This Week in 1856 – Rocky Ridge to Bear River – Mary Taylor

From John Jacques:

By this time, the shoes of many of the emigrants had “given out,” and that was no journey for shoeless men, women and children to make at such a season of the year, and trudge it on foot. As the emigrants proceeded on their terrible journey, there was no appreciable mitigation of the piercing wintry cold, but its intensity rather increased. The Rocky Ridge and the South Pass were crossed on the 18th of November, a bitterly cold day.

Mary received a pair of shoes from one of the rescuers. Her shoes had long since worn out and she wrapped her feet in canvas from discarded tents.

From John Jacques:

The snow fell fast and the wind blew piercingly from the north. For several days, the company had been meeting more relief teams, which had been urged on by the Joseph A. Young express, and as the company was crossing the South Pass, there was a sufficiency of wagons, for the first time, to carry all the people, and thenceforth, the traveling was more rapid. But it was much colder to ride in a wagon than to follow afoot, and a few of the sturdier of the emigrants preferred to hold on to the wagons and walk behind them. One stubborn pedestrian held out as long as he was allowed to do so. The driver repeatedly urged on him to get up and ride. “Oh, I shall freeze, if I do,” he replied. “Well, we are going to drive faster, and you’ll be left behind,” said the driver. Finally, with such argument, the emigrant was persuaded to get into the wagon. When he was seated, the driver said, “There now, you don’t get out to walk anymore.”

William Bert Simmons, one of the rescuers, put Mary in his wagon. She was semiconscious at times and half frozen.

From John Jacques:

That night, the company camped in the willows at Pacific Springs, about four miles west of the South Pass. The snow was still falling furiously, with one or two feet of it on the ground. Here, Robert T. Burton took charge of the relief companies.

On the 19th, the company camped at Little Sandy, having sage brush for fuel, and on the 20th, on the Big Sandy.

While camping on the Big Sandy, it seemed impossible to get warm, sleeping in a wagon. It was warmer sleeping with beds on the ground, where if the biting, frosty air got the upper hand of you, it could not get the underside of you as well, but it could do both in a wagon.

The handcart company all riding, was now traveling at the rate of twenty-five to thirty miles a day, and my narrative will naturally proceed more rapidly. On the 21st, the company camped at Green River, on the 22nd, near the junction of Ham’s and Black’s forks; on the 23rd, at Bridger; on the 24th, in the cedars on the Muddy, were good fires were had; and on the 25th at Bear River.

At this camp there was an abundance of dry and fallen timber, and great camp fires were made of a cor or more of logs and branches. Here Joseph Young and his brother Brigham were in camp.


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