Chapter XIII.


Short Rations--Wagons Unloaded of Their Freight and

Loaded With Emigrants--Myself and Company Left to Guard the Goods--One Sister's Discouragement

THE winter storms had now set in, in all their severity. The provisions we took amounted to almost nothing among so many people, many of them now on very short rations, some almost starving. Many were dying daily from exposure and want of food. We were at a loss to know why others had not come on to our assistance.

The company was composed of average emigrants: old, middle-age and young; women and children. The men seemed to be failing and dying faster than the women and children.

The hand-cart company was moved over to a cove in the mountains for shelter and fuel; a distance of two [70] miles from the fort. The wagons were banked near the fort. It became in possible to travel further without reconstruction or help. We did all we possibly could to help and cheer the people. Some writers have endeavored to make individual heroes of some of our company. I have no remembrance of any one shirking his duty. Each and everyone did all they possibly could and justice would give to each his due credit.

All the people who could, crowded into the houses of the fort out of the cold and storm. One crowd cut away the walls of the house they were in for fuel, until half of the roof fell in; fortunately they were all on the protected side and no one was hurt.

Many suggestions were offered as to what should be done, some efforts being made to cache the imperishable goods and go on with the rest. Accordingly pits were dug, boxes opened and the hardware, etc., put in one, while clothing, etc., were put in another.

Often these boxes belonged to different persons. An attempt was made by Brother Cantwell, to keep an account of these changes.

This caching soon proved to be a failure for the pits would fill up with drifting snow as fast as the dirt was thrown out, so no caches were made. The goods were never replaced.

Each evening the Elders would meet in council. I remember hearing Charles Decker remark that he had crossed the plains over fifty times (carrying the mail) and this was the darkest hour he had ever seen. Cattle and horses were dying every day. What to do was all that could be talked about. Five or six days had passed and nothing determined upon.

Steve Taylor, Al Huntington and I were together when the question, "Why doesn't Captain Grant leave [71] all the goods here with some one to watch them, and move on?" was asked. We agreed to make this proposal to him. It was near the time appointed for the meeting. As soon as we were together, Capt. Grant asked if anyone had thought of a plan. We presented ours. Capt. Grant replied, "I have thought of this, but there are no provisions to leave and it would be asking too much of anyone to stay here and starve for the sake of these goods; besides, where is there a man who would stay if called upon." I answered, "Any of us would." I had no idea I would be selected, as it was acknowledged I was the best cook in camp and Capt. Grant had often spoken as though he could not spare me.

Then a proper understanding may be had, I will say that these goods were the luggage of a season's emigration that these two wagon trains had contracted to choose three, and it was being taken through as well as the luggage of the people present. Leaving these goods meant to abandon all that many poor families had upon earth. So it was different from common merchandise.

There was a move made at once to adopt this suggestion. Accordingly, next morning store rooms in the fort were cleared and some two hundred wagons run in and unloaded. No one was allowed to keep out anything but a change of clothing, some bedding and light cooking utensils. Hauling provisions was not a weighty question.

This unloading occupied three days. The hand-cart people were notified to abandon most of their carts. Teams were hitched up and the sick and feeble loaded in with such light weight as was allowed. All became common property.

When everything was ready Brother Burton said to [72] me, "Now Brother Jones we want you to pick two men from the valley to stay with you. We have notified Captains Hunt and Horgett to detail seventeen men from their companies to stay with you. We will move on in the morning. Get your company together and such provisions as you can find in the hands of those who may have anything to spare. You know ours is about out. Will you do it?" I said, "Yes." "Well take your choice from our company. You are acquainted with the boys and whoever you want will stay." I had a great mind to tell him I wanted Captains Grant and Burton.

There was not money enough on earth to have hired me to stay. I had left home for only a few days and was not prepared to remain so long away; but I remembered my assertion that any of us would stay if called upon. I could not back out, so I selectedThomas Alexander and Ben Hampton. I am satisfied that two more faithful men to stand under all hardships could not have been found.

That night we were called together and organized as a branch. Dan W. Jones, Thomas Alexander and Ben Hampton were chosen to preside, with J. Laty as clerk. The rest of the company was composed of the following names: John Cooper, John Hardcastle, John Shorton, John Chapel, John Galbraith, John Ellis, John Whitaker, William Handy, William Laty, Edwin Summers, Rossiter Jenkins, Elisha Manning, Henry Jakeman, George Watt, George Watts and _____ ________

Captain Grant asked us about our provisions. I told him they were scant, but as many were suffering and some dying, all we asked was an equal chance with the rest. He told us there would be a lot of worn out cattle left; to gather them up and try to save them. [73] They consisted mostly of yearlings and two-year-old heifers, some one was taking through.

The storm had now ceased to rage and great hopes were felt for a successful move. We were daily expecting more help and often wondered why it did not come. Next day all hands pulled out, most of them on foot.

After getting my camp regulated a little and giving some instructions, I got on my horse and rode on to see how the train was moving along. All were out of sight when I started. After traveling a few miles, I came upon a lady sitting alone on the side of the road, weeping bitterly. I noticed she was elegantly dressed and appeared strong and well. I asked her what was the matter. She sobbingly replied, "This is too much for me. I have always had plenty, and have never known hardships; we had a good team and wagon; my husband, if let alone, could have taken me on in comfort. Now I am turned out to walk in this wind and snow. I am determined not to go on but will stay here and die. My husband has gone on and left me, but I will not go another step." The train was two or three miles ahead and moving on. I persuaded her after a while to go on with me.

This lady, Mrs. Linforth, and her husband now live in San Francisco, California. They could not stand the hardships of Zion; but I believe they are friendly to our people.

After overtaking the train and seeing them on the move, Captain Grant asked me to go back with instructions for the brethren left with me; then to come on next day and camp with them over night.

On calling the company together at the fort that night, I told them in plain words that if there was a man in camp who could not help eat the last poor animal left [74] with us, hides and all, suffer all manner of privations, almost starve to death that he could go on with me the next day and overtake the trains. No one wanted to go. All voted to take their chances.

On taking stock of provisions, we found about twenty day's rations. No salt or bread excepting a few crackers. There was at least five months of winter before us and nothing much to eat but a few perishing cattle and what game we might chance to kill. The game was not very certain, as the severe storms had driven everything away. The first move was to fix up the fort. Accordingly Brother Alexander, being a practical man, was appointed to manage the business; Brother Hampton was to see about the cattle.

I followed the train this day to their second encampment and the next day traveled with them. There was much suffering, deaths occurring often. Eph Hanks arrived in camp from the valley and brought word that some of the teams that had reached South Pass and should have met us here, had turned back towards home and tried to persuade Redick Allred, who was left there with a load of flour, to go back with them. The men who did this might have felt justified; they said it was no use going farther, that we had doubtless all perished. I will not mention their names for it was always looked upon by the company as cowardly in the extreme.

If this had not occurred it was the intention of Captain Grant to have sent some one down to us with a load of flour. As it was, by the time any was received, the people were in a starving condition, and could not spare it.

From the third camp, where I saw the last of the brethren, an express was sent on to catch the returning supplies and continue on to the valley, giving word that [75] the train was coming. I know nothing more of them except from reports. As I am writing mainly from my own observations, I will simply state that after great suffering and much assistance (hundreds turning out to help) the emigrants were finally landed in the valley.

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