Chapter XXV.


Martin's Cruel Treatment of us--Baker's Kindness--Our Journey

Home--Reception by our Families--Our Claim Against the Government

WE expected to get some assistance from a man by the name of William Martin, whom we were acquainted with. He had been at Provo merchandising, but had moved to Denver.

On arriving in Denver and meeting Martin, we told him our situation. He very readily said we could have what we wanted, and asked how much we would need. I told him twenty-five dollars would answer. It was about noon and he said, "Wait and have some dinner, then you can go on."

He stepped out but returned in a few minutes, asking, "Whose fine mules are those under the shed?"

I replied, "They are ours."

He said, "They are fine mules; I will give you a good trade for them." And then offered us a pair of ponies and twenty-five dollars.

I told him they were all we had left of what we had earned during our trip; that we were anxious to get home as soon as possible, and that they would carry us better than the ponies would. I knew the ponies well that he offered us. He insisted on the trade. We declined as the mules were worth at least $400, while the ponies were not worth over $75. If he gave us the $25 difference he would still get at least $300 for nothing. Finally, when we would not trade, Martin said he had no money to loan.

He had a large provision store, and I said, "Then let us have a little provisions and we will go on."

He replied that he was selling on commission and could let nothing go without the money. If ever two men felt indignant we did. We had parted company with our friends, the two horsemen. They still had plenty of money. They doubtless would have given us some had we asked them, but we were sure of getting some from Martin. I also had several old acquaintances in Denver who, no doubt, would have helped us, but we felt now like asking no assistance from any person.

We had just forty cents and were four hundred miles from old Jack Robinson's camp at Bridger. We knew he would not turn us away. My answer to Martin was "Bill Martin, you see these two mules; they are better animals then you ought to own. It is only four hundred miles to Jack Robinson's; they will carry us in four days; we can starve that long and you can't have the mules. Good day."

We bought forty cents worth of cheap cakes and started out with the expectation of going hungry. As we crossed the bridge spanning the Arkansas river, the roads forked. We enquired of a lad which road to take naming our direction. He said either, but that the left hand road went out five miles to Jim Baker's ranch. Here was a chance. Jim Baker was an old friend that I had often met on the plains. I had taken care of his brother, when snow-blind, while we were at Devil's Gate, so we concluded to go there and see if Baker would be like Martin.

On arriving we were welcomed in the true, old-mountaineer style. Although grass was abundant, he turned our mules into his oat field. We told him about Martin, and he said, "Well now, I will go into town every Saturday, get drunk, and abuse Martin for this until I run him out of the country. I will never let up on him. Why he ain't fit to live."

Baker had his squaw fix us up some food; all we would take. Next morning we started on feeling much better than when leaving Denver. We met with others along the road who supplied our wants.

While at Bitter creek one of our mules got poisoned with bad water. We got him as far as Jack Robinson's camp, leaving him and getting another.

On reaching Bridger, we overtook a government outfit coming into Camp Floyd--Captain Clery and escort. The Captain was on his way to relieve the then acting Quartermaster. He offered to supply us if we would travel with him as they did not know the road. We traveled with him two days receiving the best of treatment from officers and men. Our route led down Provo Canyon. I had a number of acquaintances in this valley; among the number Melvin Ross who lived at the head of the valley. He was a man of considerable means. I told Moore we would go and camp with him, telling how welcome we would be. There was a sergeant in the company who knew the road from Weber. Neither Moore nor myself had traveled the road from Weber to Provo valley. We went ahead and took the wrong road so that we lost several miles in getting back to the Provo Road. In the meantime the soldiers passed us and got ahead of us. This plagued us a little but we concluded to keep it to ourselves. When we finally arrived at Ross's ranch we found the soldiers had passed and were camped a short distance down the road.

Ross was out in front of his house just laying out a big fat mutton dressed. He knew me but spoke rather coolly for an old friend, but asked us to get down. I told him we would like to stop and get something to eat and stay all night, but that we were without money. He replied that we had some good ropes and blankets. I told him we needed them, as we might go on down the canyon and camp, for we were anxious to get home to our families. He said there was good camping down the canyon. I thought he was doing this simply to joke us, but not so. We finally started on, but expecting to be called back and laughed at.

Moore commenced laughing at me, saying, "That's your friend, is it?"

I said, "He'll call us back; he cannot mean this only as a joke."

Moore said, "Nary a joke; that man's in earnest."

I felt just about as bad as I ever remember to have felt. We had been running the gauntlet for several hundred miles among strangers, looking forward with great expectations on reaching friends at home. We had traveled foty-five miles since eating. This we told Ross, but not a bite would he let us have unless we gave him a rope or blanket. This seemed so mean that we would rather have traveled all next day without food than to ask anyone again.

When we came up to the soldier camp they asked us to stop and have supper. Our mules were fed oats and turned out. We said nothing about the grand (?) reception we had had, as we were ashamed to mention it. We stayed till about eleven o'clock and then went on down the canyon and laid out a short distance from several old friends and acquaintances. We dared not call on anyone; so early next morning we started for our homes in Provo, joking each other often and wondering if our wives would treat us as Ross had.

We had made considerable money; every one of our acquaintances expected us back with plenty. Of course, our wives expected us to come home benefitted by the summer's trip. But all was lost and we were ragged and worn, and presented anything but a dudish appearance. I will not do our wives the injustice to say that we felt any doubt of the reception we would receive at home. They were sisters and two as good and faithful women as ever existed. We had no fears, although we made many propositions suggestive of their shutting us out.

Our reception was such as true wives always give--all the more kind because of our misfortune. I do not think I ever heard a word of regret spoken by either of them for the loss of our property, so thankful were they for our lives being spared under the great risk we ran.

I wrote on to Canby's adjutant, who, during the winter, was sent down to Washington. About the time the Civil war broke out I got a letter stating that I would get the money for our losses. But the officer attending to it was probably killed in the war, as I never heard any more from him.

Many of the military officers to whom I have related the circumstance of our being pressed into service tell me the claim can be collected; it certainly is due to us, for we have never as yet received any benefit for our services.

Acting on the suggestions of some of the army officers I got together sufficient affidavits to establish the facts here recorded making my claim according to facts. My papers were all returned to me with the statement that inasmuch as we were robbed by parties other than Indians, that nothing could be done for us.

Some have advised me to change my papers and say that Indians were the depredators, and make the claim accordingly. This I shall not do as there is enough laid to the Indians already. If I ever get anything it will be on the justice of the claim just as it occurred and not by charging it to the Indians.

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