This Week in 1856 – Chimney Rock – Mary Taylor

From Jessie Haven (with the Hodgetts Wagon Company):

2 October 1856:

Weather warm. Very warm for the season, and dry.

3 October 1856:

Hot today. Thermometer stood at noon in the sun at 119 degrees. United States troops passed us on their way to Laramie, Passed Chimney Rock today.

From John Jacques:

On the 3rd of October, near Chimney Rock, a company of United States Dragoons, under Major Hunter, with ten or twelve mule teams from Fort Kearny for Fort Laramie, passed the company and a boy named Aaron Giles, left the handcart company and went with the soldiers.

[There are some indications that Mary’s husband William Upton began to drive a wagon for the Hodgetts company at this time because some of their drivers left the company and went with the U.S. troops.]

On the 4th of October, the company passed Scott’s Bluffs. Parley P. Pratt‘s company of missionaries, going east from Salt Lake, passed the Bluffs about the same time, but the two companies did not see each other.

From Samuel Openshaw:

4 October 1845:

Passed Chimney Rock, which rises in the form of a monument or chimney, and can be seen at a distance.


4 October 1856: (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Franklin D. Richards arrived and notified Brigham Young of the plight of the handcart companies on the plains.

5 October 1856: (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Brigham Young announced at General Conference the need for wagons, supplies and men to go rescue the handcart companies.


This Week in 1856 – Nebraska – Mary Taylor

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

23 September 1856:

Started half past 7 o’clock, crossed over sandy bluffs and sandy roads. Stopped for dinner at 12 o’clock, started again, continued over the sandy bluffs until 6 o’clock, when we came to Sandy Bluff Creek, where we camped for the night. Traveled 11 3/4 miles today, and it is, I think, the hardest day we have had on account of deep sand. We had to pull Eliza all through them. Saw Babbitt’s buggy burnt.

From John Jacques:

On September 23rd, about six miles east of Bluff Creek, and about seventy yards to the left of the road, a little harness, two wagon wheels and the springs of a burnt carriage or buggy and few other things were seen. These were supposed to be relics of Almon W. Babbitt‘s outfit. The company brought the springs along, but what became of them, I don’t know. Babbitt had left Kearny about the 2nd of September, with Thomas Sutherland and a driver. Two miles further on Captain Hodgett, Moses Cluff and Nathan T. Porter, were busy with a dead buffalo, which they had run our of a herd and killed for the handcart company, having previously killed on for their own wagon company. Some of the handcart people stayed to skin and quarter the buffalo, and bring it along on four handcarts. At night, it was divided among the company. This was the first buffalo beef the company had obtained. Buffalo beef, the lean part of it, is good eating on the plains, but is is courser than ox or cow beef.

The next day, September 24th, the company passed the place where it was supposed Thomas Margetts and others were killed by Indians, there being a quantity of feathers strewn about, a blood stained shirt and a child’s skull. The company camped at Duckweek Creek that night and after dark, all the men were called out to form a line aroudn the camp, as it was supposed that Indians were lurking around. About 11 o’clock, the men were called in, a double guard was set for the night and the rest of the men were seriously talked to for half and hour or so, by one of the company who was fond of preaching, on the necessity of vigilance in Indian country. Then the men were dismessed to their tents, except the double guard.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

24 September 1856:

Started at 8 o’clock this morning. Stopped for dinner at 12 o’clock, started again. Saw the blood stained garments of Thomas Margetts wife and child, who had been murdered by the Indians. They are committing depredations behind and before. In fact, they made an open attack in day light upon Fort Kearny, on the twenty second of August, the soldiers killed a great number of them, which has stirred them up against the white man, but they keep out of our way. Camped at the Platte.

25 September 1856:

Started at 8 o’clock. Still continued over the sandy bluffs. Saw several Indians on horseback, which are the first that we have seen since the above mentioned. Stopped for dinner at 12 o’clock at the Platte River, started again. The road is rather better, camped near the Platte at 6 o’clock.

From John Jacques:

In the afternoon of the 25th, five Indians, some of them squaws, on ponies, rode past the company and near to it, carefully scrutinizing it, but had nothing to say, and then they rode off towards the Platte. These were the first Cheyenne Indians the company had seen.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

26 September 1856:

Started at 8 o’clock, continued until 12 when we stopped for dinner. For several days, we have crossed through a great many creeks and forks of the Platte, which gave us plenty of opportunity to wash our feet.

This Week in 1856 – Nebraska – Mary Taylor

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

9 September 1856:

We started this morning about 8 o’clock, and traveled through a very hard, sandy uphill and down, road. Halted for dinner about 2 o’clock, but there was no water, just an old mud pit. Started again at 6 o’clock. It thundered and lightninged awfully, and rained at a distance, but, as if to give everyone their share, it rolled over and gave us a good soaking in the rain. It rolled on until it died away at a distance. We were almost worried with mosquitoes. Traveled until 11 o’clock, when we camped at Prairie Creek, which is very good water. We have traveled two days without water, except mud water, and only twice.

From John Jacques:

On the 9th of September, in the afternoon, the company came to a round pit or pond of water. Parched with thirst the cattle rushed pell mell into the pond and stirred up the mud until the water was thick and black, before the people had supplied themselves for their own use. But it was all the water available, and so it was used for cooking purposes, making coffee, tea, bread and porridge or hasty pudding, which when made was quite black, but was eaten and drunk nevertheless.

At 7 p.m. the camp started for Prairie Creek, nine miles, reaching it between 11 and 12 o’clock, but very glad to get to clear running water, after having been without two days.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

10 September 1856:

Started about 9 o’clock from Prairie Creek. We went about three miles and then crossed it. Traveled until 1 o’clock, when we stopped for dinner one hour. Traveled until 6 o’clock, and camped again at the Prairie, where we found a little wood, which is the first wood that we have seen since Monday morning. We had to cook with buffalo chips.

11 September 1856:

We started about 9 o’clock again this morning, traveled until 1 o’clock and stopped for dinner. Started again, traveled until 6 o’clock and camped again at Prairie Creek.

From John Jacques:

On September 11th, 8 or 9 miles from Lone Tree and Wood River, the company passed the graves of two men and a child belonging to Almon W. Babbitt‘s wagon train, who had been killed on the 25th of August by some Cheyenne Indians, who were on the war path that summer. Two of the teamsters escaped death, and Mrs. Wilson was taken prisoner. Most of the property plundered from the wagons was subsequently recovered by Captain Wharton and the Untied States troops at Fort Kearny. A mile or two east of the graves of the teamsters, a paper was tacked on a board, on which the chief of the Omaha Indians disclaimed participation in the murders. Early in the journey from Florence, the company met two or three hundred Omahas, who passed by quite peaceable.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

12 September 1856:

Started about 8 o’clock; traveled about 4 miles when we came to Wood River, which we crossed on a small bridge, continued down the side of it and stopped for dinner at 12 o’clock. For ought we knew, but a cripple, a young man who walked with crutches, had been left behind. We sent four men back to search for him which caused us to move none today. About sunset, they brought him into the camp.

13 September 1856:

Started about half past 8 o’clock this morning; traveled until one o’clock when we stopped for dinner, nearly opposite Fort Kearney, where the soldiers are stationed. Started again, and traveled until five o’clock when we camped at the Platte River. A man fell down dead, (William Edwards). The Indians are very hostile about here. They have attacked some of the emigrants who have passed through this season, and rumor says that some have been murdered, but they have kept out of our way, for se have seen none since the sixth, no even so much as one.

From an account of Josiah Rogerson:

September 13 1856:

About 10:30 this morning, we passed Fort Kearny, and as one of the singular deaths occurred on our journey at this time, I will give a brief and truthful narration of the incident. Two bachelors, named Luke Carter, from the Clitheroe Branch, Yorkshire, England, and William Edwards, from Manchester, England, each about 50 to 60 years of age, had pulled a covered cart together from Iowa City to this point. They slept in the same tent, cooked and bunked together; but for several days previous, unpleasant and cross words had passed between them.

Edwards was a tall, loosely built and tender man, physically and carter more stocky and sturdy. He had favored Edwards by letting the latter pull only what he could in the shafts for some time. This morning, he grumbled and complained, still traveling, about being tired, and that he couldn’t go any further. Carter retorted; “Come on, Come on. You’ll be all right again when we get a bit of dinner at noon.” But Edwards kept on begging for him to stop the cart and let him lie down and die. Carter replying, “Well, get out and die then, the cart was instantly stopped. Carter raised the shafts of the cart. Edwards waled from under and to the south of the road a couple of rods, laid his body down on the level prairie, and in ten minutes, he was a corpse.

We waited, (a few carts of us) a few minutes longer till the Captain came up and closed Edwards’s eyes. A light loaded open cart was unloaded. The body was put thereon, covered with a quilt, and the writer pulled him to the noon camp, some five or six miles, where we dug his grave and buried him a short distance west of Fort Kearney.

Just before Edwards closed his eyes and was dying, Albert Jones brought to him a drink of water in a tin panikin and moistened his dying lips.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

14 September 1856:

We started about 9 o’clock and traveled until 12 o’clock when we camped for the night. Eliza is a little better, but is so weak, that we still have to pull her on the handcart.

15 September 1856:

Started at 8 o’clock and traveled until 2 o’clock, when we stopped for dinner at Buffalo Creek, started again and traveled until 7 o’clock. Saw several droves of buffalo, but could not get no higher to them than three or four miles. Camped at Buffalo Creek.