This Week in 1856 – News of Rescue – Mary Taylor

From Samuel Openshaw:

In the midst of all this uncertainty and doubt, our hopes were realized for lo and behold, Joseph A. Young and two others with him, came riding into camp. Voices from all parts of the camp rang out, “help for the camp.” We all rushed together to hear the news. He told us that there were about 10 Wagons loaded with flour, sent out from the valley for our relief, and was about 50 miles ahead of us at a place called Devil’s Gate.

From John Jacques:

The 28th of October was the red letter day to this handcart expedition. On that memorable day, Joseph A. Young, Daniel W. Jones and Abel Garr, galloped unexpectedly into the camp amid the cheers and tears and smiles of the emigrants. These three men, being an express from the most advanced relief company from Salt Lake, brought the glad word that assistance, provisions and clothing were near, that ten wagons were waiting at Devil’s Gate for the emigrants which intelligence had been previously communicated to Captain Hodgett’s wagon company, in camp hard by, and first reached by the express, who after a very brief stay in the handcart camp, pushed on to Captain Hunt’s wagon company, encamped on the Platte, about ten miles below and beyond the handcart company. The express stayed with Hunt’s company for the night.

All was now animation and bustle in the handcart camp, and everybody was busy at once, in making preparations for a renewed start in the morning. The revived spirits of the company were still further exhilarated by an increased ration of flour that day, three quarters of a pound, I believe. With cheered hearts and renewed hopes, the emigrants retired to their beds that night, and no doubt many of the sleepers made pleasant excursions into the mystic regions of dreamland.

From Samuel Openshaw:

In the morning, we summoned all our efforts and strength, impulsed with the prospect of deliverance, and we again started on our journey.

From John Jacques:

Early on the morning of the 29th, the handcart company left the Platte and struck across the country for the Sweetwater. Joseph A. Young and his companions, returned from Hunt’s company, over took Martin’s company before night and camped with it at Rocky Avenue, about 36 miles east of Devil’s Gate.

In the afternoon of the last day of October, the company met Cyrus H. Wheelock, Daniel W. Jones, and David Garr, who were going to meet the various companies. About dark, the company arrived at Greasewood Creek, between thirty and forty miles from from the last crossing of the Platte. At Greasewood Creek, were found George D. Grant, Robert T. Burton, Charles Decker, D. G. Webb and others, with six wagons, laden with flour and other things from Salt Lake, who had come to the assistance of the belated emigrants. This was another time of rejoicing. Some of this relief party had met the emigrants a mile or two away from camp and had helped to pull some of the carts along. Here, some stockings boots and other clothing were distributed among the emigrants, also a few onions, which were highly prized, and pound of flour rations was served out, which was the daily ration, with the exception of about two days, if I recollect rightly, thenceforth to the end of the journey.

From Samuel Openshaw:

We now had one pound of flour per day, which in a measure began to recruit our strength so that we were enabled to perform the journey before us. The brethren which came out to meet us, did administer every comfort and help that was within their power, to the sick and the infirm. We continued our journey until we arrived at Devil’s Gate.

From John Jacques:

This was the beginning of better days, as to food and assistance, but the cold grew more severe, and was intense much of the way. On the evening of November 1st, the handcart company camped at the Sweetwater bridge, on this side of the river, about five miles on the other side of Devil’s Gate, arriving three about dark. There was a foot or eighteen inches of snow on the ground, which, as there were but one or two spades in the camp, the emigrants had to shovel away with their frying pans, or tin plates, or anything they could use for that purpose before they could pitch their tens, and then the ground was frozen so hard, that it was almost impossible to drive the tent pegs into it. Some of the men were so weak, that it took them an hour or two to clear the places for their tents and set them up. They would shovel and scrape away at the hard snow for a few minutes, and then rest, then shovel and scrape and rest again and so on.

The next day, the company moved to Devil’s Gate, where there were more of the relief party with wagons and provisions. The wagon companies arrived within two or three days after.

Devil’s Gate, at that time, was a sort of fort or trading post, consisting of several log houses or huts, but vacated when the emigrants were there, as it was not a pleasant place for wintering. But those log huts, with generous wood fires on the hearths, seems very comfortable to the emigrants, thought not large enough to accommodate more than a few of them.

An earnest counsel was held to determine whether to endeavor to winter the emigrants at that point, or push them on to the Great Salt Lake, as fast as possible, It was decided to continue the march to Salt Lake the same season. Two or three days after arriving at Devil’s Gate, the handcart company was part reorganized, and most of the carts were left there. Two, I believe, of the best remaining, were retained for each Hundred, and those were loaded chiefly with cooking utensils, such as frying pans bake kettles, sauce pans ,and camp kettles, so that the loads in these few carts were of a weighty nature. The remainder of the baggage of the company, was put on the wagons.

When the wagon companies came up to Devil’s Gate, it was decided to store most of their freight in the log houses or huts, for the winter, which was done, and twenty men were left, under the direction of Daniel Jones, to take care of the goods. Those twenty men had a hard time of it before they were relieved the following summer, and the goods brought along to the valley. The freight was left behind because the teams were unable to haul it further.

On the 3rd of November, Joseph Young and Abel Garr were sent as an express to Salt Lake to convey information as to the situation of the emigrants. In preparing for this express journey home, Joseph Young put on three or four pairs of woolen socks, a pair of mocassin’s, and a pair of buffalo hide overshoes, with the wool on, and then remarked, “There, if my feet freeze with those on, they must stay frozen till I get to Salt Lake.” This express arrived at it’s destination at 4 o’clock on the morning of the 13th of November.


This Week in 1856 – Her Husband Dies – Mary Taylor

From John Jacques:

The next day after crossing the Platte, the company moved on slowly, about ten miles, through the snow, and camped again near the Platte, and at the point where the road left it for the Sweetwater. It snowed three days, and the teams and many of the people were so far given out, that it was deemed advisable not to proceed further for a few days, but rather to stay in camp. It was hoped that the snow and cold would prove only a foretaste of winter and would soon pass away and the weather would moderate, but that hope proved delusive.

From Hodgett Wagon Company, Jesse Haven, clerk:

Wednesday, October 22, 1856:

Went back today to Brother Hunt’s camp. It is about 10 miles back. Took Brother Upton to see doctor. He had a bad arm. He is some out of his head.

Thursday, October 23, 1856:

Cold last night. Brother Upton died this morning about 10 o’clock. Came back to my own camp in afternoon. Snow melting some. The Handcart Company came up to us tonight and camped [100 yards from] us. Many dying in that company.

From Hunt Wagon Company Journal:

Thursday, October 23, 1856:

The weather was very cold and frosty. William Upton who arrived from Capt. Hodgett’s company the previous evening by Jesse Have to consult Dr. Wiseman, died of mortification of the hear age 34 years. The camp was still detained because of snow. By this time several of the cattle had died.

There is some confusion about this entry and some believe that this is a different William Upton than Mary’s husband. But no other William Upton can be found in searching the records. So the conclusion is despite the different age recorded by the Hunt Wagon Company, this is our William Upton. We also don’t understand how he came to be part of the Hodgett Company. Some have thought that he was enlisted to drive for the Hodgett Company when several of their drives left the company earlier in the journey. William’s symptoms may have indicated a heart attack or maybe hypothermia from assisting in carrying people across the river. Mary, her mother and her aunt are left to carry on alone.

From Samuel Openshaw:

We are now seeing the storms increasing upon us in the midst of an inclement and howling desert, far away from human succor and having only a few days rations in the camp, we summoned all our strength  and efforts to make another move, but our oxen, having died off, and our strength being over much reduced, the snow, cold and the blasting winds, it seemed impossible for us to travel. In fact, we were traveling all day cold, hungry, and fatigued, and only traveled 5 miles. We put up our tents, and then shoveled out the now and put it around the bottom of the ten, in order to keep out the winds and to make ourselves somewhat comfortable.

From John Jacques:

It was expected that help from Salt Lake would soon reach the company, which cheering expectation was shortly realized. In this camp, the company stayed, resting and recuperating as well as could be under the circumstances, the snow remaining on the ground the the frost being very keen at night. Her, the flour ration fell to four ounces per day.

This was the extremity of their privations as to food, but not the end of their sufferings, for the injurious effects of their privations told upon them during the remainder of their journey, and for some time after. Indeed, with some of the company, relics of these effects remain, of one sort or another, to this day. In addition to the four ration, considerable beef was killed and served to the company as had been the case most of the journey. But the cattle had now grown so poor, that there was little flesh left on them, and that little was as lean as lean could be.

The outlook was certainly not encouraging, but it need not be supposed that the company was in despair, not withstanding that the situation was rather desperate. Oh, No! A hopeful and cheerful spirit pervaded the camp and the “songs of Zion” were frequently heard at this time, though the company was int the very depths of its privations. Thought the bodies of the people were worn down, their spirits were buoyant, while at the same time, they had become so accustomed to looking death in the face, that they seemed to have no fear of it, nor of the corpses either, the bodies of the dead having become such familiar sights as to lose their ordinary influence on beholders.

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:

16 September 1856:

Started at half past 8 o’clock. The weather is extremely hot, whick makes it hard traveling. Stopped at one o’clock, but moved no further today. It would truly be an amusing and interesting scene if the people of the old country could have a birds-eye view of us when in camp; to see everyone busy some fetching water, others gathering buffalo chips, some cooking, and if they could come forth upon these wild prairies, where the air is not tainted with the smoke of cities and factories. It is quiet here. One may see a creek at a distance and start and travel one hour towards it, yet you seem no closer than you did when you started.

17 September 1856:

An old sister died this morning, which delayed us until 10 o’clock. When we started out, it was a very hard, sandy road, and the wind was extremely cold, as if we had come into a different climate all at once. Stopped for dinner at one o’clock. Started again, and traveled until 6 o’clock when we camped for the night.

18 September 1856:

Started at 7 o’clock this morning, traveled until 1 o’clock, when we stopped for dinner at the Platte River. Old Sister Gregory from Chew Moore died, and was buried on the banks of the Platte River. Started again and traveled over the sandy bluffs and camped again at the Platte River.

19 September 1856:

Started at 6 o’clock and traveled until 12 o’clock when we stopped for dinner. Started again at 1 o’clock and still continued to travel over the sandy bluffs, which is very hard pulling. Eliza continues in a lingering state, so that we have to haul her on the handcart. We camped at half past 7 o’clock.

From John Jacques:

On September 19th, two or three teams from Green River, going east were met, and the men informed the emigrants that Indians had killed Almond Babbitt and burned his buggy, thirty or forty miles west of Pawnee Springs.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary:

20 September 1856:

We started and left the sandy bluffs on our right, went about three miles, and then crossed a creek about knee deep. The weather cold. It felt disagreeable to go into the water. Went about 8 miles and came to the Platte River where we stopped for dinner. Started again, contained down the side of the Platte. Measly rain. Camped on the Platte about 6 o’clock.

21 September 1856:

Small measly rain delayed us until 2 o’clock. In the meantime, another cow was killed. Eliza, on account of being exposed to the weather, is considerably worse. Traveled until 7 o’clock, when we camped but being not night to any wood, and the buffalo chips being wet, we were unable to do any cooking.

22 September 1856:

Started about 8 o’clock this morning, traveled until 12 o’clock, when we stopped for dinner at the Platte. Started again, went about three miles, came to the North Fork of the Platte, which is ten rods wide and two feet deep. Crossed over with our handcarts. It was a sandy bottom. Camped as soon as we had crossed, being about six o’clock.

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.

This Week in 1856 – Nebraska – Mary Taylor

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary

2 September 1856:

We started about half past 5 o’clock this morning; traveled about four miles when we arrived again at the Platte River. We stopped to breakfast about two hours, started again at 10 o’clock for the Loup Fork Ferry, where we arrived about one thirty, in one part; ferried across the Platte today.

3 September 1856:

We commenced to ferry this morning about 7 o’clock, and finished about sunset.

4 September 1856:

We started about 8 o’clock, and traveled about 9 miles; stopped for dinner again, and traveled 14 miles today. Camped at 4 o’clock, killed a cow and it was divided.

5 September 1856:

We were notified to start at 7 o’clock this morning, but a thunderstorm came with delayed us until half past two o’clock. In the meantime, another cow was killed and divided among us, 1/2 pound each. We started and traveled until 5 o’clock; camped again at the Platte River. We put our tents up and then a rain storm came upon us.

6 September 1856:

Started about 8 o’clock this morning. We met a large party of Indians, men, women and children, with their horses and mules, all loaded with skins, going to Missouri to trade with the Whites. They are the first Indians that we have seen. Camped about 12 o’clock for dinner. Then, we went to the top of the hill and camped for the day.

7 September 1856:

Sunday. Started about half past 8 o’clock. Eleanor has the ague and diarrhea, and si so badly that we had to pull her in the handcart. Eliza, also, is yet so weak, that we had to pull her also, in the handcart, which made it just as much as we could pull. We camped again near the Platte. About 5 o’clock, Franklin D. Richards, D. Spencer, C. Wheelock and others camp up in their carriages. We found a good spring here.

From John Jacques:

On the 7th of September, west of Loup Fork, the company was over taken by Franklin d. Richards, Cyrus H. Wheelock, John Van Cott, George D. Grant, William H. Kimball, Joseph A. Young. C. G. Webb, William C. Dunbar, James McGaw, Dan Jones, John McAllister, Nathaniel H. Felt, and James Ferguson, who left Florence September 3rd, passed Hunt’s Wagon company on the 6th, east of the Loup Fork, and Hodgett’s wagon company on the 7th, ten miles west of Martin’s company.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary

8 September 1856:

We started about 8 o’clock this morning, traveled until 1 o’clock and stopped for dinner one hour. Started again and traveled until 10 o’clock at night, on account of not being able to find any water or wood. Traveled about 24 miles and found some water in holes that had been dug in the sand. We pulled Eliza on the handcart all day.

This Week in 1856 – Nebraska – Mary Taylor

From John Jacques

The company moved on the day named, from Florence to Cutler’s Park, two and a half miles, and camped stayed there the nest day and night, and left the next morning. While there, Almon W. Babbit, dressed in corduroy pants, woolen over-shirt and felt hat, called as he was passing west. He seemed in high glee, his spirits being very elastic, almost mercurial. He had started with one carriage for Salt Lake, with the mail and a considerable amount of money. He was very confident that he should be in Salt Lake within 15 days. He intended to push things through vigorously, and sleep on the wind.

On leaving Florence, the loads on the handcarts were greater than ever before, most carts having 100 pounds of four, besides ordinary baggage. The tents were also carried on the carts. The company was provisioned sixty days, a daily ration of one pound of flour per head, with about half a pound fro children.

From Samuel Openshaw’s Diary

28 August 1856:

We started at 8 o’clock. Stopped at the Big Papeon, for dinner, a distance of three miles; started again at one o’clock. Traveled today 15 miles. Six o’clock, we camped at the Elk Horn.

29 August 1856:

Began to ferry at 8 o’clock, across the Elk Horn, and had all ferried across about 12 o’clock; 132 handcarts, 180 head of cattle, 8 wagons. We had our dinner and started about two o’clock; traveled three miles, mostly through a sandy road and arrived at the Raw Hide Creek where we camped for the night.

30 August 1856:

Started about 8 o’clock and traveled until about 1 o’clock, when we camped for the day upon the banks of the Platte River.

31 August 1856:

Sunday. We started today about 7 o’clock and left the river a little on our left, but being high to the banks of the river, the road was very sandy, which made it hard pulling. We camped again about two o’clock upon the banks of the Platte River.

1 September 1856:

Started about 7 o’clock. The road was not so sandy as yesterday. Started again and at 1 o’clock we stopped for dinner at Shell Creek. Started again at 2 o’clock, and therefore, we were obliged to stop on the prairies before we got to the river. There is no wood upon the prairies, only at rivers and creeks, and having nothing cooked, we were obliged to line down without supper. Traveled about 20 miles. We were a little tired.

This Week in 1856 – Between Iowa City and Florence Nebraska – Mary Taylor


From Samuel Openshaw’s Journal:

5 August 1856:

We started about 8 o’clock this morning, but the road through the wood was full of stumps of trees. We had not got out of the wood, before we ran our handcart against a stump, and broke the wheel off. We took our luggage and placed it on the ox teams. We then tied our cart ups with ropes and overtook the rest about two o’clock, where they were camped for dinner. We got a new axle tree on, and traveled about two miles farther, where we camped for the night.

6 August 1856:

We were told we should start at seven o’clock this morning, but a thunderstorm delayed us until 12 o’clock. I was so weak, that I was unable to pull the handcart, therefore, I went to drive the team for rather. We traveled about ten miles, part by the light of the moon, pitched our tents about ten o’clock among the prairie grass.

7 August 1856:

We started about 7 o’clock this morning and traveled through a beautiful country, where we could stand and gaze upon the prairies as far as the eye could see, even until the prairies themselves seemed to meet the sky on all sides, without being able to see a house. I thought, how many thousands of people are there in England who have scarce room to breathe and not enough to eat. Yet all this good land is lying dormant, except for the prairie grass to grow and decay. We traveled about 15 miles, and pitched our tent about two o’clock p.m.

8 August 1856:

We traveled about 18 miles up hill and down. In fact it has been so all day. We started about seven o’clock this morning, passed through the town of Newton, which contains 1200 inhabitants, traveled two miles farther, and pitched our tents in a valley by the side of a woods, through which a creeks runs.

9 August 1856:

We started about 10 o’clock and traveled through woods and across creeks. We stopped for dinner about two o’clock, at the edge of a wood where we found plenty of ripe grapes. We started again at three o’clock. We had not gone far before a thunder storm came upon us, and we got a little drenched in the rain. We pitched our tents about six o’clock, close by a creek.

10 August 1856:

Sunday. Traveled none today. We washed ourselves in the river Skunk, which is a beautiful water, running as clear as crystal upon a sandy bottom, which appeared like the waters of Silon (?). Eliza began to be very badly. We had a meeting in the afternoon, and partook of the Sacrament. Elder Tyler addressed us.

11 August 1856:

A brother and a child were buried this morning, which delayed camp until half past ten o’clock. We had to wait until the coffin was made. We traveled about 14 miles and pitched our tents about four o’clock.

This week in 1856 – Between Iowa City and Florence, Nebraska – Mary Taylor

From Samuel Openshaw’s Journal:

1 August 1856: At ten o’clock a.m. we made another start. The roads were all sandy. At seven o’clock p.m., we pitched our tents on the top of a hill, from where we could look as far as the eye could see, but the water was not good.

2 August 1856: Showers in the morning hindered us from starting out as soon as we intended. Traveled nearly 18 miles. Saints much fatigued. Some made it to camp. Some did not come in at all.

3 August 1856: On account of the unhealthiness of the place, we made a start today and traveled about 7 miles. We had traveled about a quarter of a mile, when we beheld a ball of fire, brighter than the sun before it, in the air, and came within about 3 yards of the ground. Then it drew out in the form of a spear and vanished out of sight. We pitched our tents two miles from Marengo.

 4 August 1856: Still beautiful and hot today. We did not move until four o’clock p.m. Traveled about two miles farther where we camped for the night.