Chapter XI.


President Young Calls for Volunteers to meet the Hand-cart

Company--I Join the Party--Names of the Company--One Party of Emigrants Found in a Starving Condition

I ATTENDED the October conference of 1856. When conference was opened President Young arose and said: "There are a number of our people on the plains who have started to come to come with hand-carts; they will need help and I want twenty teams to be ready by morning with two men to each team to go out and meet them. If the teams are not voluntarily furnished and, there are plenty of good ones in the street and I shall call upon Brother J. C. Little, to furnish them. Now we will adjourn this conference until to-morrow." Brother Young was in earnest; he seemed moved by a spirit that would admit of no delay.

A few days before this a number of elders had arrived from the old country reporting that the hand-cart people were on the road, but they did not know how far they had advanced. In those days there was no telegraph, and mails from the east only reached Utah monthly and, they being many times delayed by high water, Indians or other causes.

Brother Young called upon every one present to lend a hand in fitting up these teams. As I was going out with the crowd, Brother Wells spoke to me saying: "You are a good hand for the trip; get ready." Soon after Bishop Hunter said the same thing to me. Also Brother Grant met me and said: "I want you on this trip." I began to think it time to decide, so I answered, "all right."

[63] I had a saddle horse. We were instructed to get everything we could ready and rendezvous between the Big and Little Mountains, a short day's drive out from Salt Lake. Next day teams and volunteer men were ready. A better outfit and one more adapted to the work before us I do not think could have possibly been selected if a week had been spent in fitting up. Besides the wagons and teams, several men went horseback. We had good teams and provisions in great abundance. But best of all, those going where alive to the work and were of the best material possible for the occasion.

As soon as all were together we organized and moved on. George D. Grant was selected captain, with Robert Burton and William Kimball as assistants; Cyrus Wheelock, chaplain; Charles Decker, guide. I was given the important position of chief cook for the head mess. I was quite proud of my office, for it made me the most sought after and popular man in the camp. The rest of the company was made up of the following persons: Joseph A. Young, Chauncey Webb, H. H. Cluff, D. P. Kimball, George W. Grant, Ed. Peck, Joel Parrish, Henry Goldsbrough, Thomas Alexander, Benjamin Hampton, Thomas Ricks, Abe Garr, Charles Grey, Al Huntington, "Handsome Cupid," Stephen Taylor, William K. Broomhead, Ira Nebeker, Redick Allred, Amos Fairbanks and Tom Bankhead, a colored man. These are all the names that I remember, if there were any more I have been unable to find them.

The weather soon became cold and stormy. We traveled hard, never taking time to stop for dinner. On getting into camp all were hungry and willing to help. No doubt many of the boys remember the hearty suppers eaten on this expedition. There was some expectation of meeting the first train, Brother Willie's, on or about [64] Green river. We began to feel great anxiety about the emigrants as the weather was now cold and stormy, and we, strong men with good outfits, found the nights severe. What must be the condition of those we were to meet. Many old men and women, little children, mothers with nursing babes, crossing the plains pulling hand-carts. Our hearts began to ache when we reached Green river and yet no word of them. Here an express was sent on ahead with a light wagon to meet and cheer the people up. Cyrus Wheelock and Stephen Taylor went with this express.

At the South Pass, we encountered a severe snowstorm. After crossing the divide we turned down into a sheltered place on the Sweetwater. While in camp and during the snow-storm two men were seen on horseback going west. They were hailed. On reaching us they proved to be Brothers Willie and J. B. Elder. They reported their company in a starving condition at their camp then east of Rocky Ridge and said our express had gone on to meet the other companies still in the rear. We started immediately through the storm to reach Brother Willie's camp. On arriving we found them in a condition that would stir the feelings of the hardest heart. They were in a poor place, the storm having caught them where fuel was scarce. They were out of provisions and really freezing and starving to death. The morning after our arrival nine were buried in one grave. We did all we could to relieve them. The boys struck out on horseback and dragged up a lot of wood; provisions were distributed and all went to work to cheer the sufferers. Soon there was an improvement in camp, but many poor, faithful people had gone too far--had passed beyond the power to recruit. Our help came too late for some and many died after our arrival.

[65] William Kimball with a few men and wagons turned back, taking the oversight of this company to help them in. Capt. Grant left a wagon load of flour near the Pass with Redick Allred to guard it. There were several hundred people with Brother Willie. They had a few teams, but most of them had become too weak to be of much service. When we left Salt Lake it was understood that other teams would follow until all the help needed would be on the road.

The greater portion of our company now continued on towards Devil's Gate, traveling through snow all the way. When we arrived at Devil's Gate we found our express there awaiting us. No tidings as yet were received of the other companies.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for adding these two terrific talks by outstanding leaders and speakers who give the viewer/reader a taste of what it must have been like for the young men who stayed at Devil's Gate. We're grateful for their comments and what we learn from this overall amazing experience of Daniel W. Jones and the 19 young men who bravely stayed under his amazing courage and leadership to do what was needed to save the lives of many other men, women, and children during the extreme winter of 1856-1857. (V. Briggs descendant of one of the young guards, John Galbraith)