounded meat but politely declined. One fine-looking young Sioux "belle" (the best looking of the number) came up to me and looked steadfastly straight into my eyes and I, not knowing how to be better employed, looked straight into hers, when she smiled and dropped her eyes and came up to me and looked up again, and commenced running her fingers through my beard where the ladies burst out laughing, and I laughed, then she laughed and we all laughed together. I've no doubt these ladies of ours when we are talking round the camp fire will advise me to shave, but of course I couldn't think of such a thing after a young Sioux lady--daughter of a chief at that--has taken such a fancy to them--who knows but what I may return and turn Indian yet for the sake of this fair creature--hem!!!
Wishing them good morning we started again on our journey crossing the ravine near its upper end and afterwards ascending a hill at the upper end of this valley we saw in the dim distance and for the first time the shadowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains to our right and the "Laramie Peak" to our left; after traveling about 13 miles we rested our animals on "Horse Creek"--good water and poor grass--the road good. About 4 miles from the Indian village there is a small creek of very good water but like Bob Sawyer's apple present to Miss Winkle--it was unpleasantly warm.
July 19thThis morning we had an early start and made the North Fork of the Platte River about 11 o'clock; it was in sight from our camp on Horse Ck. For about 6 miles from that point--Horse Ck.--the road was heavy with the same kind of sand as before.
After traveling about 20 miles we encamped with wood and water plenty--the other 14 miles [of] road being tolerably good.
July 20thWe made an early start and traveling through a barren and sandy country--rather rough--we made the "Laramie Fork" about 11 o'clock, and at noon was encamped about 2 miles above "Fort Laramie" on the Laramie River--the "fort" is about 1½ miles from Laramie Fork, and the same distance from the Platte.
Fort Laramie was a fort & trading post--built and owned by the American Fur Co. but has since been purchased by the United States as a military post. Its buildings are rather dilapidated, being built several years since of turf cut from the prairie--the roofs slanting within the fort.
In '49 [sic] there were over 11,000 "buffalo" hides taken from this post home but since that time owing to the emigration the number has gradually diminished until they are not many more than half that number now. There are about 10 soldiers stationed at this fort I am informed. Most of whom are anxious to journey to California.
July 21stThis has been a busy day setting wagon tire and other little necessary repairs. Here we saw some of the results of starting on this journey without having good knowledge of your traveling companions--how few agree--all seem reckless, and but few who were known as good men at home are good on this journey--here there are no social influences to restrain the natural impulses of the man.
We found three men lying here very badly--if not mortally wounded, by their traveling companions who had not only wounded but left them to die or live as they best could, while they took the stock and wagon and started on. Great numbers of wagons are broken to pieces, from passionate disagreement--and many companies who act better than that divide up. Mules here are worth from $80 to $120 each. I traded a yoke of cattle (that I had found 50 miles back among the hills) for a grey mare, rather poor but having a good frame--
July 22nd SundayWe started on today in search of better grass and found it much worse, for now we are among the "Black Hills" and grass is scarce--and most of what is found is tuft grass. We have encamped, distance from the fort about 12 miles--on a spring called "Warm Spring" but which is cool enough. We now stand guard again as usual. The road today has been up and down hills, yet with a good hard bottom.
July 23rdThe Black Hills are rough enough and our journey today has been very hilly--from the roughness of our morning's journey we are surely among mountains. I witnessed one very fine scene in these hills this morning--it was like a large city upon a mountain--immense buildings appearing one above the other and interspersed with stunted pine trees--what would I have given for a good Daguerrean instrument. I saw men burning lime and making pitch from the pine trees used for the lime being so full of pitch that a continuous stream ran out below. They were burning for the fort. After traveling about 23 miles, 6 or 8 of which at the start this morning was very rough the rest moderate--we encamped on Horse Shoe Ck. where there was fine cool water but little grass.
July 24thAfter traveling about 6 miles this morning we came upon the North Platte River again and turning downstream about 2 miles we found excellent grass where we encamped--having left the road. Today I took the thermometer, in the shade it was 98, in the sun 136. A very violent thunderstorm paid us [a] visit and serenaded us long after we had retired to rest.
July 25thWe remained in camp all day--the morning very cold. Strolling down on the Platte we found some gooseberries--wild of course--and boiled them for sauce for tea.
During the day a strange gentleman visited us of the name of Blodgett who reported that a number of men whom he had fitted out and agreed to take to California had this morning left him, taking animals, wagons, provisions &c. After an early tea several of our party volunteered to ride on and overtake them. After riding on about 9 miles they found that a woman Col. B. had fallen in love with and was taking along was the cause of their leaving him--but this did not justify their leaving him nearly destitute of provisions--and taking horses, wagons and everything. Finding the cause of the proceeding to be this woman one or two of our men turned back and shortly after the others followed, without doing anything in the matter of reclaiming B.'s property.
July 26thWe started early, but owing to the roads being rather heavy caused by the rain--we only made 18 miles--crossing the La Bonte & La Prele rivers. Near to this point the North Fork of the Platte forms a kenyon; and having climbed the bluff I looked down the nearly perpendicular sides of the river and guessed the height at 180 or 200 ft. to the water; to the opposite side I should think it about 150 ft. The current is strong. The weather is still cool. Here grow immense quantities of the wild sunflower. Today we saw a flock of wild geese--our men shot after them but not at them for not one was killed although our mouths seemed watery at the thoughts of a goose once again.
We spent the evening shooting at a mark about 20 of us and I had the good luck of being the second best shot!!!
July 27thAbout ½ past 6 o'clock this morning we were upon our journey--about an hour afterwards entered a stretch of low swampy bottom land, yet our road lay close to the bluffs and was hard traveling for the animals. There are quite a number of cottonwood trees fallen--I suppose for feed--for animals. After passing through this swampy ground, the country became rolling--Laramie Peak still in view on our left hand. About 11 o'clock a.m. the Black Hills road intersected ours and descending the road the country around looked bold, beautiful & mountainous--a fine view. Here one of our men (Mix S.) upset a wagon and spilled coffee, sugar and everything else upon the road. From this point our road lay down a ravine or bottom of a creek in which was a fine spring of good water. When we reached the mouth of this ravine we came upon a good creek with plenty of cottonwood and water but no grass. We took water with us but it was not wanted; the country around is very broken and singular and very uninviting nothing but hills, red sand and sage bushes. Sunset is near but there is no hope of camping, and moreover we have come upon a singular, salty carbonated limestone intermixed with sand. We kept winding our way over steep hills and deep ravines--now going north, then east, then south there west until past midnight. Traveling about by starlight to find grass and water without success--mules give out and one a long distance behind--and wagons are scattered everywhere--animals tied to sage bushes--a fine time and place for Indians, had there been any disposed to steal. Some of our boys being ahead and having stopped, kindled a fire and supper was just ready when I came up, never had anything been so heart-cheering and rejoicing. If we get benighted and in the distance see the camp fire burning brightly it causes a thrill of pleasure, and now I was weary, hungry, thirsty and benighted and I have the impression that I did justice to the food. It may be a wrong one--I had not tasted food since morning and was in a fit state of the stomach--even had it been horseflesh. Several men were ahead whose teams were behind and of course under such circumstances provisions are common property. It was a long fast for all, especially the poor animals and exercise, pure mountain air and fasting all combine to give a constant appetite. The provisions suffered this night if they ever did. This has been a singular day--the morning very cold, at 10 o'clock a.m. just comfortably warm, at 2 o'clock p.m. very hot, sunset very cold. We have made about 40 miles today.
July 28thMen and animals are this morning exceedingly fatigued by the overexertion of yesterday--and to increase our troubles the captain is sick. I never felt finer although I walked the whole of the journey yesterday. As soon as day broke every wagon was in motion, yet we moved very slowly for about 10 miles when as the animals began to give out we were obliged to encamp although the grass offers no better inducements than yesterday--and good grass is too far ahead to attempt reaching it.
None of us having waited to cook breakfast expecting soon to find grass, I started on ahead and soon came up with emigrants who were in the same condition as ourselves but who were engaged in the enviable exercise of taking breakfast, and when they invited me to partake of a flapjack and coffee I had not the hardihood to decline--for I know my stomach must have reproved me bitterly if I had. It took us nearly 5 hours to get the 10 miles; and, after waiting and whipping most of them overtook us in camp. Crossing some sand hills we saw about 18 or 20 buffalo, when all being tired and out of humor we allowed them to go unmolested. After we had been in camp about an hour one of the boys came up and reported as having killed an antelope inviting me to go to help him carry it in and then surprise them by the present. I did so and when "fresh meat" was heard of in camp faces gradually began to shorten; but, what was one antelope among so many--yet it was fat, fine and good tasted and an excellent treat. The weather still cold. The road today has been hilly and difficult traveling. Wind high nearly the whole of the day.
July 29th SundayAnxious to get good grass again we made an early start and after a journey of about 7 miles we again struck the Platte River. It was as pleasant almost as though we had met an old friend--as indeed the Platte was to us for we have invariably fared well upon it. The wind this morning was very cold. Not finding much grass upon the Platte where we struck it and hearing that grass could be found a short distance down--among the hills we started in search, leaving our wagons about 2 miles below the road--on the Platte, but "tell it not in Gath" for it was not "thar" the grass being worse than where our wagons were standing. We now retraced our steps, and the 4 miles we had come took less time to go back. On returning I saw for the first time a "horned frog" with a long tail and horns upon or rather around his head: when I pushed him with a stick he turned round and the attitude in which he stood seemed to say--"You do--that's all--I'm ready for you." After "taking a look" as long as I wanted, I left him to go home about his business, although if I had any conveniences for keeping him I should have made him prisoner. This morning I enjoyed a sweet peace--but disappeared as the duties of the day engaged my necessary time.
Some of the men while wandering around found a valley about three miles off where there was good grass; and we were not long in giving the animals the benefit of it. It was among the Black Hills. From the large number of very large elk horns lying around we concluded it to be a favorite stamping ground of theirs and named it "Elk Horn Valley." Seeing plenty of antelope we took the liberty of taking them down with our rifles and antelope were in abundance at our "table." This valley was very picturesque and beautiful. Some of our teamsters who were in Mexico during the war praised it as being the prettiest.
July 30thThis day we remained in camp, being still suffering from fatigue. Some of our horses having crossed the North Platte I swam my horse across to get them lest the Indians might save us the trouble by taking them off. I had scarcely crossed when I saw the skull of a man that evidently had been drowned, the wolves had taken part of him away and by the gnawing of the clothes and the way parts of the body were scattered around they had doubtless been feasting on him. An arm lay here, and a leg yonder. The tendons being here from the flesh being gnawed off.
There as in many other places all kinds of useless articles are thrown away--boxes, barrels, ironwork of all kinds, &c. &c.
This afternoon in visiting the ground where we first took our animals at this camp in search of a horse--I came upon a coal mine and upon trying it we found it to burn well and is of excellent quality. This may someday help a railway.
July 31stAbout 8 o'clock a.m. we started on our journey, and after about 5 miles of traveling we crossed "Deer Creek," a tributary of the Platte where we found good water and would have been good grass if it had not been eaten off. Here we found a ferry across the N. Platte and about 10 o'clock a.m. we commenced crossing and finished soon after dark, having 29 wagons to cross over. There had liked to have been a serious difficulty between a man named Powers and another named Cummings over a mere trifle--and Powers took a rifle and was leveling it to shoot Cummings when I knocked it out of his hand, and reasoning with them we broke up the row. Mr. Dallas bought the ferry this morning, line, ferryboat--small boat &c. for an inferior horse--the owners having grown tired of waiting any longer--they had been here three weeks but had now packed up for the "diggins." We worked hard all day to get over the teams &c.--we were charged $2 per wagon so that he made $52 out of our train--crossed his own for nothing and sold it for $150. We swam our animals across above the ferry and took them to grass about 2 miles up the river.
The North Platte is clear--the South Platte muddy in their waters.
Aug. 1stWe made about 16 miles through a bad sandy country over sand bluffs. Patterson came near upsetting his wagon but was saved by some men running to lay hold of it before it went. There we were overtaken by a little old man who had a cart and two mules and who was traveling alone and made good time traveling. He and his comrades had started with a wagon and mules but had fallen out and divided up. This cart business seems to me to be by far the easiest of anything on wheels. We encamped again upon the Platte and found tolerable grass. Today in my wanderings I found the dead body of a soldier who had been shot by Indians. He had it was thought deserted from Fort Laramie. He had an India-rubber canteen upon his neck with water in it. I searched his pockets with a stick to try to find any book or paper by which he could be identified, but nothing was found but cartridges with the powder spoiled. The wolves had eaten him nearly in two and had commenced upon his thigh and gnawed him on the neck. Today we found some very fine gooseberries and made some "sauce" for supper by boiling and sweetening them.
Aug. 2ndWe made only about 10 miles along the Platte over a heavy road of sand and hills and encamped. What a large assortment of old trunks, boxes, clothes, tools, chains &c. were lying around. This heavy traveling causes people to throw away now what they ought never to have started with and after wearing down their patience and their animals had thrown them away. Near to where we encamped we found good grass upon an island opposite. We had a good supply of gooseberry sauce and few can tell how highly prized are some of the rude remembrances of city luxuries.
Aug. 3rdAt starting this morning we had to double teams to ascend a steep bluff, shortly after passed "Heart Island." Just before us lay about 30 dead oxen and a number of broken wagons, baggage, pickaxes, axes, hammers, anvils, bellows with sundry other blacksmithing tools, and after making about 16 miles through one third of road of heavy sand we encamped without wood, water or grass--being entirely barren.
We had to drive our animals about 5 miles to poor grass & water, several went out in search of it but some got lost and did not make camp before morning. Signal shots were fired nearly all night for the benefit of those out and these were the only means of knowing our position. Our wagon was several miles ahead but I could not desert those where I was staying, even if the darkness had not been so dense, and they would not return of course--thinking, when they went ahead, that we should have to make grass and water. But we didn't, nor anything else.
Aug. 4thHaving had but little rest little food and water, and our animals faring worse than ourselves, we did not feel in the best possible state of body or mind for traveling; but as we couldn't be in a worse position we started for a better [one] and after traveling through a desolate valley or extended flat--in which were several alkali springs we encamped at good water, no grass at Willow Springs. Here our wagon was and we were all mutually pleased again to see each other although separated only for a night and as they had been in camp all day they had made a lot of doughnuts, fritters, fosnocks &c. for eating and we literally devoured them. Grass had been found about six miles from the road and as it was my night for standing guard, we drove our animals off towards it, and I with 7 others were soon on the road. After about 1½ hours--it took us much longer than common--the animals being hungry would stay to pick--and while we were driving one side the others were all scattered. About an hour before sundown as the animals were passing across a hollow nine of them got into a mud lake and nothing but the head and the end of the tail could be seen of them. I thought they were a "total loss" but getting hold of the picket ropes--one by one we drew them out although some of them had no ropes on them they were luckily near the hard side and by holding on to "Tom Pepper" he put a rope round their necks and although they were--with the exception of their heads--a beautiful "buff" color we had them all safe and sound among the rest. The last rays of light seemed to be leaving us and no prospect of grass before us, things in general looked rather "blue." One of the boys rode ahead and we heard the welcome sound--at the top of his voice--"wa-ter" and as there we found grass, while the animals are grazing I will describe the "mud lake."
The land around was of an elevated and rolling level, but there was a worn hollow (through which the animals took) and the center looked like a large old volcano, filled to the top with mud the top of which was a very hard crust and being thin the weight of the animals together had broken it. I have no doubt but it is a small lake where animals go to quench their thirst and the water had all dried up.
We did not find the camp intended but went beyond it a mile or so, we found the following morning--but coming to grass and worn down we divided and one half took the first watch and the other was soon asleep. The day's travel and the evening's diversion was soon forgotten in sleep by four men. Some of the men heard a footstep, and calling out we found it was the man whom our captain had sent to show us the place and [who] had gone before us telling us which way to come and we had partly forgotten. He came with "the captain's orders and you are to come to the field camp about ½ mile above." Being fatigued and vexed by his leaving us we sent word that if the captain or himself or anyone else wanted the animals they could have them by fetching--but as for ourselves we were too tired with what we had already experienced to move one peg that night. Those being fairly awake again who had turned in requested every man to lie down as there was no danger to be apprehended in such an out-of-the-way place as that and leaving only one to look out the rest turned in.
Aug. 5th SundayAbout 9 o'clock a.m. we were relieved guard and after a walk of 3½ hours--for we again lost our way--we made camp and needed no second invitation to breakfast. As the grass was buffalo grass and good & the animals and men fatigued--we laid over today. But not because it was Sunday. Some game was killed today--and as game was plenty most of the men went hunting. There is no notice taken of Sunday--some do not know when it comes. By special invitation I dined with Mr. Picket and family he wished me to sketch "the 15th D. of B."
Aug. 6thAgain we remained in camp--Picket & Captn. Morris had a quarrel and Morris would compel Picket to leave the train--he refused and there was something like trouble expected but all things were made about right again. A detachment of men was sent to the field camp with wagons for grass with orders for the guard to cut it--but as there were many men about camp doing nothing and they had to attend [to] guard duties and keep the animals from wandering they refused. When Capt. M. sent a detachment of rifle men to compel them--and these made common cause with the field-guard and on returning informed the capt. that the men were kept busy keeping the animals within bounds--and with a severe reprimand they were placed under arrest--and the grass went "to grass"--for it never reached camp.
Capt. _____ of Fort Laramie who had been beyond the Rocky Mountains some 60 miles after five deserters had caught them & brought them with him, encamped with us. Plenty of game in camp. I shot a white wolf today. There has been wind and rain this evening. Our boys are gone ahead and are encamped in good grass at "Independence Rock" on the Sweetwater River. We heard that there is gold discovered on that river.
Aug. 7thOur mules and horses did not arrive in camp until after 8 o'clock this morning, consequently the train did not commence moving before ½ past 9 o'clock and even then there was a reported absence of 50 of the animals that had been stampeded during the night. A detachment of men was in pursuit in command of Capt. Morris and after riding about 30 miles they arrived with the missing animals just before dark where we were encamped on "Greasewood Creek" 10½ miles from "Willow Spring"--grass scarce. The road today has been half sandy and upon the whole indifferent. This morning when on the top of a hill about a mile from Willow Spring we had a fine view of the distant mountains (the Wind River Range). A large grizzly bear was seen not far from the road. Barrenness and desolation seem written upon the whole of the country through which we have passed today--wild sage and greasewood the only kind of shrub or tree to be seen.
Aug. 8thHaving had orders to tie the mules to the wagons last night we were prepared to make an early start at the expense of the poor mules who having fed on wagon tire were not in the best state of mind for a hard day's work. Soon after sunrise we were on the march and traveling through sand, past a number of alkali lakes we came to the Sweetwater River about 10 o'clock a.m. and encamped about 2 miles below Independence Rock. This rock stands in an isolated position upon the valley of the Sweetwater. It is about 125 rods in length and 120 ft. in height at the highest part of it. On the top there is a hollow in which there is water standing most of the year, the road is generally below the lower side of the "rock" and near to the river. This rock took its name from some of the early American emigrants or trappers spending their fourth of July there. Every year emigrants anxious to spend the "Fourth" at this point will travel long in the night to make it, or tarry a day to spend the day at it. This rock--unlike the soft sandy limestone of the North Platte--is of granite as are all of the rocks upon the Sweetwater River.
Expecting to find our company here I traveled on about 3½ miles and found them encamped--near the Devil's gate. It was pleasant to see the old tents and the white-topped wagon in the distance for if I had not found them I should have had to travel on perhaps several days--and being alone I did not feel anxious for that pleasure.
Taking a meal with them I made arrangements to see them again at Salt Lake, our animals, being worn down considerably, could be well recruited at that city and would be the better for the rest part of the journey, and those trains with which I had been traveling having plenty of animals and provisions and scarce of help.
Saw the footprints of a bear that measured 9 in. by 13 in. As however our wagon was only going a few miles further that night I went with them and spent the night. The "Devil's Gate" is sometimes called "The Sisters" from the resemblance of one side of the rock to the other, for it is composed of two rocks or a chasm in one through which the whole body of water composing the Sweetwater River runs. The aperture is about 100 ft. in width and the sides are nearly upright--spreading outwards a little, and are about 400 ft. high. Emigrants can easily get on the top from the road and arriving at the edge of the chasm lie down and "take a look" in and are pleased they haven't to go there to get firewood. Some try to get down from the top--and there is one place where it can be done, by the risk of your neck. One poor fellow who was ambitious to descend by this pass reached about halfway down and couldn't go further and couldn't return. His arms and feet aching he was afraid of falling before assistance could be rendered him and thought of tying his wrist and the point of a rock together with his handkerchief and was thus saved from falling and eventually rescued by his companions. It is supposed that the two rocks at some time formed only one and were separated by an earthquake. When the Sweetwater River is high the rushing foam of it through this chasm is almost deafening.
This may be one reason for the name "Devil's Gate" being "like a roaring lion" &c.
Aug. 9thThis morning taking a horse and some clean linen I joined the other train. The road from Independence Rock to the Devil's Gate is pretty good--a distance of about 8 miles--I took the river road back and returning met Dallas and Col. Johnson. Their boys were fishing and had taken several buckets full with a poor old seine, part of which they presented me, also some tenderloin of venison, with some bread and some matches for fear I should not see the train before night--but I met with them soon afterwards and we shared the venison fish &c. together--"sich is life" upon the plains. I had found an ox also, near a large mouth-shaped mountain, in good condition and drove this into camp, but it was very footsore. In the distance I had taken [it] for a bear and stealing cautiously upon it when within rifle shot I discovered my mistake.
Aug. 10thOur road today was very sandy and heavy for the poor animals which by shortness of provender and hard work were daily becoming weaker. Once up a very steep sand hill we had to double teams. We took the river road (by the other it is sandy, and there are sage bushes seven to 9 feet high). About noon today a storm of thunder, lightning, wind and rain. We have made only 10 miles although we started early this morning, and encamped opposite a high sand bluff. The mountains in the distance look very bold and fine. Today we were overtaken by "Allen & Turner's Pioneer Train." They left Independence June 20th and we left St. Joe June 8th. They had lost two men, one had fallen out of the wagon and being run over was killed upon the spot. The other had died of a disease contracted before leaving the frontier. All of this train complain bitterly of their bad food and limited supply. This was a passenger train, and they were allowed to carry about 150 lbs. of personal baggage to the man and had been required to throw most of it away. Most of these passengers had adopted a plan of "caching" their goods, which was to dig a hole like a grave and putting their goods therein covering it up and put a grave board something like a graveboard with the name age date &c. upon it. This succeeds in deceiving people very well, but they are useless to the owners, for they never return for them. We found some good currants today.
Aug. 11thAt starting this morning I ascended a hill to the left of the road where I saw a limestone rock resembling a house in ruins, standing alone. I shall call it the lone ruin. Returning, being as usual--alone, I enjoyed one of the most felicitous seasons thinking on God's goodness to me thus far on my journey--and His kind care in seasons past. The road today for about 7 miles was tolerably good, and coming to some bluffs--the river flowing between them, it was considerably rough, but the scenery picturesque and beautiful. We moved among them on tolerable grass and found black, white and red currants. Saw a poor ox which in its weakness had attempted to leave the river had fallen on a rock below and there died by the fall. We have made about 17 miles today and encamped on the outside of this ridge of mountains.
Aug. 12th SundayThis morning after ascending a hill soon after leaving camp we again saw the lofty peaks of [the] Rocky Mountains--and 4 miles further brought us to a fine valley of grass but very swampy.
The road on the edge of this valley was good until we passed the "Ice Spring" when it became rocky and sandy. We encamped on the Sweetwater after making about 18 miles. Large numbers of dead oxen seen today.
Aug. 13thWe traveled through a hilly country, the scenery fine, for about 19 miles and the road rough. We nooned upon the Sweetwater, saw plenty of fish and wild ducks. Some of our boys passing round a grassy lake to shoot ducks came near hitting me. The ball had struck the water and glanced whizzing within a foot of my ear--and another ball struck within a yard of my foot, just in front of me. I used my lungs to some advantage--don't you think? This afternoon we traveled up some high hills and the traveling was very difficult, we crossed some rocky ridges upon one of which the captain's wagon was broken into pieces--every spoke breaking out of one of the wheels.
Last night a mule was mired; and, the guard being unaware of it before morning the wolves taking advantage of his position had commenced eating him alive and the guard hearing a strange noise went and found the poor mule badly gnawed and in the agonies of death. Before daylight all of him was eaten that could be reached above the mud. We encamped in the valley about 2 miles from Strawberry Ck. We overtook Col. Johnson. Glover was threatened to be [omission] by Maj. Reynolds. The Maj. having taken up with a woman brought by Col. Blodgett whom he overtook while traveling alone--took a fancy to her and she to him they traveled together--and Glover had interfered in some way.
Aug. 14thLast night we herded our animals about 1½ miles from camp. It was very cold and unpleasant standing guard. Ice was seen upon the ground. Our journey this morning lay along the base of some mountains or rather tall hills and was tolerably good. The Rocky Mountains lying a little to the right of us I was very much disappointed, I expected they would present a bolder front to our view as we are now as near as we shall go--still they look very rugged and fine. We are now encamped on the Sweetwater about 2½ miles from the "South Pass" our mules herded about 2 miles up the river which diverges from the road.
Nearly a serious affray occurred between Patterson & Clements (a soldier) the latter seeing a bird had shot at it and not looking beyond it did not see Patterson and myself herding the animals--when P. went up to him and accused him of d----d carelessness and some words ensued and P. drew his knife upon him. I was just in time to catch his hand as it was falling, with the knife in it, upon Clements. The ball had passed Patterson's side within a few inches.
We overtook today Dallas and Maj. Reynolds who (with the woman) had united their trains and were traveling together. Mr. Dallas has informed us that all of his men he had brought out and the whole of the train was his--but that the men had conspired together to take his train away from him and requested to travel with ours which our Capt. permitted and offered him assistance if it were needed. Mosquitoes plenty.
Aug. 15thWe remained in camp until between three and four o'clock p.m. having good grass and intending only to make "Pacific Springs" about 8 miles from our encampment. A warm discussion having arisen whether the white seen upon the Rocky Mountains was snow or white sand, I rode out to see and on returning intending to strike the road as near Pacific Springs as possible--I took across the country--and was brought to a stand against an apparently interminable swampy marsh--just as the sun was setting and had to ride all round back to camp to pass it. It was now nearly dark and just before me I saw an animal I took for a grizzly bear coming towards me. I prepared to give him battle, for I had still three charges in my revolving-rifle, but I found it was a very large wolf walking on a barren ridge and not seeing me. I shouted and he heard me but didn't seem to care about turning from his course; I had made up my mind that if he would leave me alone I would not meddle with him. As I kept walking toward him--for I only walked my horse--I kept ready to fire at him, and if I didn't bring him down I would gallop off. He thought the better of his course and turned away and as soon as he was out of sight I tried how fast my horse would go and about 1½ hours after dark I made camp, and never shall I forget the pleasure of seeing our camp fires brightly burning and my supper on one side of one of them. I had magnified the danger of being on the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains--alone and at night--supposing it entirely infested with ferocious animals--but I know I was exceedingly rejoiced at my making camp in safety. The "South Pass" so called is about 20 miles in width and the rise so gradual that we did not know scarcely when we had reached it. It is about 4 miles from water to water on the South Pass and it was pleasant when at Pacific Springs to know that the waters we now met with in the "Great Basin" were running towards the Pacific Ocean. The road is good to here from the last camp. I saw several large wolves in my ride tonight, but no "bars."
Aug. 16thAbout 13 miles from Pacific Springs we came to the junction of the Oregon and California roads. A board fastened to a stick informed us that this and that company had taken this and that road and recommended their friends to follow them. Some take the Oregon road to "Sublette's Cutoff" and then turn off for California. We passed the "Dry Sandy" and encamped on the "Little Sandy" having made about 22 miles on a good road--
Aug. 17thWe commenced our day's journey about 7 o'clock a.m. and about 3 p.m. made the "Big Sandy" where we encamped--having made about 18 miles. We had just reached it when the rain commenced and continued until sunset. We found good grass about 1 mile from the road, to the left.
Aug. 18thA very foggy morning--yet about 7 o'clock we rolled off and after traveling about 17 miles we again encamped on the "Big Sandy"--the road very good. Fresh meat being in demand several of the co. went hunting and started an antelope but didn't kill him--so--didn't get him!!!
Aug. 19th SundayLast night while on guard a noise was heard something like a blubbering sort of howl and in a few minutes afterwards a large black bear came to the edge of the riverbank and looked down upon the animals but did not see us until we made a noise when he walked off, and as we had no firearms with us--a very unusual thing--and all were too much frightened to go alone to camp to fetch some we made up a large fire. Wolves and panthers are plenty here and unite in a serenade. We saw the bear tracks next morning and with them a number of others--no doubt the panthers & wolves that we had heard but had not seen. After starting on our journey and traveling about 3½ hours we reached "Green River." This is a fine large stream about the size of the North Platte and well timbered with cottonwood--and the sight of them was a pleasant addition to the landscape. This is the first large timber we have seen for several weeks.
Our wagons had reached and forded Green River with comparative ease--but Maj. Reynolds--whom we overtook again and passed--came to the ford and did not like the look of it, and tried another--in trying to cross which his wagon turned over--having got into one of the many deep holes in this stream--and the swiftness of the current took out this thing and the other and lastly out swam a whisky keg about ½ full and the major's face was like Ezekiel's roll, "full of lamentation and mourning and woe" and called upon the men to "save it," "save it"--we all laughed and did not stir--he was not liked by anyone, being selfish. If he had saved it, the men told him, he wouldn't give them a drink--but he said he would! We have made about 18 miles today and encamp about 2 miles below the ford. Where Hervey preached to us.
Aug. 20thWe left Green River proper and encamped on Black's Fork of Green River after making about 25 miles--road tolerably good, somewhat rolling. Passed a grave-board on which was written "Found Drowned."
Aug. 21stWe came again in sight of the Rocky Mountains. Heard from Dallas that 10 of his men had made a raft and a boat out of a wagon bed and had started down Green River. Quimby was captain of the party!!! How foolish. If they escape the waterfalls they cannot escape the bands of hostile Indians that infest this stream nearly the whole of its course. This must certainly be "the greenhorn's cutoff to California." Passed the grave of a man upon whose headboard was written "Shot."
The appearance of the sand bluffs today have been fantastic and singular and of every conceivable shape.
The road today has been tolerably good and we have made about 23 miles. Capt. Morris & Gen. Wilson have gone on to "Fort Bridger" distant about 32 miles. Weather cold.
Aug. 22ndThrough a dusty but tolerably good road we reached "Fort Bridger." This fort is situated in a beautiful valley on a tributary of Green River. The fort and scenery around is pretty and picturesque. The buildings are made of adobe and logs and the trade is chiefly with the Snake Indians for skins yet the emigration have doubtless increased the profits of this post. Two or three Indians came out to our encampment to say "How do"--and were cleanly dressed in blankets. These seem to me to be finer looking and better behaved than any I have before seen. Seeing a singular something packed at the back of one of the squaws, I went up to it and on lifting up a piece of old handkerchief I found that a young pickaninny was tied in a buffalo-skin basket gaudily painted with red & black--and gradually tapering from the top downwards. It reminded me of a miniature imitation of an Egyptian mummy--but with this difference--the child had black hair and sparkling eyes, with his head just above the rim of the basket. I burst out with an involuntary laugh and its mother smiled pleasantly as though she enjoyed the mirth. At the fort I bought a buffalo robe for $4. Outside the fort was a trader in a tent who had his Indian squaw who with another girl--evidently her sister--were making a pair of buckskin pantaloons for W. H. Wilson. In the fort were plenty of bear skins but few good robes--I was fortunate in getting a good one. For five days past the days have been excessively hot and the nights excessively cold.
Mr. Thorne was at the fort (one of our company)--he wished to pack so we gave him a horse, provisions and $20.
Aug. 23rdAs we remained in camp part of today I went around visiting and went to the Indian village where I saw a young Indian warrior--a fine built fellow who had taken thirty scalps from the heads of his enemies. There are about twenty-eight Indian lodges around the fort with the usual quantity of dogs and children. The dogs are curiously crossed between the wolf and bear--the bear crossed dogs are very short and strong.
We left Fort Bridger about noon and after traveling about 13 miles of part dusty, part pebbly road, over several hills, we encamped on a small stream. One hill that we crossed was the worst we have yet had and was very steep and very pebbly--but from the top we had a magnificent view. Last night was as usual cold. Encamped on "Muddy Fork."
Aug. 24thThis morning there was a beautiful rainbow and a few drops of rain. After getting on a few miles there was a cry of a man lost--Murray--and several men rode in every direction and [he] was eventually found asleep on the camp ground of last night--he had stood guard--
A new kind of vegetation and a different kind of flowers are here seen--those gentle harbingers of a better time on a journey like the present. Yesterday we passed the great dividing ridge between the waters of the Colorado and Bear River--the waters of the latter running into the Great Salt Lake and there sink or evaporate. This ridge is 7700 feet above the sea. The distance made today is 20 miles. The first 12 miles had a good road, the last eight hilly and pebbly consequently hard traveling. The day has been cool. Encamped on "Bear" River.
Aug. 25thToday the road has been unusually good although very dusty. We had two hard water crossings, and two high ridges to climb . . . but, for several hours we were descending. We have passed several singular strata of rocks--one composed of cement and pebbles, and the uneven shaped surface might lead one to suppose it to have been formed from the flowing pebbly lava of a volcano. Another of red sandstone rock worked into irregular shapes, and looked like the magnificent ruins of a large city, where large ovens seemed the principal hobby of the inhabitants.
A large party of Snake Indians passed us today with their lodgepoles and covers, and all their domestic arrangements of cooking furniture and squaws and papooses. In conversing with one by signs I found they were moving about 15 miles to a better hunting ground. He could pronounce English as well as I could--imitating sound--but of course didn't understand it. We have passed today through several small valleys of splendid grass and encamped at "Cold Spring," having made 21miles.
Aug. 26th SundayLast night has been the coldest we have yet had, yet being well wrapped up in my blankets and buffalo robe I did not feel it--but others complained much.
We have been traveling most of the day down "Echo Pk." with mountains about 500 ft. high on both sides of us, and in many places nearly perpendicular. It is said that an echo can be heard 9 times--but I did not hear it. We crossed this creek 15 times and nearly all of them difficult and owing to the steepness of the descent several wagon tongues and hounds were broken. If this creek had been the "South Pass" it would have been more in accordance with my expectations, for these mountainsides are of the most sublime descriptions. The distance made today is about 18 miles and we encamped on Weber River about a mile and a half from the "Red Fork" of which we have crossed.
Aug. 27thAfter traveling on a rocky road--the rocks having fallen from the mountains--for about 2½ miles we came to the ford of Weber River, and left it. After traveling about 1½ miles from the river the road became very bad and sideling, we had to tie ropes to our wagons and hold on up the hill to prevent the wagons turning over. In a place where we did not expect it our bacon wagon upset. We have crossed a creek several times and some of them are difficult.
The mountains are high--the rim not being seen for three hours before sunset. We encamped about 1 mile up Kanyon Creek after making 14 miles. The picturesque beauty of our encampment is very fine and trees upon the mountaintops look the size of thistles--trees and brush grow to the water's edge. Mornings still cold.
Aug. 28thLeaving camp about 7 o'clock we crossed Kanyon Ck. 12 times--the 7th of which was difficult, also three swampy places that were difficult. After leaving camp on Cañon Ck. about 8 miles behind we commenced ascending a valley of beautiful cottonwood and fir trees--but owing to the crossings being short and swampy our traveling was both hard and slow. Some reckless hands had set fire to the fir trees and the forest was on a blaze for over 100 yds. and as it crackled, smoked and blazed upon the gigantic mountainside--the scene was grand. We have been ascending nearly the whole of the day and the summit we have crossed just as the sun was setting is the highest we have yet climbed--a beautiful cold spring bubbling up nearly at the top. We commenced descending in dust and darkness, and owing to the road being full of stumps we found it necessary to drive gently among the trees and encamp, although some distance from the general camp I being with one of the rear wagons. Could "white" people have seen our encampment--with a large fire blazing among the trees--our faces, hands and clothes covered with dust and our eyes looking like a sweep's eyes the whites being most visible and no water to wash us or to drink--they might have denied the relationship. Before we "turned in" water was discovered and we then began cooking supper, we were most of us too tired to do anything. But here we were--our hard bed upon the ground--the stars peeping over the tops and between some of the branches of the lofty pine trees--winked at us as though they would say "I see you--but go to sleep." Yes, and our sleep was sweet--this is a severe kind of life, but--we are after the gold--the gold!--the gold!!!
We have made but 14 miles today.
I wish an artist could have taken our encampment this night.
Aug. 29thAt sunrise we were up and cooking by a large fire one of the poor mules came and stood by it to warm himself--it was very cold. Breakfast over and the wagons moving I climbed the highest mountain around and which must have been nearly three thousand feet above the valley of the Great Salt Lake, from whence I had a magnificent view of the surrounding country being on the ridge of the Great Salt Lake basin. What cold beauty!! I saw a distant mountain smoking on the top like a volcano but suppose it is from the fires of the Indians as I have heard of no active volcano in this region. Deep snow is lying in small ravines of the mountaintops at the southeast of us.
In descending I passed one place that was nearly perpendicular for a thousand feet--if my foot had slipped--for the place was narrow--I should have been among the missing, and no man would have been the wiser. Our teams went about 5 miles to the foot of another ridge (a small one) but being weary from hard labor and weak for the want of grass--having overtook the other part of our train--we remained in camp all day. Washing and mending.
Aug. 30thLeaving camp, we ascended the ridge before us with some difficulty, after which I went ahead of the train for I knew that we could not be far from the Gt. Salt Lake City. Saw some elderberries and hoziers [osiers]. When descending the ridge I had a good view of the valley before us. The distant mountains on the opposite side of the valley--about 40 miles to them--and the outspreading valley between was grand for the eye to look upon. A few miles of journey brought us upon the valley where we turn upward--or northward--towards the city. Met Bridger at the mouth of the kanyon. Now to look before one with the waving wheat, corn and barley giving tokens of approaching civilization gave a thrill of pleasure being now nearly three months shut out from society and its pleasures. As you approach the city you are struck with the singular way it is divided up and built upon--being chiefly in large squares of about 100 yds. each upon which may be a log cabin--a wagon cover for a house, the body lifted from the wheels--or a few pieces of lumber set endways and coming together at the top formed the shelter while a sheet fastened across each end, one answering for one end of this house and the other for another and also for the door--a sheet door. Around a rude kind of fort stood dilapidated and tenanted adobes. Several white patches of salt were to be seen, and in the distance spread out before the admiring eye were the blue sheeted waters of the "Gt. Salt Lake" with a goodly sized mountain standing in the lake. The mountains on the eastern side of the valley were partly covered with snow.
Traveling on and drawing nearer and nearer the "Salt Lake City" we see the watercourses--running now across, then down a street with gardens, rudely fenced on either hand. On one of these streets was a singularly constructed water-power turning mill--this mill was turned by water brought from a mountain kanyon, and was then used for irrigating purposes. Now we came upon a patch of watermelons and after eating "some" we called for bread & butter, and milk and was supplied with them; after this came pumpkin pie, custard pie &c. &c. We indeed rusticated in fruit and other luxuries almost at the risk of a fit of sickness.
Then came the greatest luxury of all; for, we saw some females and few can tell how pleasant it is to meet ladies and all the evidences of civilization in a comparative wilderness--and after being shut out from them for several months. I found Glover & Butterfield boarding on Emigrant St. (Butterfield was then about 7 miles below the city watching the horses) at a Mrs. Green's and as fresh meat was again before one justice was certainly done. A ball was to come off tonight and as most of the men of our acquaintance was gone or preparing to go I had but little company but our worthy host and hostess from whom I gathered some details--given rather reluctantly about this singular people--while the intervals between talks were employed eating water and muskmelons. Slept in our wagon.
Aug. 31stAfter breakfast took a stroll around the city, saw the church, council house (now building) and other public buildings; visited our train that was encamped near the "Warm Spring" and had the indescribable luxury of [a] warm bath in it; I tried the thermometer and found it 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This spring is said to be very medicinal and will cure the most inveterate case of rheumatism ever known. About 2½ miles north I saw the "Hot Spring." The thermo stood at 122 degrees Fahrenheit. I also tried another between the two that was 117 degrees.
Meeting with some men heard of a singular and fearful encounter they had had with a large black bear near "Willow Springs." It appears that the two were standing guard just in the evening about a mile north of the spring and the mules having got among the bushes growing around a swampy kind of brake. They went in after them and as they were struggling through the entangled thicket a bear struck at one of them with his paw and just tore his pants--he immediately jumped back and the bear ran towards them and the one backward fired at him and wounded him when he made a rush forward towards him and caught him and the two fought him with the barrels of their rifles, and after being badly wounded they eventually dispatched him, and took his head and fore claw into camp as a trophy of their victory.
Today Mix Smith and Glover had a difficulty and Mix wished to leave--knowing it would be unpleasant from the unforgiving nature of Glover, we bought out Mix's interest for $100--$25 in cash and $75 within 100 days from Sept. 1st. Butterfield, Glover and I have entered into a written engagement to guide our future mining operations.
Sept. 1stI paid over to Mix Smith the $25 agreed upon yesterday and the company gave their individual signatures to a vote for $75 payable in California. I had the honor of being treasurer to the company!--being the only one with any money! Saw Capt. Morris who received me very kindly and wished me to continue traveling with him--but as I had made arrangements to pack from here, I declined--when he very kindly offered to pack me through, free of cost--finding me in the necessary mules, provender &c.--but as I had agreed to go with the other boys, I could not accept without breaking with them, so was necessarily sorry to decline the unselfish kindness of the gentlemanly offer. I have ever been treated well by him and can say that in every emergency he was a good officer.
Today I auctioneered off our wagon with all the unnecessary stock of sundries such as candles, tea, rice, apples. We made the Scotchman's one percent (or 100 per ct.) on the tea--cost $1½ per lb.--sold for $3.
Had a splendid feast of mush, milk and melons after supper.
2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th of Sept.Were spent in looking about us, feasting, visiting and preparing our packing saddles &c. for the remainder of our journey. Tomorrow we leave civilization, pretty girls and pleasant memories. We have enjoyed ourselves well. Had we have been suddenly lowered from a flying car among our friends at home, the change experienced here could not have been more agreeable and relieving, from a long and tedious journey than it has. Mormons, or Nephites or Salt Lake citizens, or any other name you call yourselves I feel thankful for the kind and courteous attentions manifested to us and for the many advantages your city in the wilderness offers to the weary emigrant, on his wearing journey overland to California.
Sept. 6thOur company for starting again consists of 12 men, Glover, Picket, Butterfield, Pepper, Murray, De Wolf, Doty, Spencer, Pixley, Hutchings, Sam--the Tinman--20 of us were engaged to journey together, but as the other 8 were invited to a ball that evening they wished to go and said they would overtake us--wishing us to go on. We therefore started about 6 o'clock p.m.--having passed on toward the north end of the Gt. Salt Lake. Keeping the Salt Lake to our left and passing a number of springs we kept near the foot of the mountains for about 10 miles and night overtaking us we encamped (Glover missing) in good grass, near the settlement.
Sept. 7thYesterday initiated us into the mysteries of "packing" and tried our stock of patience: mules kicked, horses ran off--pack ropes stretched and down slid the packs. Now a pack would be all on one side and in trying to go towards them to fix it, they would run off affrighted, and now the packs in general are loose & some of the packages are dropping around--"Oh the joys of packing"--this article bent, the other broken.
This morning we were two hours in rearranging and fixing our packs but once started and with the partial repetition of yesterday's experience we made about 12 miles, when we halted and took some bread & milk for dinner which cost us 25 cents each. The animals in good grass. After resuming our journey and traveling about 2 miles we overtook Glover, encamped; here we halted again for about 1½ hours and all of us again started and after traveling about 16 miles we made Weber River just after sunset, and encamped. Part of the road today is good and part heavy sand--with several bad hills to descend.
Sept. 8thWe commenced our march on a serpentine road through a thicket, finally crossing a singularly uneven and cut up country, crossing dry and deep ditches in the flat land, worn by the water. Some of our men took a near cut, and one of our ponies--poor old Moll--in passing through the tall dry grass suddenly fell in one of these dry watercourses and injured her back so badly that we were obliged to distribute her packs among the other animals. We nooned on "First Creek" and here I had a refreshing bathe. As the grass was indifferent we went about 1 mile further up to good grass.
The road was crossed every few yards by snakes, the dust showing us where they had passed, besides seeing and killing great numbers.
We have made about 24 miles today. Mosquitoes troublesome.
Sept. 9th SundayLast night we slept but little for mosquitoes, they were by thousands if not millions. Made 7 miles to "Box Elder Ck." Large flies tormenting our horses the whole distance; here I killed a large rattlesnake, having thrown my bowie knife and cut him half in two he turned round and bit himself in the cut when it instantly turned black. About 3 o'clock p.m. we reached Bear River, in fording which my mare stumbled and threw me off, and giving me a bath with my clothes on--the wind rising and a few drops of rain falling made my wet clothes fit unpleasantly cool as well as close to my skin, made my teeth chatter. 3 miles brought us to "Malad Ck." and as the water of this ck. was muddy, and as we could only see the crossing by where many had crossed or rather come out on the opposite side--one of our best horses was tried to enter, but would not go in: as mine was considered good and as our road run across it I tried mine and she had no sooner put her two forefeet in than she sunk over her head and I had the pleasure of a second "ducking." But the most amusing feature was this--as I was swimming to the opposite side away from my horse, he [sic] swam after me, opening and shutting his mouth trying to lay hold of me behind, but I reached the bank first. All had to wade over here past the chin, and holding the packs (which we had to take from the animals) above our heads--just as the sun had set we had all crossed in safety.
Grass indifferent--and all very much fatigued. So much for a Sunday's exercise on this journey.
Sept. 10thAbout 9 o'clock this morning we came to [a] warm salt or sulphury spring--and the day being warm we were all very thirsty and we took a very hearty draught. The creek where we encamped last night was warm and salt, its water being supplied from many of these springs. Moreover the mosquitoes were singing around us the whole of the night and warm as it was I had to cover my head with my blankets. Today we met some Mormons who had been gathering oxen the emigrants had left beside. Roads good today. After making about 20 miles we encamped on "Second Warm Spring."
Sept. 11thThis morning we experienced considerable anxiety by all of our horses being missing. We started off before breakfast in search--one taking one direction--one another in search of them. About eleven o'clock a.m. we to our great joy found them, about 6 miles away from camp. We supposed that they had gone after water. Two Shawnee Indians came into camp just as we were leaving and having found an old pair of pants that we had thrown away, he was soon ensconced in them. His first attempt was to put them on for a coat but the legs being too long . . . and all of us laughing at the ludicrous figure presented we told him by signs that they were for the lower part of the body--then a second attempt put them on back-side in front when we had to laugh again. They were soon put right, and I showed him how to make them fit.
About ½ past 4 p.m. we halted at a spring in the mountains having made only 12 miles. After refreshing ourselves with rest and supper, about sunset we started again--as during the day was very hot--and made about 6 miles more and encamped on "Deep Creek" distance 18 miles.
Sept. 12thWe left the crossing of Deep Creek and continued about 6 miles along its banks, and finding tolerably good grass we halted for about 1½ hours. A few hundred yards brought us to the "sink" of Deep Ck.--from the natural moisture of the ground and the evaporation of the waters grass grows well (the country we have passed through lately being very dry, barren and sandy) for some distance. Again we "rigged" our packs and started, and a descent of sand and occasional sage bushes of ten miles brought us to a spring, where we halted again for almost 2 hours, the grass scanty, and that even (to use a Hibernian) was composed chiefly of rushes. Again upon our journey, 7 miles brought us to Mountain Spring--grass indifferent, in clumps or bunches and very scattering. The sun had set so that we encamped, and to our surprise found our old train, that had left Salt Lake four days ahead of us. Here again Capt. Morris and Gen. Wilson wished me to join them, but I of course declined.
Sand, dust, greasewood, sage wood and barrenness everywhere is a picture of everything around.
Sept. 13thWe bid "Mountain Spring" and our old friends "goodbye" and journeying on about 6 miles we came to another spring; 6 miles more brought us to a creek which as I do not know the name of I shall call "panola" creek, having made our dinner here of panola [parched meal mixed with sugar and spices, used for making gruel or bread] and water. We rested and picketed our animals for about 1½ hours and started for "Cajoux" Creek [sic--Cassia Creek?] about 10 miles distant--passed a fine spring about half-way. We went about 2 miles up the creek for good grass!
Sept. 14thWe were early in our saddles in this morning and passing through rather a barren kind of country we made Steeple Rocks (14 miles from our encampment of last night) where at a fine spring with poor grass we took dinner. Here the old or Fort Hall road and the Salt Lake City roads come together.
Steeple Rocks looked to me more like old battered and storm-beaten lighthouses than steeples. Here we overtook a company who were about abandoning their wagons, and like us, to pack. They made us a present of a sack of panola which to us was very acceptable; as, from the sulphurous unpleasantness of the water all the distance from Salt Lake had very much reduced our stock of that article.
We traveled over rather a pebbly and rolling country to a spring about 10 miles distant on a branch of Goose Creek, where we encamped. Distance about 24 miles. Wishing to ease my horse I walked the whole distance, in moccasins and being unused to them they had strained my feet very much so that after I had sat down in camp I was unable to stand for over three hours; when by constant rubbing I succeeded in standing for about 5 minutes, and luckily for me my guard came on the early part of the night; as having to sit--if Indians had paid us a visit I could not have done much against them. While encamped two horseman Mormons came [upon] us and passed on. They had just arrived from California. They informed us of good grass ahead--and plenty of gold in California. Our guide books told us of "over a hill to 'Goose Creek'"--and it was a hill with a vengeance. Teams had to be lowered down by ropes--very rocky in part very dusty in part--and very steep.
Sept. 15thToday we met 14 wagons on our journey up from Goose Creek and found that they had just come from California and confirmed the statements of those we met yesterday; and showed us some gold. This very much excited our imaginations. About 8 miles up Goose Ck. we nooned; and after making about 4 miles--about ½ past 2 p.m. we encamped ourselves and animals being very weary and as our clean shirts and hose had become scarce we had a washing and bathing time of it--there being good grass, good water and firewood in abundance. Last night it being rather wet we found a good wagon and slept in it and found it much preferable to an open valley with the sky to shelter us on a rainy night--road good.
Sept. 16th SundayWe proceeded about 7 miles up Goose Creek where we shot some ducks and expecting to be short of grass further on we concluded to halt, and graze our animals and cook our ducks. After the luxury of fried duck came the old routine of fixing packs and saddles,
We had expected in this valley to find every spring ready to scald our mouths if we had the necessity to taste its waters but to our agreeable disappointment this first spring was deliciously cool and as our journey from Goose Ck. had been positively hot and entirely without water we enjoyed the pleasure of a good hearty and cooling draught, but as our animals picked off a few of the tops of rushes and coarse grass growing here, while we cooked and ate our supper, after which we traveled 5 miles further to "Second Spring" where we found tolerably good grass. Here a government train wished to encamp with us but as we had made a good report of Goose Ck. and they had made but a few miles they started--this train was from Oregon. We made about 25 miles today.
Sept. 17thLast night our animals were frightened and rushed wildly off and our whole party were soon engaged in guarding camp or hunting horses, about two hours after they were recovered. After traveling about 14 or 16 miles we nooned in middling good grass; and, killing more ducks we had some good duck soup. This is a great treat when mixed with hard bread and to us--confined to salt meat and that sparingly it was a great treat and I think a connoisseur in such things would have pronounced this soup, under the circumstances, "foine." My feet are still sore from walking in moccasins.
This afternoon we made about eight miles; and to the "Hot Spring" within about 2 miles, where we found good grass, and water tepid, doubtless from the springs in the valley being numerous. Made about 24 miles. Coming into camp early we arranged our guard differently now 6 per night and 3 watches, 2 to a watch.
Sept. 18thAbout ¾ of an hour after starting we reached the "Hot Spring" which after all was only about 109 degrees Fahrenheit. After traveling about 8 miles we nooned at a spring slightly impregnated with sulphur. The Hot Spring has a sulphurous but not a salt taste. We traveled about 8 miles across rather a barren and hilly country to one of the forks of the Humboldt River. Coming upon a wide and beautiful valley about a mile from the road I thought I saw a horse, and was very soon after it but after all it turned out to be a very poor ox that had been left behind.
In about the center of this valley I saw a large spring boiling up as large as my body, and was surprised, after its running about 200 yds., to see it again disappear; it was deliciously cool. We traveled about 8 miles through a kanyon which we crossed a number of times. At the base of a bold bluff a very large spring boiled up and quite warm; there is quite a stream running down this kanyon. We encamped at its mouth about sunset. This kanyon is full of large rocks on both sides. Today we saw five Shawnee Indians who wanted to trade one horse of theirs for two of ours but as ours were in as good condition as theirs we declined the offer. We made about 24 miles today.
Sept. 19thToday it was unpleasantly warm to most after traveling from the mouth of the "Kanyon" about 16 miles we nooned and 3 miles further brought us to the Humboldt River.
Where we struck the river it is a poor apology for a river not being more than ten feet in width and not a running stream being quite dry in many places.
Our road has been dusty--we traveled about 18 miles further down, crossing several low sand hills and encamped in poor grass, after making about 28 miles over a heavy sand and dusty road. Murray's horse gave out and was left.
Sept. 20thAfter traveling about 15 miles we reached the main stream of the Humboldt which we crossed at this place. This stream may be about 8 ft. deep, yet only about 14 ft. wide, with upright banks--here we nooned. We made about 16 miles more and supped and as the grass was bad we went about 7 miles further. It is hard traveling--the roads very dusty and frequently making us unable to see each other for miles yet with the sun almost insufferably hot, yet the nights cold.
After a day like this to stand guard for 5 or 6 hours one becomes very weary; and is no sooner lying down than he falls to sleep--yet owing to a knowledge of Indians being around you, it is rather lighter than any sleep.
Sept. 21stWe continued our march with the river frequently in sight and crossed Martin's Fork of the Humboldt, distance 60 miles from where we struck it. We climbed a hill--or rather went through a pass among the hills--and through a kanyon, again reaching the river 20 miles from "Martin's Fork." We have made about 38 miles today. It has been easier than most other days. The animals have but indifferent feed poor things after toiling along a hard and dusty road for such long distances. Camping poor.
Sept. 22ndTraveled again through a pass among the hills to the Humboldt River we made 25 miles. Found a spring about half way. We encamped soon after striking the river, road very dusty--the only clean looking portion of the face is the white about the eyes.
Sept. 23rdLast night according to the custom of Butterfield and myself we had picketed our animals and slept among those under our individual care. About midnight I heard a nickering among the horses and looking up I saw the head of an Indian. I awoke Butterfield and started with revolver cocked, and without hat or boots, started up and passing carefully among the animals to get a favorable shot at him--but without risking a mule or a horse I could not do it; when the Indian dropped into one of the old & dry beds of the river, succeeded in escaping among the bushes. I went into camp and there I saw Glover dozing by the fire when he ought to have been attending to his duty of guard--and the other guards I could not find. I fired a pistol and woke up the whole camp who were then anxiously looking round for the animals, and to our great dismay found six of them were missing. We started off in search--but could not find them.
The moment daylight dawned we were again upon the search--and after spending the morning and riding in every direction there were no marks even to be seen, the wind having smoothed the sandy dust outside of the willows that grow upon the stream, and obliterated them--so that as we could not find any tracks we knew that it was useless going in any particular direction and we concluded to give up the search. Now six animals in our situation were a great loss--and moreover they were six of our best and the two that Glover had in his charge were the two that were stolen of our own individual or "company of three" property. I really think that the chagrin of all parties ripening Glover would have paid with his life had I have told of his sleeping on guard. The only horses we now have are Kit, Ben, Moll and Colt. The two lost ones we called Barney and Sam. Now commenced our troubles. We had to throw away every unnecessary article of clothing--new boots and shoes--provisions we must take and to carry anything was out of the question for now we all have to walk. We had a large pile of clothing, which when in one heap we set fire to--thinking that if the Indians got clothing as well as horses it would be a double motive to plunder others.
There I unfortunately threw away my old boots, thinking that I would have one good pair if I threw away the others, by tonight my feet are badly blistered.
After traveling about 7 miles we saw a notice of a number of animals having been stolen and the owners had found them about 10 miles south but had to fight the Indians to take them, and that a man named Forrester was wounded. Also another notice that two men were yet in pursuit of their mules and requested that no one would interfere with their goods. This explained a pack of a gentleman's with portfolio, shaving apparatus, socks, shirts, letters &c. Fine clothing and whatnot lying near the bushes, which we had seen but not touched. We passed the second ford about 10 miles below the first we made about 12 miles and encamped. We intended to lay by but poor grass compelled us to move for the animals' sake.
Sept. 24thAnother loss this morning was the first thing that was noticed. The Pah Utahs [Piutes] stole another horse. It appears that when Frank was on guard he found all right, and the one stolen he had seen one hour before it was missed. As the morning was cold he had begun to make a fire and while this was being done the horse was stolen. This animal was picketed within five yards of De Wolf who was sleeping and it was one of his animals.
Every man seemed much vexed and agreed to shoot every digger Indian we met. Our animals being leg-weary from long marches and ourselves not less so we concluded to remain in camp. To save our animals we spent most of the day in getting grass and willow leaves for the night's supply for the animals. Had a pleasant bath.
Sept. 25thLast night to prevent any more animals from being stolen we drove stakes in a line (and we slept behind) to which we tied our animals and ordered the guard to keep pacing up and down the front. About 1 o'clock a.m. while on guard I heard a rustling among the willows and presently broke out an awful imitation of a wolf howl by Indians and in front when I fired right in the direction of the sound, and several others jumping to their feet did the same, and the Indians were soon heard hastily retreating.
Today we were overtaken by some Dutchmen, who had taken the "Hastings Cutoff" at the south end of the Salt Lake and had been three days without water, surrounded by salt and alkali lakes, and even the breeze more or less bearing incentives to thirst. Their excessive thirst first produced giddiness, then faintness, then succeeded tremblings and were obliged to lie down to prevent their falling. This agony of thirst made their days insufferable and their nights comfortless. All of their oxen 25 in number had died, or been killed to supply a moment's relief of thirst by their blood being drunk.
They had but three horses to eight men and those horses worn down too much to be of but little service to them, consequently the men were packing from 60 to 80 lbs. each to their backs and most of these packs were clothing! while the men of course walked.
We made about 29 miles today along a very dusty road--the heat very great.
Sept. 26thWe continued our march for about 19 miles and nooned on the river as usual. It was a very hard time for me--my feet having four large blisters on them 3 of which were as large as half a dollar, and the other one as large as a quarter dollar. This came of throwing away an old pair of boots for a new pair when our horses were stolen and having now to walk. Up to this time this journey has been equal to a pleasure trip, but now I have to sit down three times a day to lance my feet and ease the intolerable aching by taking away the blood and matter. I wished the Indians a blessing--over the left--
We only halted about one hour at noon and proceeded on our journey until after sunset making about 14 miles more or 33 miles. It is truly hard upon my poor feet, and I am an hour or two behind the others in reaching camp--but the gold land ahead keeps one in good heart.
Sept. 27thPoor Moll gives signs of excessive fatigue and weakness and I am afraid we shall soon have to leave her behind, which I shall very much regret for the good she has done us. I dislike leaving an old friend; but I will see if she is left that it shall be in pretty good grass. We traveled about 14 miles and nooned in indifferent grass. Caught some very fine trout from the Humboldt; these, with a singular concoction of bacon, hard bread, rice and beans, boiled together made a fine "hotch potch" and being a change was well liked! What cooks are we?
Soon after leaving our nooning place we passed some very fine grass. The 14 miles we have passed was among the hills and without seeing the river or any water. We kept along the river for about 10 miles and about 1½ hours after sunset we encamped, making only 24 miles.
Sept. 28thWe kept along the river for about 13 miles and nooned about 11 o'clock. The day is excessively hot and what with the dust and a bee kind of fly that annoy the animals very much and make both man and beast tired of the day's journey. These flies are along the entire length of this river. After making about 10 miles more we encamped in tolerable grass about 1 hour after sunset. Poor Moll--as we do not pack her now--is improving. It lightened and rained a little just as we encamped. We crossed the river once--this evening.
Sept. 29thLast night has been unpleasantly warm and a few mosquitoes honored us by their presence and their songs.
Still keeping by the river and in order to save our animals we made only 10 miles and nooned after crossing the river three times. About 5 o'clock p.m. we encamped having made about 12 miles since dinner or 22 all day. The road heavy dust and sand.
Sept. 30th SundayAh, how my soul longs for the peace and rest of a Christian sabbath in a Christian land, and the elevating influences of the sanctuary. It is true that on a desert we can enjoy the pleasures of communion with God, but how can the heart seek it when the life one leads is breaking the command of God, by traveling on sabbath.
After journeying about 3 miles we overtook an ox train of four teams. They had lost 9 oxen and three horses at the same camp that we lost ours. Having been put on a short allowance of bacon, and this train having a little to spare we bought it at 15 cts. per lb. The little was only five lbs., but this was welcome, and was a great help to us.
About 1 mile further on we came to the crossroads where we found several notices of persons and companies, one having taken the one road some the other and each requesting their friends to take the same one as themselves.
One notice made it 318 miles only to the head of "Pitt" River by the right road and 290 by the left one. Our company took the left road--chiefly at Pickett's advice--he being a Mormon and in their confidence.
We journeyed about 26 miles from the crossroads to the lower camping of the Humboldt; but finding no grass we went about 8 miles further and encamped near the "Slough"; making our journey today about 40 miles, without taking the packs from our animals. Beginning to move before sunrise and encamping about 8 o'clock p.m.--this for a poor fellow with inflamed, swollen and blistered feet was anything rather than a pleasure trip--and after this to stand half the night on guard. No man wants to do the duties of another--so that if a man is not entirely down with sickness he had better not expect it and as for myself I will say "blessed are they that expect nothing, for they will not be disappointed." And, then have to rise with the morning star to help cook breakfast, pack animals &c. &c. &c. &.
Oct. 1stHow the weary days roll on, another month has commenced and we are yet several hundred miles from the golden Canaan of our hopes; but "keep a stiff upper lip" is the general admonition.
The grass being very poor, we moved on about 4 miles & nooned, giving our poor animals a chance for grass as well as rest and remained there until 4 p.m. when we were again upon our journey towards the "Sink" of the Humboldt.
We found however that it lay much farther distant than we had supposed; we traveled long in the night and after making about 16 miles we reached the Slough, and 3 miles further on a man hailed us (who was on guard) and told us there was plenty of grass near their camp. This was delightful tidings to our ears for it was now past midnight, and all were tired. We encamped and after appointing guard we went to rest and slept soundly until daybreak.
We have about 25 miles today.
Oct. 2ndThis morning before starting we cut grass to take upon our backs lest we should not find any at the "Sink" and there be unprovided for the "Desert." To do this we sewed up our shirts at the top and stuffed them full of grass, then with the arms tied together we threw one behind and one in front, and then threw two others across each of our horses. In crossing the river this morning there were three Pah Utah Indians came up, and one jumped in and offered to carry us across and seeing the other boys hesitate I volunteered to be the first expecting to have a good ducking, but it did not come. When the others saw me safe over they soon allowed themselves to be carried across. After the grass was cut they carried it over, and ourselves and we took them to camp and paid them in biscuit. About 10 o'clock a.m. we commenced our march for the "Sink" but again our guide book was incorrect and after traveling about 26 miles we encamped in poor grass and salt--sulphurous--water, about 1 hour after sunset. We met today a portion of the "Mormon Battalion" returning from California. They tell us good news of grass for our animals upon the "Carson River" and of gold in plenty in California. Here, from them we learned the high prices of provisions there.
Also that a good mechanic could get $15 per day and good [omission].
Oct. 3rdAbout 2 o'clock a.m. every man was in motion, for before us lay the Carson Desert and this must be crossed or neither water or grass could be ours. We made about 5 miles and reached the long looked-for "Sink of the Humboldt" and as it was desirable to begin a desert of 45 miles with a brave heart a full stomach was considered as necessary to such an end, breakfast was prepared, although the water of the "Sink" is very sulphurous, and made very poor coffee. Just as day was breaking we were packed ready for the start.
Poor Moll we had to leave behind--yet though we had thus left her, and near grass--we had no sooner started than poor Moll came staggering onward; but without being able to overtake us I felt like leaving an old friend behind--and especially so as she had been chiefly under my care and was a good animal. Finding herself unable to overtake us she neighed as though she wished us to stay for her, and the other animals answered her neigh as though they understood and sympathized with her. I saw her in the distance standing and I wished I could wait for her strength being renewed, but that being impossible I wished that some kind fellow would take care of her.
Before starting this morning across this desert we filled up our coffee pots, camp kettles etcetera with water from some holes sunk in the bank near the Sink and mixed panola with it and this took from it the sulphurous taste. The first seven miles brought us to a salt spring and lake, where we found the finest kind of table salt ready prepared by nature, and we helped ourselves.
After making about 18 miles more we sat down to eat and drink and rest our animals. Here there are several wagons standing and some of them broken up for firewood; about 100 yds. from the road on the left hand we saw several wells but all the water was salt; one being a little fresher than the rest I took about a quart of it and mixing it with panola drank every drop and I was not thirsty after it, although the day was hot.
All around are strewn the bodies of dead oxen, mules and horses, some oxen just dead, others dying. Men trying to get up cattle that being too thirsty or too much worn down would not move. The only way was to give them water--for this purpose many had brought water in kegs, but alas too many had neglected it, and their cattle dying reproved them for their thoughtlessness.
Fortune sometimes favors the brave and we had a shadow of it here on this desert; our bacon had been cut the shortest way and for breakfast we were only allowed one slice, and that not thicker than a dollar and about an inch square, so that the future bacon prospect was rather unfavorable: to our great satisfaction we saw about two thousand pounds of ham and bacon piled by the roadside--having been thrown away; I shouldered about 40 lbs. and seeing about 2500 lbs. of flour I needed no other invitation than a chalked notice upon a wagon side--"Help yourselves if you need, but don't waste it."
Just to look around one and see the various useless articles in the shape of new patent gold washers, stones, towels, clothes and various things that should have been left on the Missouri River--there would have been some sense in the operation but to bring them thus far and then leave them seems to partake of simplicity--some of which we had been guilty of possessing. But to see the cattle--still with their yokes on--lying down in front of wagons the owners quite unable to move them, it is truly distressing: one wagon is now 30 miles from the Carson River--it contains a woman and three children; and 2 quarts of water is all they have to serve them until tomorrow, the husband having gone on to water and cannot go in less time than that--and even then 60 miles to a man weary and having to walk the whole distance--heart-rending are the scenes of suffering endured for want of that simple but invaluable liquid called water. We undervalue the simple and the common until we are left suffering for the want of them. Oh how anxiously did we look for water; sand, sand, sand, salt salt and alkali surrounded us: still trudging on footsore, weary and heavy laden with bacon about midnight I saw the dim outline of trees--what a heavenly sight--we knew there was water--I knew how much our poor animals were suffering for the want of it and on their account chiefly did I rejoice--as I was not very thirsty. The tall cottonwood trees still growing more and more distinct in the dim starry distance, we shortly reached: and our poor animals I thought would lie down to drink they were so very anxious to be satisfied. I was indeed glad to find a kindhearted family who had arrived about an hour before us, had some hot coffee ready and kindly invited me to share it with them; and I of course shared with my traveling companion who had kept company with me across--Butterfield--
Our boys had moved up the river further to grass and as we were refreshed we started in search; and in about an hour we found them encamped. I tied up my pony to some willows and as there was grass near she did very well. I had scarcely taken off the pack saddle and sat down than folding my blankets around me I reclined against a bush of willows and fell asleep, and in the morning found myself lying across some deep ox treads made by cattle when the ground was soft, but now hard and very uneven.
I am tempted to make this note--I have today walked over 50 miles, 26 miles yesterday--25 miles the day before and 40 miles the day previous to that making 141 miles in 4 days, and owing to traveling at night, standing guard cooking and other duties I have slept but 5¾ hours in the four days. I get very tough, but am much worn. This trip will make me 3 years older in looks. My bed has been hard--being the earth--for nearly four months--but it is of little consequence to a weary man whether his bed be hard or soft after he has become accustomed to it--he can sleep anywhere, whether his bed be even or uneven. Fitz De Wolf came in about 2 o'clock a.m. but I did not hear him.
I ought to mention that about 3 miles before we reached the river we saw the bodies of several dead Indians, who had been caught stealing cattle and a fight ensuing the whites conquered.
About 27 miles from the "Sink" a team just ahead of us had picked up a white man with 5 arrows in his side and dead. We buried him on the Carson.
I wonder the Indians didn't steal from us on this side of the desert--they had a fine chance.
Oct. 4thI awoke about 8 o'clock this morning and was tired even then: we took breakfast and moved about 4 miles to better grass intending to recruit ourselves and animals for a day or two. As soon as we were encamped we began to cook, for our bacon and flour had given us the means of feasting and what with some dried peaches we found today, a sack of coffee and other things we made up for lost time. We had fritters and flapjacks and doughnuts and fosnoks, and other fancy things such as bean soup &c. Next we had to cleanse our persons and our clothes--the latter articles wanted repairing with ourselves.
Just at the edge of the desert we found clothing, guns, pistols, saleratus, pepper and every quantity of other articles which we of course could not carry.
Oct. 5thNot feeling in good traveling condition ourselves, and our animals looking weary also we did not leave camp until between 9 and 10 o'clock this morning. About 3 miles above our last night's camp we took across the hills for 10 miles and then reached the river where we found Mr. Jones and Mr. Allen and a number of their Negroes--Mr. J. informed us that they had thrown away 3,000 lbs. of flour and about 1850 lbs. of pork, ham & bacon. We told them that their loss had been our gain and that we should soon have been suffering from want but for that, and they immediately with their Southern heartiness and generosity said they were glad to hear its being so useful and that we were of course perfectly welcome--we thanked them kindly. We bought about 20 lbs. of sugar from them at 25 cents per lb. Several Indians were sitting around in groups either expecting some food or were waiting an opportunity to steal something. One of these Indians offered to guide us but we declined.
We moved about 1½ miles further up the river and encamped, making 16½ miles today.
It has been quite cool the thermo standing at 19 degrees. Roads tolerably bad and pebbly.
Oct. 6thWe continued our journey up the river for about 14 miles and nooned. The roads being very heavy with deep sand. Afternoon made 11 miles more--25 altogether. We pass several teams nearly every day.
Oct. 7th SundayOnward we move. This morning we made about 18 miles and nooned for 2 hours. Afternoon made 12 more--or 28. As we are surrounded by mountains we have very bold and beautiful scenery and all kinds of roads except good; now sandy, now pebbly, now hilly and rough.
It is very cloudy tonight and looks like rain or snow.
[end of 1849]
Microfilmed with the Hutchings diaries are also several receipts and memoranda (not transcribed), as well as the following unfinished letter:
Hang TownDear Sir,
I wrote you about a month since, but as new events are transpiring and great numbers intend coming out to the El Dorado of the Pacific I will write a few things that I should like for you to circulate among your friends--not mentioning my name, except you deem it necessary. All those who come to California with the intention of digging gold should make up their minds to hard labor--Yes, hard labor--Such for instance as day laborers upon a canal or railway excavation--nothing less. They will have to do it themselves, as it is rarely to be obtained from other sources. 1st because no man is allowed more than one "claim"--here, the claim is 15 feet square, but it is always regulated by a majority of the miners in the district. There is an exception to this rule where men go out "prospecting" (as the miners call searching for gold) and succeed in finding "good diggings" in some distant and lonely canon or ravine--and it seldom happens that when a man has found a rich "claim" that he wants anyone to share it with him except he can get labor at a good advantage, and there are too many who prefer working for themselves in preference to another, rather than take the milk and allow the one who hired him to take the cream both "first" and "second" skimmings. Then everyone should be prepared with a good constitution, and good habits, to endure privation as well as fatigue and exposure. They must also forgo all luxuries, or the high prices paid would take the whole of his earnings. Each man will have to do cooking, wood chopping, washing and many other etceteras for himself or his share in the work belonging to a mess. (There are four in ours and two cook one day and the other two the following.) Next to be sure not to join any company, as two are sufficient to work profitably together.
There are several companies who came here with excellent outfits for mining, but not with the right kind of mettle for digging the precious metal. Some companies of "ten" have had three sick at a time, and as many at dagger points with the whole of the remaining seven. Companies of "four" chosen promiscuously find that their tempers want annealing before they are sufficiently pliable to each other before that they can work well together. And I assure you dear sir that many here, to their disadvantage, find how soon a company of working companions surround them, and in many cases utterly testing their spirit for labor--or hope of success until the time has expired or the bond canceled. There is also needed a good, equable temper or else a very forgiving and obliging one. Linked to this must be a mind well disciplined in patience, fortitude, moral as well as animal courage. Alas how many fail here from the lack of patience and perseverance--
Lest you should think me too prosy I will leave this strain--yet before I do so I would just say that there are many here who are entirely unaccustomed to labor of any kind, and when they contrast a good home, plenty of comforts, and little to do--with hard work--only necessary food--no home--frequent company with Indians, sometimes a grizzly bear--and always more or less exposed--they become disgusted or disheartened and turn their longing into starting for home; and these will be sure to bring a bad report from the gold land.
Let all who come by land and prefer the St. Joseph route by Fort Kearny, Fort Laramie &c. be sure to load exceedingly light. If I were to take that route again I would take a light wagon and four good mules--for two persons--bringing only the necessary food, cooking utensils, two suits of woolen clothing, including a watch cloak, India rubber and two good mackinaw blankets, two pair of boots, 3 flannel shirts, 4 hickory ones, a dozen pair of socks and a good felt hat. I would not bring any mining tools of any description nor any good clothing (and of course never dream of bringing a trunk). The road was strewn with trunks, tools, &c., &c.
When I arrived at Fort Laramie I would sell or give away the wagon--pack one mule and ride one; for, after entering the Black Hills the troubles belonging to a wagon commence. I would take provisions enough to serve me to Salt Lake City (although Hudspeth's Cutoff is 80 or 100 miles nearer). There I would again outfit with 35 days' provisions; and accomplish the whole, including a few days at the Mormon city of Salt Lake, in less than three months. Those who go by the sink of Mary's River will find excellent grass about 6 miles after crossing the slough. This they will need before taking the left-hand road on the descent commencing at Mary's Sink. They will have to keep to the left after crossing the slough above mentioned. They must watch their animals closely on Mary's River or the Pah-Utahs will get them. I should have said also that when travelers get within about 160 miles of the "sink" there are two roads (known by a quantity of notice papers and boards); be sure [to] take the left road, as it is 120 miles nearer to Sutter's Fort and is decidedly the best road. I have seen several who took the other and who regretted it exceedingly.
[end--the addressee is unknown]
Last revised April 25, 2016