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Title: Death Valley in '49
Author: Manly, William Lewis
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Death Valley in '49" ***

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       *       *       *       *       *

IMPORTANT CHAPTER OF California Pioneer History.

       *       *       *       *       *





       *       *       *       *       *

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1894, by WM. L.
MANLEY, In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D.C.

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER I. Birth, Parentage.--Early Life in Vermont.--Sucking Cider
through a Straw.

CHAPTER II. The Western Fever.--On the Road to Ohio.--The Outfit.--The
Erie Canal.--In the Maumee Swamp.

CHAPTER III. At Detroit and Westward.--Government Land.--Killing
Deer.--"Fever 'N Agur."

CHAPTER IV. The Lost Filley Boy.--Never Was Found.

CHAPTER V. Sickness.--Rather Catch Chipmonks in the Rocky Mountains than
Live in Michigan.--Building the Michigan Central R.R.--Building a
Boat.--Floating down Grand River.--Black Bear.--Indians Catching
Mullet.--Across the Lake to Southport.--Lead Mining at Mineral
Point.--Decides to go Farther West.--Return to Michigan.

CHAPTER VI. Wisconsin.--Indian Physic.--Dressed for a Winter Hunting
Campaign.--Hunting and Trapping in the Woods.--Catching Otter and

CHAPTER VII. Lead Mining.--Hears about Gold in California.--Gets the
Gold Fever.--Nothing will cure it but California.--Mr. Bennett and the
Author Prepare to Start.--The Winnebago Pony.--Agrees to Meet Bennett at
Missouri River.--Delayed and Fails to Find Him.--Left with only a Gun
and Pony.--Goes as a Driver for Charles Dallas.--Stopped by a Herd of
Buffaloes.--Buffalo Meat.--Indians.--U.S. Troops.--The Captain and the
Lieutenant.--Arrive at South Pass.--The Waters Run toward the
Pacific.--They Find a Boat and Seven of them Decide to Float down the
Green River.

CHAPTER VIII. Floating down the River.--It begins to roar.--Thirty Miles
a Day.--Brown's Hole.--Lose the Boat and make two Canoes.--Elk.--The
Cañons get Deeper.--Floundering in the Water.--The Indian Camp.--Chief
Walker proves a Friend.--Describes the Terrible Cañon below
Them.--Advises Them to go no farther down.--Decide to go
Overland.--Dangerous Route to Salt Lake.--Meets Bennett near
there.--Organize the Sand Walking Company.

CHAPTER IX. The Southern Route.--Off in Fine Style.--A Cut-off
Proposed.--Most of Them Try it and Fail.--The Jayhawkers.--A New
Organization.--Men with Families not Admitted.--Capture an Indian Who
Gives Them the Slip.--An Indian Woman and Her Children.--Grass Begins to
Fail.--A High Peak to the West.--No Water.--An Indian Hut.--Reach the
Warm Spring.--Desert Everywhere.--Some One Steals Food.--The Water Acts
Like a Dose of Salts.--Christmas Day.--Rev. J.W. Brier Delivers a
Lecture to His Sons.--Nearly Starving and Choking.--An Indian in a
Mound.--Indians Shoot the Oxen.--Camp at Furnace Creek.

CHAPTER X. A Long, Narrow Valley.--Beds and Blocks of Salt.--An Ox
Killed.--Blood, Hide and Intestines Eaten.--Crossing Death Valley.--The
Wagons can go no farther.--Manley and Rogers Volunteer to go for
Assistance.--They Set out on Foot.--Find the Dead Body of Mr. Fish.--Mr.
Isham Dies.--Bones along the Road.--Cabbage Trees.--Eating Crow and
Hawk.--After Sore Trials They Reach a Fertile Land.--Kindly
Treated.--Returning with Food and Animals.--The Little Mule Climbs a
Precipice, the Horses are Left Behind.--Finding the Body of Captain
Culverwell.--They Reach Their Friends just as all Hope has Left
Them.--Leaving the Wagons.--Packs on the Oxen.--Sacks for the
Children.--Old Crump.--Old Brigham and Mrs. Arcane.--A Stampede
[Illustrated.]--Once more Moving Westward.--"Good-bye, Death Valley."

CHAPTER XI. Struggling Along.--Pulling the Oxen Down the Precipice
[Illustrated.]--Making Raw-hide Moccasins.--Old Brigham Lost and
Found.--Dry Camps.--Nearly Starving.--Melancholy and Blue.--The Feet of
the Women Bare and Blistered.--"One Cannot form an Idea How Poor an Ox
Will Get."--Young Charlie Arcane very Sick.--Skulls of Cattle.--Crossing
the Snow Belt.--Old Dog Cuff.--Water Dancing over the Rocks.--Drink, Ye
Thirsty Ones.--Killing a Yearling.--- See the Fat.--Eating Makes Them
Sick.--Going down Soledad Cañon--A Beautiful Meadow.--Hospitable Spanish
People.--They Furnish Shelter and Food.--The San Fernando
Mission.--Reaching Los Angeles.--They Meet Moody and Skinner.--Soap and
Water for the First Time in Months.--Clean Dresses for the Women.--Real
Bread to Eat.--A Picture of Los Angeles.--Black-eyed Women.--The Author
Works in a Boarding-house.--Bennett and Others go up the Coast.--Life in
Los Angeles.--The Author Prepares to go North.

CHAPTER XII. Dr. McMahon's Story.--McMahon and Field, Left behind with
Chief Walker, Determine to go down the River.--Change Their Minds and go
with the Indians.--Change again and go by themselves.--Eating Wolf
Meat.--After much Suffering they reach Salt Lake.--John Taylor's Pretty
Wife.--Field falls in Love with her.--They Separate.--Incidents of
Wonderful Escapes from Death.

CHAPTER XIII. Story of the Jayhawkers.--Ceremonies of Initiation--Rev.
J.W. Brier.--His Wife the best Man of the Two.--Story of the Road across
Death Valley.--Burning the Wagons.--Narrow Escape of Tom Shannon.--Capt.
Ed Doty was Brave and True.--They reach the Sea by way of Santa Clara
River.--Capt. Haynes before the Alcalde.--List of Jayhawkers.

CHAPTER XIV. Alexander Erkson's Statement.--Works for Brigham Young at
Salt Lake.--Mormon Gold Coin.--Mt. Misery.--The Virgin River and Yucca
Trees.--A Child Born to Mr, and Mrs. Rynierson.--Arrive at
Cucamonga.--Find some good Wine which is good for Scurvy.--San Francisco
and the Mines.--Settles in San Jose.--Experience of Edward Coker.--Death
of Culverwell, Fish and Isham.--Goes through Walker's Pass and down Kern
River.--Living in Fresno in 1892.

CHAPTER XV. The Author again takes up the History.--Working in a
Boarding House, but makes Arrangements to go North.--Mission San Bueno
Ventura.--First Sight of the Pacific Ocean.--Santa Barbara in
1850.--Paradise and Desolation.--San Miguel, Santa Ynez and San Luis
Obispo.--California Carriages and how they were used.--Arrives in San
Jose and Camps in the edge of Town.--Description of the place.--Meets
John Rogers, Bennett, Moody and Skinner.--On the road to the
Mines.--They find some of the Yellow Stuff and go Prospecting for
more--Experience with _Piojos_--Life and Times in the Mines--Sights and
Scenes along the Road, at Sea, on the Isthmus, Cuba, New Orleans, and up
the Mississippi--A few Months Amid Old Scenes, then away to the Golden
State again.

CHAPTER XVI St. Louis to New Orleans, New Orleans to San Francisco--Off
to the Mines Again--Life in the Mines and Incidents of Mining Times and
Men--Vigilance Committee--Death of Mrs. Bennett.

CHAPTER XVII Mines and Mining--Adventures and Incidents of the Early
Days--The Pioneers, their Character and Influence--- Conclusion.

       *       *       *       *       *




St. Albans, Vermont is near the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, and
only a short distance south of "Five-and-forty north degrees" which
separates the United States from Canada, and some sixty or seventy miles
from the great St. Lawrence River and the city of Montreal. Near here it
was, on April 6th, 1820, I was born, so the record says, and from this
point with wondering eyes of childhood I looked across the waters of the
narrow lake to the slopes of the Adirondack mountains in New York, green
as the hills of my own Green Mountain State.

The parents of my father were English people and lived near Hartford,
Connecticut, where he was born. While still a little boy he came with
his parents to Vermont. My mother's maiden name was Phœbe Calkins, born
near St. Albans of Welch parents, and, being left an orphan while yet in
very tender years, she was given away to be reared by people who
provided food and clothes, but permitted her to grow up to womanhood
without knowing how to read or write. After her marriage she learned to
do both, and acquired the rudiments of an education.

Grandfather and his boys, four in all, fairly carved a farm out of the
big forest that covered the cold rocky hills. Giant work it was for them
in such heavy timber--pine, hemlock, maple, beech and birch--the
clearing of a single acre being a man's work for a year. The place where
the maples were thickest was reserved for a sugar grove, and from it was
made all of the sweet material they needed, and some besides. Economy of
the very strictest kind had to be used in every direction. Main strength
and muscle were the only things dispensed in plenty. The crops raised
consisted of a small flint corn, rye oats, potatoes and turnips. Three
cows, ten or twelve sheep, a few pigs and a yoke of strong oxen
comprised the live stock--horses, they had none for many years. A great
ox-cart was the only wheeled vehicle on the place, and this, in winter,
gave place to a heavy sled, the runners cut from a tree having a natural
crook and roughly, but strongly, made.

In summer there were plenty of strawberries, raspberries, whortleberries
and blackberries growing wild, but all the cultivated fruit was apples.
As these ripened many were peeled by hand, cut in quarters, strung on
long strings of twine and dried before the kitchen fire for winter use.
They had a way of burying up some of the best keepers in the ground, and
opening the apple hole was quite an event of early spring.

The children were taught to work as soon as large enough. I remember
they furnished me with a little wooden fork to spread the heavy swath of
grass my father cut with easy swings of the scythe, and when it was dry
and being loaded on the great ox-cart I followed closely with a rake
gathering every scattering spear. The barn was built so that every
animal was housed comfortably in winter, and the house was such as all
settlers built, not considered handsome, but capable of being made very
warm in winter and the great piles of hard wood in the yard enough to
last as fuel for a year, not only helped to clear the land, but kept us
comfortable. Mother and the girls washed, carded, spun, and wove the
wool from our own sheep into good strong cloth. Flax was also raised,
and I remember how they pulled it, rotted it by spreading on the green
meadow, then broke and dressed it, and then the women made linen cloth
of various degrees of fineness, quality, and beauty. Thus, by the labor
of both men and women, we were clothed. If an extra fine Sunday dress
was desired, part of the yarn was colored and from this they managed to
get up a very nice plaid goods for the purpose.

In clearing the land the hemlock bark was peeled and traded off at the
tannery for leather, or used to pay for tanning and dressing the hide of
an ox or cow which they managed to fat and kill about every year. Stores
for the family were either made by a neighboring shoe-maker, or by a
traveling one who went from house to house, making up a supply for the
family--whipping the cat, they called it then. They paid him in
something or other produced upon the farm, and no money was asked or

Wood was one thing plenty, and the fireplace was made large enough to
take in sticks four feet long or more, for the more they could burn the
better, to get it out of the way. In an outhouse, also provided with a
fireplace and chimney, they made shingles during the long winter
evenings, the shavings making plenty of fire and light by which to work.
The shingles sold for about a dollar a thousand. Just beside the
fireplace in the house was a large brick oven where mother baked great
loaves of bread, big pots of pork and beans, mince pies and loaf cake, a
big turkey or a young pig on grand occasions. Many of the dishes used
were of tin or pewter; the milk pans were of earthenware, but most
things about the house in the line of furniture were of domestic

The store bills were very light. A little tea for father and mother, a
few spices and odd luxuries were about all, and they were paid for with
surplus eggs. My father and my uncle had a sawmill, and in winter they
hauled logs to it, and could sell timber for $8 per thousand feet.

The school was taught in winter by a man named Bowen, who managed forty
scholars and considered sixteen dollars a month, boarding himself, was
pretty fair pay. In summer some smart girl would teach the small
scholars and board round among the families.

When the proper time came the property holder would send off to the
collector an itemized list of all his property, and at another the taxes
fell due. A farmer who would value his property at two thousand or three
thousand dollars would find he had to pay about six or seven dollars.
All the money in use then seemed to be silver, and not very much of
that. The whole plan seemed to be to have every family and farm
self-supporting as far as possible. I have heard of a note being given
payable in a good cow to be delivered at a certain time, say October 1,
and on that day it would pass from house to house in payment of a debt,
and at night only the last man in the list would have a cow more than
his neighbor. Yet those were the days of real independence, after all.
Every man worked hard from early youth to a good old age. There were no
millionaires, no tramps, and the poorhouse had only a few inmates.

I have very pleasant recollections of the neighborhood cider mill. There
were two rollers formed of logs carefully rounded and four or five feet
long, set closely together in an upright position in a rough frame, a
long crooked sweep coming from one of them to which a horse was hitched
and pulled it round and round, One roller had mortices in it, and
projecting wooden teeth on the other fitted into these, so that, as they
both slowly turned together, the apples were crushed, A huge box of
coarse slats, notched and locked together at the corners, held a vast
pile of the crushed apples while clean rye straw was added to strain the
flowing juice and keep the cheese from spreading too much; then the
ponderous screw and streams of delicious cider. Sucking cider through a
long rye straw inserted in the bung-hole of a barrel was just the best
of fun, and cider taken that way "awful" good while it was new and

The winter ashes, made from burning so much fuel and gathered from the
brush-heaps and log-heaps, were carefully saved and traded with the
potash men for potash or sold for a small price. Nearly every one went
barefoot in summer, and in winter wore heavy leather moccasins made by
the Canadian French who lived near by.


About 1828 people began to talk about the far West. Ohio was the place
we heard most about, and the most we knew was, that it was a long way
off and no way to get there except over a long and tedious road, with
oxen or horses and a cart or wagon. More than one got the Western fever,
as they called it, my uncle James Webster and my father among the rest,
when they heard some traveler tell about the fine country he had seen;
so they sold their farms and decided to go to Ohio, Uncle James was to
go ahead, in the fall of 1829 and get a farm to rent, if he could, and
father and his family were to come on the next spring.

Uncle fitted out with two good horses and a wagon; goods were packed in
a large box made to fit, and under the wagon seat was the commissary
chest for food and bedding for daily use, all snugly arranged. Father
had, shortly before, bought a fine Morgan mare and a light wagon which
served as a family carriage, having wooden axles and a seat arranged on
wooden springs, and they finally decided they would let me take the
horse and wagon and go on with uncle, and father and mother would come
by water, either by way of the St. Lawrence river and the lakes or by
way of the new canal recently built, which would take them as far as

So they loaded up the little wagon with some of the mentioned things and
articles in the house, among which I remember a fine brass kettle,
considered almost indispensable in housekeeping. There was a good lot of
bedding and blankets, and a quilt nicely folded was placed on the spring
seat as a cushion.

As may be imagined I was the object of a great deal of attention about
this time, for a boy not yet ten years old just setting out into a
region almost unknown was a little unusual. When I was ready they all
gathered round to say good bye and my good mother seemed most concerned.
She said--"Now you must be a good boy till we come in the spring. Mind
uncle and aunt and take good care of the horse, and remember us. May God
protect you." She embraced me and kissed me and held me till she was
exhausted. Then they lifted me up into the spring seat, put the lines in
my hand and handed me my little whip with a leather strip for a lash.
Just at the last moment father handed me a purse containing about a
dollar, all in copper cents--pennies we called them then. Uncle had
started on they had kept me so long, but I started up and they all
followed me along the road for a mile or so before we finally separated
and they turned back. They waved hats and handkerchiefs till out of
sight as they returned, and I wondered if we should ever meet again.

I was up with uncle very soon and we rolled down through St. Albans and
took our road southerly along in sight of Lake Champlain. Uncle and aunt
often looked back to talk to me, "See what a nice cornfield!" or, "What
nice apples on those trees," seeming to think they must do all they
could to cheer me up, that I might not think too much of the playmates
and home I was leaving behind.

I had never driven very far before, but I found the horse knew more than
I did how to get around the big stones and stumps that were found in the
road, so that as long as I held the lines and the whip in hand I was an
excellent driver.

We had made plans and preparations to board ourselves on the journey. We
always stopped at the farm houses over night, and they were so
hospitable that they gave us all we wanted free. Our supper was
generally of bread and milk, the latter always furnished gratuitously,
and I do not recollect that we were ever turned away from any house
where we asked shelter. There were no hotels, or taverns as they called
them, outside of the towns.

In due time we reached Whitehall, at the head of Lake Champlain, and the
big box in Uncle's wagon proved so heavy over the muddy roads that he
put it in a canal boat to be sent on to Cleveland, and we found it much
easier after this for there were too many mud-holes, stumps and stones
and log bridges for so heavy a load as he had. Our road many times after
this led along near the canal, the Champlain or the Erie, and I had a
chance to see something of the canal boys' life. The boy who drove the
horses that drew the packet boat was a well dressed fellow and always
rode at a full trot or a gallop, but the freight driver was generally
ragged and barefoot, and walked when it was too cold to ride, threw
stones or clubs at his team, and cursed and abused the packet-boy who
passed as long as he was in hearing. Reared as I had been I thought it
was a pretty wicked part of the world we were coming to.

We passed one village of low cheap houses near the canal. The men about
were very vulgar and talked rough and loud, nearly every one with a
pipe, and poorly dressed, loafing around the saloon, apparently the
worse for whisky. The children were barefoot, bare headed and scantly
dressed, and it seemed awfully dirty about the doors of the shanties.
Pigs, ducks and geese were at the very door, and the women I saw wore
dresses that did not come down very near the mud and big brogan shoes,
and their talk was saucy and different from what I had ever heard women
use before. They told me they were Irish people--the first I had ever
seen. It was along here somewhere that I lost my little whip and to get
another one made sad inroads into the little purse of pennies my father
gave me. We traveled slowly on day after day. There was no use to hurry
for we could not do it. The roads were muddy, the log ways very rough
and the only way was to take a moderate gait and keep it. We never
traveled on Sunday. One Saturday evening my uncle secured the privilege
of staying at a well-to do farmer's house until Monday. We had our own
food and bedding, but were glad to get some privileges in the kitchen,
and some fresh milk or vegetables. After all had taken supper that night
they all sat down and made themselves quiet with their books, and the
children were as still as mice till an early bed time when all retired.
When Sunday evening came the women got out their work--their sewing and
their knitting, and the children romped and played and made as much
noise as they could, seeming as anxious to break the Sabbath as they had
been to have a pious Saturday night. I had never seen that way before
and asked my uncle who said he guessed they were Seventh Day Baptists.

After many days of travel which became to me quite monotonous we came to
Cleveland, on Lake Erie, and here my uncle found his box of goods,
loaded it into the wagon again, and traveled on through rain and mud,
making very slow headway, for two or three days after, when we stopped
at a four-corners in Medina county they told us we were only 21 miles
from Cleveland. Here was a small town consisting of a hotel, store,
church, schoolhouse and blacksmith shop, and as it was getting cold and
bad, uncle decided to go no farther now, and rented a room for himself
and aunt, and found a place for me to lodge with Daniel Stevens' boy
close by. We got good stables for our horses.

I went to the district school here, and studied reading, spelling and
Colburn's mental arithmetic, which I mastered. It began very easy--"How
many thumbs on your right hand?" "How many on your left?" "How many
altogether?" but it grew harder further on.

Uncle took employment at anything he could find to do. Chopping was his
principal occupation. When the snow began to go off he looked around for
a farm to rent for us and father to live on when he came, but he found
none such as he needed. He now got a letter from father telling him that
he had good news from a friend named Cornish who said that good land
nearly clear of timber could be bought of the Government in Michigan
Territory, some sixty or seventy miles beyond Detroit, and this being an
opportunity to get land they needed with their small capital, they would
start for that place as soon as the water-ways were thawed out, probably
in April.

We then gave up the idea of staying here and prepared to go to Michigan
as soon as the frost was out of the ground. Starting, we reached Huron
River to find it swollen and out of its bank, giving us much trouble to
get across, the road along the bottom lands being partly covered with
logs and rails, but once across we were in the town and when we enquired
about the road around to Detroit, they said the country was all a swamp
and 30 miles wide and in Spring impassible. They called it the Maumee or
Black Swamp, We were advised to go by water, when a steamboat came up
the river bound for Detroit we put our wagons and horses on board, and
camped on the lower deck ourselves. We had our own food and were very
comfortable, and glad to have escaped the great mudhole.


We arrived in Detroit safely, and a few minutes answered to land our
wagons and goods, when we rolled outward in a westerly direction. We
found a very muddy roads, stumps and log bridges plenty, making our rate
of travel very slow. When out upon our road about 30 miles, near
Ypsilanti, the thick forest we had been passing through grew thinner,
and the trees soon dwindled down into what they called oak openings, and
the road became more sandy. When we reached McCracken's Tavern we began
to enquire for Ebenezer Manley and family, and were soon directed to a
large house near by where he was stopping for a time.

We drove up to the door and they all came out to see who the new comers
were. Mother saw me first and ran to the wagon and pulled me off and
hugged and kissed me over and over again, while the tears ran down her
cheeks, Then she would hold me off at arm's length, and look me in the
eye and say--"I am so glad to have you again"; and then she embraced me
again and again. "You are our little man," said she, "You have come over
this long road, and brought us our good horse and our little wagon." My
sister Polly two years older than I, stood patiently by, and when mother
turned to speak to uncle and aunt, she locked arms with me and took me
away with her. We had never been separated before in all our lives and
we had loved each other as good children should, who have been brought
up in good and moral principles. We loved each other and our home and
respected our good father and mother who had made it so happy for us.

We all sat down by the side of the house and talked pretty fast telling
our experience on our long journey by land and water, and when the sun
went down we were called to supper, and went hand in hand to surround
the bountiful table as a family again. During the conversation at supper
father said to me--"Lewis, I have bought you a smooth bore rifle,
suitable for either ball or shot." This, I thought was good enough for
any one, and I thanked him heartily. We spent the greater part of the
night in talking over our adventures since we left Vermont, and sleep
was forgotten by young and old.

Next morning father and uncle took the horse and little wagon and went
out in search of Government land. They found an old acquaintance in
Jackson county and Government land all around him, and, searching till
they found the section corner, they found the number of the lots they
wanted to locate on--200 acres in all. They then went to the Detroit
land office and secured the pieces they had chosen.

Father now bought a yoke of oxen, a wagon and a cow, and as soon as we
could get loaded up our little emigrant train started west to our future
home, where we arrived safely in a few days and secured a house to live
in about a mile away from our land. We now worked with a will and built
two log houses and also hired 10 acres broken, which was done with three
or four yoke of oxen and a strong plow. The trees were scattered over
the ground and some small brush and old limbs, and logs which we cleared
away as we plowed. Our houses went up very fast--all rough oak logs,
with oak puncheons, or hewed planks for a floor, and oak shakes for a
roof, all of our own make. The shakes were held down upon the roof by
heavy poles, for we had no nails, the door of split stuff hung with
wooden hinges, and the fire place of stone laid up with the logs, and
from the loft floor upward the chimney was built of split stuff
plastered heavily with mud. We have a small four-paned window in the
house. We then built a log barn for our oxen, cow and horse and got
pigs, sheep and chickens as fast as a chance offered.

As fast as possible we fenced in the cultivated land, father and uncle
splitting out the rails, while a younger brother and myself, by each
getting hold of an end of one of them managed to lay up a fence four
rails high, all we small men could do. Thus working on, we had a pretty
well cultivated farm in the course of two or three years, on which we
produced wheat, corn and potatoes, and had an excellent garden. We found
plenty of wild cranberries and whortleberries, which we dried for winter
use. The lakes were full of good fish, black bass and pickerel, and the
woods had deer, turkeys, pheasants, pigeons, and other things, and I
became quite an expert in the capture of small game for the table with
my new gun. Father and uncle would occasionally kill a deer, and the
Indians came along and sold venison at times.

One fall after work was done and preparations were made for the winter,
father said to me:--"Now Lewis, I want you to hunt every day--come home
nights--but keep on till you kill a deer." So with his permission I
started with my gun on my shoulder, and with feelings of considerable
pride. Before night I started two deer in a brushy place, and they
leaped high over the oak bushes in the most affrighted way. I brought my
gun to my shoulder and fired at the bounding animal when in most plain
sight. Loading then quickly, I hurried up the trail as fast as I could
and soon came to my deer, dead, with a bullet hole in its head. I was
really surprised myself, for I had fired so hastily at the almost flying
animal that it was little more than a random shot. As the deer was not
very heavy I dressed it and packed it home myself, about as proud a boy
as the State of Michigan contained. I really began to think I was a
capital hunter, though I afterward knew it was a bit of good luck and
not a bit of skill about it.

It was some time after this before I made another lucky shot. Father
would once in a while ask me:--"Well can't you kill us another deer?" I
told him that when I had crawled a long time toward a sleeping deer,
that I got so trembly that I could not hit an ox in short range. "O,"
said he, "You get the buck fever--don't be so timid--they won't attack
you." But after awhile this fever wore off, and I got so steady that I
could hit anything I could get in reach of.

We were now quite contented and happy. Father could plainly show us the
difference between this country and Vermont and the advantages we had
here. There the land was poor and stony and the winters terribly severe.
Here there were no stones to plow over, and the land was otherwise easy
to till. We could raise almost anything, and have nice wheat bread to
eat, far superior to the "Rye-and-Indian" we used to have. The nice
white bread was good enough to eat without butter, and in comparison
this country seemed a real paradise.

The supply of clothing we brought with us had lasted until now--more
than two years--and we had sowed some flax and raised sheep so that we
began to get material of our own raising, from which to manufacture some
more. Mother and sister spun some nice yarn, both woolen and linen, and
father had a loom made on which mother wove it up into cloth, and we
were soon dressed up in bran new clothes again. Domestic economy of this
kind was as necessary here as it was in Vermont, and we knew well how to
practice it. About this time the emigrants began to come in very fast,
and every piece of Government land any where about was taken. So much
land was ploughed, and so much vegetable matter turned under and
decaying that there came a regular epidemic of fever and ague and
bilious fever, and a large majority of the people were sick. At our
house father was the first one attacked, and when the fever was at its
height he was quite out of his head and talked and acted like a crazy
man. We had never seen any one so sick before, and we thought he must
surely die, but when the doctor came he said:--"Don't be alarmed. It is
only 'fever 'n' agur,' and no one was ever known to die of that." Others
of us were sick too, and most of the neighbors, and it made us all feel
rather sorrowful. The doctor's medicines consisted of calomel, jalap and
quinine, all used pretty freely, by some with benefit, and by others to
no visible purpose, for they had to suffer until the cold weather came
and froze the disease out. At one time I was the only one that remained
well, and I had to nurse and cook, besides all the out-door work that
fell to me. My sister married a man near by with a good farm and moved
there with him, a mile or two away. When she went away I lost my real
bosom companion and felt very lonesome, but I went to see her once in a
while, and that was pretty often, I think. There was not much going on
as a general thing. Some little neighborhood society and news was about
all. There was, however, one incident which occurred in 1837, I never
shall forget, and which I will relate in the next chapter.


About two miles west father's farm in Jackson county Mich., lived Ami
Filley, who moved here from Connecticut and settled about two and a half
miles from the town of Jackson, then a small village with plenty of
stumps and mudholes in its streets. Many of the roads leading thereto
had been paved with tamarac poles, making what is now known as corduroy
roads. The country was still new and the farm houses far between.

Mr. Filley secured Government land in the oak openings, and settled
there with his wife and two or three children, the oldest of which was a
boy named Willie. The children were getting old enough to go to school,
but there being none, Mr. Filley hired one of the neighbor's daughters
to come to his house and teach the children there, so they might be
prepared for usefulness in life or ready to proceed further with their
education--to college, perhaps in some future day.

The young woman he engaged lived about a mile a half away--Miss Mary
Mount--and she came over and began her duties as private school ma'am,
not a very difficult task in those days. One day after she had been
teaching some time Miss Mount desired to go to her father's on a visit,
and as she would pass a huckleberry swamp on the way she took a small
pail to fill with berries as she went, and by consent of Willie's
mother, the little boy went with her for company. Reaching the berries
she began to pick, and the little boy found this dull business, got
tired and homesick and wanted to go home. They were about a mile from
Mr. Filley's and as there was a pretty good foot trail over which they
had come, the young woman took the boy to it, and turning him toward
home told him to follow it carefully and he would soon see his mother.
She then filled her pail with berries, went on to her own home, and
remained there till nearly sundown, when she set out to return to Mr.
Filley's, reaching there yet in the early twilight. Not seeing Willie,
she inquired for him and was told that he had not returned, and that
they supposed he was safe with her. She then hastily related how it
happened that he had started back toward home, and that she supposed he
had safely arrived.

Mr. Filley then started back on the trail, keeping close watch on each
side of the way, for he expected he would soon come across Master Willie
fast asleep. He called his name every few rods, but got no answer nor
could he discover him, and so returned home again, still calling and
searching, but no boy was discovered. Then he built a large fire and put
lighted candles in all the windows, then took his lantern and wont out
in the woods calling and looking for the boy. Sometimes he thought he
heard him, but on going where the sound came from nothing could be
found. So he looked and called all night, along the trail and all about
the woods, with no success. Mr. Mount's home was situated not far from
the shore of Fitch's Lake, and the trail went along the margin, and in
some places the ground was quite a boggy marsh, and the trail had been
fixed up to make it passably good walking.

Next day the neighbors were notified, and asked to assist, and although
they were in the midst of wheat harvest, a great many laid down the
cradle and rake and went out to help search. On the third day the whole
county became excited and quite an army of searchers turned out, coming
from the whole country miles around.

Mr. Filley was much excited and quite worn out an beside himself with
fatigue and loss of sleep. He could not eat. Yielding to entreaty he
would sit at the table, and suddenly rise up, saying he heard Willie
calling, and go out to search for the supposed voice, but it was all
fruitless, and the whole people were sorry indeed for the poor father
and mother.

The people then formed a plan for a thorough search. They were to form
in a line so near each other that they could touch hands and were to
march thus turning out for nothing except in passable lakes, and thus we
marched, fairly sweeping the county in search of a sign. I was with this
party and we marched south and kept close watch for a bit of clothing, a
foot print or even bones, or anything which would indicate that he had
been destroyed by some wild animal. Thus we marched all day with no
success, and the next went north in the same careful manner, but with no
better result. Most of the people now abandoned the search, but some of
the neighbors kept it up for a long time.

Some expressed themselves quite strongly that Miss Mount knew where the
boy was, saying that she might have had some trouble with him and in
seeking to correct him had accidentally killed him and then hidden the
body away--perhaps in the deep mire of the swamp or in the muddy waters
on the margin of the lake. Search was made with this idea foremost, but
nothing was discovered. Rain now set in, and the grain, from neglect
grew in the head as it stood, and many a settler ate poor bread all
winter in consequence of his neighborly kindness in the midst of
harvest. The bread would not rise, and to make it into pancakes was the
best way it could be used.

Still no tidings ever came of the lost boy. Many things were whispered,
about Mr. Mount's dishonesty of character and there were many suspicions
about him, but no real facts could be shown to account for the boy. The
neighbors said he never worked like the rest of them, and that his patch
of cultivated land was altogether too small to support his family, a
wife and two daughters, grown. He was a very smooth and affable talker,
and had lots of acquaintances. A few years afterwards Mr. Mount was
convicted of a crime which sent him to the Jackson State Prison, where
he died before his term expired. I visited the Filley family in 1870,
and from them heard the facts anew and that no trace of the lost boy had
ever been discovered.


The second year of sickness and I was affected with the rest, though it
was not generally so bad as the first year. I suffered a great deal and
felt so miserable that I began to think I had rather live on the top of
the Rocky Mountains and catch chipmuncks for a living than to live here
and be sick, and I began to have very serious thoughts of trying some
other country. In the winter of 1839 and 1840 I went to a neighboring
school for three months, where I studied reading, writing and spelling,
getting as far as Rule of Three in Daboll's arithmetic. When school was
out I chopped and split rails for Wm. Hanna till I had paid my winter's
board. After this, myself and a young man named Orrin Henry, with whom I
had become acquainted, worked awhile scoring timber to be used in
building the Michigan Central Railroad which had just then begun to be
built. They laid down the ties first (sometimes a mudsill under them)
and then put down four by eight wooden rails with a strips of band iron
half an inch thick spiked on top. I scored the timber and Henry used the
broad axe after me. It was pretty hard work and the hours as long as we
could see, our wages being $13 per month, half cash.

In thinking over our prospect it seemed more and more as if I had better
look out for my own fortune in some other place. The farm was pretty
small for all of us. There were three brothers younger than I, and only
200 acres in the whole, and as they were growing up to be men it seemed
as if it would be best for me, the oldest, to start out first and see
what could be done to make my own living. I talked to father and mother
about my plans, and they did not seriously object, but gave me some good
advice, which I remember to this day--"Weigh well every thing you do;
shun bad company; be honest and deal fair; be truthful and never fear
when you know you are right." But, said he, "Our little peach trees will
bear this year, and if you go away you must come back and help us eat
them; they will be the first we ever raised or ever saw." I could not

Henry and I drew our pay for our work. I had five dollars in cash and
the rest in pay from the company's store. We purchased three nice
whitewood boards, eighteen inches wide, from which we made us a boat and
a good sized chest which we filled with provisions and some clothing and
quilts. This, with our guns and ammunition, composed the cargo of our
boat. When all was ready, we put the boat on a wagon and were to haul it
to the river some eight miles away for embarkation. After getting the
wagon loaded, father said to me;--"Now my son, you are starting out in
life alone, no one to watch or look after you. You will have to depend
upon yourself in all things. You have a wide, wide world to operate
in--you will meet all kinds of people and you must not expect to find
them all honest or true friends. You are limited in money, and all I can
do for you in that way is to let you have what ready money I have." He
handed me three dollars as he spoke, which added to my own gave me seven
dollars as my money capital with which to start out into the world among
perfect strangers, and no acquaintances in prospect on our Western

When ready to start, mother and sister Poll came out to see us off and
to give us their best wishes, hoping we would have good health, and find
pleasant paths to follow. Mother said to me:--"You must be a good boy,
honest and law-abiding. Remember our advice, and honor us for we have
striven to make you a good and honest man, and you must follow our
teachings, and your conscience will be clear. Do nothing to be ashamed
of; be industrious, and you have no fear of punishment." We were given a
great many "Good byes" and "God bless you's" as with hands, hats and
handkerchiefs they waved us off as far as we could see them. In the
course of an hour or so we were at the water's edge, and on a beautiful
morning in early spring of 1840 we found ourselves floating down the
Grand River below Jackson.

The stream ran west, that we knew, and it was west we thought we wanted
to go, so all things suited us. The stream was small with tall timber on
both sides, and so many trees had fallen into the river that our
navigation was at times seriously obstructed. When night came we hauled
our boat on shore, turned it partly over, so as to shelter us, built a
fire in front, and made a bed on a loose board which we carried in the
bottom of the boat. We talked till pretty late and then lay down to
sleep, but for my part my eyes would not stay shut, and I lay till break
of day and the little birds began to sing faintly.

I thought of many things that night which seemed so long. I had left a
good dear home, where I had good warm meals and a soft and comfortable
bed. Here I had reposed on a board with a very hard pillow and none too
many blankets, and I turned from side to side on my hard bed, to which I
had gone with all my clothes on. It seemed the beginning of another
chapter in my pioneer life and a rather tough experience. I arose,
kindled a big fire and sat looking at the glowing coals in still further

Neither of us felt very gleeful as we got our breakfast and made an
early start down the river again. Neither of us talked very much, and no
doubt my companion had similar thoughts to mine, and wondered what was
before us. But I think that as a pair we were at that moment pretty
lonesome. Henry had rested better than I but probably felt no less
keenly the separation from our homes and friends. We saw plenty of
squirrels and pigeons on the trees which overhung the river, and we shot
and picked up as many as we thought we could use for food. When we fired
our guns the echoes rolled up and down the river for miles making the
feeling of loneliness still more keen, as the sound died faintly away.
We floated along generally very quietly. We could see the fish dart
under our boat from their feeding places along the bank, and now and
then some tall crane would spread his broad wings to get out of our way.

We saw no houses for several days, and seldom went on shore. The forest
was all hard wood, such as oak, ash, walnut, maple, elm and beech.
Farther down we occasionally passed the house of some pioneer hunter or
trapper, with a small patch cleared. At one of these a big green boy
came down to the bank to see who we were. We said "How d'you do," to
him, and, getting no response, Henry asked him how far is was to
Michigan, at which a look of supreme disgust came over his features as
he replied--"'Taint no far at all."

The stream grew wider as we advanced along its downward course, for
smaller streams came pouring in to swell its tide. The banks were still
covered with heavy timber, and in some places with quite thick
undergrowth. One day we saw a black bear in the river washing himself,
but he went ashore before we were near enough to get a sure shot at him.
Many deer tracks were seen along the shore, but as we saw very few of
the animals themselves, they were probably night visitors.

One day we overtook some canoes containing Indians, men, women and
children. They were poling their craft around in all directions spearing
fish. They caught many large mullet and then went on shore and made
camp, and the red ladies began scaling the fish. As soon as their lords
and masters had unloaded the canoes, a party started out with four of
the boats, two men in a boat, to try their luck again. They ranged all
abreast, and moved slowly down the stream in the still deep water,
continually beating the surface with their spear handles, till they came
to a place so shallow that they could see the bottom easily, when they
suddenly turned the canoes head up stream, and while one held the craft
steady by sticking his spear handle down on the bottom, the other stood
erect, with a foot on either gunwale so he could see whatever came down
on either side. Soon the big fish would try to pass, but Mr. Indian had
too sharp an eye to let him escape unobserved, and when he came within
his reach he would turn his spear and throw it like a dart, seldom
missing his aim. The poor fish would struggle desperately, but soon came
to the surface, when he would be drawn in and knocked in the head with a
tomahawk to quiet him, when the spear was cut out and the process
repeated. We watched them about an hour, and during that time some one
of the boats was continually hauling in a fish. They were sturgeon and
very large. This was the first time we had ever seen the Indian's way of
catching fish and it was a new way of getting grub for us. When the
canoes had full loads they paddled up toward their camp, and we drifted
on again.

When we came to Grand Rapids we had to go on shore and tow our boat
carefully along over the many rocks to prevent accident. Here was a
small cheap looking town. On the west bank of the river a water wheel
was driving a drill boring for salt water, it seemed through solid rock.
Up to this time the current was slow, and its course through a dense
forest. We occasionally saw an Indian gliding around in his canoe, but
no houses or clearings. Occasionally we saw some pine logs which had
been floated down some of the streams of the north. One of these small
rivers they called the "Looking-glass," and seemed to be the largest of

Passing on we began to see some pine timber, and realized that we were
near the mouth of the river where it emptied into Lake Michigan. There
were some steam saw mills here, not then in operation, and some houses
for the mill hands to live in when they were at work. This prospective
city was called Grand Haven. There was one schooner in the river loaded
with lumber, ready to sail for the west side of the lake as soon as the
wind should change and become favorable, and we engaged passage for a
dollar and a half each. While waiting for the wind we visited the woods
in search of game, but found none. All the surface of the soil was clear
lake sand, and some quite large pine and hemlock trees were half buried
in it. We were not pleased with this place for it looked as if folks
must get their grub from somewhere else or live on fish.

Next morning we were off early, as the wind had changed, but the lake
was very rough and a heavy choppy sea was running. Before we were half
way across the lake nearly all were sea-sick, passengers and sailors.
The poor fellow at the helm stuck to his post casting up his accounts at
the same time, putting on an air of terrible misery.

This, I thought was pretty hard usage for a land-lubber like myself who
had never been on such rough water before. The effect of this
sea-sickness was to cure me of a slight fever and ague, and in fact the
cure was so thorough that I have never had it since. As we neared the
western shore a few houses could be seen, and the captain said it was
Southport. As there was no wharf our schooner put out into the lake
again for an hour or so and then ran back again, lying off and on in
this manner all night. In the morning it was quite calm and we went on
shore in the schooner's yawl, landing on a sandy beach. We left our
chest of clothes and other things in a warehouse and shouldered our
packs and guns for a march across what seemed an endless prairie
stretching to the west. We had spent all our lives thus far in a country
where all the clearing had to be made with an axe, and such a broad
field was to us an entirely new feature. We laid our course westward and
tramped on. The houses were very far apart, and we tried at every one of
them for a chance to work, but could get none, not even if we would work
for our board. The people all seemed to be new settlers, and very poor,
compelled to do their own work until a better day could be reached. The
coarse meals we got were very reasonable, generally only ten cents, but
sometimes a little more.

As we travelled westward the prairies seemed smaller with now and then
some oak openings between. Some of the farms seemed to be three or four
years old, and what had been laid out as towns consisted of from three
to six houses, small and cheap, with plenty of vacant lots. The soil
looked rich, as though it might be very productive. We passed several
small lakes that had nice fish in them, and plenty of ducks on the

Walking began to get pretty tiresome. Great blisters would come on our
feet, and, tender as they were, it was a great relief to take off our
boots and go barefoot for a while when the ground was favorable. We
crossed a wide prairie and came down to the Rock river where there were
a few houses on the east side but no signs of habitation on the west
bank. We crossed the river in a canoe and then walked seven miles before
we came to a house where we staid all night and inquired for work. None
was to be had and so we tramped on again. The next day we met a real
live Yankee with a one-horse wagon, peddling tin ware in regular Eastern
style, We inquired of him about the road and prospects, and he gave us
an encouraging idea--said all was good. He told us where to stop the
next night at a small town called Sugar Creek. It had but a few houses
and was being built up as a mining town, for some lead ore had been
found there. There were as many Irish as English miners here, a rough
class of people. We put up at the house where we had been directed, a
low log cabin, rough and dirty, kept by Bridget & Co. Supper was had
after dark and the light on the table was just the right one for the
place, a saucer of grease, with a rag in it lighted and burning at the
edge of the saucer. It at least served to made the darkness apparent and
to prevent the dirt being visible. We had potatoes, beans and tea, and
probably dirt too, if we could have seen it. When the meal was nearly
done Bridget brought in and deposited on each plate a good thick pancake
as a dessert. It smelled pretty good, but when I drew my knife across it
to cut it in two, all the center was uncooked batter, which ran out upon
my plate, and spoiled my supper.

We went to bed and soon found it had other occupants beside ourselves,
which, if they were small were lively and spoiled our sleeping. We left
before breakfast, and a few miles out on the prairie we came to a house
occupied by a woman and one child, and we were told we could have
breakfast if we could wait to have it cooked. Everything looked cheap
but cheery, and after waiting a little while outside we were called in
to eat. The meal consisted of corn bread, bacon, potatoes and coffee. It
was well cooked and looked better than things did at Bridget's. I
enjoyed all but the coffee, which had a rich brown color, but when I
sipped it there was such a bitter taste I surely thought there must be
quinine in it, and it made me shiver. I tried two or three times to
drink but it was too much for me and I left it. We shouldered our loads
and went on again. I asked Henry what kind of a drink it was. "Coffee,"
said he, but I had never seen any that tasted like that and never knew
my father to buy any such coffee as that.

We labored along and in time came to another small place called
Hamilton's Diggings where some lead mines were being worked. We stopped
at a long, low log house with a porch the entire length, and called for
bread and milk, which was soon set before us. The lady was washing and
the man was playing with a child on the porch. The little thing was
trying to walk, the man would swear terribly at it--not in an angry way,
but in a sort of careless, blasphemous style that was terribly shocking.
I thought of the child being reared in the midst of such bad language
and reflected on the kind of people we were meeting in this far away
place. They seemed more wicked and profane the farther west we walked. I
had always lived in a more moral and temperate atmosphere, and I was
learning more of some things in the world than I had ever known before.
I had little to say and much to see and listen to and my early precepts
were not forgotten. No work was to be had here and we set out across the
prairie toward Mineral Point, twenty miles away. When within four miles
of that place we stopped at the house of Daniel Parkinson, a fine
looking two-story building, and after the meal was over Mr. Henry hired
out to him for $16 per month, and went to work that day. I heard of a
job of cutting cordwood six miles away and went after it, for our money
was getting very scarce, but when I reached the place I found a man had
been there half an hour before and secured the job. The proprietor, Mr.
Crow, gave me my dinner which I accepted with many thanks, for it saved
my coin to pay for the next meal. I now went to Mineral Point, and
searched the town over for work. My purse contained thirty-five cents
only and I slept in an unoccupied out house without supper. I bought
crackers and dried beef for ten cents in the morning and made my first
meal since the day before, felt pretty low-spirited. I then went to
Vivian's smelting furnace where they bought lead ore, smelted it, and
run it into pigs of about 70 pounds each. He said he had a job for me if
I could do it. The furnace was propelled by water and they had a small
buzz saw for cutting four-foot wood into blocks about a foot long. These
blocks they wanted split up in pieces about an inch square to mix in
with charcoal in smelting ore. He said he would board me with the other
men, and give me a dollar and a quarter a cord for splitting the wood. I
felt awfully poor, and a stranger, and this was a beginning for me at
any rate, so I went to work with a will and never lost a minute of
daylight till I had split up all the wood and filled his woodhouse
completely up. The board was very coarse--bacon, potatoes, and bread--a
man cook, and bread mixed up with salt and water. The old log house
where we lodged was well infested with troublesome insects which worked
nights at any rate, whether they rested days or not, and the beds had a
mild odor of pole cat. The house was long, low and without windows. In
one end was a fireplace, and there were two tiers of bunks on each side,
supplied with straw only. In the space between the bunks was a
stationary table, with stools for seats. I was the only American who
boarded there and I could not well become very familiar with the

The country was rolling, and there were many beautiful brooks and clear
springs of water, with fertile soil. The Cornish miners were in the
majority and governed the locality politically. My health was excellent,
and so long as I had my gun and ammunition I could kill game enough to
live on, for prairie chickens and deer could be easily killed, and meat
alone would sustain life, so I had no special fears of starvation. I was
now paid off, and went back to see my companion, Mr. Henry. I did not
hear of any more work, so I concluded I would start back toward my old
home in Michigan, and shouldered my bundle and gun, turning my face
eastward for a long tramp across the prairie. I knew I had a long tramp
before me, but I thought best to head that way, for my capital was only
ten dollars, and I might be compelled to walk the whole distance. I
walked till about noon and then sat down in the shade of a tree to rest
for this was June and pretty warm. I was now alone in a big territory,
thinly settled, and thought of my father's home, the well set table, all
happy and well fed at any rate, and here was my venture, a sort of
forlorn hope. Prospects were surely very gloomy for me here away out
west in Wisconsin Territory, without a relative, friend or acquaintance
to call upon, and very small means to travel two hundred and fifty miles
of lonely road--perhaps all the way on foot. There were no laborers
required, hardly any money in sight, and no chance for business. I knew
it would be a safe course to proceed toward home, for I had no fear of
starving, the weather was warm and I could easily walk home long before
winter should come again. Still the outlook was not very pleasing to one
in my circumstances.

I chose a route which led me some distance north of the one we travelled
when we came west, but it was about the same. Every house was a new
settler, and hardly one who had yet produced anything to live upon. In
due time I came to the Rock River, and the only house in sight was upon
the east bank. I could see a boat over there and so I called for it, and
a young girl came over with a canoe for me. I took a paddle and helped
her hold the boat against the current, and we made the landing safely. I
paid her ten cents for ferriage and went on again. The country was now
level, with burr-oak openings. Near sundown I came to a small prairie of
about 500 acres surrounded by scattering burr-oak timber, with not a
hill in sight, and it seemed to me to be the most beautiful spot on
earth. This I found to belong to a man named Meachem, who had an octagon
concrete house built on one side of the opening. The house had a hollow
column in the center, and the roof was so constructed that all the rain
water went down this central column into a cistern below for house use.
The stairs wound around this central column, and the whole affair was
quite different from the most of settlers' houses. I staid here all
night, had supper and breakfast, and paid my bill of thirty-five cents.
He had no work for me so I went on again. I crossed Heart Prairie,
passed through a strip of woods, and out at Round Prairie. It was level
as a floor with a slight rise in one corner, and on it were five or six
settlers. Here fortune favored me, for here I found a man whom I knew,
who once lived in Michigan, and was one of our neighbors there for some
time. His name was Nelson Cornish. I rested here a few days, and made a
bargain to work for him two or three days every week for my board as
long as I wished to stay. As I got acquainted I found some work to do
and many of my leisure hours I spent in the woods with my gun, killing
some deer, some of the meat of which I sold. In haying and harvest I got
some work at fifty cents to one dollar per day, and as I had no clothes
to buy, I spent no money, saving up about fifty dollars by fall. I then
got a letter from Henry saying that I could get work with him for the
winter and I thought I would go back there again.

Before thinking of going west again I had to go to Southport on the lake
and get our clothes we had left in our box when we passed in the spring.
So I started one morning at break of day, with a long cane in each hand
to help me along, for I had nothing to carry, not even wearing a coat.
This was a new road, thinly settled, and a few log houses building. I
got a bowl of bread and milk at noon and then hurried on again. The last
twenty miles was clear prairie, and houses were very far apart, but
little more thickly settled as I neared Lake Michigan. I arrived at the
town just after dark, and went to a tavern and inquired about the
things. I was told that the warehouse had been broken into and robbed,
and the proprietor had fled for parts unknown. This robbed me of all my
good clothes, and I could now go back as lightly loaded as when I came.
I found I had walked sixty miles in that one day, and also found myself
very stiff and sore so that I did not start back next day, and I took
three days for the return trip--a very unprofitable journey.

I was now ready to go west, and coming across a pet deer which I had
tamed, I knew if I left it it would wander away with the first wild ones
that came along, and so I killed it and made my friends a present of
some venison. I chose still a new route this time, that I could see all
that was possible of this big territory when I could do it so easily. I
was always a great admirer of Nature and things which remained as they
were created, and to the extent of my observation, I thought this the
most beautiful and perfect country I had seen between Vermont and the
Mississippi River. The country was nearly level, the land rich, the
prairies small with oak openings surrounding them, very little marsh
land and streams of clear water. Rock River was the largest of these,
running south. Next west was Sugar River, then the Picatonica. Through
the mining region the country was rolling and abundantly watered with
babbling brooks and health-giving springs.

In point of health it seemed to me to be far better than Michigan. In
Mr. Henry's letter to me he had said that he had taken a timber claim in
"Kentuck Grove," and had all the four-foot wood engaged to cut at
thirty-seven cents a cord. He said we could board ourselves and save a
little money and that in the spring he would go back to Michigan with
me. This had decided me to go back to Mineral Point. I stopped a week or
two with a man named Webb, hunting with him, and sold game enough to
bring me in some six or seven dollars, and then resumed my journey.

On my way I found a log house ten miles from a neighbor just before I
got to the Picatonica River. It belonged to a Mr. Shook who, with his
wife and three children, lived on the edge of a small prairie, and had a
good crop of corn. He invited me to stay with him a few days, and as I
was tired I accepted his offer and we went out together and brought in a
deer. We had plenty of corn bread, venison and coffee, and lived well.
After a few days he wanted to kill a steer and he led it to a proper
place while I shot it in the head. We had no way to hang it up so he
rolled the intestines out, and I sat down with my side against the steer
and helped him to pull the tallow off.

It was now getting nearly dark and while he was splitting the back bone
with an axe, it slipped in his greasy hands and glancing, cut a gash in
my leg six inches above the knee. I was now laid up for two or three
weeks, but was well cared for at his house. Before I could resume my
journey snow had fallen to the depth of about six inches, which made it
rather unpleasant walking, but in a few days I reached Mr. Henry's camp
in "Kentuck Grove," when after comparing notes, we both began swinging
our axes and piling up cordwood, cooking potatoes, bread, bacon, coffee
and flapjacks ourselves, which we enjoyed with a relish.

I now went to work for Peter Parkinson, who paid me thirteen dollars per
month, and I remained with him till spring. While with him a very sad
affliction came to him in the loss of his wife. He was presented by her
with his first heir, and during her illness she was cared for by her
mother, Mrs. Cullany, who had come to live with them during the winter.
When the little babe was two or three weeks old the mother was feeling
in such good spirits that she was left alone a little while, as Mrs.
Cullany was attending to some duties which called her elsewhere. When
she returned she was surprised to see that both Mrs. Parkinson and the
babe were gone. Everyone turned out to search for her. I ran to the
smokehouse, the barn, the stable in quick order, and not finding her a
search was made for tracks, and we soon discovered that she had passed
over a few steps leading over a fence and down an incline toward the
spring house, and there fallen, face downward, on the floor of the house
which was covered only a few inches deep with water lay the unfortunate
woman and her child, both dead. This was doubly distressing to Mr.
Parkinson and saddened the whole community. Both were buried in one
grave, not far from the house, and a more impressive funeral I never

I now worked awhile again with Mr. Henry and we sold our wood to Bill
Park, a collier, who made and sold charcoal to the smelters of lead ore.
When the ice was gone in the streams, Henry and I shouldered our guns
and bundles, and made our way to Milwaukee, where we arrived in the
course of a few days. The town was small and cheaply built, and had no
wharf, so that when the steamboat came we had to go out to it in a small
boat. The stream which came in here was too shallow for the steamer to
enter. When near the lower end of the lake we stopped at an island to
take on food and several cords of white birch wood. The next stopping
place was at Michilamackanac, afterward called Mackinaw. Here was a
short wharf, and a little way back a hill, which seemed to me to be a
thousand feet high, on which a fort had been built. On the wharf was a
mixed lot of people--Americans, Canadians, Irish, Indians, squaws and
papooses. I saw there some of the most beautiful fish I had ever seen.
They would weigh twenty pounds or more, and had bright red and yellow
spots all over them. They called them trout, and they were beauties,
really. At the shore near by the Indians were loading a large white
birch bark canoe, putting their luggage along the middle lengthways, and
the papooses on top. One man took a stern seat to steer, and four or
five more had seats along the gunwale as paddlers and, as they moved
away, their strokes were as even and regular as the motions of an
engine, and their crafts danced as lightly on the water as an egg shell.
They were starting for the Michigan shore some eight or ten miles away.
This was the first birch bark canoe I had ever seen and was a great
curiosity in my eyes.

We crossed Lake Huron during the night, and through its outlet, so
shallow that the wheels stirred up the mud from the bottom; then through
Lake St. Clair and landed safety at Detroit next day. Here we took the
cars on the Michigan Central Railroad, and on our way westward stopped
at the very place where we had worked, helping to build the road, a year
or more before. After getting off the train a walk of two and one half
miles brought me to my father's house, where I had a right royal
welcome, and the questions they asked me about the wild country I had
traveled over, how it looked, and how I got along--were numbered by the

I remained at home until fall, getting some work to do by which I saved
some money, but in August was attacked with bilious fever, which held me
down for several weeks, but nursed by a tender and loving mother with
untiring care, I recovered, quite slowly, but surely. I felt that I had
been close to death, and that this country was not to be compared to
Wisconsin with its clear and bubbling springs of health-giving water.
Feeling thus, I determined to go back there again.


With the idea of returning to Wisconsin I made plans for my movements. I
purchased a good outfit of steel traps of several kinds and sizes,
thirty or forty in all, made me a pine chest, with a false bottom to
separate the traps from my clothing when it was packed in traveling
order, the clothes at the top. My former experience had taught me not to
expect to get work there during winter, but I was pretty sure something
could be earned by trapping and hunting at this season, and in summer I
was pretty sure of something to do. I had about forty dollars to travel
on this time, and quite a stock of experience. The second parting from
home was not so hard as the first one. I went to Huron, took the steamer
to Chicago, then a small, cheaply built town, with rough sidewalks and
terribly muddy streets, and the people seemed pretty rough, for sailors
and lake captains were numerous, and knock downs quite frequent. The
country for a long way west of town seemed a low, wet marsh or prairie.

Finding a man going west with a wagon and two horses without a load, I
hired him to take me and my baggage to my friend Nelson Cornish, at
Round Prairie. They were glad to see me, and as I had not yet got strong
from my fever, they persuaded me to stay a while with them and take some
medicine, for he was a sort of a doctor. I think he must have given me a
dose of calomel, for I had a terribly sore mouth and could not eat any
for two or three weeks. As soon as I was able to travel I had myself and
chest taken to the stage station on the line for the lake to Mineral
Point. I think this place was called Geneva. On the stage I got along
pretty fast, and part of the time on a new road. The first place of note
was Madison the capital of the territory, situated on a block of land
nearly surrounded by four lakes, all plainly seen from the big house.
Further on at the Blue Mounds I left the stage, putting my chest in the
landlord's keeping till I should come or send for it.

I walked about ten miles to the house of a friend named A. Bennett, who
was a hunter and lived on the bank of the Picatonica River with his wife
and two children. I had to take many a rest on the way, for I was very

Resting the first few days, Mrs. Bennett's father, Mr. J.P. Dilly, took
us out about six miles and left us to hunt and camp for a few days. We
were quite successful, and killed five nice, fat deer, which we dressed
and took to Mineral Point, selling them rapidly to the Cornish miners
for twenty-five cents a quarter for the meat. We followed this business
till about January first, when the game began to get poor, when we hung
up our guns for a while. I had a little money left yet. The only money
in circulation was American silver and British sovereigns. They would
not sell lead ore for paper money nor on credit. During the spring I
used my traps successfully, so that I saved something over board and

In summer I worked in the mines with Edwin Buck of Bucksport, Maine, but
only found lead ore enough to pay our expenses in getting it. Next
winter I chopped wood for thirty-five cents per cord and boarded myself.
This was poor business; poorer than hunting. In summer I found work at
various things, but in the fall Mr. Buck and myself concluded that as we
were both hunters and trappers, we would go northward toward Lake
Superior on a hunting expedition, and, perhaps remain all winter. We
replenished our outfit, and engaged Mr. Bennett to take us well up into
the north country. We crossed the Wisconsin River near Muscoda, went
then to Prairie du Chien, where we found a large stone fur trading
house, owned by Mr. Brisbois, a Frenchman, from whom we obtained some
information of the country further on. He assured us there was no danger
from the Indians if we let them alone and treated them fairly.

We bought fifty pounds of flour for each of us, and then started up the
divide between the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. On one side flowed
the Bad River, and on the other the Kickapoo. We traveled on this divide
about three days, when Mr. Bennett became afraid to go any further, as
he had to return alone and the Indians might capture him before he could
get back to the settlement. We camped early one night and went out
hunting to get some game for him. I killed a large, black bear and Mr.
Bennett took what he wanted of it, including the skin, and started back
next morning.

We now cachéd our things in various places, scattering them well. Some
went in hollow logs, and some under heaps of brush or other places,
where the Indians could not find them. We then built a small cabin about
six by eight feet in size and four feet high, in shape like a A. We were
not thoroughly pleased with this location and started out to explore the
country to the north of us, for we had an idea that it would be better
hunting there.

The first day we started north we killed a bear, and filled our stomachs
with the fat, sweet meat. The next night we killed another bear after a
little struggling. The dog made him climb a tree and we shot at him; he
would fall to the ground as if dead, but would be on his feet again in
an instant, when, after the dog had fastened to his ham, he would climb
the tree again. In the third trial he lay in the fork and had a good
chance to look square at his tormentor. I shot him in the head, and as
he lay perfectly still, Buck said:--"Now you have done it--we can't get
him." But in a moment he began to struggle, and soon came down,

Here we camped on the edge of the pine forest, ate all the fat bear meat
we could, and in the morning took separate routes, agreeing to meet
again a mile or so farther up a small brook. I soon saw a small bear
walking on a log and shot him dead. His mate got away, but I set my dog
on him and he soon had to climb a tree. When I came up to where the dog
was barking I saw Mr. Bear and fired a ball in him that brought him
down. Just then I heard Mr. Buck shoot close by, and I went to him and
found he had killed another and larger bear. We stayed here another
night, dressed our game and sunk the meat in the brook and fastened it
down, thinking we might want to get some of it another time.

We were so well pleased with this hunting ground that we took the bear
skins and went back to camp. When we got there our clothes were pretty
well saturated with bear's oil, and we jokingly said it must have soaked
through our bodies, we had eaten so much bear meat. I began to feel
quite sick, and had a bad headache. I felt as if something must be done,
but we had no medicine. Mr. Buck went down by the creek and dug some
roots he called Indian Physic, then steeped them until the infusion
seemed as black as molasses, and, when cool told me to take a swallow
every fifteen minutes for an hour, then half as much for another hour as
long as I could keep it down. I followed directions and vomited freely
and for a long time, but felt better afterward, and soon got well. It
reminded me some of the feelings I had when I was seasick on Lake

It may be interesting to describe how we were dressed to enter on this
winter campaign. We wore moccasins of our own make. I had a buckskin
jumper, and leggins that came up to my hips. On my head a drab hat that
fitted close and had a rim about two inches wide. In fair weather I went
bare-headed, Indian fashion. I carried a tomahawk which I had made. The
blade was two inches wide and three inches long--the poll two inches
long and about as large round as a dime; handle eighteen or twenty
inches long with a knob on the end so it would not easily slip from the
hand. Oiled patches for our rifle balls on a string, a firing wire, a
charger to measure the powder, and a small piece of leather with four
nipples on it for caps--all on my breast, so that I could load very
rapidly. My bed was a comfort I made myself, a little larger than usual.
I lay down on one side of the bed and with my gun close to me, turned
the blanket over me. When out of camp I never left my gun out of my
reach. We had to be real Indians in custom and actions in order to be
considered their equals. We got our food in the same way they did, and
so they had nothing to ask us for. They considered themselves the real
kings of the forest.

We now determined to move camp, which proved quite a job as we had to
pack everything on our backs; which we did for ten or fifteen miles to
the bank of a small stream where there were three pine trees, the only
ones to be found in many miles. We made us a canoe of one of them. While
we were making the canoe three Indians came along, and after they had
eaten some of our good venison, they left us. These were the first we
had seen, and we began to be more cautious and keep everything well hid
away from camp and make them think we were as poor as they were, so they
might not be tempted to molest us.

We soon had the canoe done and loaded, and embarked on the brook down
stream. We found it rather difficult work, but the stream grew larger
and we got along very well. We came to one place where otter signs
seemed fresh, and stopped to set a trap for them. Our dog sat on the
bank and watched the operation, and when we started on we could not get
him to ride or follow. Soon we heard him cry and went back to find he
had the trap on his fore foot. To get it off we had to put a forked
stick over his neck and hold him down, he was so excited over his
mishap. When he was released he left at full speed and was never seen by
us after.

When we got well into the pine woods we camped and cached our traps and
provisions on an island, and made our camp further down the stream and
some little distance from the shore. We soon found this was very near a
logging camp, and as no one had been living there for a year, we moved
camp down there and occupied one of the empty cabins. We began to set
dead-fall traps in long lines in many different directions, blazing the
trees so we could find them if the snow came on. West of this about ten
miles, where we had killed some deer earlier, we made a A-shaped cabin
and made dead falls many miles around to catch fishes, foxes, mink and
raccoons. We made weekly journeys to the places and generally staid
about two nights.

One day when going over my trap lines I came to a trap which I had set
where I had killed a deer, and saw by the snow that an eagle had been
caught in the trap and had broken the chain and gone away. I followed on
the trail he made and soon found him. He tried to fly but the trap was
too heavy, and he could only go slowly and a little way. I fired and put
a ball in him and he fell and rolled under a large log on the hillside.
As I took the trap off I saw an Indian coming down the hill and brought
my gun to bear on him. He stopped suddenly and made signs not to shoot,
and I let him come up. He made signs that he wanted the feathers of the
bird which I told him to take, and then he wanted to know where we
slept. I pointed out the way and made him go ahead of me there, for I
did not want him behind me. At camp he made signs for something to eat,
but when I showed him meat he shook his head. However he took a leg of
deer and started on, I following at a good distance till satisfied that
he would not come back.

We had not taken pains to keep track of the day of the week or month;
the rising and setting of the sun and the changes of the moon were all
the almanacs we had. Then snow came about a foot deep, and some days
were so cold we could not leave our camp fire at all. As no Indians
appeared we were quite successful and kept our bundle of furs in a
hollow standing tree some distance from camp, and when we went that way
we never stopped or left any sign that we had a deposit there.

Some time after it was all frozen up solid, some men with two yoke of
oxen came up to cut and put logs in the river to raft down when the ice
went out. With them came a shingle weaver, with a pony and a small sled,
and some Indians also. We now had to take up all of our steel traps, and
rob all our dead-falls and quit business generally--even then they got
some of our traps before we could get them gathered in. We were now
comparatively idle.

Until these loggers came we did not know exactly where we were situated,
but they told us we were on the Lemonai river, a branch of the
Wisconsin, and that we could get out by going west till we found the
Mississippi river and then home. We hired the shengle man with his pony
to take us to Black River, farther north which we reached in three days,
and found a saw mill there in charge of a keeper. Up the river farther
we found another mill looked after by Sam Ferguson. Both mills were
frozen up. The Indians had been here all winter. They come from Lake
Superior when the swamps froze up there, to hunt deer, till the weather
gets warm, then they returned to the Lake to fish.

Of course the presence of the Indians made game scarce, but the mill men
told us if we would go up farther into the marten country they thought
we would do well. We therefore made us a hand sled, put some provisions
and traps on board, and started up the river on the ice. As we went the
snow grew deeper and we had to cut hemlock boughs for a bed on top of
the snow. It took about a half a cord of wood to last us all night, and
it was a trouble to cut holes in the ice to water, for it was more than
two feet thick. Our fire kindled on the snow, would be two or three feet
below on the ground, by morning. This country was heavily timbered with
cedar, or spruce and apparently very level.

One day we saw two otters coming toward us on the ice. We shot one, but
as the other gun missed fire, the other one escaped, for I could not
overtake it in the woods. We kept on up the river till we began to hear
the Indians' guns, and then we camped and did not fire a gun for two
days, for we were afraid we might be discovered and robbed, and we knew
we could not stay long after our grub was gone. All the game we could
catch was the marten or sable, which the Indians called _Waubusash_. The
males were snuff color and the female much darker. Mink were scarce, and
the beaver, living in the river bank, could not be got at till the ice
went out in the spring.

We now began to make marten traps or dead-falls, and set them for this
small game. There were many cedar and tamarack swamps, indeed that was
the principal feature, but there were some ridges a little higher where
some small pines and beech grew. Now our camp was one place where there
was no large timber caused by the stream being dammed by the beaver.
Here were some of the real Russian Balsam trees, the most beautiful in
shape I had ever seen. They were very dark green, the boughs very thick,
and the tree in shape like an inverted top. Our lines of trips led for
miles in every direction marked by blazed trees. We made a trap of two
poles, and chips which we split from the trees. These were set in the
snow and covered with brush, We sometimes found a porcupine in the top
of a pine tree. The only signs of his presence were the chips he made in
gnawing the bark for food. They never came down to the ground as we saw.
They were about all the game that was good to eat. I would kill one,
skin it and drag the carcass after me all day as I set traps, cutting
off bits for bait, and cooking the rest for ourselves to eat. We tried
to eat the marten but it was pretty musky and it was only by putting on
plenty of salt and pepper that we managed to eat them. We were really
forced to do it if we remained here. We secured a good many of these
little fellows which have about the the best fur that is found in

We were here about three weeks, and our provisions giving out and the
ice becoming tender in the swamp were two pretty strong reasons for our
getting out, so we shouldered our packs of fur and our guns and, getting
our course from a pocket-compass, we started out. As we pushed on we
came to some old windfalls that were troublesome to get through. The
dense timber seemed to be six feet deep, and we would sometimes climb
over and sometimes crawl under, the fallen trees were so thickly mixed
and tangled.

Mr. Buck got so completely tired that he threw away his traps. We
reached our starting place at O'Neil's saw-mill after many days of the
hardest work, and nearly starved, for we had seen no game on our trip.
We found our traps and furs all safe here and as this stream was one of
the tributaries of the Mississippi, we decided to make us a boat and
float down toward that noted stream. We secured four good boards and
built the boat in which we started down the river setting traps and
moving at our leisure. We found plenty of fine ducks, two bee trees, and
caught some cat-fish with a hook and line we got at the mill. We also
caught some otter, and, on a little branch of the river killed two
bears, the skin of one of them weighing five pounds. We met a keel boat
being poled up the river, and with the last cent of money we possessed
bought a little flour of them.

About the first of May we reached Prairie du Chien. Here we were met
with some surprise, for Mr. Brisbois said he had heard we were killed or
lost. He showed us through his warehouses and pointed out to us the many
bales of different kinds of furs he had on hand. He told us we were the
best fur handlers he had seen, and paid us two hundred dollars in
American gold for what we had. We then stored our traps in the garret of
one of his warehouses, which was of stone, two stories and an attic, as
we thought of making another trip to this country if all went well.

We now entered our skiff again and went on down the great river till we
came to a place nearly opposite Mineral Point, when we gave our boat to
a poor settler, and with guns and bundles on our backs took a straight
shoot for home on foot. The second day about dark we came in the edge of
the town and were seen by a lot of boys who eyed us closely and with
much curiosity, for we were dressed in our trapping suits. They followed
us, and as we went along the crowd increased so that when we got to
Crum. Lloyd's tavern the door was full of boys' heads looking at us as
if we were a circus. Here we were heartily welcomed, and every body was
glad to see us, as they were about to start a company to go in search of
their reported murdered friends. It seems a missionary got lost on his
way to Prairie La Crosse and had come across our deserted cabin, and
when he came in he reported us as no doubt murdered.

I invested all of my hundred dollars in buying eighty acres of good
Government land. This was the first $100 I ever had and I felt very
proud to be a land owner. I felt a little more like a man now than I had
ever felt before, for the money was hard earned and all mine.


Mr. Buck and myself concluded we would try our luck at lead mining for
the summer and purchased some mining tools for the purpose. We camped
out and dug holes around all summer, getting just about enough to pay
our expenses--not a very encouraging venture, for we had lived in a tent
and had picked and shoveled and blasted and twisted a windlass hard
enough to have earned a good bit of money.

In the fall we concluded to try another trapping tour, and set out for
Prairie du Chien. We knew it was a poor place to spend money up in the
woods, and when we got our money it was all in a lump and seemed to
amount to something. Mr. Brisbois said that the prospects were very poor
indeed, for the price of fur was very low and no prospect of a better
market. So we left our traps still on storage at his place and went back
again. This was in 1847, and before Spring the war was being pushed in
Mexico. I tried to enlist for this service, but there were so many ahead
of me I could not get a chance.

I still worked in the settlement and made a living, but had no chance to
improve my land. The next winter I lived with Mr A. Bennett, hunted deer
and sold them at Mineral Point, and in this way made and saved a few

There had been from time to time rumors of a better country to the west
of us and a sort of a pioneer, or western fever would break out among
the people occasionally. Thus in 1845 I had a slight touch of the
disease on account of the stories they told us about Oregon. It was
reported that the Government would give a man a good farm if he would go
and settle, and make some specified improvement. They said it was in a
territory of rich soil, with plenty of timber, fish and game and some
Indians, just to give a little spice of adventure to the whole thing.
The climate was very mild in winter, as they reported, and I concluded
it would suit me exactly. I began at once to think about an outfit and a
journey, and I found that it would take me at least two years to get
ready. A trip to California was not thought of in those days, for it did
not belong to the United States.

In the winter of 1848-49 news began to come that there was gold in
California, but not generally believed till it came through a U.S.
officer, and then, as the people were used to mines and mining, a
regular gold fever spread as if by swift contagion. Mr. Bennett was
aroused and sold his farm, and I felt a change in my Oregon desires and
had dreams at might of digging up the yellow dust. Nothing would cure us
then but a trip, and that was quickly decided on.

As it would be some weeks yet before grass would start, I concluded to
haul my canoe and a few traps over to a branch of the Wisconsin, and
make my way to Prairie du Chien, do a little trapping, get me an Indian
pony on which to ride to California. There were no ponies to be had at
Mineral Point. Getting a ride up the river on a passing steamboat I
reached Prairie La Crosse, where the only house was that of a Dutch
trader from whom I bought a Winnebago pony, which he had wintered on a
little brushy island, and I thought if he could winter on brush and
rushes he must be tough enough to take me across the plains. He cost me
$30, and I found him to be a poor, lazy little fellow. However, I
thought that when he got some good grass, and a little fat on his ribs
he might have more life, and so I hitched a rope to him and drove him
ahead down the river. When I came to the Bad Axe river I found it
swimming full, but had no trouble in crossing, as the pony was as good
as a dog in the water.

Before leaving Bennett's I had my gun altered over to a pill lock and
secured ammunition to last for two years. I had tanned some nice
buckskin and had a good outfit of clothes made of it, or rather cut and
made it myself. Where I crossed the Bad Axe was a the battle ground
where Gen. Dodge fought the Winnebago Indians. At Prairie du Chien I
found a letter from Mr. Bennett, saying that the grass was so backward
he would not start up for two or three weeks, and I had better come back
and start with them; but as the letter bore no date I could only guess
at the exact time. I had intended to strike directly west from here to
Council Bluffs and meet them there, but now thought perhaps I had better
go back to Mineral Point and start out with them there, or follow on
rapidly after them if by any chance they had already started.

On my way back I found the Kickapoo river too high to ford, so I pulled
some basswood bark and made a raft of a couple of logs, on which to
carry my gun and blanket; starting the pony across I followed after. He
swam across quickly, but did not seem to like it on the other side, so
before I got across, back he came again, not paying the least attention
to my scolding. I went back with the raft, which drifted a good way down
stream, and caught the rascal and started him over again, but when I got
half way across he jumped and played the same joke on me again. I began
to think of the old puzzle of the story of the man with the fox, the
goose and a peck of corn, but I solved it by making a basswood rope to
which I tied a stone and threw across, then sending the pony over with
the other end. He staid this time, and after three days of swimming
streams and pretty hard travel reached Mineral Point, to find Bennett
had been gone two weeks and had taken my outfit with him as we first

I was a little troubled, but set out light loaded for Dubuque, crossed
the river there and then alone across Iowa, over wet and muddy roads,
till I fell in with some wagons west of the Desmoines River. They were
from Milwaukee, owned by a Mr. Blodgett, and I camped with them a few
nights, till we got to the Missouri River.

I rushed ahead the last day or two and got there before them. There were
a few California wagons here, and some campers, so I put my pony out to
grass and looked around. I waded across the low bottom to a strip of dry
land next to the river, where there was a post office, store, and a few
cabins. I looked first for a letter, but there was none. Then I began to
look over the cards in the trading places and saloons, and read the
names written on the logs of the houses, and everywhere I thought there
might be a trace of the friends I sought. No one had seen or knew them.
After looking half a day I waded back again to the pony--pretty blue. I
thought first I would go back and wait another year, but there was a
small train near where I left the pony, and it was not considered very
safe to go beyond there except with a pretty good train. I sat down in
camp and turned the matter over in my mind, and talked with Chas. Dallas
of Lynn, Iowa, who owned the train. Bennett had my outfit and gun, while
I had his light gun, a small, light tent, a frying pan, a tin cup, one
woolen shirt and the clothes on my back. Having no money to get another
outfit, I about concluded to turn back when Dallas said that if I would
drive one of his teams through, he would board me, and I could turn my
pony in with his loose horses; I thought it over, and finally put my
things in the wagon and took the ox whip to go on. Dallas intended to
get provision here, but could not, so we went down to St. Jo, following
the river near the bluff. We camped near town and walked in, finding a
small train on the main emigrant road to the west. My team was one yoke
of oxen and one yoke of cows. I knew how to drive, but had a little
trouble with the strange animals till they found I was kind to them, and
then they were all right.

This was in a slave state, and here I saw the first negro auction. One
side of the street had a platform such as we build for a political
speaker. The auctioneer mounted this with a black boy about 18 years
old, and after he had told all his good qualities and had the boy stand
up bold and straight, he called for bids, and they started him at $500.
He rattled away as if he were selling a steer, and when Mr. Rubideaux,
the founder of St. Jo bid $800, he went no higher and the boy was sold.
With my New England notions it made quite an impression on me.

Here Dallas got his supplies, and when the flour and bacon was loaded up
the ferryman wanted $50 to take the train across. This Dallas thought
too high and went back up the river a day's drive, where he got across
for $30. From this crossing we went across the country without much of a
road till we struck the road from St. Jo, and were soon on the Platte

We found some fine strawberries at one of the camps across the country.
We found some hills, but now the country was all one vast prairie, not a
tree in sight till we reached the Platte, there some cottonwood and
willow. At the first camp on the Platte I rolled up in my blanket under
the wagon and thought more than I slept, but I was in for it and no
other way but to go on. I had heard that there were two forts, new Ft.
Kearny and Ft. Laramie, on the south side of the river, which we must
pass before we reached the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains, and beyond
there there would be no place to buy medicine or food. Our little train
of five wagons, ten men, one woman and three children would not be a
formidable force against the Indians if they were disposed to molest us,
and it looked to me very hazardous, and that a larger train would be
more safe, for Government troops were seldom molested on their marches.

If I should not please Mr. Dallas and get turned off with only my gun
and pony I should be in a pretty bad shape, but I decided to keep right
on and take the chances on the savages, who would get only my hair and
my gun as my contribution to them if they should be hostile. I must
confess, however, that the trail ahead did not look either straight or
bright to me, but hoped it might be better than I thought. So I yoked my
oxen and cows to the wagon and drove on. All the other teams had two
drivers each, who took turns, and thus had every other day off for
hunting if they chose, but I had to carry the whip every day and leave
my gun in the wagon.

When we crossed Salt Creek the banks were high and we had to tie a
strong rope to the wagons and with a few turns around a post, lower them
down easily, while we had to double the teams to get them up the other

Night came on before half the wagons were over, and though it did not
rain the water rose before morning so it was ten feet deep. We made a
boat of one of the wagon beds, and had a regular ferry, and when they
pulled the wagons over they sank below the surface but came out all
right. We came to Pawnee Village, on the Platte, a collection of mud
huts, oval in shape, and an entrance low down to crawl in at. A ground
owl and some prairie dogs were in one of them, and we suspected they
might be winter quarters for the Indians.

Dallas and his family rode in the two-horse wagon. Dick Field was cook,
and the rest of us drove the oxen. We put out a small guard at night to
watch for Indians and keep the stock together so there might be no delay
in searching for them. When several miles from Ft. Kearney I think on
July 3rd, we camped near the river where there was a slough and much
cottonwood and willow. Just after sundown a horse came galloping from
the west and went in with our horses that were feeding a little farther
down. In the morning two soldiers came from the fort, inquiring after
the stray horse, but Dallas said he had seen none, and they did not hunt
around among the willows for the lost animal. Probably it would be the
easiest way to report back to the fort--"Indians got him." When we
hitched up in the morning he put the horse on the off side of his own,
and when near the fort, he went ahead on foot and entertained the
officers while the men drove by, and the horse was not discovered. I did
not like this much, for if we were discovered, we might be roughly
handled, and perhaps the property of the innocent even confiscated.
Really my New England ideas of honesty were somewhat shocked.

Reaching the South Platte, it took us all day to ford the sandy stream,
as we had first to sound out a good crossing by wading through
ourselves, and when we started our teams across we dare not stop a
moment for fear the wagons would sink deep into the quicksands. We had
no mishaps in crossing, and when well camped on the other side a
solitary buffalo made his appearance about 200 yards away and all hands
started after him, some on foot. The horsemen soon got ahead of him, but
he did not seem inclined to get out of their way, so they opened fire on
him. He still kept his feet and they went nearer, Mr. Rogers, being on a
horse with a blind bridle, getting near enough to fire his Colt's
revolver at him, when he turned, and the horse, being unable to see the
animal quick enough to get out of the way, suffered the force of a
sudden attack of the old fellow's horns, and came out with a gash in his
thigh six inches long, while Rogers went on a flying expedition over the
horse's head, and did some lively scrambling when he reached the ground.
The rest of them worried him along for about half a mile, and finally,
after about forty shots he lay down but held his head up defiantly,
receiving shot after shot with an angry shake, till a side shot laid him
out. This game gave us plenty of meat, which though tough, was a
pleasant change from bacon. I took no part in this battle except as an
observer. On examination it was found that the balls had been many of
them stopped by the matted hair about the old fellow's head and none of
them had reached the skull.

A few days after this we were stopped entirely by a herd of buffaloes
crossing our road. They came up from the river and were moving south.
The smaller animals seemed to be in the lead, and the rear was brought
up by the old cows and the shaggy, burly bulls. All were moving at a
smart trot, with tongues hanging out, and seemed to take no notice of
us, though we stood within a hundred yards of them. We had to stand by
our teams and stock to prevent a stampede, for they all seemed to have a
great wonder, and somewhat of fear at their relatives of the plains.
After this we often saw large droves of them in the distance. Sometimes
we could see what in the distance seemed a great patch of brush, but by
watching closely we could see it was a great drove of these animals.
Those who had leisure to go up to the bluffs often reported large droves
in sight. Antelopes were also seen, but these occupied the higher
ground, and it was very hard to get near enough to them to shoot
successfully. Still we managed to get a good deal of game which was very
acceptable as food.

One prominent land mark along the route was what they called Court House
Rock, standing to the south from the trail and much resembled an immense
square building, standing high above surrounding country. The farther we
went on the more plentiful became the large game, and also wolves and
prairie dogs, the first of which seemed to follow the buffaloes closely.

About this time we met a odd looking train going east, consisting of
five or six Mormons from Salt Lake, all mounted on small Spanish mules.
They were dressed in buckskin and moccasins, with long spurs jingling at
their heels, the rowels fully four inches long, and each one carried a
gun, a pistol and a big knife. They were rough looking fellows with
long, matted hair, long beards, old slouch hats and a generally back
woods get-up air in every way. They had an extra pack mule, but the
baggage and provisions were very light. I had heard much about the
Mormons, both at Nauvoo and Salt Lake, and some way or other I could not
separate the idea of horse thieves from this party, and I am sure I
would not like to meet them if I had a desirable mule that they wanted,
or any money, or a good looking wife. We talked with them half an hour
or so and then moved on.

We occasionally passed by a grave along the road, and often a small head
board would state that the poor unfortunate had died of cholera. Many of
these had been torn open by wolves and the blanket encircling the corpse
partly pulled away. Our route led a few miles north of Chimney Rock,
standing on an elevated point like a tall column, so perfect and regular
on all sides, that from our point it looked as if it might be the work
of the stone cutters. Some of the party went to see it and reported
there was no way to ascend it, and that as far as a man could reach, the
rocks were inscribed with the names of visitors and travelers who passed
that way.

At Scott's Bluffs, the bluffs came close to the river, so there was
considerable hill climbing to get along, the road in other places
finding ample room in the bottom. Here we found a large camp of the
Sioux Indians on the bank of a ravine, on both sides of which were some
large cottonwood trees. Away up in the large limbs platforms had been
made of poles, on which were laid the bodies of their dead, wrapped in
blankets and fastened down to the platform by a sort of a network of
smaller poles tightly lashed so that they could not be dragged away or
disturbed by wild animals. This seemed a strange sort of cemetery, but
when we saw the desecrated earth-made graves we felt that perhaps this
was the best way, even if it was a savage custom.

These Indians were fair-sized men, and pretty good looking for red men.
Some of our men went over to their camp, and some of their youths came
down to ours, and when we started on they seemed quite proud that they
had learned a little of the English language, but the extent of their
knowledge seemed to be a little learned of the ox-drivers, for they
would swing their hands at the cattle and cry out "Whoa! haw, g--d
d--n." Whether they knew what was meant, I have my doubts. They seemed
pretty well provided for and begged very little, as they are apt to do
when they are hard pressed.

We saw also some bands of Pawnee Indians on the move across the
prairies. They would hitch a long, light pole on each side of a pony,
with the ends dragging behind on the ground, and on a little platform at
the hind end the children sat and were dragged along.

As we passed on beyond Scott's Bluff the game began to be perceptibly
scarcer, and what we did find was back from the traveled road, from
which it had apparently been driven by the passing hunters.

In time we reached Ft. Laramie, a trading post, where there were some
Indian lodges, and we noticed that some of the occupants had lighter
complexions than any of the other Indians we had seen. They had cords of
dried buffalo meat, and we purchased some. It was very fat, but was so
perfectly cured that the clear tallow tasted as sweet as a nut. I
thought it was the best dried meat I had ever tasted, but perhaps a good
appetite had something to do with it.

As we passed Ft. Laramie we fell in company with some U.S. soldiers who
were going to Ft. Hall and thence to Oregon. We considered them pretty
safe to travel with and kept with them for some time, though their rate
of travel was less than ours. Among them were some Mormons, employed as
teamsters, and in other ways, and they told us there were some
Missourians on the road who would never live to see California. There
had been some contests between the Missourians and the Mormons, and I
felt rather glad that none of us hailed from Pike county.

We turned into what they called the Black Hills, leaving the Platte to
the north of us. The first night on this road we had the hardest rain I
ever experienced, and the only one of any account on our journey. Our
camp was on a level piece of ground on the bank of a dry creek, which
soon became a very wet creek indeed, for by morning it was one hundred
yards wide and absolutely impassible. It went down, however, as quickly
as it rose, and by ten o'clock it was so low that we easily crossed and
went on our way. We crossed one stream where there were great drifts or
piles of hail which had been brought down by a heavy storm from higher
up the hills. At one place we found some rounded boulders from six to
eight inches in diameter, which were partly hollow, and broken open were
found to contain most beautiful crystals of quartz, clear as purest ice.
The inside was certainly very pretty, and it was a mystery how it came
there. I have since learned that such stones are found at many points,
and that they are called geodes.

We came out at the river again at the mouth of Deer Creek, and as there
was some pretty good coal there quite easy to get, we made camp one day
to try to tighten our wagon tires, John Rogers acting as blacksmith.
This was my first chance to reconnoiter, and so I took my gun and went
up the creek, a wide, treeless bottom. In the ravines on the south side
were beautiful groves of small fir trees and some thick brush, wild rose
bushes I think. I found here a good many heads and horns of elk, and I
could not decide whether they had been killed in winter during the deep
snow, or had starved to death.

There was a ferry here to cross the river and go up along north side.
Mr. Dallas bought the whole outfit for a small sum and when we were
safely over he took with him such ropes as he wanted and tied the boat
to the bank The road on this side was very sandy and led over and among
some rolling hills. In talking with the men of the U.S. troops in whose
company we still were, I gathered much information concerning our road
further west. They said we were entirely too late to get through to
California, on account of crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains, which,
they said would be covered with snow by November, or even earlier, and
that we would be compelled to winter at Salt Lake. Some of the drivers
overheard Mr. Dallas telling his family the same thing, and that if he
should winter at Salt Lake, he would discharge his drivers as soon as he
arrived, as he could not afford to board them all winter.

This was bad news for me, for I had known of the history of them at
Nauvoo and in Missouri, and the prospect of being thrown among them with
no money to buy bread was a very sorry prospect for me. From all I could
learn we could not get a chance to work, even for our board there, and
the other drivers shared my fears and disappointment. In this dilemma we
called a council, and invited the gentleman in to have an understanding.
He came and our spokesman stated the case to him, and our fears, and
asked him what he had to say to us about it. He flew quite angry at us,
and talked some and swore a great deal more, and the burden of his
speech was:--"This train belongs to me and I propose to do with it just
as I have a mind to, and I don't care a d--n what you fellows do or say.
I am not going to board you fellows all winter for nothing, and when we
get to Salt Lake you can go where you please, for I shall not want you
any longer." We talked a little to him and under the circumstances to
talk was about all we could do. He gave us no satisfaction and left us
apparently much offended that we had any care for ourselves.

Then we had some talk among ourselves, at the time, and from day to day
as we moved along. We began to think that the only way to get along at
all in Salt Lake would be to turn Mormons, and none of us had any belief
or desire that way and could not make up our minds to stop our journey
and lose so much time, and if we were not very favored travelers our lot
might be cast among the sinners for all time.

We were now on the Sweetwater River, and began to see the snow on the
Rocky Mountains ahead of us, another reminder that there was a winter
coming and only a little more than half our journey was done. We did not
feel very happy over it, and yet we had to laugh once in a while at some
of the funny things that would happen.

The Government party we were with had among them a German mule driver
who had a deal of trouble with his team, but who had a very little
knowledge of the English language. When the officers tried to instruct
him a little he seemed to get out of patience and would say something
very like _Sacramento_. We did not know exactly what this meant. We had
heard there was a river of that name or something very near like that;
and then again some said that was the Dutch for swearing. If this latter
was the truth then he was a very profane mule driver when he got mad.

The Captain of the company had a very nice looking lady with him, and
they carried a fine wall tent which they occupied when they went into
camp. The company cook served their meals to them in the privacy of
their tent, and they seemed to enjoy themselves very nicely. Everybody
thought the Captain was very lucky in having such an accomplished
companion, and journey along quietly to the gold fields at government

There seemed to be just a little jealousy between the Captain and the
Lieutenant, and one day I saw them both standing in angry attitude
before the Captain's quarters, both mounted, with their carbines lying
across their saddles before them. They had some pretty sharp, hot words,
and it looked as if they both were pretty nearly warmed up to the
shooting point. Once the Lieutenant moved his right hand a little, and
the Captain was quick to see it, shouting;--"Let your gun alone or I
will make a hole through you," at the same time grasping his own and
pointing it straight at the other officer. During all this time the
Captain's lady stood in the tent door, and when she saw her favorite had
the drop on the Lieutenant she clapped her delicate, little hands in a
gleeful manner:--"Just look at the Captain! Ain't he spunky?" and then
she laughed long and loud to see her lord show so much military courage.
She seemed more pleased at the affair than any one else. I don't know
exactly what the others thought, but I never could believe that the lady
and the Captain were ever married.

The Lieutenant was no coward, but probably thinking that prudence was
the better part of valor, refrained from handling his gun, and the two
soon rode away in opposite directions.

We passed a lone rock standing in the river bottom on the Sweetwater,
which they named Independence Rock. It was covered with the names of
thousands of people who had gone by on that road. Some were pretty
neatly chiseled in, some very rudely scrawled, and some put on with
paint. I spent all the time I could hunting Mr. Bennett's name, but I
could not find it anywhere. To have found his name, and thus to know
that he had safely passed this point would have been a little
re-assuring in those rather doubtful days. Some had named the date of
their passing, and some of them were probably pretty near the gold
fields at this time.

All along in this section we found alkali water near the road, some very
strong and dangerous for man or beast to use. We traveled on up the
Sweetwater for some time, and at last came to a place where the road
left the river, and we had a long, hard hill to pull up. When we reached
the top of this we were in the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains, the
backbone of the American continent. To the north of us were some very
high peaks white with snow, and to the south were some lower hills and
valleys. The summit of the mountains was not quite as imposing as I
expected, but it was the summit, and we were soon surely moving down the
western side, for at Pacific Springs the water ran to the westward,
toward the Pacific coast. The next day we came to the nearly dry bed of
the river--the Big Sandy. The country round about seemed volcanic, with
no timber, but plenty of sage brush, in which we were able to shoot an
occasional sage hen. The river bed itself was nothing but sand, and
where there was water enough to wet it, it was very miry and hard
traveling over it. There are two streams, the Big Sandy and Little
Sandy, both tributaries to Green River, which we soon reached and

It was a remarkable clear and rapid stream and was now low enough to
ford. One of the Government teams set out to make the crossing at a
point where it looked shallow enough, but before the lead mules reached
the opposite shore, they lost their footing and were forced to swim. Of
course the wagon stopped and the team swung round and tangled up in a
bad shape. They were unhitched and the wagon pulled back, the load was
somewhat dampened, for the water came into the wagon box about a foot.
We camped here and laid by one day, having thus quite a little chance to
look around.

When we came to the first water that flowed toward the Pacific Coast at
Pacific Springs, we drivers had quite a little talk about a new scheme.
We put a great many "ifs" together and they amounted to about this:--If
this stream were large enough; if we had a boat; if we knew the way: if
there were no falls or bad places; if we had plenty of provisions; if we
were bold enough set out on such a trip, etc., we might come out at some
point or other on the Pacific Ocean. And now when we came to the first
of the "ifs," a stream large enough to float a small boat; we began to
think more strongly about the other "ifs".

In the course of our rambles we actually did run across the second "if"
in the shape of a small ferry boat filled up with sand upon a bar, and
it did not take very long to dig it out and put it into shape to use,
for it was just large enough to hold one wagon at a time. Our military
escort intended to leave us at this point, as their route now bore off
to the north of ours. I had a long talk with the surgeon who seemed well
informed about the country, and asked him about the prospects. He did
not give the Mormons a very good name. He said to me:--"If you go to
Salt Lake City, do not let them know you are from Missouri, for I tell
you that many of those from that State will never see California. You
know they were driven from Missouri, and will get revenge if they can."
Both the surgeon and the captain said the stream came out on the Pacific
Coast and that we had no obstacles except cataracts, which they had
heard were pretty bad. I then went to Dallas and told him what we
proposed doing and to our surprise he did not offer any objections, and
offered me $60 for my pony. He said he would sell us some flour and
bacon for provisions also.

We helped them in crossing the river, which was somewhat difficult,
being swift, with boulders in the bottom but we got all safely over and
then made the trade we had spoken of. Dallas paid me for my pony and we
took what flour and bacon he would let go. He gave us some ropes for
head and stern lines to our boat and a couple of axes, and we laid
these, and our provisions in a pile by the roadside. Six of us then gave
up our whips. Mr. S. McMahon, a driver, hesitated for some time, but
being pressed by Dallas for a decision, at last threw down his whip and
said:--"I will go with the boys." This left Dallas with only one driver,
but he took a whip himself, and with the aid of the children and his
wife who drove the two-horse wagon, they got along very well. I paid for
such provisions as we had taken, as the rest of the fellows had almost
no money.

So we parted company, the little train slowly moving on its way
westward. Our military captain, the soldier boys, and the gay young lady
taking the route to Oregon, and we sitting on the bank of the river
whose waters flowed to the great Pacific. Each company wished the other
good luck, we took a few long breaths and then set to work in earnest to
carry out our plans.


About the first thing we did was to organize and select a captain, and,
very much against my wishes, I was chosen to this important position.
Six of us had guns of some sort, Richard Field, Dallas's cook, was not
armed at all. We had one regular axe and a large camp hatchet, which was
about the same as an axe, and several very small hatchets owned by the
men. All our worldly goods were piled up on the bank, and we were alone.

An examination of the old ferry boat showed it to be in pretty good
condition, the sand with which it had been filled keeping it very
perfectly. We found two oars in the sand under the boat, and looked up
some poles to assist us in navigation. Our cordage was rather scant but
the best we could get and all we could muster. The boat was about twelve
feet long and six or seven feet wide, not a very well proportioned
craft, but having the ability to carry a pretty good load. We swung it
up to the bank and loaded up our goods and then ourselves. It was not a
heavy load for the craft, and it looked as if we were taking the most
sensible way to get to the Pacific, and almost wondered that everybody
was so blind as not to see it as we did.

This party was composed of W.L. Manley, M.S. McMahon, Charles and Joseph
Hazelrig, Richard Field, Alfred Walton and John Rogers. We untied the
ropes, gave the boat a push and commenced to move down the river with
ease and comfort, feeling much happier than we would had we been going
toward Salt Lake with the prospect of wintering there.

At the mouth of Ham's Fork we passed a camp of Indians, but we kept
close to the opposite shore to avoid being boarded by them. They
beckoned very urgently for us to come ashore, but I acted as if I did
not understand them, and gave them the go-by.

As we were floating down the rapid stream it became more and more a
rapid, roaring river, and the bed contained many dangerous rocks that
were difficult to shun. Each of us had a setting-pole, and we ranged
ourselves along the sides of the boat and tried to keep ourselves clear
from the rocks and dangers. The water was not very deep and made such a
dashing noise as the current rushed among the rocks that one had to talk
pretty loud to be heard. As we were gliding along quite swiftly, I set
my pole on the bottom and gave the boat a sudden push to avoid a
boulder, when the pole stuck in the crevice between two rocks, and
instead of losing the pole by the sudden jerk I gave, I was the one who
was very suddenly yanked from the boat by the spring of the pole, and
landed in the middle of the river. I struck pretty squarely on my back,
and so got thoroughly wet, but swam for shore amid the shouts of the
boys, who waved their hats and hurrahed for the captain when they saw he
was not hurt. I told them that was nothing as we were on our way to
California by water any way, and such things must be expected.

The next day after this I went on shore and sighted a couple of
antelope, one of which I shot, which gave us good grub, and good
appetites we already had. As near as we could estimate we floated about
thirty miles a day, which beat the pace of tired oxen considerably. In
one place there was a fringe of thick willows along the bank, and a
little farther back a perpendicular bluff, while between the two was a
strip of fine green grass. As we were passing this we scared up a band
of elk in this grass meadow, and they all took a run down the river like
a band of horses. One of them turned up a small ravine with walls so
steep he could not get out, so we posted a guard at the entrance, and
three of us went up the cañon after him, and after the others had each
fired a shot, I fired the third and brought him down. This was about the
finest piece of Rocky Mountain beef that one could see. We took the
carcass on board and floated on again.

Thus far we had a very pleasant time, each taking his turn in working
the boat while the others rested or slept. About the fifth day when we
were floating along in very gently running water, I had lay down to take
a rest and a little sleep. The mountains here on both sides of the river
were not very steep, but ran gradually for a mile or so. While I was
sleeping the boat came around a small angle in the stream, and all at
once there seemed to be a higher, steeper range of mountains right
across the valley. The boys thought the river was coming to a rather
sudden end and hastily awoke me, and for the life of me I could not say
they were not right, for there was no way in sight for it to go to. I
remembered while looking over a map the military men had I found a place
named Brown's Hole, and I told the boys I guessed we were elected to go
on foot to California after all, for I did not propose to follow the
river down any sort of a hole into any mountain. We were floating
directly toward a perpendicular cliff, and I could not see any hole any
where, nor any other place where it could go. Just as we were within a
stone's throw of the cliff, the river turned sharply to the right and
went behind a high point of the mountain that seemed to stand squarely
on edge. This was really an immense crack or crevice, certainly 2000
feet deep and perhaps much more, and seemed much wider at the bottom
than it did at the top, 2000 feet or more above our heads. Each wall
seemed to lean in toward the water as it rose.

We were now for some time between two rocky walls between which the
river ran very rapidly, and we often had to get out and work our boat
over the rocks, sometimes lifting it off when it caught. Fortunately we
had a good tow line, and one would take this and follow along the edge
when it was so he could walk. The mountains seemed to get higher and
higher on both sides as we advanced, and in places we could see quite a
number of trees overhanging the river, and away up on the rocks we could
see the wild mountain sheep looking down at us. They were so high that
they seemed a mile away, and consequently safe enough. This was their
home, and they seemed very independent, as if they dared us fellows to
come and see them. There was an old cottonwood tree on bank with marks
of an axe on it, but this was all the sign we saw that any one had ever
been here before us. We got no game while passing through this deep
cañon and began to feel the need of some fresh provisions very sorely.

We passed many deep, dark cañons coming into the main stream, and at one
place, where the rock hung a little over the river and had a smooth
wall, I climbed up above the high water mark which we could clearly see,
and with a mixture of gunpowder and grease for paint, and a bit of cloth
tied to a stick for a brush, I painted in fair sized letters on the
rock, CAPT. W.L. MANLEY, U.S.A. We did not know whether we were within
the bounds of the United States or not, and we put on all the majesty we
could under the circumstances. I don't think the sun ever shone down to
the bottom of the cañon, for the sides were literally sky-high, for the
sky, and a very small portion of that was all we could see.

Just before night we came to a place where some huge rocks as large as
cabins had fallen down from the mountain, completely filling up the
river bed, and making it completely impassible for our boat. We unloaded
it and while the boys held the stern line, I took off my clothes and
pushed the boat out into the torrent which ran around the rocks, letting
them pay the line out slowly till it was just right. Then I sang out
to--"Let go"--and away it dashed. I grasped the bow line, and at the
first chance jumped overboard and got to shore, when I held the boat and
brought it in below the obstructions. There was some deep water below
the rocks; and we went into camp. While some loaded the boat, others
with a hook and line caught some good fish, which resembled mackerel.

While I was looking up toward the mountain top, and along down the rocky
wall, I saw a smooth place about fifty feet above where the great rocks
had broken out, and there, painted in large black letters, were the
words "ASHLEY, 1824." This was the first real evidence we had of the
presence of a white man in this wild place, and from this record it
seems that twenty-five years before some venturesome man had here
inscribed his name. I have since heard there were some persons in St.
Louis of this name, and of some circumstances which may link them with
this early traveler.

When we came to look around we found that another big rock blocked the
channel 300 yards below, and the water rushed around it with a terrible
swirl. So we unloaded the boat again and made the attempt to get around
it as we did the other rocks. We tried to get across the river but
failed. We now, all but one, got on the great rock with our poles, and
the one man was to ease the boat down with the rope as far as he could,
then let go and we would stop it with our poles and push it out into the
stream and let it go over, but the current was so strong that when the
boat struck the rock we could not stop it, and the gunwale next to us
rose, and the other went down, so that in a second the boat stood
edgewise in the water and the bottom tight against the big rock, and the
strong current pinned it there so tight that we could no more move it
than we could move the rock itself.

This seemed a very sudden ending to our voyage and there were some very
rapid thoughts as to whether we would not safer among the Mormons than
out in this wild country, afoot and alone. Our boat was surely lost
beyond hope, and something must be done. I saw two pine trees, about two
feet through, growing on a level place just below, and I said to them
that we must decide between going afoot and making some canoes out of
these pine trees. Canoes were decided on, and we never let the axes
rest, night or day till we had them completed. While my working shift
was off, I took an hour or two, for a little hunting, and on a low
divide partly grown over with small pines and juniper I found signs, old
and new, of many elk, and so concluded the country was well stocked with
noble game. The two canoes, when completed were about fifteen feet long
and two feet wide, and we lashed them together for greater security.
When we tried them we found they were too small to carry our load and
us, and we landed half a mile below, where there were two other pine
trees--white pine--about two feet through, and much taller than the ones
we had used. We set at work making a large canoe of these. I had to
direct the work for I was the only one who had ever done such work. We
worked night and day at these canoes, keeping a big fire at night and
changing off to keep the axes busy. This canoe we made twenty-five or
thirty feet long, and when completed they made me captain of it and into
it loaded the most valuable things, such as provisions, ammunition, and
cooking utensils. I had to take the lead for I was the only skillful
canoeist in the party. We agreed upon signals to give when danger was
seen, or game in sight, and leading off with my big canoe we set sail
again, and went flying down stream.

This rapid rate soon brought us out of the high mountains and into a
narrow valley when the stream became more moderate in its speed and we
floated along easily enough. In a little while after we struck this
slack water, as we were rounding a point, I saw on a sand bar in the
river, five or six elk, standing and looking at us with much curiosity.
I signaled for those behind to go to shore, while I did the same, and
two or three of us took our guns and went carefully down along the bank,
the thick brush hiding us from them, till we were in fair range, then
selecting our game we fired on them. A fine doe fell on the opposite
bank, and a magnificent buck which Rogers and I selected, went below and
crossed the river on our side. We followed him down along the bank which
was here a flat meadow with thick bunches of willows, and soon came
pretty near to Mr. Elk who started off on a high and lofty trot. As he
passed an opening in the bushes I put a ball through his head and he
fell. He was a monster. Rogers, who was a butcher, said it would weigh
five hundred or six hundred pounds. The horns were fully six feet long,
and by placing the horns on the ground, point downwards, one could walk
under the skull between them. We packed the meat to our canoes, and
staid up all night cutting the meat in strips and drying it, to reduce
bulk and preserve it, and it made the finest kind of food, fit for an

Starting on again, the river lost more and more of of its rapidity as it
came out into a still wider valley, and became quite sluggish. We picked
red berries that grew on bushes that overhung the water. They were sour
and might have been high cranberries. One day I killed an otter, and
afterward hearing a wild goose on shore, I went for the game and killed
it on a small pond on which there were also some mallard duck. I killed
two of these. When I fired, the ones not killed did not fly away, but
rather swam toward me. I suppose they never before had seen a man or
heard the report of a gun. On the shore around the place I saw a small
bear track, but I did not have time to look for his bearship, and left,
with the game already killed, and passed on down through this beautiful

We saw one place where a large band of horses had crossed, and as the
men with them must have had a raft, we were pretty sure that the men in
charge of them were white men. Another day we passed the mouth of a
swollen stream which came in from the west side. The water was thick
with mud, and the fish, about a foot long, came to the top, with their
noses out of water. We tried to catch some, but could not hold them. One
night we camped on an island, and I took my gun and went over toward the
west side where I killed a deer. The boys hearing me shoot, came out,
guns in hand, thinking I might need help, and I was very glad of their
assistance. To make our flour go as far as possible we ate very freely
of meat, and having excellent appetites it disappeared very fast.

It took us two or three days to pass this beautiful valley, and then we
began to get into a rougher country again, the cañons deeper and the
water more tumultuous. McMahon and I had the lead always, in the big
canoe. The mountains seemed to change into bare rocks and get higher and
higher as we floated along. After the first day of this the river became
so full of boulders that many times the only way we could do was to
unload the canoes and haul them over, load up and go ahead, only to
repeat the same tactics in a very short time again. At one place where
the river was more than usually obstructed we found a deserted camp, a
skiff and some heavy cooking utensils, with a notice posted up on an
alder tree saying that they had found the river route impracticable, and
being satisfied that the river was so full of rocks and boulders that it
could not be safely navigated, they had abandoned the undertaking and
were about to start overland to make their way to Salt Lake. I took down
the names of the parties at the time in my diary, which has since been
burned, but have now forgotten them entirely. They were all strangers to
me. They had taken left such heavy articles as could not be carried on
foot. This notice rather disconcerted us, but we thought we had better
keep on and see for ourselves, so we did not follow them, but kept on
down the rocky river. We found generally more boulders than water, and
the down grade of the river bed was heavy.

Some alders and willows grew upon the bank and up quite high on the
mountains we could see a little timber. Some days we did not go more
than four or five miles, and that was serious work, loading and
unloading our canoes, and packing them over the boulders, with only
small streams of water curling around between them. We went barefoot
most of the time, for we were more than half of the time in the water
which roared and dashed so loud that we could hardly heard each other
speak. We kept getting more and more venturesome and skillful, and
managed to run some very dangerous rapids in safety.

On the high peaks above our heads we could see the Rocky Mountain sheep
looking defiantly at us from their mountain fastnesses, so far away they
looked no larger than jack rabbits. They were too far off to try to
shoot at, and we had no time to try to steal up any nearer for at the
rate we were making, food would be the one thing needful, for we were
consuming it very fast. Sometimes we could ride a little ways, and then
would come the rough-and-tumble with the rocks again.

One afternoon we came to a sudden turn in the river, more than a right
angle, and, just below, a fall of two feet or more. This I ran in
safety, as did the rest who followed and we cheered at our pluck and
skill. Just after this the river swung back the other way at a right
angle or more, and I quickly saw there was danger below and signaled
them to go on shore at once, and lead the canoes over the dangerous
rapids. I ran my own canoe near shore and got by the rapid safely,
waiting for the others to come also. They did not obey my signals but
thought to run the rapid the same as I did. The channel here was
straight for 200 yards, without a boulder in it, but the stream was so
swift that it caused great, rolling waves in the center, of a kind I
have never seen anywhere else. The boys were not skillful enough to
navigate this stream, and the suction drew them to the center where the
great waves rolled them over and over, bottom side up and every way. The
occupants of our canoe let go and swam to shore. Fields had always been
afraid of water and had worn a life preserver every day since we left
the wagons. He threw up his hands and splashed and kicked at a terrible
rate, for he could not swim, and at last made solid ground. One of the
canoes came down into the eddy below, where it lodged close to the
shore, bottom up. Alfred Walton in the other canoe could not swim, but
held on to the gunwale with a death grip, and it went on down through
the rapids. Sometimes we could see the man and sometimes not, and he and
the canoe took turns in disappearing. Walton had very black hair, and as
he clung fast to his canoe his black head looked like a crow on the end
of a log. Sometimes he would be under so long that we thought he must be
lost, when up he would come again still clinging manfully.

McMahon and I threw everything out of the big canoe and pushed out after
him. I told Mc. to kneel down so I could see over him to keep the craft
off the rocks, and by changing his paddle from side to side as ordered,
he enabled me to make quick moves and avoid being dashed to pieces. We
fairly flew, the boys said, but I stood up in the stern and kept it
clear of danger till we ran into a clear piece of river and overtook
Walton clinging to the overturned boat; McMahon seized the boat and I
paddled all to shore, but Walton was nearly dead and could hardly keep
his grasp on the canoe. We took him to a sandy place and worked over him
and warmed him in the sun till he came to life again, then built a fire
and laid him up near to it to get dry and warm. If the canoe had gone on
20 yards farther with him before we caught it, he would have gone into
another long rapid and been drowned. We left Walton by the fire and
crossing the river in the slack water, went up to where the other boys
were standing, wet and sorry-looking, say-that all was gone and lost.
Rogers put his hand in his pocket and pulled out three half dollars and
said sadly:--"Boys, this is all I am worth in the world." All the
clothes he had were a pair of overalls and a shirt. If he had been
possessed of a thousand in gold he would have been no richer, for there
was no one to buy from and nothing to buy. I said to them: "Boys, we
can't help what has happened, we'll do the best we can. Right your
canoe, get the water out, and we'll go down and see how Walton is." They
did as I told them, and lo and behold when the canoe rolled right side
up, there were their clothes and blankets safe and sound. These light
things had floated in the canoe and were safe. We now tried by joining
hands to reach out far enough to recover some of the guns, but by
feeling with their feet they found the bottom smooth as glass and the
property all swept on below, no one knew where. The current was so
powerful that no one could stand in it where it came up above his knees.
The eddy which enabled us to save the first canoe with the bedding and
clothes was caused by a great boulder as large as a house which had
fallen from above and partly blocked the stream. Everything that would
sink was lost.

We all got into the two canoes and went down to Walton, where we camped
and staid all night for Walton's benefit. While we were waiting I took
my gun and tried to climb up high enough to see how much longer this
horrible cañon was going to last, but after many attempts, I could not
get high enough to see in any direction. The mountain was all bare rocks
in terraces, but it was impossible to climb from one to the other, and
the benches were all filled with broken rocks that had fallen from

By the time I got back to camp, Walton was dry and warm and could talk.
He said he felt better, and pretty good over his rescue. When he was
going under the water, it seemed sometimes as if he never would come to
the top again, but he held on and eventually came out all right. He
never knew how he got to shore, he was so nearly dead when rescued.

The next morning Walton was so well we started on. We were now very
poorly armed. My rifle and McMahon's shotgun were all the arms we had
for seven of us, and we could make but a poor defence if attacked by man
or beast, to say nothing of providing ourselves with food. The mountains
on each side were very bare of timber, those on the east side
particularly so, and very high and barren. Toward night we were floating
along in a piece of slack water, the river below made a short turn
around a high and rocky point almost perpendicular from the water. There
was a terrace along the side of this point about fifty feet up, and the
bench grew narrower as it approached the river. As I was coming down
quite close under this bank I saw three mountain sheep on the bench
above, and, motioning to the boys, I ran on shore and, with my gun in
hand, crept down toward them, keeping a small pine tree between myself
and the sheep. There were some cedar bushes on the point, and the pines
grew about half way up the bank. I got in as good a range as possible
and fired at one of them which staggered around and fell down to the
bottom of the cliff. I loaded and took the next largest one which came
down the same way. The third one tried to escape by going down the bend
and then creeping up a crevice, but it could not get away and turned
back, cautiously, which gave me time to load again and put a ball
through it. I hit it a little too far back for instant death, but I
followed it up and found it down and helpless, and soon secured it. I
hauled this one down the mountain, and the other boys had the two others
secure by this time. McMahon was so elated at my success that he said:
"Manley, if I could shoot as you do I would never want any better
business." And the other fellows said they guessed we were having better
luck with one gun than with six, so we had a merry time after all. These
animals were of a bluish color, with hair much finer than deer, and
resembled a goat more than a sheep. These three were all females and
their horns were quite straight, not curved like the big males. We cut
the meat from the bones and broke them up, making a fine soup which
tasted pretty good. They were in pretty good order, and the meat like
very good mutton.

We kept pushing on down the river. The rapids were still dangerous in
many places, but not so frequent nor so bad as the part we had gone
over, and we could see that the river gradually grew smoother as we

After a day or two we began to get out of the cañons, but the mountains
and hills on each side were barren and of a pale yellow caste, with no
chance for us to climb up and take a look to see if there were any
chances for us further along. We had now been obliged to follow the
cañon for many miles, for the only way to get out was to get out
endwise, climbing the banks being utterly out of the question. But these
mountains soon came to an end, and there was some cottonwood and willows
on the bank of the river, which was now so smooth we could ride along
without the continual loading and unloading we had been forced to
practice for so long. We had begun to get a little desperate at the lack
of game, but the new valley, which grew wider all the time, gave us hope
again, if it was quite barren everywhere except back of the willow

We were floating along very silently one day, for none of us felt very
much in the mood for talking, when we heard a distant sound which we
thought was very much like the firing of a gun. We kept still, and in a
short time a similar sound was heard, plainer and evidently some ways
down the stream. Again and again we heard it, and decided that it must
be a gun shot, and yet we were puzzled to know how it could be. We were
pretty sure there were no white people ahead of us, and we did not
suppose the Indians in this far-off land had any firearms. It might be
barely possible that we were coming now to some wagon train taking a
southern course, for we had never heard that there were any settlements
in this direction and the barren country would preclude any such thing,
as we viewed it now. If it was a hostile band we could not do much with
a rifle and a shot gun toward defending ourselves or taking the
aggressive. Some of the boys spoke of our scalps ornamenting a spear
handle, and indulged in such like cheerful talk which comforted us

Finally we concluded we did not come out into that wild country to be
afraid of a few gunshots, and determined to put on a bold front, fight
if we had to, run away if we could not do any better, and take our
chances on getting scalped or roasted. Just then we came in sight of
three Indian lodges just a little back from the river, and now we knew
for certain who had the guns. McMahon and I were in the lead as usual,
and it was only a moment before one of the Indians appeared, gun in
hand, and made motions for us to come on shore. A cottonwood tree lay
nearly across the river, and I had gone so far that I had to go around
it and land below, but the other boys behind were afraid to do otherwise
than to land right there as the Indian kept his gun lying across his
arm. I ran our canoe below to a patch of willows, where we landed and
crawled through the brush till we came in sight of the other boys, where
we stood and waited a moment to see how they fared, and whether our red
men were friends or enemies. There were no suspicious movements on their
part, so we came out and walked right up to them. There was some little
talk, but I am sure we did not understand one another's language, and so
we made motions and they made motions, and we got along better. We went
with them down to the tepee, and there we heard the first word that was
at all like English and that was "Mormonee," with a sort of questioning
tone. Pretty soon one said "Buffalo," and then we concluded they were on
a big hunt of some sort. They took us into their lodges and showed us
blankets, knives, and guns, and then, with a suggestive motion, said all
was "Mormonee," by which we understood they had got them from the
Mormons. The Indian in the back part of the lodge looked very pleasant
and his countenance showed a good deal of intelligence for a man of the
mountains. I now told the boys that we were in a position where we were
dependent on some one, and that I had seen enough to convince me that
these Indians were perfectly friendly with the Mormons, and that for our
own benefit we had better pass ourselves off for Mormons, also. So we
put our right hand to our breast and said "Mormonee," with a cheerful
countenance, and that act conveyed to them the belief that we were
chosen disciples of the great and only Brigham and we became friends at
once, as all acknowledged. The fine-looking Indian who sat as king in
the lodge now, by motions and a word or two, made himself known as Chief
Walker, and when I knew this I took great pains to cultivate his

I was quite familiar with the sign language used by all the Indians, and
found I could get along pretty well in making him understand and knowing
what he said. I asked him first how many "sleeps" or days it was from
there to "Mormonee." In answer he put out his left hand and then put two
fingers of his right astride of it, making both go up and down with the
same motion of a man riding a horse. Then he shut his eyes and laid his
head on his hand three times, by which I understood that a man could
ride to the Mormon settlement in three sleeps or four days. He then
wanted to know where we were going, and I made signs that we were
wishing to go toward the setting sun and to the big water, and I said
"California." The country off to the west of us now seemed an open,
barren plain, which grew wider as it extended west. The mountains on the
north side seemed to get lower and smaller as they extended west, but on
the south or east side they were all high and rough. It seemed as if we
could see one hundred miles down the river, and up to the time we met
the Indians we thought we had got through all our troublesome navigation
and could now sail on, quietly and safely to the great Pacific Ocean and
land of gold.

When I told Chief Walker this he seemed very much astonished, as if
wondering why we were going down the river when we wanted to get west
across the country. I asked him how many sleeps it was to the big water,
and he shook his head, pointed out across the country and then to the
river and shook his head again; by which I understood that water was
scarce, out the way he pointed. He then led me down to a smooth sand bar
on the river and then, with a crooked stick, began to make a map in the
sand. First he made a long crooked mark, ten feet long or so, and
pointing to the river to let me know that the mark in the sand was made
to represent it. He then made a straight mark across near the north end
of the stream, and showed the other streams which came into the Green
river which I saw at once was exactly correct. Then he laid some small
stones on each side of the cross mark, and making a small hoop of a
willow twig, he rolled it in the mark he had made across the river, then
flourished his stick as if he were driving oxen. Thus he represented the
emigrant road. He traced the branches off to the north where the
soldiers had gone, and the road to California, which the emigrants took,
all of which we could see was correct. Then he began to describe the
river down which we had come. A short distance below the road he put
some small stones on each side of the river to represent mountains. He
then put down his hands, one on each side of the crooked mark and then
raised them up again saying e-e-e-e-e-e as he raised them, to say that
the mountains there were very high. Then he traced down the stream to a
place below where we made our canoes; when he placed the stone back from
the river farther, to show that there was a valley there; then he drew
them in close again farther down, and piled them up again two or three
tiers high, then placing both fists on them he raised them higher than
the top of his head, saying e-e-e-e-e-e and looking still higher and
shaking his head as if to say:--"Awful bad cañon", and thus he went on
describing the river till we understood that we were near the place
where we now were, and then pointed to his tepee, showing that I
understood him all right. It was all correct, as I very well knew and
assured me that he knew all about the country.

I became much interested in my new found friend, and had him continue
his map down the river. He showed two streams coming in on the east side
and then he began piling up stones on each side of the river and then
got longer ones and piled them higher and higher yet. Then he stood with
one foot on each side of his river and put his hands on the stones and
then raised them as high as he could, making a continued e-e-e-e-e-e as
long as his breath would last, pointed to the canoe and made signs with
his hands how it would roll and pitch in the rapids and finely capsize
and throw us all out. He then made signs of death to show us that it was
a fatal place. I understood perfectly plain from this that below the
valley where we now were was a terrible cañon, much higher than any we
had passed, and the rapids were not navigable with safety. Then Walker
shook his head more than once and looked very sober, and said "Indiano"
and reaching for his bow and arrows, he drew the bow back to its utmost
length and put the arrow close to my breast, showing how I would get
shot. Then he would draw his hand across his throat and shut his eyes as
if in death to make us understand that this was a hostile country before
us, as well as rough and dangerous.

I now had a description of the country ahead and believed it to be
reliable. As soon as I could conveniently after this, I had a council
with the boys, who had looked on in silence while I was holding the
silent confab with the chief. I told them where we were and what chances
there were of getting to California by this route, and that for my part
I had as soon be killed by Mormans as by savage Indians, and that I
believed the best way for us to do was to make the best of our way to
Salt Lake. "Now" I said, "Those of you who agree with me can follow--and
I hope all will."

McMahon said that we could not understand a word the old Indian said,
and as to following his trails, I don't believe a word of it, and it
don't seem right.

He said he had a map of the country, and it looked just as safe to him
to go on down the river as to go wandering across a dry and desolate
country which we knew nothing of. I said to McMahon--"I know this sign
language pretty well. It is used by almost all the Indians and is just
as plain and certain to me as my talk is to you. Chief Walker and his
forefathers were borne here and know the country as well as you know
your father's farm, and for my part, I think I shall take one of his
trails and go to Salt Lake and take the chances that way. I have no
objections to you going some other way if you wish to and think it is
best". McMahon and Fields concluded they would not follow me any

I then went to Chief Walker and had him point out the trail to
"Mormonie" as well as he could. He told me where to enter the mountains
leading north, and when we got part way he told me we would come to an
Indian camp, when I must follow some horse tracks newly made; he made me
know this by using his hands like horse's forefeet, and pointed the way.

Some of the young men motioned for me to come out and shoot at a mark
with them, and as I saw it would please them I did so and took good care
to beat them every time too. Then they wanted to swap (narawaup) guns
with me which I declined doing. After this the Chief came to me and
wanted me to go and hunt buffalo with them. I told him I had no horse,
and then he went and had a nice gray one brought up and told me I could
ride him if I would go. He took his bow and arrow and showed me how he
could shoot an arrow straight through a buffalo just back of his short
ribs and that the arrow would go clear through and come out on the other
side without touching a bone. Those fellows were in fine spirit, on a
big hunt, and when Walker pointed out his route to me he swung his hand
around to Salt Lake.

They all spoke the word buffalo quite plainly. I took his strong bow and
found I could hardly pull it half way out, but I have no doubt he could
do as he said he could. I hardly knew how to refuse going with him. I
asked him how long it would be before he would get around his long
circuit and get to Salt Lake, to which he replied by pulverizing some
leaves in his hands and scattering them in the air to represent snow,
which would fall by the time he got to "Mormonee". I shivered as he said
this and by his actions I saw that I understood him right.

I told him I could not go with him for the other boys would depend on me
to get them something to eat, and I put my finger into my open mouth to
tell him this. I think if I had been alone I should have accepted his
offer and should have had a good time. I gave them to understand that we
would swap (narawaup) with them for some horses so he brought up a pair
of nice two year-old colts for us. I offered him some money for them, he
did not want that, but would take clothing of almost any kind. We let
them have some that we could get along without, and some one let Walker
have a coat. He put it on, and being more warmly dressed than ever
before, the sweat ran down his face in streams. We let them have some
needles and thread and some odd notions we had to spare. We saw that
Walker had some three or four head of cattle with him which he could
kill if they did not secure game at the time they expected.

McMahon and Field still persisted they would not go with us and so we
divided our little stock of flour and dried meat with them as fairly as
possible and decided we would try the trail. When our plans were settled
we felt in pretty good spirits again, and one of the boys got up a sort
of corn-stalk fiddle which made a squeaking noise and in a little while
there was a sort of mixed American and Indian dance going on in which
the squaws joined in and we had a pretty jolly time till quite late at
night. We were well pleased that these wild folks had proved themselves
to be true friends to us.

The morning we were to start I told the boys a dream I had in which I
had seen that the course we had decided on was the correct one, but
McMahon and Field thought we were foolish and said they had rather take
the chances of going with the Indians, or going on down the river. He
seemed to place great stress on the fact that he could not understand
the Indians.

Said he:--"This Indian may be all right, and maybe he will lead us all
into a dreadful trap. They are treacherous and revengeful, and for some
merely fancied wrong done by us, or by some one else of whom we have no
control or knowledge, they may take our scalps, wipe us out of existence
and no one will ever know what became of us. Now this map of mine don't
show any bad places on this river, and I believe we can get down easily
enough, and get to California some time. Field and I cannot make up our
minds so easily as you fellows. I believe your chances are very poor."

The boys now had our few things loaded on the two colts, for they had
fully decided to go with me, and I was not in the least put back by
McMahon's dire forebodings. We shook hands with quivering lips as we each
hoped the other would meet good luck, and find enough to eat and all
such sort of friendly talk, and then with my little party on the one
side and McMahon and Field, whom we were to leave behind, on the other,
we bowed to each other with bared heads, and then we started out of the
little young cottonwoods into the broad plain that seemed to get wider
and wider as we went west.

The mountains on the northern side grew smaller and less steep as we
went west, and on the other hand reached down the river as far as we
could see. The plain itself was black and barren and for a hundred miles
at least ahead of us it seemed to have no end. Walker had explained to
us that we must follow some horse tracks and enter a cañon some miles to
the northwest. He had made his hands work like horses' feet, placing
then near the ground as if following a trail, We were not much more than
a mile away when on looking back, we saw Chief Walker coming towards us
on a horse at full speed; and motioning for us to stop. This we did,
though some of the boys said we would surely be marched back and
scalped. But it was not for that he came. He had been watching us and
saw that we had failed to notice the tracks of the horses he told us
about so he rode after us, and now took us off some little distance to
the right, got off his horse and showed us the faint horse tracks which
we were to follow and said "Mormonie". He pointed out to us the exact
cañon we were to enter when we reached the hills; and said after three
"sleeps" we would find an Indian camp on top of the mountain. He then
bade us good bye again and galloped back to his own camp.

We now resumed our journey, keeping watch of the tracks more closely,
and as we came near the spurs of the mountain which projected out into
the barren valley we crossed several well marked trails running along
the foot hills, at right angles to our own. This we afterwards learned
was the regular trail from Santa Fé to Los Angeles. At some big rocks
further on we camped for the night, and found water in some pools or
holes in the flat rocks which held the rain.

Reading people of to-day, who know so well the geography of the American
continent, may need to stop and think that in 1849 the whole region west
of the Missouri River was very little known, the only men venturesome
enough to dare to travel over it were hunters and trappers who, by a
wild life had been used to all the privations of such a journey, and
shrewd as the Indians themselves in the mysterious ways of the trail and
the chase. Even these fellows had only investigated certain portions
best suited to their purpose.

The Indians here have the reputation of being blood thirsty savages who
took delight in murder and torture, but here, in the very midst of this
wild and desolate country we found a Chief and his tribe, Walker and his
followers who were as humane and kind to white people as could be
expected of any one. I have often wondered at the knowledge of this man
respecting the country, of which he was able to make us a good map in
the sand, point out to us the impassable cañon, locate the hostile
indians, and many points which were not accurately known by our own
explorers for many years afterward. He undoubtedly saved our little band
from a watery grave, for without his advice we had gone on and on, far
into the great Colorado cañon, from which escape would have been
impossible and securing food another impossibility, while destruction by
hostile indians was among the strong probabilities of the case. So in a
threefold way I have for these more than forty years credited the lives
of myself and comrades to the thoughtful interest and humane
consideration of old Chief Walker.

In another pool or pond near the one where we were camped I shot a small
duck. Big sage was plenty here for fuel and we had duck for supper. Our
party consisted of five men and two small ponies only two years old,
with a stock of provisions very small including that the old chief had
given us. We started on in the morning, following our faint trail till
we came to the cañon we had in view, and up this we turned as we had
been directed, finding in the bottom a little running stream. Timber
began to appear as we ascended, and grass also. There were signs of deer
and grouse but we had no time to stop to hunt, for I had the only gun
and while I hunted the others must lie idly by. We reached the summit at
a low pass, and just above, on the north side of the higher mountains
were considerable banks of snow. Following the Chief's instructions we
left the trail and followed some horse tracks over rolling hills, high
on the mountain side. We found the Indian camp exactly as the Chief had
described, consisting of two or three lodges. The men were all absent
hunting, but the women were gathering and baking some sort of a root
which looked like a carrot. They made a pile of several bushels and
covered it with earth, then made a fire, treating the pile some as a
charcoal burner does his pit of coal. When sufficiently cooked they beat
them up and made the material into small cakes which were dried in the
sun. The dried cakes were as black as coal and intended for winter use.
These roots before roasting were unfit for food, as they contained a
sort of acrid juice that would make the tongue smart and very sore but
there was a very good rich taste when cooked. The woman pointed to our
horses and said "Walker", so we knew they were aware that we got them of
him, and might have taken us for horse thieves for aught I know. As it
was not yet night when we came to the camp, we passed on and camped on a
clear mountain brook where grew some pine trees. After a little some of
the Indians belonging to the camp we had passed came in, bringing some
venison, for which we traded by giving them some needles and a few other
trinkets. I beat these fellows shooting at a mark, and then they wanted
to trade guns, which I declined. This piece of meat helped us along
considerably with our provisions, for game was very scarce and only some
sage hens had come across our trail. One day I scared a hawk off the
ground, and we took the sage hen he had caught and was eating, and made
some soup of it.

After being on this trail six or seven days we began to think of killing
one of our colts for food, for we had put ourselves on two meals a day
and the work was very hard; so that hunger was all the time increasing.
We thought this was a pretty long road for Walker to ride over in three
sleeps as he said he could, and we began also to think there might be
some mistake somewhere, although it had otherwise turned out just as he
said. On the eighth day our horse-tracks came out into a large trail
which was on a down grade leading in a northward direction. On the ninth
day we came into a large valley, and near night came in sight of a few
covered wagons, a part of a train that intended going on a little later
over the southern route to Los Angeles but were waiting for the weather
to get a little cooler, for a large part of the route was over almost
barren deserts. We were very glad to find these wagons, for they seemed
to have plenty of food and the bountiful supper they treated us to was
the very thing we needed. We camped here and told them of the hardships
we had passed through. They had hired a guide, each wagon paying him ten
dollars for his service. Our little party talked over the situation
among ourselves, and concluded that as we were good walkers we must
allow ourselves to be used in any way so that we had grub and concluded
as many of us as possible would try to get some service to do for our
board and walk along with the party. John Rogers had a dollar and a half
and I had thirty dollars, which was all the money we had in our camp. We
found out we were about 60 miles south of Salt Lake City. Some of the
boys next day arranged to work for their board, and the others would be
taken along if they would furnish themselves with flour and bacon. This
part of the proposition fell to me and two others, and so Hazelrig and I
took the two colts and started for the city, where they told us we could
get all we needed with our little purse of money. We reached Hobble
Creek before night, near Salt Lake where there was a Mormon fort, and
were also a number of wagons belonging to some prospecting train. There
seemed to be no men about and we were looking about among the wagons for
some one to inquire of, when a woman came to the front of the last wagon
and looked out at us, and to my surprise it was Mrs. Bennett, wife of
the man I had been trying to overtake ever since my start on this long
trip. Bennett had my entire outfit with him on this trip and was all the
time wondering whether I would ever catch up with them. We stayed till
the men came in with their cattle towards night, and Bennett was glad
enough to see me, I assure you. We had a good substantial supper and
then sat around the campfire nearly all night telling of our experience
since leaving Wisconsin. I had missed Bennett at the Missouri River. I
knew of no place where people crossed the river except Council Bluff,
here I had searched faithfully, finding no trace of him, but it seems
they had crossed farther up at a place called Kanesville, a Mormon
crossing, and followed up the Platte river on the north side. Their only
bad luck had been to lose a fine black horse, which was staked out, and
when a herd of buffaloes came along he broke his rope and followed after
them. He was looked for with other horses, but never found and doubtless
became a prize for some enterprising Mr. Lo. who was fortunate enough to
capture him. Hazelrig and I told of our experience on the south side of
the Platte; why we went down Green River; what a rough time we had; how
we were stopped by the Indians and how we had come across from the
river, arriving the day before and were now on our way to Salt Lake to
get some flour and bacon so we could go on with the train when it
started as they had offered to haul our grub for our service if we could
carry ourselves on foot.

Mr. Bennett would not hear of my going on to Salt Lake City, for he said
there must be provisions enough in the party and in the morning we were
able to buy flour and bacon of John Philips of Mineral Point Wis. and of
Wm. Philips his brother. I think we got a hundred pounds of flour and a
quantity of bacon and some other things. I had some money which I had
received for my horse sold to Dallas, but as the others had none I paid
for it all, and told Hazelrig to take the ponies and go back to camp
with a share of the provisions and do the best he could. I had now my
own gun and ammunition, with some clothing and other items which I had
prepared in Wisconsin before I started after my Winnebago pony, and I
felt I ought to share the money I had with the other boys to help them
as best I could. I felt that I was pretty well fixed and had nothing to

Mr. Bennett told me much of the trip on the north side of the Platte. He
said they had some cholera, of which a few people died, and related how
the outer if not the inner nature of the men changed as they left
civilization, law and the courts behind them. Some who had been raised
together, and lived together all their lives without discord or trouble,
who were considered model men at home and just the right people to be
connected with in such an expedition, seemed to change their character
entirely out on these wild wastes. When anything excited their
displeasure their blood boiled over, and only the interference of older
and wiser heads on many occasions prevented bloodshed. Some dissolved
the solemn contract they had made to travel together systematically and
in order and to stand, by, even unto death, and when they reached the
upper Platte, the journey only half over, talked of going back, or
splitting up the outfit and join others they had taken a fancy to. Some
who could not agree upon a just division of a joint outfit, thinking one
party was trying to cheat, would not yield but would cut their wagons in
two lengthwise just for spite so that no carts could be made and the
whole vehicle spoiled for both parties. The ugly disagreements were many
and the cloven foot was shown in many ways. Guns were often drawn and
pointed but some one would generally interfere and prevent bloodshed.
Others were honest and law abiding to the last degree beyond law and
churches, and would act as harmoniously as at home, obeying their chosen
captain in the smallest particular without any grumbling or dissension,
doing to every one as they would be done by. These were the pride of the
train. The trains were most of them organized, and all along the river
bottom one was hardly ever out of sight of some of the wagons, all going
west. Buffalo and antelope were plenty and in great droves, followed
always by wolves great and small, who were on the lookout for crippled
or dead animals with which to fill their hungry stomachs. Buffalo meat
was plenty and much enjoyed while passing this section of the road and
this opportunity of replenishing, enabled the stock to last them over
more desolate regions where game was scarce.

After Bennett had told his stories, and I had related more of our own
close escapes I began to ask him why he went this way which seemed to be
very circuitous and much longer than the way they had first intended to
go. He said that it was too late in the season to go the straight-road
safely, for there was yet 700 miles of bad country to cross and do the
best they could it would be at the commencement of the rainy season
before the Sierra Nevada mountains could be reached and in those
mountains there was often a snow fall of 20 feet or more, and anyone
caught in it would surely perish. If they tried to winter at the base of
the mountains it was a long way to get provisions, and no assurance of
wild game, and this course was considered very hazardous for any one to
undertake. This they had learned after consulting mountaineers and
others who knew about the regions, and as there was nothing doing among
the Latter Day Saints to give employment to any one, it was decided best
to keep moving and go the southern route by way of Los Angeles. No
wagons were reported as ever getting through that way, but a trail had
been traveled through that barren desert country for perhaps a hundred
years, and the same could be easily broadened into a wagon road.

After days of argument and camp-fire talks, this Southern route was
agreed upon, and Capt. Hunt was chosen as guide. Capt. Hunt was a
Mormon, and had more than one wife, but he had convinced them that he
knew something about the road. Each agreed to give him ten dollars to
pilot the train to San Bernardino where the Mormon Church had bought a
Spanish grant of land, and no doubt they thought a wagon road to that
place would benefit them greatly, and probably gave much encouragement
for the parties to travel this way. It was undoubtedly safer than the
northern mountain route at this season of the year. It seemed at least
to be a new venture for west-bound emigrant trains, at least as to
ultimate success, for we had no knowledge of any that had gone through

Some western people remembered the history of the Mormons in Illinois
and Missouri, and their doings there, feared somewhat for their own
safety now that they were so completely under their power, for they knew
the Mormons to be revengeful and it was considered very unsafe for any
traveler to acknowledge he was from Missouri. Many a one who had been
born there, and lived there all his life, would promptly claim some
other state as his native place. I heard one Mormon say that there were
some Missourians on the plains that would never reach California. "They
used us bad," said he, and his face took on a really murderous look.

These Mormons at Salt Lake were situated as if on an island in the sea,
and no enemy could reach any adjoining state or territory if Brigham
Young's band of destroying angels were only warned to look after them.

At a late hour that night we lay down to sleep, and morning came clear
and bright. After breakfast Mr. Bennett said to me:--"Now Lewis I want
you to go with me; I have two wagons and two drivers and four yoke of
good oxen and plenty of provisions. I have your outfit yet, your gun and
ammunition and your two good hickory shirts which are just in time for
your present needs. You need not do any work. You just look around and
kill what game you can for us, and this will help as much as anything,
you can do." I was, of course glad to accept this offer, and thanks to
Mr. Bennett's kind care of my outfit, was better fixed then any of the
other boys.

We inquired around among the other wagons as to their supply of flour
and bacon; and succeeded to getting flour from Mr. Philips and bacon
from some of the others, as much as we supposed the other boys would
need, which I paid for, and when this was loaded on the two colts
Hazelrig started back alone to the boys in camp. As I was so well
provided for I gave him all my money for they might need some, and I did

The wagons which composed the intended train were very much scattered
about, having moved out from Salt Lake at pleasure, and it was said to
be too early to make the start on the southern route, for the weather on
the hot, barren desert was said to grow cooler a little later in the
season, and it was only at this cool season that the south west part of
the desert could be crossed in safety. The scattering members of the
train began to congregate, and Capt. Hunt said it was necessary to have
some sort of system about the move, and that before they moved they must
organize and adopt rules and laws which must be obeyed. He said they
must move like an army, and that he was to be a dictator in all things
except that in case of necessity a majority of the train could rule
otherwise. It was thought best to get together and try a march out one
day, then go in camp and organize.

This they did, and at the camp there was gathered one hundred and seven
wagons, a big drove of horses and cattle, perhaps five hundred in all.
The train was divided into seven divisions and each division was to
elect its own captain. Division No. 1 should lead the march the first
day, and their men should take charge of the stock and deliver them to
the wagons in the morning, and then No. 1 should take the rear, with No.
2 in the lead to break the road. The rear division would not turn a
wheel before 10 o'clock the next day, and it would be about that time at
night before they were in camp and unyoked. The numbers of animals
cleaned out the feed for a mile or two each side of the camp and a
general meeting was called for the organization of the whole. Mr. L.
Granger got up so he could look over the audience and proceeded to
explain the plan and to read a preamble and resolutions which had been
prepared as the basis for government. I remember that it begun
thus:--"This Organization shall be known and designated as the Sand
Walking Company, and shall consist of seven divisions etc," detailing
the manner of marching as we have recited. Capt J. Hunt was chosen
commander and guide, and his orders must be obeyed. All possible trouble
that we could imagine might come was provided against in our written
agreement, and all promised to live up to it.


We moved off in good style from this camp. After a day or two and before
we reached what is called Little Salt Lake, an attempt was made to make
a short cut, to save distance. The train only went on this cut off a day
or two when Capt. Hunt came back from the front and said they had better
turn back to the old trail again, which all did. This was a bad move,
the train much broken and not easy to get them into regular working
order again. We were now approaching what they called the Rim of the
Basin. Within the basin the water all ran to the north or toward Great
Salt Lake, but when we crossed the rim, all was toward the Colorado
River, through which it reached the Pacific Ocean. About this time we
were overtaken by another train commanded by Capt. Smith. They had a map
with them made by one Williams of Salt Lake a mountaineer who was
represented to know all the routes through all the mountains of Utah,
and this map showed a way to turn off from the southern route not far
from the divide which separated the waters of the basin from those which
flowed toward the Colorado, and pass over the mountains, coming out in
what they called Tulare valley, much nearer than by Los Angeles.

This map was quite frequently exhibited and the matter freely discussed
in camp, indeed speeches were made in the interest of the cut-off route
which was to be so much shorter. A clergyman, the Rev. J.W. Brier, was
very enthusiastic about this matter and discoursed learnedly and
plausibly about it. The more the matter was talked about the more there
were who were converted to the belief that the short road would be the
best. The map showed every camp on the road and showed where there was
water and grass, and as to obstacles to the wagons it was thought they
could easily be overcome. A general meeting was called for better
consideration of the question. Capt. Hunt said: "You all know I was
hired to go by way of Los Angeles, but if you all wish to go and follow
Smith I will go also. But if even one wagon decides to go the original
route, I shall feel bound to go with that wagon."

A great many were anxious to get the opinion of Capt. Hunt on the
feasibility of the new route for he was a mountain man and could
probably give us some good advice. He finally consented to talk of it,
and said he really knew no more then the others about this particular
route, but he very much doubted if a white man ever went over it, and
that he did not consider it at all safe for those who had wives and
children in their company to take the unknown road. Young men who had no
family could possibly get through, and save time even if the road was
not as good as Los Angeles road. But said he "If you decide to follow
Smith I will go will go with you, even if the road leads to Hell."

On the route from near Salt Lake to this point we found the country to
grow more barren as we progressed. The grass was thinner, and sage brush
took the place of timber. Our road took us in sight of Sevier Lake, and
also, while going through the low hills, passed Little Salt Lake, which
was almost dry, with a beach around it almost as white as snow. It might
have had a little more the dignity of a lake in wet weather, but it was
a rather dry affair as we saw it.

At one point on this route we came into a long narrow valley, well
covered with sage brush, and before we had gone very far we discovered
that this was a great place for long eared rabbits, we would call them
Jack Rabbits now. Every one who had a gun put it into service on this
occasion, and there was much popping and shooting on every side. Great
clouds of smoke rolled up as the hunters advanced and the rabbits ran in
every direction to get away. Many ran right among the horses, and under
the feet of the cattle and under the wagons, so that the teamsters even
killed some with a whip. At the end of the valley we went into camp, and
on counting up the game found we had over 500, or about one for every
person in camp. This gave us a feast of fresh meat not often found.

It was on this trip that one of Mr. Bennett's ox drivers was taken with
a serious bowel difficulty, and for many days we thought he would die,
but he eventually recovered. His name was Silas Helmer.

It was really a serious moment when the front of the train reached the
Smith trail. Team after team turned to the right while now and then one
would keep straight ahead as was at first intended. Capt. Hunt came over
to the larger party after the division was made, and wished them all a
hearty farewell and a pleasant happy journey. My friend Bennett whose
fortune I shared was among the seceders who followed the Smith party.
This point, when our paths diverged was very near the place afterward
made notorious as Mountain Meadows, where the famous massacre took place
under the direction of the Mormon generals. Our route from here up to
the mountain was a very pleasant one, steadily up grade, over rolling
hills, with wood, water and grass in plenty. We came at last to what
seemed the summit of a great mountain, about three days journey on the
new trail. Juniper trees grew about in bunches, and my experience with
this timber taught me that we were on elevated ground.

Immediately in front of us was a cañon, impassible for wagons, and down
into this the trail descended. Men could go, horses and mules, perhaps,
but wagons could no longer follow that trail, and we proposed to camp
while explorers were sent out to search a pass across this steep and
rocky cañon. Wood and bunch grass were plenty, but water was a long way
down the trail and had to be packed up to the camp. Two days passed, and
the parties sent out began to come in, all reporting no way to go
farther with the wagons. Some said the trail on the west side of the
cañon could be ascended on foot by both men and mules, but that it would
take years to make it fit for wheels.

The enthusiasm about the Smith cut-off had begun to die and now the talk
began of going back to follow Hunt. On the third morning a lone traveler
with a small wagon and one yoke of oxen, died. He seemed to be on this
journey to seek to regain his health. He was from Kentucky, but I have
forgotten his name. Some were very active about his wagon and, some
thought too much attention was paid to a stranger. He was decently
buried by the men of the company.

This very morning a Mr. Rynierson called the attention of the crowd and
made some remarks upon the situation. He said: "My family is near and
dear to me. I can see by the growth of the timber that we are in a very
elevated place. This is now the seventh of November, it being the fourth
at the time of our turning off on this trail. We are evidently in a
country where snow is liable to fall at any time in the winter season,
and if we were to remain here and be caught in a severe storm we should
all probably perish. I, for one, feel in duty bound to seek a safer way
than this. I shall hitch up my oxen and return at once to the old trail.
Boys (to his teamsters) get the cattle and we'll return." This was
decisive, and Mr. Rynierson would tarry no longer. Many others now
proceeded to get ready and follow, and as Mr. Rynierson drove out of
camp quite a respectable train fell in behind him. As fast as the
hunters came in and reported no road available, they also yoked up their
oxen and rolled out. Some waited awhile for companions yet in the
fields, and all were about ready to move, when a party came in with news
that the pass was found and no trouble could be seen ahead. About
twenty-seven wagons remained when this news came, and as their
proprietors had brought good news they agreed to travel on westward and
not go back to the old trail.

Mr. Bennett had gone only a short distance out when he had the
misfortune to break the axle of his wagon and he then went back to camp
and took an axle out of the dead man's wagon and by night had it fitted
into his own. He had to stay until morning, and there were still a few
others who were late in getting a start, who camped there also. Among
these were J.B. Arcane, wife and child; two Earhart brothers and sons
and some two or three other wagons.

When all was ready we followed the others who had gone ahead. The route
led at first directly to the north and a pass was said to be in that
direction. Of the Green River party only Rodgers and myself remained
with this train. After the wagons straightened out nicely, a meeting was
called to organize, so as to travel systematically. A feeling was very
manifest that those without any families did not care to bind themselves
to stand by and assist those who had wives and children in their party
and there was considerable debate, which resulted in all the family
wagons being left out of the arrangements.

A party who called themselves "The Jayhawkers" passed us, and we
followed along in the rear, over rolling hills covered with juniper
timber, and small grassy valleys between where there was plenty of water
and went well, for those before us had broken out the road so we could
roll along very pleasantly.

At the organization Jim Martin was chosen captain. Those who were
rejected were Rev. J.W. Brier and, his family, J.B. Arcane and family,
and Mr. A. Bennett and family, Mr. Brier would not stay put out, but
forced himself in, and said he was going with the rest, and so he did.
But the other families remained behind. I attended the meeting and heard
what was said, but Mr. Bennett was my friend and had been faithful to me
and my property when he knew not where I was, and so I decided to stand
by him and his wife at all hazards.

As I had no team to drive I took every opportunity to climb the
mountains along the route, reaching the highest elevations even if they
were several miles from the trail. I sometimes remained out all night. I
took Mr. Arcane's field glass with me and was thus able to see all there
was of the country. I soon became satisfied that going north was not
taking us in the direction we ought to go. I frequently told them so,
but they still persisted in following on. I went to the leaders and told
them we were going back toward Salt Lake again, not making any headway
toward California. They insisted they were following the directions of
Williams, the mountaineer; and they had not yet got as far north as he
indicated. I told them, and Mr. Bennett and others, that we must either
turn west, or retrace our steps and get back into the regular Los
Angeles road again. In the morning we held another consultation and
decided to turn west here, and leave the track we had been following.

Off we turned at nearly right angles to our former course, to the west
now, over a piece of table land that gave us little trouble in breaking
our own road. When we camped, the oxen seemed very fond of a white weed
that was very plenty, and some borrowed a good deal of trouble thinking
that perhaps it might be poison. I learned afterwards that this plant
was the nutritious white sage, which cattle eat freely, with good
results. We now crossed a low range and a small creek running south, and
here were also some springs. Some corn had been grown here by the
Indians. Pillars of sand stone, fifteen feet high and very slim were
round about in several places and looked strange enough. The next piece
of table land sloped to the east, and among the sage grew also a bunch
grass a foot high, which had seeds like broom-corn seeds. The Indians
had gathered the grass and made it in piles of one hundred pounds or so,
and used it for food as I found by examining their camps.

One day I climbed a high mountain where some pine grew, in order to get
a view of the country. As I neared its base I came to a flat rock,
perhaps fifty feet square. I heard some pounding noise as I came near,
but what ever it was, it ceased on my approach. There were many signs of
the rock being used as a camp, such as pine burrs, bones of various
kinds of animals, and other remains of food which lay every where about
and on the rock. Near the center was a small oblong stone fitted into a
hole. I took it out and found it covered a fine well of water about
three feet deep and was thus protected against any small animal being
drowned in it. I went on up the mountain and from the top I saw that the
land west of us looked more and more barren.

The second night the brave Jayhawkers who had been so firm in going
north hove in sight in our rear. They had at last concluded to accept my
advice and had came over our road quite rapidly. We all camped together
that night, and next morning they took the lead again. After crossing a
small range they came to a basin which seemed to have no outlet, and was
very barren. Some of the boys in advance of the teams had passed over
this elevation and were going quite rapidly over the almost level plain
which sloped into the basin, when they saw among the bunches of sage
brush behind them a small party of Indians following their road, not
very far off, but still out of bow and arrow range. The boys were
suddenly able to take much longer steps than usual and a little more
rapidly too, and swinging round toward the teams as soon as possible,
for they already had some fears that an arrow might be sticking in their
backs in an unpleasantly short space of time, for the Indians were good
travelers. When they came in sight of the wagons, the Indians vanished
as quickly as if they had gone into a hole, with no sign remaining,
except a small dog which greatly resembled a prairie wolf, and kept a
safe distance away. No one could imagine where the fellows went so

We drove to the west side of this basin and camped near the foot of a
low mountain. The cattle were driven down into the basin where there was
some grass, but at camp we had only the water in our kegs.

Some of the boys climbed the mountain on the north but found no springs:
Coming down a cañon they found some rain water in a basin in the rocks
and all took a good drink. Lew West lay down and swallowed all he could
and then told the boys to kill him for he never would feel so good
again. They finished the pool, it was so small, before they left it. In
going on down the cañon they saw an Indian dodge behind some big rocks,
and searching, they found him in a cave as still as a dead man. They
pulled him out and made him go with them, and tried every way to find
out from him where they were and where Owen's Lake was, as they had been
told the lake was on their route. But he proved to be no wiser than a
man of mud, and they led him along to camp, put a red flannel shirt on
him to cover his nakedness, and made him sleep between two white men so
he could not get away easily. In the morning they were more successful,
and he showed us a small ravine four miles away which had water in it,
enough for our use, and we moved up and camped there, while the boys and
the Indian started over a barren, rocky mountain, and when over on the
western slope they were led to a water hole on a steep rocky cliff where
no one but an Indian would ever think of looking for water. They took
out their cups and had a good drink all around, then offered the Indian
some, but he disdained the civilized way, and laying down his bow and
arrows took a long drink directly out of the pool. He was so long in
getting a good supply that the boys almost forgot him as they were
gazing over the distant mountain and discussing prospects, till
attracted by a slight noise they looked and saw Mr. Indian going down
over the cliffs after the fashion of a mountain sheep, and in a few
bounds he was out of sight. They could not have killed him if they had
tried, the move so sudden and unlooked for. They had expected the fellow
to show them the way to Owen's lake, but now their guide was gone, and
left nothing to remember him by except his bow and arrows. So they
returned to their wagons not much wiser than before.

All kinds of game was now very scarce, and so seldom seen that the men
got tired of carrying their guns, and grew fearless of enemies. A heavy
rifle was indeed burdensome over so long a road when there was no
frequent use for it. The party kept rolling along as fast as possible
but the mountains and valleys grew more barren and water more scarce all
the time. When found, the water would be in hole at the outlet of some
cañon, or in little pools which had filled up with rain that had fallen
on the higher ground. Not a drop of rain had fallen on us since we
started on this cut-off, and every night was clear and warm. The
elevated parts of the country seemed to be isolated buttes, with no
running streams between them but instead, dry lakes with a smooth clay
bed, very light in color and so hard that the track of an ox could not
be seen on its glittering surface. At a distance those clay beds looked
like water shining in the sun and were generally about three times as
far as any one would judge, the air was so clear. This mirage, or
resemblance to water was so perfect as often to deceive us, and almost
to our ruin on one or two occasions.

I took Arcane's field glass and took pains to ascend all the high buttes
within a day's walk of the road, and this enabled me to get a good
survey of the country north and west. I would sometimes be gone two or
three days with no luggage but my canteen and gun. I was very cautious
in regard to Indians, and tried to keep on the safe side of surprises. I
would build a fire about dark and then travel on till I came to a small
washed place and lie down and stay till morning, so if Mr. Indian did
come to my fire he would not find any one to kill. One day I was going
up a wide ravine leading to the summit, and before I reached the highest
part I saw a smoke curl up before me. I took a side ravine and went
cautiously, bowed down pretty low so no one could see me, and when near
the top of the ridge and about one hundred yards of the fire I ventured
to raise slowly up and take a look to see how many there were in camp: I
could see but two and as I looked across the ravine an Indian woman
seemed looking at me also, but I was so low she could only see the top
of my head, and I sank down again out of sight. I crawled further up so
as to get a better view, and when I straightened up again she got a full
view of me. She instantly caught her infant off its little pallet made
of a small piece of thin wood covered with a rabbit skin, and putting
the baby under one arm, and giving a smart jerk to a small girl that was
crying to the top of her voice, she bounded off and fairly flew up the
gentle slope toward the summit, the girl following after very close. The
woman's long black hair stood out as she rushed along, looking over her
shoulder every instant as if she expected to be slain. The mother flying
with her children, untrammeled with any of the arts of fashion was the
best natural picture I ever looked upon, and wild in the extreme. No
living artist could do justice to the scene as the lady of the desert,
her little daughter and her babe, passed over the summit out of sight. I
followed, but when I reached the highest summit, no living person could
be seen. I looked the country over with my glass. The region to the
north was black rocky, and very mountainous. I looked some time and then
concluded I had better not go any further that way, for I might be
waylaid and filled with arrows at some unsuspected moment. We saw Indian
signs almost every day, but as none of them ever came to our camp it was
safe to say they were not friendly. I now turned back and examined the
Indian woman's camp. She had only fire enough to make a smoke. Her
conical shaped basket left behind, contained a few poor arrows and some
cactus leaves, from which the spines had been burned, and there lay the
little pallet where the baby was sleeping. It was a bare looking kitchen
for hungry folks.

I now went to the top of a high butte and scanned the country very
carefully, especially to the west and north, and found it very barren.
There were no trees, no fertile valleys nor anything green. Away to the
west some mountains stood out clear and plain, their summits covered
white with snow. This I decided was our objective point: Very little
snow could be seen elsewhere, and between me and the snowy mountains lay
a low, black rocky range, and a wide level plain, that had no signs of
water, as I had learned them in our trip thus far across the country.
The black range seemed to run nearly north and south, and to the north
and northwest the country looked volcanic, black and desolate.

As I looked and thought, I believed that we were much farther from a
fertile region then most of our party had any idea of. Such of them as
had read Fremont's travels, and most of them going to California had
fortified themselves before starting by reading Fremont; said that the
mountains were near California and were fertile from their very summits
down to the sea, but that to the east of the mountains it was a desert
region for hundred of miles. As I explained it to them, and so they soon
saw for themselves, they believed that the snowy range ahead of us was
the last range to cross before we entered the long-sought California,
and it seemed not far off, and prospect quite encouraging.

Our road had been winding around among the buttes which looked like the
Indian baskets turned upside down on the great barren plain. What water
we found was in small pools in the wash-out places near the foothills at
the edge of the valley, probably running down the ravines after some
storm. There were dry lake beds scattered around over the plain, but it
did not seem as if there had ever been volume of water enough lately to
force itself out so far into the plain as these lakes were. All the
lakes appeared about the same, the bed white and glistening in the sun,
which made it very hard for the eyes, and so that a man in passing over
it made no visible track. It looked as if it one time might have been a
smooth bed of plastic mortar, and had hardened in the sun. It looked as
if there must have been water there sometime, but we had not seen a
drop, or a single cloud; every day was clear and sunny, and very warm,
and at night no stars forgot to shine.

Our oxen began to look bad, for they had poor food. Grass had been very
scarce, and now when we unyoked them and turned them out they did not
care to look around much for something to eat. They moved slowly and
cropped disdainfully the dry scattering shrubs and bunches of grass from
six inches to a foot high. Spending many nights and days on such dry
food and without water they suffered fearfully, and though fat and sleek
when we started from Salt Lake, they now looked gaunt and poor, and
dragged themselves slowly along, poor faithful servants of mankind. No
one knew how long before we might have to kill some of them to get food
to save our own lives.

We now traveled several days down the bed of a broad ravine, which led
to a southwest direction. There seemed to be a continuous range of
mountains on the south, but to the north was the level plain with
scattered buttes, and what we had all along called dry lakes, for up to
this time we had seen no water in any of them. I had carried my rifle
with me every day since we took this route, and though I was an
experienced hunter, a professional one if there be such a thing, I had
killed only one rabbit, and where no game lived I got as hungry as other

Our line soon brought us in sight of a high butte which stood apparently
about 20 miles south of our route, and I determined to visit and climb
it to get a better view of things ahead. I walked steadily all day and
reached the summit about dusk. I wandered around among the big rocks,
and found a projecting cliff where I would be protected from enemies,
wind or storm, and here I made my camp. While the light lasted I
gathered a small stock of fuel, which consisted of a stunted growth of
sage and other small shrubs, dry but not dead, and with this I built a
little fire Indian fashion and sat down close to it. Here was a good
chance for undisturbed meditation and someway I could not get around
doing a little meditating as I added a new bit of fuel now and then to
the small fire burning at my side. I thought it looked dark and
troublesome before us. I took a stone for a pillow with my hat on it for
a cushion, and lying down close under the shelving rock I went to sleep,
for I was very tired, I woke soon from being cold, for the butte was
pretty high, and so I busied myself the remainder of the night in adding
little sticks to the fire, which gave me some warmth, and thus in
solitude I spent the night. I was glad enough to see the day break over
the eastern mountains, and light up the vast barren country I could see
on every hand around me. When the sun was fairly up I took a good survey
of the situation, and it seemed as if pretty near all creation was in
sight. North and west was a level plain, fully one hundred miles wide it
seemed, and from anything I could see it would not afford a traveler a
single drink in the whole distance or give a poor ox many mouthfuls of
grass. On the western edge it was bounded by a low, black and rocky
range extending nearly north and south for a long distance and no pass
though it which I could see, and beyond this range still another one
apparently parallel to it. In a due west course from me was the high
peak we had been looking at for a month, and lowest place was on the
north side, which we had named Martin's Pass and had been trying so long
to reach. This high peak, covered with snow, glistened to the morning
sun, and as the air was clear from clouds or fog, and no dust or haze to
obscure the view, it seemed very near.

I had learned by experience that objects a day's walk distant seemed
close by in such a light, and that when clear lakes appeared only a
little distance in our front, we might search and search and never find
them. We had to learn how to look for water in this peculiar way. In my
Wisconsin travel I had learned that when I struck a ravine I must go
down to look for living water, but here we must invariably travel upward
for the water was only found in the high mountains.

Prospects now seemed to me so hopeless, that I heartily wished I was not
in duty bound to stand by the women and small children who could never
reach a land of bread without assistance. If I was in the position that
some of them were who had only themselves to look after, I could pick up
my knapsack and gun and go off, feeling I had no dependent ones to leave
behind. But as it was I felt I should be morally guilty of murder if I
should forsake Mr. Bennett's wife and children, and the family of Mr.
Arcane with whom I had been thus far associated. It was a dark line of
thought but I always felt better when I got around to the determination,
as I always did, to stand by my friends, their wives and children let
come what might.

I could see with my glass the train of wagons moving slowly over the
plain toward what looked to me like a large lake. I made a guess of the
point they would reach by night, and then took a straight course for it
all day long in steady travel. It was some time after dark, and I was
still a quarter of a mile from the camp fires, where in the bed of a
cañon I stepped into some mud, which was a sign of water. I poked around
in the dark for a while and soon found a little pool of it, and having
been without a drop of it for two days I lay down and took a hasty
drink. It did not seem to be very clear or clean, but it was certainly
wet, which was the main thing just then. The next morning I went to the
pond of water, and found the oxen had been watered there. They stirred
up the mud a good deal and had drank off about all the clean part, which
seemed to refresh them very much. I found the people in the camp on the
edge of the lake I had seen from the mountain, and fortunately it
contained about a quarter of an inch of water. They had dug some holes
here, which filled up, and they were using this water in the camp.

The ambitious mountain-climbers of our party had by this, time,
abandoned that sort of work, and I was left alone to look about and try
to ascertain the character of the road they were to follow. It was a
great deal to do to look out for food for the oxen and for water for the
camp, and besides all this it was plain there were Indians about even if
we did not see them. There were many signs, and I had to be always on
the lookout to outgeneral them. When the people found I was in camp this
night they came around to our wagons to know what I had seen and found,
and what the prospects were ahead. Above all they wanted to know how far
it was, in my opinion to the end of our journey. I listened to all their
inquiries and told them plainly what I had seen, and what I thought of
the prospect. I did not like telling the whole truth about it for fear
it might dampen their spirits, but being pressed for an opinion I told
them in plain words that it would at least be another month before their
journey would be ended. They seemed to think I ought to be pretty good
authority, and if I was not mistaken, the oxen would get very poor and
provisions very scarce before we could pull through so long. I was up at
day break and found Mr. Bennett sitting by the fire. About the first
thing he said:--"Lewis, if you please I don't want you hereafter to
express your views so openly and emphatically as you did last night
about our prospects. Last night when I went to bed I found Sarah (his
wife) crying and when pressed for the cause, she said she had heard your
remarks on the situation, and that if Lewis said so it must be correct,
for he knows more about it than all of you. She felt that she and the
children must starve."

In the morning Jayhawkers, and others of the train that were not
considered strictly of our own party, yoked up and started due west
across the level plain which I had predicted as having no water, and I
really thought they would never live to get across to the western
border. Mr. Culverwell and Mr. Fish stayed with us, making another wagon
in our train. We talked about the matter carefully, I did not think it
possible to get across that plain in less than four or six days, and I
did not believe there was a drop of water on the route. To the south of
us was a mountain that now had considerable snow upon its summit, and
some small pine trees also. Doubtless we could find plenty of water at
the base, but being due south, it was quite off our course. The
prospects for reaching water were so much better in that way that we
finally decided to go there rather than follow the Jayhawkers on their
desolate tramp over the dry plain.

So we turned up a cañon leading toward the mountain and had a pretty
heavy up grade and a rough bed for a road. Part way up we came to a high
cliff and in its face were niches or cavities as large as a barrel or
larger, and in some of them we found balls of a glistening substance
looking something like pieces of varigated candy stuck together. The
balls were as large as small pumpkins. It was evidently food of some
sort, and we found it sweet but sickish, and those who were so hungry as
to break up one of the balls and divide it among the others, making a
good meal of it, were a little troubled with nausea afterwards. I
considered it bad policy to rob the Indians of any of their food, for
they must be pretty smart people to live in this desolate country and
find enough to keep them alive, and I was pretty sure we might count
them as hostiles as they never came near our camp. Like other Indians
they were probably revengeful, and might seek to have revenge on us for
the injury. We considered it prudent to keep careful watch for them, so
they might not surprise us with a volley of arrows.

The second night we camped near the head of the cañon we had been
following, but thus far there had been no water, and only some stunted
sage brush for the oxen, which they did not like, and only ate it when
near the point of starvation. They stood around the camp looking as
sorry as oxen can. During the night a stray and crazy looking cloud
passed over us and left its moisture on the mountain to the shape of a
coat of snow several inches deep. When daylight came the oxen crowded
around the wagons, shivering with cold, and licking up the snow to
quench their thirst. We took pattern after them and melted snow to get
water for ourselves.

By the looks of our cattle it did not seem as if they could pull much,
and light loads were advisable on this up grade. Mr. Bennett was a
carpenter and had brought along some good tools in his wagon. These he
reluctantly unloaded, and almost everything else except bedding and
provisions, and leaving them upon the ground, we rolled up the hills
slowly, with loads as light as possible.

Rogers and I went ahead with our guns to look out the way and find a
good camping place. After a few miles we got out of the snow and out
upon an incline, and in the bright clear morning air the foot of the
snowy part of the mountain seemed near by and we were sure we could
reach it before night. From here no guide was needed and Rogers and I,
with our guns and canteens hurried on as fast as possible, when a camp
was found we were to raise a signal smoke to tell them where it was. We
were here, as before badly deceived as to the distance, and we marched
steadily and swiftly till nearly night before we reached the foot of the

Here was a flat place in a table land and on it a low brush hut, with a
small smoke near by, which we could plainly see as we were in the shade
of the mountain, and that place lighted up by the nearly setting sun. We
looked carefully and satisfied ourselves there was but one hut, and
consequently but few people could be expected. We approached carefully
and cautiously, making a circuit around so as to get between the hut and
the hill in case that the occupants should retreat in that direction. It
was a long time before we could see any entrance to this wickiup, but we
found it at last and approached directly in front, very cautiously
indeed: We could see no one, and thought perhaps they were in ambush for
us, but hardly probable, as we had kept closely out of sight. We
consulted a moment and concluded to make an advance and if possible
capture some one who could tell us about the country, as we felt we were
completely lost. When within thirty yards a man poked out his head out
of a doorway and drew it back again quick as a flash. We kept out our
guns at full cock and ready for use, and told Rogers to look out for
arrows, for they would come now if ever. But they did not pull a bow on
us, and the red-man, almost naked came out and beckoned for us to come
on which we did.

We tried to talk with the fellow in the sign language but he could
understand about as much as an oyster. I made a little basin in the
ground and filled it with water from our canteens to represent a lake,
then pointed in an inquiring way west and north, made signs of ducks and
geese flying and squawking, but I did no seem to be able to get an idea
into his head of what we wanted. I got thoroughly provoked at him and
may have shown some signs of anger. During all this time a child or two
in the hut squalled terribly, fearing I suppose they would all be
murdered. We might have lost our scalps under some circumstances, but we
appeared to be fully the strangest party, and had no fear, for the
Indian had no weapon about him and we had both guns and knives. The poor
fellow was shivering with cold, and with signs of friendship we fired
off one of the guns which waked him up a little and he pointed to the
gun and said "Walker," probably meaning the same good Chief Walker who
had so fortunately stopped us in our journey down Green River. I
understood from the Indian that he was not friendly to Walker, but to
show that he was all right with us he went into the hut and brought out
a handful of corn for us to eat. By the aid of a warm spring near by
they had raised some corn here, and the dry stalks were standing around.

As we were about to leave I told him we would come back, next day and
bring him some clothes if we could find any to spare, and then we
shouldered our guns and went back toward the wagons, looking over our
shoulders occasionally to see if we were followed. We walked fast down
the hill and reached the camp about dark to find it a most unhappy one
indeed. Mrs. Bennett and Mrs. Arcane were in heart-rending distress. The
four children were crying for water but there was not a drop to give
them, and none could be reached before some time next day. The mothers
were nearly crazy, for they expected the children would choke with
thirst and die in their arms, and would rather perish themselves than
suffer the agony of seeing their little ones gasp and slowly die. They
reproached themselves as being the cause of all this trouble. For the
love of gold they had left homes where hunger had never come, and often
in sleep dreamed of the bounteous tables of their old homes only to be
woefully disappointed in the morning. There was great gladness when John
Rogers and I appeared in the camp and gave the mothers full canteens of
water for themselves and little ones, and there was tears of joy and
thankfulness upon their cheeks as they blessed us over and over again.

The oxen fared very hard. The ground was made up of broken stone, and
all that grew was a dry and stunted brush not more than six inches high,
of which the poor animals took an occasional dainty bite, and seemed
hardly able to drag along.

It was only seven or eight miles to the warm spring and all felt better
to know for a certainty that we would soon be safe again. We started
early, even the women walked, so as to favor the poor oxen all we could.
When within two miles of the water some of the oxen lay down and refused
to rise again, so we had to leave them and a wagon, while the rest
pushed on and reached the spring soon after noon. We took water and went
back to the oxen left behind, and gave them some to drink. They were
somewhat rested and got up, and we tried to drive them in without the
wagons, but they were not inclined to travel without the yoke, so we put
it on them and hitched to the wagon again. The yoke and the wagon seemed
to brace them up a good deal, and they went along thus much better than
when alone and scattered about, with nothing to lean upon.

The warm spring was quite large and ran a hundred yards or more before
the water sank down into the dry and thirsty desert. The dry cornstalks
of last years crop, some small willows, sagebrush, weeds and grass
suited our animals very well, and they ate better than for a long time,
and we thought it best to remain two or three days to give them a chance
to get rest. The Indian we left here the evening before had gone and
left nothing behind but a chunk of crystallized rock salt. He seemed to
be afraid of his friends.

The range we had been traveling nearly parallel with seemed to come to
an end here where this snow peak stood, and immediately north and south
of this peak there seemed to be a lower pass. The continuous range north
was too low to hold snow. In the morning I concluded to go to the summit
of that pass and with my glass have an extensive view. Two other boys
started with me, and as we moved along the snow line we saw tracks of
our runaway Indian in the snow, passing over a low ridge. As we went on
up hill our boys began to fall behind, and long before night I could see
nothing of them. The ground was quite soft, and I saw many tracks of
Indians which put me on my guard. I reached the summit and as the shade
of its mountain began to make it a little dark, I built a fire of sage
brush, ate my grub, and when it was fairly dark, renewed the fire and
passed on a mile, where in a small ravine with banks two feet high I lay
down sheltered from the wind and slept till morning. I did this to beat
the Indian in his own cunning.

Next morning I reached the summit about nine o'clock, and had the
grandest view I ever saw. I could see north and south almost forever.
The surrounding region seemed lower, but much of it black, mountainous
and barren. On the west the snow peak shut out the view in that
direction. To the south the mountains seemed to descend for more than
twenty miles, and near the base, perhaps ten miles away, were several
smokes, apparently from camp fires, and as I could see no animals or
camp wagons anywhere I presumed them to be Indians. A few miles to the
north and east of where I stood, and somewhat higher, was the roughest
piece of ground I ever saw. It stood in sharp peaks and was of many
colors, some of them so red that the mountain looked red hot, I imagined
it to be a true volcanic point, and had never been so near one before,
and the most wonderful picture of grand desolation one could ever see.

Toward the north I could see the desert the Jayhawkers and their
comrades had under taken to cross, and if their journey was as
troublesome as ours and very much longer, they might by this time be all
dead of thirst. I remained on this summit an hour or so bringing my
glass to bear on all points within my view, and scanning closely for
everything that might help us or prove an obstacle to our progress. The
more I looked the more I satisfied myself that we were yet a long way
from California and the serious question of our ever living to get there
presented itself to me as I tramped along down the grade to camp. I put
down at least another month of heavy weary travel before we could hope
to make the land of gold, and our stock of strength and provisions were
both pretty small for so great a tax upon them. I thought so little
about anything else that the Indians might have captured me easily, for
I jogged along without a thought of them. I thought of the bounteous
stock of bread and beans upon my father's table, to say nothing about
all the other good things, and here was I, the oldest son, away out in
the center of the Great American Desert, with an empty stomach and a dry
and parched throat, and clothes fast wearing out with constant wear. And
perhaps I had not yet seen the worst of it. I might be forced to see
men, and the women and children of our party, choke and die, powerless
to help them. It was a darker, gloomier day than I had ever known could
be, and alone I wept aloud, for I believed I could see the future, and
the results were bitter to contemplate. I hope no reader of this history
may ever be placed in a position to be thus tried for I am not ashamed
to say that I have a weak point to show under such circumstances. It is
not in my power to tell how much I suffered in my lonely trips, lasting
sometimes days and nights that I might give the best advice to those of
my party. I believed that I could escape at any time myself, but all
must be brought through or perish, and with this all I knew I must not
discourage the others. I could tell them the truth, but I must keep my
worst apprehensions to myself lest they loose heart and hope and faith

I reached the camp on the third day where I found the boys who went part
way with me and whom I had out-walked. I related to the whole camp what
I had seen, and when all was told it appeared that the route from the
mountains westerly was the only route that could be taken, they told me
of a discovery they had made of a pile of squashes probably raised upon
the place, and sufficient in number so that every person could have one.
I did not approve of this for we had no title to this produce, and might
be depriving the rightful owner of the means of life. I told them not
only was it wrong to rob them of their food, but they could easily
revenge themselves on us by shooting our cattle, or scalp us, by
gathering a company of their own people together. They had no experience
with red men and were slow to see the results I spoke of as possible.

During my absence an ox had been killed, for some were nearly out of
provisions, and flesh was the only means to prevent starvation. The meat
was distributed amongst the entire camp, with the understanding that
when it became necessary to kill another it should be divided in the
same way. Some one of the wagons would have to be left for lack of
animals to draw it. Our animals were so poor that one would not last
long as food. No fat could be found on the entire carcass, and the
marrow of the great bones was a thick liquid, streaked with blood
resembling corruption.

Our road led us around the base of the mountain; There were many large
rocks in our way, some as large as houses, but we wound around among
them in a very crooked way and managed to get along. The feet of the
oxen became so sore that we made moccasins for them from the hide of the
ox that was killed, and with this protection they got along very well.
Our trains now consisted of seven wagons. Bennett had two; Arcane two;
Earhart Bros. one. Culverwell, Fish and others one; and there was one
other, the owners of which I have forgotten. The second night we had a
fair camp with water and pretty fair grass and brush for the oxen. We
were not very far from the snow line and this had some effect on the
country. When Bennett retired that night he put on a camp kettle of the
fresh beef and so arranged the fire that it would cook slowly and be
done by daylight for breakfast. After an hour or so Mr. Bennett went out
to replenish the fire and see how the cooking was coming on, and when I
went to put more water in the kettle, he found that to his
disappointment, the most of the meat was gone. I was rolled up in my
blanket under his wagon and awoke when he came to the fire and saw him
stand and look around as if to fasten the crime on the right party if
possible, but soon he came to me, and in a whisper said: "Did you see
anyone around the fire after we went to bed?" I assured him I did not,
and then he told me some one had taken his meat. "Do you think," said he
"that any one is so near out of food as to be starving?" "I know the
meat is poor, and who ever took it must be nearly starving." After a
whispered conversation we went to bed, but we both rose at daylight and,
as we sat by the fire, kept watch of those who got up and came around.
We thought we knew the right man, but were not sure, and could not
imagine what might happen if stealing grub should begin and continue. It
is a sort of unwritten law that in parties such as ours, he who steals
provisions forfeits his life. We knew we must keep watch and if the
offense was repeated the guilty one might be compelled to suffer.
Bennett watched closely and for a few days I kept closely with the
wagons for fear there might be trouble. It was really the most critical
point in our experience. After three or four days all hope of detecting
the criminal had passed, and all danger was over out of any difficulty.

One night we had a fair camp, as we were close to the base of the snow
butte, and found a hole of clear or what seemed to be living water.
There were a few minnows in it not much more than an inch long. This was
among a big pile of rocks, and around these the oxen found some grass.

There now appeared to be a pass away to the south as a sort of outlet to
the great plain which lay to the north of us, but immediately west and
across the desert waste, extending to the foot of a low black range of
mountains, through which there seemed to be no pass, the distant snowy
peak lay still farther on, with Martin's pass over it still a long way
off though we had been steering toward it for a month. Now as we were
compelled to go west this impassable barrier was in our way and if no
pass could be found in it we would be compelled to go south and make no
progress in a westerly direction.

Our trail was now descending to the bottom of what seemed to be the
narrowest part of the plain, the same one the Jayhawkers had started
across, further north, ten days before. When we reached the lowest part
of this valley we came to a running stream, and, as dead grass could be
seen in the bed where the water ran very slowly, I concluded it only had
water in it after hard rains in the mountains, perhaps a hundred miles,
to the north. This water was not pure; it had a bitter taste, and no
doubt in dry weather was a rank poison. Those who partook of it were
affected about as if they had taken a big dose of salts.

A short distance above this we found the trail of the Jayhawkers going
west, and thus we knew they had got safely across the great plain and
then turned southward. I hurried along their trail for several miles and
looked the country over with field glass becoming fully satisfied we
should find no water till we reached the summit, of the next range, and
then fearing the party had not taken the precaution to bring along some
water I went back to them and found they had none. I told them they
would not see a drop for the next forty miles, and they unloaded the
lightest wagon and drove back with everything they had which would hold
water, to get a good supply.

I turned back again on the Jayhawker's road, and followed it so rapidly
that well toward night I was pretty near the summit, where a pass
through this rocky range had been found and on this mountain not a tree
a shrub or spear of grass could be found--desolation beyond conception.
I carried my gun along every day, but for the want of a chance to kill
any game a single load would remain in my gun for a month. Very seldom a
rabbit could be seen, but not a bird of any kind, not even a hawk
buzzard or crow made their appearance here.

When near the steep part of the mountain, I found a dead ox the
Jayhawkers had left, as no camp could be made here for lack of water and
grass, the meat could not be saved. I found the body of the animal badly
shrunken, but in condition, as far as putrefaction was concerned, as
perfect as when alive. A big gash had been cut in the ham clear to the
bone and the sun had dried the flesh in this. I was so awful hungry that
I took my sheath knife and cut a big steak which I devoured as I walked
along, without cooking or salt. Some may say they would starve before
eating such meat, but if they have ever experienced hunger till it
begins to draw down the life itself, they will find the impulse of self
preservation something not to be controlled by mere reason. It is an
instinct that takes possession of one in spite of himself.

I went down a narrow, dark cañon high on both sides and perpendicular,
and quite so in many places. In one of the perpendicular portions it
seemed to be a varigated clay formation, and a little water seeped down
its face. Here the Indians had made a clay bowl and fastened it to the
wall so that it would collect and retain about a quart of water, and I
had a good drink of water, the first one since leaving the running
stream. Near here I staid all night, for fear of Indians who I firmly
believe would have taken my scalp had a good opportunity offered. I
slept without a fire, and my supply of meat just obtained drove hunger

In the morning I started down the cañon which descended rapidly and had
a bed of sharp, volcanic, broken rock. I could sometimes see an Indian
track, and kept a sharp lookout at every turn, for fear of revenge on
account of the store of squashes which had been taken. I felt I was in
constant danger, but could do nothing else but go on and keep eyes open
trusting to circumstances to get out of any sudden emergency that might

As I recollect this was Christmas day and about dusk I came upon the
camp of one man with his wife and family, the Rev. J.W. Brier, Mrs.
Brier and two sons. I inquired for others of his party and he told me
they were somewhere ahead. When I arrived at his camp I found the
reverend gentleman very cooly delivering a lecture to his boys on
education. It seemed very strange to me to hear a solemn discourse on
the benefits of early education when, it seemed to me, starvation was
staring us all in the face, and the barren desolation all around gave
small promise of the need of any education higher than the natural
impulses of nature. None of us knew exactly where we were, nor when the
journey would be ended, nor when substantial relief would come.
Provisions were wasting away, and some had been reduced to the last
alternative of subsisting on the oxen alone. I slept by the fire that
night, without a blanket, as I had done on many nights before and after
they hitched up and drove on in the morning I searched the camp
carefully, finding some bacon rinds they had thrown away. As I chewed
these and could taste the rich grease they contained, I thought they
were the sweetest morsels I ever tasted.

Here on the north side of the cañon were some rolling hills and some
small weak springs, the water of which when gathered together made a
small stream which ran a few yards down the cañon before it lost itself
in the rocks and sand. On the side there stood what seemed to be one
half of a butte, with the perpendicular face toward the cañon. Away on
the summit of the butte I saw an Indian, so far away he looked no taller
than my finger, and when he went out of sight I knew pretty well he was
the very fellow who grew the squashes. I thought it might be he, at any

I now turned back to meet the teams and found them seven or eight miles
up the cañon, and although it was a down grade the oxen were barely able
to walk slowly with their loads which were light, as wagons were almost
empty except the women and children. When night came on it seemed to be
cloudy and we could hear the cries of the wild geese passing east. We
regarded this as a very good sign and no doubt Owen's Lake, which we
expected to pass on this route, was not very far off. Around in those
small hills and damp places was some coarse grass and other growths, but
those who had gone before devoured the best, so our oxen had a hard time
to get anything to eat.

Next morning I shouldered my gun and followed down the cañon keeping the
wagon road, and when half a mile down, at the sink of the sickly stream,
I killed a wild goose. This had undoubtedly been attracted here the
night before by the light of our camp fire. When I got near the lower
end of the cañon, there was a cliff on the north or right hand side
which was perpendicular or perhaps a little overhanging, and at the base
a cave which had the appearance of being continuously occupied by
Indians. As I went on down I saw a very strange looking track upon the
ground. There were hand and foot prints as if a human being had crawled
upon all fours. As this track reached the valley where the sand had been
clean swept by the wind, the tracks became more plain, and the sand had
been blown into small hills not over three or four feet high. I followed
the track till it led to the top of one of these small hills where a
small well-like hole had been dug and in this excavation was a kind of
Indian mummy curled up like a dog. He was not dead for I could see him
move as he breathed, but his skin looked very much like the surface of a
well dried venison ham. I should think by his looks he must be 200 or
300 years old, indeed he might be Adam's brother and not look any older
than he did. He was evidently crippled. A climate which would preserve
for many days or weeks the carcass of an ox so that an eatable round
stake could be cut from it, might perhaps preserve a live man for a
longer period than would be believed.

I took a good long look at the wild creature and during all the time he
never moved a muscle, though he must have known some one was in the well
looking down at him. He was probably practicing on one of the directions
for a successful political career looking wise and saying nothing. At
any rate he was not going to let his talk get him into any trouble. He
probably had a friend around somewhere who supplied his wants. I now
left him and went farther out into the lowest part of the valley. I
could look to the north for fifty miles and it seemed to rise gradually
in that direction. To the south the view was equally extended, and down
that way a lake could be seen. The valley was here quite narrow, and the
lofty snow-capped peak we had tried so hard to reach for the past two
months now stood before me. Its east side was almost perpendicular and
seemed to reach the sky, and the snow was drifting over it, while here
the day sun was shining uncomfortably hot. I believe this mountain was
really miles from its base to its summit, and that nothing could climb
it on the eastern side except a bird and the only bird I had seen for
two months was the goose I shot. I looked every day for some sort of
game but had not seen any.

As I reached the lower part of the valley I walked over what seemed to
be boulders of various sizes, and as I stepped from one to another the
tops were covered with dirt and they grew larger as I went along. I
could see behind them and they looked clear like ice, but on closer
inspection proved to be immense blocks of rock salt while the water
which stood at their bases was the strongest brine. After this discovery
I took my way back to the road made by the Jayhawkers and found it quite
level, but sandy. Following this I came to a campfire soon after dark at
which E. Doty and mess were camped. As I was better acquainted I camped
with them. They said the water there was brackish and I soon found out
the same thing for myself. It was a poor camp; no grass, poor water and
scattering, bitter sage brush for food for the cattle. It would not do
to wait long here, and so they hurried on.

I inquired of them about Martin's Pass, as they were now quite near it,
and they said it was no pass at all, only the mountain was a little
lower than the one holding the snow. No wagon could get over it, and the
party had made up their minds to go on foot, and were actually burning
their wagons as fuel with which to dry the meat of some of the oxen
which they had killed. They selected those which were weakest and least
likely to stand the journey, and by drying it the food was much
concentrated. They were to divide the provisions equally and it was
agreed thereafter every one must lookout for himself and not expect any
help from anyone. If he used up his own provisions, he had no right to
expect anyone else to divide with him. Rice, tea and coffee were
measured out by the spoonful and the small amount of flour and bacon
which remained was divided out as evenly as possible. Everything was to
be left behind but blankets and provisions for the men were too weak to
carry heavy packs and the oxen could not be relied on as beasts of
burden and it was thought best not to load them so as to needlessly
break them down.

When these fellows started out they were full of spirit, and the frolic
and fun along the Platte river was something worth laughing at but now
they were very melancholy and talked in the lowest kind of low spirits.
One fellow said he knew this was the Creator's dumping place where he
had left the worthless dregs after making a world, and the devil had
scraped these together a little. Another said this must be the very
place where Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt, and the pillar
been broken up and spread around the country. He said if a man was to
die he would never decay on account of the salt. Thus the talk went on,
and it seemed as if there were not bad words enough in the language to
properly express their contempt and bad opinion of such a country as
this. They treated me to some of their meat, a little better than mine,
and before daylight in the morning I was headed back on the trail to
report the bad news I had learned of the Jayhawkers.

About noon I met two of our camp companions with packs on their backs
following the wagon trail, and we stopped and had a short talk. They
were oldish men perhaps 50 years old, one a Mr. Fish of Indiana and
another named Gould. They said they could perhaps do as well on foot as
to follow the slow ox teams, but when I told them what those ahead of
them were doing, and how they must go, they did not seem to be entirely
satisfied, as what they had on their backs would need to be replenished,
and no such chance could be expected. They had an idea that the end of
the journey was not as far off as I predicted. Mr. Fish had a long
nicely made, whiplash wound around his waist, and when I asked him why
he carried such a useless thing, which he could not eat, he said perhaps
he could trade it off for something to eat. After we had set on a sand
hill and talked for awhile, we rose and shook each other by the hand,
and bade each other good bye with quivering lips. There was with me a
sort of expression I could not repel that I should never see the middle
aged men again.

As my road was now out and away from the mountains, and level, I had no
fear of being surprised by enemies, so walked on with eyes downcast,
thinking over the situation, and wondering what would be the final
outcome. If I were alone, with no one to expect me to help them, I would
be out before any other man, but with women and children in the party,
to go and leave them would be to pile everlasting infamy on my head. The
thought almost made me crazy but I thought it would be better to stay
and die with them, bravely struggling to escape than to forsake them in
their weakness.

It was almost night before I reached our camp, and sitting around our
little fire I told, in the most easy way I could the unfavorable news of
the party in advance. They seemed to look to me as a guide and adviser,
I presume because I took much pains to inform myself on every point and
my judgment was accepted with very little opposing opinion, they moved
as I thought best. During my absence from camp for the two days the
Indians had shot arrows into three of our oxen, and one still had an
arrow in his side forward of the hip which was a dangerous place. To be
sure and save him for ourselves we killed him. Some were a little afraid
to eat the meat thinking perhaps the arrow might be poisoned, but I
agreed that they wanted meat themselves and would not do that. I told
them if they got a shot themselves it would be very likely to be a
poisoned arrow and they must take the most instant measures to cut it
out before it went into the blood. So we ventured to dry the meat and
take it with us.

Now I said to the whole camp "You can see how you have displeased the
red men, taking their little squashes, and when we get into a place that
suits them for that purpose, they may meet us with a superior force and
massacre us, not only for revenge but to get our oxen and clothing." I
told them we must ever be on guard against a surprise, as the chances
were greatly against us.

We pulled the arrows out of the other oxen, and they seemed to sustain
no great injury from the wounds. This little faint stream where we
camped has since been named as Furnace Creek and is still known as such.
It was named in 1862 by some prospectors who built what was called an
air furnace on a small scale to reduce some ore found near by, which
they supposed to contain silver, but I believe it turned out to be lead
and too far from transportations to be available.


Bennett and Arcane now concluded not to wait for me to go ahead and
explore out a way for them to follow, as I had done for a long time, but
to go ahead as it was evidently the best way to turn south and make our
own road, and find the water and passes all for ourselves. So they
hitched up and rolled down the cañon, and out into the valley and then
turned due south. We had not gone long on this course before we saw that
we must cross the valley and get over to the west side. To do this we
must cross through some water, and for fear the ground might be miry, I
went to a sand hill near by and got a mesquite stick about three feet
long with which to sound out our way. I rolled up my pants pulled off my
moccasins and waded in, having the teams stand still till I could find
out whether it was safe for them to follow or not by ascertaining the
depth of the water and the character of the bottom.

The water was very clear and the bottom seemed uneven, there being some
deep holes. Striking my stick on the bottom it seemed solid as a rock,
and breaking off a small projecting point I found it to be solid rock
salt. As the teams rolled along they scarcely roiled the water. It
looked to me as if the whole valley which might be a hundred miles long
might have been a solid bed of rock salt. Before we reached this water
there were many solid blocks of salt lying around covered with a little
dirt on the top.

The second night we found a good spring of fresh water coming out from
the bottom of the snow peak almost over our heads. The small flow from
it spread out over the sand and sank in a very short distance and there
was some quite good grass growing around.

This was a temporary relief, but brought us face to face with stranger
difficulties and a more hopeless outlook.

There was no possible way to cross this high steep range of mountains
anywhere to the north and the Jayhawkers had abandoned their wagons and
burned them, and we could no longer follow on the trail they made. It
seemed that there was no other alternative but for us to keep along the
edge of the mountain to the south and search for another pass. Some who
had read Fremont's travels said that the range immediately west of us
must be the one he described, on the west side of which was a beautiful
country, of rich soil and having plenty of cattle, and horses, and
containing some settlers, but on the east all was barren, dry, rocky,
sandy desert as far as could be seen. We knew this eastern side answered
well the description and believed that this was really the range
described, or at least it was close by.

We had to look over the matter very carefully and consider all the
conditions and circumstances of the case. We could see the mountains
were lower to the south, but they held no snow and seemed only barren
rocks piled up in lofty peaks, and as we looked it seemed the most
God-forsaken country in the world.

We had been in the region long enough to know the higher mountains
contained most water, and that the valleys had bad water or none at all,
so that while the lower altitudes to the south gave some promise of
easier crossing it gave us no promise of water or grass, without which
we must certainly perish. In a certain sense we were lost. The clear
night and days furnished us with the mean of telling the points of
compass as the sun rose and set, but not a sign of life in nature's wide
domain had been seen for a month or more. A vest pocketful of powder and
shot would last a good hunter till he starved to death for there was not
a living thing to shoot great or small.

We talked over our present position pretty freely, and every one was
asked to speak his unbiased mind, for we knew not who might be right or
who might be wrong, and some one might make a suggestion of the utmost
value. We all felt pretty much downhearted. Our civilized provisions
were getting so scarce that all must be saved for the women and
children, and the men must get along some way on ox meat alone. It was
decided not a scrap of anything that would sustain life must go to
waste. The blood, hide and intestines were all prepared in some way for
food. This meeting lasted till late at night. If some of them had lost
their minds I should not have been surprised, for hunger swallows all
other feelings. A man in a starving condition is a savage. He may be as
blood-shed and selfish as a wild beast, as docile and gentle as a lamb,
or as wild and crazy as a terrified animal, devoid of affection, reason
or thought of justice. We were none of us as bad as this, and yet there
was a strange look in the eyes of some of us sometimes, as I saw by
looking round, and as others no doubt realized for I saw them making
mysterious glances even in my direction.

Morning came and all were silent. The dim prospect of the future seemed
to check every tongue. When one left a water hole he went away as if in
doubt whether he would ever enjoy the pleasure of another drop. Every
camp was sad beyond description, and no one can guide the pen to make it
tell the tale as it seemed to us. When our morning meal of soup and meat
was finished, Bennett's two teams, and the two of Arcane's concluded
their chances of life were better if they could take some provisions and
strike out on foot, and so they were given what they could carry, and
they arranged their packs and bade us a sorrowful good bye hoping to
meet again on the Pacific Coast. There were genuine tears shed at the
parting and I believe neither party ever expected to see each other in
this life again.

Bennett's two men were named Silas Helmer and S.S. or C.C. Abbott, but I
have forgotten the names of Arcane's men. Mr. Abbott was from New York,
a harness maker by trade, and he took his circular cutting knife with
him, saying it was light to carry and the weapon he should need. One of
them had a gun. They took the trail taken by the Jayhawkers. All the
provisions they could carry besides their blankets could not last them
to exceed 10 days, and I well knew they could hardly get off the desert
in that time. Mr. Abbott was a man I loved fondly. He was good company
in camp, and happy and sociable. He had shown no despondency at any time
until the night of the last meeting and the morning of the parting. His
chances seemed to me to be much poorer than my own, but I hardly think
he realized it. When in bed I could not keep my thoughts back from the
old home I had left, where good water and a bountiful spread were always
ready at the proper hour. I know I dreamed of taking a draft of cool,
sweet water from a full pitcher and then woke up with my mouth and
throat as dry as dust. The good home I left behind was a favorite theme
about the campfire, and many a one told of the dream pictures, natural
as life, that came to him of the happy Eastern home with comfort and
happiness surrounding it, even if wealth was lacking. The home of the
poorest man on earth was preferable to this place. Wealth was of no
value here. A hoard of twenty dollar gold pieces could now
stand before us the whole day long with no temptation to touch a single
coin, for its very weight would drag us nearer death. We could purchase
nothing with it and we would have cared no more for it as a thing of
value than we did the desert sands. We would have given much more for
some of the snow which we could see drifting over the peak of the great
snow mountains over our heads like a dusty cloud.

Deeming it best to spare the strength as much as possible, I threw away
everything I could, retaining only my glass, some ammunition, sheath
knife and tin cup. No unnecessary burden could be put on any man or
beast, lest he lie down under it, never to rise again. Life and strength
were sought to be husbanded in every possible way.

Leaving this camp where the water was appreciated we went over a road
for perhaps 8 miles and came to the mouth of a rocky cañon leading up
west to the summit of the range. This cañon was too rough for wagons to
pass over. Out in the valley near its mouth was a mound about four feet
high and in the top of this a little well that held about a pailful of
water that was quite strong of sulphur. When stirred it would look quite
black. About the mouth of the well was a wire grass that seemed to
prevent it caving in. It seems the drifting sand had slowly built this
little mound about the little well of water in a curious way. We spent
the night here and kept a man at the well all night to keep the water
dipped out as fast as it flowed, in order to get enough for ourselves
and cattle. The oxen drank this water better than they did the brackish
water of the former camp.

The plain was thinly scattered with sage brush, and up near the base of
the mountain some greasewood grew in little bunches like currant bushes.

The men with wagons decided they would take this cañon and follow it up
to try to get over the range, and not wait for me to go ahead and
explore, as they said it took too much time and the provisions,
consisting now of only ox meat were getting more precarious every day.
To help them all I could and if possible to be forewarned a little of
danger, I shouldered my gun and pushed on ahead as fast as I could. The
bottom was of sharp broken rock, which would be very hard for the feet
of the oxen, although we had rawhide moccasins for them for some time,
and this was the kind of foot-gear I wore myself. I walked on as rapidly
as I could, and after a time came to where the cañon spread out into a
kind of basin enclosed on all sides but the entrance, with a wall of
high, steep rock, possible to ascend on foot but which would apparently
bar the further progress of the wagons, and I turned back utterly
disappointed. I got on an elevation where I could look over the country
east and south, and it looked as if there was not a drop of water in its
whole extent, and there was no snow on the dark mountains that stretched
away to the southward and it seemed to me as if difficulties beset me on
every hand. I hurried back down the cañon, but it was nearly dark before
I met the wagons. By a mishap I fell and broke the stock of my gun, over
which I was very sorry, for it was an excellent one, the best I ever
owned. I carried it in two pieces to the camp and told them the way was
barred, at which they could hardly endure their disappointment. They
turned in the morning, as the cattle had nothing to eat here and no
water, and not much of any food since leaving the spring; they looked
terribly bad, and the rough road coming up had nearly finished them.
They were yoked up and the wagons turned about for the return. They went
better down hill, but it was not long before one of Bennett's oxen lay
down, and could not be persuaded to rise again. This was no place to
tarry in the hot sun, so the ox was killed and the carcass distributed
among the wagons. So little draft was required that the remaining oxen
took the wagon down. When within two or three miles of the water hole
one of Arcane's oxen also failed and lay down, so they turned him out
and when he had rested a little he came on again for a while, but soon
lay down again.

Arcane took a bucket of water back from camp and after drinking it and
resting awhile the ox was driven down to the spring.

This night we had another meeting to decide upon our course and
determine what to do. At this meeting no one was wiser than another, for
no one had explored the country and knew what to expect. The questions
that now arose were "How long can we endure this work in this situation?
How long will our oxen be able to endure the great hardship on the small
nourishment they receive? How long can we provide ourselves with food?"

We had a few small pieces of dry bread. This was kept for the children
giving them a little now and then. Our only food was in the flesh of the
oxen, and when they failed to carry themselves along we must begin to
starve. It began to look as if the chances of leaving our bones to
bleach upon the desert were the most prominent ones.

One thing was certain we must move somewhere at once. If we stay here we
can live as long as the oxen do, and no longer, and if we go on it is
uncertain where to go, to get a better place. We had guns and ammunition
to be sure, but of late we had seen no living creature in this desert
wild. Finally Mr. Bennett spoke and said:--

"Now I will make you a proposition. I propose that we select two of our
youngest, strongest men and ask them to take some food and go ahead on
foot to try to seek a settlement, and food, and we will go back to the
good spring we have just left and wait for their return. It will surely
not take them more than ten days for the trip, and when they get back we
shall know all about the road and its character and how long it will
take us to travel it. They can secure some other kind of food that will
make us feel better, and when the oxen have rested a little at the
spring we can get out with our wagons and animals and be safe. I think
this is the best and safest way."

"Now what do you all say?" After a little discussion all seemed to agree
that this was the best, and now it remained to find the men to go. No
one offered to accept the position of advance messengers. Finally Mr.
Bennett said he knew one man well enough to know that he would come back
if he lived, and he was sure he would push his way through. "I will take
Lewis (myself) if he will consent to go." I consented, though I knew it
was a hazardous journey, exposed to all sorts of things, Indians,
climate and probable lack of water, but I thought I could do it and
would not refuse. John Rogers a large strong Tennessee, man was then
chosen as the other one and he consented also.

Now preparations began, Mr. Arcane killed the ox which had so nearly
failed, and all the men went to drying and preparing meat. Others made
us some new mocassins out of rawhide, and the women made us each a

Our meat was closely packed, and one can form an idea how poor our
cattle were from the fact that John and I actually packed seven-eighths
of all the flesh of an ox into our knapsacks and carried it away. They
put in a couple of spoonfuls of rice and about as much tea. This seemed
like robbery to the children, but the good women said that in case of
sickness even that little bit might save our lives. I wore no coat or
vest, but took half of a light blanket, while Rogers wore a thin summer
coat and took no blanket. We each had a small tin cup and a small camp
kettle holding a quart. Bennett had me take his seven-shooter rifle, and
Rogers had a good double barreled shot gun. We each had a sheath knife,
and our hats were small brimmed, drab affairs fitting close to the head
and not very conspicuous to an enemy as we might rise up from behind a
hill into possible views. We tried on our packs and fitted the straps a
little so they would carry easy. They collected all the money there was
in camp and gave it to us. Mr. Arcane had about $30 and others threw in
small amounts from forty cents upward. We received all sorts of advice.
Capt. Culverwell was an old sea faring man and was going to tell us how
to find our way back, but Mr. Bennett told the captain that he had known
Lewis as a hunter for many years, and that if he went over a place in
the daytime he could find his way back at night every time. Others
cautioned us about the Indians and told us how to manage. Others told us
not to get caught in deep snow which we might find on the mountains.

This advice we received in all the kindness in which it was given, and
then we bade them all good bye. Some turned away, too much
affected to approach us and others, shook our hands with deep feeling,
grasping them firmly and heartily hoping we would be successful and be
able to pilot them out of this dreary place into a better land. Every
one felt that a little food to make a change from the poor dried meat
would be acceptable. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett and J.B. Arcane and wife were
the last to remain when the others had turned away. They had most faith
in the plan and felt deeply. Mrs. Bennett was the last, and she asked
God to bless us and bring some food to her starving children.

We were so much affected that we could not speak and silently turned
away and took our course again up the canyon we had descended the night

After a while we looked back and when they saw us turn around, all the
hats and bonnets waved us a final parting.

Those left in the camp were Asabel, Bennett and Sarah his wife, with
three children, George, Melissa, and Martha; J.B. Arcane and wife with
son Charles. The youngest children were not more than two years old.
There were also the two Earhart brothers, and a grown son, Capt.
Culverwell, and some others I cannot recall; eleven grown people in all,
besides a Mr. Wade, his wife and three children who did not mingle with
our party, but usually camped a little distance off, followed our trail,
but seemed to shun company. We soon passed round a bend of the cañon,
and then walked on in silence.

We both of us meditated some over the homes of our fathers, but took new
courage in view of the importance of our mission and passed on as fast
as we could.

By night we were far up the mountain, near the perpendicular rough peak,
and far above us on a slope we could see some bunches of grass and sage
brush. We went to this and found some small water holes. No water ran
from them they were so small. Here we staid all night. It did not seem
very far to the snowy peak to the north of us. Just where we were seemed
the lowest pass, for to the south were higher peaks and the rocks looked
as if they were too steep to be got over.

Through this gap came a cold breeze, and we had to look round to get a
sheltered place in which to sleep. We lay down close together, spoon
fashion, and made the little blanket do as cover for the both of us. In
the morning we filled our canteens, which we had made by binding two
powder cans together with strips of cloth, and started for the summit
near by. From this was the grandest sight we ever beheld. Looking east
we could see the country we had been crawling over since November 4th.
"Just look at the cursed country we have come over!" said Rogers as he
pointed over it. To the north was the biggest mountain we ever saw,
peaks on peaks and towering far above our heads, and covered with snow
which was apparently everlasting.

This mountain seemed to have very few trees on it, and in extent, as it
reached away to the north seemed interminable. South was a nearly level
plain, and to the west I thought I could dimly see a range of mountains
that held a little snow upon their summits, but on the main range to the
south there was none. It seemed to me the dim snowy mountains must be as
far as 200 miles away, but of course I could not judge accurately. After
looking at this grand, but worthless landscape long enough to take in
its principal features we asked each other what we supposed the people
we left behind would think to see mountains so far ahead. We knew that
they had an idea that the coast range was not very far ahead, but we saw
at once to go over all these mountains and return within the limits of
fifteen days which had been agreed upon between us, would probably be
impossible, but we must try as best we could, so down the rocky steep we
clambered and hurried on our way. In places the way was so steep that we
had to help each other down, and the hard work made us perspire freely
so that the water was a prime necessity. In one place near here, we
found a little water and filled our canteens, besides drinking a good
present supply. There were two low, black rocky ranges directly ahead of
us which we must cross.

When part way down the mountain a valley or depression opened up in that
direction up which it seemed as if we could look a hundred miles. Near
by and a short distance north was a lake of water and when we reached
the valley we crossed a clear stream of water flowing slowly toward the

Being in need of water, we rushed eagerly to it and prepared to take a
big drink, but the tempting fluid was as salt as brine and made our
thirst all the more intolerable. Nothing grew on the bank of this stream
and the bed was of hard clay, which glistened in the sun.

We now began the ascent of the next ridge, keeping a westernly course,
and walked as fast as we could up the rough mountain side. We crossed
the head of a cañon near the summit about dark, and here we found a
trail, which from indications we knew to be that of the Jayhawkers, who
had evidently been forced to the southward of the course they intended
to take. They had camped here and had dug holes in the sand in search of
water, but had found none.

We staid all night here and dug around in some other places in the
bottom of the cañon, in the hope to have better luck than they did, but
we got no water anywhere.

We seemed almost perishing for want of water, the hard exercise made us
perspire so freely. In the morning we started on, and near the summit we
came to the dead body of Mr. Fish, laying in the hot sun, as there was
no material near here with which his friends could cover the remains.
This Mr. Fish was the man who left camp some two weeks before in company
with another and who carried the long whiplash wound about his body, in
hope he could somewhere be able to trade it for bread. No doubt in this
very place where he breathed his last, his bones still lie.

As we came in sight of the next valley, we could see a lake of water
some distance south of our western course.

We had followed the Jayhawkers trail thus far, but as we found no water
in small holes in the rocks as we were likely to do when we were the
first to pass, we decided to take a new route in the hope to find a
little water in this way, for we had no hope of finding it in any other.
This valley we now crossed seemed to come to an end about ten miles to
the north of us. To the south it widened out, enclosing the lake spoken
of. This valley was very sandy and hard to walk over. When about halfway
across we saw some ox tracks leading toward the lake, and in the hope we
might find the water drinkable we turned off at right angles to our
course and went that way also. Long before we reached the water of the
lake, the bottom became a thin, slimy mud which was very hard on our
mocassins. When we reached the water we found it to be of a wine color,
and so strongly alkaline as to feel slippery to the touch, and under our

This side trip, had cost us much exertion and made us feel more thirsty
than ever.

We turned now west again, making for a cañon, up which we passed in the
hope we should at some turn find a little basin of rain water in some
rock. We traveled in it miles and miles, and our mouths became so dry we
had to put a bullet or a small smooth stone in and chew it and turn it
around with the tongue to induce a flow of saliva. If we saw a spear of
green grass on the north side of a rock, it was quickly pulled and eaten
to obtain the little moisture it contained.

Thus we traveled along for hours, never speaking, for we found it much
better for our thirst to keep our mouths closed as much as possible, and
prevent the evaporation. The dry air of that region took up water as a
sponge does. We passed the summit of this ridge without finding any
water, and on our way down the western side we came to a flat place
where there was an Indian hut made of small brush. We now thought there
surely must be some water near and we began a thorough search. The great
snow mountain did not seem far off, but to the south and southwest a
level or inclined plain extended for a long distance. Our thirst began
to be something terrible to endure, and in the warm weather and hard
walking we had secured only two drinks since leaving camp.

We were so sure that there must be water near here that we laid our
knapsacks down by the little hut and looked around in every possible
place we could think of. Soon it got dark and then we made a little fire
as a guide and looked again. Soon the moon arose and helped us some, and
we shouted frequently to each other so as not to get lost.

We were so nearly worn out that we tried to eat a little meat, but after
chewing a long time, the mouth would not moisten it enough so we could
swallow, and we had to reject it. It seemed as if we were going to die
with plenty of food in our hand, because we could not eat it.

We tried to sleep but could not, but after a little rest we noticed a
bright star two hours above the horizon, and from the course of the moon
we saw the star must be pretty truly west of us. We talked a little, and
the burden of it was a fear that we could not endure the terrible thirst
a while longer. The thought of the women and children waiting for our
return made us feel more desperate than if we were the only ones
concerned. We thought we could fight to the death over a water hole if
we could only secure a little of the precious fluid. No one who has ever
felt the extreme of thirst can imagine the distress, the dispair, which
it brings. I can find no words, no way to express it so others can

The moon gave us so much light that we decided we would start on our
course, and get as far as we could before the hot sun came out, and so
we went on slowly and carefully in the partial darkness, the only hope
left to us being that our strength would hold out till we could get to
the shining snow on the great mountain before us. We reached the foot of
the range we were descending about sunrise. There was here a wide wash
from the snow mountain, down which some water had sometime run after a
big storm, and had divided into little rivulets only reaching out a
little way before they had sunk into the sand.

We had no idea we could now find any water till we at least got very
near the snow, and as the best way to reach it we turned up the wash
although the course was nearly to the north. The course was up a gentle
grade and seemed quite sandy and not easy to travel. It looked as if
there was an all day walk before us, and it was quite a question if we
could live long enough to make the distance. There were quite strong
indications that the water had run here not so very long ago, and we
could trace the course of the little streams round among little sandy
islands. A little stunted brush grew here but it was so brittle that the
stems would break as easy as an icicle.

In order to not miss a possible bit of water we separated and agreed
upon a general course, and that if either one found water he should fire
his gun as a signal. After about a mile or so had been gone over I heard
Roger's gun and went in his direction. He had found a little ice that
had frozen under the clear sky. It was not thicker than window glass.
After putting a piece in our mouths we gathered all we could and put it
into the little quart camp kettle to melt. We gathered just a kettle
full, besides what we ate as we were gathering, and kindled a little
fire and melted it.

I can but think how providential it was that we started in the night for
in an hour after the sun had risen that little sheet of ice would have
melted and the water sank into the sand. Having quenched our thirst we
could now eat, and found that we were nearly starved also. In making
this meal we used up all our little store of water, but we felt
refreshed and our lives renewed so that we had better courage to go on.

We now took our course west again taking a bee line for a bluff that lay
a little to the south of the big snow mountain. On and on we walked till
the dark shadow of the great mountain in the setting sun was thrown
about us, and still we did not seem more than half way to the bluff
before us.

All the way had been hill and very tiresome walking. There was
considerable small brush scattered about, here and there, over this
steeply inclined plain.

We were still several miles from the base of this largest of the
mountains and we could now see that it extended west for many miles. The
buttes to the south were low, black and barren, and to the west as far
as we could see there were no mountains with any snow. As the sun got
further down we could see a small smoke curling up near the base of the
mountain, and we thought it must be some signal made by the Indians, as
we had often seen them signal in that way, but we stopped and talked the
matter over, and as we were yet a long way from the bluff which had been
our objective point, we concluded we would investigate the smoke signal
a little closer. So we set off toward it in the dusk and darkness and
when within about a mile we found we were in a tract that had been
somewhat beaten. Feeling with my fingers I was quite sure I could
distinguish ox tracks, and then was quite sure that we had overtaken the
Jayhawkers, or at least were on their trail. And then I thought perhaps
they had fallen among the Indians, who now might be feasting on their
oxen and it became necessary to use great caution in approaching the
little smoke.

We took a circuitous route and soon saw that the persons were on a
little bench above us and we kept very cautious and quiet, listening for
any sounds that might tell us who they were.

If they were Indians we should probably hear some of their dogs, but we
heard none, and kept creeping closer and closer, till we were within
fifty yards without hearing a sound to give us any idea of who they

We decided to get our guns at full cock and then hail the camp, feeling
that we had a little the advantage of position. We hailed and were
answered in English. "Don't Shoot" said we and they assured us they had
no idea of such a thing, and asked us to come in. We found here to our
surprise, Ed Doty, Tom Shannon, L.D. Stevens, and others whom I do not
recollect, the real Jayhawkers. They gave us some fresh meat for supper,
and near the camp were some water holes that answered well for camp

Here an ox had given out and they had stopped long enough to dry the
meat, while the others had gone on a day ahead.

Coming around the mountain from the north was quite a well defined
trail, leading to the west and they said they were satisfied some one
lived at the end of it, and they were going to follow it if it lead to
Mexico or anywhere else. They said that Mr. Brier and his family were
still on behind, and alone. Every one must look out for himself here,
and we could not do much for another in any way.

We inquired of them about the trail over which they had come, and where
they had found water, and we told them of our experience in this
respect. We then related how our train could not go over the mountains
with wagons, how they had returned to the best spring, and that we
started to go through to the settlements to obtain relief while they
waited for our return. We explained to them how they must perish without
assistance. If we failed to get through, they could probably live as
long as the oxen lasted and would then perish of starvation. We told
them how nearly we came to the point of perishing that very morning, of
thirst, and how we were saved by finding a little patch of ice in an
unexpected place, and were thus enabled to come on another days travel.

These men were not as cheerful as they used to be and their situation
and prospects constantly occupied their minds. They said to us that if
the present trail bore away from the mountain and crossed the level
plain, that there were some of them who could not possibly get along
safely to the other side. Some were completely discouraged, and some
were completely out of provisions and dependent on those who had either
provisions or oxen yet on hand. An ox was frequently killed, they said,
and no part of it was wasted. At a camp where there was no water, for
stewing, a piece or hide would be prepared for eating by singeing off
the hair and then roasting in the fire. The small intestines were drawn
through the fingers to clean them, and these when roasted made very fair

They said they had been without water for four or five days at a time
and came near starving to death, for it was impossible to swallow food
when one became so thirsty. They described the pangs of hunger as
something terrible and not to be described. They were willing to give us
any information we desired and we anxiously received all we could, for
on our return we desired to take the best possible route, and we thus
had the experience of two parties instead of one. They told us about the
death of Mr. Fish and Mr. Isham, and where we would find their bodies if
we went over their trail.

In the morning we shouldered our packs again and took the trail leading
to the west, and by night we had overtaken the advance party of the
Jayhawkers, camped in a cañon where there was a little water, barely
sufficient for their use. We inquired why they did not take the trail
leading more directly west at the forks, and they said they feared it
would lead them into deep snow which would be impassible. They said they
considered the trail they had taken as altogether the safest one.

We met Bennett and Arcane's teamsters, and as we expected they were
already out of grub and no way to get anymore. When the party killed an
ox they had humbly begged for some of the poorest parts, and thus far
were alive. They came to us and very pitifully told us they were
entirely out, and although an ox had been killed that day they had not
been able to get a mouthful. We divided up our meat and gave them some
although we did not know how long it would be before we would ourselves
be in the same situation.

Thus far we had not seen anything to shoot, big or little although we
kept a sharp lookout.

The whole camp was silent, and all seemed to realize their situation.
Before them was a level plain which had the appearance of being so broad
as to take five or six days to cross. Judging by the look from the top
of the mountain as we came over, there was little to hope for in the way
of water. We thought it over very seriously. All the water we could
carry would be our canteens full, perhaps two drinks apiece and the poor
meat had so little nourishment that we were weak and unable to endure
what we once could.

We were alone, Rogers and I, in interest at any rate, even if there were
other men about. For the time it really seemed as if there was very
little hope for us and I have often repeated the following lines as very
closely describing my own feelings at that time.

    Oh hands, whose loving, gentle grasp I loosed.
  When first this weary journey was begun.
    If I could feel your touch as once I could.
  How gladly would I wish my work undone.

  _Harriet Keynon_.

During the evening, I had a talk with Capt. Asa Haines, in which he said
he left a good home in Illinois, where he had everything he could wish
to eat, and every necessary comfort, and even some to spare, and now he
felt so nearly worn out that he had many doubts whether he could live to
reach the mountains, on the other side. He was so deeply impressed that
he made me promise to let his wife and family know how I found him and
how he died, for he felt sure he would never see the California mines. I
said I might not get through myself, but he thought we were so young and
strong that we would struggle through. He said if he could only be home
once more he would be content to stay. This was the general tenor of the
conversation. There was no mirth, no jokes, and every one seemed to feel
that he was very near the end of his life, and such a death as stood
before them, choking, starving in a desert was the most dreary outlook I
ever saw.

This camp of trouble, of forlorn hope, on the edge of a desert
stretching out before us like a small sea, with no hope for relief
except at the end of a struggle which seemed almost hopeless, is more
than any pen can paint, or at all describe. The writer had tried it
often. Picture to yourself, dear reader the situation and let your own
imagination do the rest. It can never come up to the reality.

In the morning, as Rogers and I were about to start, several of the
oldest men came to us with their addresses and wished us to forward them
to their families if we ever got within the reach of mails. These men
shed tears, and we did also as we parted. We turned silently away and
again took up our march.

As we went down the cañon we came to one place where it was so narrow,
that a man or a poor ox could barely squeeze through between the rocks,
and in a few miles more reached the open level plain. When three or four
miles out on the trail and not far from the hills we came to a bunch of
quite tall willows. The center of the bunch had been cut out and the
branches woven in so as to make a sort of corral. In the center of this
was a spring of good water and some good grass growing around. This was
pretty good evidence that some one had been here before. We took a good
drink and filled our canteens anew, for we did not expect to get another
drink for two or three days at least.

We took the trail again and hurried on as the good water made us feel
quite fresh. After a few miles we began to find the bones of animals,
some badly decayed and some well preserved. All the heads were those of
horses, and it puzzled us to know where they came from. As we passed
along we noticed the trail was on a slight up grade and somewhat
crooked. If we stepped off from it the foot sank in about two inches in
dirt finer than the finest flour. The bones were scattered all along,
sometimes the bones of several animals together. Was it the long drive,
poison water, or what? It was evident they had not been killed but had
dropped along the way.

It was a dreary trail at best, and these evidences of death did not help
to brighten it in the least. We wondered often where it led to and what
new things would be our experience. After walking fast all day we came
to quite an elevation, where we could stand and look in all directions.
The low black range where we left the Jayhawkers was in sight, and this
spur of the great snowy mountains extended a long way to the south, and
seemed to get lower and lower, finally ending in low rocky buttes, a
hundred miles away. Some may think this distance very far to see, but
those who have ever seen the clear atmosphere of that region will bear
me out in these magnificent distances. Generally a mountain or other
object seen at a distance would be three or four times as far off as one
would judge at first sight, so deceptive are appearances there. The
broad south end of the great mountain which we first saw the next
morning after we left the wagons, was now plain in sight, and peak after
peak extending away to the north, all of them white with snow. Standing
thus out in the plain we could see the breadth of the mountain east and
west, and it seemed as though it must have been nearly a hundred miles.
The south end was very abrupt and sank as one into a great plain in
which we stood, twenty miles from the mountain's base.

To the northwest we could see a clay lake, or at least that was what we
called it, and a line of low hills seemed to be an extension of the
mountain in a direction swinging around to the south to enclose this
thirsty, barren plain before us, which was bounded by mountains or hills
on these sides. To the south this range seemed to get higher, and we
could see some snow capped mountains to the south of our westerly
course. The low mountains as those seen in the northwest direction is
the same place now crossed by the Southern Pacific Railroad, and known
as the Tehachipi pass, the noted loop, in which the railroad crosses
itself, being on the west slope and Ft. Tejon being on the same range a
little further south where the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Coast
Range join. The first mountain bearing snow, south of our course was
probably what is known as Wilson's peak, and the high mountains still
farther south, the San Bernardino mountains. There were no names there
known to us nor did we know anything of the topography of the country
except that we supposed a range of mountains was all that separated us
from California.

We were yet in the desert, and if we kept our due west course, we must
cross some of the snow before us which if steep gave us some doubts
whether we could get through or not.

We did not know exactly what the people left behind would do if we were
gone longer than we intended, but if they started on it was quite plain
to us they would be lost, and as seven days had already passed we were
in serious trouble for fear we could not complete the trip in the time
allotted to us. We surveyed the plain and mountains to learn its
situation and then started, on following our trail. As we went on we
seemed to be coming to lower ground, and near our road stood a tree of a
kind we had not seen before. The trunk was about six or eight inches
through and six or eight feet high with arms at the top quite as large
as the body, and at the end of the arms a bunch of long, stiff bayonet
shaped leaves.

It was a brave little tree to live in such a barren country. As we
walked on these trees were more plenty and some were much larger than
the first. As we came to the lowest part of the valley there seemed to
be little faint water ways running around little clouds of stunted
shrubs, but there was no signs that very much water ever run in them. We
thought that these were the outlet of the big sandy lake which might get
full of water and overflow through these channels after some great

As this low ground was quite wide we lost our trail in crossing it, and
we separated as we went along, looking to find it again, till nearly
dark when we looked for a camping place. Fortunately we found a little
pond of rain water, and some of our strange trees that were dead gave us
good material for a fire, so that we were very comfortable indeed,
having both drink and fire.

Starting on again our course was now ascending slightly, and we came
across more and more of the trees, and larger ones than at first. We saw
some that seemed to have broken down with their own weight. The bayonet
shaped leaves seemed to fall off when old and the stalk looked so much
like an old overgrown cabbage stump that we name them "Cabbage trees,"
but afterward learned they were a species of Yucca. We were much worried
at loosing our trail and felt that it would be quite unsafe to try to
cross the mountain without finding it again, so we separated, Rogers
going northwest, and I southwest, agreeing to swing round so as to meet
again about noon, but when we met, neither of us had found a trail, and
we were still about 10 miles from the foothills. Rogers said he had
heard some of the people say that the trail leading from Salt Lake to
Los Angeles crossed such a mountain in a low pass, with very high
mountains on each side, and he supposed that the high mountain to the
south must be the one where the trail crossed, but as this would take us
fully fifty miles south of our course as we supposed it was we hesitated
about going there, and concluded we would try the lowest place in the
mountain first, and if we failed we could then go and try Roger's route,
more to the south.

So we pushed on, still keeping a distance apart to look out for the
trail, and before night, in the rolling hills, we saw here and there
faint traces of it, which grew plainer as we went along, and about
sundown we reached some water holes and from some old skulls of oxen
lying around the ground showing that it had at some previous time been a
camping ground. We found some good large sage brush which made a pretty
good fire, and if we could have had a little fresh meat to roast we
thought we were in a good position for supper. But that poor meat was
pretty dry food. However it kept us alive, and we curled up together and
slept, for the night was cool, and we had to make the little blanket do
its best. We thought we ought to find a little game, but we had not seen
any to shoot since we started.

In the morning the trail led us toward the snow, and as we went along, a
brave old crow surprised us by lighting on a bush near the trail, and we
surprised him by killing him with a charge of shot. "Here's your fresh
meat," said Rogers as he put it into his knapsack to cook for supper,
and marched on. As we approached the summit we could see, on the high
mountains south of us, some trees, and when we came near the highest
part of our road there were some juniper trees near it, which was very
encouraging. We crossed over several miles of hard snow, but it
moistened up our moccassins and made them soft and uncomfortable. After
we had turned down the western slope we killed a small hawk. "Here's
your meat" said I, as the poor thin fellow was stowed away for future
grub, to cook with the crow.

When we got out of the snow we had lost the trail again but the hills on
the sides were covered with large brush, and on a higher part of the
mountain south, were some big trees, and we began to think the country
would change for the better pretty soon. We followed down the ravine for
many miles, and when this came out into a larger one, we were greatly
pleased at the prospect, for down the latter came a beautiful little
running brook of clear pure water, singing as it danced over the stones,
a happy song and telling us to drink and drink again, and you may be
sure we did drink, for it had been months and months since we had had
such water, pure, sweet, free from the terrible alkali and stagnant
taste that had been in almost every drop we had seen. Rogers leveled his
shot gun at some birds and killed a beautiful one with a top knot on his
head, and colors bright all down his neck. It was a California quail. We
said birds always lived where human beings did, and we had great hopes
born to us of a better land. I told John that if the folks were only
there now I could kill game enough for them.

We dressed our three birds and got them boiling in the camp kettle, and
while they were cooking talked over the outlook which was so flattering
that our tongues got loose and we rattled away in strange contrast to
the ominous silence of a week ago. While eating our stew of crow and
hawk, we could see willows alders and big sage brush around and we had
noticed what seemed to be cottonwoods farther down the cañon, and green
trees on the slope of the mountain. We were sure we were on the edge of
the promised land and were quite light hearted, till we began to tell of
plans to get the good people out who were waiting for us beside the
little spring in the desert. We talked of going back at once, but our
meat was too near gone, and we must take them something to encourage
them a little and make them strong for the fearful trip. As to these
birds--the quail was as superb a morsel as ever a man did eat; the hawk
was pretty fair and quite good eating; but that abominable crow! His
flesh was about as black as his feathers and full of tough and bony
sinews. We concluded we did not want any more of that kind of bird, and
ever since that day, when I have heard people talk of "eating crow" as a
bitter pill, I think I know all about it from experience.

There seemed to be no other way for us but to push on in the morning and
try to obtain some relief for the poor women and children and then get
back to them as fast as ever we could, so we shouldered our packs and
went on down the cañon as fast as we could. We came soon to evergreen
oaks and tall cottonwoods, and the creek bottom widened out to two
hundred yards. There were trees on the south side and the brush kept
getting larger and larger. There was a trail down this cañon, but as it
passed under fallen trees we knew it could not have been the same one we
had been following on the other side of the summit, and when we
discovered a bear track in a soft place we knew very well it was not a
trail intended for human beings, and we might be ordered out almost any

On the high bold grassy point about four hundred yards we saw two horses
that held their heads aloft and gave a snort, then galloped away out of
sight. About 10 o'clock I felt a sudden pain in my left knee, keen and
sharp, and as we went along it kept growing worse. I had to stop often
to rest, and it was quite plain that if this increased or continued I
was sure enough disabled, and would be kept from helping those whom we
had left. Nerved with the idea we must get help to them, and that right
soon, I hobbled along as well as I could, but soon had to say to Rogers
that he had better go on ahead and get help and let me come on as best I
could, for every moment of delay was a danger of death to our party who
trusted us to get them help. Rogers refused to do this, he said he would
stay with me and see me out, and that he could not do much alone, and
had better wait till I got better. So we worked along through the
tangled brush, being many times compelled to wade the stream to get
along, and this made our moccasins soft and very uncomfortable to wear.
I endured the pain all day, and we must have advanced quite a little
distance in spite of my lameness, but I was glad when night came and we
camped in the dark brushy cañon, having a big fire which made me quite
comfortable all night, though it was quite cold, and we had to keep
close together so as to use the blanket. I felt a little better in the
morning and after eating some of our poor dried meat, which was about as
poor as crow, and I don't know but a little worse, we continued on our

The tangle got worse and worse as we descended, and at times we walked
in the bed of the stream in order to make more headway, but my lameness
increased and we had to go very slow indeed. About noon we came to what
looked like an excavation, a hole four feet square or more it looked to
be, and on the dirt thrown out some cottonwood trees had grown, and one
of the largest of these had been cut down sometime before. This was the
first sign of white men we had seen and it was evidently an attempt at
mining, no one knows how long ago. It encouraged us at any rate, and we
pushed on through brush and briers, tangles of wild rose bushes and
bushes of every sort, till all of a sudden we came out into an open
sandy valley, well covered with sage brush and perhaps a hundred yards
wide; probably more.

The hills on the south side had on them some oak trees and grassy spots,
but the north side was thickly covered with brush. Our beautiful little
brook that had kept us company soon sank into the dry sand out of sight,
and we moved rather slowly along every little while we spoke of the
chances of wagons ever getting through the road we had come, and the
hope that my lameness might not continue to retard our progress in
getting back to the place of our starting, that the poor waiting people
might begin to get out of the terrible country they were in and enjoy as
we had done, the beautiful running stream of this side of the mountain.
If I did not get better the chances were that they would perish, for
they never could come through alone, as the distance had proved much
greater than we had anticipated, and long dry stretches of the desert
were more than they would be prepared for. As it was we feared greatly
that we had consumed so much time they would get impatient and start out
and be lost.

I continued to hobble along down the barren valley as well as I could
and here and there some tracks of animals were discovered, but we could
not make out whether they were those of domestic cattle or elk. Soon, on
the side of a hill, rather high up a pack of prairie wolves were
snarling around the carcass of some dead animal, and this was regarded
as another sign that more and better meat could be found, for these
animals only live where some sort of game can be found, and they knew
better than we that it was not for their health to go into the barren

Before us now was a spur from the hills that reached nearly across our
little valley and shut out further sight in that direction and when we
came to it we climbed up over it to shorten the distance. When the
summit was reached a most pleasing sight filled our sick hearts with a
most indescribable joy. I shall never have the ability to adequately
describe the beauty of the scene as it appeared to us, and so long as I
live that landscape will be impressed upon the canvas of my memory as
the most cheering in the world. There before us was a beautiful meadow
of a thousand acres, green as a thick carpet of grass could make it, and
shaded with oaks, wide branching and symmetrical, equal to those of an
old English park, while all over the low mountains that bordered it on
the south and over the broad acres of luxuriant grass was a herd of
cattle numbering many hundreds if not thousands. They were of all colors
shades and sizes. Some were calmly lying down in happy rumination,
others rapidly cropping the sweet grass, while the gay calves worked off
their superfluous life and spirit in vigorous exercise or drew rich
nourishment in the abundant mother's milk. All seemed happy and content,
and such a scene of abundance and rich plenty and comfort bursting thus
upon our eyes which for months had seen only the desolation and sadness
of the desert, was like getting a glimpse of Paradise, and tears of joy
ran down our faces. If ever a poor mortal escapes from this world where
so many trials come, and joys of a happy Heaven are opened up to him,
the change cannot be much more that this which was suddenly opened to us
on that bright day which was either one of the very last of December
1849 or the first of January 1850, I am inclined to think it was the
very day of the new year, but in our troubles, the accuracy of the
calendar was among the least of our troubles. If it was, as I believe
the beginning of the year, it was certainly a most auspicious one and
one of the most hopeful of my life.

And _now if the others were only here_, was the burden of our thought,
and a serious awakening from the dream of beauty and rich plenty spread
out before us. This ring-streaked and speckled herd might be descended
directly from Jacob's famous herd, blessed of the Lord, and while we
could not keep our thoughts from some sad doubts as to the fate of those
whom we had left behind, we tried to be generally hopeful and courageous
and brightened up our steps to prepare for a relief and return to the
hot dry plain beyond the mountains where they were awaiting us, no doubt
with much tribulation.

I now thought of myself and my failing knee and we sat down under the
shade of an oak to rest, and after a little, better feeling seemed to
come. Down by a deep gully cut by the rains a yearling steer was
feeding, and I took the rifle and crawled down near him and put first
one ball through him, and then another, before he fell dead on the other
side of the wash, when we sprang with all the agility of a deer. We
quickly got some good meat and had it roasted and eaten almost quicker
than can be told. We hardly realized how near starved we were till we
had plenty before us again. We ate till we were satisfied for once, and
for the first time in many long dreary weeks. We kindled a fire and
commenced drying the meat, one sleeping while the other kept the fire,
and changing off every few hours. What a rest that was! One who has
never been nearly worn out and starved, down nearly to the point of
death can never know what it is to rest in comfort. No one can tell. It
was like a dream, a sweet, restful dream where troubles would drown
themselves in sleep. How we felt the strength come back to us with that
food and the long draughts of pure clear water.

The miserable dried meat in our knapsacks was put away and this splendid
jerked beef put in its place. The wolves came to our camp and howled in
dreadful disappointment at not getting a meal. Rogers wanted me to shoot
the miserable howlers, but I let them have their concert out, and
thought going without their breakfast must be punishment enough for
them. As our moccasins were worn out we carefully prepared some sinews
from the steer and made new foot gear from the green hide which placed
us in shape for two or three week's walking.

The morning was clear and pleasant. We had our knapsacks filled with
good food we had prepared, and were enjoying the cool breeze which came
up the valley, when we heard faintly the bark of a dog, or at least we
thought we did. If this were true there must be some one living not very
far away and we felt better. I was still very lame and as we started
along the walking seemed to make it worse again, so that it was all I
could do to follow John on the trail down the valley. As we went along a
man and woman passed us some distance on the left, and they did not seem
to notice us, though we were in plain sight. They were curiously
dressed. The woman had no hoops nor shoes, and a shawl wound about her
neck and one end thrown over her head, was a substitute bonnet. The man
had sandals on his feet, with white cotton pants, a calico shirt, and a
wide rimmed, comical, snuff-colored hat. We at once put them down as
Spaniards, or then descendants of Mexico, and if what we had read about
them in books was true, we were in a set of land pirates, and blood
thirsty men whom we might have occasion to be aware of. We had never
heard a word of Spanish spoken, except perhaps a word or two upon the
plains which some fellow knew, and how we could make ourselves known and
explain who we were was a puzzle to us.

Difficulties began to arise in our minds now we were in an apparent land
of plenty, but in spite of all we went along as fast as my lame knee
would permit me to do. A house on higher ground soon appeared in sight.
It was low, of one story with a flat roof, gray in color, and of a
different style of architecture from any we had ever seen before. There
was no fence around it, and no animals or wagons in sight, nor person to
be seen. As we walked up the hill toward it I told John our moccasins
made of green hide would betray us as having recently killed an animal,
and as these people might be the owners and detain us by having us
arrested for the crime, and this would be especially bad for us just
now. We determined to face the people, and let the fact of our close
necessities be a sufficient excuse for us, if we could make them
understand our circumstances.

As we came near the house no person was seen, but a mule tied to a post
told us there was some one about, and a man soon made an appearance,
dressed about the same style as the one we had passed a short time
before. As we came near we saluted him, bidding him good morning, and he
in turn touched his hat politely, saying something in reply which we
were not able to understand. I showed him that I was lame, and taking
out some money pointed to the mule, but he only shook his head and said
something I could not comprehend. Rogers now began looking around the
house, which was built of sun-dried bricks about one by two feet in
size, and one end was used as a storehouse. As he looked in, a man came
to him and wanted a black, patent leather belt which Rogers wore, having
a watch-pocket attached to it. He offered a quart or more of coarse corn
meal, and Rogers made the trade.

We tried to inquire where we were or where ought to go, but could get no
satisfactory answer from the man, although when we spoke San Francisco
he pointed to the north. This was not very satisfactory to us and we
seemed as badly lost as ever, and where or which way to go we did not
seem very successful in finding out. So we concluded to go on a little
way at least, and I hobbled off in the direction he pointed, which was
down the hill and past a small, poorly fenced field which was sometimes
cultivated, and across the stream which followed down the valley.
Passing on a mile or two we stopped on a big patch of sand to rest.

I told Rogers I did not think this course would lead us to any place in
a month, and just now a delay was ruinous to us and to those who were
waiting for us, and it would not do for us to go off to the north to
find a settlement. While I was expressing my opinion on matters and
things, Rogers had wet up a part of his meal with water and put it to
bake on the cover of his camp kettle. There was a fair sized cake for
each of us, and it was the first bread of any kind we had eaten for
months, being a very acceptable change from an exclusively meat diet.
Looking up the valley we could see a cloud of dust, thick and high, and
soon several men on horseback who came at a rushing gallop. I told
Rogers they were after us, and believed them to be a murderous set who
might make trouble for us. I hastily buried our little store of money in
the sand, telling him that if they got us, they would not get our money.
Putting our guns across our laps in an easy position we had them cocked
and ready for business, and our knives where we could get them handy,
and awaited their arrival.

They came on with a rush until within a short distance and halted for
consultation just across the creek, after which one of them advanced
toward us and as he came near us we could see he was a white man, who
wished us good evening in our own language. We answered him rather
cooly, still sitting in the sand and he no doubt saw that we were a
little suspicious of the crowd. He asked us where we were from, and we
told him our circumstances and condition and that we would like to
secure some means of relief for the people we had left in the desert,
but our means were very limited and we wanted to do the best we could.
He said we were about 500 miles from San Francisco, not far from 100
miles from the coast and thirty miles from Los Angeles. We were much
afraid we would not be able to get anything here, but he told us to go
across the valley to a large live oak tree which he pointed out, and
said we would find an American there, and we should wait there till
morning. He said he would go back and stay at the house we had passed,
and would do what he could to assist us to go to Los Angeles where we
could get some supplies. Then he rode away, and as we talked it over we
saw no way but to follow the directions of our newfound friend.

It seemed now that my lameness had indeed been a blessing. If I had been
able to walk we would now have been well on toward the seashore, where
we could have found no such friend as this who had appeared to us. The
way seemed clearer to us, but the time for our return was almost up and
there was no way of getting back in fifteen days as we had agreed upon,
so there was great danger to our people yet. It seemed very likely to
take us twenty four or thirty days at best, and while they probably had
oxen enough to provide them food for so long a time they might take a
notion to move on, which would be fatal.

At the big live oak tree we found an American camper, who was on his way
to the gold mines. He was going a new route and said the mines could be
reached much quicker than by going up the coast by way of San Francisco.
A new company with wagons was soon to start out to break the road, and
when they crossed the east end of the valley he would follow them. I
think this man's name was Springer. He had come by way of the Santa Fe
route, and the people of Los Angeles had told him this route was an easy
one being often traveled by saddle horses, and if the company could make
it possible for wagons they could have all the cattle they wanted to
kill along the road as their pay for doing the work. Our new friend lay
down early, and as he saw we were scant in blankets he brought some to
us for our use, which were most thankfully received.

As soon as we were alone Rogers mixed up some more of the meal which we
baked in our friend's frying pan, and we baked and ate and baked and ate
again, for our appetites were ravenous, and the demand of our stomachs
got the better of the judgment of our brains.

It was hard to find time to sleep, we were so full of the plans about
the way, which we must manage to get relief for the people. We had many
doubts if animals could ever come over the route we had come over, from
deliberation we decided that by selecting a route with that idea in our
minds, we could get mules and perhaps horses over the country. We
perhaps could go more to the north and take the Jayhawkers trail, but
this would take us fully a hundred miles farther and four or five days
longer, at the best, and every moment of delay was to be carefully
avoided as a moment of danger to our friends.

Thus again, our sleep was troubled from another cause. Being so long
unaccustomed to vegetable food, and helped on, no doubt, by our poor
judgment in gauging the quantity of our food, we were attacked by severe
pains in the stomach and bowels, from which we suffered intensely. We
arose very early and with a very light breakfast, for the sickness
admonished us, we started back for the house we had first passed, at
which our friend on horseback, said he would spend the night and where
we were to meet him this morning. He said he could talk Spanish all
right and would do all he could to help us.

Our suffering and trouble caused us to move very slowly, so that it was
nine or ten o'clock before we reached the house, and we found they had
two horses all ready for us to go to Los Angeles. There were no saddles
for us, but we thought this would be a good way to cure my lameness. The
people seemed to be friends to us in every way. We mounted, having our
packs on our backs, and our guns before us, and with a friendly parting
to the people who did not go, all four of us started on a trip of thirty
miles to the town of Los Angeles.

When we reached the foot of the mountain which was very steep but not
rocky, John and I dismounted and led our animals to the top, where we
could see a long way west, and south, and it looked supremely beautiful.
We could not help comparing it to the long wide, desert we had crossed,
and John and myself said many times how we wished the folks were here to
enjoy the pleasant sight, the beautiful fertile picture.

There appeared to be one quite large house in sight, and not far off,
which the man told us was the Mission of San Fernando, a Roman Catholic
Church and residence for priests and followers. The downward slope of
the mountain was as steep as the other side and larger, and John and I
did not attempt to mount till we were well down on the level ground
again, but the other two men rode up and down without any trouble. We
would let our leaders get half a mile or so ahead of us and then mount
and put our horses to a gallop till we overtook them again. We had
walked so long that riding was very tiresome to us, and for comfort
alone we would have preferred the way on foot, but we could get along a
little faster, and the frequent dismounting kept us from becoming too
lame from riding.

We passed the Mission about noon or a little after, and a few miles
beyond met a man on horseback who lived up to the north about a hundred
miles. His name was French and he had a cattle range at a place called
Tejon (Tahone). Our friends told him who we were, and what assistance we
needed. Mr. French said he was well acquainted in Los Angeles and had
been there some time, and that all the travelers who would take the
Coast route had gone, those who had come by way of Salt Lake had got in
from two to four weeks before, and a small train which had come the
Santa Fe Route was still upon the road. He said Los Angeles was so clear
of emigrants that he did not think we could get any help there at the
present time.

"Now," said Mr. French--"You boys can't talk Spanish and it is not very
likely you will be able to get any help. Now I say, you boys turn back
and go with me and I will give you the best I have, I will let you have
a yoke of gentle oxen, or more if you need them, and plenty of beans,
which are good food for I live on them; besides this I can give an
Indian guide to help you back. Will that do?" After a moment we said we
doubted if oxen could be got over the road, and if they were fat now
they would soon get poor, and perhaps not stand it as well as the oxen
which had became used to that kind of life, and of those they had in
camp all they needed. We wanted to get something for the women and
children to ride, for we knew they must abandon the wagons, and could
not walk so far over that dry, rough country. "Well," said Mr.
French:--"I will stop at the place you were this morning--I know them
well--and they are good folks, and I am sure when I tell them what you
want they will help you if they possibly can. This looks to me to be the
most sensible course." After talking an hour our two companions advised
us that the proposition of Mr. French seemed the most reasonable one
that appeared. But for us to go clear back to his range would take up so
much valuable time that we were almost afraid of the delay which might
mean the destruction of our friends. French said he had a pack saddle,
with him taking it home, and we could put it on one of our horses, and
when we came back to Los Angeles could leave it at a certain saloon or
place he named and tell them it belonged to him and to keep it for him.
I have forgotten the name of the man who kept the saloon. We agreed to
this, and bidding our two companions farewell, we turned back again with
Mr. French.

When night came we were again at the Mission we had passed on the way
down. We were kindly treated here, for I believe Mr. French told them
about us. They sent an Indian to take our horses, and we sat down beside
the great house. There were many smaller houses, and quite a large piece
of ground fenced in by an adobe wall. The roof of the buildings was like
that of our own buildings in having eaves on both, sides, but the
covering was of semi circular tiles made and burned like brick. Rows of
these were placed close together, the hollow sides up, and then another
course over the joints, placed with the round side up, which made a roof
that was perfectly waterproof, but must have been very heavy. These
tiles were about two feet long. All the surroundings, and general make
up of the place were new to us and very wonderful. They gave us good
dried meat to eat and let us sleep in the big house on the floor, which
was as hard as granite, and we turned over a great many times before
daylight, and were glad when morning came. We offered to pay them, but
they would take nothing from us, and we left leading our horses over the
steep mountain, and reaching the house again late in the day. They
turned our horses loose and seemed disposed to be very friendly and
disposed to do for us what they could.

We were very tired and sat down by the side of the house and rested,
wondering how we would come out with our preparations. They were talking
together, but we could not understand a word. A dark woman came out and
gave each of us a piece of cooked squash. It seemed to have been roasted
in the ashes and was very sweet and good. These were all signs of
friendship and we were glad of the good feeling. We were given a place
to sleep in the house, in a store room on a floor which was not soft.
This was the second house we had slept in since leaving Wisconsin, and
it seemed rather pent-up to us.

In the morning we were shown a kind of mill like a coffee mill, and by
putting in a handful of wheat from a pile and giving the mill a few
turns we were given to understand we should grind some flour for
ourselves. We went to work with a will, but found it, hard, slow work.

After a little, our dark woman came and gave us each a pancake and a
piece of meat, also another piece of roasted squash, for our breakfast,
and this, we thought, was the best meal we had ever eaten. The lady
tried to talk to us but we could not understand the words, and I could
convey ideas to her better by the sign language than any other way. She
pointed out the way from which we came and wanted to know how many day's
travel it might be away, and I answered by putting my hand to my head
and closing my eyes, which was repeated as many times as there had been
nights on our journey, at which she was much surprised that the folks
were so far away. She then place her hand upon her breast and then held
it up, to ask how many women there were, and I answered her by holding
up three fingers, at which she shrugged her shoulders and shook her
head. Then pointing to a child by her side, four or five years old, and
in the same way asked how many children, I answered by holding up four
fingers, and she almost cried, opening her mouth in great surprise, and
turned away.

I said to Rogers that she was a kind, well meaning woman, and that Mr.
French had no doubt told her something of our story. Aside from her dark
complexion her features reminded me of my mother, and at first sight of
her I thought of the best woman on earth my own far off mother, who
little knew the hardships we had endured. We went to work again at the
mill and after a while the woman came again and tried to talk and to
teach us some words of her own language. She place her finger on me and
said _ombre_ and I took out my little book and wrote down _ombre_ as
meaning man, and in the same way she taught me that _mujer_, was woman;
_trigo_, wheat; _frijoles_, beans; _carne_, meat; _calazasa_, pumpkin;
_caballo_, horse; _vaca_, cow; _muchacho_, boy, and several other words
in this way.

I got hold of many words thus to study, so that if I ever came back I
could talk a little and make myself understood as to some of the common
objects and things of necessary use. Such friendly, human acts shown to
us strangers, were evidences of the kindest disposition. I shall never
forget the kindness of those original Californians. When in Walker's
camp and finding he was friendly to Mormonism we could claim that we
were also Mormons, but the good people though well known Catholics, did
not so much as mention the fact nor inquire whether we favored that sect
or not. We were human beings in distress and we represented others who
were worse even than we, and those kind acts and great good will, were
given freely because we were fellow human beings.

The provisions we prepared were, a sack of small yellow beans; a small
sack of wheat, a quantity of good dried meat, and some of the coarse,
unbolted flour we had made at the mills. They showed us how to properly
pack the horse, which was a kind of work we had not been use to, and we
were soon ready for a start. I took what money we had and put it on a
block, making signs for them to take what the things were worth. They
took $30, and we were quite surprised to get two horses, provisions,
pack-saddles and ropes, some of the latter made of rawhide and some of
hair, so cheaply, but we afterward learned that the mares furnished were
not considered of much value, and we had really paid a good fair price
for everything. To make it easy for us they had also fixed our knapsacks
on the horses.

The good lady with the child, came out with four oranges and pointed to
her own child and then to the East, put them in the pack meaning we
should carry them to the children. With a hearty good bye from them, and
a polite lifting of our hats to them we started on our return, down
toward the gentle decline of the creek bottom, and then up the valley,
the way we came. Toward night we came to a wagon road crossing the
valley, and as we well knew we could not go up the tangled creek bed
with horses we took this road to the north, which took a dry ravine for
its direction, and in which there was a pack trail, and this the wagons
were following. We kept on the trail for a few miles, and overtook them
in their camp, and camped with them over night. We told them we
considered our outfit entirely too small for the purpose intended, which
was to bring two women and four children out of the desert, but that
being the best we could get, we were taking this help to them and hoped
to save their lives. Our mission became well known and one man offered
to sell us a poor little one-eyed mule, its back all bare of covering
from the effect of a great saddle sore that had very recently healed. He
had picked it up somewhere in Arizona where it had been turned out to
die, but it seemed the beast had enough of the good Santa Ana stock in
it to bring it through and it had no notion of dying at the present
time, though it was scarcely more than a good fair skeleton, even then.
The beast became mine at the price of $15, and the people expressed
great sympathy with us and the dear friends we were going to try to

Another man offered a little snow-white mare, as fat as butter, for $15,
which I paid, though it took the last cent of money I had. This little
beauty of a beast was broken to lead at halter, but had not been broken
in any other way. Rogers said he would ride her where he could, and
before she got to the wagons she would be as gentle as a lamb. He got a
bridle and tried her at once, and then there was a scene of rearing,
jumping and kicking that would have made a good Buffalo Bill circus in
these days. No use, the man could not be thrown off, and the crowd
cheered and shouted to Rogers to--"Hold her level."

After some bucking and backing on the part of the mare and a good deal
of whipping and kicking on the part of the man, and a good many furious
clashes in lively, but very awkward ways, the little beast yielded the
point, and carried her load without further trouble.

The people gave us a good supper and breakfast, and one man came and
presented us with 25 pounds of unbolted wheat flour. They were of great
assistance to us in showing us how to pack and sack our load, which was
not heavy and could be easily carried by our two animals which we had at
first. However we arranged a pack on the mule and this gave me a horse
to ride and a mule to lead, while Rogers rode his milk-white steed and
led the other horse. Thus we went along and following the trail soon
reached the summit from which we could see off to the East a wonderful
distance, probably 200 miles, of the dry and barren desert of hill and
desolate valley over which we had come.

The trail bearing still to the north from this point, we left and turned
due east across the country, and soon came to a beautiful lake of sweet
fresh water situated well up toward the top of the mountain. This lake
is now called Elizabeth Lake. Here we watered our animals and filled our
canteens, then steered a little south of east among the Cabbage trees,
aiming to strike the rain water hole where we had camped as we came
over. We reached the water hole about noon and here found the Jayhawkers
trail, which we took. They had evidently followed us and passed down the
same brushy cañon while we having taken a circuitous route to the north,
had gone around there. Getting water here for ourselves and horses, we
went back to the trail and pushed on as fast as the animals could walk,
and as we now knew where we could get water, we kept on till after dark,
one of us walking to keep the trail, and some time in the night reached
the Willow corral I have spoken of before. There was good water here,
but the Jayhawker's oxen had eaten all the grass that grew in the little
moist place around, and our animals were short of feed. One of us agreed
to stand guard the fore part of the night and the other later, so that
we might not be surprised by Indians and lose our animals. I took the
first watch and let the blaze of the fire go out so as not to attract
attention and as I sat by the dull coals and hot ashes I fell asleep.
Rogers happened to wake and see the situation, and arose and waked me
again saying that we must be more careful or the Indians would get our
horses. You may be sure I kept awake the rest of my watch.

Next day we passed the water holes at the place where we had so
stealthily crawled up to Doty's camp when coming out. These holes held
about two pails of water each, but no stream run away from them. Our
horses seemed to want water badly for when they drank they put their
head in up to their eyes and drank ravenously.

Thirty miles from here to the next water, Doty had told us, and night
overtook us before we could reach it, so a dry camp was made. Our horses
began now to walk with drooping heads and slow, tired steps, so we
divided the load among them all and walked ourselves. The water, when
reached proved so salt the horses would not drink it, and as Doty had
told us the most water was over the mountain ahead of us, we still
followed their trail which went up a very rocky cañon in which it was
hard work for the horses to travel. The horses were all very gentle now
and needed some urging to make them go. Roger's fat horse no longer
tried to unseat its rider or its pack, but seemed to be the most
downhearted of the train. The little mule was the liveliest, sharpest
witted animal of the whole. She had probably traveled on the desert
before and knew better how to get along. She had learned to crop every
spear of grass she came to, and every bit of sage brush that offered a
green leaf was given a nip. She would sometimes leave the trail and go
out to one side to get a little bunch of dry grass, and come back and
take her place again as if she knew her duty. The other animals never
tried to do this. The mule was evidently better versed in the art of
getting a living than the horses.

Above the rough bed of the cañon the bottom was gravelly and narrow, and
the walls on each side nearly perpendicular. Our horses now poked slowly
along and as we passed the steep wall of the cañon the white animal left
the trail and walked with full force, head first, against the solid
rock. She seemed to be blind, and though we went quickly to her and took
off the load she carried, she had stopped breathing by the time we had
it done. Not knowing how far it was to water, nor how soon some of our
other horses might fall, we did not tarry, but pushed on as well as we
could, finding no water. We reached the summit and turned down a ravine,
following the trail, and about dark came to the water they had told us
about, a faint running stream which came out of a rocky ravine and sank
almost immediately in the dry sand. There was water enough for us, but
no grass. It seemed as if the horses were not strong enough to carry a
load, and as we wanted to get them through if possible, we concluded to
bury the wheat and get it on our return. We dug a hole and lined it
with fine sticks, then put in the little bag and covered it with dry
brush, and sand making the surface as smooth as if it had never been
touched, then made our bed on it. The whole work was done after dark so
the deposit could not be seen by the red men and we thought we had done
it pretty carefully.

Next morning the little mule carried all the remaining load, the horses
bearing only their saddles, and seemed hardly strong enough for that.
There was now seven or eight miles of clean loose sand to go over,
across a little valley which came to an end about ten miles north of us,
and extended south to the lake where we went for water on our outward
journey and found it red alkali. Near the Eastern edge of the valley we
turned aside to visit the grave of Mr. Isham, which they had told us of.
They had covered his remains with their hands as best they could, piling
up a little mound of sand over it. Our next camp was to be on the summit
of the range just before us, and we passed the dead body of Mr. Fish, we
had seen before, and go on a little to a level sandy spot in the ravine
just large enough to sleep on. This whole range is a black mass rocky
piece of earth, so barren that not a spear of grass can grow, and not a
drop of water in any place. We tied our horses to rocks and there they
staid all night, for if turned loose there was not a mouthful of food
for them to get.

In the morning an important question was to be decided, and that was
whether we should continue to follow the Jayhawker's trail which led far
to the north to cross the mountain, which stood before us, a mass of
piled-up rocks so steep that it seemed as if a dog could hardly climb
it. Our wagons were nearly due east from this point over the range, and
not more than fifty miles away, while to go around to the north was
fully a hundred miles, and would take us four or five days to make. As
we had already gone so long we expected to meet them any day trying to
get out, and if we went around we might miss them. They might have all
been killed by Indians or they might have already gone. We had great
fears on their account. If they had gone north they might have perished
in the snow.

The range was before us, and we must get to the other side in some way.
We could see the range for a hundred miles to the north and along the
base some lakes of water that must be salt. To the south it got some
lower, but very barren and ending in black, dry buttes. The horses must
have food and water by night or we must leave them to die, and all
things considered it seemed to be the quickest way to camp to try and
get up a rough looking cañon which was nearly opposite us on the other
side. So we loaded the mule and made our way down the rocky road to the
ridge, and then left the Jayhawker's trail, taking our course more south
so as to get around a salt lake which lay directly before us. On our way
we had to go close to a steep bluff, and cross a piece of ground that
looked like a well dried mortar bed, hard and smooth as ice, and thus
got around the head of a small stream of clear water, salt as brine. We
now went directly to the mouth of the cañon we had decided to take, and
traveled up its gravelly bed. The horses now had to be urged along
constantly to keep them moving and they held their heads low down as
they crept along seemingly so discouraged that they would much rather
lie down and rest forever than take another step. We knew they would do
this soon in spite of all our urging, if we could not get water for
them. The cañon was rough enough where we entered it, and a heavy up
grade too, and this grew more and more difficult as we advanced, and the
rough yellowish, rocky walls closed in nearer and nearer together as we

A perpendicular wall, or rather rise, in the rocks was approached, and
there was a great difficulty to persuade the horses to take exertion to
get up and over the small obstruction, but the little mule skipped over
as nimbly as a well-fed goat, and rather seemed to enjoy a little
variety in the proceedings. After some coaxing and urging the horses
took courage to try the extra step and succeeded all right, when we all
moved on again, over a path that grew more and more narrow, more and
more rocky under foot at every moment. We wound around among and between
the great rocks, and had not advanced very far before another
obstruction, that would have been a fall of about three feet had water
been flowing in the cañon, opposed our way. A small pile of lone rocks
enabled the mule to go over all right, and she went on looking for every
spear of grass, and smelling eagerly for water, but all our efforts were
not enough to get the horses along another foot. It was getting nearly
night and every minute without water seemed an age. We had to leave the
horses and go on. We had deemed them indispensable to us, or rather to
the extrication of the women and children, and yet the hope came to us
that the oxen might help some of them out as a last resort. We were sure
the wagons must be abandoned, and such a thing as women riding on the
backs of oxen we had never seen, still it occurred to us as not
impossible and although leaving the horses here was like deciding to
abandon all for the feeble ones, we saw we must do it, and the new hope
arose to sustain us for farther effort. We removed the saddles and
placed them on a rock, and after a few moments hesitation, moments in
which were crowded torrents of wild ideas, and desperate thoughts, that
were enough to drive reason from its throne, we left the poor animals to
their fate and moved along. Just as we were passing out of sight the
poor creatures neighed pitifully after us, and one who has never heard
the last despairing, pleading neigh of a horse left to die can form no
idea of its almost human appeal. We both burst into tears, but it was no
use, to try to save them we must run the danger of sacrificing
ourselves, and the little party we were trying so hard to save.

We found the little mule stopped by a still higher precipice or
perpendicular rise of fully ten feet. Our hearts sank within us and we
said that we should return to our friends as we went away, with our
knapsacks on our backs, and the hope grew very small. The little mule
was nipping some stray blades of grass and as we came in sight she
looked around to us and then up the steep rocks before her with such a
knowing, intelligent look of confidence, that it gave us new courage. It
was a strange wild place. The north wall of the cañon leaned far over
the channel, overhanging considerably, while the south wall sloped back
about the same, making the wall nearly parallel, and like a huge crevice
descending into the mountain from above in a sloping direction.

We decided to try to get the confident little mule over this
obstruction, Gathering all the loose rocks we could we piled them up
against the south wall, beginning some distance below, putting up all
those in the bed of the stream and throwing down others from narrow
shelves above we built a sort of inclined plane along the walls
gradually rising till we were nearly as high as the crest of the fall.
Here was a narrow shelf scarcely four inches wide and a space of from
twelve to fifteen feet to cross to reach the level of the crest. It was
all I could do to cross this space, and there was no foundation to
enable us to widen it so as to make a path for an animal. It was forlorn
hope but we made the most of it. We unpacked the mule and getting all
our ropes together, made a leading line of it. Then we loosened and
threw down all the projecting points of rocks we could above the narrow
shelf, and every piece that was likely to come loose in the shelf
itself. We fastened the leading line to her and with one above and one
below we thought we could help her to keep her balance, and if she did
not make a misstep on that narrow way she might get over safely. Without
a moments hesitation the brave animal tried the pass. Carefully and
steadily she went along, selecting a place before putting down a foot,
and when she came to the narrow ledge leaned gently on the rope, never
making a sudden start or jump, but cautiously as a cat moved slowly
along. There was now no turning back for her. She must cross this narrow
place over which I had to creep on hands and knees, or be dashed down
fifty feet to a certain death. When the worst place was reached she
stopped and hesitated, looking back as well as she could. I was ahead
with the rope, and I called encouragingly to her and talked to her a
little. Rogers wanted to get all ready and he said, "holler" at her as
loud as he could and frighten her across, but I thought the best way to
talk to her gently and let her move steadily.

I tell you, friends, it was a trying moment. It seemed to be weighed
down with all the trails and hardships of many months. It seemed to be
the time when helpless women and innocent children hung on the trembling
balance between life and death. Our own lives we could save by going
back, and sometimes it seemed as if we would perhaps save ourselves the
additional sorrow of finding them all dead to do so at once. I was so
nearly in despair that I could not help bursting in tears, and I was not
ashamed of the weakness. Finally Rogers said, "Come Lewis" and I gently
pulled the rope, calling the little animal, to make a trial. She smelled
all around and looked over every inch of the strong ledge, then took one
careful step after another over the dangerous place. Looking back I saw
Rogers with a very large stone in his hand, ready to "holler" and
perhaps kill the poor beast if she stopped. But she crept along trusting
to the rope to balance, till she was half way across, then another step
or two, when calculating the distance closely she made a spring and
landed on a smooth bit of sloping rock below, that led up to the highest
crest of the precipice, and safely climbed to the top, safe and sound
above the falls. The mule had no shoes and it was wonderful how her
little hoofs clung to the smooth rock. We felt relieved. We would push
on and carry food to the people; we would get them through some way;
there could be no more hopeless moment than the one just past, and we
would save them all.

It was the work of a little while to transfer the load up the precipice,
and pack the mule again, when we proceeded. Around behind some rocks
only a little distance beyond this place we found a small willow bush
and enough good water for a camp. This was a strange cañon. The sun
never shown down to the bottom in the fearful place where the little
mule climbed up, and the rocks had a peculiar yellow color. In getting
our provisions up the precipice, Rogers went below and fastened the rope
while I pulled them up. Rogers wished many times we had the horses up
safely where the mule was, but a dog could hardly cross the narrow path
and there was no hope. Poor brutes, they had been faithful servants, and
we felt sorrowful enough at their terrible fate.

We had walked two days without water, and we were wonderfully refreshed
as we found it here. The way up this cañon was very rough and the bed
full of sharp broken rocks in loose pieces which cut through the bottoms
of our moccasins and left us with bare feet upon the acute points and
edges. I took off one of my buckskin leggins, and gave it to Rogers, and
with the other one for myself we fixed the moccasins with them as well
as we could, which enabled us to go ahead, but I think if our feet had
been shod with steel those sharp rocks would have cut through.

Starting early we made the summit about noon, and from here we could see
the place where we found a water hole and camped the first night after
we left the wagons. Down the steep cañon we turned, the same one in
which we had turned back with the wagons, and over the sharp broken
pieces of volcanic rock that formed our only footing we hobbled along
with sore and tender feet. We had to watch for the smoothest place for
every step, and then moved only with the greatest difficulty. The
Indians could have caught us easily if they had been around for we must
keep our eyes on the ground constantly and stop if we looked up and
around. But we at last got down and camped on some spot where we had set
out twenty-five days before to seek the settlements. Here was the same
little water hole in the sand plain, and the same strong sulphur water
which we had to drink the day we left. The mule was turned loose
dragging the same piece of rawhide she had attached to her when we
purchased her, and she ranged and searched faithfully for food finding
little except the very scattering bunches of sage brush. She was
industrious and walked around rapidly picking here and there, but at
dark came into camp and lay down close to us to sleep.

There was no sign that any one had been here during our absence, and if
the people had gone to hunt a way out, they must either have followed
the Jayhawker's trail or some other one. We were much afraid that they
might have fallen victims to the Indians. Remaining in camp so long it
was quite likely they had been discovered by them and it was quite
likely they had been murdered for the sake of the oxen and camp
equipage. It might be that we should find the hostiles waiting for us
when we reached the appointed camping place, and it was small show for
two against a party. Our mule and her load would be a great capture for
them. We talked a great deal and said a great many things at that camp
fire for we knew we were in great danger, and we had many doubts about
the safety of our people, that would soon be decided, and whether for
joy or sorrow we could not tell.

From this place, as we walked along, we had a wagon road to follow, in
soft sand, but not a sign of a human footstep could we see, as we
marched toward this, the camp of the last hope. We had the greatest
fears the people had given up our return and started out for themselves
and that we should follow on, only to find them dead or dying. My pen
fails me as I try to tell the feelings and thoughts of this trying hour.
I can never hope to do so, but if the reader can place himself in my
place, his imagination cannot form a picture that shall go beyond

We were some seven or eight miles along the road when I stopped to fix
my moccasin while Rogers went slowly along. The little mule went on
ahead of both of us, searching all around for little bunches of dry
grass, but always came back to the trail again and gave us no trouble.
When I had started up again I saw Rogers ahead leaning on his gun and
waiting for me, apparently looking at something on the ground. As I came
near enough to speak I asked what he had found and he said--"Here is
Capt. Culverwell, dead." He did not look much like a dead man. He lay
upon his back with arms extended wide, and his little canteen, made of
two powder flasks, lying by his side. This looked indeed as if some of
our saddest forebodings were coming true. How many more bodies should we
find? Or should we find the camp deserted, and never find a trace of the
former occupants.

We marched toward camp like two Indians, silent and alert, looking out
for dead bodies and live Indians, for really we more expected to find
the camp devastated by those rascals than to find that it still
contained our friends. To the east we could plainly see what seemed to
be a large salt lake with a bed that looked as if of the finest, whitest
sand, but really a wonder of salt crystal. We put the dreary steps
steadily one forward of another, the little mule the only unconcerned
one of the party, ever looking for an odd blade of grass, dried in the
hot dry wind, but yet retaining nourishment, which she preferred.

About noon we came in sight of the wagons, still a long way off, but in
the clear air we could make them out, and tell what they were, without
being able to see anything more. Half a mile was the distance between us
and the camp before we could see very plainly, as they were in a little
depression. We could see the covers had been taken off, and this was an
ominous sort of circumstance to us, for we feared the depredations of
the Indians in retaliation for the capture of their squashes. They had
shot our oxen before we left and they have slain them this time and the
people too.

We surely left seven wagons. Now we could see only four and nowhere the
sign of an ox. They must have gone ahead with a small train, and left
these four standing, after dismantling them.

No signs of life were anywhere about, and the thought of our hard
struggles between life and death to go out and return, with the
fruitless results that now seemed apparent was almost more than human
heart could bear. When should we know their fate? When should we find
their remains, and how learn of their sad history if we ourselves should
live to get back again to settlements and life? If ever two men were
troubled, Rogers and I surely passed through the furnace.

We kept as low and as much out of sight as possible, trusting very much
to the little mule that was ahead, for we felt sure she would detect
danger in the air sooner than we, and we watched her closely to see how
she acted. She slowly walked along looking out for food, and we followed
a little way behind, but still no decisive sign to settle the awful
suspense in which we lived and suffered. We became more and more
convinced that they had taken the trail of the Jayhawkers, and we had
missed them on the road, or they had perished before reaching the place
where we turned from their trail.

One hundred yards now to the wagons and still no sign of life, no
positive sign of death, though we looked carefully for both. We fear
that perhaps there are Indians in ambush, and with nervous irregular
breathing we counsel what to do. Finally Rogers suggested that he had
two charges in his shot gun and I seven in the Coll's rifle, and that I
fire one of mine and await results before we ventured any nearer, and if
there are any of the red devils there we can kill some of them before
they get to us. And now both closely watching the wagons I fired the
shot. Still as death and not a move for a moment, and then as if by
magic a man came out from under a wagon and stood up looking all around,
for he did not see us. Then he threw up his arms high over his head and
shouted--"The boys have come. The boys have come!" Then other bare heads
appeared, and Mr. Bennett and wife and Mr. Arcane came toward us as fast
as ever they could. The great suspense was over and our hearts were
first in our mouths, and then the blood all went away and left us almost
fainting as we stood and tried to step. Some were safe perhaps all of
those nearest us, and the dark shadow of death that had hovered over us,
and cast what seemed a pall upon every thought and action, was lifted
and fell away a heavy oppression gone. Bennett and Arcane caught us in
their arms and embraced us with all their strength, and Mrs. Bennett
when she came fell down on her knees and clung to me like a maniac in
the great emotion that came to her, and not a word was spoken. If they
had been strong enough they would have carried us to camp upon their
shoulders. As it was they stopped two or three times, and turned as if
to speak, but there was too much feeling for words, convulsive weeping
would choke the voice.

All were a little calmer soon, and Bennett soon found voice to say:--"I
know you have found some place, for you have a mule," and Mrs. Bennett
through her tears, looked staringly at us as she could hardly believe
our coming back was a reality, and then exclaimed:--"Good boys! O, you
have saved us all! God bless you forever! Such boys should never die!"
It was some time before they could talk without weeping. Hope almost
died within them, and now when the first bright ray came it almost
turned reason from its throne. A brighter happier look came to them than
we had seen, and then they plied us with questions the first of which
was:--"Where were you?"

We told them it must be 250 miles yet to any part of California where we
could live. Then came the question;--"Can we take our wagons?" "You will
have to walk," was our answer, for no wagons could go over that unbroken
road that we had traveled. As rapidly and carefully as we could we told
them of our journey, and the long distance between the water holes; that
we had lost no time and yet had been twenty six days on the road; that
for a long distance the country was about as dry and desolate as the
region we had crossed east of this camp. We told them of the scarcity of
grass, and all the reasons that had kept us so long away from them.

We inquired after the others whom we had left in camp when we went away,
and we were told all they knew about them. Hardly were we gone before
they began to talk about the state of affairs which existed. They said
that as they had nothing to live on but their oxen it would be certain
death to wait here and eat them up, and that it would be much better to
move on a little every day and get nearer and nearer the goal before the
food failed. Bennett told them they would know surely about the way when
the boys returned, and knowing the road would know how to manage and
what to expect and work for, and could get out successfully. But the
general opinion of all but Mr. Bennett and Mr. Arcane and their families
was, as expressed by one of them:--"If those boys ever get out of this
cussed hole, they are d----d fools if they ever come back to help

Some did not stay more than a week after we were gone, but took their
oxen and blankets and started on. They could not be content to stay idly
in camp with nothing to occupy their minds or bodies. They could see
that an ox when killed would feed them only a few days, and that they
could not live long on them, and it stood them in hand to get nearer the
western shore as the less distance the more hope while the meat lasted.
Bennett implored them to stay as he was sure we would come back, and if
the most of them deserted him he would be exposed to the danger of the
Indians, with no hope of a successful resistance against them.

But the most seemed to think that to stay was to die, and it would be
better to die trying to escape than to set idly down to perish. These
men seemed to think their first duty was to save themselves, and if
fortunate, help others afterward, so they packed their oxen and left in
separate parties, the last some two weeks before. They said that Capt.
Culverwell went with the last party. I afterward learned that he could
not keep up with them and turned to go back to the wagons again, and
perished, stretched out upon the sand as we saw him, dying all alone,
with no one to transmit his last words to family or friends. Not a
morsel to eat, and the little canteen by his side empty. A sad and
lonely death indeed!

There was no end to the questions about the road we had to answer, for
this was uppermost on their minds, and we tried to tell them and show
them how we must get along on our return. We told them of the great snow
mountains we had seen all to the north of our road, and how deep the
snow appeared to be, and how far west it extended. We told them of the
black and desolate ranges and buttes to the south, and of the great dry
plains in the same direction. We told them of the Jayhawkers trail; of
Fish's dead body; of the salt lake and slippery alkali water to which we
walked, only to turn away in disappointment; of the little sheets of ice
which saved our lives; of Doty's camp and what we knew of those gone
before; of the discouraged ones who gave us their names to send back to
friends; of the hawk and crow diet; of my lameness; of the final coming
out into a beautiful valley, in the midst of fat cattle and green
meadows, and the trouble to get the help arranged on account of not
knowing the language to tell the people what we needed. They were deeply
impressed that my lameness had been a blessing in disguise, or we would
have gone on to the coast and consumed more time than we did in walking
slowly to favor the cripple knee. Our sad adventures and loss of the
horses in returning was sorrowfully told and we spoke of the provisions
we had been able to bring on the little mule which had clambered over
the rocks like a cat; that we had a little flour and beans, and some
good dried meat with fat on it which we hoped would help to eke out the
poorer fare and get them through at last. They were so full of
compliments that we really began to think we had been brought into the
world on purpose to assist some one, and the one who could forecast all
things had directed us, and all our ways, so that we should save those
people and bring them to a better part of God's footstool, where plenty
might be enjoyed, and the sorrows of the desert forgotten. It was
midnight before we could get them all satisfied with their knowledge of
our experience.

[Illustation: Leaving Death Valley.--The Manly Party on Foot After
Leaving Their Wagons.]

It was quite a treat to us to sleep again between good blankets,
arranged by a woman's hand, and it was much better resting than the
curled up, cramped position we had slept in while away, with only the
poor protection of the half blanket for both of us, in nights that were
pretty chilly.

We had plenty of water here, and there being no fear of the mule going
astray we turned her loose. As the party had seen no Indians during our
absence we did not concern ourselves much about them. At breakfast we
cautioned them about eating too much bread, remembering, our own
experience in that way.

They said they had about given up our coming back a week before, and had
set about getting ready to try to move on themselves. Bennett said he
was satisfied that they never could have got through alone after what we
had told them of the route and its dangers. He said he knew it now that
not one of them would have lived if they had undertaken the journey
alone without knowledge of the way.

They had taken off the covers of the wagons to make them into houses for
the oxen, so they could be used as pack animals. The strong cloth had
been cut into narrow strips and well made into breast straps and
breeching, for the cattle were so poor and their hide so loose it was
almost impossible to keep anything on their backs. They had emptied the
feathers out of the beds to get the cloth to use, and had tried to do
everything that seemed best to do to get along without wagons. The oxen
came up for water, and the mule with them. They looked better than when
we left, but were still poor. They had rested for some time and might
feel able to go along willingly for a few days at least. I was handy
with the needle, and helped them to complete the harness for the oxen,
while Bennett and John went to the lake to get a supply of salt to take
along, a most necessary article with our fresh meat. I looked around a
little at our surroundings, and could see the snow still drifting over
the peak of the snowy mountain as we had seen it farther east, where we
were ourselves under the burning sun. This was now pretty near February
first, or midwinter. The eastern side of this great mountain was too
steep to be ascended, and no sign of a tree could be seen on the whole
eastern slope. The range of mountains on the east side of this narrow
valley were nearly all the volcanic, barren in the extreme, and the
roughest of all the mountains we had ever seen. I had now looked pretty
thoroughly, and found it to be pretty nearly a hundred miles long, and
this was the only camp I had seen where water could be had.

When Mrs. Bennet was ready to show me what to do on the cloth harness,
we took a seat under the wagon, the only shady place and began work. The
great mountain, I have spoken of as the snow mountain has since been
known as Telescope Peak, reported to be 11,000 feet high. It is in the
range running north and south and has no other peak so high. Mrs.
Bennett questioned me closely about the trip, and particularly if I had
left anything out which I did not want her to know. She said she saw her
chance to ride was very slim, and she spoke particularly of the
children, and that it was impossible for them to walk. She said little
Martha had been very sick since we had been gone, and that for many days
they had expected her to die. They had no medicine to relieve her and
the best they could do was to select the best of the ox meat, and make a
little soup of it and feed her, they had watched her carefully for many
days and nights, expecting they would have to part with her any time and
bury her little body in the sands. Sometimes it seemed as if her breath
would stop, but they had never failed in their attentions, and were at
last rewarded by seeing her improve slowly, and even to relish a little
food, so that if no relapse set in they had hopes to bring her through.
They brought the little one and showed her to me, and she seemed so
different from what she was when we went away. Then she could run about
camp climb out and in the wagons, and move about so spry that she
reminded one of a quail. Now she was strangely misshapen. Her limbs had
lost all the flesh and seemed nothing but skin and bones, while her body
had grown corpulent and distended, and her face had a starved pinched
and suffering look, with no healthy color in it.

She told me of their sufferings while we were gone, and said she often
dreamed she saw us suffering fearfully for water, and lack of food and
could only picture to herself as their own fate, that they must leave
the children by the trail side, dead, and one by one drop out themselves
in the same way. She said she dreamed often of her old home where bread
was plenty, and then to awake to find her husband and children starving
was a severe trial indeed, and the contrast terrible. She was anxious to
get me to express an opinion as to whether I thought we could get the
oxen down the falls where we had so much trouble.

I talked to her as encouragingly as I could, but she did not cheer up
much and sobbed and wept over her work most all the time. It was not
possible to encourage her much, the outlook seemed so dark. Mrs. Arcane
sat under another wagon and said nothing, but she probably heard all we
had to say, and did not look as if her hopes were any brighter. Bennett
and Rogers soon returned with a supply of salt and said the whole shore
of the lake was a winrow of it, that could be shoveled up in enormous

We now in a counsel of the whole, talked over the matter, and the way
which seemed most promising. If we went by the Jayhawkers trail, there
was a week of solid travel to get over the range and back south again as
far as a point directly opposite our camp, and this had taken us only
three days to come over as we had come. The only obstacle in the way was
the falls, and when we explained that there was some sand at the bottom
of them, Bennett said he thought we could get them over without killing
them, and that, as we knew exactly where the water was, this was the
best trail to take. Arcane was quite of the same opinion, the saving of
a week of hard and tiresome travel being in each case the deciding
reason. They then explained to me what they had decided on doing if we
had not come back. They had selected two oxen for the women to ride one
to carry water and one to carry the four children. There were no saddles
but blankets enough to make a soft seat, and they proposed to put a band
or belt around the animals for them to hold on by, and the blankets
would be retained in place by breast and breeching straps which we had
made. They had found out that it was very difficult to keep a load of
any kind upon an ox, and had devised all this harness to meet the

Bennett had one old bridle ox called Old Crump, which had been selected
to carry the children, because he was slow and steady. How in the world
do you expect it to keep the children on?--said I. "Well"--said Bennett,
with a sort of comical air, about the first relief from the sad line of
thought that had possessed us all--"We have taken two strong hickory
shirts, turned the sleeves inside, sewed up the necks, then sewed the
two shirts together by the tail, and when these are placed on the ox
they will make two pockets for the youngest children, and we think the
two others will be able to cling to his back with the help of a band
around the body of the ox to which they can cling to, with their hands."
Now if Old Crump went steady and did not kick up and scatter things, he
thought this plan would operate first rate. Now as to the mule they
proposed as we knew how to pack the animal, that we should use her to
pack our provisions so they would go safe.

From a piece of hide yet remaining John and I made ourselves some new
moccasins, and were all ready to try the trip over our old trail for now
the third time, and the last, we hoped.

Mrs. Bennett and Mrs. Arcane had taken our advice, and in cooking had
not put too much of the flour or beans into the soup for the children
and they had gotten along nicely, and even began to smile a little with
satisfaction after a full meal. They got along better than John and I
did when we got hold of the first nutritions after our arrival on the
other side.

We must leave everything here we can get along without. No clothing
except that on our backs. Only a camp kettle in which to make soup, a
tin cup for each one, and some knives and spoons which each happen to
have. Each one had some sort of a canteen for water, which we must fill
up at every opportunity, and we decided to carry a shovel along, so we
might bury the body of Capt. Culverwell, and shovel up a pile of sand at
the falls to enable us to get the oxen over. Every ox had a cloth halter
on his head, so he might be led, or tied up at night when we had a dry
camp, and they would most assuredly wander off if not secured. Old Crump
was chosen to lead the train, and Rogers was to lead him. We had made an
extra halter for this old fellow, and quite a long strip of bed ticking
sewed into a strap to lead him by.

This packing business was a new idea, and a hard matter to get anything
firmly fixed on their backs.

We had made shoulder straps, hip straps, breast straps and breeching as
the correct idea for a harness. The only way we could fasten the band
around the animals was for one to get on each side and pull it as tight
as possible then tie a knot, as we had no buckles or ring in our

The loads of the oxen consisted of blankets and bedding and a small,
light tent of their sheeting about four by six feet in size. We rose
early and worked hard till about the middle of the forenoon getting all
things ready. They had been in a state of masterly inactivity so long in
this one camp that they were anxious to leave it now forever. Only in
progress was there hope, and this was our last and only chance. We must
succeed or perish. We loaded the animals from the wagons, and some of
the oxen seemed quite afraid at this new way of carrying loads. Old
Crump was pretty steady, and so was the one with the two water kegs one
on each side but the other oxen did not seem to think they needed any
blankets on these warm days.

Mrs. Arcane was from a city, and had fondly conveyed thus far some
articles of finery, of considerable value and much prized. She could not
be persuaded to leave them here to deck the red man's wife, and have her
go flirting over the mountains with, and as they had little weight she
concluded she would wear them and this perhaps would preserve them. So
she got out her best hat and trimmed it up with extra ribbon leaving
some with quite long ends to stream out behind. Arcane brought up his ox
Old Brigham, for he had been purchased at Salt Lake and named in honor
of the great Mormon Saint.

Mrs. Arcane also dressed her little boy Charlie up In his best suit of
clothes, for she thought they might as well wear them out as to throw
them away. She made one think of a fairy in gay and flying apparel. In
the same way all selected their best and most serviceable garments, for
it was not considered prudent to carry any load, and poor clothes were
good enough to leave for Indians. We set it down as a principle that we
must save ourselves all we could, for it would be a close contested
struggle with us and death, at the very best, and we wanted to get all
the advantage for ourselves we could. As we were making the preparations
the women grew more hopeful, as it seemed as if something was really
going to be accomplished.

Bennett and Arcane were emphatic in their belief and expressions that we
would succeed, "I know it--Don't you Sally?" said Bennett very
cheerfully, but after all Mrs. Bennett could not answer quite as
positively, but said "I hope so."--Mrs. Bennett's maiden name was Sarah
Dilley, which I mention here as I may otherwise forget it afterward. She
realized that hers was no easy place to ride, that they would have hard
fare at best, and that it must be nearly or quite a month before they
could reach a fertile spot on which to place her feet. One could easily
see that the future looked quite a little dark to her, on account of her
children, as a mother naturally would.

High overhead was the sun, and very warm indeed on that day in the fore
part of February 1850, when the two children were put on Old Crump to
see if he would let them ride. The two small children were placed in the
pockets on each side, face outward, and they could stand or sit as they
should choose. George and Melissa were placed on top and given hold of
the strap that was to steady them in their place. I now led up Mrs.
Bennett's ox and Mr. Bennett helped his wife to mount the animal, on
whose back as soft a seat as possible had been constructed. Mrs. Arcane
in her ribbons was now helped to her seat on the back of Old Brigham and
she carefully adjusted herself to position, and arranged her dress and
ornaments to suit, then took hold of the strap that served to hold on by
as there were no bridles on these two.

Rogers led the march with his ox; Bennett and I started the others
along, and Arcane followed with Old Crump and the children. Bennett and
Arcane took off their hats and bade the old camp good bye. The whole
procession moved, and we were once more going toward our journey's end
we hoped. The road was sandy and soft, the grade practically level, and
everything went well for about four miles, when the pack on one of the
oxen near the lead got loose and and turned over to one side, which he
no sooner saw thus out of position, then he tried to get away from it by
moving sidewise. Not getting clear of the objectionable load in this way
he tried to kick it off, and thus really got his foot in it, making
matters worse instead of better. Then he began a regular waltz and
bawled at the top of his voice in terror. Rogers tried to catch him but
his own animal was so frisky that he could not hold him and do much
else, and the spirit of fear soon began to be communicated to the others
and soon the whole train seemed to be taken crazy.

They would jump up high and then come down, sticking their fore feet as
far as possible into the sand after which, with elevated tails, and
terrible plunges would kick and thrash and run till the packs came off,
when they stopped apparently quite satisfied. Mrs. Bennett slipped off
her ox as quick as she could, grabbed her baby from the pocket on Old
Crump, and shouting to Melissa and George to jump, got her family into
safe position in pretty short order. Arcane took his Charley from the
other pocket and laid him on the ground, while he devoted his own
attention to the animals. Mrs. Arcane's ox followed suit, and waltzed
around in the sand, bawled at every turn, fully as bad as any of the
others, but Mrs. Arcane proved to be a good rider, and hard to unseat,
clinging desperately to her strap as she was tossed up and down, and
whirled about at a rate enough to to make any one dizzy. Her many fine
ribbons flew out behind like the streamers from a mast-head, and the
many fancy fixin's she had donned fluttered in the air in gayest
mockery. Eventually she was thrown however, but without the least injury
to herself, but somewhat disordered in raiment. When I saw Bennett he
was standing half bent over laughing in almost hysterical convulsion at
the entirely impromptu circus which had so suddenly performed an act not
on the program. Arcane was much pleased and laughed heartily when he saw
no one was hurt. We did not think the cattle had so much life and so
little sense as to waste their energies so uselessly. The little mule
stepped out one side and looked on in amazement, with out disarranging
any article of her load.

Mrs. Bennett, carrying her baby and walking around to keep out of the
way, got very much exhausted, and sat down on the sand, her face as red
as if the blood were about to burst through the skin, and perspiring
freely. We carried a blanket and spread down for her while we gathered
in the scattered baggage. Then the oxen were got together again, and
submitted to being loaded up again as quietly as if nothing had
happened. Myself and the women had to mend the harness considerably, and
Arcane and his ox went back for some water, while Rogers and Bennett
took the shovel and went ahead about a mile to cover up the body of
Capt. Culverwell, for some of the party feared the cattle might be
terrified at seeing it. All this took so much time that we had to make a
camp of it right here.

We put the camp kettle on two stones, built a fire, put in some beans
and dried meat cut very fine, which cooked till Arcane came with more
water, which was added, and thickened with a little of the unbolted
flour, making a pretty good and nutritious soup which we all enjoyed. We
had to secure the animals, for there was neither grass nor water for
them, and we thought they might not be in so good spirits another day.

We had little trouble in packing up again in the morning, and concluded
to take a nearer route to the summit, so as to more quickly reach the
water holes where Rogers and I camped on our first trip over the
country. This would be a hard rocky road on its course leading up a
small rocky cañon, hard on the feet of the oxen, so they had to be
constantly urged on, as they seemed very tender footed. They showed no
disposition to go on a spree again and so far as keeping the loads on,
behaved very well indeed. The women did not attempt to ride but followed
on, close after Old Crump and the children who required almost constant
attention, for in their cramped position they made many cries and
complaints. To think of it, two children cramped up in narrow pockets,
in which they could not turn around, jolted and pitched around over the
rough road, made them objects of great suffering to themselves and
anxiety and labor on the part of the mothers.

Mrs. Bennett said she would carry her baby if she could, but her own
body was so heavy for her strength that she could not do it. Bennett,
Rogers and myself hurried the oxen all we could, so that we could reach
the water, and let Bennett go back with some to meet the rest and
refresh them for the end of the day's march, and he could take poor
little Martha from the pocket and carry her in his arms, which would be
a great relief to her. Arcane also took his child when he met them,
throwing away his double barrel gun, saying:--"I have no use for you."

When the women reached camp we had blankets already spread down for
them, on which they cast themselves, so tired as to be nearly dead. They
were so tired and discouraged they were ready to die, for they felt they
could not endure many days like this.

We told them this was the first day and they were not used to exercise
therefore more easily tired than after they became a little used to it.
We told them not to be discouraged, for we knew every water hole, and
all the road over which we would pilot them safely. They would not
consent to try riding again, after their circus experience, and Mrs.
Arcane said her limbs ached so much she did not think she could even go
on the next day. They had climbed over the rocks all day, and were lame
and sore, and truly thought they could not endure such another day. The
trail had been more like stairs than a road in its steep ascent, and our
camp was at a narrow pass in the range. The sky was clear and cloudless,
as it had been for so long for thus far upon this route no rain had
fallen, and only once a little snow, that came to us like manna in the
desert. For many days we had been obliged to go without water both we
and our cattle, and over the route we had come we had not seen any signs
of a white man's presence older than our own. I have no doubt we were
the first to cross the valley in this location, a visible sink hole in
the desert.

The women did not recover sufficient energy to remove their clothing,
but slept as they were, and sat up and looked around with uncombed hair
in the morning, perfect pictures of dejection. We let them rest as long
as we could, for their swollen eyes and stiffened joints told how sadly
unprepared they were to go forward at once. The sun came out early and
made it comfortable, while a cool and tonic breeze, came down from the
great snow mountain the very thing to brace them up after a thorough

The slope to the east was soon met by a high ridge and between this and
the main mountain was a gentle slope scattered over with sage brush, and
a few little stools of bunch grass here and there between. This gave our
oxen a little food and by dipping out the water from the holes and
letting them fill up again we managed to get water for camp use and to
give the animals nearly all they wanted.

While waiting for the women Bennett and Arcane wanted to go out and get
a good view of the great snowy mountain I had told them so much about.
The best point of view was near our camp, perhaps three or four hundred
yards away, and I went with them. This place where we now stood was
lower than the mountains either north or south, but were difficult to
climb, and gave a good view in almost every direction, and there, on the
back bone of the ridge we had a grand outlook, but some parts of it
brought back doleful recollections. They said they had traveled in sight
of that mountain for months and seen many strange formations, but never
one like this, as developed from this point. It looked to be
seventy-five miles to its base, and to the north and west there was a
succession of snowy peaks that seemed to have no end. Bennett and Arcane
said they never before supposed America contained mountains so grand
with peaks that so nearly seemed to pierce the sky. Nothing except a
bird could ever cross such steep ranges as that one.

West and south it seemed level, and low, dark and barren buttes rose
from the plain, but never high enough to carry snow, even at this season
of the year. I pointed out to them the route we were to follow, noting
the prominent points, and it could be traced for fully one hundred and
twenty-five miles from the point on which we stood. This plain, with its
barren ranges and buttes is now known as the Mojave Desert. This part of
the view they seemed to study over, as if to fix every point and water
hole upon their memory. We turned to go to camp, but no one looked back
on the country we had come over since we first made out the distant snow
peak, now so near us, on November 4th 1849. The only butte in this
direction that carried snow was the one where we captured the Indian and
where the squashes were found.

The range next east of us across the low valley was barren to look upon
as a naked, single rock. There were peaks of various heights and colors,
yellow, blue firery red and nearly black. It looked as if it might
sometime have been the center of a mammoth furnace. I believe this range
is known as the Coffin's Mountains. It would be difficult to find earth
enough in the whole of it to cover a coffin.

Just as we were ready to leave and return to camp we took off our hats,
and then overlooking the scene of so much trial, suffering and death
spoke the thought uppermost saying:--"_Good bye Death Valley!"_ then
faced away and made our steps toward camp. Even after this in speaking
of this long and narrow valley over which we had crossed into its nearly
central part, and on the edge of which the lone camp was made, for so
many days, it was called Death Valley.

Many accounts have been given to the world as to the origin of the name
and by whom it was thus designated but ours were the first visible
footsteps, and we the party which named it the saddest and most dreadful
name that came to us first from its memories.


Out of Death Valley we surely were. To Rogers and I, the case seemed
hopeful, for we had confidence in the road and believed all would have
power to weather difficulties, but the poor women--it is hard to say
what complaints and sorrows were not theirs. They seemed to think they
stood at death's door, and would about as soon enter, as to take up a
farther march over the black, desolate mountains and dry plains before
them, which they considered only a dreary vestibule to the dark door
after all. They even had an idea that the road was longer than we told
them, and they never could live to march so far over the sandy, rocky
roads. The first day nearly satisfied them that it was no use to try,
Rogers and I counted up the camps we ought to reach each day and in this
way could pretty near convince them of time that would be consumed in
the trip. We encouraged them in every way we could; told them we had
better get along a little every day and make ourselves a little nearer
the promised land, and the very exercise would soon make them stronger
and able to make a full day's march.

John and I told them we felt in much better spirits now than we did when
we set out alone, and now that nothing but the arrows of an Indian could
stop us. We said to them. "We are not going to leave you two ladies out
here to die for there is not a sign of a grave to put you in,--" and it
was a pretty tough place to think of making one. We told them of the
beautiful flowery hillsides over the other side and begged them to go
over there to die, as it would be so much better and easier to perform
the last sad rites there instead of here on the top of the dismal
mountain. It seemed quite like a grim joke, but it produced a reaction
that turned the tide of thoughts and brought more courage. We only laid
out the march for this day as far as the falls and after a little
prepared to move. The cattle seemed to have quit their foolishness, and
they were loaded without trouble. The children fitted into the pockets
better than usual, and the mothers with full canteens strapped across
their shoulders picked out soft places on which to place their poor
blistered feet at every step. They walked as if they were troubled with
corns on every toe and on their heels into the bargain, and each foot
was so badly affected, that they did not know on which one to limp. But
still they moved, and we were once more on our way westward. They often
stopped to rest, and Arcane waited for them with Old Crump, while they
breathed and complained awhile and then passed on again.

[Illustration: The Oxen Get Frisky.]

The route was first along the foot of the high peak, over bare rocks and
we soon turned south somewhat so as to enter the cañon leading down to
the falls. The bottom of this was thick with broken rock, and the oxen
limped and picked out soft places about as bad as the women did. A pair
of moccasins would not last long in such rocks and we hoped to get out
of them very soon. Rogers and I hurried along, assisting Arcane and his
party as much as we could, while Bennett staid behind and assisted the
women as much as possible, taking their arms, and by this means they
also reached camp an hour behind the rest.

A kettle of hot steaming soup, and blankets all spread out on which to
rest, was the work Rogers and I had done to prepare for them, and they
sank down on the beds completely exhausted. The children cried some but
were soon pacified and were contented to lie still. A good supper of hot
soup made them feel much better all around.

The first thing Bennett and Arcane did was to look round and see the
situation at the falls, and see if the obstacle was enough to stop our
progress, or if we must turn back and look for a better way. They were
in some doubt about it, but concluded to try and get the animals over
rather than to take the time to seek another pass, which might take a
week of time. We men all went down to the foot of the fall, and threw
out all the large rocks, then piled up all the sand we could scrape
together with the shovel, till we had quite a pile of material that
would tend to break a fall. We arranged everything possible for a forced
passage in the morning, and the animals found a few willows to browse
and a few bunches of grass here and there, which gave them a little
food, while the spring supplied them with enough water to keep them from
suffering with thirst.

Early in the morning we took our soup hastily and with ropes lowered our
luggage over the small precipice, then the children, and finally all the
ropes were combined to make a single strong one about thirty feet long.
They urged one of the oxen up to the edge of the falls, put the rope
around his horns, and threw down the end to me, whom they had stationed
below. I was told to pull hard when he started so that he might not
light on his head and break his neck. We felt this was a desperate
undertaking, and we fully expected to lose some of our animals, but our
case was critical and we must take some chances. Bennett stood on one
side of the ox, and Arcane on the other, while big Rogers was placed in
the rear to give a regular Tennessee boost when the word was given. "Now
for it," said Bennett, and as I braced out on the rope those above gave
a push and the ox came over, sprawling, but landed safely, cut only a
little by some angular stones in the sand pile. "Good enough," said some
one and I threw the rope back for another ox. "We'll get 'em all over
safely" said Arcane, "if Lewis down there, will keep them from getting
their necks broken." Lewis pulled hard every time, and not a neck was
broken. The sand pile was renewed every time and made as high and soft
as possible, and very soon all our animals were below the falls. The
little mule gave a jump when they pushed her and lighted squarely on her
feet all right. With the exception of one or two slight cuts, which bled
some, the oxen were all right and we began loading them at once.

Bennett and Arcane assisted their wives down along the little narrow
ledge which we used in getting up, keeping their faces toward the rocky
wall, and feeling carefully for every footstep. Thus they worked along
and landed safely by the time we had the animals ready for a march. We
had passed without disaster, the obstacle we most feared, and started
down the rough cañon, hope revived, and we felt we should get through.
After winding around among the great boulders for a little while we came
to the two horses we had left behind, both dead and near together. We
pointed to the carcasses, and told them those were the horses we brought
for the women to ride, and that is the way they were cheated out of
their passage. The bodies of the animals had not been touched by bird or
beast. The cañon was too deep and dark for either wolves or buzzards to
enter, and nothing alive had been seen by us in the shape of wild game
of any sort. Firearms were useless here except for defence against
Indians, and we expected no real trouble from them.

From what we could see, it was my opinion that no general rain ever fell
in that region. There was some evidence that water had at times flowed
down them freely after cloud bursts, or some sudden tempest, but the
gravel was so little worn that it gave no evidence of much of a stream.

We hurried on as rapidly as possible so as to get into the Jayhawker's
beaten trail which would be a little easier to follow. When we reached
the lowest part of the valley we had to turn south to get around a
little, slow running stream of salt water, that moved north and emptied
into a Salt Lake. No source of the stream could be seen from this point,
but when we reached a point where we could cross, we had a smooth, hard
clay bed to march over. It seemed to have been, some day, a bed of
mortar, but now baked hard, and the hoofs of the oxen dented into it no
more than half an inch. On our left hand was a perpendicular cliff,
along which we traveled for quite a little way. The range of mountains
now before us to cross was black, nothing but rocks, and extremely
barren, having no water in it that we knew of, so when we reached the
summit we camped, tied all our animals to rocks, where they lay down and
did not rise till morning. The women were so tired they were over two
hours late, and we had the fire built, the soup cooked and the beds
made. As we did not stop at noon all were very hungry, and ate with a
relish. The poor animals had to go without either grass or water. When
Old Crump and the party came in the men were carrying the babies, and
their wives were clinging to their arms, scarcely able to stand. When
they reached the beds they fell at full length on them, saying their
feet and limbs ached like the tooth ache. It seemed to be best for them
to rest a little before eating. Mrs. Bennett said that the only
consolation was that the road was getting shorter every day, but were it
not for the children she would sooner die than follow the trail any
farther. Their soup was carried to them in the bed, and they were
covered up as they lay, and slept till morning. This day's walk was the
hardest one yet, and probably the longest one of the whole journey, but
there was no other place where we could find a place large enough to
make a camp and free enough of rocks so that a bed could be made.

Rogers and I had the kettle boiling early, and put in the last of the
meat, and nearly all that was left of the flour. At the next camp an ox
must be killed. Just as it was fairly light I went about 200 yards south
where the dead body of Mr. Fish lay, just as he died more than a month
before. The body had not been disturbed and looked quite natural. He was
from Oscaloosa, Iowa.

The folks arose very reluctantly this morning, and appeared with swollen
eyes and uncombed hair, for there was no means of making a toilet,
without a drop of water, except what we had used in getting breakfast.
We set the soup kettle near the foot of the bed so the women could feed
the children and themselves. Now as we loaded the oxen, it was agreed
that Rogers and I should go ahead with all but Old Crump, and get in
camp as soon as possible, and they were to follow on as best they could.
There was a little water left in the canteens of Bennett and Arcane, to
be given only to the children, who would cry when thirsty, the very
thing to make them feel the worst.

We were to kill an ox when we reached camp, and as each of the men had
an equal number on the start each was to furnish one alternately and no
disputing about whose were better or stronger, in any emergency.

Our road now led down the western slope of the mountain, and loose,
hard, broken rocks were harder on the feet of our animals than coming
up, and our own moccasins were wearing through. The cattle needed shoes
as well as we. Any one who has never tried it can imagine how hard it is
to walk with tender feet over broken rock. It was very slow getting
along at the best, and the oxen stumbled dreadfully in trying to protect
their sore feet. At the foot of the mountain we had several miles of
soft and sandy road. The sun shone very hot, and with no water we
suffered fearfully. A short way out in the sandy valley we pass again
the grave of Mr. Isham, where he had been buried by his friends. He was
from Rochester, N.Y. He was a cheerful, pleasant man, and during the
forepart of the journey used his fiddle at the evening camps to increase
the merriment of his jolly companions. In those days we got no rain, see
no living animals of any kind except those of our train, see not a bird
nor insect, see nothing green except a very stunted sage, and some dwarf
bushes. We now know that the winter of 1849-50 was one of the wettest
ever seen in California, but for some reason or other none of the wet
clouds ever came to this portion of the State to deposit the most
scattering drops of moisture.

Quite a long way from the expected camp the oxen snuffed the moisture,
and began to hurry towards it with increased speed. A little while
before it did not seem as if they had ambition enough left to make a
quick move, but as we approached the water those which had no packs
fairly trotted in their haste to get a drink. This stream was a very
small one, seeping out from a great pile of rocks, and maintaining
itself till it reached the sands, where it disappeared completely. A few
tufts of grass grew along the banks, otherwise everything surrounding
was desolate in the extreme.

As soon as we could get the harness off the oxen, we went to look for
our little buried sack of wheat, which we were compelled to leave and
hide on our way out. We had hidden it so completely, that it took us
quite a little while to strike its bed but after scratching with our
hands awhile, we hit the spot, and found it untouched. Although the sand
in which it was buried seemed quite dry, yet the grain had absorbed so
much moisture from it, that the sack was nearly bursting. It was emptied
on a blanket, and proved to be still sound and sweet.

Our first work now was to kill an ox and get some meat to cook for those
who were coming later. We got the kettle over boiling with some of the
wheat in it, for the beans were all gone. We killed the ox saving the
blood to cook. Cutting the meat all off the bones, we had it drying over
a fire as soon as possible, except what we needed for this meal and the
next. Then we made a smooth place in the soft sand on which to spread
the blankets, the first good place we had found to sleep since leaving
Death Valley.

The next job was to make moccassins for ourselves and for the oxen, for
it was plain they could not go on another day barefooted. We kept busy
indeed, attending the fires under the meat and under the kettle, besides
our shoemaking, and were getting along nicely about sundown, when Old
Christian Crump appeared in sight followed by the women and the rest of
the party. The women were just as tired as ever and dropped down on the
blankets the first thing. "How many such days as this can we
endure?"--they said. We had them count the days gone by, and look around
to see the roughest part of the road was now behind them. They said that
only five days had passed, and that two thirds of the distance still
remained untraveled, and they knew they could never endure even another
five day's work like the last. We told them to be brave, and be
encouraged, for we had been over the road and knew what it was, and that
we felt sure of being able to do it nicely. They were fed in bed as
usual, and there they lay till morning. We men went to making moccasins
from the green hide, and when we had cut out those for the men and women
the balance of the hide was used in preparing some also for the oxen,
particularly the worst ones, for if I remember correctly there was not
enough to go round.

The morning came, bright and pleasant, as all of them were, and just
warm enough for comfort in the part of the day. The women were as usual,
and their appearance would remind one quite strongly of half-drowned
hens which had not been long out of trouble. Hair snarled, eyes red,
nose swollen, and out of fix generally. They did not sleep well so much
fatigued, for they said they lived over their hard days in dreams at
night, and when they would close their eyes and try to go to sleep, the
visions would seem to come to them half waking and they could not rest.

There was now before us a particularly bad stretch of the country as it
would probably take us four or five days to get over it, and there was
only one water hole in the entire distance. This one was quite salt, so
much so that on our return trip the horses refused to drink it, and the
little white one died next day. Only water for one day's camp could be
carried with us, and that was for ourselves alone and not for the

When the moccasins were finished in the morning we began to get our
cattle together when it was discovered that Old Brigham was gone, and
the general belief was that the Indians had made a quiet raid on us and
got away with the old fellow. We circled around till we found his track
and then Arcane followed it while we made ready the others. Arcane came
in with the stray namesake of the polygamous saint about this time
shouting:--"I've got him--No Indians." The ox had got into the wash
ravine below camp and passed out of sight behind, in a short time. He
had been as easily tracked as if he walked in snow. There was larger
sage brush in the wash than elsewhere, and no doubt Brigham had thought
this a good place to seek for some extra blades of grass.

Immediately south of this camp now known as Providence Springs, is the
salt lake to which Rogers and I went on the first trip and were so sadly
disappointed in finding the water unfit to use.

As soon as ready we started up the cañon, following the trail made by
the Jayhawkers who had proceeded us, and by night had reached the
summit, but passed beyond, a short distance down the western slope,
where we camped in a valley that gave us good large sage brush for our
fires, and quite a range for the oxen without their getting out of
sight. This being at quite a high elevation we could see the foot as
well as the top, of the great snow mountain, and had a general good view
of the country.

This proved to be the easiest day's march we had experienced, and the
women complained less than on any other night since our departure. Their
path had been comparatively smooth, and with the new moccasins their
feet had been well protected, they had come through pretty nicely. We
told them they looked better, and if they would only keep up good
courage they would succeed and come out all right to the land where
there was plenty of bread and water, and when safely out, they might
make good resolutions never to get in such a trap again. Mrs. Bennett
said such a trip could never be done over again, and but for the fact
that Rogers and I had been over the road, and that she believed all we
had said about it; she never would have had the courage to come thus
far. Now, for the children's sake, she wished to live, and would put
forth any effort to come through all right.

The next day we had a long cañon to go down, and in it passed the dead
body of the beautiful white mare Rogers had taken such a fancy to. The
body had not decomposed, nor had it been disturbed by any bird or beast.
Below this point the bed of the cañon was filled with great boulders,
over which it was very difficult to get the oxen along. Some of them had
lost their moccasins and had to suffer terribly over the rocks.

Camp was made at the salt water hole, and our wheat and meat boiled in
it did not soften and get tender as it did in fresh water. There was
plenty of salt grass above; but the oxen did not eat it any more than
the horses did, and wandered around cropping a bite of the bitter brush
once in awhile, and looking very sorry. This was near the place where
Rogers and I found the piece of ice which saved our lives. The women did
not seriously complain when we reached this camp, but little Charley
Arcane broke out with a bad looking rash all over his body and as he
cried most of the time it no doubt smarted and pained him like a mild
burn. Neither his mother nor any one else could do anything for him to
give him any relief. We had no medicines, and if he or any one should
die, all we could do would be to roll the body in a blanket and cover it
with a light covering of sand.

From this camp to the next water holes at the base of the great snow
mountain, it was at least 30 miles, level as to surface, and with a
light ascending grade. The Jayhawkers had made a well marked trail, and
it it was quite good walking. The next camp was a dry one, both for
ourselves and the oxen, nothing but dry brush for them, and a little
dried meat for ourselves, but for all this the women did not complain so
very much. They were getting use to the work and grew stronger with the
exercise. They had followed Old Crump and the children every day with
the canteens of water and a little dried meat to give them if they cried
too much with hunger, and Arcane had led his ox day after day with a
patience that was remarkable, and there was no bad temper shown by any
one. This was the way to do, for if there were any differences, there
was no tribunal to settle them by.

In all this desert travel I did not hear any discontent and serious
complaint, except in one case, and that was at the Jayhawker's camp,
where they burned their wagons at the end of the wagon road, in Death
Valley. Some could not say words bad enough to express their contempt,
and laid all the trouble of salt water to Lot's wife. Perhaps she was in
a better position to stand the cursing than any of the party present.

The next day we reached the water holes at the place where Rogers and I
stole up to camp fire in the evening, supposing it to be Indians, but
finding there Capt. Doty and his mess, a part of the Jayhawker's band.
By dipping carefully from these holes they filled again, and thus,
although there was no flow from them we gradually secured what water we
needed for the camp, which was a small amount after so long a time
without. There was some low brush here called greasewood, which grew
about as high as currant bushes, and some distance up the mountain the
oxen could find some scattery bunch grass, which, on the whole, made
this camp a pretty good one. The women, however, were pretty nearly
exhausted, and little Charley Arcane cried bitterly all day and almost
all night. All began to talk more and feel more hopeful of getting
through. The women began to say that every step brought them so much
nearer to the house we had told them about on the other side and often
said the work was not so very hard after all. Really it was not so bad
travelling as we had at first. We were now nine days from the wagons.
"Are we half way?" was the question they began to ask. We had to answer
them that more than one half the hard days were over, if one half the
distance had not been traveled, and with the better walking and getting
hardened to the work, they would get over the last half better than the
first. One thing was a little hard. All of our beans and flour had been
used up, and now the wheat was about gone also. We had cooked it, and it
seemed best, trying to build up our strength, where it was most needed
for the greatest trials, and now we thought they would be able to get
along on the meat. We had reached the base of the great snow mountain.
It seems strange with the mass of snow resting above, and which must be
continually thawing more or less, no ravines or large streams of water
were produced flowing down this side. It seemed dry all around its base,
which is is very singular, with the snow so near.

We had now our barren cañon to go down, and right here was the big trail
coming down from the north, which we took and followed. We said all
these good things about the road, and encouraged the people all we could
to keep in good spirits and keep moving. We told them we thought we knew
how to manage to get them safe over the road if they only fully
endeavored to do it. We were all quite young, and not in the decline of
life as were most of them who had perished by the way. No reader can
fully realize how much we had to say and do to keep up courage, and it
is to this more than anything else that we did which kept up the lagging
energies and inspired the best exertion. I don't know but we painted
some things a little brighter than they were, and tried to hide some of
the most disheartening points of the prospects ahead, for we found the
mind had most to do with it after all. We have no doubt that if we had
not done all we could to keep up good courage, the women would have
pined away and died before reaching this far. Whenever we stopped
talking encouragingly, they seemed to get melancholy and blue.

There was some pretty good management to be exercised still. The oxen
were gradually growing weaker, and we had to kill the weakest one every
time, for if the transportation of our food failed, we should yet be
open to the danger of starvation. As it was, the meat on their frames
was very scarce, and we had to use the greatest economy to make it last
and waste nothing. We should now have to kill one of our oxen every few
days, as our other means of subsistence had been so completely used up.
The women contracted a strange dislike to this region and said they
never wanted to see any part of it again.

As the sun showed its face over the great sea of mountains away to the
east of Death Valley, and it seemed to rise very early for winter season
we packed up and started west on the big trail. Rogers and I took the
oxen and mule and went on, leaving the others to accompany Old Crump and
his little charges. Arcane had found it best to carry Charley on his
back, as it relieved the burning sensation, caused by the eruption on
his skin, which was aggravated by the close quarters of the pockets.
Thus leaving the pockets unbalanced, Bennett had to carry his baby also.
This made it harder for them, but every one tried to be just as
accommodating as they could and each one would put himself to trouble to
accommodate or relieve others.

Rogers and I made camp when we reached the proper place which was some
distance from the mountain, on a perfectly level plain where there was
no water, no grass, nothing but sage brush would grow on the dry and
worthless soil. We let the oxen go and eat as much of this as they
chose, which was very little and only enough to keep them from absolute
starvation. The great trail had a branch near here that turned north,
and went up a ravine that would seem to reach the snow in a little
while. This was believed to be impassable at this time of year. This
route is known as Walker's Pass, leading over a comparatively low ridge,
and coming out the south fork of the Kern River.

We made our camp here because it was as long a march as the women could
make, and, for a dry one, was as good a location as we could find. The
cool breeze came down from the snow to the north of us, not so very many
miles away, and after a little it became uncomfortably cold. We gathered
greasewood bushes and piled them up to make a wind-break for our heads.
The oxen, even, would come and stand around the fire, seeming greatly to
enjoy the warm smoke, which came from burning the greasewood brush,
which by the way, burns about the best of any green wood. When we were
ready to lie down we tied the animals to bunches of brush, and they lay
contentedly till morning.

To the north of us, a few miles away we could see some standing, columns
of rock, much reminding one of the great stone chimney of the boiler
house at Stanford Jr., University; not quite so trim and regular in
exterior appearance, but something in that order. We reckon the only
students in the vicinity would be lizards.

When the women arrived in camp they were very tired, but encouraged
themselves that they were much nearer the promised land than they were
in the morning. Mrs. Bennett said she was very careful never to take a
step backward, and to make every forward one count as much as possible.
"That's a good resolution, Sally," said Mr Bennett. "Stick to it and we
will come out by and bye."

From near this camp we have a low range of mountains to cross, a sort of
spur or offshoot of the great snow mountain that reaches out twenty
miles or more to the southeast, and its extremity divides away into what
seems from our point of view a level plain. We had attained quite an
elevation without realizing it, so gradual had been the ascent, and our
course was now down a steep hillside and into a deep cañon. In its very
bottom we found a small stream of water only a few yards long, and then
it sank into the sands. Not a spear of grass grew there, and if any had
grown it had been eaten by the cattle which had gone before. This was
the same place, where Rogers and I had overtaken the advance portion of
the Jayhawkers when we were on our outward trip in search of relief, and
where some of the older men were so discouraged that they gave us their
home addresses in Illinois so that we could notify their friends of
their precarious situation, and if they were never otherwise heard from
they could be pretty sure they had perished from thirst and starvation
when almost at their journey's end.

The scenes of this camp on that occasion made so strong an impression on
my memory that I can never forget it. There were poor dependent fellows
without a morsel to eat except such bits of poor meat as they could beg
from those who were fortunate enough to own oxen. Their tearful
pleadings would soften a heart of stone. We shared with some of them
even when we did not know the little store upon our backs would last us
through. Our oxen here had water to drink, but nothing more. It might be
a little more comfortable to drink and starve, than both choke and
starve, but these are no very pleasant prospects in either one.

Both ourselves and the oxen were getting barefoot and our feet very
tender. The hill we had just come down was very rough and rocky and our
progress very slow, every step made in a selected spot. We could not
stop here to kill an ox and let the remainder of them starve, but must
push on to where the living ones could get a little food. We fastened
the oxen and the mule to keep them from wandering, and slept as best we
could. The women and children looked worse than for some time, and could
not help complaining. One of the women held up her foot and the sole was
bare and blistered. She said they ached like toothache. The women had
left their combs in the wagons, and their hair was getting seriously
tangled. Their dresses were getting worn off pretty nearly to their
knees, and showed the contact with the ground that sometimes could not
be avoided. They were in a sad condition so far as toilet and raiment
were concerned. Life was in the balance, however, and instead of talking
over sad things, we talked of the time when we would reach the little
babbling brook where Rogers and I took such long draughts of clear,
sweet water and the waiter at our dinner gave us the choice of _Crow_,
_Hawk_ or _Quail_, and where we took a little of all three.

[Illustation: Pulling the Oxen Down the Precipice.]

In the morning we were off again down the cañon, limping some as we trod
its coarse gravelly bed with our tender feet and stiffened joints, but
getting limbered up a little after a bit, and enduring it pretty well.
We set out to try to reach the bunch of willows out on the level plain,
where the cattle could get some water and grass, but night overtook us
at the mouth of the cañon, and we were forced to go into camp. This
cañon is now called Red Cañon. This was on an elevated plain, with a
lake near by, but as we had been so often deceived by going to the lake
for water, and finding them salt in every instance, or poison on account
of strong alkali, we did not take the trouble to go and try this one.

Near us was some coarse grass and wet ground where we found water enough
for our moderate use, and the oxen, by perseverance, could get something
to eat and drink. After supper we were out of meat and we would have to
kill an ox to get some food for breakfast. In the night a storm came on,
much to our surprise, for we had seen none since the night on the
mountain east of Death Valley more than two months before. We tried to
fix up a shelter to protect the children and ourselves, but were not
very successful. We tried to use our guns for tent poles, but could not
keep them in place. We laid down as close as pigs in cold weather, and
covered up as best we could, but did not keep dry, and morning found us
wet to the skin, cold and shivering. We gathered big sage brush for a
fire in the morning, and the tracks of our nearly bare feet could be
plainly seen in the snow which lay like a blanket awhile over the
ground, about two inches deep. Some lay in bed and we warmed blankets
before the fire and put over them to keep them comfortable till the sun
should rise and warm the air. We selected an ox and brought him up
before the fire where I shot him, and soon there was meat roasting over
the fire and blood cooking in the camp kettle. We had nothing to season
the blood pudding with but salt, and it was not very good, but answered
to sustain life. We ate a hasty meal, then packed our animals and
started for the willow patch about four miles away. The snow was about

I staid in camp to keep it till they could get through to the willows
and some one to come back with the mule to carry forward the portion of
meat that could not be taken at first. We intended to dry it at the
willows, and then we could carry it along as daily food over the wide
plain we had yet to cross. Having carried the meat forward, we made a
rack of willows and dried it over the fire, making up a lot of moccasins
for the barefooted ones while we waited. We were over most of the rocky
road, we calculated that our shoemaking would last us through. This was
a very pleasant camp. The tired ones were taking a rest. No one needed
it more than our women and children, who were tired nearly out. They
were in much better condition to endure their daily hardships than when
they started out, and a little rest would make them feel quite fresh
again. They understood that this was almost on the western edge of this
desert country and this gave them good hope and courage.

This wonderful spot in the level plain, with a spring of pure water
making an oasis of green willows and grass has been previously spoken of
as:--"A spring of good water, and a little willow patch in a level
desert away from any hill." In all our wanderings we had never seen the
like before. No mountaineer would ever think of looking here for water,
much less ever dream of finding a lone spring away out in the desert,
several miles from the mountain's base. Where the range we just came
through leaves the mother mountain stands a peak, seemingly alone, and
built up of many colored rocks, in belts, and the whole looks as if
tipped with steel.

Arcane's boy Charley still suffered from his bogus measles or whatever
else his disorder might be, and Bennett's little Martha grew more quiet
and improved considerably in health, though still unable to walk, and
still abdominally corpulent. The other two children George and Melissa
seemed to bear up well and loved to get off and walk in places where the
trail was smooth and level. Bennett, Arcane and Old Crump usually
traveled with the same party as the women, and as each of them had a
small canteen to carry water, they could attend to the wants of the
children and keep them from worrying and getting sick from fretfulness.
They often carried the two younger ones on their backs to relieve and
rest them from their cramped position on the ox.

Arcane used to say he expected the boys--meaning Rogers and I--would try
to surprise the party by letting them get very near the house before
they knew how near they were. "Be patient Mr. Arcane," said we, "we can
tell you just how many camps there must be before we reach it, and we
won't fool you or surprise you in any way." "Well," said he. "I was
almost in hopes you would, for I like to be disappointed in that way."
"What do you think the folks will say when we tell them that our little
mule packed most of the meat of an ox four miles from one camp to
another?" "What will they say when we tell them that the oxen were so
poor that there was no marrow in the great thigh bones?" Instead of
marrow there was a thick dark liquid something like molasses in
consistency, but streaked with different colors which made it look very
unwholesome. Arcane said the whole story was so incredible, that he
never should fight anyone, even if he should tell him he lied when he
related the strange sad truth. He said he had no doubt many a one would
doubt their story, it was so much beyond what people had ever seen or
heard of before, and they might be accused of very strong romancing in
the matter.

They all felt more like talking; for we were thus far safe and sound,
and though there was a desperate struggle of seventy-five miles or more,
from this place to the next water in the foot-hills. Possibly the snow
storms had left a little in some of the pools, but we made no
calculations on any. The promised land we had so steadily been
approaching, and now comparatively so near, gave us great hope, which
was better than food and drink to give us strength.

There were surely two camps between this and the little pond John and I
found, among the Cabbage trees, and not more than six by ten feet
square. As we worked away at our foot-wear we talked more in an hour
than we had in a whole day before. We were slowly leaving Death Valley
behind us with its sad memories and sufferings. We were leaving behind
the dead bodies of several who had traveled with us and been just as
strong and hopeful as we. We had left behind us all in our possession in
that terrible spot, and simply with our lives we hoped to escape, and
trust to Providence and humanity on the other side. Arcane now admitted
that they could not have got along half as well, if we had not gone
ahead and looked out the land. It was such a gain to know exactly where
the next water hole was, so it could be steered for and struggled
toward. He even went so far as to say they would have no chance alone,
and that as he now saw the road, he was sure they have would all
perished even before reaching as far as this. We had strong hopes of the
morrow, when we would be all rested, all were shod, and would make every
footstep count in our western progress.

It seems quite a strange occurrence that the only two storms we had had
since we turned westward on this route, Nov. 4th, were snow storms, and
that both had come while we were asleep, so that all our days were
cloudless. Sometimes the sun was uncomfortably warm even in the heart of
the winter. One would have naturally expected that the great rainfall
all over the California coast in the winter of 1849-50, and the deep
snows that came in the Sierra Nevada mountains the same winter, would
have extended southerly the few hundred miles that separated the two
places. Modern science has shown the tracks of the storms and partially
explains the reasons for this dry and barren nature of this region. When
rains do come they are so out of the regular order, that they are called
cloud-bursts or waterspouts, and the washes in the cañons and their
mouths show how great has been the volume of water that sometimes rushed
down the slope. If clouds at a warm or moderate temperature float
against these snow peaks all the water they contain is suddenly
precipitated. The country is an arid one and unless wealth should appear
in the shape of mines, the country can never be inhabited. We considered
ourselves very fortunate in finding the little pools and holes of water
which kept us alive. It was not very good drinking water, but to us
thirsty folks it was a blessing and we never passed it by on account of
any little stagnant bitter taste. Salt water we could not drink of
course, though we sometimes used it to cook with.

We were as well prepared next morning as possible for a move, and the
long walk before us, the last one between us and the fertile land. They
all talked of how delighted they would be to see once more a running
brook, green grass and trees, and such signs of life as they had seen
and been used to in the good land they had left behind. The women said
they could endure the march of four or five days, if when all over, they
could sleep off the terrible fatigue and for once drink all the pure
sweet water they could desire. No more forced marches. No more grey
road, stretching out its dusty miles as far as the eye could reach. The
ladies thought the oxen would be as happy as themselves, and the little
mule, the most patient one of the whole train deserved a life of ease
for her valuable services. This little black, one-eyed lady wandered
here and there at will seeking for grass, but never going astray or
getting far enough from the track to alarm us in the least. She seldom
drank much water, was always ready, never got foot-sore, and seemed made
expressly for such a life and for such a desert.

A good kettleful of soup for breakfast, dried meat fixed in packages,
kegs and canteens filled with water, and we were ready for an advance.

There is one less ox to lead, and very little load for those we have,
still the load is all such poor weak fellows ought to bear. Old Crump
was not thus favored by a gradually lightened load. He bore the same
four children every day, faithfully, carefully, with never a stumble nor
fall, as though fully aware of the precious nature of his burden.

In this new march John and I took the oxen and pushed on as usual,
leaving the families to follow on, at a slower pace, the trail we made.
The trail was slightly inclined. The bushes stunted at the best, getting
smaller as we proceeded, and the horse bones, new and ancient are now
thickly scattered along the way. The soil is different from that we have
had. We can see the trail, winding gently here and there, swept clean by
the wind, and the surface is hard and good; but when the mule gets the
least bit off of it she sinks six inches deep into the soft sand, and
the labor of walking is immense. I stepped out to examine the peculiar
soil, and found it finer than superfine flour. It was evident that a
strong wind would lift it in vast clouds which might even darken the
sky, but we were fortunate in this respect, for during all the time we
were on this peculiar soil, there was no wind at all, and we escaped a
sand-storm, a sort of storm as peculiar to this region as are blizzards
to some of the states of the great west.

Our first night's camp was out on the barren waterless plain, now known
as the Mojave Desert. There were no shrubs large enough to make a fire
of, and nothing to tie our cattle to, so we fastened all our animals
together to keep them from scattering and getting lost. We ate a little
dry meat and drank sparingly of the water, for our scanty stock was to
last us another day, when we might reach prospective water holes.
Starting early, John and I took all but Old Crump and the other
travelers, and hurried on to try and find the water holes as early as
possible. We, as well as the oxen were very dry, for we left all the
water we had with the party, for the children, for they cannot endure
the thirst as the older people can. We reached the camping place before
night. Quite a time before we reached it, the cattle seemed to scent the
water and quickened their pace, so we were confident it had not dried
up. We got ahead of the oxen and kept there until we reached the little
pond and then guarded it to keep them from wading into it, in their
eagerness to reach some drink. They all satisfied their thirst, and then
we removed the harness, built a fire of the dead cabbage trees which we
found round about, laid down the beds and arranged them neatly, and had
all nicely done before the rear guard came up, in charge of Captain
Crump. The party was eager for water and all secured it. It was rain
water and no doubt did not quench thirst as readily as water from some
living spring or brook. There was evidence that there had been a recent
shower or snow to fill this depression up for our benefit. The
Jayhawkers had passed not more than a half mile north of this spot, but
no sign appeared that they had found it, and it was left to sustain the
lives of the women and children.

It often occurs to me that many may read incredulously when I speak of
our party eating the entire flesh of an ox in four or five days. To such
I will say that one cannot form an idea how poor an ox will get when
nearly starved so long. Months had passed since they had eaten a
stomachful of good nutritious food. The animals walked slowly with heads
down nearly tripping themselves up with their long, swinging legs. The
skin loosely covered the bones, but all the flesh and muscles had shrunk
down to the smallest space. The meat was tough and stringy as basswood
bark, and tasted strongly of bitter sage brush the cattle had eaten at
almost every camp. At a dry camp the oxen would lie down and grate their
teeth, but they had no cud to chew. It looked almost merciless to shoot
one down for food, but there was no alternative. We killed our poor
brute servants to save ourselves. Our cattle found a few bunches out
among the trees at this camp and looked some better in the morning. They
had secured plenty of water and some grass.

Young Charlie Arcane seemed to grow worse rather than better. His whole
body was red as fire, and he screamed with the pain and torment of the
severe itching. Nothing could be done to relieve him, and if his
strength lasted till we could get better air, water and food he might
recover, but his chances were very poor.

Not much rest at this camp for in the morning we aimed to start early
and reach the water in the foothills. We thought we could do it if we
started early, walked rapidly and took no resting spell at noon. Such a
poor soil as this we were anxious to get away from, and walk once more
on a soil that would grow something besides stunted sage brush. From all
appearances the Jayhawkers were here in about the same predicament
Rogers and I were when we lost the trail. By their tracks we could see
they had scattered wide and there was no road left for us to follow, and
they had evidently tried to follow our former tracks. Having no trail to
follow we passed on as best we could and came to a wide piece of land on
which were growing a great many cabbage trees. The soil was of the
finest dust with no grit in it, and not long before a light shower had
fallen, making it very soft and hard to get along in with the moccasins.
The women had to stop to rest frequently, so our progress was very slow.
Rogers and I had feet about as hard as those of the oxen, so we removed
our moccasins and went barefoot, finding we could get along much easier
in that way, but the others had such tender feet they could not endure
the rough contact with the brush and mud. Only a few miles had been made
before the women were so completely tired out that we had to stop and
eat our little bit of dried meat and wait till morning. The little mule
now carried all our stock of food, and the precious burden lightened
every day. This delay was not expected, but we had to endure it and bear
it patiently, for there was a limit to strength of the feeble ones of
our party. We had therefore to make another barren camp. Relief seemed
so near at hand we kept good courage and talked freely of the happy
ending which would soon come. If we had any way to set a good table we
would feast and be merry like the prodigal son, but at any rate we shall
be safe if we can reach the fertile shore.

When the sun went down we tied the mule and oxen to cabbage trees, and
shortly after dusk lay down ourselves, for we had enjoyed a good fire
made of the trunks of cabbage trees, the first really comfortable one in
a long time. The air was cooler here, for we were on higher ground, and
there was some snow on the range of mountains before us, which sent
these cool breezes down to us, a change of climate quite pleasing.

For breakfast in the morning we had only dried meat roasted before the
fire, without water, and when we started each one put a piece in his or
her pocket to chew on during the day as we walked along. As we went
ahead the ground grew dryer and the walking much improved. The morning
overhead was perfectly lovely, as away east, across the desert the sun
early showed his face to us. Not a cloud anywhere, not even over the
tops of the high peaks where great white masses sometimes cluster but
dissolve as soon as they float away, and there was not wind enough to be
perceptible. We remarked the same lack of animal life which we had
noticed on our first passage over this section, seeing not a rabbit,
bird, or living thing we could use for food. Bennett had the same load
in his gun he put there when we left the wagons, and all the powder I
had burned was that used in killing the oxen we had slain whenever it
became necessary to provide for our barren kitchen.

As we approached the low foot-hills the trail became better travelled
and better to walk in, for the Jayhawkers who had scattered, every one
for himself apparently, in crossing the plain, seemed here to have drawn
together and their path was quite a beaten one. We saw from this that
they followed the tracks made by Rogers and myself as we made our first
trip westward in search of bread. Quite a little before the sun went out
of sight in the west we reached our camping place in the lower hills at
the eastern slope of a range we must soon cross. Here was some standing
water in several large holes, that proved enough for our oxen, and they
found some large sage brush and small bushes round about, on which they
browsed and among which they found a few bunches of grass. Lying about
were some old skulls of cattle which had sometime been killed, or died.
These were the first signs of the sort we had seen along this route.
They might have been killed by Indians who doubtless used this trail.

The next day in crossing the range before us, we reached the edge of the
snow, which the sun had softened, and we dare not attempt to cross.
Early in the morning, when it was frozen hard the cattle could travel it
very well. The snow belt was five or six miles wide, and the snow two or
three feet deep. This was a very good camping place except that we had
to melt snow for all our water, but this being coarse and icy it was not
a great job as we found enough dry juniper trees and twigs to make a
very good fire. Here we also had to kill another ox. This one in its
turn was Arcane's, and left him only two, and Bennett three, but we
think that if we have no accident we shall get them along with us till
we can get other food, as they have very light loads to pack. When the
ox is killed and the meat prepared the mule has, for a time, a larger
load than all the oxen have, but seems content and nips a bite of food
whenever it can see a chance anywhere along the road, giving us no more
trouble than a dog. And by the way, I think I have not mentioned our
faithful camp dog, a worthy member of our party who stood watch always
and gave us a sure alarm if anything unusual happened anywhere about. He
was perhaps only one of a hundred that tried to cross the plains and had
to be abandoned when they reached the upper Platte, where the alkali
dust made their feet so sore they could not travel, and as they could
not be hauled on wagons they were left behind. But this dog Cuff did not
propose to be left behind to starve, and crippled along after us, we
doing all we could for him, and proved as tough as the best of us.
Bennett and I had trained him as a hunting dog in the East, and he was
very knowing and handy in every particular.

We were out of this camp at daylight. Very little rest for some of us,
but we must make the best of the cool morning while the snow is hard,
and so move on as soon as we can see the way. As it gets lighter and the
sun comes up red and hot out of the desert we have a grand view of the
great spread of the country to south and of the great snow mountain to
the north and east, the peak standing over the place where we left our
wagons nineteen days before, on the edge of Death Valley. The glare of
the snow on the sun makes us nearly blind, but we hurry on to try to
cross it before it becomes so soft as to slump under our feet. It is two
or three feet in the deepest places, and probably has been three times
as deep when freshly fallen, but it is now solid and icy. Our rawhide
moccasins protect our feet from cold, and both we and the animals got
along fairly well, the oxen breaking through occasionally as the snow
softened up, but generally walking on the top as we did ourselves. The
snow field reached much farther down the western slope than we had
hoped, much farther than on the eastern side. Before we got out of it,
we saw the track of some animal which had crossed our route, but as it
had been made some days before and now could be seen only as some holes
in the surface, we could not determine what sort of an animal it was.

A mile or two down the hill we were at last out of the snow, and a
little farther on we came to the little babbling brook Rogers and I had
so long painted in the most refreshing colors to the tired women, with
water, wood and grass on every hand, the three greatest blessings of a
camper's life. Here was where Rogers and I had cooked and eaten our meat
of crow, quail and hawk, pretty hard food, but then, the blessed water!

There it danced and jumped over the rocks singing the merriest song one
ever heard, as it said--Drink, drink ye thirsty ones your fill--the
happiest sweetest music to the poor starved, thirsty souls, wasted down
almost to haggard skeletons. O! if some poet of wildest imagination
could only place himself in the position of those poor tired travelers
to whom water in thick muddy pools had been a blessing, who had eagerly
drank the fluid even when so salt and bitter us to be repulsive, and now
to see the clear, pure liquid, distilled from the crystal snow,
abundant, free, filled with life and health--and write it in words--the
song of that joyous brook and set it to the music that it made as it
echoed in gentle waves from the rocks and lofty walls, and with the
gentle accompaniment of rustling trees--a soft singing hush, telling of
rest, and peace, and happiness.

New life seemed to come to the dear women. "O! What a beautiful stream!"
say they, and they dip in a tin cup and drink, then watch in dreaming
admiration the water as it goes hurrying down; then dip and drink again,
and again watch the jolly rollicking brook as if it were the most
entertaining thing in the whole wide earth. "Why can't such a stream as
that run out of the great Snow Mountain in the dry Death Valley?" say
they--"so we could get water on the way."

The men have felt as glad as any of them, but have gathered wood and
made a fire, and now a camp kettle of cut up meat is boiling for our
supper. It was not yet night, but we must camp in so beautiful a place
as this, and though the food was poor, we were better off than we had
been before.

Bennett proposed that I take the mule and go back to where we saw the
track of the animal in the snow and follow it in hope that we might get
some game for we had an idea it might be an elk or bear or some large
game, good to kill and give us better meat: So I saddled the mule and
took the trail back till I came to the track, then followed it as best I
could, for it was very dull and gave me no idea what it was. I traced
out of the snow and then in a blind way through bushes as high as the
mule's back--Chaparral we called it now--among which I made my way with
difficulty. I could now see that the track was made by an ox or
cow--perhaps an elk--I could not tell for sure it was so faint. This
chaparral covered a large piece of table land, and I made my way through
it, following the track for a mile or two, till I came to the
top of a steep hill sloping down into a deep cañon and a creek, on the
bank of which grew sycamore and alder trees, with large willows. I
stopped here some minutes to see if I could see or hear the movement of
of anything. Across the creek I could see a small piece of perhaps half
an acre of natural meadow, and in it some small bunches of sycamore
trees. After a little I discovered some sort of a horned animal there,
and I reckoned this was good enough game for me to try and capture, so
led the mule out to one side and down the hill near the creek, then tied
her, and crept along the bank, about four feet high, toward the little
meadow. When about right, as I thought, I climbed up behind a bunch of
sycamores, and when I slowly and cautiously raised up I was within fifty
yards of a cow or steer of some sort which I could dimly see. I put a
ball square in its forehead and it fell without a struggle. I loaded
again quick as possible, and there saw two other smaller cattle stepping
very high as though terrified, but not aware of the nature or location
of the danger. I gave a low whistle and one of them looked toward me
long enough for me to put a ball in it. The third one was now behind a
clump of sycamores, and I soon saw its face through a little opening not
more than three inches wide. I made a shot, and wounded it, and then
rushed up and gave it a fatal one.

I examined my game and found the first one was a poor old cow, but the
others were yearlings, one of them very fat and nice, and I soon had the
hind quarters skinned out, and all the fat I could find, which made a
big load for the mule. It was now almost dark, and the next problem was
to get back to camp again. The brushy hills would be terrible to cross
with a load of meat, and by the way the ground lay I concluded our camp
was on this same creek farther down.

The only way that seemed at all feasible was to follow the course of the
stream if possible, rather than return the course over which I had come.
There were so many bushes and trees along the bank that I had to take to
the bed and follow in the water, and as it was rocky and rough, and so
dark I could not see well how to step, I stumbled into holes and pools
up to my waist, wet as a rat. Coming to a small open place I decided I
had better camp for the night and not attempt further progress in the
darkness, and the decision was hastened by dark clouds, which began to
gather and a few sprinkles of rain began to come. There was a good patch
of grass for the mule, but all was uncomfortable for me, with the
prospect for a rainy night, but as wood was plenty I decided to make a
fire and take the chances. I looked for matches and scratched one. No
go--they were damp, and scratch as careful and quickly as I could, there
was no answering spark or flame, and darkness reigned supreme. A camp
without a fire in this wet place was not to be thought of, so I
concluded I might as well be slowly working my way down along the
stream, through thick brush and cold water, as to sit here in the cold
and wait.

So the little mule and I started on, wading the creek in thick darkness,
getting only the most dim reflected light from the sky through now and
then an opening in the trees. I did not know then how easy it was for a
grizzly to capture myself, the mule and meat and have quite a variety
for supper. But the grizzly stayed at home and we followed on through
brambles and hard brush, through which it was almost impossible to force
one's way. As it turned out, I was not in the track of the storm and did
not suffer much from it. Soon the cañon grew wider, and I could make out
on the right hand a piece of table land covered with brush that seemed
easier to get through than the creek bed.

The hill up to the table land was very steep, but not more than fifty
yards high, and when the mule tried to get up she got along very well
till near the top, when she slipped in the wet earth and never stopped
till she reached the bottom and lay down. She was helped up to her feet
again and we tried it in another place, I holding her from slipping when
she stopped to rest, and at last we reached the top. The mule started
on, seeming to follow a trail, but I could not see whether there was a
trail or not, so thick was the darkness, but there was evidently
something of the kind, for the brush was two or three feet high and very

After proceeding some distance the mule stopped and did not seem to wish
to go any farther. I was pretty sure there was something in front of her
that blocked the way, and so worked my way through the brush and
carefully past her. I could partly see and partly hear something just
ahead, and in a moment found it was our good faithful Cuff, and no
frightful spook at all. The good fellow had discovered our approach and
came out to meet us, and I am sure the mule was as glad as I was to see
him. He crawled through the brush and smelled at the mule's load and
then went forward in the trail, which we followed. It was a long time
after midnight when we reached camp. There was a good fire burning, but
all were asleep till I led the mule up to the fire and called out--"Wake
Up," when they were most of them on their feet in a minute without
stopping to dress, for all had slept a long time without taking off
their clothes.

John took charge of the mule and unloaded it, telling me to get into his
warm bed. I took off my wet clothes and told him to dry them, and then
got between the dry, warm blankets in greatest comfort. Daylight came
very quickly, it seemed to me, and before I finally rose, the sun had
been up some hours before me. Before I fell asleep I could hear the
women say, as they cut off the pieces of meat to roast--"See the fat!
Only see how nice it is!" Quickly roasted on the coals they ate the
delicate morsels with a relish and, most of all, praised the sweet fat.
"We like to have it all fat," said they, showing how their system craved
the nourishment the poor starved beef could not give. No one went to bed
after I came, but all sat and roasted meat and ate till they were

This sporting trip was quite different from deer hunting in Wisconsin,
and nothing like looking for game in Death Valley where nothing lived.
It was the hardest night's work that ever came to me in many a day, and
not the wild sport I generally looked for when on the chase. I felt
pretty well when I got up, and a chunk of my last night's prize which
had been toasted for me was eaten with a relish, for it was the best of
meat and I, of course, had a first class appetite. I had to tell them my
last hunting story, and was much praised as a lucky boy.

We would not be compelled to kill any more of our poor oxen in order to
live. So far we had killed six of them, and there were five left. Our
present situation was much appreciated, compared with that of a few days
ago when we were crawling slowly over the desert, hungry, sore-footed
and dry, when to lie was far easier than to take steps forward. We felt
like rejoicing at our deliverance and there was no mourning now for us.
The surrounding hills and higher mountains seemed more beautiful to us.
They were covered with green trees and brush, not a desert place in
sight. The clear little singing brook ran merrily on its way, the
happiest, brightest stream in all my memory. Wild birds came near us
without fear, and seemed very friendly. All was calm, and the bright
sunshine exactly warm enough so that no one could complain of heat or

When ready to move it was announced that I had lost my saddle blanket in
my adventure, so they substituted another one and I took the back track
to the place where the mule slipped down the bank, and there I found it.
I soon overtook them again just as they were going to camp on Mrs.
Bennett's account, as she had been suddenly taken sick with severe pain
and vomiting, something as Rogers and I had been after eating our first
California corn meal. The rich, fat meat was too strong for her weak

Arcane all along had an idea that Rogers and I meant to surprise them by
leading them to believe the house we had visited was quite a distance
off, and then to so manage it that it should appear upon their sight
suddenly. We assured them it would take two or more camps before we
could get there, and if Mrs. Bennett did not soon recover, even more
than that. Our camp here was under a great live oak, the ground deep
covered with dry leaves, and near by a beautiful meadow where our cattle
and mule ate, drank and rested, the oxen chewing their cud with such an
air of comfort as had not come to them since leaving their far-off
eastern pastures. They seemed as much pleased as any one. They would lie
down and rest and eat at the same time in perfectly enjoyable laziness.

Here we all rested and washed such clothes as we could do without long
enough to dry, and washed our faces and hands over and over again to
remove the dirt which had been burned and sweated in so completely as
not to come off readily. We sat on the bank of the brook with our feet
dangling in the water, a most refreshing bath, and they too began to
look clean again. We often saw tracks of the grizzly bear about, but in
our ignorance had no fear of them, for we did not know they were a
dangerous animal. An owl came and hooted in the night, but that was the
only challenge any wild beast or bird gave to our peaceful and restful
camp. We were out of the dreadful sands and shadows of Death Valley, its
exhausting phantoms, its salty columns, bitter lakes and wild, dreary
sunken desolation. If the waves of the sea could flow in and cover its
barren nakedness, as we now know they might if a few sandy barriers were
swept away, it would be indeed, a blessing, for in it there is naught of
good, comfort or satisfaction, but ever in the minds of those who braved
its heat and sands, a thought of a horrid Charnel house, a corner of the
earth so dreary that it requires an exercise of strongest faith to
believe that the great Creator ever smiled upon it as a portion of his
work and pronounced it "Very good." We had crossed the great North
American Continent, from a land of plenty, over great barren hills and
plains, to another mild and beautiful region, where, though still in
winter months, we were basking in the warmth and luxuriance of early
summer. We thought not of the gold we had come to win. We were dead
almost, and now we lived. We were parched with thirst, and now the
brightest of crystal streams invited us to stoop and drink. We were
starved so that we had looked at each other with maniac thoughts, and
now we placed in our mouth the very fat of the land. We had seen our
cattle almost perishing; seen them grow gaunt and tottering; seen them
slowly plod along with hanging heads and only the supremacy of human
will over animal instinct had kept them from lying down never to rise
again. Now they were in pastures of sweet grass, chewing the cud of
content and satisfaction. Life which had been a burden grew sweet to us,
and though it may be that our words of praise to Him, whose will was to
deliver us out of the jaws of death, were not set nor formal, yet His
all-seeing eye saw the truth in our hearts, and saw there the fullest
expression of our gratitude and thankfulness. Who shall say the thanks
that arose were less acceptable, because not given on bended knees
before gilded altars?

Though across the desert and evidently in the long promised land our
troubles and trials were not through by any means, but evidently we were
out of danger. Our lives seemed to be secure, and we were soon to meet
with settlers who would no doubt extend to us the hand of human
sympathy. Many long miles yet remained between us and the rivers in
whose sands were hidden the tiny grains of gold we came to seek.

The rest in the lovely camp had answered to cause Mrs. Bennett to feel
quite well again by the next morning, and we made ready to proceed. We
had the trail of the Jayhawkers to follow, so the vines, brambles and
tangles which had perplexed Rogers and myself in our first passage were
now somewhat broken down, and we could get along very well without
further clearing of the road until the hills came down so close on both
sides that there was no room except in the very bed of the stream. There
was no other way, so we waded among after the oxen as best we could.
Sometimes the women fell down, for a rawhide moccasin soaked soft in
water was not a very comfortable or convenient shoe, however it might be
adapted to hot, dry sands. The creek was shaded and the water quite
cool. The trail, such as it was, crossed the creek often and generally
was nothing else than the stream itself. The constant wading, and wet,
cold clothing caused the women to give out soon and we selected the
first dry suitable place which offered food for the oxen, as a place to

Wood was plenty and dry, so a good fire was soon burning, and the poor
women, wet to the waist and even higher, were standing before it,
turning round and round to get warm and dry. Someone remarked that they
resembled geese hanging before the fire to roast, as they slowly
revolved, and it was all owing to their fatigue that the suggester did
not receive merited punishment then and there at their hands. As they
got a little dry and comfortable they remarked that even an excess of
water like this was better than the desert where there was none at all,
and as to their looks, there were no society people about to point their
fingers at them, and when they reached a settled country they hoped to
have a chance to change their clothes, and get two dresses apiece, and
that these would be long enough to hide their knees which these poor
tatters quite failed to do. One remarked that she was sure she had been
down in the brook a dozen times and that she did not consider cold water
baths so frequently repeated were good for the health.

Young Charley Arcane had been getting better for some days. No medicine
had been given him, and it was no doubt the change of air and water that
had begun to effect a cure. Arcane had a hard time of it to keep the
brush from pulling George and Melissa off of Old Crump into the water.
It was indeed one of the hardest day's work of the whole journey, but no
one was low spirited, and all felt very well. The camping place was in a
deep cañon, surrounded by thick brush, so that no wind came in to chill
us. Everybody was cook and nobody was boss. Not a cent of money among
us, nor any chance to use any if we had possessed it. We had nice,
sweet, fat meat, cooked rare or well done as each one preferred, and no
complaints about the waiters. The conditions were so favorable, compared
with the terrible Death Valley and its surroundings that every one
remarked about it, and no one felt in the least like finding fault with
the little inconveniences we were forced to put up with. It might cure
an inveterate fault-finder to take a course of training in the desert.

The next day we did not wade half as much, and after a few hours of
travel we suddenly emerged from the brush into a creek bottom which was
much wider, with not a tree to obstruct our way. The soil was sandy and
covered more or less with sage brush, and the stream which had been
strong and deep enough to make us very wet now sank entirely out of
sight in the sandy bottom. The hills were thinly timbered on the left
side but quite brushy on the right, and we could see the track of cattle
in the sand. No signs of other animals, but some small birds came near,
and meadow larks whistled their tune, quite familiar to us, but still
sounding slightly different from the song of the same bird in the East.
High in the air could be seen a large sailing hawk or buzzard.

We stopped to rest at noon and noticed that the water ran a little in
the creek bed; but, by the time we were ready to start we found none
with which to fill our canteens. No doubt this water was poured into the
cañon somewhere near the place where we killed the three cattle, and we
had got out of it before the flood came down. It was astonishing to see
how the thirsty sand drank up the quite abundant flow.

The next day we came down to the point of hill that nearly crossed the
valley, and we crossed the low ridge rather than make a longer trip to
get around by way of the valley. As we reached the summit there appeared
before us as beautiful a rural picture as one ever looked upon. A large
green meadow, of a thousand acres, more or less; its southwest side
bounded by low mountains, at the base of which oak trees were plenty,
but no brush or undergrowth. It was like a grand old park, such as we
read of in English tales. All over the meadow cattle of all sorts and
sizes grazed, the "Ring-streaked and speckled" of old Jacob's breed
being very prominent. Some lazily cropped the grass; some still more
lazily reclined and chewed their cud; while frisky calves exercised
their muscles in swift races and then secured their dinner from anxious
mothers. We camped at once and took the loads from all the animals that
they might feed in comfort on the sweet grass that lay before them.

We tarried here perhaps two hours, till the cattle stopped eating, and
amply enjoyed the scene. Never again would any one of the party go back
over that dreary desert, they said, and everyone wondered why all places
could not be as green and beautiful as this one. I cannot half tell how
we felt and acted, nor what we said in our delight over this picture of
plenty. The strong contrasts created strong impressions, and the tongues
so long silent in our dry and dreary trouble were loosened to say
everything the heart inspired. Think as much as you can; you cannot
think it all.

We felt much better after our rest, and the oxen seemed stronger and
better able, as well as more willing to carry their loads, so we soon
prepared to move on down the valley, toward the house we had spoken of
as the goal we were to reach. It was now the 7th day of March 1850, and
this date, as well as the 4th day of November 1849 will always remain an
important one in memory. On the last named day we left the trail to take
the unfortunate cut-off, and for four long months we had wandered and
struggled in terrible hardship. Every point of that terrible journey is
indelibly fixed upon my memory and though seventy-three years of age on
April 6th 1893 I can locate every camp, and if strong enough could
follow that weary trail from Death Valley to Los Angeles with unerring
accuracy. The brushy cañon we have just described is now occupied by the
Southern Pacific Railroad, and the steep and narrow ridge pierced by a
tunnel, through which the trains pass. The beautiful meadow we so much
admired has now upon its border a railroad station, Newhall, and at the
proper season some portion of it is covered with thousands of trays of
golden apricots, grown in the luxuriant orchards just beyond the hills
toward the coast, and here drying in the bright summer sun. The cattle
in the parti-colored coats are gone, but one who knows the ground can
see our picture.

Loaded up again we start down the beautiful grassy valley, the women
each with a staff in hand, and everything is new and strange to us.
Rogers and I know that we will soon meet people who are strangers to us;
who speak a strange language of which we know nothing, and how we,
without a dollar, are to proceed to get our food and things we need, are
questions we cannot answer nor devise any easy way to overcome. The
mines are yet five hundred miles away, and we know not of any work for
us to do nearer. Our lives have been given back to us, and now comes the
problem of how to sustain them manfully and independently as soon as
possible. If worse comes to worst we can walk to San Francisco, probably
kill enough game on the way and possibly reach the gold mines at last,
but the way was not clear. We must trust much to luck and fortune and
the ever faithful Providence which rarely fails those who truly try to
help themselves.

We began to think some very independent thoughts. We had a mule to carry
our camp kettle and meat. Our cattle were now beginning to improve and
would soon get fat; these could carry our blankets and odd loads, while
Old Crump the christian could still carry the children; Bennett and I
knew how to hunt, and had good rifles; so we could still proceed, and we
determined that, come what may, _we will be victorious_.

These were some of the plans we talked over at our camps and resting
places, and as we walked along. If we could get the two families fixed
in some way so they could do without Rogers and I, we could strike for
the mines quite rapidly and no doubt soon get ourselves on good footing.
We were younger than the rest and could endure more hardship. We decide
to remain together till we get to Los Angeles, and then see what is

We reached our camping place at the foot of the hill, about a hundred
yards from the house we have so long striven to reach. Here we unloaded
in the shade of a large willow tree, and scarcely had we removed the
harness from the oxen when the good lady of the house and her little
child came down to see us. She stood for a moment and looked around her
and at the two small children on the blankets, and we could hear her
murmur _mucha pobre_ (very poor.) She could see our ragged clothes and
dirty faces and everything told her of our extreme destitution. After
seeing our oxen and mule which were so poor she said to herself "_flaco,
flaco_" (so thin.) She then turned to us, Rogers and I, whom she had
seen before, and as her lively little youngster clung to her dress, as
if in fear of such queer looking people as we were, she took an orange
from her pocket and pointing to the children of our party, wanted to
know if we had given them the four oranges she sent to them by us. We
made signs that we had done as she requested, when she smiled and said
"_Buenos Muchachos_" (good boys.) In all this talk neither could say a
word the other could understand, and the conversation was carried on by

Arcane said to her--"Me Catholic" which she seemed partly to comprehend
and seemed more friendly. About this time two men rode up and took a
look at us. Arcane, who was a mason, gave the masonic sign, as he told
me afterward, but neither of them recognized it. We used such words of
Spanish as I had taken down in my pass book and committed to memory and
by motions in addition to these made them understand something of the
state of affairs and that Mr. French who had assisted us before had told
us we could get some meat (_carne_) from them. These men were finely
mounted, wore long leggins made of hide, dressed with the hair on, which
reached to their hips, stiff hats with a broad rim, and great spurs at
their heels. Each had a coil of braided rawhide rope on the pommel of
the saddle, and all these arrangements together made a very dashing

They seemed to understand what we had said to them, for they rode off
with a rush and came back in a short time, leading a fine, fat
two-year-old heifer. When near our camp the rider who was behind threw
his _riata_ and caught both hind feet of the animal when by a sudden
movement of the horses the heifer was thrown. One of them dismounted,
and at the command the horse backed up and kept the rope tight while the
man went up to the prostrate beast and cut its throat. As soon as it had
ceased struggling, they loosened their ropes and coiled them up: they
came to us and pointed to the dead heifer in a way which said--"Help

We were much gratified at the generosity of the people, and at once
dressed the animal as it lay, cutting off some good fat pieces which we
roasted over the fire and ate with a relish. It seemed as if meat never
tasted so good as that did sweet, fragrant, and juicy. If some French
cook could only cook a steak that would smell and taste to his customers
as that meal tasted to us, his art would be perfect. We separated a hind
quarter and hung it to a tree, and when the lady came back we told her
that the piece we had selected was enough for our present use, so she
caused the remainder with the hide to be taken to the house. Toward
night they drove up a lot of cows and calves and other cattle into their
cattle yard or corral, as it is called all over California, a stockade
of strong oak posts set deep in the ground and close together, enclosing
a space of about half an acre. The horsemen now rode in and began to
catch the calves with their ropes. It seemed as if they were able to
throw a rope over a calf's head or around either leg they desired, with
better aim, and at as great a distance as one could shoot a Colt's
revolver, and we saw at once that a good raw-hide rope, in the hands of
an experienced man and well-trained horse, was a weapon in many respects
superior to firearms of any kind. A man near the gate loosened the ropes
and pushed the calves into a separate corral till they had as many as
they desired.

Rogers watched the circus till it was over and then returned to camp,
meeting on the way Bennett and Arcane, with their wives and children,
carrying some blankets, for the good lady had invited them to come up to
the house and sleep. They said we could go down and keep camp if old dog
Cuff was willing, for they had left him guarding the property. He was
pleased enough to have us come and keep him company, and we slept
nicely, disturbed only a little by the barking of the house dogs and the
hooting of an owl that came to visit our tree.

The people came back to camp in the morning and had their experience to
relate. Their hosts first baked some kind of flapjacks and divided them
among their guests; then gave them beans seasoned hot with pepper: also
great pieces of squash cooked before the fire, which they said was
delicious and sweet--more than good. Then came a dish of dried meat
pounded fine, mixed with green peppers and well fried in beef tallow.
This seemed to be the favorite dish of the proprietors, but was a little
too hot for our people. They called it _chili cum carne_--meat with
pepper--and we soon found this to be one of the best dishes cooked by
the Californians. The children were carefully waited on and given
special attention to by these good people, and it was nearly ten o'clock
before the feast was over: then the household had evening worship by
meeting in silence, except a few set words repeated by some in turn, the
ceremony lasting half an hour or more. Then they came and wished them
_buenos noches_ in the most polite manner and left them to arrange their
blankets on the floor and go to sleep.

The unaccustomed shelter of a roof and the restless worrying of the
children, who required much attention, for the change of diet had about
the same effect on them as on Rogers and myself when we first partook of
the California food, gave them little sleep, but still they rested and
were truly grateful for the most perfect hospitality of these kind
hearted people.

In the morning the two horsemen and two Indians went to the corral, when
the riders would catch a cow with their ropes and draw her head up to a
post, binding it fast, while an Indian took a short piece of rope and
closely tied the hind legs together above the gambrel joint, making the
tail fast also. They had a large bucket and several gourds. The Indians
then milked the cows they had made fast, getting from a pint to two
quarts from each one, milking into a gourd and pouring into the bucket
till they had all they desired. The calves were separated the night
before so they could secure some milk. Cows were not trained to stand
and be milked as they were at home. Setting down the bucket of milk
before us, with some small gourds for dippers, we were invited to drink
all we wished. This was a regular banquet to us, for our famished
condition and good appetites made food relish wonderfully.

When we made a sign of wishing to pay them for their great kindness they
shook their heads and utterly refused. It was genuine sympathy and
hospitality on their part, and none of us ever forgot it; the sight of a
native Californian has always brought out thoughts of these good people,
and respect and thankfulness to the race. This rancho, at which we were
so kindly entertained was called San Francisquito, or Little San
Francisco Rancho.

This morning Mr. Arcane, with our assistance, made an arrangement with
these people to give them his two oxen; and they were to take him and
his wife and child, to the sea-shore, at a place called San Pedro, from
which place he hoped, in some way, to get passage to San Francisco in a
sailing vessel. He had no money, and no property to sell, except perhaps
his spy-glass, worth about ten dollars. With this poor prospect before
him he started for the sea. He bade Bennett's folks good-bye, then came
to me and put a light gold ring on my finger, saying that it and his
interest in the little mule were mine. Then he gave his silver watch to
Rogers and said it was all he had to give him, but if he had a million
dollars, he would divide, and still think it a small compensation for
the faithful services we had rendered him. "I can never repay you," said
he, "for I owe you a debt that is beyond compensation. You have saved
our lives, and have done it when you knew you could get nothing for it.
I hope we will meet again, and when we do you will be welcome. If you
hear of me anywhere, come and see me, for I want to tell my friends who
Manly and Rogers are, and how you helped us. Good Bye!" There were tears
in his eyes, voice full of emotion, and the firm clasp of his hand told
how earnest he was, and that he felt more than he could speak.

He helped Mrs. Arcane on her horse, then gave Charlie to her, and, amid
waving hands and many _adios_ from our new-found friends, with repeated
"good byes" from the old ones, they rode away. Mrs. Arcane could hardly
speak when she bade us farewell, she was so much affected. They had
about sixty miles to ride to reach the sea, and as she rode on a man's
saddle, and was unused to riding, I knew she would be sadly wearied
before she reached the coast.

Our little train now seemed much smaller. Three oxen and a mule were all
our animals, and the adults must still walk, as they had done on our
desert route. But we were comparatively happy, for we had plenty of good
meat to eat, plenty of sweet water to drink, and our animals were
contented and improving every day; grass and water seemed plenty
everywhere. We put our luggage on the oxen and the mule, loaded the
children on Old Crump as we had done before, and were ready to move
again. Our good friends stood around and smiled good-naturedly at our
queer arrangements, and we, not knowing how to say what our hearts would
prompt us to, shook their hands and said good bye in answer to their
"_adios amigos_" as we moved away, waving hands to each other.

The men then detained me a little while to ask me more about the road we
had come over, how far it was, and how bad the Indians were, and other
particulars. I told him by signs that we had been twenty-two days on the
road, and that the _Indianos_, as they called them, had not troubled us,
but that there was very little grass or water in all that land. He made
a sort of map on the ground and made me understand he would like to go
back and try to bring out the wagons we had left behind, and he wanted
me to go back with him and help him. I explained to him by the map he
had made, and one which I made myself, that I considered it impossible
to bring them over. He seemed much disappointed, and with a shrug of his
shoulders said "_mucho malo_" (very bad) and seemed to abandon the idea
of getting a Yankee wagon. They very much admired an American wagon, for
their own vehicles were rude affairs, as I shall bye-and-bye describe.
We bade each other many _adios_, and I went on my way, soon catching up
with the little party. We had been informed that it was ten leagues, or
thirty miles to Los Angeles, whither we were now headed.

We had now been a whole year on the road between Wisconsin and
California, much of the time with the ground for a bed, and though our
meals had been sometimes scanty and long between, very few of us had
missed one on account of sickness. Some, less strong than we, had lain
down to perish, and had been left behind, without coffin or grave; but
we were here, and so far had found food to nourish us in some degree
with prospects now of game in the future if nothing better offered. We
still talked of going to the gold mines on foot, for with good food and
rest our courage had returned, and we wanted to succeed.

Our camp this night was in a nice watering place, where dry oak wood was
plenty and grass abundant. It was at the foot of the San Fernando
Mountain, not rocky, as we had found our road some time before, but
smooth and covered with grass. It was rather steep to climb, but an
infant compared with the great mountains so rough and barren, we had
climbed on our way from Death Valley. Our present condition and state of
mind was an anomalous one. We were happy, encouraged, grateful and quite
contented in the plenty which surrounded us, and still there was a sort
of puzzling uncertainty as to our future, the way to which seemed very
obscure. In the past we had pushed on our very best and a kind
Providence had kept us. This we did now, but still revolved the best
plans and the most fortunate possibilities in our minds. We talked of
the time when we should be able to show hospitality to our friends, and
to strangers who might need our open hand as we had needed the favors
which strangers had shown us in the last few days.

We ate our supper of good meat, with a dessert of good beans our kind
friends had given us, and enjoyed it greatly. As we sat in silence a
flock of the prettiest, most graceful birds came marching along, and
halted as if to get a better view of our party. We admired them so much
that we made not a move, but waited, and they fearlessly walked on
again. We could see that there were two which were larger than the rest,
and from twelve to twenty smaller ones. The little top-knot on the head
and their symmetrical forms made them specially attractive, and Mrs.
Bennett and the children were much pleased. The beauty of the California
quail is especially striking to one who sees them for the first time.

In the morning we began to climb the hill, getting along very well
indeed, for our raw-hide moccasins were now dry and hard and fitted the
foot perfectly. We did not try to make great speed, but kept steadily
on, and as we were used to climbing, we reached the summit easily. From
this elevation we could get a fine view of the big grassy plain that
seemed to extend as far as the eye could reach and, not far from us, the
buildings and gardens of the San Fernando Mission. If we could shut out
the mountains the landscape would remind us of a great Western prairie.
We never could get over comparing this country with the desolate Death
Valley, for it seemed as if such strange and striking opposites could
hardly exist.

We rested here a little while and then wound our way down the hill to
the level land. A few miles brought us to the mission houses and the
church of San Fernando. There was not much life about them, in fact they
seemed comparatively deserted, for we saw only one man and a few
Indians. The man brought some oranges and gave the children one each.
After a little rest we moved on over our road which was now quite smooth
and gently descending. Night overtook us in a place where there was no
water, but we camped and suffered no inconvenience. A stream was passed
next day, and a house near by unoccupied. The road now began to enter
gently rolling hills covered with big grass and clover, which indicated
rich soil, and we never get tired of talking about it.

At the top of these hills we had another beautiful view as far south and
west as the eye could reach. Small objects, probably horses and cattle,
were scattered about the plain, grazing in the midst of plenty. Our own
animals were given frequent opportunities to eat, and again and again we
rejoiced over the beauty. Of course it was not such a surprise and
wonder as it was when such a view first burst upon our sight, but it
pleased and delighted us ever. On the east was a snow-capped peak, and
here we were in the midst of green fields of grass and wild flowers, in
the softest climate of an early spring. These strong contrasts beat
anything we had ever seen. Perhaps the contrast between the great snow
mountain and the hot Death Valley was greater in point of temperature,
but there the heat brought only barrenness, and of the two the snow
seemed the more cheerful. Here the vegetation of all sorts was in full
balance with the balmy air, and in comparison the snow seemed a strange
neighbor. It was quite a contrast to our cold, windy March in Wisconsin,
and we wonder if it is always summer here. We were satisfied that even
if we could get no further we could live in such a land as this. The
broad prairie doubtless belonged to the United States, and we could have
our share and own a little piece of it on very easy terms, and raise our
own cattle and corn. If the people were all as kind as those we had met
we were sure at least of neighborly treatment. I have endeavored to
write this just as it seemed to us then and not clothe the impressions
with the cover of later experience. The impressions we then daily
received and the sights we saw were stranger than the wildest fiction,
and if it so strikes you, my friendly reader, do not wonder.

As we came over the hills we could see a village near the southern base
and it seemed quite near us. It was a new and strange sight to us as we
approached. The houses were only one story high and seemed built of mud
of a gray color, the roofs flat, and the streets almost deserted.
Occasionally a man could be seen, sometimes a dog, and now and then an
Indian, sitting with his back to the house. The whole view indicated a
thinly populated place, and the entire absence of wagons or animals was
a rather strange circumstance to us. It occurred to us at first that if
all the emigrants were gone our reception might be a cool one in this
city of mud. One thing was in its favor and that was its buildings were
about fire proof for they had earthen floors and flat roofs.

We rested half an hour or so just outside, and then ventured down the
hill into the street. We met an American almost the first man, and when
we asked about a suitable camping place, he pointed out the way and we
marched on. Our strange appearance attracted the attention of the
children and they kept coming out of the houses to see the curious
little train with Old Crump carrying the children and our poor selves
following along, dirty and ragged. Mrs. Bennett's dress hardly reached
below her knees, and although her skirts were fringed about the bottom
it was of a kind that had not been adopted as yet in general circle of
either Spanish-American or good United States society. The shortness of
the dress made the curious raw-hide moccasins only the more prominent,
and the whole make-up of the party was a curious sight.

We went down the hill a little further to the lower bottom to camp,
while the barefooted, bareheaded urchins followed after to get a further
look at the strangers. Before we selected a suitable place, we saw two
tents and some wagons which looked like those of overland travelers, and
we went toward them. When within fifty yards two men suddenly came to
their feet and looked at our little party approaching as if in wonder,
but at twenty steps they recognized Bennett and came rushing forward.
"My God! It's Bennett" said they, and they clasped hands in silence
while one greeted Mrs. Bennett warmly. The meeting was so unexpected
they shed tears and quietly led the way back to camp. This was the camp
of R.G. Moody and H.C. Skinner, with their families. They had traveled
together on the Platte and became well acquainted, the warmest of
friends, and knowing that Bennett had taken the cut off, they more than
suspected he and his party had been lost, as no sight of them had come
to their eyes. They had been waiting here six weeks in order to get some
reliable news, and now Mr. Bennet answered for himself. Rogers and I,
belonging to another party, were of course strangers.

Leaving them to compare notes, Rogers and I took charge of Old Crump,
the oxen, and the mule, unpacked them, and arranged camp under a
monstrous willow tree. Bennett and his wife were taken into Mr. Moody's
tent, and an hour or so later when Mrs. Bennett appeared again, she had
her face washed clean, her hair combed, and a new clean dress. It was
the first time we had found soap, and the improvement in her looks and
feelings was surprising. Bennett looked considerably cleaned up too, and
appeared bright and fresh. The children had also been taken in hand and
appeared in new clothes selected from the wardrobe of the other
children, and the old dirty clothes were put in process of washing as
soon as possible.

Supper came, and it was so inviting. There was real bread and it looked
so nice we smiled when it was offered to us. Mrs. Bennett broke pieces
for the children and cautioned them not to eat too much. It did seem so
good to be among friends we could talk with and be understood. After
supper was over and the things cleared away we all sat down in a circle
and Bennett told the story of where he had been these many days on the
cut off that was to shorten the trail. Mr. Moody said he had about given
the party up and intended to start up the coast to-morrow. The story was
so long that they talked till they were sleepy and then began again
after breakfast, keeping it up till they had a good outline of all our
travels and tribulations. This Mr. R.G. Moody, his wife and daughter,
Mrs. Quinby, and son Charles, all lived in San Jose and are now dead.
H.C. Skinner was a brother-in-law of Moody and also lived a long time in
San Jose, but himself, son and one daughter, are now dead.

Rogers and I now took the pack-saddle we had borrowed of Mr. French to
use on our trip to Death Valley and return, and carried it to the saloon
on the east side of the plaza, where we were to place it if we got back
safely, and delivered it to the man in charge, with many thanks to Mr.
French for his favors to us, and sent him word that we would always
remember him and be ready to do him a similar or equal favor if ever we
were able. We considered him a good benevolent man, and such he proved
to be when he offered us fat oxen, good beans, and any other thing we
needed. He told the people in the house who we were, which no doubt
influenced them kindly in our favor when we arrived.

At the saloon there was a large room with tables in it and gambling
going on actively. Money changed hands very rapidly, drinks at the bar
were frequent, and the whole affair moved forward with the same
regularity as any mercantile business. The door stood wide open and any
one could come and go at his pleasure. Quite a number of black-eyed,
fair looking women circulated among the crowd, and this, to us, seemed
quite out of place, for we had never seen women in saloons before. We
watched the game awhile to see some losing and some gaining, the result
being quite exciting; but as neither of us had any money, we could not
have joined in the game had we been so disposed; so we looked on awhile
and then took a seat on the ground outside of the house.

Here we talked over our chances of getting to the mines. All the clothes
we had were on our backs and feet and those were the poorest of the
poor. We had no money. I had the little black-eyed mule, and Rogers had
the watch Arcane had given him. Mr. Moody had said it was 500 miles to
San Francisco, and 150 miles further to the mines, so that after the
hard travel of a year we were still a long way off from the place we
started for.

We could not see any way to make a living here. There was no land
cultivated, not a fence, nothing to require labor of any kind. The
valley was rich enough and produced great crops of grass, and the cattle
and horses we had seen grazing seemed to be about all the use they put
it to. It looked as if the people must live principally on meat. I
thought if we could manage to get a little provision together, such as
flour and beans, that I could pack there on the mule, and I was pretty
sure I could find game that would be better meat than we had lived on
during the last two months on the desert.

We looked around to see if we could find something to do to earn a
little for a start, but were not successful. In our walk about this city
of mud we saw many things that seemed strange to us. There were more
women than men, and more children than grown-up people, while the dogs
were plenty. At the edge of the town, near the river were some grape
vines fenced in with living willows, interlaced in some places with dry
vines. The Indians moved very moderately around and no doubt had plenty
of beef to eat, with very few wants to provide for. We noticed some few
people paying for small things at the stores with small money. The women
all dressed much alike. The dress was of some cheap material, sandals on
feet, and a kind of long shawl worn over the head and thrown over the
shoulder. There seemed to be neither hoops nor corsets in their
fashions. The men wore trousers of white cotton or linen, with a calico
shirt, sandals, and a broad rimmed snuff colored hat. The Indians and
their wives went bareheaded.

Near the end of the street we came to a boarding house and went in and
sat down in the empty room. Soon a man came in, better dressed than
ourselves, and much to our surprise it was one of the old Death Valley
travelers, the Rev. J.W. Brier whom I last saw in his lone camp in the
desert, discoursing to his young sons on the benefits of an early
education. I know the situation struck me very strangely, with death
staring them in the face and he preaching!

We had a long talk about the hard journey we had each experienced. As
his party had not waited they had come through ahead of us. He said
himself and Mr. Granger had started a boarding house when they arrived,
and had been doing a good business. He said that as long as the
emigrants continued to come he could get along very well. We asked him
if there was any chance for us to work and get money to get some
provisions to help us on the way to the mines. He said he could give
work to one of us hauling water for the house with oxen and cart, and
the one who could manage oxen was the man. I was an ox driver and so
told him I would take his team and cart and set out with the work. He
said he could pay fifty dollars a month, and I accepted the offer
quickly as I saw it was a good chance to build up my exhausted strength
and flesh.

I turned the little mule out in the hills near by, and began my work. It
was not hard, for the boarders were thinning out. The natives did not
patronize this hotel very much, but grub disappeared pretty fast at my
corner of the table, for my appetite began to be ravenous. There was not
much variety to the food and very few luxuries or delicacies, which were
hard to obtain on such a bare market, but all seemed satisfied with the
food, and to me it tasted extra good.

Rogers went back to the old camp and helped them there, and I often went
over after dark, when my work was done. Moody and Skinner had been
active in trying to get Mr. Bennett ready to go up the coast with them.
Bennett had sold his repeating rifle and with the proceeds and the help
of his friends had got another ox, making two yoke for him. They fixed
up a wagon for him, and yokes enough could be found where people had
traded off their oxen for horses. Provisions enough had been gathered by
Moody and Skinner for them all, and Rogers would go along with the party
to help them with the teams.

I was left alone after they started, and it was my idea to quit when I
had worked a month, and if my mule staid with me, to start for the mines
even if I went alone. The majority of the male inhabitants of this town
had gone to the mines, and this accounted for the unusual proportion of
women. We learned that they would return in November, and then the
gambling houses would start up in full blast, for these native
Californians seemed to have a great natural desire to indulge in games
of chance, and while playing their favorite game of monte would lay down
their last reale (12-1/2 cents) in the hope of winning the money in
sight before them on the table.

As the boarding house business got dull I was taken over to a vineyard
and set to work, in place of hauling water. The entire patch was as
green as a meadow with weeds, and I was expected to clean them out. I
inquired of Brier how he came to get hold of this nice property, and he
said that during the war the soldiers had taken possession of this piece
of ground, and had their camp here, so he considered it was government
land, and therefore had squatted on it and was going to hold it, and pay
for it as regular government land, and that he already considered it his
own, for said he, "I am an American, and this is a part of the public
domain." "All right," said I, "I will kill weeds for you, if you wish,
when I have time to spare, and you don't want the oxen worked at any
other work ".

I could see every day that I was improving in health and weight and
would soon become myself again, able to take the road to the mines. When
about two weeks of my time had expired two oldish men came to the house
to stop for a few days and reported themselves as from Sacramento,
buying up some horses for that market. Thus far they had purchased only
six or eight, as they had found the price too high to buy and then drive
so far to a market to sell again. They had about decided to go back with
what they had and undertake some other kind of business. I thought this
would be a pretty good chance for me to go, as I would have company, and
so went to Brier and Granger and told them what I would like to do, and
that with their permission I would quit and go on with them. They
readily consented, for their money was coming in rather slow, and they
paid me twenty five dollars for half a month's work. This made me feel
pretty rich and I thought this would give me food enough to reach the

Having two or three days to get ready in, I began doing the best I
could. I found an old saddle tree which had been thrown away, and
managed to fix it up so I could use it. I also found an old gun some
traveler had left, and with a little work I fitted the breech of that to
my own gun which was broken, and had been roughly tied together with
strips of raw-hide. I now had a good sound gun if it was not very
handsome. I bought a Spanish blanket, not so wide as ours, but coarse
and strong, and having a hole in the center through which to put the
head and wear it as a garment in case of storm, or at night. I went to a
native store and bought a supply of carné seca (dried beef) and some
crackers, put some salt in my pocket and was now provisioned for another
trip. I found my mule in the hills back of town, not far from where I
left her, and the rest and good feed had made her look better and feel
better, as well as myself.

The drovers had found two other men who wanted to go with them and help
drive the horses for their board. I put my blanket on under the saddle,
packed my little sack of meat and crackers on behind, and when I was in
the saddle with my gun before me I considered I was pretty well fixed
and able to make my way against almost anything. I said to myself that
the only way now to keep me from getting to the gold mines was to kill
me. I felt that there was not a mountain so high I could not climb, and
no desert so wide and dry that I could not cross it. I had walked and
starved and choked and lived through it, and now I felt so strong and
brave I could do it again--any way to reach the gold mines and get some
of the "dust."

I had not much idea how the gold from the mines looked. Everybody called
it gold dust, and that conveyed an idea to me that it was fine as flour,
but how to catch it I did not know. I knew other people found a way to
get it, and I knew I could learn if any body could. It was a great
longing that came to me to see some of the yellow dust in its native
state, before it had been through the mint.

At the last meal I took at the house there were only a few at the table.
Among them was a well dressed Californian who evidently did not greatly
fancy American cooking, but got along very well till Mrs. Brier brought
around the dessert, a sort of duff. This the Californian tasted a few
times and then laid down his spoon saying it was no bueno, and some
other words I did not then understand, but afterward learned that they
meant "too much grease." The fellow left the table not well pleased with
what we generally consider the best end of a Yankee dinner, the last

While here I had slept in a small store room, where I made my pallet out
of old rags and blankets. While I was looking round for material to make
my bed I came across a bag partly full of sugar, brought from Chili. It
was in very coarse crystals, some as large as corn. There were some
other treasures end luxuries there that perhaps I was expected guard. I
however had a sweet tooth and a handful or so of the sweet crystals
found their way into my pocket.

I bade Mr. Brier and the rest good bye and rode away to join my company.


Leaving the little party whose wanderings we have followed so closely,
safely arrived in Los Angeles, their further history in California will
be taken up later on, and this narrative will go back to points when the
original party was broken up and trace the little bands in their varied
experience. It will be remembered that the author and his friends, after
a perilous voyage down Green River, halted at the camp of the Indian
chief, Walker, and there separated, the Author and four companions
striking for Salt Lake, while McMahon and Field remained behind, fully
determined to go on down the river.

The story of these two men is told by McMahon in the following
interesting letter.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dear Manley:--

Yours requesting me to give you a synopsis of the history of incidents,
experience, and observations of our mutual friend, Richard Field and
myself, from the time you, John Rogers, Alfred Walton, and the Hazelrig
brothers left us at the camp of the generous old chief Walker on the
west bank of the river near the mouth of the "great seven days cañon" is
at hand.

You no doubt distinctly, and with pleasure, remember that unbroken
friendship which existed among us up to the time of our separation and
that we parted warm and tried friends.

Well, after you and your companions had left us we set to work to
prepare the canvas for the continuation of the voyage down the river. We
drilled holes through the sides of the "Pilot"--you, I have no doubt
remember which that was, yours and mine, in which we took so many
fearful risks, and "No. 2," so that we might in case of necessity lash
the two together. After a day or two Field lost courage and finally
determined to go no further down the river. Walker in the meantime had
repeated his friendly warnings appertaining to the great danger in going
further down the river. You will remember what he had told us about it
before you left us.

You know that I was the biggest coward of the whole seven; but I assumed
courage and told Field that I would go down the river alone; and, for a
time, I thought I would do so; but after some reflection I concluded
that, perhaps, discretion was the better part of valor, and reluctantly
gave it up. We now decided to follow you, or to take some other unknown
route and try to make our escape out of this most perilous condition.

We then set about, as you had done, to trade with Walker for a pony or
two, and after much dickering Field succeeded in getting the, afterwards
famous, big, old, sore-backed mule. You may not remember him, but I do;
and, notwithstanding his sore back, he made pretty good beef. I, with
pins, needles, thread, a pocket-knife, a handkerchief, etc., succeeded
in getting a very nice, round, three-year-old, iron-gray pony.

After making pack-saddles, and getting almost ready to start, we were,
through Walker's kindness and persuasiveness, overcome, and consented to
go with him, feeling confident that we would not starve to death while
with him. We did not now have Manley with his long experience, and his
old rusty, but always trusty, rifle as a sure defence against possible
hunger and starvation.

The old chief, and, in fact, the whole tribe, seemed pleased when we
consented to go with them. Preparations were now made, and all except
the horses and four head of cattle, was conveyed across the river in the
two canoes which were lashed together, while the horses and cattle were
forced to swim to the other side where we camped for the night. Next
morning the clever old chief had two good horses fitted up in good style
for Field and I, which we rode all of the nine days that we remained
with the band, while our own run with the herd. Our baggage was carried
on some of the chief's pack-horses. We were, in fact, his honored
guests, as will hereafter appear.

All were soon mounted and off to the buffalo fields, Walker having
informed us that he intended going up into the buffalo country on the
head-waters of Grand River where he would remain until snow fell, when
he would go to Salt Lake City, or vicinity.

Leaving the river, we set out across a not entirely barren plain, for
there was much sage-brush, and several varieties of cactus. Towards
evening we came close up to the foot of a range of rugged, rocky
mountains, where we found water and camped for the night. Field and I
usually pitched our little muslin tent somewhere near our friends where
we could sleep without fear of man or beast, for I think some one of the
reds was always on guard.

All went well for four or five days, when we all got entirely out of
food except a few ounces of flour which we had hidden away for a
possible emergency. During the following two days and nights all were
entirely without food except the two little children, whom you no doubt
remember. We gave their mother a little flour now and then which she
mixed with a little milk which one of the cows afforded, for the little
ones. These Indians did not seem to suffer for want of food; even when
we were starving, they appeared happy and contented; and one young
fellow would sing all day long while we were starving. Daring the second
day of starvation and hard traveling over hot and barren deserts, the
Indians killed a wild-cat and two small rabbits. We got nothing. You
will remember that all the arms of the seven men were lost in the river
when the canoes were sunk, except your rifle and my double barreled
shot-gun and revolver, so that Field and I had only the one gun, and
neither of us knew anything about hunting. When we camped, one of the
boys brought over to our tent a quarter of the cat, which was more than
a fair share of the whole supply, as twenty-two of them had only the two
little rabbits and three quarters of the unfortunate cat. We boiled and
boiled and boiled that cat's hind leg, but never got it done. We waited
as long as we possibly could, gave up in despair and put a little flour
into the broth to thicken it, and drank it. It was not good, but much
better the meat of the cat. That cat and the rabbits were all the
twenty-four of us had to eat, after fasting two days, until late in the
evening of the next day.

My people were religious, and when I was young the family was wont to
observe fast days, but never did we have any such long fasts as these
were. In the afternoon of the next day the old chief left the caravan
and went on ahead of the train toward a chain of mountains, first giving
some directions to the band, and taking one son with him. When we
arrived in a small cañon in the edge of the mountains we found them with
a fine mountain sheep which they had killed and brought down to the dim,
little-used trail where we camped; and after we had set up our little
tent as usual, a short distance away from our friends, one of the young
men brought to us about one fourth of the sheep, while the twenty-two
Indians had the rest.

You know that a good-sized mountain sheep would make a fair supper for
twenty-four people, even though they had been starving three or four
days; but this was a small one, and I think Field and I ate about half
of the quarter. The twenty-two Indians soon devoured the three-fourths
and all of the soft viscera, including the stomach and intestines, after
which some of the boys came to our tent while we were stuffing our, what
had been for several days empty, stomachs. We offered them part of our
bounteous supply of mutton, having much more than we could eat; but no,
they would not touch it until we were filled full, when they accepted
what was left, and soon stowed it away. All were now pretty well filled
up once more.

The next day was spent without food, traveling over rough mountains.
Within a pass, late in the afternoon, we crossed the fresh trail of some
other band of roving red-skins, and Walker suspected who they were, and
went into camp early. The Indians had killed nothing that day, but I had
killed a small rabbit which, unfortunately for it, came in my way during
the day. This we offered to the women for themselves and the little
children; but they positively refused to accept it, insisting that they
did not want it or need it, and that the small supply of milk from the
cow was quite sufficient for the little ones, and the others spurned the
offer to divide so little a thing, so we had it all to ourselves.

It appeared that these people were accustomed to go for long periods
without food, and with little apparent inconvenience; but Field and I
began to feel as I suppose Dr. Tanner felt after a few days' fasting,
and began to wish that the old chief would get hungry and kill one of
his large, fat steers, but he still held them in reserve.

Early the next morning, now nine days from the time we had left the
river, the old chief took two of the young men and left camp, as we
afterwards learned, to go in search of the Indians whose trail we had
crossed the evening before. Some time in the early part of the night,
one of the young men returned and informed us that they had found the
wandering tribe, and that we were to go back to their trail and follow
it to their camp up in a Southeast direction, Walker and one of the
young men having remained with their new-found friends.

Field and I both felt greatly disappointed in not being able to proceed
north; and in the meantime we had become very tired of the society of
these people, notwithstanding the fact that they were exceedingly
clever; but we were almost starved to death, and had about come to the
conclusion that we would be obliged to make some change. We were still
on the east side of, and considerable distance from the river, and
probably not more than one hundred, or one hundred and twenty miles from
the place where we parted from you.

The chief had sent particular instructions for us to go with the tribe;
but, after canvassing the whole situation, we decided to part company
with our good friends, proceed northward, and try to reach Fort Bridger
or some other settlement in the northwest, and so informed them, and
requested the boys to bring in our mule and horse, which they did after
failing to induce us to go with them.

Bright and early the next morning, they all, even the polygamous wives
and little children, in apparent sorrow, bade us good-bye, and were off,
leaving us alone with our two poor, lonely, four-footed companions, who
were very anxious to follow the band of horses. After the rather
melancholy parting we arranged our packs, and about ten o'clock started
out on what then seemed, and afterwards proved, to be a perilous voyage
through deserts, and over rough mountains. To avoid a high range of
mountains, our course was for a time northeast but, after passing that
range we bore to the northwest.

The days were quite warm, but the nights were cold. During the first day
we killed and ate one small rabbit, and this, with a few seed buds
gathered from wild rose bushes, constituted two days' rations. On the
third we did not have even the rabbit or rose seed buds, but late in the
afternoon we found some small red berries, similar in appearance to what
I, in my childhood, knew and relished as Solomon's seal berries. I being
a natural coward, and fearing that they might poison me, did not eat any
of them, but generously allowed my good friend to eat them all.

We had now been almost entirely without water for two days and nights.
When night came on we picketed our animals in a grass plot and lay down
near them to see that they did not get tangled in the ropes and hurt, or
that some red skin, not having the fear of the Lord in his heart, did
not come and take them away. About ten o'clock my companion began to
complain of pain in his stomach and bowels, and was soon vomiting at a
fearful rate; so violently, indeed, that I was apprehensive that he
might die. If I had had an emetic I would have given it to him to have
assisted nature in pumping those devilish little red berries out of him,
for I felt quite sure that they were the cause of his illness. Perhaps
it was fortunate that there was no medecine at hand, for if there had
been I might have killed him with it.

He suffered most intensely, and soon became very thirsty, and, there
being no water within many miles of us, he appealed to me to bleed one
of the animals and let him drink the blood; I refused: he insisted; I
again refused: he commanded; I still refused. He swore, and called me
almost everything except a good Christian; he even expressed the wish
that I, his friend, might be sent to a certain place where the heat is
most intense, and the fire is never quenched.

At about eleven o'clock, when his pains were most severe, a dark cloud,
the first we had seen for months, came over us, and a little rain began
to fall, when I at once opened our little camp kettle and turned the lid
upside down, and into both kettle and lid there fell perhaps two or
three teaspoonfuls of pure water, every drop of which I gave to the
sufferer, whereupon he expressed thanks for another God-send, and at
once apologized for bestowing unmerited abuse on me. He afterwards often
asserted that he believed that the little rain-cloud was sent by God for
his special benefit, and that the water caught from that cloud was the
sweetest and best that he had ever tasted. I did not doubt the latter
half of the above statement, but I did have some doubt about the truth
of the former half when I called to mind the scene which followed my
refusal to bleed the horse. Whether the small quantity of water gave him
much relief, or not, I do not know, but I do know that he soon became
better and slept some while I watched. He was quite feeble next morning
when I put him on the old sore-backed mule, where he rode most of the
time for the next four days, while the little horse carried our baggage,
and I led the way as usual, on foot.

For four days from the time Field ate the little red berries we did not
have a drop of water except the two or three teaspoonfuls which the
stingy cloud left to save the life of the "berry-eater." We were still
on the desert, or in the mountains east of the river, traveling hard
during the day, and burning up with fever in the night. There was plenty
of drying grass in places, but our poor animals could not eat it any
longer, for they, too, were burning up for want of water. Oh, how much I
did wish that we had some camels from Arabia, which could have gone so
much longer without water, and traveled so much faster.

On the morning of the third day of starvation, we determined to change
our course, and, if possible, reach the river once more. Bearing to the
left over a high, barren range of rocky mountains, and down into a plain
of sand, sage brush, and cactus. During the afternoon I shot a small
rabbit, not much larger than a rat, which we carried until night, then
broiled and tried to eat it, not because our appetites craved it, but
hoping that it might strengthen and sustain us, at least a little while
longer. We were, however, so nearly burned up that there was not a
sufficient flow of saliva to moisten the little bits of broiled meat in
the mouth. Late that afternoon we fancied that our fast failing brute
companions scented water, or that they instinctively knew that it was
not far away. They would raise their heads, and extend their noses as if
smelling, while their physical force and energy seemed renewed, and they
certainly traveled faster.

That night we ate the little, as before stated, more as a duty than as a
pleasure. There was some green grass round about where we camped, or,
more properly speaking, where we lay, for we did not erect our little
tent,--but the poor starving animals did not eat a bite of it, but stood
over us as if in sympathy with us in our deplorable condition. We rose
before the sun, being somewhat rested and refreshed, for the night had
been cool, and took up our line of march, I, as usual, in the lead, then
came the old mule guided by its precious owner, and lastly, the faithful
little horse with the pack on his still quite round back;--on over the
still dry and barren plain we went, without a Moses, cloud, or pillar of
fire to lead us.

About ten o'clock, through the hot glimmer of the down-pouring rays of
the sun, we saw what appeared, and afterwards proved, to be a clump of
cottonwood trees. Our hopes and courage were renewed, for we well knew
the cottonwood usually grows near flowing water. There was no beaten
pathway, no signs of animal life, no quails, no manna in that desert;
but on we went, almost without a halt, and at one o'clock reached the
cottonwood grove, immediately on the bank of the great river down which
we had floated in our canoes more than a month before. On reaching the
bank of the river we recognized objects which we had seen while on our
way down.

We remembered that both men and horses might be water-foundered, and
that self-preservation is said to be the first law of nature; but it was
difficult to prevent the famishing brutes from plunging into the river.
We allowed them to take only a small quantity at first, and each of us
took only a small cupful; then after a little time all took more, and
the thirst was soon quenched. We were surprised to find how little water
it took to satisfy the raging thirst of four days of continued fasting.
The animals, after taking comparatively small quantities, seemed
satisfied, and went off in search of grass.

We now had an abundance of water, but we well knew that water alone
would not sustain life very long: therefore our next, and most serious
business was to determine how to prolong our lives. According to our
map, our recollections of different objects, and present appearances we
were now a little above the mouth of the Uinta river which comes in from
the northwest, all of which proved true. Our little map pictured Fort
Uinta on the Uinta river about one hundred miles from where we were; but
whether or not there were any human beings there, we did not know, and
in order to determine we must cross this great river and travel a
hundred miles, and this seemed a perilous undertaking for us in our
present starving condition; but after being refreshed by plenty of good
water we determined to undertake it, hoping that good fortune might
attend us.

After a little rest, the animals with grass, we packed up, and after
Field had put on his, once serviceable, life preserver he mounted the
old mule behind the small pack and started to swim across the river. He
took the lead in this instance for three reasons: first, we thought that
the mule, being much older than the horse, had probably had more
experience and therefore might be a much better swimmer; then Field had
the advantage in having the life preserver; but the last, and most
potent, reason was my fear of getting drowned. It was understood that I
was to remain on shore and be ready to assist him if necessary, or until
he had safely landed on the other side.

In he went, and the trusty old mule was swimming faithfully, and had
reached the middle of the river, when Field, as he afterwards told me,
to hurry the mule, gave a gentle jerk on the bridle, when, to his utter
astonishment, the mule made a complete somerset backwards plunging
Field, the pack, and himself entirely under the water, except his heels
which appeared above the water as his head went under. In a moment Field
popped up and, after shaking his head as a swimmer will do after taking
a plunge, cast about to take his bearings, or to determine just where he
was, and began to paddle with his hands, much as he did when the canoes
were upset on the river, or somewhat after the style of a swimming dog.
On coming to the surface, the mule cast a glance at the still living,
but unloaded portion of his cargo, then made a bee line for the shore
which he had so recently left. While Field continued to paddle and float
down the river, I dismounted and followed along the bank, trying to
encourage him to renewed efforts to float ashore. Finally he passed
behind a clump of willows out of sight; but soon I heard him call for
help and on going a little further down, found him stuck fast in the
mud. I waded waist deep into that mud, and literally dragged him out,
almost a mile below his starting point.

As we were struggling in this muddy swamp, Field said he wondered why
some of this superfluous water was not distributed over those dry
deserts from which we had so recently come. I told him, politely, that I
thought that a man of his age, ability, opportunities, and nationality,
(you know he was quite proud of being an Englishman) ought to know why
the moisture was not so distributed, and that I was too illiterate to
enlighten him on that point, but that, when opportunity offered, he
might consult some one who knew more of natural science than I did. I
informed him that I had an idea that if any considerable portion of the
water of that river had been distributed over that desert that we would
not have had the experience of the last fifteen days, whereupon he very
plainly intimated that I did not have much sense, or, in other words, he
called me a d--d fool.

After reaching solid ground and resting for a little while, we returned
to the place from which he had started out on his perilous voyage, and
where I had hastily left my horse. We found the horse and mule quietly
grazing with their packs on their backs. The faithful old mule had the
appearance of having been wet, but was now almost dry, yet not so dry,
internally, as he had been several days before.

What shall we do now? We are perhaps two hundred or more miles from any
white settlement. We do not know that Fort Uinta is occupied. Shall we
make another attempt to cross the river? I asked my brave friend if he
was willing to again mount the mule and make another attempt, when he
again exclaimed, "You must be a d--d fool!" I then, pretending to have a
little courage, asked him if he would follow provided I would lead,
whereupon he declared most emphatically that under no conditions would
he again attempt to swim across that river. I had not had his
experience, but fear of being drowned was quite sufficient to prevent me
from undertaking the perilous task, more especially after witnessing his

Well, what next? We could not depend upon fishing and hunting, for we
had no fish-hooks, nor means of catching fish, and not more than a dozen
loads of shot, and a little powder; so the matter of slaying one of our
animal friends was now seriously debated, and, after thoroughly
canvassing the whole situation, it was most reluctantly determined that,
however hard, this must be done. No doubt our starving condition at that
particular time had some weight in making this decision.

Then the question was, which of the animals shall be sacrificed? The
mule was quite thin, and probably tough, while the little horse was
young, and, notwithstanding the many days it had, with all of us,
starved and traveled without water, was still quite plump and round, and
probably tender, or, at the worst, not so tough as the poor old docile
mule; so, at length we decided to kill the innocent little creature,
jerk his flesh, pack it on the mule, and thereby try to save our own
lives, for a time at least, and endeavor to reach some place of safety.

The matter of slaying the horse was determined by casting lots, neither
being willing to perform that melancholy, but now absolutely necessary,
act. It fell to my lot, and that was one of, if not the most revolting
act in my whole life's experience, for I had, probably, become as
strongly attached to that little horse as man ever becomes attached to
animal. I most reluctantly took the bridle in my left hand, my revolver
in my right, stood directly in front of the poor, unsuspecting, innocent
creature with the murderous pistol close to, and a little above a line
extending from eye to eye, and fired. When the smoke of the powder had
cleared off a little, I saw at my feet the quivering, dying body. I
staggered off a few steps and sat down, sick at heart.

Field walked several steps away, and turned his back upon the scene
until after the fatal shot had been fired; then, after some little time,
he entered upon his share of the enforced duty, and, after having
removed a portion of the skin, cut off some slices of flesh and brought
them to a fire I had started. We broiled and ate a little of it, not
through desire or relish for it, but from a sense of duty, knowing that
our lives depended upon it.

It is said that for many years Dr. Franklin refrained from eating flesh,
having an idea that it was wrong to slay and eat the flesh of other
creatures; but that he changed his mind, and his diet, too, after having
seen large fish devour small ones. I strongly suspect that if the doctor
had been with us, or in a like condition, even before his conversion, he
would, more than likely have taken a little flesh, even though it had
been a piece of his own favorite horse.

I said we only ate a little at first: I only ate a little for two
reason; first, I did not relish the food; second, I had heard of persons
being killed by eating too much after fasting for a long time, and I had
no desire to commit suicide just then. Field ate too much. Night came
on, work was suspended, and we retired. The poor old lone, and, no
doubt, now lonely, mule, having filled himself with grass, came up near
the now terribly-mutilated remains of his late companion, and looked on
as Field continued his bloody work. Field, with an expression of sorrow,
said, "If that mule could reason and look forward to the time when his
body might be in a like condition as that of this horse, he would, no
doubt, take to his heels, bid us a final farewell, and seek other
society." But, fortunately for us, he did not know that he was to be
held in reserve for our future security. He was securely tied up every
night from that time until the day he was slain for our salvation.

Early in the night following that eventful day, my companion began to
complain much as he had done on the night after he had eaten the little
red berries; but there was no lack of water now, no need of a special
rain-cloud. I got up, heated water in our little camp kettle, applied
hot cloths to his aching belly, and did everything else that either of
us could think of for his relief. The pain was intense, and we feared
that he would surely die, and earnestly prayed all the rest of the night
that he might be relieved, and get well. Towards morning most violent
vomiting came on, which continued for thirty hours, or more. He was not
able to walk for three days, and during that time I nursed him, finished
jerking the meat, and built a raft of some partly rotten logs, which I
found in the vicinity, on which we floated across the river, on the
fourth day after our arrival here. I also looked to the welfare of the
mule, and prepared some bags in which to carry our jerk. Manley, I am
sure that you know the meaning of the term "jerk" so that a definition
of the word is not at all necessary.

The old logs of which the raft was made were remnants of log cabins, a
number of which had been built and occupied more than half a century
before, but by whom I do not know. Field remarked that the finding of
these old rotting logs there was another "God send," as we then had
neither ax, hammer, nor any tool of iron with which to cut down a tree.
I bound these logs together with long strips cut from the hide of the
dead horse. Paddles and poles were also provided. The mule was with
difficulty driven across the river.

When the raft was landed on the west bank, the mule packed, and all
about ready to start, I took the long strip of raw-hide from the raft
and tied one end of it around the mule's neck, mounted Field on the mule
behind the large pack, which made the whole outfit look quite comical
indeed. Before leaving the other side of the river I had discovered that
the saddle girth was not very strong, so I cut a wide belt from the hide
of the lately slaughtered horse and fitted it to the saddle as a girth,
knowing that the pack, now containing all of our goods and a supply of
more than a bushel of jerk, would be quite bulky, if not heavy, and more
difficult to keep on the back of a mule than it is for the camel to
maintain his hump on his back. This girth afterwards made us two or
three pretty substantial meals, as did also the long strip of green, wet
hide, one end of which I had tied round the mule's neck, allowing it to
drag for a long distance through the hot dry sand.

All being ready, I, as usual, took the lead with my shot gun, which I
always carried, but with which I seldom killed anything, on my shoulder.
The old mule followed with his high, towering pack, and Field almost
hidden behind. It was noon, but we did not stop for dinner, but simply
reached into one of the great bulging sacks, took out a piece of jerk
and ate it as we went marching on; no more trouble now about cooking.
Late in the afternoon we reached Uinta river, and, as my two-legged
companion had grown very tired of the back of the four-legged one, we
went into camp early. Our objective point was Fort Uinta, where we hoped
to find military. We could not risk turning the mule loose at night, and
the long strip of raw-hide was designed and used to secure him, and yet
to afford him liberty to graze while we slept. As you will see a little
further on, both girth and lariat were used for a purpose not

The second, third, fourth, and fifth days came and went, and we were
trudging on, up the Uinta, through a mostly very barren country, with
some little rich and fertile land. We saw signs of Indians often, but no
Indians. There was much cottonwood, but little other timber. We saw some
fish in the river which we coveted, but could not get. The main course
of this river is from north-west to south-east. We traveled most of the
way to the fort on Indian trails, some of which were much worn, but
mostly at some much earlier period. Of course we had plenty of good
water, and food, such as it was. Field did not walk two miles during
those five days, but seemed to be fattening fast. I sometimes thought he
might be just a little lazy, but I never told him so, for I realized
that he had recently had a severe tussle with death.

Early in the morning of the sixth day we arrived at the abandoned old
fort. There were only three log buildings, and they were in the shape of
three sides of a hollow square, with port-holes on the outer faces of
the buildings, and doors entering each of them from the hollow square or
court. Facing the vacant side of the court, the port-hole from which I
shot the wolf on the night after we had killed the mule, would be on
right hand side. We were unable to determine whether this fort had been
constructed and occupied by Americans or Mexicans, but, from its
apparent age, we were inclined to the opinion that it was Mexicans. It
had not been occupied for, probably, three or four years. Some little
farming had been done immediately around the fort. Surrounding the fort
is a large body of fine, fertile land which I have no doubt has long
since been occupied by mormons, or other enterprising people.

Having no means of subsistence here we soon decided to push on towards
Fort Bridger, and, after resting a few hours set out following the
larger fork of the river which comes almost directly from the north. We
now believed that we were almost, if not exactly, due south of Fort
Bridger. The river is small, and very crooked; we crossed it many times
within three days, and, at the end of that time, found ourselves in the
mouth of a rocky cañon, and after struggling for one whole day, we came
to where the steep, high, stone walls closed the little river in on both
sides, rendering it impossible for us to proceed any further.

We were now nearly out of food; the jerk was almost gone. A council was
held, and it was decided that we should return to the fort and take
chances of being rescued, or scalped by some roving band of reds, or
starving to death. We at once set out on our return, full of
disappointment and melancholy forebodings.

The next day found us without food: and now came into use the long,
narrow strip of raw-hide which first bound together the old, rotting
logs of which the raft was made, then to secure the mule of nights. It
was now almost as hard as bone, and nearly round, having been dragged
through the hot sand while it was yet green and wet, closed up like a
hollow tube with sand inside. Two or three yards of it at a time, was
cut into pieces about five inches long, the hair singed off, the sand
scratched out, and these pieces were dropped into our camp kettle and
cooked until the whole formed one mass of jelly or gluten which was, to
us, quite palatable. When the lasso had all been thus prepared and
eaten, the broad girth which had served so well in holding the
pack-saddle on the mule's back, was cleaned, cooked, and eaten. These
substitutes for jerk sustained us very well till we again arrived at the

Another consultation was now held, and the question was--what shall we
do now? We were again, apparently, at the starting point of another
long, enforced fast. Our path seemed hedged in. The prospect was,
indeed, very gloomy. Our only reasonable hope for even the temporary
prolongation of our lives was centered in our ever faithful, and always
reliable old mule. We revolted at the idea of killing and eating him,
but the last bit of the girth was gone. After canvassing the whole
situation over and over, again and again, we finally, but most
reluctantly decided to kill the mule, and preserve all the soft parts,
even the skin with all of its old scars, and then gather in whatever
else we could find, and stay here until spring, or until good fortune
might afford us some means escape; till some Moses might come and lead
us out of this wilderness, notwithstanding the fact that we had not
borrowed any jewelry which we had failed to return.

There were signs of wolves in that vicinity, and it was decided that the
mule be slain about ten paces distant and directly in front of one of
the port-holes of the fort, with the idea that wolves might smell the
blood and come there and subject themselves to being shot, and thereby
afford us a chance to increase our stock of winter supplies in the form
of wolf steak, or jerk. Accordingly the victim was lead to the spot
indicated, and there slain in the same manner, and with quite as much
reluctance on the part of the slayer, as on the occasion of the
sacrifice of the little horse, more than three weeks before. The body
was skinned, cut up, and all taken within the building, nothing being
left except the blood which had been spilled on the ground, and which
was intended to attract wolves or, possibly, bears or other animals.

My now only living associate ridiculed the idea of killing wolves, and
insisted that the flesh could not be eaten, stating the fact that even
hogs would not eat the dead body of a dog, and insisted that a dog was
only a tamed wolf. I reminded him of a cat which had been eaten. He
finally agreed that, if I killed a wolf, he would get up and dress it,
but said most emphatically that he would not sit up and watch for it; so
he went to bed, that is, rolled himself up in a blanket on the ground in
front of a good fire inside of the fort, and went to sleep, while I sat
with my rather untrustworthy double barreled shot-gun protruding through
the port-hole in full view of the spot before indicated. The night was
clear, and the moon was shining in full splendor. It was probably eleven
o'clock; Field had been snoring for a long time, when I heard something
in the tall, dry grass, and soon a large, brownish-gray wolf came into
full view, with head up, apparently sniffing, or smelling, and
cautiously approaching the fatal spot. When he reached it, and began to
lick up the blood which was still on the surface of the ground, standing
with his left side toward the fort, and in full view, I took deliberate
aim, and fired, and he fell upon the ground without making any
considerable noise.

The tired, sleeping man was aroused by the report of the gun, and rushed
into the room where I was in great excitement, thinking, perhaps, that
some enemy had appeared, and had just then commenced to bombard the
fort; but when I explained to him that I had simply killed a wolf, he
ran out towards it, and, arriving close to it, the wounded creature rose
up on its hind feet and growled quite vigorously, which seemed to
frighten Field as much as did the noise of the gun. He dashed back to
the fort, and, after having time to recover from his speechless
condition, abused me most fearfully for having told him that I had
killed a wolf. I then went out and put a load of shot into the wolf's
head, and found that my first charge had passed through and broke both
of its fore legs near the body. Field was so thoroughly frightened that
I could not induce him to approach the dead animal for some time, and I
do believe that that wolf haunted him as long as I knew him, for he
seemed never to forget it. After dressing it by the light of the moon
assisted by a torch, we retired. On viewing the plump body next morning
Field exclaimed, "That's another God-send!" and notwithstanding his
opinion that wolf could not be eaten, he found that wolf to be the best
food we had eaten since we had assisted Walker and his tribe in eating
the mountain sheep.

The French may eat their horses, but I do not want more horse flesh. The
old mule made fair but quite coarse beef. While out on this little
pleasure excursion we ate horse, mule, wolf, wild-cat, mountain
sheep, rose seed buds, raw-hide, a squirrel, fatty matter from the
sockets of the mule's eyes and the marrow from his bones; but that ham
of wild-cat was certainly the most detestable thing that I ever
undertook to eat. The marrow from the mule's bones was a real luxury.

We now had a pretty good stock of food, such as it was, but not enough
to carry us through the winter on full rations; therefore we determined
to try to add to it by hunting. One was to go out and hunt while the
other would remain at home: we now had undisputed possession of the fort
and it was our home. Field took the first day's outing while I occupied
my time in drying and smoking meat. Late in the evening he returned,
tired and worn out, having seen nothing worth shooting.

Next day came my turn to hunt. I took a lunch, as he had done,
consisting of jerked mule. I did not tell him so, but I had determined
to make an excursion up the river to a point where we had seen some
fresh trails and deer tracks some days before. When I was putting up my
lunch my friend intimated that I was taking a very large amount for one
lunch, but I told him that I might stay out late and that I did not
intend to starve. I went, stayed all day, all night, and part of the
next day, and returned as he had done, tired and discouraged, not having
seen anything worth bringing in. In the evening of the first day out I
found a trail which appeared to have been used daily by deer going to
and from the river.

It occurred to me that they might go out early in the morning, so I
secreted myself within gun shot of the trail behind an old, moss-covered
log where I slept comfortably; and when it was light enough in the
morning to see a deer, I leveled my gun across the log in a position
commanding the trail and waited and watched until nine o'clock, but
nothing came upon that pathway that morning. After getting tired of
watching and waiting I went down to the trail where, to my astonishment,
I found the fresh tracks of a large bear which must have passed by that
way while I was sleeping. As a rule I do not like to be treated
discourteously, but in this instance I felt glad that this stranger had
passed me by.

On arriving at the fort late in the evening I found my friend in a
terrible state of mental excitement. He said that he had not slept a
minute during the whole of the night before. He had filled the door of
his room with rails, and sharpened one end of a long stick, which he
intended to use if necessary as a weapon of defence. When I arrived he
was again filling the door with rails. I had the gun, pistol and big
knife with me so this was his only means of defence. He said he would
not stay alone another night for all the gold in California.

I was much discouraged by our failures in hunting, and after a lengthy
discussion we decided to make another attempt to cross the mountains and
escape from what then seemed to us certain starvation. This was Thursday
night and we set Monday as the time for starting. By Saturday night
everything was in readiness for the start and Sunday we devoted to Bible
reading, for we each still had a pocket Bible. As much of the flesh of
the wolf and the lamented mule as we thought we could carry had been
thoroughly jerked, and finding that we would not be overburdened by it,
we economized by roasting and eating little scraps of flesh, the marrow
from the bones, and even the head of the mule was roasted, the fragments
of flesh scraped off and eaten, and Field found a rich fatty substance
in behind the eyes, which he ate.

We had a canteen in which our powder was carried, but the powder was
nearly all gone so we emptied it and used the canteen to carry water in.
Early Monday morning we loaded ourselves, mostly with jerked mule and
wolf, leaving many useful things behind, bid adieu to Fort Uinta and
took up our line of march rather reluctantly.

My companion was not strong and we soon found it expedient for me to
take on part of his burden. We rested often and yet long before night he
became so tired that we had to go into camp. Most of the day we had
traveled on an old deserted trail. The nights being cold we were under
the necessity of keeping up a fire as we had left our blankets at the
fort. The next morning we made an early start and rested often. At about
noon we found good shade and water, and the sun being quite hot we
stopped and rested in the shade for more than three hours, then trudged
on till nearly night when we found water, and plenty of old dry timber
for fuel and camped. Field expressed a wish that he had his old mule
again, and I reminded him that he had a portion of it left in his
knapsack, and that turn about was fair play: as the mule had carried him
for a long time when he was unable to walk he should not object to
carrying a portion of the mule now; whereupon he again plainly intimated
that he thought I was a d--- d fool. I kept up the fire and he slept
until morning.

Another day was passed without any unusual occurrence; we traveled and
ate at the same time as usual. Another day of pretty hard travel over
sandy plains and rocky hills brought us to the foot of the mountain
where we had plenty of good water and an abundance of fuel. A little
sprinkle of rain early in the evening was the first we had seen since
the memorable night after Field had eaten the little red berries.

Early Saturday morning we filled our canteen with water and started up
the mountain. I had been carrying most of the jerk, but the stock was
running down quite rapidly. My companions bag now being almost empty,
and as he had little else to carry while I had the gun and some other
things, including his heavy overcoat, I divided the jerk, putting about
half of it into his sack. All day long we were climbing the mountain.
Late in the afternoon I was several rods ahead of Field when he called
to me to stop: I did so and when he came up he appeared to be a little
cross and insisted that we were not traveling in the direction formerly
agreed upon. I requested him to let me see the little compass which he
had in his pocket, and on examining it he found that he was mistaken;
whereupon he muttered something which I thought was "swear words," and
then we went marching on. In a little while we were within the old snow
limits where we found large bodies of old icy looking snow in places
shaded by trees and rocks, and a little before dark went into camp. We
gathered some old dry timber and made a large fire, then some green fir
limbs for a bed. When I began to prepare our bed on one side of the
flaming logs, to my surprise Field began to prepare one on the other
side of the fire. Neither had spoken since the occurrence of the little
unpleasantness in the afternoon about the course of travel. Mutely each
took his side of the fire.

We had always slept together except when he was sick and the night I had
left him alone at the fort. Some time in the night I became thirsty and
got up and procured some snow, put it in our only tin cup and set it on
some live coals to melt and went to sleep. The snow melted, the water
evaporated, the solder melted and left the tin. While I slept, my dumb
friend woke up thirsty, took the tin cup, filled it with snow and put it
on coals. The snow melted and the water run out on the coals; his tongue
let loose and he then denounced me as a knave, an ass, a fool, an
unregenerate heathen, and what else I don't want to remember. I woke up
alarmed and did not at first fully understand what had created the
storm, but after having the bottomless cup dashed at my head I realized
the situation, and began to try to apologize and explain the unavoidable
and unfortunate circumstance; but no explanation would satisfy his now
thoroughly "Johnny Bull" temper. After this little nocturnal disturbance
had subsided, I, on my bed of fir branches with my feet towards the
fire, soon fell into a sound sleep and knew nothing more of the world
until the sun was shining. Whether or not my friend had cooled off I did
not inquire; but I do know that there was an unusual coldness between
us, for neither spoke to the other until about twelve o'clock and then,
as will appear, our conversation was very short.

As we did not rise until late no delay was made, but when each had his
bag on his back and a nugget of jerk in his hand we started up the side
of the mountain as quiet as two deaf mutes. There was no water to be
had; our camp kettle had been left at the fort, and through my stupidity
the cup had become useless, therefore we were obliged to eat the icy
snow or endure the thirst. No new snow had yet fallen in this high
altitude although it was now nearing the end of October. These mountains
were then heavily covered with pine and fir but the timber was not
large. In some places where the snow had melted away, short green grass
was found quite close to great banks of snow.

At about twelve o'clock we reached the summit of the great Uinta range,
and I, being a little in advance of my still mute companion, halted to
take a survey of the field before me. The top of the range here is bare
of timber and there was no snow. When Field came up I broke the silence
which had lasted since the little unpleasantness of the night before, by
suggesting that we attempt to cross the snow-covered range of mountains
which now appeared north of us and probably fifty miles away, through
what appeared to be a gap or low place in the great range of mountains.
He replied, "You may go that way if you want to, but I am going this
way," pointing in another direction and quickly started off at an angle
of about 45 degrees to the right, or directly north-east. I also started
immediately, and when we were a few rods apart I said, "Good-by; we may
not meet again very soon." He replied "Good-by," and within a few
minutes we were out of sight, and in a very short time beyond hailing

This was the last I saw or heard of him until after each of us had
undergone many more hardships, so I will now drop my friend but will
hereafter devote a chapter to him, and give you an account of his
experience as he afterwards gave it to me, detailing an account of many
most interesting incidents. Fortunately we had divided the jerk, for
nothing was said at this sudden and unexpected parting about anything
which either had in his possession. I had an idea when I bade him
good-by that he would soon turn about and follow me.

After the unceremonious parting I immediately began to descend the north
side of the mountain which was very rough, rocky and steep; but down,
down, down I went into a deep, dark cañon where I slept on the leaves
under a fir tree, after having taken some landmarks. When it was light
enough to see the objects I had noted to guide me, I set out and spent
the day in crossing over hills and through deep cañons. In the evening I
arrived at the foot of the range of mountains which I had seen from the
point of our parting. The sun disappeared, dark clouds began to float
over the mountains and it was evident that a storm was approaching.

While it was yet light enough I took some landmarks or guiding points;
and it was well I did so, for on the following morning when I woke I
found it snowing quietly but heavily, and before it was light enough for
me to see my guiding objects there must have been six or more inches of
new snow on the ground beyond my snug retreat under a sheltering pine.
When it was light enough I rose from my comfortable bed, took my
bearings as best I could without a compass and started up the mountain
through the rapidly accumulating bed of snow. The snow continued to fall
nearly all day, and before night it was more than a foot deep.

All day long I struggled through a dense forest. Some time in the
forenoon I crossed the fresh trail of a large herd of elk which forcibly
reminded me that my sack was almost empty, and I vainly wished that one
of these wild creatures might come in my way, but I did not dare to
follow the herd with the uncertainty of killing one, and the certainty
of losing my way this dark, snowy day. In order to maintain my course
during such dark days I was under the necessity of looking ahead and
observing trees or other objects in my line of travel.

That night I, as usual, slept under a pine tree where there was no snow.
I saw no sign of fire in either of these ranges of mountains, nor did I
see any signs of Indians on my trip over these two ranges. The next day
as I approached the top of the mountain I found the timber much smaller,
and mostly pine. There is much fertile land in some of the valleys
between the two great ranges of mountains.

Early on the following morning I arrived at the bald, snow-covered
summit. On my right and on my left were high, untimbered, snow-covered
peaks. From this point I could overlook a vast territory extending over
many hills, valleys, and smaller mountains where there was no snow; in
fact, the snow only extended a few miles down the steep sides of the
great range. As a rule there is more timber on the north than on the
south side of mountains west of the Rockies; but it was the reverse
here, for there was little timber on the north side of this range.

One more day's tramping brought me down into a large barren plain where
I gathered some dry weeds for a bed, and slept, without food or water;
the last bit of the mule or wolf, I know not which, I had eaten during
the afternoon. I had had very little jerk for the last two or three
days, and began to wish that I had another horse, mule, or even a wolf.
For many days I had seen no living thing except when I looked into a
small glass which I carried in my pocket, and then only saw a familiar

I spent another day without food, but had plenty of water; another night
on a bed of green brush beside a good fire. The next day was bright and
sunny, quite a contrast to the gloomy days I had spent in the mountains.
For want of food I was becoming quite weak and was not able to travel as
fast as usual. During the early part of the day I saw some tracks of an
unshod horse, which renewed my courage and hope of redemption; and at
about two o'clock in the afternoon I saw some dark spots on the plain a
long distance away, but almost in the direction I was going. Hoping that
these objects might be living creatures, I hurried on for a time, then
sat down and after having watched them for a time I found that they
changed positions and that satisfied me to a moral certainty that they
were living creatures, but what I could not tell. They might be horses,
cattle, elk, deer, antelope or buffalo; but no matter what, I must hurry
on and try to reach them before night.

Late in the evening I determined that they were horses but could not yet
tell whether they belonged to whites or Indians, or were wild. As I
approached them they stopped grazing and started toward me, but soon
disappeared in a deep gulch between us which I had not noticed before.
On arriving at the edge of the gulch or narrow valley I saw the horses
in the vicinity of about fifteen or twenty wigwams which were all in a
row on the bank of a little creek that ran through the gulch. Many
Indians were sitting outside of their lodges, the weather being warm.

On first sight of the village, being not more than 200 yards away, my
heart fluttered just a little, not knowing whether the savages would
scalp me or not; but, notwithstanding my natural cowardice, I at once
determined to "beard the lion in his den," and walked as boldly as I
could up to the lower end of the row of wigwams. Within a few feet of
the nearest one three young bucks met me and seemed to be anxious to
know whence I came and whither I was going; whether right down from
Heaven, and if so what was my mission. They seemed as much surprised at
my sudden appearance as I was on coming so suddenly upon them. My first
and most important business was to determine whether they would give me
something to eat, or eat me.

As the men, women, and children began to gather around me I heard some
one half way up the line of lodges call out saying something which I did
not understand, but on looking that way saw a man beckoning to me, as I
thought, when the young men motioned for me to move on up the line. On
arriving at the place indicated I found myself in the presence of one
whom I then suspected, and afterwards found to be the chief, who
extended to his royal right hand and greeted me in a most courteous and
polite manner, and then with a graceful wave of his hand and a slight
bow indicated that I should precede him at the low open door into his
Royal Palace where he very politely introduced me to his wife who proved
to be a sensible, clever, courteous woman. She soon prepared some thing
for me to eat, and after I had finished my supper an Indian brought in
two pistols and wanted me to take the cap tube from one and put it into
the other, which I soon accomplished. He was much pleased, went out, and
soon returned with ten or more pounds of elk meat which he tendered to
me as compensation for my work, but the chief objected, and insisted, as
I understood him, that he had plenty and that I was his guest, but
finally consented for me to accept part of the meat. I gave him to
understand that I wanted to go to Fort Bridger.

A case of nice new blankets was opened, as it appeared to me, for my
especial benefit. The chief, his lady, two sons almost grown, two or
three wolfish looking dogs which forcibly reminded me of Field's
terrible scare, and myself made up the number of lodgers in that mansion
that night. Late that night some warriors who had been out on a campaign
came home, and learning that there was a stranger within the gates came
to the king's palace to see him, and also to report that they had
discovered some white barbarians in the vicinity who had dared to enter
his domain without a special permit, and that they had sent a message to
his highness informing him that they had a good assortment of blankets,
cutlery, pins, needles, beads, etc., which his people might need or
desire, and also a limited amount of "fire-water," and that they would
be pleased to receive his order for anything he might desire.

The fact of the presence of these pale-faces in the vicinity was at once
communicated to me, and early on the following morning I was informed
that if it was my desire to cut short my stay at the palace, the king
would take great pleasure in furnishing me means of conveyance, a proper
escort, and a reliable guide who would safely conduct me to the camp of
the accommodating merchants or Indian traders, (but, in fact, Indian
robbers.) Notwithstanding my reluctance in leaving the society of the
noble ruler and his people I most readily accepted his generous offer,
and after breakfast, which consisted of elk meat and tobacco root in a
combination stew which was very palatable, a fine steed with a good
Mexican saddle and bridle was at the door. My escort, consisting of four
mounted warriors, was ready, and after bidding my good friends farewell,
I with some assistance mounted my charger and we were all off on a full
run, up and down hill and across valley, at what seemed to me a fearful

In less than two hours we entered the camp of the traders at full speed,
dismounted, and found one man, a long Jake from Illinois, who could
speak English. He had two wives, (squaws,) and several children which he
claimed, but some of them were quite dark. His name was John Smith; not
a very uncommon one. He was a very clever man, about 35 years old, was
not a Mormon, but had taken the women in order to become popular with
the Indians and to improve his opportunities for trade.

After getting something to eat, and learning something, through Smith,
of my adventures, my escort made ready to return to their camp. Their
trip, as Smith told me, was made solely for my accommodation and now I
had nothing with which to compensate them; but as they were about to
leave I took a large "bandanna," the only one I had left, and tied it
around the neck of the chief's son, he being one of the clever escorts.
He at first refused to accept it, but when Smith told him that I desired
him to take it as a token of regard, he accepted it with an expression
of thanks, and after I had bidden them all good-bye, they rode away as
rapidly as we had come. I will always hold that chief and his people in
kindly remembrance.

All of the other white men with Smith were French, and all had plenty of
wives (squaws) and numerous slaves. The wives were not slaves, but they
had slaves all around them. The whole tribe traveled about and lived
much as other tribes did, only much better, for they lived by trading
while the others lived by hunting and fishing. In this camp I ate bread
for the first time in many weeks. At the end of three days after my
arrival here a caravan was ready to start for Fort Bridger for winter
supplies for the traders. I was furnished with a good horse and saddle,
and Smith, one of the Frenchmen, five slaves, 20 horses, and myself made
up the caravan, and on the evening of the third day we reached the fort
where I was very kindly received.

Smith was a large man, had a good head, and some cultivation and
apparent refinement, and treated his women and children well. He said he
had been to his old home in Illinois since he had entered upon this kind
of life, but was not contented there and soon returned to his Indian
friends. He and those Frenchmen were as generous and hospitable as old
Southern planters, and their kindness to me will not be forgotten while
my memory lasts.

I was well treated at the fort which is 116 miles from the point where
the seven dug up the little flat-boat from its sandy bed on the fifth
day of August, just three mouths before, since which I had undergone
many hardships, took many fearful risks, and traveled more than a
thousand miles, far enough to have taken me from Green River to San

On the morning of the seventh day of November I started with a
Government train for Salt Lake City where I arrived on the fifteenth. I
soon found a home with a prominent Mormon, a Scotchman named Archie
Gardner, living in the fifth ward, on Mill Creek, one of the many small
streams coming down from the mountains east of the city. Mr. Gardner was
a clever gentleman about 45 years old, had a saw-mill up in, the
mountains, and was then building a flour mill only a few rods from his
dwelling. I assisted him in completing the little flour mill and in
attending it during the winter. Mr. Gardner had three wives, all living
in one house, but occupying separate rooms at night. I usually attended
the little mill until midnight, and Gardner made it part of my duty to
go to his house and call him. He usually told me where I could find him,
but not always, so at times I was under the necessity of rapping at more
than one door before I found him.

He had the largest house in the ward, and the religious services were
held there by Bishop Johnson who also acted as Justice of the Peace in
that ward. Gardner's family all ate at the same table over which the
first wife presided. She was, indeed, mistress of the house, the other
wives treating her with great respect, and all were, to all outward
appearance, quite friendly. Gardner bestowed much attention on his first
wife, though I always suspected that he was just a little more fond of
the youngest one, and I did not blame him much for she manifested strong
affection for him even in the presence of the others, and yet there was
no outward manifestation of jealousy.

The second, or the one I will call the second because she was in age
between the others, and was the mother of the third or youngest, a
widowed mother and her daughter having been sealed to Gardner at the
same time, the first wife having given her consent and standing with
them at the triple matrimonial altar, and then and there joining in the
sacred ceremony. As I was about to say, the second wife seemed to be
pleased at the manifestation of affection for the common husband by the
youngest wife, and No. 1 would in a good-humored way say:--"My, Annie,
don't be so demonstrative in the presence of other people," when the
husband would laugh and go and kiss No. 1.

Gardner spent most of his leisure time, particularly during the day and
evening, in his first wife's apartments with her and her children. He
was a very religious man, and always had family prayers before retiring
at night, and all persons about the house were expected to join, at
least formally, in this service. The use of profane language was not
allowed in or about the house.

Many of the higher church officers were entertained at Gardner's house
and table, among whom were Brigham Young, George A. Smith, Heber C.
Kimble, George Taylor, and Parley P. Pratt, with all of whom I formed
some acquaintance. Brigham was a dignified, clever gentleman, not
austere but kind and affable. Kimble was also a nice, genteel, genial,
redheaded gentleman. Smith was a heavy man with a very large abdomen,
dark hair full beard, exceedingly jovial and apparently always happy.
Pratt was a small, rather slim, quick and athletic man, rather austere,
refined, active and energetic. Taylor was a large man, highly
intellectual, and rather unsocial. Kimble was my favorite
notwithstanding the fact that he had fifteen wives, mostly young and
handsome, all in one house, and my impression is that none of them had
any children. I think it was conceded that his was the finest harem in
Utah. He called me his young Gentile, was very kind and affable, but he
never invited me to inspect his harem.

About the first of December, 1849, Field arrived in Salt Lake City, and
I will allude to a little matter in which he was concerned, after which
I will give you a short account of his trip from the time we parted
company until he arrived in Salt Lake as he afterwards gave it to me.
Soon after he arrived in the City of the Saints he heard of another who
had recently arrived from the south and that he was located in the fifth
ward on Mill creek at the house of one Gardner, and at which house he
soon arrived.

After staying with me for two or three days he found employment in the
family of the Apostle John Taylor. The family consisted of seven wives
living in seven different houses. How many children there were I never
knew, but there was one wife who did not have any. She was a fine
specimen of English beauty. Taylor's women were nearly all English. It
was the business of my friend to cut wood, and do chores generally for
the Taylor family living in seven different places at the same time.
Taylor was in Europe that winter looking after the interest of the
church, and possibly after a few more wives, and consequently could not,
in person, attend to all of the necessities of the seven branches of his
family. In his daily rounds looking after the seven wood-piles and other
little matters appertaining to the comfort of the family in so many
places Field happened to come in contact with the English beauty, and
the result was, mutual love at first sight, notwithstanding the fact
that this woman had passed, and taken all of the solemn vows of the Lym
house with the Apostle and his six other wives.

I do not think that my English friend had lost one iota of the fond
recollection of his long since dead English wife, the picture of whom he
still carried near his heart; but, nevertheless, he and this seventh
wife of the noted Apostle fell heels over head in love. Field, as you
know, was a well developed, good-looking, intelligent man of forty. The
woman was well developed, good-looking, and as smart as a steel-trap,
and both being English I was not at all surprised at their mutual
admiration and infatuation, nor did I blame them much. I was entrusted
with many closely-sealed envelopes which I carried from one to the
other. With my feeble assistance they tried to devise some method by
which they might escape from the city before the Apostle should return
home; but the Danites were always on the alert, and they well knew that
detection by the Danites of an attempt to get away together would lead
to certain death to him, and if not to her she would certainly have been
returned to her polygamous state of bondage. Spring came with little
hope of escape, and they reluctantly parted with the mutual
understanding that, if possible, she would make her escape and go to
Sacramento where he promised to keep his address. Ten months after the
parting they had not met yet, and if they ever did it was after I had
lost all further knowledge of him.

Mormon morals, exclusive of polygamy, are very good. I never saw a
drunken man in Salt Lake City, and heard very little profane language
there. The people were industrious and seemed happy. Their hospitality
rivaled that of the old Southern planters, and their charity was equal
to that of other Christians.

I will now go back to the place where Field and I separated on the
mountain top and give you a short statement as he gave it to me, and
while some things may border on the miraculous, and seem somewhat
incredible, I do not question the truth of his statements. When we
parted so unexpectedly he had about half of the jerked wolf and mule
combined. I went north while he bore off in a northeasterly direction,
and after traveling for three days came to the river at a point above
where we lost our flat-boat. He struggled on up the river without road
or trail, and nothing to guide him except the little compass which he
still carried in his pocket.

Two days more and his last bit of jerk was gone, starvation began to
stare him in the face once more. He saw signs of Indians having crossed
his pathless course which gave him renewed courage. Soon after starting
out next morning he was delighted to see a pony in the distance grazing,
and on coming up to it found one of its front legs broken. This, he said
was another God-send. The poor pony seemed to fear him. It was probably
an Indian pony, had its leg broken and was left to die. He followed it
for some time and finally got close to it and fired his revolver at its
chest and wounded it, but it then left him with the blood flowing from
its wound. After resting for a time he followed on and soon found it
lying down, but not dead. He told me how innocent and helpless it
appeared, and looked at him as if pleading with him not to inflict any
more pain; but he felt that his life was in a balance with its, and
after a little meditation he put the revolver to its forehead and ended
its life and suffering. Then came the usual process of skinning, cutting
up and jerking which took the balance of that day and part of the next.

Eight days more and he was again starving. On the ninth he arrived at
the spot where we had dug up the little ferry-boat which carried the
seven adventurers far down the river more than three very long dreary
months before. Snow now covered the entire country, and all emigrants
had long since gone by. His strength was failing fast but it would not
do to linger there, so he arose and was about to start when he saw a
poor old ox slowly coming towards him, and when it had come up near to
him he discovered a wolf not far behind which seemed to be following the
ox, but it soon turned and went away. Night was coming on and he was
very hungry. Something must be done. The last cartridge had been
exploded in killing the poor, broken legged Indian pony, and the
revolver was no longer of use. The ox, though feeble, was probably yet
stronger than the starving man.

Field feared that he was not able to catch the ox by the horns and hold
it until he could cut its throat, so the next plan was to get hold of
the animal's tail with one hand, and with the big knife in the other cut
his hamstrings so as to disable him, and then cut his throat. The ox
seemed fond of being rubbed and petted, so after a little time a firm
hold on the tail was secured, and the big knife vigorously applied, but
it was so very dull that he could not sever the tough old tendons. After
sawing with the dull knife and being literally dragged for some
distance, he became so much exhausted that he was obliged to relinquish
his hold and see the excited old ox disappear.

In almost complete despair Field spent the night beside a fire under one
of those large cottonwoods which I have no doubt you will remember even
though it is now more than forty years since you saw them. He rose early
next morning and started out on the well beaten road towards the Golden
West, but had only gone a few hundred yards when he was agreeably
surprised to again behold the old ox approaching him, but so much
exhausted that it could scarcely walk. The same, or some other, wolf was
near by, and had probably followed the poor old ox all night. When the
ox came close to Field the wolf growled and again turned away as on the
evening before. After the wolf had left the ox seemed to be relieved.

It then occurred to the starving emigrant that he had a sharp razor in
his "kitt" with which he knew he could cut those tough tendons, provided
he could get another hold on that tail. Field, as you probably remember,
always kept his face cleanly shaved. Even while we were starving he
would shave almost every day. The ox was tired and worn out and so was
Field; but he got the razor ready and soon had hold of that tail again.
Off went the ox, the keen razor was applied, soon the tendons parted and
down went the ox. But only half the victory was won, for the ox would
raise up on his front feet and show fight; but after resting awhile the
would-be victor rushed up, caught the poor beast by the horns, pushed
him over on his side, held him down and cut his throat.

After a long, much needed rest he cut out a piece of the poor beef,
broiled and ate it, and then spent the remainder of the day in hunting
out the small, lean muscles that still remained between the skin and
bones of the poor old ox. The poor beef was jerked and put into the sack
which on the following morning was thrown upon the back of its owner,
and from which he fed for the next six days, at the end of which he
arrived at Fort Bridger. From there he soon obtained a passage for Salt
Lake City, arriving there on the second day of December, seventeen days
after I had reached there, and finding me as before stated.

Some time in the winter we formed an acquaintance of a gentleman named
Jesse Morgan, a Gentile, who had left Illinois in the spring of 1849 for
California, but for some cause had been delayed and obliged to winter in
the city of the Latter Day Saints. Morgan had a wife, a little child, a
wagon and two yoke of oxen, but no food nor money. Field and I arranged
to furnish food for all for the trip from there to Sacramento, and
assist in camp duties, drive the team, &c. We made the trip together and
arrived in Sacramento in good condition on the fourth day of July, 1850,
and pitched our tent under a large oak tree where the State Capitol now

I spent five months with a wholesale grocery and miners supply firm,
Elder and Smith, Fourth and J streets, Sacramento, and three months in
the mines as a drummer, or solicitor and collector for the same firm. I
returned to Sacramento and was almost ready to start home when the Scots
River excitement broke out. I then went to the mines on Trinity River
and associated myself in mining with Hiram Gould, a young Presbyterian
clergyman who had laid aside the "cloth" for the time and engaged in
mining. I remained in the mines until July fourth, 1851, exactly one
year from the time I entered Sacramento, when I started home by way of
Nicaragua. In due time, after an interesting trip, I arrived home and
again entered upon the study of my chosen profession, graduated from an
honorable college, and am now, as you know, practicing my profession on
the sea shore.




In the foregoing chapters describing the trip across the deserts and
mountains, the author has had occasion many times to refer to the
"Jayhawkers." Their history is in many respects no less remarkable and
intensely interesting than that of his own party. The author has
therefore collected many notes and interviews with prominent members and
presents herewith the only written history of their travels.

The little train afterward known by this name was made up in the state
of Illinois in 1849, of industrious, enterprising young men who were
eager to see and explore the new country then promising gold to those
who sought. The young men were from Knoxville, Galesburg and other
towns. Not all were influenced by the desire for gold. It was said that
California had a milder climate and that pleasant homes could there be
made, and the long, cold winter avoided.

They placed some of the best men in position to manage for the whole.
The outfit was placed on a steam-boat and transported to Kanesville, on
the Missouri River above Council Bluffs. Some of the company went with
the goods while others bought teams and wagons in Western Missouri and
drove to the appointed place. Kanesville was a small Mormon camp, while
Council Bluffs was a trading post of a few log cabins on the river bank,
inhabited mostly by Indians. There was no regular ferry at either place,
and our party secured a log raft which they used to get their wagons and
provisions across, making the oxen swim.

They asked all the questions they could think of from everyone who
pretended to know anything about the great country to the west of them,
for it seemed a great undertaking to set out into the land they could
see stretching out before them across the river. Other parties bound the
same way, also arrived and joined them. They chose a guide who claimed
to have been over the road before. When all were gathered together the
guide told them that they were about to enter an Indian country, and
that the dusky residents did not always fancy the idea of strangers
richer than themselves passing through, and sometimes showed out some of
the bad traits the Indians had been said to possess. It would therefore
be better to organize and travel systematically. He would divide the
company into divisions and have each division choose a captain, and the
whole company unite in adopting some rules and laws which they would all
agree to observe. This arrangement was satisfactorily accomplished, and
they moved out in a sort of military style. And then they launched out
on the almost endless western prairie, said then to be a thousand miles
wide, containing few trees, and generally unknown.

These Illinois boys were young and full of mirth and fun which was
continually overflowing. They seemed to think they were to be on a sort
of every day picnic and bound to make life as merry and happy as it
could be. One of the boys was Ed Doty who was a sort of model traveler
in this line. A camp life suited him; he could drive an ox team, cook a
meal of victuals, turn a pan of flap-jacks with a flop, and possessed
many other frontier accomplishments. One day when Doty was engaged in
the duty of cooking flap-jacks another frolicsome fellow came up and
took off the cook's hat and commenced going through the motions of a
barber giving his customer a vigorous shampoo, saying:--"_I am going to
make a Jayhawker out of you, old boy_." Now it happened at the election
for captain in this division that Ed Doty was chosen captain, and no
sooner was the choice declared than the boys took the newly elected
captain on their shoulders and carried him around the camp introducing
him as the _King Bird of the Jayhawkers_. So their division was
afterwards known as The Jayhawkers, but whether the word originated with
them, and John Brown forgot to give them credit, or whether it was some
old frontier word used in sport on the occasion is more than I will
undertake to say; however the boys felt proud of their title and the
organization has been kept up to this day by the survivors, as will be
related further on.

The first few days they got along finely and began to lose all feeling
of danger and to become rather careless in their guard duty. When the
cattle had eaten enough and lain down, the guards would sometimes come
into camp and go to sleep, always finding the stock all right in the
morning and no enemy or suspicious persons in sight. But one bright
morning no cattle were in sight, which was rather strange as the country
was all prairie. They went out to look, making a big circuit and found
no traces till they came to the river, when they found tracks upon the
bank and saw some camps across the river, a mile or so away. Doty had a
small spy glass and by rigging up a tripod of small sticks to hold it
steady they scanned the camps pretty closely and decided that there were
too many oxen for the wagons in sight.

Some of the smartest of them stripped off their clothes and started to
swim the stream, but landed on the same side they started from. Captain
Doty studied the matter a little and then set out himself, being a good
swimmer, and by a little shrewd management and swimming up stream when
the current was strongest, soon got across to where he could touch
bottom and shouted to the others to do the same. Soon all the swimmers
were across.

They could now see that there were two trains on that side and that the
farther one had already begun to move and was about a mile in advance of
the nearest one, Doty said something must be done, and although they
only were clothed in undershirts they approached the nearest camp and
were handed some overalls for temporary use. The men in this camp on
hearing about the missing oxen said the fellows in the forward train
went over and got them, for, as they said there were no wagons in sight
and they must be strays. He said the forward train was from Tennessee,
and that they had some occasion to doubt their honesty and had refused
to travel with them any further. They said they were all old
Missourians, and did not want other people's property and if the boys
found their cattle with the Tenneseans, and wanted any help to get them
back again to call on them, and putting in some good strong swear words
for emphasis.

The boys, barefooted and with only overalls and shirts, started after
the moving train which they called to a halt when overtaken. The coarse
grass was pretty hard to hurry through, clothed as they were. The train
men were pretty gruff and wanted to know what was wanted. Capt. Doty
very emphatically told them he could see some of his oxen in their
train, and others in the herd, and he proposed to have them all back
again. The Jayhawker boys were unarmed but were in a fighting mood and
determined to have the stock at all hazards, and if not peaceably, war
might commence. The boys saw that the two trains were of about equal
strength, and if worse came to worst they could go back and get their
guns and men and come over in full force after their property, and they
were assured the Missourians would help them and a combination of forces
would give them a majority and they could not be beaten by the Tennessee
crowd. There was a good deal of talk, but finally when Doty demanded
that their cattle be unyoked and the others separated from the herd,
they yielded and gave them all their stock, some seventy head.

The Missourians had come up and heard the talk, and some of them went
back and helped drive the cattle to the river, and deal out some double
shotted thunder against the biggest scamps they had come across. It was
quite a job to get the cattle across the river. They would go in a
little way and then circle round and round like a circus, making no
progress. They finally put a rope on one of them and a man led him as
far as he could, which was more than half way, and although they landed
a good ways down stream, they got them all across safely, left their
borrowed overalls in the hands of their friends, with a thousand thanks
for valuable assistance, and plunged into the swift running Platte, and
swam back again to the northern side. They drove the straggling oxen
back to camp with a sense of great satisfaction, and in turn received
the praise of their friends who said that Ed Doty was the best Jayhawker
of the border.

This was the first unpleasantness and they were afterwards more cautious
and stood guard all night, watching closely all the time, both night and
day, for for any signs of danger. Thus in time they reached Salt Lake,
rather late in the season, but safe and sound, having escaped cholera or
other disease, and in good spirits to surmount any further difficulties
which might be met.

When the Jayhawkers reached Salt Lake it was found that it was not safe
to try to go the regular northern route to California, as they were
advised by those who seemed to know, as they might be snowed in on the
Sierra Nevada Mountains and perish. The Mormons told them that the snow
often fell there twenty feet deep, and some other stories likely to
deter them from making the attempt. They also told them of a route
farther south by which they could come into California at Los Angeles,
or they could remain in Salt Lake until May when it would be safe to try
the mountain route again. After listening to the talk of the
mountaineers who claimed to have been over the route and to know all
about it, and camping some time to rest and learn all they could, they
finally decided on taking the southern route. One Mormon told them of a
place where they could make a cut-off and save five hundred miles, and,
if they would follow his instructions, they would find the route fully
as good as the one usually traveled which was not much better than a
trail. The cut-off was so instilled into their minds that they had great
confidence in the report and talked very favorably of taking it.

The man Williams made for them a map of the proposed route and explained
it to them and others who had gathered at Salt Lake, and from the map
they could see how much was to be gained in time and distance by taking
that route. A month or two of travel was indeed something to gain, and
as the roads seemed similar in quality the reasoning was very plausible
The map explained all the watering places and favorable things but said
nothing about a desert, and as there was no one to tell them any
unfavorable side to this plan there were many who quite concluded to go
this way, and among those who did so were the Jayhawkers, and the
"Williams Short Route" was freely talked about as a settled thing by

They now set about preparing to move. They sold, traded, and bought oxen
till they had the best and fattest teams in Salt Lake Valley; selected
good provisions, and plenty of them so as to be safe in case of delay,
and contended that nothing could stop them in a country where but little
snow could be, and water was as plentiful as shown on the map. They
wanted to reach the gold mines and this was the shortest route and even
if it was still considerably longer than the northern way they said they
would rather be moving along and thus gain time than to so long in camp
with nothing to do by which they could earn a cent. There were here in
Salt Lake ten times as many men as could find employment, and Brigham's
saints would be pretty sure to get all of the odd jobs to the exclusion
of the heretics.

To bring the matter to a determination a paper was drawn up for those to
sign who wanted to go the southern route and it was pretty generally
signed. The Mormon elder, John Hunt, was consulted, and as he seemed to
know the general southern route better than any one else, he was
prevailed upon to guide the train through on the old Spanish Trail. This
had never been used as a wagon road, but he thought it could be without
much difficulty, and he said if they could secure him a fair sized train
he would go and conduct them through for ten dollars a wagon. This
proposition was accepted after some consideration, and all who wished to
do so were given permission to join the train. In a few days there were
one hundred and seven wagons enlisted for this route, including seven
Mormons bound for San Bernardino.

Preparations for the trip now began in good earnest, and the Saints were
liberally patronized in purchase of flour and meat which were the
principal things they had to sell. As their several wagons were loaded
they moved out in small lots to the south to keep in good fresh feed for
their animals, and to move on slowly till all were ready, when they
would join in one large body and proceed. The guide was in no special
haste as he said he wanted to wait a little later so the weather in the
south would be cooler than they would be likely to find it if they
pressed on at once. He said that in summer it was so hot that no white
man could endure the heat. He said they could work slowly along the
trail, and when the right time came he would move out himself, and that
they might be assured that it would then be the coolest and best time in
which to travel down there. So the company dallied along, and it was
October before the whole train was made up at a point about a hundred
miles south of Salt Lake.

The complete organization was divided into seven divisions, each with
its captain, and division No. 1 was to lead the march the first day and
then fall to the rear while No. 2 took the advance, and so continued
till all had taken their turn. The leading party was to guard and care
for the cattle and deliver them in the morning. The regulations were
read aloud to the captains, and this rather large army of men, women and
children, with about five hundred head of stock, moved out very
systematically. It would sometimes be fully ten o'clock before the rear
division could make a start, and correspondingly late before they could
get up with the main camp at night. They got along very well, but
cleaned the country of grass for some distance each side of the trail,
as they swept along.

About the first of November Capt. Smith overtook us with the pack train,
and camped with us at night. He formed many acquaintances and told them
he was going to take a shorter route and save five hundred miles, rather
than take the long route by way of Los Angeles. He had a map of his
proposed route, and it was very much like the one we had. He also stated
that it could probably be as easily traveled as the one by way of Los
Angeles, and as a consequence of his talk, cut-off fever began to rage
in camp again. Some got very enthusiastic in the matter and spoke
publicly in favor of following Capt. Smith when he should come to the
place when his short route turned away from the other trail. His plan
grew so much in favor that when the place was reached a hundred wagons
turned out into the Smith trail, leaving Capt. Hunt only the seven
Mormon wagon bound for San Bernardino, Hunt stood at the forks of the
road as the wagons went by and said to them;--"Good-bye, friends. I
cannot, according to my agreement go with you, for I was hired for this
road, and no other was mentioned. I am in duty bound to go even if only
one wagon decides to go." When the last wagon had passed him he still
stood talking with several who had chosen the new way and told them they
were taking a big risk, for they did not know very much about the route,
and he had been thinking that they might find it pretty rough and hard
to get over the first time. He said that if all decided to go that way
he would go and help them, even if they went to h-ll, but as it was he
could not. He wished them luck and the two trains parted company.

At the end of three days of travel on the Smith trail they came to the
top of a long steep hill. The trail went down and down, and they see no
way of crossing the terribly deep cañon that was before them. So they
went into camp and sent explorers out to investigate and find a crossing
if possible.

On the second day the explorers began to return with very unfavorable
reports, and many who found their progress thus blocked turned about and
started to follow Hunt. Most of the wagons which remained had each one
or more of their men out exploring and could not turn back until their
return. Several of the Jayhawkers having once started on this route were
very anxious to get through on it if a way could be found for them to do
it, and therefore searched farther and with greater determination than
the others. When they returned they reported they had found a way around
the head of the cañon and they believed it to be the right way. The map
Williams had given them did not show this cañon and they believed it to
be correct, and that the real road led around at the place which they
had found, and no further trouble would be met.

Acting on this report about twenty wagons, including the Jayhawkers,
concluded to go ahead. "We can beat the other fellows a month," said
they, and so they hitched up and pulled out in a northerly direction,
feeling in good spirits and hopeful of success.

They named this place Mt. Misery. While camped here a lone and seemingly
friendless man died and was buried. None seem now to remember his name,
but think he was from Kentucky. He was low with consumption and not
strong enough to endure the hardships of the journey.

About the third night the Jayhawkers were overtaken by seven more wagons
owned by A. Bennett and friends, J.B. Arcane and family, two men named
Earhart and a son of one of them, and one or two other wagons.

The Jayhawker's train was made up of men from many states, but seemed
well united and was as complete as when they first started. The Author
was with the party that came up in the rear, which had started later but
traveled faster on account of having a road broken for them. He visited
the leaders in camp when they were discussing the necessity of forming a
new travelling compact to help and protect each other on the road. Those
who had no families were objecting to being bound to those who had women
and children with them. They argued that the road would be hard and
difficult and those wagons with women and children would require more
assistance than they would be able to render in return. They said they
could go back and follow Hunt who was on a better road and they could
proceed with more safely.

Among those with this train was Rev. J.W. Brier, his wife and three
children. He objected to being turned back and said he did not want to
be assisted, but would go with them and do his part and take care of
himself. The Author listened to the various speeches without speaking
and became satisfied that it would end in every one looking out for
himself in case of hard times. He went over to their camp again the next
night and wished to ask them why they were steering so nearly due north.
He said to them that they were going toward Salt Lake rather than
California, and that the Bennet party did not feel inclined to follow
them any farther in that direction. They replied that their map told
them to go north a day or more and then they would find the route as
represented. They would then turn west and reach Owen's Lake and from
there there would be no more trouble. The Jayhawker crowd seemed to
think they could go anywhere and no difficulty could happen which they
couldn't overcome. Bennett's little train turned west from this point
and the Jayhawkers went on north, but before night they changed their
minds and came following on after Bennett whom they overtook and passed,
again taking the lead.

Thus far the country had been well watered and furnished plenty of
grass, and most of them talked and believed that this kind of rolling
country would last all the way through. The men at leisure scattered
around over the hills on each side of the route taken by the train, and
in advance of it, hunting camping places and making a regular picnic of
it. There were no hardships, and one man had a fiddle which he tuned up
evenings and gave plenty of fine music. Joy and happiness seemed the
rule, and all of the train were certainly having a good time of it.

But gradually there came a change as the wagon wheels rolled westward.
The valleys seemed to have no streams in them, and the mountain ranges
grew more and more broken, and in the lower ground a dry lake could be
found, and water and grass grew scarce--so much so that both men and
oxen suffered. These dry lake beds deceived them many times. They seemed
as if containing plenty of water, and off the men would go to explore.
They usually found the distance to them about three times as far as they
at first supposed, and when at last they reached them they found no
water, but a dry, shining bed, smooth as glass, but just clay, hard as a
rock. Most of these dry lakes showed no outlet, nor any inlet for that
matter, though at some period in the past they must have been full of
water. Nothing grew in the shape of vegetables or plants except a small,
stunted, bitter brush.

Away to the west and north there was much broken country, the mountain
ranges higher and rougher and more barren, and from almost every sightly
elevation there appeared one or more of these dry lake beds. One night
after about three days of travel the whole of the train of twenty seven
wagons was camped along the bank of one of these lakes, this one with a
very little water in it not more than one fourth or one half an inch in
depth, and yet spread out to the width of a mile or more. It was truly
providential, for by digging holes along the border the water would run
into them and prove abundant for all, both oxen and men. If it had
proved dry, as so many before had proved, or if we had been a few days
earlier or later we might not have found a drop. This proved to be the
last time the whole twenty seven wagons were gathered in one camp

The Author came into camp about nine o'clock in the evening after
climbing many peaks and taking a survey of the surrounding country with
a field glass. Men from nearly every mess came to him to inquire what he
had seen. They asked all sorts of questions and wanted an opinion as to
the advisability of trailing across the prairie directly west, which
then seemed easy. They were told that from what could be seen from the
summit of buttes both north and south of the camp, ranging a hundred or
so miles in almost every direction, it was believed no water could be
found, between the present camp and a range of mountains which could be
seen crossing the route far to the west. "Well," said Capt. Doty of the
Jayhawkers, "I don't like to hear such discouraging talk from Manley,
but I think we will have to steer straight ahead. The prospect for water
seems to be about the same, west or south, and I cannot see that we
would better ourselves, by going north." When morning came Capt. Doty
and his party yoked up and set out straight across the desert, leaving
seven wagons of the Bennett party still in camp.

For some time all of us had seen in the range ahead an appearance of a
pass, or lower place in the mountain, and we had got to calling it
Martin's Pass, naming it after Jim Martin. There was a snow-capped peak
just to the south of it and the pass, now apparently exactly west of the
lake camp, seemed to the Jayhawkers easy to reach. Their wills were
strong enough and they were running over with determination and energy
enough to carry them over any plain, no matter how dry or barren, or
over any mountain no matter how rugged and steep.

Five days they traveled, without finding water, and small supply they
took along had been consumed. For lack of water they could not eat or
sleep. The oxen gathered round the little fire and seemed to beg for
water, they had no cud to chew unless it was the cud of disappointment.
The range of mountains they had been aiming for still seemed far away
and the possible show for reaching it seemed very poor indeed, and the
prospect of any water hole between them and the mountains poorer yet.
Hope was pretty near gone. Martins mess unyoked their oxen from the
wagons, put some small packs on their own backs, and loaded some upon
the backs of the oxen, and turned south toward the nearest snowy
mountain they could see, the same one towards which the Bennett party
steered from the lake camp.

The Doty party kept their courage longer and kept on straight ahead for
another day, and then camped, almost without hope. No rest came to them,
nor sleep. Towards morning as they stood around the fire a stray cloud
appeared and hid the stars, and shortly after began to unload a cargo of
snow it carried. They spread out every blanket, and brushed up every bit
they could from the smooth places, kindled a little fire of brush under
the camp kettles and melted all the snow all of them could gather,
besides filling their mouths as fast as ever they could, hoping that it
would full in sufficient quantities to satisfy themselves and the oxen,
and quench their dreadful thirst. Slowly the cloud moved scattering the
snowflakes till they felt relieved. The last time the Author conversed
with a member of this party was in 1892, and it was conceded that this
storm saved the lives of both man and beast in that little band of
Jayhawkers. It was like manna falling from Heaven, and as surely saved
their lives as did the manna of the Bible save the lives of the tribes
of Israel. They had no reason to expect a storm of rain or snow, but
came to them just as they were perishing. A little further on they came
to a small stream of water, and as the bed showed only a recent flow it
must also have come from the little local storm further up the mountain.
They used this water freely, even though it was not very good, and it
acted on them very much like a solution of Glanber Salts.

They decided at first that they had better follow the stream southward,
but after a little time, feeling the sickness caused by the water, they
saw it was no advantage and turned west again, bearing to the north
toward a sort of pass they could now see in the mountains in that
direction. This stream is now known as the Amargosa, or bitter, river.

The new direction in which they marched gave them an up-hill route for
thirty or forty miles, rough and barren, with no water or grass. There
was no road or trail to follow, the oxen were as weak as their owners
from drinking the bitter water, and the road needed some clearing and
breaking in places before the wagons could pass. They moved quite slowly
and reached the summit on the second night with the loss of a single ox.
The Author would say here that this was the last ox which was allowed to
die without using the flesh for food, and it was from this same one he
cut a steak to eat on Christmas eve, 1849.

From the summit they took a way down a dark, deep cañon having a steep
slope, and very rocky and bad, but down which the oxen drew their loads
much easier than when they came up, reaching water on the third day,
where there were many springs, and a sort of coarse grass for the oxen.
The place is now known as Furnace Creek. The Jayhawkers passed on, and
here at these very springs was where the Author overtook the Rev. J.W.
Brier delivering a lecture to his children on the benefits of an early
education, as referred to in his narrative.

As the Jayhawkers drove out of this Furnace Creek Cañon the valley into
which they came was very narrow, the high, snow-capped mountain before
them seemed steeper and rougher than ever, so steep in fact that it
could not be ascended by a man on foot. A short distance below could be
seen a lake containing water, and the pass toward which they had been
directing their course seemed to the north of them. They therefore
turned their course in that direction. The road was sandy, and the brush
that grew on it was only a few inches high. On their way they came to an
abandoned Indian camp occupied by one poor old blind red man. He would
hold his mouth open like a young bird begging for something to eat. One
man dropped kernels of parched corn into his mouth, but instead of
eating them he quickly spit them out; it seemed that he had been left to
die and could not or would not. His hair was white as snow. His skin
looked about the color of a smoked ham, and so crippled was he that he
crawled about like a beast, on all fours. It was barely possible that he
had been left to watch, and that his great infirmities were only
pretended, but they seemed genuine enough, and were doubtless true. They
left him in peaceable possession of the spot and traveled on.

They approached the base of the mountain in front of what they had all
along supposed to be a pass, and found, as they had lately begun to
suspect, that there was no pass that their wagons could be taken
through, and they must be abandoned. The camp was poor. What little
water there was had a salty taste, and they could only find here and
there a bunch of the poorest grass. The oxen stood around as if utterly
dispirited, and would sometimes make a faint effort to pick up and eat
some of the dry brush that grew around the desolate camp. This camp is
now known to be in the northern part of Death Valley, but then they knew
no names for anything, but if dreariness and absence of life, and
threatened danger all around were any indication, they might well have
named it Death Valley as was afterwards done by the party with whom the
Author traveled.

The party had been brave till now, but when they realized that they must
make pack animals of themselves, and trudge on, they knew not where,
perhaps to only a lingering death, the keen edge of disappointment cut
close, and they realized how desolate they were. They felt much inclined
to attribute all their troubles to the advice of the Mormons. Some said
that the plan was thus to wipe so many more hated Gentiles out of the
way, and wishes were deep and loud that the Mormons might all be buried
out of sight in the Great Salt Lake. They thought Lot's wife must have
been turned to salt in the neighborhood, everything was so impregnated
with saline substances, and the same result might come to them. But the
inherent manhood of the little band came to their relief and they
determined not to die without a struggle for escape and life.

They killed some of their oxen, and took the wood of their wagons and
kindled fires to dry and smoke the flesh so it would be light and easy
to carry with them. They scattered all surplus baggage around the
ground, carefully storing and saving the bit of bread that yet remained
and dividing it equally among the party. They also divided the tea,
coffee, rice and some such things, and each one agreed that he could not
ask aught of his neighbor more. Knapsacks were improvised from parts of
the wagon canvas, and long strips of canvas were made into a sort of
pack harness for the oxen. It was a sad sight to see the strong and
vigorous young men of a few days ago reduced to such straits; almost
skeletons now, with no hope of nourishment to invigorate them. They made
canteens by sewing a couple of small powder cans in cloth, with a band
to go over the shoulders.

The Jayhawkers were still making their preparations when the Martin
party and Rev. J.W. Brier and family came up to their camp, having taken
a circuit around farther to the south. The Martin party was already in
marching order and this camp was so poor that they did not wait, but
gave all their oxen they had left to Mr. Brier and said they could get
on faster without them. They took a straight course over the hills and
up the mountain, saying they believed they had provisions enough upon
their backs to last them through, and that nothing should check their
progress till they reached the other side, where they said were fertile
valleys and plenty of chance to live.

The Doty party, or Jayhawkers, when they were ready started first a
northerly course to find a more favorable place to cross the range and
drove their oxen with them, each with a small pack. They soon came to
some good water, and after refreshing themselves turned westward to
cross the great mountain before them. Both men and oxen were shod with
moccasins made of raw-hide to protect the feet against sharp rocks. They
could see no trail but merely picked out the best way to go. While
climbing the steep mountain side they came across a dead ox left by some
party that had gone before them. They cut out the tongue and some of the
best meat and ate it to eke out their own small stock, and carried some
pieces with them, but soon threw it all away but enough for a roast for

When it was getting dark they were almost at the summit, but there was
no good camping place, and they saw a small fire light at a little
distance and went to it, finding a poor lone camper taking care of
himself. They camped here also. It seemed as if there were many men from
the various parties scattered all around the country, each one seeking
out the path which seemed to suit best his tender feet or present fancy,
steering west as well as mountains and cañon would permit, some farther
north, some farther south and generally demoralized, each thinking that
as a last resort he would be able to save his own life. It seemed to be
a question of will and endurance, strong hearts and keeping the body in
motion. The weak and faint must fail, and the strong said to the
weak;--"Stand up; be a man; don't fall down;" and so the strong spurred
on the weak and kept them up as best they could.

Down the mountain they went, on the west side and instead of Los
Angeles, which some of them expected to see, they saw only a salt lake
in the midst of a barren desert valley and their route lay directly
across it. They traveled in several directions as they went across. One
went across the valley on a strip of dried mud between two small lakes.
Others followed down along the east side of the lake near the foot of
the mountain, where they found some good water and an old Indian camp.
They found some mosquite beans, which they did not know were of much
use, but really, if they had known how to fix them up a little they
would have been good food.

Capt. Doty's mess crossed between the lakes on the strip of dry mud
while others went on where it was still soft and left marks of their
foot-steps. Both parties turned up a small cañon on the west side and
began the ascent of a black and barren range, containing no water, but
in the bed of the ravine near the summit they found some damp sand and
tried to dig with their hands to find some of the precious fluid. But no
water came, and in the morning one of their number Mr. Fish died and was
left unburied on the barren rocks. No doubt his bones could be found
there to-day.

Turning west again, they had a down grade over a most barren and rocky
road for many miles. The prospect from this point was any thing but
cheering. To the left a large lake could be seen, and from their
previous experience they concluded it to be salt, and the valley they
were coming to was very sandy, and the hardest sort of footing for men
and animals as weak as those of the party were. It must be crossed
before there was any possibility of water, and when across it was quite
uncertain whether they could obtain any. One of their number had already
died of thirst and fatigue and all were suffering terribly.

The valley seemed about eight miles across, and before they were half
way over Mr. Ischam, one of their party sat down, perfectly exhausted,
and said he could not take another step. No one was able to assist him
or give him a drink of water, and they could not tarry to see if rest
would refresh him. They could only look sadly at him and pass on in
silence, for he seemed fast wasting away. The thought came to everyone
that perhaps it would be his turn next to sit down and see the others
pass on. In fact the probability of any more of them living another day
was very poor, for they all grew weaker and weaker with every hour, and
no one knew how many hours must pass before they could hope for water.
There was not moisture enough in their poor bodies to make tears, and no
one dare open his mouth, lest all the moisture suddenly evaporate and
respiration cease.

Those who had no cattle took different courses to reach the hills and
mountains on the west side of this valley, hoping there to find water
and signal to the others if they were successful. All except the two men
managed to get across, and finding no water the packs were taken from
the oxen and they were driven to the lake which appeared on the left.
Reaching the lake they found the water red in color and so strong of
alkali that no man or beast could take a single swallow. They drove the
cattle back again with sad hearts, and almost despondent, for in the
rough, dry rocks of the mountains there seemed no signs of water. But
they were saved again. Those who bore farthest to the right in their
course to the mountains, steering toward a pile of tremendous rocks,
found a little stream of good water which flowed only a short distance
and then sank into the sand. This good news spread rapidly, and all soon
gathered at the little streamlet. It was slow work getting water for
them all, but by being patient they were all filled up. Some took two
canteens of water and hurried back to Mr. Ischam, whom they found still
alive but his mouth and throat so dry and parched, and his strength so
small that he was unable to swallow a single drop, and while they waited
he breathed his last. With their hands and feet they dug away the sand
for a shallow grave, placed the body in it, covered it with his
blankets, and then scraped the sand back over again to make a little
mound over their dead comrade. Perhaps if he could have walked a mile
farther he might have lived, and but for the little trickling stream of
water from the rocks they might all be dead, so slight were the
circumstances that turned the scale to balance toward life or death.

There was so little feed for oxen that they could gain no strength, but
were much refreshed by the water and could still travel. One was killed
here, and the meat, poor as it was, gave the men new strength. They all
guessed it to be at least fifty miles to the base of the great snow
mountain before them, and what there was between no one could tell, for
there were hills and valleys between. Leaving the little spring their
course led first up a small cañon, and when they reached the summit of
the ridge a small valley covered with sage brush was before them, the
most fertile spot they had seen for a long time. The descent to this
valley was through another cañon which was filled with large boulders
for much of the way, and over these it seemed almost impossible to get
the cattle. They had seen no water since leaving the little stream, and
the plain they were now approaching seemed thirty miles wide, with no
signs of streams or springs. However just at the foot of the cañon they
found a small water hole, but the water was so salt that even the oxen
refused to drink it.

They decided to make a push across the plain and endeavor to reach the
other side in two days, and they knew there could be no water on its
even expanse. The plain seemed quite an up grade from where they were to
the base of the mountain.

On the second day they all reached the point they were aiming for except
Rev. J.W. Brier and family, and they came in one day behind. Every one
looked out for himself and had no time nor strength to spare to help
others. Here on a small bench overlooking the country to the south and
east but still a long distance from the snow, they found some holes of
water, and some bunch grass a little farther up the hill. Here was a
large trail coming from the north and leading from this point westward.
There were no signs of recent use, but there were many indications that
it was quite ancient and had been considerably traveled in time past.
This was quite encouraging to many of them and they declared they would
follow this trail which would surely lead to some place well known, in a
better country. They cared not whether it led to California, Mexico, or
Texas, only that they might get out of this country which seemed
accursed. Any place where they could get something to eat and drink
would be better than this.

Mr. and Mrs. Brier had some pretty hard struggles to get along, and
everyone of this party has ever been loud in praise of the energy and
determination of the brave little woman of the Brier mess. All agreed
that she was by far the best man of the party. She was the one who put
the packs on the oxen in the morning. She it was who took them off at
night, built the fires, cooked the food, helped the children, and did
all sorts of work when the father of the family was too tired, which was
almost all of the time. They all said that he, like other ministers, had
fallen out with any work but that of the tongue, and seemed perfectly
willing for some one else to do the work. Mrs. Brier had the sympathy of
everyone, and many would have helped her if they could. She waited on
her big husband with untiring zeal, and still had time to care for the
children with all of a mother's love. It seemed almost impossible that
one little woman could do so much. It was entirely to her untiring
devotion that her husband and children lived. Mr. Brier had but little
sympathy or help from any one but her. Some were quite sarcastic in
their remarks about the invalid preacher who never earned his bread by
the sweat of his brow, and by their actions showed that they did not
care very much whether he ever got through or not. They thought he ought
to have asserted his manliness and taken the burden on himself, and not
lean upon his delicate and trusting wife as he seemed to do. All are
sure that it is to his faithful wife the Rev. J.W. Brier owed his succor
from the sands of that desert.

Looking back on the scenes of that day, the way the selfish dispositions
of people were made manifest is almost incredible. Every one seemed to
think only of saving his own life, and every spark of human sympathy and
kindness seemed extinguished. A man would drink the last cup of water
even if his neighbor choked.

This camp was the same one which the Author mentions in his narrative,
to which Rogers and himself crept so silently and carefully at night to
ascertain whether the occupants were friends or foes. They were much
pleased to find it was Capt. Doty of the Jayhawkers and his mess who had
remained behind to dry the flesh of an ox they had killed when it could
travel no longer. The others had gone on ahead, following the trail,
leaving these to follow. They staid here two days, and it was while
waiting here that the Rev. J.W. Brier came up as before related, and
they all went on together when they moved.

Nearly every man had carried a gun in the early days of the expedition,
hoping to kill game, and to be well armed in case of attack by Indians
or enemies, but they began to find that they were useless encumbrances,
and first one and then another would throw away his fire-arms as a
burden too great for a weary man to bear. There was no game, and the
poor weak men hardly deemed their own lives worth defending against an
enemy when a day or two of lack of water would end the matter of life at
any rate.

As they slept they dreamed the most tantalizing dreams of clear,
rippling brooks of water; of wading knee deep in the most beautiful of
ponds; of hoisting the old moss-covered bucket from some deep old well;
of breaking and eating great white loaves of bread; of surrounding the
home table with its load of steaming beans and bacon, fragrant coffee
and delicious fried cakes. With such dreams of comfort, they awoke to
realize more fully the terrors of their dry and swollen throats, the
discomfort of empty stomachs. Water and food were the great riches of
life to them then. Had piles of twenty-dollars pieces been on the one
hand and a bucket of cold water on the other there is no doubt of the
choice that would have been made.

Seven or eight miles from this place were two branches to the trail. One
led into the mountains toward the snow, and the other still bore
southerly. They could see that some other party who had no oxen to drive
had taken the more northerly route, which seemed to lead more directly
in the direction of the mines of California. Those who came later, with
animals thought it would be folly to try to cross the deep snow they
could see on the mountains before them and concluded that it would be
safer to the south of the snow line, braving the danger of scarcity of
water, rather than to perish in the snow. Capt. Doty was willing to
attempt the northern branch of the trail if the others so decided, but
the general feeling was in favor of the more plain and open trail which
led away from the snows. It is known that this Northern branch led over
what is known as Walker's Pass, coming out at the Kern River.

Taking then the southern branch, the party passed through a range of low
mountains, and then the country before them seemed quite level for a
hundred miles.

They expected they would find much difficulty on account of water, as
their experience had taught them that it was very scarce in such
locations, but this trail when they came to follow it led them for eight
or ten miles over a level piece of high land that looked as if it might
have slid down from the high mountain at some day long past, and this
easily traveled road brought them at last to the top of a steep hill,
down which they went and found near the bottom, a small weak stream of
water, but no grass, and but little fuel of any kind. (This was the same
camp at which Rogers and the Author overtook the advance party.) Here
they killed an ox, which made a good meal for all, and not much remained
over, for many had no oxen and were getting out of all sorts of
provisions. They depended much on the generosity of their fellow
travelers. Many of them stood back, and waited till those who owned the
food were satisfied, and were very grateful when they were invited to
take even the poorest morsels.

They could count the oxen and make a pretty close guess of how many days
they could live in this way, even with the best probable fortune
favoring them, and to the best of them there was but little hope, and to
those who were dependent it seemed as if the fate of Fish and Ischam
might be theirs almost any day. When the Author conversed with them at
this camp he found them the first really heart-broken men he had ever
seen. Some were men of middle age who had left good farms that gave them
every need, and these they had left to seek a yellow phantom, and now
there were yellow phantoms of a different sort rearing their dreadful
forms all about them. They called themselves foolish gold hunters to
forsake a land of plenty for a chance to leave their bones in a hot
desert. More eyes than one filled with tears, and hopes in more than one
breast vanished to almost nothing. More than one would gladly have
placed himself back where he could have been assured of the poorest fare
he ever saw upon his farm, for bread and water would have been an
assurance of life, of which there seemed to be really but little
expectation here.

When they left this camp in the cañon the trail was between two high
rocks, rising like walls on each side. In one place they were so near
together that an ox could hardly squeeze through. In a very short time
they came to a bunch of willows growing out in the open ground. The
little bunch or grove was forty or fifty feet in diameter, and in the
center was a spring of water. The center of the clump had been cleared
out, making a sort of corral of bushes, enclosing the spring. On the
outside there was quite a little growth of grass, which was a fortunate
thing for their poor beasts.

Away in the distance, rising up a little against the western sky they
could see mountains with snow on them, and it seemed as if it were a
journey of five or six days to reach them, but the good water and the
grass bolstered up their spirits wonderfully for there was present
relief and rather better prospects ahead. They were pretty sure that the
wide plain held no water. Everything that would hold the precious drink
was filled, and the best preparations made for what they believed was to
be the final struggle for life. They rested one day and prepared for the
very worst that might before them. Early in the morning when they could
see plainest, they looked across the expanse before them and really it
did not seem quite so barren, hot and desolate as the region they had
passed, and they talked and hoped that this would be the last desert
they must cross and that Los Angeles lay just beyond the sunny ridge
they could dimly see ahead. There were some tears that more than one
would not live to answer roll call on the other side, but it was the
last hope, and worth an earnest, active trial.

Early in the morning, much refreshed, they started on again with rather
sober faces. That night one man insisted on sleeping with his clothes
and boots all on, for he said if he died he wanted to die in full dress.
Another day and some thought they could see trees on the mountains ahead
of them, and this renewed their courage greatly. In the middle of the
day they suffered greatly with the heat and the dry air seemed to drink
up every bit of moisture from everybody. When they killed an ox they
saved the blood and ate it. The intestines, cleaned with the fingers,
made food when roasted on the fire, and pieces of hide, singed and
roasted, helped to sustain life. The water was nearly all gone. Only
power of will and strength of body had kept any. Capt. Asa Haines sat
down one day and said he could go no farther, but his comrade, L.D.
Stephens, who had kept a little rice, a little tea, and a dry crust of
bread for time of need, took a little water in a cup and made some soup
which he forced his friend to eat and soon he revived and was able to
move on again. That was true friendship.

The next night Stevens himself awoke and seemed perishing with thirst.
He crawled over to Doty's bed and begged for just one sup of water, Doty
in the goodness of his heart, took his canteen from under his head
divided the last few drops with him and the death which threatened him
was held off. Capt. Doty found it necessary to talk very seriously to
those who mourned and talked of failing. He never gave up in the least.
He encouraged all to make every step they could and know no such word as
fail. When they said that death would be easier than life, he told them
so, but that life was possible if they only willed it, and a better life
than had been theirs. And so he kept them encouraged and kept them
putting one foot before the other, pointing out the ever lessening
distance to the mountain before them. He appealed to their manhood. "Be
men," said he, "Be brave and courageous, and you have more strength than
you believe." Thus by example and words he proved to be a true captain
to his little band.

Their water was all gone, every drop, and still the foot-hills seemed
far away. The supply of meat ran out. Tom Shannon killed an ox, and when
those who had cattle had taken some, the others who had none were told
to divide the rest. There was no water to dress or cook it, but it
helped to sustain life. Entrails, bones, sinews, bits of hide and
everything was used. One man was seen with an ox horn, burning the end
in the fire and gnawing away at the softened portion. It was something
terrible to see human beings eating what the dogs would cast aside. One
man saw some moist looking earth on the shady side of a bunch of brush
and he dug down and got a handful of it, from which he tried to suck the
moisture. He failed, and the bad taste of the earth made him suffer more
than before. Many bones of horses and cattle now appeared along the
trail. They seemed to have been there a long time, and some were partly
decayed. On this waterless stretch one of their number, a Frenchman,
wandered off, searching for water in little hollows or puddles, and
never came back to camp. He was supposed to be dead, but ten years
afterward some surveyors found him in a Digger Indian camp.

An idea how selfish men will get under such circumstances may be gained
by relating that on one occasion when an ox was killed the liver was
carried to the brave little Mrs. Brier for herself and children, and she
laid it aside for a few moments till she could attend to some other
duties before cooking it. Darkness coming on meanwhile, some
unprincipled, ungallant thief stole it, and only bits of offal and
almost uneatable pieces were left to sustain their lives. That any one
could steal the last morsel from a woman and her children surpasses
belief, but yet it was plain that there was at least one man in the
party who could do it. No one can fully understand or describe such
scenes as this unless he has looked into just such hungry looking,
haggard eyes and faces, a mixture of determination and despair, the
human expression almost vanishing, and the face of a starving wolf or
jackal taking its place, There are no words to paint such a state of
things to him who has never seen and known.

But there were true men, true, charitable hearts in that little band.
Though death stared them in the face they never forgot their fellow men.
As they slowly crawled along many would wander here and there beside the
trail and fall behind, especially the weaker ones, and many were the
predictions that such and such a one would never come up again, or reach
the camp. Then it was that these noble souls, tired almost beyond
recovery themselves, would take water and go back to seek the wandering
ones and give them drink and help them on. More than one would thus have
perished in the sands but for the little canteen of water carried back
by some friend. Only a swallow or two would often revive their failing
strength and courage, and with slow step they would move on again. How
much good a crust of bread would have done such a poor creature. Bread
there was none--nothing but the flesh of their poor oxen, wasted and
consumed by days of travel and lack of food till it had no goodness in
it. Even the poor oxen, every night seemed to be the end of their
walking; every morning it was feared that that would be the last time
they would be able to rise upon their feet.

Already five or six days had passed since they left the camp at the
willows where they had their last supply of water, and still they were
on the desert. The journey was longer than they had expected, partly
owing to the slow progress they had made for there were frequent stops
to rest or they could not move at all. The mountains seemed nearer every
day, and the trees were outlined more plainly each morning as they
started out. Capt. Doty used every circumstance to encourage them. He
would remark upon the favorable signs of water in the hills before them,
and the hope that there might be some game to provide better meat than
that of starving oxen. Thus he renewed their hope and kept alive their
courage. He must have had a great deal of fortitude to hide his own sad
feelings, for they must as surely have come to him as to any one, and to
keep up always an air of hope, courage, and determination to succeed. If
he had been a man of less spirit and good judgment it is very probable
that many more would have been left by the wayside to die.

About this point the trail which had been growing fainter and fainter,
seemed to vanish entirely. One could move in almost any direction to
right or left as he chose, and because of this, previous travel had
doubtless scattered and thus left no trail. It was thought best that
this company should spread out and approach the mountains in as broad a
front as possible so as to multiply the chances of finding water, and so
they started out in pairs, some to the right and some to the left, each
selecting the point where water seemed most probable.

Tom Shannon and a companion were one of these pairs. Tom was one of the
few who still stuck to his gun, for he felt that it might save his life
sometime. He and his companion separated about a mile, each looking at
all points that showed the least sign of water. Suddenly a jack rabbit
started from a bush, the first game Shannon had seen for more than a
month. He pulled the rifle on him as he was making some big bound and
had the good luck to nearly split his head open. Rushing up to his game
he put his mouth to the wound and sucked the warm blood as it flowed,
for it was the first liquid he had seen; but instead of allaying his
fearful thirst it seemed to make it worse and he seemed delirious. A
little way up the gulch he saw a rock and a green bush and steered for
it, but found no water. He sat down with his back to the rock, his rifle
leaning up near by, pulled his old worn hat over his eyes, and suffered
an agony of sickness. He realized that life was leaving his body, and
there he sat with no power to move and no desire to make an effort. It
seemed as if he could see plain before him all the trail from where he
sat, back over all the deserts, mountains and rivers to the old place in
Illinois. He entirely forgot the present, and seemed unconscious of
everything but the pictures of the past. The mind seemed growing freer
from its attachment to the body and at liberty to take in his whole past
life, and bright scenes that had gone before. How long he sat thus he
knows not. His companion was fortunate in finding water, and when he had
refreshed himself he set out to find poor Tom of whom he could see
nothing. Going toward where he heard the shot he followed on till he saw
him at the rock, almost doubled up, with his face concealed by his hat.
"O! Tom!" said he, but there came no answering motion, and going nearer
he called again and still no answer and no sign. Poor Tom had surely
passed on to the better land, thought he, and salvation was so near. He
approached and lifted the hat rim. There was a movement of the eyes, a
quivering of the muscles of the face, and a sort of semi-unconscious
stare such as precedes approaching dissolution.

Quickly holding back his head he poured water between his lips from his
canteen and it was swallowed. Then a little more, and then some more,
and life seemed coming back again into a troublesome world, bringing
pain with it, and the consciousness of a suffering body. After a time he
felt better and was helped to his feet, and together they went to the
water hole where they made a fire and cooked the rabbit which was the
first savory meat they had tasted for a long time. Tom felt better and
told his companion how he felt after tasting the warm rabbit's blood,
and how he had nearly gone off into the sleep of death.

"If you had been a little longer finding me," said Tom, "I should soon
have been out of this sad world." They fired a signal gun, looked down
at the bones of the rabbit, drank more water, and gradually felt new
life coming to them. The mountains seemed more fertile, and there was
brush and grass near by, timber farther up, and still higher a cap of
snow extending far along the range, both north and south. Towards night
on this eventful day the scattered travelers began to come slowly into
camp attracted by the guns and the smoke of the fire made by those who
first found the water. Some were nearly as far gone as Tom Shannon was,
and great caution had to used in giving them water on their empty
stomach. One man named Robinson became so weak before he got near camp
that his companions placed him on the back of one of the animals and a
man walked on either side to catch him if he fell off. When they got
within a mile of the water he insisted that he was strong enough to take
care of himself and not be watched every minute, and they relaxed their
vigilance. He soon fell off, and when they went to him he refused to be
put back on the animal again or to walk any farther. "Just spread my
blankets down," said he, "and I will lie down and rest a little and
after a while I will come along into camp." So they left him and pushed
on to water, and when they were a little refreshed went back to him with
water, and to help him to come in, but when they came to him they found
him dead. He did not seem to have moved after he had lain down. He did
not seem so bad off as Shannon was when he lay down, and probably a few
swallows of water at that time would have saved his life. It seemed sad
indeed, after so much suffering and striving to get along, that he
should die within a mile of water that would have saved his life. If he
had possessed a little more strength so that the spark of life could
have remained a little longer, the cooling moisture from the canteen
would have revived it, and a little rest would have placed him on his
feet again. They had no tools to dig a grave, not even a knife for they
had left every weight in camp, so they covered him closely in his
blankets and sadly returned to their friends. They had all along hoped
that the Frenchman who had wandered away would come in, but he never
came. There were several water holes scattered around at this point
which seemed to be a sort of sunken place in the hills, and quite large
brush could be obtained for fire, and grass for the oxen. Those who had
been good hunters and had thrown away their rifles as useless burdens,
now began to look at hills before them and think that game might be
found in them, as well as water. There were only one or two guns in the
whole party, They thought that this must surely be the edge of the great
desert they had crossed, and only the snow range before them could be
the obstacle that separated them from Los Angeles.

One day from here would bring them to the edge of the snow, and they
debated as to the best course to pursue. Some of them were fearful they
could not cross the snow with the oxen, for it seemed to be quite deep.
The best place to cross seemed directly west of them. South was a higher
peak, and to the north it was surely impassible. There seemed to be a
faint sign of a trail from this point towards the lowest point in the
snow mountains. There were some bones of cattle around the springs which
they thought was an indication that in years gone by there had been some
traveling on this trail. There surely would be water in the snow which
could be got by melting it, and on the whole it seemed best to make the
attempt to cross at the lowest place. There were no signs of travel
except the trail which had not been used in years, not signs of
civilization except the bones.

Starting from the water holes which showed no signs of having been used
for several years, their next camp was, as they had calculated, on the
edge of the snow where they found plenty of dry juniper trees for fire.
and of course plenty of water. Here they killed an ox and fed the hungry
so that they were pretty well refreshed. This was an elevated place and
they could look back over the trail across the desert for, what seemed
to them, a hundred miles, and the great dangers of their journey were
discussed. Said one of them to Tom Shannon:--"Tom, you killed the first
game we have come across in two months. Even the buzzards and coyotes
knew better than to go out in into the country where the cursed Mormon
saint sent us numbskulls." Another said that while they had been seeking
a heaven on earth they had passed through purgatory, or perhaps a worse
place still nearer the one from which sulphurous fumes arise, and now
they hoped that there might be a somewhat more heavenly place beyond the
snow. One who had been silent seemed awakened by inspiration and spoke
in impromptu lines somewhat as follows, as he pointed out to the dim

  "Yonder in mountains' gray beauty,
      Wealth and fame decay.
  Yonder, the sands of the desert,
  Yonder, the salt of the sea,
  Yonder, a fiery furnace,
  Yonder, the bones of our friends,
  Yonder the old and the young
     Lie scattered along the way."

Some even confessed the desperate thoughts that had come to their minds
when they were choking and starving. We have mentioned four of the train
who had perished beside the trail and it will be remembered that one
party of eleven started out on foot before the wagons were abandoned by
the rest of the party. Nothing was heard of these for seven years, but
long afterward nine skeletons were found at the remains of a camp, and
the other two were afterward seen in the gold fields. When spoken to
about this party, they burst into tears and could not talk of it. So it
is known that at least thirteen men perished in the country which has
well been named Death Valley.

People who have always been well fed, and have never suffered from
thirst till every drop of moisture seemed gone from the body, so they
dare not open their mouth lest they dry up and cease to breathe, can
never understand, nor is there language to convey the horrors of such a
situation. The story of these parties may seem like fairy fables, but to
those who experienced it all, the strongest statements come far short of
the reality. No one could believe how some men, when they are starving
take on the wild aspect of savage beasts, and that one could never feel
safe in their presence. Some proved true and kind and charitable even
with death staring them in the face, and never forgot their fellow men.
Some that seemed weakest proved strongest in the final struggle for

Early next morning before the sun rose they started to cross the snow,
leaving their comrade Robinson behind, rolled up in his blankets, taking
his everlasting sleep so far as the troubles of this world are
concerned. What the day would bring forth very few could have any idea.
Go on they must, and this direction seemed most promising. If the snow
should prove hard enough to hold up the oxen they could probably cross
before night, but if compelled to camp in the snow it was a doubtful
case for them.

The snow held them as they advanced on it, but grew a little softer as
the sun got higher. The tracks of both men and animals were stained with
blood from their worn-out feet. When they turned the summit they found
more timber and the ravine they followed was so shaded that the force of
the sun was broken, and they really did not suffer very much from
slumping through the snow, and so got safely over. Not far below the
snow they found a running brook of clear, sweet water, with willows
along the banks and trees on the hills, the first really good water for
a month or two. This is the same camp where Rogers and his companion ate
their meal of quail, hawk and crow a few days before, and these
travelers knew by the remains of the little camp fire that they were
following on the trail of the two men who had gone before.

This place was so great an improvement on the camps of the past that all
hands began to talk and act more rational as hope dawned more brightly
on them. Those who had guns branched off to search for game, but found
they were too weak for that kind of work, and had to sit down very often
to rest. When they tried to run they stumbled down and made very poor

Capt. Doty, Tom Shannon and Bill Rude sat down to rest on a bold point
above the creek. While there three wild horses came along within easy
range, and thinking they would form better meat than the oxen each man
picked his animal and all fired simultaneously, bringing them all to the
ground. This seemed a piece of glorious luck, and all rushed in like
wolves lifter a wounded animal. It was not very long before each had a
chunk of meat in his hand, and many a one did not stop from eating
because it was not cooked. Such declared they never ate anything so
delicious in all their lives before, and wondered why horses were not
used as food instead of hogs and cattle. As they satisfied their
ravenous appetites they ate more like beasts than like men, so nearly
were they starved, and so nearly had their starving condition made them
fall from their lofty estate.

As they passed on down this cañon they found it very brushy and on the
dry leaves under the wide-spreading trees they saw signs of bear and
perhaps other animals. There were some swampy places where it was
grassy, and into these the cattle rushed with great eagerness for the
food they had so long suffered for. Some of Mr. Brier's cattle went in,
and in tramping around for food sank deep into the mud and could not be
coaxed out again. Mrs. Brier threw clubs at them but they did not seem
inclined to pay much attention to her attacks so she was forced to go in
after them herself, and in so doing also sank into the mud and could not
get out without assistance. All this time her reverend husband sat
outside on the hard ground at a safe distance, but did not offer any
help. Probably if an extended and learned lecture on the effects of
gravitation would have done any good he would have been ready with
prompt and extended service to one whom he had promised to love and

About this time L.D. Stevens came along and seeing the condition of the
unfortunate woman, at once went to her assistance and helped her to dry
land. Brier himself never made a move nor said a word. Stevens looked
terribly cross at him and remarked to his companions that if the
preacher himself had been the one stuck in the mud he would have been
quite inclined to leave him there for all of helping him.

The cañon grew narrow as they descended, and the brush thicker, so that
to follow the bed of the stream was the only way to get along. The
cattle seemed to scent a bear and stampeded in terror through the brush
in various directions, all except one which was being led by a rope.
They tried to follow the animals in a desperate effort to recover them
and a few blankets they had upon their backs, but could only make slow
progress. Tom Shannon and two others found a fresh bear track and
determined to follow it awhile in the hope of having revenge on the
cause of their mishap with the oxen. They took their blankets and kept
the trail till night when they camped, but were at so great an elevation
that a snowstorm came with six inches of snow so they could no longer
follow the track.

They were very hungry and on the way back came across some wild cherries
which had dried perfectly dry as they hung on the bushes. These they
picked and ate, cracking the seeds with their teeth, and declaring them
to be the best of fruit. Good appetites made almost anything taste good
then. They got back to the creek next day pretty nearly starved, and
with neither a bear nor runaway oxen to reward them for their two days'
hard work.

Wood and water were plenty, but grass was scarce and their ox had to
live on brush and leaves, but this was infinitely better than the
stunted and bitter shrubs of the desert. They came out of the brush at
last into the open bottom land where the brook sank out of sight in the
sand, and sage brush appeared all about. From this on, over the elevated
point which projected out nearly across the valley, their experience and
emotions in coming in sight of vast herds of cattle feeding on rolling
grassy hills, or reclining under great oak trees scattered over the more
level lands, were much the same as came to the Author and his party when
the same scene was suddenly opened to them. Signs of civilization and of
plenty so suddenly appearing after so many weeks of suffering and
desolation was almost enough to turn their heads, and more than one of
the stout-hearted pioneers shed tears of joy. Only a few days before and
they could scarcely have believed it possible to find a spot so lovely.

But to hungry, more than half starved men, points of artistic beauty and
sober reflections over the terrors of the past found little place, and
their first thought was to satisfy the cravings of hunger which were
assuredly none the less when they beheld the numerous fat cattle all
around them. There was no one to ask or to buy from and to kill and eat
without permission might be wrong and might get them into difficulty,
but one might as well ask a starving wolf to get permission to slay and
eat when a fat lamb came across his path as to expect these men to take
very much time to hunt up owners. When life or death are the questions
that present themselves men are not so apt to discuss the right or wrong
of any matter.

Tom Shannon and a couple of others did not wait long at any rate, but
crawled down the creek bed till they were opposite a few fine animals
and then crept up the bank very near to them. Two or three shots rang
out and as many fine cattle were brought down. The live cattle ran away
and the hungry men soon had the field to themselves. Much quicker than
can be told the men had fat pieces of meat in their hands which they
devoured without cooking. The men acted like crazy creatures at a
barbacue--each one cut for himself with very little respect for anyone.
The boldest got in first and the more retiring came in later, but all
had enough and gradually resumed more human actions and appearance.

They had hardly finished their bloody feast when they saw a small squad
of men on horseback advancing toward them, and as they came near it was
quite plain that they were all armed in some way. All had lassoes at
their saddles, some had old-fashioned blunderbusses, and nearly every
one had a _macheta_ or long bladed Spanish knife. As the horsemen drew
near they formed into something like military order and advanced slowly
and carefully. It was pretty evident they thought they were about to
encounter a band of thieving Indians, but as they came closer they
recognized the strangers as Americans and passed the compliments with
them in a rather friendly manner.

Some of the Jayhawkers had been in the Mexican War and understood a few
words of Spanish, and by a liberal use of signs were able to communicate
with the armed party and tell them who they were, where they were going,
and the unfortunate condition in which they found themselves. The men
did not seem angry at losing so few of their cattle, and doubtless
considered themselves fortunate in not suffering to the extent of some
hundreds as they did sometimes by Indian raids, and invited the whole
party down to the ranch house of the San Francisquito Rancho of which
this was a part. Arrived at the house the ranch men brought in a good
fat steer which they killed and told the poor Americans to help
themselves and be welcome. This was on the fourth day of February, 1850.

The whole party remained here to rest themselves and their oxen for
several days, and were royally entertained by the people at the ranch.
They talked over the plans for the future, and considered the best
course to pursue. They thought it would be wise to keep their oxen for
these would now improve in flesh, and as they had no money with which to
buy food they might still rely on them in further travels. The best oxen
had survived, for the failing ones were selected to be killed when they
were forced to have food. The weaker of their comrades had perished in
the desert, and the remainder of the train consisted of the strongest
men and the strongest oxen, and there seemed to be no question but that
they could all live in this country where grass and water were both
abundant, and every sign of more or less wild game.

Those of the company who had no cattle made their way directly to Los
Angeles, and from thence to the coast from which most of them reached
San Francisco by sailing vessel. Those who had no money were given a
passage on credit, and it is believed that all such debts were
afterwards honestly paid.

Capt. Doty made a proposition to buy out the oxen of some who had only
one or two, giving his note for them payable in San Francisco or
anywhere up north they might chance to meet, and many of them accepted
and went to the coast. In this way Doty secured oxen enough to supply
one for each of those who decided to go with him. They decided to use
them for pack animals to carry their blankets, and to proceed slowly
toward the mines, killing game, if possible, and permitting their
animals to graze and improve in condition as they moved.

There must have been from twenty-five to forty people gathered at the
ranch. Among them was the Rev. J.W. Brier who seemed to want to impress
it on the new California friends that he was the man of all others to be
honored. The ranchman was a good Catholic, and Brier tried to make him
understand that he, also, was very devout. He said, and repeated to him
very often--"Me preacher," but he did not succeed very well in
impressing the good Californian with the dignity of his profession, for
he could talk no Spanish and was not highly gifted in sign language.

When they went away they had no way to reward their good friends who had
been friends indeed to them. They could only look their thanks and
express themselves in a very few words of Spanish. "_Adios Amigos_,"
said they to the scantily clothed travelers as they set out on their way
to the mines.

They followed down the course of the river that flowed through the
valley, the Santa Clara River, and knew that it would take them to the
sea at last. Before they reached the mission of San Buena Ventura, near
the sea, they ran out of meat again, for they had failed to find game as
they had expected, and Capt. Asa Haynes took the chances of killing a
Spanish cow that looked nice and fat. They camped around the carcass and
ate, and smoked the meat that was left. While thus engaged two horsemen
approached, and after taking a good look at the proceedings, galloped
off again. When the party arrived at the Mission they were arrested and
taken before the alcalde to give an account of their misdeeds. They
realized that they were now in a bad fix, and either horn of the dilemma
was bad enough. They could not talk Spanish; they had no money; they had
killed somebody's cow; they were very hungry; they might be willing to
pay, but had no way of doing it; they did not want to languish in jail,
and how to get out of it they could not understand. Luck came to them,
however, in the shape of a man who could speak both English and Spanish,
to whom they told their story and who repeated it to the alcalde,
telling him of their misfortunes and unfortunate condition, and when
that officer found out all the circumstances he promptly released them
as he did not consider them as criminals. The cow was probably worth no
more than ten dollars.

At Santa Barbara they found a chance to trade off some of their oxen for
mares, which were not considered worth much, and managed the barter so
well that they came out with a horse apiece and a few dollars besides,
with which to buy grub along the road. They depended mostly on their
guns for supplying them with food. They supposed they were about three
hundred miles from San Francisco, and expected to meet with but few
people except at the Missions, of which they had learned there were a
few along the road. At these there was not much to be had except dried
beef. However, they managed to use the guns with fair success, and at
last arrived safely at Stockton where they sold some of their horses for
more than double what they cost, and with a small number of horses they
packed on to the gold mines.

Those of the party who went to Los Angeles managed in one way or another
to get through on schooners, and many of them, after a year or two of
hard work, made some money and returned to their homes in Illinois. It
is hardly necessary to add that they did not return via Death Valley.

Some years afterward the members of this party who had returned to their
Eastern homes formed themselves into an organization which they called
the Jayhawkers' Union, appointed a chairman and secretary, and each year
every one whose name and residence could be obtained was notified to be
present at some designated place on the fourth day of February which was
the date on which they considered they passed from impending death into
a richly promising life. They always had as good a dinner as Illinois
could produce, cooked by the wives and daughters of the pioneers, and
the old tales were told over again.

One part of the program was the calling of the roll, and such reports
and letters as had come to hand. The following is a list of the members
of the party so far as can be ascertained, as gathered from
recollections and from the reports of the meetings of the reunions.


The following named were living, so far as known, in 1893:--John B.
Colton and Alonzo C. Clay, of Galesburg, Ill., Luther A. Richards, of
Woodhull, Ill., Chas. B. Mecum, of Ripley, Iowa, John W. Plummer, of
Tulon, Ill., Edward Bartholomew, Urban P. Davidson, John Crosscup and L.
Dow Stephens, of San Jose, California, Harrison Frans and Thomas
Shannon, of Los Gatos, Cal., J.W. Brier and wife, Lodi, Cal., three
children of Mr. Brier.

The following are supposed to be dead:--Ann Haines, Knoxville, Ill.,
Sidney P. Edgerton, formerly of Blair, Nebraska, Thomas McGrew, John
Cole, Wm. B. Rude, Wm. Robinson and Alex. Palmer, of Knoxville, Ill.,
Marshall B. Edgerton, late of Galesburg, Ill. Wm. Ischam, of Rochester,
N.Y., Mr. ---- Fish, of Oskaloosa, Iowa, John L. West, Aaron Larkin,
Capt. Edwin Doty and Brien Byram, of Knoxville, Ill., Mr. ---- Carter,
of Wisconsin, Geo. Allen, Leander Woolsey and Chas. Clark, of Henderson,
Ill., Mr. ---- Gretzinger, of Oskaloosa, Iowa, and a Frenchman whose
name is unknown.

There were some others connected more or less with the party at some
part of the trip, but not coming in with the Jayhawker organization. So
far as learned, their names are as follows:--John Galler, Jim Woods and
Jim Martin of Miss., Ed Croker of N.Y., David Funk, Mr. Town, Henry
Wade, wife and three children, Nat Ward, John D. Martin, of Texas, Old
Francis, a Frenchman, Fred Carr and Negro "Joe," from Miss.

There were a great many reports about finding rich mines about this
time, and these stories have been magnified and told in all sorts of
ways since then, and parties have returned to try to find the great

Among the Jayhawkers were two Germans who could speak but little English
and probably for this reason, kept apart from the remainder of the

One day, after the wagons were abandoned these German fellows were
marching along alone with their packs on their backs in the warm sun,
suffering very much for want of water and food, when one of them sat
down on a hill-side in pretty nearly absolute despair, while the other
man went down into a ravine hoping to find a puddle of water in the
rocky bottom somewhere, though it was almost a forlorn hope. All at once
he called out to his partner on the hill--"John, come down here and get
some of this gold. There is a lot of it." To this poor John Galler only
replied:--"No, I won't come. I don't want any gold, but I would like
very much to have some water and some bread." And so they left the
valuable find and slowly walked on, pulling through at last with the
rest of them, and reaching Los Angeles.

The man who found the gold went to the Mission of San Luis Rey and
started a small clothing store, and some time afterward was killed. John
Galler settled in Los Angeles and established a wagon shop in which he
did a successful business. He was an honest, industrious man and the
people had great confidence in him. He often told them about what his
partner had said about finding the gold in the desert, and the people
gave him an outfit on two or three occasions to go back and re-locate
the find, but he did not seem to have much idea of location, and when he
got back into the desert again things looked so different to him that he
was not able to identify the place, or to be really certain they were on
the same trail where his companion found the gold.

The Author saw him in 1862 and heard what he had to say about it, and is
convinced that it was not gold at all which they saw. I told him that I
more than suspected that what he saw was mica instead of gold and that
both he and his partner had been deceived, for more than one man not
used to gold had been deceived before now. "No sir!" said he, "I saw
lots of gold in Germany, and when I saw that I knew what it was." The
Author went back over that trail in 1862 and sought out the German on
purpose to get information about the gold. He could not give the name of
a single man who was in the party at that time, but insisted that it was
gold he saw and that he knew the trail.

The Author was able to identify with reasonable certainty the trails
followed by the different parties, but found no signs of gold formation
except some barren quartz, and this after an experience of several years
in both placer and quartz mines. So honest John Galler's famous placer
mine still remains in the great list of lost mines, like the Gunsight
Lead and other noted mines for which men have since prospected in vain.


Alexander Combs Erkson was one of the pioneers of 1849, having left the
state of Iowa in the month of May, when he assisted in organizing a
company known as the "Badger Company" at Kanesville, the object being
mutual assistance and protection. This company joined the Bennett party
mentioned so prominently in this history, at the Missouri, and traveled
with them or near them to the rendezvous near Salt Lake where the new
company was organized for the southern trip taken by the Death Valley
party, the Jayhawkers and others. As the experience of Mr. Erkson was in
some respects different to that of the parties mentioned, he having
taken a different route for a part of the way, it was thought best to
embody it in this history. The following was dictated to the editor of
this book, and as Mr. Erkson died before the written account could be
revised by him, it is the best that can possibly be obtained.

       *       *       *       *       *


"We arrived at the Mormon camp near Salt Lake, Salt Lake City, in the
month of August. Several of us went to work getting out lumber for
Brigham Young while we were waiting and resting. The mormons all advised
us not to undertake to go on by the northern route, and as the travelers
gathered at this point they canvassed the situation. We used our teams
when we were at work for Brigham and assisted in building a dam across a
cañon where he intended to build a woolen mill. I earned about a hundred
dollars by my work, which was paid to me in ten-dollar pieces of a gold
coin made by the Mormons. They were not like the U.S. coins. I remember
one side had an eye and the words--'Holiness to the Lord.'

We entered into an agreement with Capt. Hunt, a Mormon, to pilot us
through, and turned all our gold into that company, thus bringing none
of the Mormon gold with us. We went on with the company as has been
related in the foregoing pages, till we arrived at Mt. Misery, so named
by us, when we took the back track, while Mr. Manley and the others went
on as they have related. We had meetings by the light of a greenwood
fire, and the matter was talked up in little knots of people, and then
some one would get up and speak. One J.W. Brier, a preacher, was the
principal blower. 'You are going wrong!' said he, We should go west, and
in six weeks we will be loaded with gold!'

Hunt got a little confused at a place called Beaver Meadows, or Mountain
Meadows, and thought perhaps he could find a new road. Several men were
sent out to look, and some of us in camp played ball for amusement while
we were waiting. Hunt's men came back and said there were no prospects
of a new road, and he said he knew the southern route and believed it
would be safe to go that way.

He told us that we must decide the next day. When we came to the road
where we were to separate he filed off on his road and the others filed
off on their road and then came back with their whips in their hands. I
had filed in after Hunt, and they tried to convince me that I was very
wrong. A Mr. Norton of Adrian, Mich., promised Mrs. Erkson a horse to
ride if she would go, and so I left Hunt and turned in on the other
road, the hindmost wagon. This is going back a little with the history
and bringing it up to Mt. Misery. On my way back from Mt. Misery I
climbed up on a big rock and inscribed the date--Nov. 10, 1849.

In our journey we came to what is called 'The rim of the Basin,' and
traveled along on that a distance till we came to the Santa Clara River
and saw where the Indians had raised corn and melons. We followed on
down that stream and found our teams gradually failing. Noting this we
decided to overhaul our loads and reject a lot of things not strictly
necessary to preserve life. I know I threw out a good many valuable and
pretty things by the roadside. I remember six volumes of Rollin's
Ancient History, nicely bound, with my name on the back, that were piled
up and left. We followed along near the Santa Clara River till it
emptied into the Virgin River. It was somewhere along here that we first
saw some Yucca trees. The boys often set fire to them to see them burn.

The Virgin River was a small stream running on about the course we
wanted to travel, and we followed this course for thirty or forty miles.
We found plenty of wood and water and mesquite. After awhile the river
turned off to the left, while we wanted to keep to the right, so we
parted company there. We heard of a river beyond which they called the
'Big Muddy' and we went up a little arroyo, then over a divide to some
table land that led us down to the Big Muddy. We made our wagons as
light as possible, taking off all the boards and stakes we could
possibly get along without. Wm. Philipps and others were placed on short
allowance. They had an idea that I had more provisions in my wagon than
I ought to have, but I told them that it was clothing that we used to
sleep on. I divided among them once or twice. When we reached the Muddy
we stopped two or three days for there was plenty of feed. It was a
narrow stream that seemed as if it must come from springs. It was narrow
between banks, but ran pretty deep, and a streak of fog marked its
course in the morning. We understood it was not very far from where we
left the Virgin River to the Colorado, some said not more than fourteen
miles and that the Colorado turned sharply to the south at that point.
Mr. Rhynierson and wife had a child born to them on the Virgin River,
and it was named Virginia.

It was a gloomy trip the whole time on the Muddy. I lost three or four
head of cattle, all within a day and a night. Mrs. Erkson walked to
lighten the load, and would pick all the bunches of grass she saw and
put them on the wagon to feed the oxen when we stopped. I let them pass
me and stopped and fed the cattle, and slept ourselves. It was said that
we ran great risks from Indians, but we did not see any. I had at this
time only two yoke of oxen left.

We overtook the party next morning at nine o'clock, having met some of
them who were coming back after us. All were rejoiced that we had come
on safely. Here I met Elisha Bennett and told him my story. He said he
could sell me a yoke of oxen. He had a yoke in J.A. Philipps' team and
was going to take them out. He said nothing in particular as to price. I
said that I wanted to see Mr. Philipps and talk with him about the
matter, for he had said Bennett should not have the cattle. I went over
to see him and spoke to him about Bennett's cattle and he told me they
had quarreled and I could have them, and so we made a bargain. I gave
twenty dollars for the cattle, the last money I had, and as much
provisions as he could carry on his back. They were making up a party to
reach the settlements at the Williams ranch, and I made arrangements for
them to send back provisions for us. About thirty started that
way--young men and men with no families with them.

I got along very well with my new team after that. It was about forty
miles from water to water, and I think we camped three times. At one
place we found that provisions had been left, with a notice that the
material was for us, but the red-skins got the provisions. We struck a
spring called-----, a small spring of water, and a child of some of the
party died there and was buried.

We then went more nearly south to find the Mojave River, for we hoped to
find water there. It was very scarce with us then, We had one pretty
cold day, but generally fine weather, and to get along we traveled at
night and a party struck the Mojave. Here there was some grass, and the
mustard was beginning to start up and some elder bushes to put forth
leaves. I picked some of the mustard and chewed it to try to get back my
natural taste. Here the party divided, a part going to the left to San
Bernardino and the remainder to the right to Cucamunga. I was with the
latter party and we got there before night.

Rhynierson said to one of the party--'Charlie, you had better hurry on
ahead and try to get some meat before the crowd comes up.' Charlie went
on ahead and we drove along at the regular gait which was not very fast
about these times. We saw nothing of Charlie and so I went to the house
to look for him and found him dead drunk on wine. He had not said a word
to them about provisions. That wine wrecked us all. All had a little
touch of scurvy, and it seemed to be just what we craved. I bought a big
tumbler of it for two bits and carried it to my wife. She lasted it at
first rather gingerly, then took a little larger sup of it, and then put
it to her lips and never slopped drinking till the last drop was gone. I
looked a little bit surprised and she looked at me and innocently
asked--'Why! Haven't you had any?' I was afraid she would be the next
one to be dead drunk, but it never affected her in that way at all. We
bought a cow here to kill, and used the meat either fresh or dried, and
then went on to the Williams, or Chino ranch. Col. Williams was glad to
see us, and said we could have everything we wanted. We wanted to get
wheat, for we had lived so long on meat that we craved such food. He
told us about the journey before us and where we would find places to
camp. Here we found one of the Gruwells. We camped here a week, meeting
many emigrants who came by way of Santa Fe.

We went on from here to San Gabriel where we staid six weeks to rest and
recuperate the cattle. In the good grass we found here they all became
about as fat as ever in a little while. Here the party all broke up and
no sort of an organization was kept up beyond here. Some went to Los
Angeles, some went on north, trading off their cattle for horses, and
some went directly to the coast. We went to the Mission of San Fernando
where we got some oranges which were very good for us. There is a long,
tedious hill there to get over. We made up ten wagons. By the time we
reached the San Francisquito Ranch I had lost my cattle. I went down to
this ranch and there met Mr. and Mrs. Arcane getting ready to go to San
Pedro. We came north by way of Tejon pass and the Kern River, not far
from quite a large lake, and reached the mines at last. I remember we
killed a very fat bear and tried out the grease, and with this grease
and some flour and dried apples Mrs. Erkson made some pretty good pies
which the miners were glad to get at a dollar and even two dollars

Mr. Erkson followed mining for about a year and then went into other
business until he came to Santa Clara Valley and began farming near
Alviso. He has been a highly respected citizen and progressive man, He
died in San Jose in the spring of 1893.

       *       *       *       *       *


Edward Coker was one of a party of twenty-one men who left their wagons,
being impatient of the slow progress made by the ox train, and organized
a pack train in which they were themselves the burden carriers. They
discarded everything not absolutely necessary to sustain life, packed
all their provisions into knapsacks, bravely shouldered them and started
off on foot from the desert to reach California by the shortest way.

Among those whom Mr. Coker can recollect are Capt. Nat. Ward, Jim Woods,
Jim Martin of Missouri, John D. Martin of Texas, "Old Francis," a French
Canadian, Fred Carr, Negro "Joe" and some others from Coffeeville,
Miss., with others from other states.

Mr. Coker related his experience to the Author somewhat as follows:--

"One other of the party was a colored man who joined us at the camp when
we left the families, he being the only remaining member of a small
party who had followed our wagon tracks after we had tried to proceed
south. This party was made up of a Mr. Culverwell who had formerly been
a writer in a Government office at Washington, D.C., a man named Fish
claiming to be a relative of Hamilton Fish of New York, and another man
whose name I never knew. He, poor fellow, arrived at our camp in a
starving condition and died before our departure. The other two
unfortunates ones died on the desert, and the colored man reported that
he simply covered their remains with their blankets.

I well remember that last night in camp before we started with our
knapsacks and left the families, for it was plain the women and children
must go very slow, and we felt we could go over rougher and shorter
roads on foot and get through sooner by going straight across the Sierra
Nevada Mountains. Our condition was certainly appalling. We were without
water, all on the verge of starvation, and the three poor cattle which
yet remained alive were objects of pity. It seemed almost a crime to
kill the poor beasts, so little real food was there left on their
skeleton frames. They had been so faithful and had plodded along when
there seemed no hope for them. They might still serve to keep the party
from starvation.

It was at this camp that Mr. Ischam died. The night before our departure
he came wandering into camp and presented such an awful appearance,
simply a living skeleton of a once grand and powerful man. He must have
suffered untold agony as he struggled on to overtake the party, starving
and alone, with the knowledge that two of his companions had perished
miserably of starvation in that unknown wilderness of rocks and alkali.

Our journey on foot through the mountains was full of adventure and
suffering. On our arrival at the shores of Owen's Lake not a man of the
party had a mouthful of food left in his pack, and to add to our
difficulties we had several encounters with the hostile Indians. There
was a fearful snow storm falling at Owen's Lake on the evening that we
arrived there, and we could make no fire. The Indians gathered around us
and we did not know exactly what to make of them, nor could we determine
whether their intentions were good or bad. We examined the lake and
determined to try to ford it, and thus set out by the light of the moon
that occasionally peeped out from behind the clouds, while the red
devils stood howling on the shore.

The following morning we found what was then known as the Fremont Trail,
and by the advice of some friendly Indians who came into our camp, we
kept the "big trail" for three days and came to Walker's Pass. While on
this trail we were followed at night by a number of wild Indians, but we
prudently avoided any collisions with them and kept moving on. Going on
through the pass we followed the right hand branch of the trail, the
left hand branch leading more to the south and across a wide plain. We
soon came to a fair-sized stream, now known to be the south fork of the
Kern River, which we followed until we came to its junction with a
larger river, the two making the Kern River. Here we were taken across
by some friendly Indians who left the Missions farther west during the
Mexican war and took to their own village located at the foot of the
Sierra Nevada Mountains. At this village we were on exhibition for
several hours with an audience of five hundred people or more, of the
red men, and on the following morning we commenced the ascent of the
mountains again, the Indians furnishing us with a guide in the person of
an old Pi-Ute. He brought us over the range, through the snow and over
the bleak ridges, in the month of December, 1849, and we made our first
camp at an Indian village in Tulare Valley, a few miles south of where
Porterville now stands.

From this Indian village we walked on until we arrived at the present
site of Millerton on the south bank of the San Joaquin River. Our
sufferings were terrible from hunger, cold, and wet, for the rains were
almost continual at this elevation, and we had been forced several times
to swim. The sudden change from the dried-up desert to a rainy region
was pretty severe on us. On our arrival at the San Joaquin River we
found a camp of wealthy Mexicans who gave us a small amount of food, and
seemed to want us to pass on that they might be rid of us. I can well
believe that a company of twenty-one starving men was the cause of some
disquietude to them. They gave us some hides taken from some of the
cattle they had recently slain, and from these we constructed a boat and
ferry rope in which we crossed the river, and then continued our journey
to the mining camp on Aqua Frio, in Mariposa county.

It is very strange to think that since that time I have never met a
single man of that party of twenty-one. I had kept quite full notes of
the whole trip from the state of New York to the mines, and including my
early mining experience up to the year 1851. Unfortunately this
manuscript was burned at the Russ House fire in Fresno, where I also
lost many personal effects."

In the year 1892 Mr. Coker was living in Fresno, or near that city, in
fairly comfortable health, and it is to be hoped that the evening of his
days, to which all the old pioneers are rapidly approaching, may be to
him all that his brightest hopes pictured.


Having followed the various little parties into which the great train
had resolved itself when it began to feel the pressure of suffering and
trouble which came with contact with the desert, followed them in their
various ways till they came through to the Pacific Slope, the travels
and experiences of the Author are again resumed.

It will be remembered that he had rested at Los Angeles, working for Mr.
Brier who had temporarily turned boarding house keeper, and finally made
arrangements with some drovers to assist in taking a small stock of
horses north to the mines. His story is thus continued:--

We followed the wagon road which the companies that had gone on before
had made, and got along very well. At night I acted
independently--staked out my mule and ate my meal of dried meat and
crackers--then joined the others around a large fire, and all seemed to
enjoy the company. After a few days the two men who owned the horses
proposed to me to let my mule carry the provisions, and they wanted me
to ride one of their horses that was not carrying a pack, as they said
it would keep it more gentle to ride it.

To please the old gentleman from Sacramento I agreed to the proposition,
for I thought perhaps by being accommodating I could get along more

Thus we traveled on, over rolling hills covered with grass and wild
flowers, and I was much pleased with all that I could see. For the first
two days we did not pass a house, which shows how thinly settled the
country was. Cattle were often seen, and sometimes horses, but people
were very scarce. In time we went down a long, steep hill, then across a
wide valley that supported a rank growth of vegetation, and came to a
Mission called San Buena Ventura (good luck.) Here the men seemed
scarce, but Indians and dogs plenty. The houses were of the same sort as
at Los Angeles, except the church, all made of dried mud, and never more
than one story high.

As we journeyed along we came to the sea shore, the grandest sight in
the world to me, for I had never before seen the ocean. What a wide
piece of water it was! Far out I could see small waves coming toward the
shore, and the nearer they came the faster they seemed to rush and at
last turned into great rollers and breakers which dashed upon the rocks
or washed far up the sandy shore with a force that made the ground
tremble. There was no wind and I could not see what it could be that so
strangely agitated the water. Here the waves kept coming, one after
another, with as much regularity as the slow strokes of a clock. This
was the first puzzle the great sea propounded to me, and there under the
clear blue sky and soft air I studied over the ceaseless, restless
motion and the great power that was always beating on the shore. I
tasted the water and found it exceedingly salt, and I did not see how
anything could live in it and not become in the condition of pickled
pork or fish. Where was the salt to make this mighty brine pond, and why
did it keep so when the great rivers kept pouring in their torrents of
fresh waters? I did not understand, and these are some of the thoughts
that came to the boy who had been raised upon the prairie, and to whom
the great ocean was indeed an unknown sea.

We followed along the road and in time came to another village and
Mission called Santa Barbara. The village was near the shore, and the
church farther back upon an elevated piece of ground near the foot of
the mountain, overlooking the town and sea and much of the country to
the south, west and east. The mountain was high and rough, and a point
ran out into the sea making a sort of harbor. This town was built much
as the others had been except perhaps the Mission which seemed better.
The roofs were as flat as the floors and were covered with a sort of tar
which made them water-proof. The material of the houses was sun-dried
bricks, two feet long by one foot wide and four to six inches thick.
There was no lime in the mortar of this mason work, and the openings in
the walls had iron bars across them instead of sash and glass. Dried
hides were spread upon the floors, and there was a large earthen jar for
water, but not a table, bedstead or chair could be seen in the rooms we
saw. A man came along, rode right in at the door, turned around and rode
out again. The floor was so hard that the horse's feet made no
impression on it. Very few men, quite a number of Indians, more women,
and a still larger quantity of dogs made up the inhabitants.

Leaving here the road led back from the sea shore and over quite a level
table land, covered with a big growth of grass and some timber, and then
down to the sandy shore again where the mountain comes so close that we
were crowded down to the very water's edge. Here the never-tiring waves
were still following each other to the shore and dashing themselves to
pieces with such a noise that I felt awed to silence. What a strange
difference in two parts of the earth so little distance from each other!
Here was a waste of waters, there was a waste of sands that may some
time have been the bottom of just such a dashing, rolling sea as this.
And here, between the two, was a fertile region covered with trees,
grass and flowers, and watered with brooks of fresh, sweet water.
Paradise and Desolation! They surely were not far apart. Here I saw some
of the queer things that wash on shore, for we camped close to the

It was a circumstance of great interest to me to see the sun slowly go
down into the great ocean. Slowly and steadily it went, getting redder
and redder as it went down, then it just touched the distant water and
the waves dashed over more and more of its face till all was covered.
Were it not for the strong, bright rays that still shot up across the
sky one might think it was drowned forever, but in the morning it came
up over the mountain top, having apparently made half the circuit of the

Soon after this the road left the shore and turned into the mountains.
Another Mission was on this road, Santa Ynez, situated in a beautiful
place but apparently in decay, for the men had gone to the mines,
leaving the Indians, women, and dogs as in other places. San Luis Obispo
was another Mission similarly inhabited, but the surroundings did not
seem so pleasant as those we had seen before, although it bore signs
that considerable had been done. From here our road bore still more
north and we had a long mountain to work over, very rocky, and in some
places barren.

San Miguel was a Mission situated on the bank of a dry stream that
evidently had seen plenty of water earlier in the season. The
surrounding country was covered with scattering timber. Soledad was
another place where there were some improvements, located on a small
river, but nearly deserted like the other places. Prospects at the gold
mines were so favorable that every man felt an irresistible desire to
enrich himself, and so they left their families at the Missions and in
the towns and rushed off to the mines. Nearly all of them expected to
return by winter.

I think I must stop right here and tell about the California carriages
of which I had seen several at Los Angeles and at the Missions along our
road. The first time I saw one it was a great curiosity, I assure you.
The wheels were cut off the end of a sycamore log a little over two feet
in diameter and each section about a foot long. The axle was a piece of
wood eight inches square with a tongue fastened to it long enough to be
used with a yoke of oxen, and the ends of the axle were roughly rounded,
leaving something of a shoulder. The wheels were retained in place by a
big lynch-pin. On the axle and tongue was a strong frame of square hewed
timbers answering for bed pieces, and the bottom was of raw-hide tightly
stretched, which covered the whole frame. Tall stakes at each corner of
the frame held up an awning in hot weather. The yoke was fastened to the
horns of the oxen by strong, narrow strips of raw-hide, and the tongue
was fastened to the yoke in the same way. The driver was generally an
Indian, armed with a small pole six or eight feet long, who marched on
before, the oxen following after. I saw many a wagon like this, the
platform well filled up with women and children, and a pack of dogs
following along behind, slowly rolling over the country, and this is the
way they traveled when they went visiting friends who lived a few miles
in the country. Sometimes the wheels gave perfectly agonizing shrieks as
they revolved, and when they made so much noise that their strong
Spanish nerves could stand it no longer, if there was any green grass to
be found the drivers would crowd in a quantity around the axle, and
there was generally room for a good lot of it, to answer for a

We passed on from Soledad and shortly rose into the table land we had
seen for some time before us. From here we could look north for a long
way with no hill or mountain in sight; but our road led along on the
east side of this treeless plain, so thickly covered with grass that we
recalled some of the old tales of the grassy plains. We passed a
landholder's house on the road, then crossed a range of low mountains
and came to the Mission of San Juan (St. John) situated near the
foot-hills, overlooking a level, rich appearing extent of valley land
with a big vegetable growth all over it; in some places wild mustard
which stood thickly and was from four to ten feet high. I thought what a
splendid place it would be for the Yankees who are fond of greens.

This was the first place since we left Los Angeles where we could buy
any kind of breadstuff, and we were here enabled to get a change of
diet, including greens. This seemed to be one end or side of another
valley, and as we went along it seemed to widen away to the east; but
our course was to the north, and we followed the road. The architecture
of all the buildings except the churches was all the same, being built
of the sun dried adobes or bricks made by mixing up a clay mud with
tough grass and letting it get dry and hard. We saw the same kind of
roof material as before, a sort of mineral tar which I supposed they
must find somewhere about.

I could imagine why the houses were built in this way, for when the
Jesuit missionaries first came in they found the country occupied by
Indians who used their arrows to good effect, as they were jealous of
all outside occupation. The early settlers evidently made the walls of
their dwellings thick and strong enough to resist all kinds of weapons
used by Indians. They could not set fire to them for they were fire
proof and arrow proof, and the hostile Indian could dance on the roof
without being able to get in or do any injury. Thus the poor Indian was
fairly beat and eventually became a better Indian.

The Indians of what is now Nevada and Arizona used to come over into
these rich valleys and clandestinely capture a band of a hundred or more
head of cattle or horses and make their escape. They were often followed
by the herders, but if they did not overtake the thieves before they got
into the deep cañons of the mountains, they would usually turn back and
let them go rather than be led into ambush in some strange narrow place
where escape would be impossible and they might be filled with arrows.
No doubt the trail we had followed across the plains, where there were
so many horses' bones, was one of these trails along which the thieving
Indians took their booty which died upon the trip.

Our road from here was near the foot-hills on the west side of a level,
grassy, thinly timbered valley, and as we advanced we noticed that the
timber grew more plentiful and the trees larger, without much
underbrush. We also noticed that the vegetation was ranker and no doubt
the soil was very rich. We then came to a point where the mountain
reaches out almost across the valley to meet the mountain on the east
side. Here we found a gravelly creek with but little water, but as soon
as we passed this point we saw the valley suddenly widening out, and
beautiful groves of live oak trees scattered all around. The vegetation
here was very rank, the mustard ten feet high in places, making it
difficult to see out of the road. This was perhaps the strongest
contrast to the arid desert that we had seen.

As we went on down the valley the hills seemed to stand farther and
farther back as if to make more room for those who would soon settle in
this fertile place, and we soon came in sight of the village or pueblo
of San Jose (St. Joseph) where we camped. Here we learned that the two
owners of the horses intended to go to San Francisco instead of
Sacramento, and as we considered the former place a very poor one for a
penniless person to go we concluded to break up the company camp and
each do the best he could for himself, for our objective point was the
gold mines, and the sooner we reached them the better.

The drovers who had been anxious to have us go with them and help them
now began to talk about a settlement with us, as if they had done us
great favors, and called on the other fellows to help pay for their
board upon the way. When they came to me they said my share would be an
ounce. This struck me hard, but they said I had ridden their horse all
the way and the charge was very low. I told them I had furnished the
most of the provisions I had eaten, and my mule had packed a good load
all the way, which I considered worth as much as the use of the horse.
But they refused to allow me anything for the use of the mule and became
very urgent in their demand for money.

These men were evidently of the tribe of Skinflint, who had no souls, or
they would not have attempted to rob an almost penniless emigrant in
this way of the last few dollars he had, and all the hope he had of
reaching the mines. I did not desire to give up to such narrow
principles as this and hesitated, but they were bound to have the money
or make a quarrel, and talked pretty loud of the way they collected
debts in Sacramento, so that to avoid trouble and get out of the
clutches of such mean scoundrels as these I counted out sixteen dollars,
almost every cent I had, and reluctantly gave them to my enemy. I
immediately mounted my mule, and without stopping to say goodbye rode
off. I may have quoted a part of the speech Capt Hunt made when the
party wanted to leave the trail and take the cut-off, especially that
part where he alluded to their going to h--l. I very much fear the
little piety my mother taught me was badly strained on that occasion,
and I thought of a good many swear words if I did not say them, which I
suppose is about as bad. I could see how cunningly they had managed to
get me to ride their horse that it might serve as the foundation for a
claim on me for about all the money I had in the world.

I hitched my mule in the edge of the town and went in to look at the
place. The houses were situated very much as in other places we had come
through--scattered around over much ground and built low, but had a
different style of roof, a peaked or sloping one, and covered with half
round tile two feet or more long and an inch thick. One course of these
would be laid with the hollow side up, and then a course with the hollow
side down, covering the joints of the lower course. This allowed the air
to circulate freely and was proof against rain. I saw no flat roofs such
as I had seen down along the coast. I saw one gambling house and about
all the men in town were gathered there, and some women, too. This was
the busiest place in town and situated near the plaza. This was the
largest town I had yet been in. There seemed to be plenty of women and
lots of dogs, but the men were as scarce as they had been in any of the
towns--gone to the gold mines to make a stake. I took in the sights
pretty well, and there were a great many new things for me to see, and
when pretty well satisfied concluded I would go back to my mule and camp
in some place just out of town for the night.

Before I reached my animal whom should I meet but my old traveling
companion John Rogers whom I thought to be a hundred miles away by this
time. We shook hands heartily and he told me that Bennett, Moody and
Skinner were camped not far off, and he was still with them. He wore a
pair of blue overalls, a blue woolen shirt and the same little narrow
rimmed hat he had worn so long. I observed, too, that he was barefoot,
and told him I had a dollar or two which he could take and get some
shoes. He said it was no use for there was not a pair of shoes in the
town to buy, and he had not found any material of which he could make
himself a pair of moccasins. I told him how I had been swindled coming
up, and he was about as angry as I had been. I think if I had known that
my friend John Rogers had been so near I should have bidden the rascals
an unceremonious good-bye and we would have been able to hold our own on
a claim for the services of myself and mule.

We went up to the place where our people were camped, perhaps a mile
above town on the bank of a river, nearly dry, but where plenty of wood,
water and grass were at hand; such a place as we had looked for in vain
for many a weary day upon the desert. This was as far above Death Valley
as a king above a pauper, and we hoped never to see such a country

In camp we talked about moving on to the mines. Rogers said he was going
to start next day, and in answer to exclamations of surprise that he
should start off alone, he said that some fellows camped a little way
down the river were going to start and he had made arrangements to go
with them, as the Bennett party would not go yet for a week. In the
morning he shook hands and bade us good-bye and good luck, and started
off down the river bank, lost to us, as it proved, for many years.

The next day as we were all sitting on the ground I felt a sort of
moving of the earth under me and heard a rumbling sound that seemed very
queer. It seemed there was a motion also to the trees around us. We all
started and looked a little frightened, and Skinner said he believed it
was an earthquake, for he said he could see the motion in a sort of
wave. It was gone in half a minute. Moody said:--"How do you like
California now?" I said I thought this part of it was a pretty good
place for there was plenty of wood, water and grass, and that was better
than we had seen in some places.

He then went on to say that he had heard Mr. Bennett's story of their
sufferings and narrow escape from death, and it was the most wonderful
story he had ever heard. He said the idea of Mrs. Bennett walking over
such a country for twenty-two days was almost beyond belief, for he
would not have thought her able to walk one-third the distance. He never
knew before how much women could do when they were called to do it, and
they proved in emergencies to be as tough as any body. He said if he
ever got back home he should move to give them all the rights and
privileges of men for sure.

One day I mounted my mule for a ride to the eastern foothills, and sat
down on a little incline and overlooked the valley, a beautiful
landscape, while my mule cropped the rich grasses in a circle described
by the rope which confined him. I was always a great admirer of nature,
and as I sat there alone I could see miles on miles of mammoth mustard
waving in the strong breeze which came down over the San Francisco Bay
just visible to the northward, and on the mountain summits to the west
could see tall timber reaching up into the deep blue of the sky. It was
a real contented comfort to be thus in the midst of luxuriance and
beauty, and I enjoyed it, coming as it did at the end of the long and
dreary road I had been traveling for the past twelve months. Up the
Platte; across the Rockies; down the Green River cañons in my canoe;
across the mountains to Salt Lake; out over the "Rim of the Basin," and
across the desert, guided only by the fact that we knew the Pacific
Ocean was to the west of us, and choosing our road as best we could in
view of the lofty, snow-clad, impassible mountains; seeing thirteen of
our comrades lie down never to rise again, and, when hope and strength
were almost gone, to suddenly come out into a fertile region on the
seventh of March, 1850. How I wished the fellows who slept in Death
Valley could have seen this view. The change from all that barrenness
and desolation to this beautiful, fertile country, covered with wild
flowers and luxuriant live oaks, was as strong a contrast as one could
imagine a sudden coming from purgatory to paradise in the space of a
single hour.

I waked up from my dreamy thoughts, mounted my mule and rode to camp. As
I rode along the nimble ground squirrel, with his keen black eye, would
climb to the top of the high mustard stalks to get a better view and,
suspicious of an enemy within his almost undisputed territory, disappear
in a wink to his safe underground fortress. Fat cattle and horses would
appear before me a moment, and then, with a wild look and high heads,
dash through the tall mustard out of sight.

Next day my trip was toward the western hills, and before I came to them
was confronted with an extensive stretch of chaparral brush, absolutely
impenetrable, which I must go around or stop my progress in this
direction. These thickets were a regular paradise for grizzly bears, for
within the protection of this matted and thorny growth he is as safe as
is the soldier in the rocky fort of Gibraltar. I soon found a way around
the brush and rose high enough so that a backward look over the valley
was charming, quite as much so as the eastern side. I wandered over the
grassy hills covered with great scattering oaks, and came to a grove of
mammoth trees, six feet or more in diameter, with tops reaching two
hundred or three hundred feet toward the blue sky. They seemed to me to
be a kind of cedar, and were far larger and taller than any trees I had
ever seen in the forests of Vermont, Michigan or Wisconsin, and in my
long journey from the East the route had been principally through a
country devoid of good timber. A stranger in a strange land, everything
was new and wonderful. After satisfying my inquiring mind I returned to
camp again, and soon learned that my newly discovered trees were the
famous redwoods, so greatly prized for their valuable qualities.

Taking the most direct course to camp I came, when within two or three
miles of San Jose, to a large extent of willows so thick, and so thickly
woven together with wild blackberry vines, wild roses and other thorny
plants, that it appeared at first as if I never could get through. But I
found a winding trail made by the cattle through the bushes and mustard,
and this I followed, being nearly scared occasionally by some wild
steers as they rushed off through the thickets. I got through safely,
though it would have been difficult to escape a wild, enraged steer, or
a grizzly had I met him face to face even with a rifle in hand. I could
see nowhere but by looking straight up, for the willows were in places
fifty feet high and a foot in diameter. The willows where I came from
were mere bushes, and these astonished me. This bit of brush is still
locally known as "The Willows," but the trees are all gone, and the
ground thickly covered with orchards and fine residences, the land
selling at from one thousand to two thousand dollars per acre.

The sun rose without a cloud, and a little later the sea breeze from the
bay blew gently over the valley, making the climate perfectly delightful
in its temperate coolness, a true paradise on earth it seemed to me, if
I was able to judge or set a value upon so beautiful a spot; and surely
I had seen all sorts, good and poor, desert and valley, mountain and

But I was poor in purse, and resolved I would seek first the gold mines
and secure gold enough to buy a piece of this valley afterward.

When I had seen what was to be seen about San Jose I had a talk with my
friends and found that Mr. Bennett favored going on to the mines at once
and that Moody and Skinner thought they would remain a little while at

I went along in company with Bennett, and when we got a little way from
San Jose, on the road to the Mission, the road seemed walled in on both
sides with growing mustard ten or twelve feet high and all in blossom.
How so much mustard could grow, and grow so large, I could not
understand. I had seen a few plants in the gardens or fields which
people used for greens, and here seemed to be enough to feed the nation,
if they liked mustard greens.

The second day out we passed the big church at Mission San Jose and soon
left the valley and turned into the mountains and when part way over we
came to a stream which we followed up and came out into Livermore
valley, where we found a road to follow. Houses were scarce, and we
camped a mile or so before we got to the Livermore ranch buildings.
There was very little sign of life about the place, and we soon went out
of the valley and into the mountains again.

The first sign of settlement we saw when part way through the mountains
was a stone corral, but no house or other improvements. The next place
was a small house made of willow poles set in the ground and plastered
over with mud. This rejoiced in the name of "Mountain House." This
wayside inn looked like a horse thief's glory; only one or two men, a
quarter of an elk hanging on a pole, and no accommodations for man or
beast. There was very little water, nothing to sell as well as nothing
wanted. On the summits of the mountains as we passed through we saw,
standing like guards, many large buck elks.

It was now fifteen miles to the San Joaquin river, and a level plain lay
before us. When our road turned into the river bottom we found the water
too deep to get through safely, so we concluded to go on and try to find
some place where we could cross. On our way droves of antelopes could be
seen frolicking over the broad plains, while in the distance were herds
of elk winding their way from the mountains towards the river for water.
When far away their horns were the first things visible, and they much
resembled the dry tops of dead pine trees, but a nearer view showed them
to us as the proud monarchs of the plain.

When we came up opposite the mouth of the Merced river we concluded to
try again to cross. The river here, as below, was out of its banks, and
the overflowed part was quite wide which we had to pass through before
we could reach the river proper.

I waded in ahead of the team and sounded the depth of the river so as
not to get in too deep water, and avoid if possible such accidents as
might otherwise occur. Sometimes the water was up to the wagon bed and
it looked a little doubtful of our getting through in safety, but we
made it at last.

We found a narrow strip of dry land along the river bank. A town was on
the east side of the San Joaquin. river, just below where the Merced
river came in. I think this place was called Merced City. This so-called
city contained but one residence, a tent occupied by the ferryman. We
crossed the sluggish stream and for the privilege paid the ferryman, ten
dollars for toll. The road was not much used and the ferry business
seemed lonesome.

Here we camped for the night. The mosquitoes soon found us, and they
were all very hungry and had good teeth. They annoyed me so that I moved
my lodgings to the ferryboat, but here they quickly found me and
troubled me all night. These insects were the first I had seen since I
left the lower Platte river, and I thought them as bad as on the

From here the road led up the Merced river near the bottom, and as we
came near groves of willows, big, stately elk would start out and trot
off proudly into the open plains to avoid danger. These proud,
big-horned monarchs of the plains could be seen in bunches scattered
over the broad meadows, as well as an equal amount of antelope. They all
seemed to fear us, which was wise on their part, and kept out of rifle
shot. As were not starving as we were once, I did not follow them out on
the open plain, for I thought I could get meat when we were more in

We followed up the river bottom and saw not a single house until we
reached the road leading from Stockton to the Mariposa mines, where we
found a ferry and a small store. Here we learned that some men were
mining a few miles up the river, so we drove on until we found a little
work being done in a dry gulch near the river bank. We made our camp at
this spot and had plenty of wood, water and grass. We found there was
something to be learned in the art of gold mining. We had no tools nor
money, and had never seen a speck of native gold and did not know how to
separate it from the dirt nor where to search for it. We were poor,
ignorant emigrants. There were two or three men camped here. One of them
was more social than the rest and we soon got acquainted. His name was
Williams, from Missouri. He came down to the river with a pan of dirt,
and seeing me in my ignorance trying to wash some as well, he took the
pan from me and very kindly showed me how to work so as to let the dirt
go and save the gold. When he had the pan finished a few small, bright
scales remained. These to me were curious little follows and I examined
them closely and concluded there was a vast difference between gold and
lead mining. Williams became more friendly and we told him something
about our journey across the plains, and he seemed to think that we
deserved a good claim. He went to a dry gulch where a Spaniard was
working and told him that all of California, now that the war was over,
belonged to Americans and he must leave. Williams had his gun in his
hand and war might follow, so Mr. Spaniard left and his claim was
presented to Bennett and myself.

Williams had been twice to Santa Fe from Missouri and had learned the
Spanish language and could swear at them by note if necessary. We now
began work almost without tools, but our ground we had to work was quite
shallow and Williams helped us out by loaning us some of his tools at
times. We soon succeeded in scratching together some of the yellow stuff
and I went down to the store and bought a pan for five dollars, a shovel
for ten dollars, and a poor pick cost me ten dollars more. This took
about two ounces of my money.

We now worked harder than ever for about three weeks, but we could not
save much and pay such high prices as were charged. Our gulch claim was
soon worked out, and as the river had fallen some we tried the bar, but
we could only make four or five dollars a day, and the gold was very
fine and hard to save. We bought a hind quarter of an elk and hung it up
in a tree and it kept fresh till all of it was eaten.

Some others came and took up claims on the bar, and as the prospects
were not as good as was wished, three of us concluded to go and try to
find a better place. The next day was Sunday and all lay in bed late.
Before I rose I felt something crawling on my breast, and when I looked
I found it to be an insect, slow in motion, resembling a louse, but
larger. He was a new emigrant to me and I wondered what he was. I now
took off my pants and found many of his kind in the seams. I murdered
all I could find, and when I got up I told Williams what I had found. He
said they hurt nobody and were called _piojos_, more commonly known as
body lice.

We started on our prospecting tour and went northeast to a place now
called Big Oak Flat. This was at the head of a small stream and there
were several small gulches that emptied into it that paid well. This
flat was all taken up and a ditch was cut through to drain it. A ship
load of gold was expected to be found when it was worked. A small town
of tents had been pitched on both sides of the flat. One side was
occupied by gamblers, and many games were constantly carried on and were
well patronized. On the opposite side of the flat were many small tents,
and around on the hillside some mules and jacks were feeding. One of the
little long-eared donkeys came down among the tents and went in one and
commenced eating flour from the sack. The owner of the flour ran to the
tent, took his shot gun and fired a load of buck-shot into the donkey's
hams. The animal reeled and seemed shot fatally. I now looked for a
battle to commence, but the parties were more reasonable. The price of
the animal was fully paid, and no blood shed as I expected there surely
would be.

We now prospected further east, but nothing good enough was found. The
place we looked over was where the town of Garota now stands. We
concluded to go back, have a council, and go somewhere else. On our way
back we stopped to get dinner. While I was around the fire, barefooted,
I felt something crawl up my instep, and it proved to be another of
those _piojos_ of Williams'. I now thought these torments must be all
over this country.

Gold dust was used to transact all business; all the coin was in the
hands of the gentlemen gamblers. Most miners found it necessary to have
a small pair of scales in the breast pocket to weigh the dust so as not
to have to trust some one who carried lead weights and often got more
than his just dues. Gold dust was valued at sixteen dollars an ounce.

We now thought it would be best for two of us to take our mules and go
down in the small hills and try to get some elk meat to take with us, as
our route would be mostly through the unsettled part of the country, and
no provisions could likely be procured, so Mr. Bradford of New Orleans
and myself took our mules and went down where the hills were low and the
game plenty. We camped in a low ravine, staked out our mules and staid
all night without a fire, believing that when we woke in the early
morning some of the many herd of elk then in sight would be near us at
daylight, and we could easily kill all we wanted without leaving camp;
but we were disappointed. Hundreds of the big-horned fellows were in
sight, but none in rifle shot, and there was no chance for us to get any
nearer to them. We got near a couple of antelope and Mr. Bradford, who
was a brag shot and had the best gun, proposed to kill them as we stood.
The larger of the two was on his side and much nearer than the smaller
one, but we fired together just as we stood. Bradford's antelope ran off
unhurt: mine fell dead in its tracks. Bradford bragged no more about his
fine gun and superior marksmanship.

We went back to camp with the little we had killed and soon got ready to
start north. Bennett was to go with his team to Sacramento and wait
there until he heard from us.

Four of us, mounted on mules, now started on our journey along the
foothills without a road. We struck the Tuolumne river at a ferry. The
stream was high and rapid and could not be forded, so we had to
patronize the ferryman, and give him half an ounce apiece. We thought
such charges on poor and almost penniless emigrants were unjust.

The point we were seeking to reach was a new discovery called Gold Lake
on Feather River, where many rich gulches that emptied into it had been
worked, and the lake was believed to have at least a ship load of gold
in it. It was located high in the mountains and could be easily drained
and a fortune soon obtained if we got there in time and said nothing to
anyone we might meet on the road. We might succeed in getting a claim
before they were all taken up. We followed along the foothills without a
road, and when we came to the Stanislaus River we had to patronize a
ferry and pay half an ounce each again. We thought their scale weights
were rather heavy and their ferrymen well paid.

We continued along the foothills without any trail until we struck the
road from Sacramento to Hangtown. This sounded like a bad name for a
good village, but we found it was fittingly named after some ugly devils
who were hanged there. The first house that we came to on this road was
the Mormon Tavern. Here were some men playing cards for money, and two
boys, twelve or fourteen years old, playing poker for the same and
trying in every way to ape the older gamblers and bet their money as
freely and swear as loud as the old sports. All I saw was new and
strange to me and became indelibly fixed on my mind. I had never before
seen such wicked boys, and the men paid no attention to these fast
American boys. I began to wonder if all the people in California were
like these, bad and wicked.

Here we learned that Gold Lake was not as rich as reported, so we
concluded to take the road and go to Coloma, the place where gold was
first found on the American River.

We camped at Coloma all night. Mr. Bradford got his mule shod and paid
sixteen dollars, or in the mining phrase, an ounce of gold dust. I
visited the small town and found that the only lively business place in
it was a large gambling house, and I saw money (gold dust) liberally
used--sometimes hundreds of dollars bet on a single card. When a few
hundred or thousand were lost more would be brought on. The purse would
be set in the center of the table and the owners would take perhaps
twenty silver dollars or checks, and when they were lost the deposited
purse would be handed to the barkeeper, the amount weighed out and the
purse returned. When the purse was empty a friend of the better would
bring another, and so the game went on almost in silence. The game
called Monte seemed to be the favorite. How long these sacks of gold
lasted or who eventually got the whole I never knew. This was a new
country with new people, and many seemed to be engaged in a business
that was new, strange and hazardous. The final result of all this was
what puzzled me.

We now followed the road up the mountain to Georgetown. Here was a small
village on the summit of the ridge and it seemed to be in a prosperous
mining section. After some inquiry about a good place to work we
concluded to go down a couple of miles northeast of town on Cañon creek
and go to work if vacant ground could be found. There was a piece of
creek bottom here that had not been much worked. Georgia Flat above had
been worked and paid well, and the Illinois and Oregon cañons that
emptied into the bottom here were rich, so we concluded to locate in the
bottom. Claims here in the flat were only fifteen feet square. I located
one and my notice told others that I would go to work on it as soon my
partner came from Sacramento. I sent my partner, Mr. Bennett a note
telling him to come up.

While waiting for Mr. Bennett I took my pan and butcher knife and went
into a dry gulch out of sight of the other campers and began work. As
the ground was mostly bare bed rock by scratching around I succeeded in
getting three or four pans of dirt a day. The few days I had to wait for
Bennett I made eight dollars a day until my claim was worked out.

I then went to Georgetown to meet Bennett and family, and soon after my
arrival they came well and safe. All of them, even to the faithful camp
dog, Cuff, were glad to see me. Old Cuff followed me all around town,
but when we got ready to start for camp the dog was gone and could not
be found. Some one had hidden him away knowing he could not be gotten
any other way, for six ounces would not have bought him. We had raised
him in Wisconsin, made him a good deer dog, and with us he had crossed
the dry and sandy deserts. He had been a great protection to Bennett's
children on the plains, and company for us all.

We now located claims on the creek bottom. The channel of the creek was
claimed by Holman of Alabama and the Helms brothers of Missouri. They
had turned the stream into a ditch in order to work the bed of the
stream, believing that their claims had all the gold in them. Our claims
joined theirs.

Mr. W.M. Stockton, who left his family in Los Angeles, came with Mr.
Bennett and went to work with us. As everything here was very high we
concluded to let Mr. Stockton take the team and go to Sacramento for
provisions for our own use. Flour and meat were each fifty cents a
pound, potatoes twenty-five cents a pound and onions one dollar and
twenty-five cents each. Onions and potatoes eaten raw were considered
very necessary to prevent and cure scurvy, which was quite a common
complaint. Whiskey, if not watered, cost one dollar a drink.

Our claims were about ten feet deep. The bottom was wet and a pump
needed, so we went to a whip saw-mill and got four narrow strips one by
three and one by five and twelve feet long, paying for them by weight,
the price being twelve cents a pound. Out of these strips we made a good
pump by fixing a valve at the end and nailing a piece of green rawhide
on a pole, which answered for a plunger, and with the pump set at
forty-five degrees it worked easily and well. One man could easily keep
the water out and we made fair wages.

In the creek bottom Mr. Bush of Missouri had a saloon. The building was
made mainly of brush, with a split piece for a counter, and another one
for a shelf for his whiskey keg, a box of cigars, a few decks of cards
and half a dozen glasses, which made up the entire stock of trade for
the shop. In front was a table made of two puncheons with a blanket
thrown over all, and a few rough seats around. There was no roof except
the brush, and through the dry season none was needed except for shade.

There was also at this place five brothers by the name of Helms, also
from Missouri. Their names were Jim, Davenport, Wade, Chet and Daunt.
These men, with Mr. Holman, owned the bed of the stream, and their
ground proved to be quite wet and disagreeable to work. Mr. Holman could
not well stand to work in the cold water, so he asked the privilege of
putting in a hired man in his place, which was agreed to. He then took
up a claim for himself outside of the other claims, and this proved to
be on higher bed rock and dry, and paid even better than the low claims
where the Helms brothers were at work. This was not what the Helms boys
considered exactly fair, as Holman seemed to be getting rich the
fastest, and as there was no law to govern them they held a free country
court of their own, and decided the case to suit themselves; so they
ordered Holman to come back and do his own work. No fault was found with
the hired man but what he did his work well enough, but they were
jealous and would not be bound by their agreement.

But this decision did not satisfy all parties, and it was agreed to
submit the case to three men, and I was chosen one of them. We held
Court on the ground and heard both sides of the story, after which we
retired to the shade of a bunch of willows to hold council over the
matter with the result that we soon came to a decision in favor of Mr.
Holman. About this time one of the Helms boys began to quarrel with
Holman and grew terribly mad, swearing all kinds of vengeance, and
making the cañon ring with the loudest kind of Missouri oaths. Finally
he picked up a rock to kill Holman, but the latter was quick with his
pistol, a single shot duelling piece, and as they were not more than ten
feet apart Helms would have had a hole in him large enough for daylight
to shine through if the pistol had not missed fire. We stopped the
quarrel and made known our decision, whereupon Helms went off muttering

We now went back to our work again at our claims, mine being between
Helms' cabin and the saloon. Holman stopped to talk a little while on my
claim, while I was down below at work, and soon Helms came back again in
a terrible rage, stopping on the opposite side of the hole from Holman,
swearing long and loud, and flourishing a big pistol with which he
threatened to blow Holman into purgatory. He was so much enraged that he
fairly frothed at the mouth like a rabid dog. The men were about twenty
feet apart, and I at the bottom of the hole ten feet below, but exactly
between them. It seemed to me that I was in some little danger for Helms
had his big pistol at full cock, and as it pointed at me quite as often
as it did at anybody, I expect I dodged around a little to keep out of
range. Helms was terribly nervous, and trembled as he cursed, but Holman
was cool and drew his weapon deliberately, daring Helms to raise his
hand or he would kill him on the instant. Helms now began to back off,
but carefully kept his eye on Holman and continued his abuse as he went
on to the saloon to get something to replenish his courage. Holman,
during the whole affair, talked very calmly and put considerable
emphasis into his words when he dared Helms to make a hostile motion. He
was a true Alabamian and could be neither scared nor driven. He soon
sold out, however, and went to a more congenial camp for he said these
people were cowardly enough to waylay and kill him unawares.

Soon after this unpleasantness a man and wife who lived in Georgetown
came into notice, and while the man made some money mining his wife did
a good stroke of business washing for the boys who paid her a dollar a
shirt as laundry fees. As she began to make considerable money the
bigger, if not better, half of this couple began to feel quite rich and
went off on a drunk, and when his own money was spent he went to his
wife for more, but she refused him, and he, in his drunken rage, picked
up a gun near by and shot her dead.

All of a sudden the Helms boys and others gathered at the saloon, took
drinks all around, and did a good deal of swearing, which was the
biggest portion of the proceedings of the meeting; and then they all
started off toward town, swearing and yelling as they struggled up the
steep mountain side--a pack of reckless, back-woods Missourians who
seemed to smell something bloody.

It was near night when they all came back and gathered around the saloon
again. They were all in unusual good humor as they related the
adventures of the afternoon, and bragged of their bravery and skill in
performing the little job they had just completed, which consisted in
taking the murderer out to the first convenient oak tree, and with the
assistance of some sailors in handling the ropes, hoisting the fellow
from the ground with a noose around his neck, and to the "Heave, yo
heave" of the sailor boys, pulling the rope that had been passed over an
elevated limb. They watched the suspended body till the last spark of
life went out, and then went back to town leaving the corpse hanging for
somebody else to cut down and bury. They whooped and yelled at the top
of their voices as they came down along the mountain trail, and at the
saloon they related to the crowd that had gathered there how they had
helped to hang the ---- who had killed his wife. They said justice must
be done if there was no law, and that no man could kill a woman and live
in California. They imagined they were very important individuals, and
veritable lords of Creation.

These miners, many of them, were inveterate gamblers and played every
night till near day-light, with no roof over them, and their only
clothes a woolen shirt and overalls which must have been a little scanty
in the cool nights which settled down over the mountain camp; but they
bore it all in their great desire for card playing.

Near by there were three men who worked and slept together, every night
dividing the dust which each put into a purse at the head of his bed.
One day the news came to the saloon that one of the purses had been
stolen. The Helms boys talked it over and concluded that as one of the
men had gone to town, he might know something about the lost dust; so
they went to town and there, after a little search, found their man in a
gambling house. After a little while they invited him to return to camp
with them, and all started together down the mountain; but when about
half way down they halted suddenly under an oak tree and accused their
man of knowing where his partner's money was. This he strongly denied,
and was very positive in his denial till he felt the surprise of a rope
around his neck, with the end over a limb, and beginning to haul pretty
taut in a direction that would soon elevate his body from the ground,
when he weakened at their earnestness and asked them to hold on a
minute. As the rope slackened he owned up he had the dust and would give
it up if they would not send the news to his folks in Missouri. This was
agreed to and the thief was advised to leave at once for some distant
camp, or they might yet expose him. He was not seen afterward.

The boys bragged a good deal of their detective ability after this, and
said that a little hanging would make a ---- thief tell the truth even
if it did not make an honest man of him, and that a thief would be lucky
if he got through with them and saved his life. Their law was "Hanging
for stealing."

The Helms brothers were said to be from western Missouri, and in early
days were somewhat of the border ruffian order, and of course preferred
to live on the frontier rather than in any well regulated society. As
the country became settled and improved around them they moved on. A
school house was an indication that the country was getting too far
advanced for them.

They crossed the plains in 1849 and began mining operations near
Georgetown in Placer county. It was well known that they were foremost
in all gambling, and in taking a hand in any excitement that came up,
and as a better class of miners came in they moved on, keeping ahead
with the prospectors, and just out of reach of law and order. If anyone
else committed a crime they were always quite eager to be on the
vigilance committee, and were remarkably happy when punishing a
wrong-doer. When any of their number was suspected it was generally the
case that they moved quickly on and so escaped. It was reported,
however, that one of their number was in the hands of the vigilance
committee and hanged in Montana.

After a time, it is said, they went down to southern California and
settled on the border of the Colorado desert, about seventy-five miles
east of San Diego, in a mountainous and desert region. Here they found a
small tribe of Indians, and by each marrying a squaw they secured rights
equal to any of them in the occupation of the land. This was considered
pretty sharp practice, but it suited them and they became big chiefs and
midecine men, and numerous dusky descendants grew up around them.

It is said that their property consists of extensive pasture lands on
which they raise cattle, and that they always go well armed with pistol,
rifle and riata. It is said that some of the Indians undertook to claim
that the Helms brothers were intruders, but that in some mysterious way
accidents happened to most of them and they were left without any
serious opposition.

They are very hospitable and entertaining to people who visit them,
provided they do not know too much about the men or their former deeds
or history. In this case ignorance is bliss and it is folly, if not
dangerous, to be too wise. They have made no improvements, but live in
about the same style as the Indians and about on a level with them
morally and intellectually.

There may be those who know them well, but the writer only knows them by
hearsay and introduces them as a certain type of character found in the
early days.

As I was now about barefoot I went to town to look for boots or shoes.
There were no shoes, and a pair of the cheapest boots I found hanging at
the door were priced to me at two ounces. This seemed a wonderful sum
for a pair of coarse cow-hide boots that would sell in the state for two
dollars and fifty cents; but I had to buy them at the price or go

While rambling around town I went into a round tent used as a gambling
saloon. The occupants were mostly men, and one or two nice appearing
ladies, but perhaps of doubtful reputation. The men were of all
classes--lawyer, doctors, preachers and such others as wanted to make
money without work. The miners, especially sailors, were eager to try to
beat the games. While I was here the table was only occupied by a sailor
lying upon it and covered with a green blanket. All at once the fellow
noticed a large _piojo_ walking slowly across the table, and drawing his
sheath knife made a desperate stab at him, saying "You kind of a deck
hand can't play at this game."

Our claims, by this time were nearly worked out, and I thought that I
had upward of two thousand dollars in gold, and the pile looked pretty
big to me. It seemed to me that these mines were very shallow and would
soon be worked out, at least in a year or two. I could not see that the
land would be good for much for farming when no irrigation could be
easily got, and the Spanish people seemed to own all the best land as
well as the water; so that a poor fellow like myself would never get
rich at farming here.

Seeing the matter in this light I thought it would be best to take my
money and go back to Wisconsin where government land was good and
plenty, and with even my little pile I could soon be master of a good
farm in a healthy country, and I would there be rich enough. Thus
reasoning I decided to return to Wisconsin, for I could not see how a
man could ever be a successful farmer in a country where there were only
two seasons, one wet and the other long and dry.

I went out and hunted up my mule which I had turned out to pasture for
herself, and found her entirely alone. After a little coaxing I caught
her and brought her with me to camp, where I offered her for sale. She
was sleek and fat and looked so well that Helms said that if I could
beat him shooting he would buy both mule and gun; so three or four of us
tried our skill. My opponents boasted a good deal of their superior
marksmanship, but on the trial, which began at short range, I beat them
all pretty badly. Helms was as good as his word and offered me twelve
ounces for my gun and mule, which I took. I thought a great deal of my
fat little one-eyed mule, and I thought then, as I think now, how well
she did her part on the fearful road to and from Death Valley.

Helms was now going to the valley to have a winter's hunt, for here the
snow would fall four feet deep and no mining work could be done till
spring, when he would return and work his claim again.

I now had all in my pocket, and when I got ready to go Mrs. Bennett was
much affected at knowing that I would now leave them, perhaps never to
return to them again. She clasped me in her arms, embraced me as she
would her own son, and said "Good luck to you--God bless you, for I know
that you saved all our lives. I don't suppose you will ever come back,
but we may come back to Wisconsin sometime and we will try to find a
better road than the one we came over. Give my best regards to all who
inquire after us." She shook my hand again and again with earnest
pressure, and cried and sobbed bitterly. As I climbed the mountain she
stood and watched me so long as I was in sight, and with her
handkerchief waved a final adieu. I was myself much affected at this
parting, for with Mr. and Mrs. Bennett had been really a home to me; she
had been to me as a mother, and it was like leaving a home fireside to
go away from them. I was now starting out among strangers, and those I
should meet might be the same good friends as those whom I had left
behind. Mr. Bennett and I had for many years been hunting companions; I
had lived at his house in the East, and we never disagreed but had
always been good friends. I had now a traveling companion whose home was
in Iowa Co., Wis., where I had lived for several years, and we went
along together by way of Greenwood where there was a small mining town
built of tents, many of which were used as gambling places. These places
were occupied by gentlemen, some of whom wore white shirts to
distinguish them, I presume, from the common herd of miners from whom
they won their dust.

We crossed the American River at Salmon Falls, and walked thence on to
Sacramento City, which was the largest town we had seen on the coast.
The houses were all small wooden ones, but business seemed to be brisk,
and whiskey shops and gambling houses plenty. One game played with three
cards, called three card Monte, was played openly on the streets, with
goods boxes for tables. Every one who came along was urged to bet by the
dealer who would lay out his cards face up so all could see them, then
turn them over and shuffle them and say "I'll bet six ounces that no one
can put his finger on the queen." I watched this a while and saw that
the dealer won much oftener than he lost, and it seemed to be a simple
and easy way to make a living when money was plenty.

We strolled around town looking at the sights, and the different
business places, the most lively of which had plenty of music inside,
lots of tables with plenty of money on them, and many questionable lady
occupants. These business places were liberally patronized and every
department flourishing, especially the bar. Oaths and vulgar language
were the favorite style of speech, and very many of the people had all
the whiskey down them that they could conveniently carry.

We got through the town safely and at the river we found a steamboat
bound for San Francisco and the fare was two ounces. The runners were
calling loudly for passengers, and we were told we could never make the
trip any cheaper for they had received a telegram from below saying that
no boat would come up again for two days. I said to him "I can't see
your telegram. Where is it?" At this he turned and left us. He had
thought, no doubt, that miners were green enough to believe anything. In
the course of an hour the smoke of a steamer was seen down the river,
and this beat out the runners who now offered passage for half an ounce.

At this time there was no telegraph and the delay was a lucky one for
us. We took passage and went to San Francisco that night, where we put
up at a cheap tavern near where the Custom House now stands.

Here we learned that we would have to wait two days before a ship would
sail for Panama, and during this time we surveyed the town from the
hill-tops and walked all over the principal streets. It was really a
small, poorly built, dirty looking place, with few wharves, poor, cheap
hotels, and very rough inhabitants. There were lots of gambling houses
full of tables holding money, and the rooms filled with pretty rough
looking people, except the card dealers, most of whom wore white shirts,
and a few sported plug hats. There was also a "right smart sprinkling"
of ladies present who were well dressed and adorned with rich jewelry,
and their position seemed to be that of paying teller at the gambling

The buildings seemed to be rather cheap, although material was very
expensive, as well as labor, mechanics of all sorts getting as much as
ten or twelve dollars per day for work. Coin seemed to be scarce, and a
great deal of the money needed on the gambling tables was represented by
iron washers, each of which represented an ounce of gold.

I noticed some places in the streets where it was muddy and a narrow
walk had been made out of boxes of tobacco, and sometimes even bacon was
used for the same purpose. Transportation from the city to the mines was
very slow and made by schooner. Ship loads of merchandise had arrived
and been unloaded, and the sailors having run away to the mines,
everything except whiskey and cards was neglected. Whiskey sold at this
place for fifty cents a drink.

A man at the tavern where we stopped tried hard to sell me a fifty-vara
lot there in the edge of the mud (near where the Custom House now
stands) for six hundred dollars. I thought this a pretty high price and
besides such a lot was no use to me, for I had never lived in town and
could not so easily see the uses to which such property could be put. It
seemed very doubtful to me that this place would ever be much larger or
amount to much, for it evidently depended on the mines for a support,
and these were so shallow that it looked as if they would be worked out
in a short time and the country and town both be deserted. And I was not
alone in thinking that the country would soon be deserted, for
accustomed as we all had been to a showery summer, these dry seasons
would seem entirely to prevent extensive farming. Some cursed the
country and said they were on their way to "good old Missouri, God's own
country." Hearing so much I concluded it would be wise not to invest,
but to get me back to Wisconsin again.

The steamer we took passage in was the Northerner, advertised to sail on
the twenty-ninth day of November, 1850. The cabin room was all engaged,
and they charged us nine ounces for steerage passage; but I did not care
as much about their good rooms and clean sheets as I would have done at
one time, for I had been a long time without either and did not care to
pay the difference. When we were at the ship's office we had to take our
turns to get tickets. One man weighed out the dust, and another filled
out certificates. When the callers began to get a little scarce I looked
under the counter where I saw a whole panful of dust to which they added
mine to make the pile a little higher. They gave out no berths with
these tickets, but such little things as that did not trouble us in the
least. It was far better fare than we used to have in and about Death
Valley, and we thought we could live through anything that promised
better than the desert.

The passenger list footed up four hundred and forty, and when all got on
board, at about ten o'clock in the morning, there was hardly room for
all to stand up comfortably. It seemed to me to be a very much
over-crowded boat in which to put to sea, but we floated out into the
current, with all the faces toward the shore, and hats and handkerchiefs
waving goodbye to those who had come down to see the home-goers safely

As we passed out through the wonderful Golden Gate and the out going
current met the solid sea, each seemed wrestling for the mastery, and
the waves beat and dashed themselves into foam all around us, while the
spray came over the bows quite lively, frightening some who did not
expect such treatment. When we had passed this scene of watery commotion
and got out into the deeper water, the sea smoothed down a great deal;
but sea-sickness began to claim its victims, at first a few, then more
and more, till the greater part were quite badly affected. I had a touch
of it myself, but managed to keep my feet by bracing out pretty wide,
and hugging everything I could get hold of that seemed to offer a steady
support, and I did not lie down until after I had thrown my breakfast

By the time dark came nearly every one was on his back, mostly on deck,
and no one asleep. All were retching and moaning bitterly. Some who had
a few hours before cursed California now cursed the sea, and declared
that if they could induce the Captain to turn about and put them back on
shore again, they would rather creep on their hands and knees clear back
to old Missouri over rocks and sand, than to ride any further on such a
miserable old boat as this one was.

Next morning the decks looked pretty filthy, and about all the food the
passengers had eaten was now spread about the decks in a half digested
condition. Most of the passengers were very sick. With the early
daylight the sailors coupled the hose to the big steam pump, and began
the work of washing and scrubbing off the decks, and though many begged
hard to be left alone as they were, with all the filth, a good flood of
salt water was the only answer they received to their pleading, and they
were compelled to move, for the sailors said they could not change their
orders without the Captain, and he would not be out of bed till ten
o'clock or later. So the cursing and swearing went for naught, and the
decks were clean again. There were no deaths to report, but there were
very few to do duty at the tables in eating the food prepared for them.
After a few days the tables filled up again, and now it took them so
long to eat that there had to be an order for only two meals a day or
there would not have been a chance for all to get something. They were
terribly hungry now, and every one seemed to try his best to take in
provisions enough to last him for at least twelve hours.

As the fellows began to get their sea legs on, they began to talk as if
they were still in California, and could easily manage any little boat
like this, and could run things as they did when they crossed the
plains, where no sheriff, court or judge had anything to say about
matters, and all law was left behind. They began to act as if they were
lords over all they could see, and as many of them were from the
Southern states, they seemed to take an especial pride in boasting of
how they did as they pleased, about like the Helms brothers. They talked
as if they could run the world, or the universe even, themselves without

One morning at breakfast, when the table was full and the waiters
scarce, some of these fellows swore and talked pretty rough, and as a
waiter was passing a blue-blood from New Orleans rose in his seat and
called for sugar, holding the empty bowl in his hand, but the waiter
passed on and paid no attention, and when a mulatto waiter came along
behind him the angry man damned him the worst he could, ordering him to
bring a bowl of sugar, quick. This waiter did not stop and the Louisiana
man threw the bowl at the waiter's head, but missed it, and the bowl
went crashing against the side of the ship. I expected surely the
Captain and his men would come and put the unruly fellow in irons, and
there might be a fight or a riot, so I cut my meal short and went on
deck about as soon as I could do so, thinking that would be a safer
place. But the Captain seemed to know about how to manage such fellows,
and never left his stateroom, which I think was a wise move. The darky
did not make his appearance at table afterwards, and the man who threw
the bowl said that colored folks had to mind a gentleman when he spoke
to them, or fare worse.

The Captain now got out his passenger list, and we all had to pass
through a narrow space near the wheel-house and every one answer to his
name and show his ticket. This made work for about one day. Some
stowaways were found and put down into the hole to heave coal. One day
the Captain and mate were out taking an observation on the sun when a
young Missourian stepped up to see what was being done, and said to the
Captain:--"Captain, don't you think I could learn how to do that kind of
business?" The Captain took the young man's hand and looked at his nails
which were very rough and dirty and said:--"No my lad; boys with such
finger nails can't learn navigation." This made a big laugh at the brave
lubber's expense.

Many of the sea-sick ones did not get up so soon, and some died of that,
or something else, and their bodies were sewed up in blankets with a
bushel of coal at their feet to sink them, and thrown overboard. The
bodies were laid out on a plank at the ship's side, the Captain would
read a very brief service, and the sailors would, at the appropriate
time, raise the end of the plank so that the body slid off and went down
out of sight in a moment.

In due time we went into the harbor of Acapulco for water and coal. Here
nearly every one went on shore, and as there was no wharf for the vessel
to lie to, the native canoes had many passengers at a dollar apiece for
passage money. Out back of town there was a small stream of clear water
which was warm and nice to bathe in, and some places three or four feet
deep, so that a great many stripped off for a good wash which was said
to be very healthful in this climate. Many native women were on hand
with soap and towels ready to give any one a good scrubbing for _dos
reales_, (twenty-five cents) and those who employed them said they did a
good, satisfactory job.

As I returned to town the streets seemed to be deserted, and I saw one
man come out on an adjoining street, and after running a few steps, fall
down on his face. Hearing the report of a gun at the same time, I
hurried on to get out of danger, but I afterward learned that the man
was a travelling gambler who had come across the country from Mexico,
and that he was killed as he fell. No one seemed to care for him.

Near the beach were some large trees, and under them dancing was going
on to the music of the guitar. There were plenty of pretty Spanish girls
for partners, and these and our boys made up an interesting party. The
girls did not seem at all bashful or afraid of the boys, and though they
could not talk together very much they got along with the sign language,
and the ladies seemed very fond of the _Americanos_.

There was a fort here, a regular moss-backed old concern, and the
soldiers were bare footed and did not need much clothing.

The cattle that were taken on board here were made to swim out to the
ship, and then, with a rope around their horns, hoisted on deck, a
distance of perhaps forty feet above the water. The maddened brutes were
put into a secure stall ready for the ship's butcher. The small boys
came around the ship in canoes, and begged the passengers to throw them
out a dime, and when the coin struck the water they would dive for it,
never losing a single one. One man dropped a bright bullet and the boy
who dove for it was so enraged that he called him a d----d Gringo
(Englishman.) None of these boys wore any clothes.

This town, like all Spanish towns, was composed of one-story houses,
with dry mud, fire-proof walls. The country around looked very
mountainous and barren, and comfortably warm.

After two days we were called on board, and soon set sail for sea again;
and now, as we approached the equator, it became uncomfortably warm and
an awning was put over the upper deck. All heavy clothing was laid
aside, and anyone who had any amount of money on his person was unable
to conceal it; but no one seemed to have any fear of theft, for a thief
could not conceal anything he should steal, and no one reported anything
lost. There was occasionally a dead body to be consigned to a watery

A few days out from here and we were again mustered as before to show
our tickets, which were carefully examined.

It seemed strange to me that the water was the poorest fare we had. It
was sickish tasting stuff, and so warm it would do very well for

There were many interesting things to see. Sometimes it would be
spouting whales; sometimes great black masses rolling on the water,
looking like a ship bottom upward, which some said were black-fish. Some
fish seemed to be at play, and would jump ten feet or more out of the
water. The flying fish would skim over the waves as the ship's wheels
seemed to frighten them; and we went through a hundred acres of
porpoises, all going the same way. The ship plowed right through them,
but none seemed to get hurt by the wheels. Perhaps they were emigrants
like ourselves in search of a better place.

It now became terribly hot, and the sun was nearly overhead at noon.
Sometimes a shark could be seen along-side, and though he seemed to make
no effort, easily kept up with the moving ship. Occasionally we saw a
sea snake navigating the ocean all by himself. I did not understand how
these fellows went to sea and lived so far from land. The flying fish
seemed to be more plentiful as we went along, and would leave the water
and scud along before us.

We had evening concerts on the forecastle, managed by the sailors. Their
songs were not sacred songs by any means, and many of them hardly fit to
be heard by delicate ears. We again had to run the gauntlet of the
narrow passage and have our tickets looked over, and this time a new
stowaway was found, and he straightway made application for a job. "Go
below, sir" was all the Captain said. Several died and had their sea
burial, and some who had been so sick all the way as not to get out of
bed, proved tough enough to stand the climate pretty well.

As we were nearing Panama the doctor posted a notice to the mast
cautioning us against eating much fruit while on shore, as it was very
dangerous when eaten to excess. We anchored some little distance from
the shore and had to land in small boats managed by the natives. I went
in one, and when the boat grounded at the beach the boatman took me on
his back and set me on shore, demanding two dollars for the job, which I
paid, and he served the whole crowd in the same way. The water here was
blood warm, and they told me the tide ran very high.

This was a strange old town to me, walled in on all sides, a small plaza
in the center with a Catholic church on one side, and the other houses
were mostly two story. On the side next to the beach was a high, thick
wall which contained cells that were used for a jail, and on top were
some dismounted cannon, long and old fashioned.

The soldiers were poor, lazy fellows, barefooted, and had very poor
looking guns. Going out and in all had to pass through a large gateway,
but they asked no questions. The streets were very narrow and dirty and
the sleeping rooms in the second story of the houses seemed to be
inhabited by cats. For bed clothes was needed only a single sheet. On
the roofs all around sat turkey buzzards, and anything that fell in the
streets that was possible for them to eat, was gobbled up very quickly.
They were as tame as chickens, and walked around as fearless and lordly
as tame turkeys. In consideration of their cleaning up the streets
without pay, they were protected by law. One of the passengers could not
resist the temptation to shoot one, and a small squad of soldiers were
soon after him, and came into a room where there were fifty of us, but
could not find their man. He would have been sent to jail if he had been
caught. We had to pay one dollar a night for beds in these rooms, and
they counted money at the rate of eight dimes to the dollar.

The old town of Panama lies a little south in the edge of the sea, and
was destroyed by an earthquake long ago I was told. To me, raised in the
north, everything was very new and strange in way of living, style of
building and kind of produce. There were donkeys, parrots and all kinds
of monkeys in plenty. Most of the women were of very dark complexion,
and not dressed very stylishly, while the younger population did not
have even a fig leaf, or anything to take its place. The adults dressed
very economically, for the days are summer days all the year round, and
the clothing is scanty and cheap for either sex.

The cattle were small, pale red creatures, and not inclined to be very
fat, and the birds mostly of the parrot kind. The market plaza is
outside the walls, and a small stream runs through it, with the banks
pretty thickly occupied by washerwomen. All the washing was done without
the aid of a fire.

On the plaza there were plenty of donkeys loaded with truck of all
sorts, from wood, green grass, cocoa-nuts and sugar-cane to parrots,
monkeys and all kinds of tropical fruits. Outside the walls the houses
were made of stakes interwoven with palm leaves, and everything was
green as well as the grass and trees. Very little of the ground seemed
to be cultivated, and the people were lazy and idle, for they could live
so easily on the wild products of the country. A white man here would
soon sweat out all his ambition and enterprise, and would be almost
certain to catch the Panama yellow fever. The common class of the people
here, I should say, were Spanish and negro mixed, and they seem to get
along pretty well; but the country is not suitable for white people. It
seems to have been made on purpose for donkeys, parrots and long-heeled

The cabin passengers engaged all the horses and mules the country
afforded on which to ride across the Chagres River, so it fell to the
lot of myself and companion to transfer ourselves on foot, which was
pretty hard work in the hot and sultry weather. My gold dust began to
grow pretty heavy as I went along, and though I had only about two
thousand dollars, weighing about ten pounds, it seemed to me that it
weighed fifty pounds by the way that it bore down upon my shoulders and
wore sore places on them. It really was burdensome. I had worn it on my
person night and day ever since leaving the mines, and I had some little
fear of being robbed when off the ship.

Our road had been some day paved with cobble stones. At the outskirts of
the town we met a native coming in with a big green lizard, about two
feet long, which he was hauling and driving along with a string around
its neck. I wondered if this was not a Panama butcher bringing in a
fresh supply of meat.

When we reached the hills on our way from Panama, the paved road ended
and we had only a mule trail to follow. The whole country was so densely
timbered that no man could go very far without a cleared road. In some
places we passed over hills of solid rock, but it was of a soft nature
so that the trail was worn down very deep, and we had to take the same
regular steps that the mules did, for their tracks were worn down a foot
or more. On the road we would occasionally meet a native with a heavy
pack on his back, a long staff in each hand, and a solid half-length
sword by his side. He, like the burro, grunted every step he took. They
seemed to carry unreasonably heavy loads on their backs, such as boxes
and trunks, but there was no other way of getting either freight or
baggage across the isthmus at that time.

It looked to me as if this trail might be just such a one as one would
expect robbers to frequent, for it would of course be expected that
Californians would carry considerable money with them, and we might
reasonably look out for this sort of gentry at any turn of the trail. We
were generally without weapons, and we should have to deliver on demand,
and if any one was killed the body could easily be concealed in the
thick brush on either side of the trail, and no special search for
anyone missing would occur.

About noon one day we came to a native hut, and saw growing on a tree
near by something that looked like oranges, and we made very straight
tracks with the idea of picking some and having a feast, but some of the
people in the shanty called out to us and made motions for us not to
pick them for they were no good; so we missed our treat of oranges and
contented ourselves with a big drink of water and walked on.

After a little more travel we came to another shanty made of poles and
palm leaves, occupied by an American. He was a tall, raw-boned,
cadaverous looking way-side renegade who looked as if the blood had all
been pumped out of his veins, and he claimed to be sick. He said he was
one of the Texas royal sons. We applied for some dinner and he lazily
told us there were flour, tea and bacon and that we could help
ourselves. I wet up some flour and baked some cakes, made some poor tea,
and fried some bacon. We all got a sort of dinner out of his pantry
stuff, and left him a dollar apiece for the accommodation. As we walked
on my companion gave out and could carry his bundle no longer, so I took
it, along with my own, and we got on as fast as we could, but darkness
came on us before we reached the Chagres River and we had to stay all
night at a native hut. We had some supper consisting of some very poor
coffee, crackers, and a couple of eggs apiece, and had to sleep out
under a tree where we knew we might find lizards, snakes, and other
poisonous reptiles, and perhaps a thieving monkey might pick our pockets
while we slept.

Before it was entirely dark many who rode horses came along, many of
them ladies, and following the custom of the country, they all rode
astride. Among this crowd was one middle-aged and somewhat corpulent old
fellow, by profession a sea-captain, who put on many airs. The old
fellow put on his cool white coat--in fact, a white suit throughout--and
in this tropical climate he looked very comfortable, indeed, thus
attired. He filled his breast pocket with fine cigars, and put in the
other pocket a flask with some medicine in it which was good for snake
bites, and also tending to produce courage in case the man, not used to
horse-back riding, should find his natural spirits failing. The rest of
his luggage was placed on pack animals, and in fact the only way luggage
was carried in those days was either on the backs of donkeys or men.

All was ready for a start, and the captain in his snow-white suit was
mounted on a mule so small that his feet nearly touched the ground. The
little animal had a mind of his own, and at first did not seem inclined
to start out readily, but after a bit concluded to follow his fellow
animals, and all went well.

The rider was much amused at what he saw; sometimes a very lively
monkey, sometimes a flock: of paroquets or a high-colored lizard--and so
he rode along with a very happy air, holding his head up, and smoking a
fragrant Havana with much grace. The road was rough and rocky, with a
mud-hole now and then of rather uncertain depth. At every one of these
mud-holes the Captain's mule would stop, put down his head, blow his
nose and look wise, and then carefully sound the miniature sea with his
fore-feet, being altogether too cautious to suit his rider who had never
been accustomed to a craft that was afraid of water.

At one of these performances the mule evidently concluded the sea before
him was not safe, for when the captain tried to persuade him to cross
his persuasions had no effect. Then he coaxed him with voice gentle,
soft and low, with the result that the little animal took a few very
short steps and then came to anchor again. Then the captain began to get
slightly roiled in temper, and the voice was not so gentle, sweet and
low, but it had no greater effect upon his craft. He began to get
anxious, for the others had gone on, and he thought perhaps he might be

Now, this sea-faring man had armed his heels with the large Spanish
spurs so common in the country, and bringing them in contact with the
force due to considerable impatience, Mr. Mule was quite suddenly and
painfully aware of the result. This was harsher treatment than he could
peaceably submit to, and at the second application of the spurs a pair
of small hoofs were very high in the air and the captain very low on his
back in the mud and water, having been blown from the hurricane deck of
his craft in a very sudden and lively style. The philosophical mule
stood very still and looked on while the white coat and pantaloons were
changing to a dirty brown, and watched the captain as he waded out, to
the accompaniment of some very vigorous swear words.

Both the man and beast looked very doubtful of each other's future
actions, but the man shook the water off and bestowed some lively kicks
on his muleship which made him bounce into and through the mud-hole, and
the captain, still holding the bridle, followed after. Once across the
pool the captain set his marine eye on the only craft that had been too
much for his navigation and said "Vengeance should be mine," and in this
doubtful state of mind he cautiously mounted his beast again and fully
resolved to stick to the deck, hereafter, at all hazards, he hurried on
and soon overtook the train again, looking quite like a half drowned
rooster. The others laughed at him and told him they could find better
water a little way ahead, at the river, and they would see him safely
in. The captain was over his pet, and made as much fun as any of them,
declaring that he could not navigate such a bloody craft as that in such
limited sea room, for it was dangerous even when there was no gale to
speak of.

The ladies did not blush at the new and convenient costumes which they
saw in this country, and laughed a good deal over the way of traveling
they had to adopt. Any who were sick were carried in a kind of chair
strapped to the back of a native. Passengers were strung along the road
for miles, going and coming. We would occasionally sit down awhile and
let the sweat run off while a party of them passed us. Some were mounted
on horses, some on mules, and some on donkeys, and they had to pay
twelve dollars for the use of an animal for the trip.

Our night at this wayside deadfall was not much better than some of the
nights about Death Valley, but as I was used to low fare, I did not
complain as some did. This seemed a wonderful country to a northern
raised boy. The trail was lined on both sides with all kinds of palms
and various other kinds of trees and shrubs, and they were woven
together in a compact mass with trailing and running vines. The trees
were not tall, and the bark was as smooth as a young hickory. The roots
would start out of the tree three feet above the ground and stand out at
an angle, and looked like big planks placed edgewise.

It seemed as if there were too many plants for the ground to support,
and so they grew on the big limbs of the trees all around, the same as
the mistletoe on the oak, only there were ever so many different kinds.

The weather was very clear, and the sun so hot that many of the
travelers began to wilt and sit down by the roadside to rest. Many
walked along very slowly and wore long faces. The road from Panama to
Crucez, on the Chagres River, was eighteen miles long, and all were glad
when they were on the last end of it. The climate here seems to take all
the starch and energy out of a man's body, and in this condition he must
be very cautious or some disease will overtake him and he will be left
to die without burial for his body if he has no personal friends with

We started on the next morning, and on our way stepped over a large ship
anchor that lay across the trail. I suppose the natives had undertaken
to pack it across the isthmus and found it too heavy for them. Perhaps
it was for Capt. Kidd, the great pirate, for it is said that he often
visited Panama in the course of his cruising about in search of

Passing along a sandy place in the trail, a snake crossed and left his
track, big as a stovepipe it seemed to be, and after this we kept a
sharp watch for big snakes that might be in waiting to waylay us for

There were plenty of monkeys and parrots climbing and chattering around
in the trees. The forest is here so dense that the wind never blows, and
consequently it never gets cool. The sun, ever since we got down near
the equator, was nearly overhead, and the moon seemed to be even north
of us.

When we reached the Chagres River we hired a boat of an Irishman for the
trip down. I wondered if there was a place on earth so desolate that the
"Paddy" would not find it. The boat for the journey cost two hundred
dollars, and would hold passengers enough so that it would cost us ten
dollars each, at any rate, and perhaps a little more. Two natives had
charge of the boat and did the navigating. There were two ladies among
the passengers, and when the two natives, who I suppose were the captain
and mate of the craft, came on board, clad very coolly in Panama hats,
the ladies looked at them a little out of the corners of their eyes and
made the best of it. Our two navigators took the oars and pulled slowly
down the stream.

Nothing but water and evergreen trees could we see, for the shore on
either hand was completely hidden by the dense growth that hung over and
touched the water. On a mud bar that we passed a huge alligator lay,
taking a sun bath, and though many shots were fired at him he moved away
very leisurely. No one could get on shore without first clearing a road
through the thick brushes and vines along the bank. On the way one of
our boatmen lost his hat, his only garment, into the river, and
overboard he went, like a dog, and soon had it and climbed on board
again. I wondered why some of the big alligators did not make a snap at

The water in the run looked very roily and dirty, and no doubt had fever
in it. The only animals we saw were monkeys and alligators, and there
were parrots in the trees. The farther we went down the stream the wider
it became, and the current slacker so that we moved more slowly with the
same amount of rowing. At a place called Dos Hermanos (two brothers) we
could see a little cleared spot near the bank, which seemed to be three
or four feet above the water. There were no mountains nor hills in
sight, and the whole country seemed to be an extensive swamp. It was
near night that we came to a small native village of palm huts, and here
our boatmen landed and hid themselves, and not being able to find them
we were compelled to stay all night, for we dare not go on alone. The
place looked like a regular robbers' roost, and being forced to sleep
outside the huts, we considered it safest to sleep with one eye open. We
would have gone on with the boat only that we were afraid the river
might have more than one outlet, and if we should take the wrong one we
might be too late for the steamer, which even now we were afraid would
not wait for us, and getting left would be a very serious matter in this

We had very little to eat, and all we could buy was sugar cane, bananas,
monkeys and parrots. We kept a sharp eye out for robbers, keeping
together as much as we could, for we knew that all returning
Californians would be suspected of having money. Most all of them were
ready for war except myself who had no weapon of any kind. All of these
people had a bad name, and every one of them carried a long bladed knife
called a Macheta, with which they could kill a man at a single blow. But
with all our fears we got through the night safely, and in the morning
found our boatmen who had hidden away. We waited not for breakfast, but
sailed away as soon as we could, and reached Chagres, near the mouth of
the river, before night.

The river banks here are not more than three feet high, and farther back
the land fell off again into a wet swamp of timber and dense vegetable
growth. The town was small and poorly built, on the immediate bank, and
the houses were little brush and palm affairs except the boarding house
which was "T" shaped, the front two stories high, with a long dining
room running back, having holes for windows, but no glass in them.

Before the bell rung for meals a long string of hungry men would form in
line, and at the first tap would make a rush for the table like a flock
of sheep. After all were seated a waiter came around and collected a
dollar from each one, and we thought this paid pretty well for the very
poor grub they served afterwards.

No ship had as yet been in sight to take us away from this lowest,
dirtiest, most unhealthful place on earth, and the prospect of remaining
here had nothing very charming about it. The river was full of
alligators, so the bathing was dangerous, and the whole country was
about fit for its inhabitants, which were snakes, alligators, monkeys,
parrots and lazy negroes. It could not have been more filthy if the
dregs of the whole earth had been dumped here, and cholera and yellow
fever were easy for a decent man to catch.

My companion and I went out on the beach a mile or two to get the salt
water breeze, and leave the stinking malaria for those who chose to stay
in the hot, suffocating village, and here we would stay until nearly
night. Across a small neck of water was what was called a fort. It could
hardly be seen it was so covered with moss and vines, but near the top
could be seen something that looked like old walls. There was no sign of
life about it, and I should judge it was built at some very early day.
Surely there was nothing here to protect, for the whole country did not
seem able to support even a few barefooted soldiers.

Some men who wandered along up the river bank, following a path, said
they had seen some dead human bodies thrown into the swamp and left,
probably because it was easier than putting them under ground.

For a bedroom I hired a little platform which a store keeper had placed
before his store, where I slept, and paid a dollar for the privilege.
Some one walked around near me all night, and I dared not close more
than one eye at a time for fear of losing a little bag of gold dust.
This little bag of gold was getting to be a great burden to me in this
sickly climate, and the vigilant guard I had to keep over so small a
treasure was very tiresome.

The second night no steamer came, but on the third morning the steamer
was riding at anchor three or four miles out, and soon after a ship came
in from the Atlantic end of the Nicaragua route with one thousand
passengers, there being no steamer there for them to take a passage home
on, and so they had to come here for a start. This filled the little
town to overflowing, but as the ship that had arrived was the Georga,
one of the largest afloat, all could go if they only could endure the

We now had to go in small boats from the shore to the ship, and the trip
cost two dollars and a half. I waited till I had seen some of the boats
make a trip or two, and then choosing one that had a sober skipper, I
made the venture. It was said that one drunken boatman allowed his boat
to drift into some breakers and all were lost.

I tell you I was over anxious to get out of this country, for I well
knew that if I stayed very long I should stay forever, for one like
myself raised in a healthful climate, could not remain long without
taking some of the fatal diseases the country was full of.

We made the trip to the vessel safely, and as our boat lay under the
ship's quarter, the men holding the ropes, I looked up, and when I saw
the swinging rope ladder on which I was expected to climb up to the
ship's deck, it seemed a pretty dangerous job; but I mustered up courage
and made the attempt. The sea was pretty rough out here for the small
boats, and the ship rolled some, so that when persons tried to get hold
of the ladder they were thrown down and sometimes hurt a little. A man
held on to the lower end of the ladder so that the one who was climbing
might not get banged against the side of the ship and have his breath
knocked out of him, I mounted the ladder safely and climbed away like a
monkey, reaching the deck all right. Ladies and weak people were hauled
up in a sort of chair with a block and rope.

It took the most of two days to get the people on board, and when they
were counted up there were one thousand four hundred and forty, all
told. This steamer had a very long upper deck and a comparatively short
keel, and rolled very badly; and as for me, I had swallowed so much of
the deadly malaria of the isthmus that I soon got very seasick, and the
first day or two were very unpleasant. I went to the bar and paid two
bits for a glass of wine to help my appetite, but it staid with me no
longer than time enough to reach the ship's side. When night came the
decks were covered with sleepy men, and if the weather had been rough
and all sick, as was the case when we left San Francisco, we should have
had more filthy decks than we had even on that occasion.

Approaching the harbor at Havana, Cuba, we seemed to be going head
foremost against a wall of solid rock, but when within speaking distance
an officer came in sight on the fort right before us, and shouted
through his speaking trumpet, saying:--"Why don't you salute us?" Our
officer said, "You know us well enough without." Our ship had a small
cannon on the forecastle, but did not choose to use it, and I suppose
the Cuban officer felt slighted. We now turned short to the right and
entered the beautiful harbor, which is perfectly landlocked and as still
as a pond. The city is all on the right side of the bay and our coal
yard was on the left at a short wharf at which we landed.

A lot of armed soldiers were placed a short distance back on the high
ground and no one was allowed to go beyond them. We now had a port
officer on board who had entire charge of the ship, and if anyone wanted
to go to the city, across the bay two or three miles, he had to pay a
dollar for a pass. This pass business made the blue bloods terribly
angry, and they swore long and loud, and the longer they talked the
madder they got, and more bitter in their feelings, so that they were
ready to fight (not with sugar-bowls this time.)

The weather here was very warm and the heat powerful, and as these
fellows saw there was only one course to be pursued if they wanted to
get on shore, they slowly took passes good for all day and paid their
dollar for them, and also another dollar each to the canoe men to take
them to the city. Myself and companion also took passes and went over.

Arriving at the city we walked a short distance and came to the plaza,
which is not a very large one. Here was a single grave nicely fenced in,
and across the plaza were some large two-story houses in front of which
was stationed a squad of cavalry standing as motionless as if every man
of them was a marble statue. We kept on the opposite side of the street,
and chancing to meet a man whom we rightly supposed to be an Englishman,
we inquired about the grave on the plaza and were informed that it was
that of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America.

Just then we noticed the cavalry moving up the street at a slow gallop,
and so formed that a close carriage was in the center of the squad. As
they rushed by and we gazed at them with purely American curiousity, our
new English friend raised our hats for us and held them till the
cavalcade had passed, merely remarking that the Governor General was
within the carriage. We spoke perhaps a bit unpleasantly when we asked
him why he was so ungentlemanly in his treatment of us as to remove our
hats, but he said:--"My friends, if I had not taken off your hats for
you as a friend, some of those other fellows would have knocked them
off, so I did for you an act of greatest kindness, for every one removes
his hat when the Governor General passes." He also informed us that the
special occasion for this rather pompous parade was the execution of
some criminals at a park or prison not far away, and that this was done
by beheading them.

Our friend proposed that we also walk out in that direction, and we went
with him to the edge of the city, but when he turned into a by path that
did not seem much frequented, we declined to follow farther, and turned
back along the open road. The path looked to us a sort of robber's
route, and not exactly safe for unarmed men like us in a strange

The man followed us back and took us into a large, airy saloon, in the
center of which a big fountain was playing, and the great basin in which
the water fell was filled with beautiful fish. Our friend called for an
iced drink for each of us, and as we sat at the table we tasted it and
found it rather intoxicating. For this they charged us one dollar each,
but we noticed that our friend paid nothing, and we set him down as a
sort of capper, after the style we had seen at the gold mines. We sat a
few minutes and then so coolly bade our friend good-bye that he had not
the face to follow us further, and continued our walk about the streets
which seemed to us very narrow, and the houses generally two stories

A chaise passed us, containing two young ladies with complexions white
and fair, and eyes and hair black, in striking contrast. The carriage
was drawn by two horses tandem, the horse in the shafts being mounted by
a big negro of very dignified appearance, dressed in livery and having
top boots that came to his knees. This was the only vehicle of the kind
we saw on the streets.

We did not dare to go very far alone, for with our ignorance of the
Spanish language we might go astray and not get back to the ship within
the lifetime of our passes, and not knowing how much trouble that might
cause us, we were naturally a little timid; so we took a boat back to
the ship, and when on board again we felt safe. We had only about four
dollars cash left.

A big gang of darkies were coaling the ship. Each one carried a large
tub full of coal upon his head and poured it down into the ship's hold.
All the clothes these fellows wore was a strip of cloth about their
middle. When they were let off for dinner they skimmed off all they
could get from the ship's slop barrel which stood on the wharf
alongside, to help out their very scanty food. The overseer stood by
them all the time with a big whip and made them hurry up as fast as
possible, talking Spanish pretty vigorously, and though we could not
understand, we made up our minds that a good part of it was swearing.

The next morning the steamship Prometheus came in and tied up near us,
and soon word was brought that she would take the New Orleans passengers
on board and sail immediately for that port. It now occurred to me that
I could get nearer home by going up the Mississippi River than by way of
New York, so I went on board the Prometheus, and we soon sailed out of
the harbor, passing under the gate of the fortress called, I think, San
Juan de Ulloa.

Nothing special occurred during our passage till we were near the mouth
of the Mississippi River, when, in the absence of a pilot boat or tug,
our Captain thought he would try to get in alone, and as a consequence
we were soon fast in the mud. The Captain now made all the passengers go
aft, and worked the engine hard but could not move her at all. The tide
was now low, and there was a prospect that we should have to wait full
six hours to get away. We worked on, however, and after a few hours a
tug came to our assistance and pulled us out of the mud and towed us
into the right channel, up which we steamed on our way to New Orleans,
one-hundred-twenty miles away.

The country on both sides of us was an immense marsh--no hills in sight,
no timber, nothing but the same level marsh or prairie. When we were
nearer the Crescent City some houses came in sight; then we passed
General Jackson's battle-field, and in due time reached the city.

On board this ship I became acquainted with Dick Evans who lived in the
same county that I used to in Wisconsin, near Mineral Point, so the
three of us now concluded to travel together.

New Orleans seemed to be a very large city. Near the levee a large
government building was in course of construction for a Custom House. It
was all of stone, and the walls were up about two stories. We put up at
a private boarding house, and the first business was to try and sell our
gold dust. So we went to the mint and were told we would have to wait
ten days to run it through the mill, and we did not like to wait so
long. We were shown all through the mint and saw all the wonders of coin
making. Every thing seemed perfect here. Beautiful machinery was in
operation making all sizes of gold coins, from a twenty dollar piece
down. Strips of gold bands about six feet long and of the proper
thickness for twenty dollar pieces are run through a machine which cuts
out the pieces, and when these are cut they can stamp out the pieces as
fast as one can count.

This was the most ingenious work I ever saw, and very wonderful and
astonishing to a backwoodsman like myself, for I supposed that money was
run in moulds like bullets.

As we could not wait we went to a bank and sold our dust, getting only
sixteen dollars per ounce, the same price they paid in California. We
now took the cars and rode out to Lake Ponchartrain--most of the way
over a trestle work. We found a wharf and warehouse at the lake, and a
steamer lay there all ready to go across to the other side. The country
all about looked low, with no hills in sight.

When we returned to the city we looked all about, and in the course of
our travels came to a slave market. Here there were all sorts of black
folks for sale; big and little, old and young and all sorts. They all
seemed good-natured, and were clean, and seemed to think they were worth
a good deal of money. Looking at them a few minutes sent my mind back to
St. Joseph, Missouri, where I saw a black sold at auction. From my
standpoint of education I did not approve of this way of trading in
colored people.

We continued our stroll about the city, coming to a cemetery, where I
looked into a newly dug grave to find it half full of water. On one side
were many brick vaults above ground. The ground here is very low and
wet, and seemed to be all swamp. The drainage was in surface gutters,
and in them the water stood nearly still. It seemed to me such water
must have yellow fever in it.

For a long way along the levee the steamboats lay thick and close
together, unloading cotton, hemp, sugar, hoop poles, bacon and other
products, mostly the product of negro labor.

Here our friend Evans was taken sick, and as he got no better after a
day or two, we called a doctor to examine him. He pronounced it a mild
case of yellow fever. His skin was yellow in places, and he looked very
badly. The doctor advised us to go on up the river, saying it was very
dangerous staying here with him. Evans gave me most of his money and all
of his gold specimens to take to his wife, and when he got well he would
follow us. We bade him good-bye, and with many wishes for his speedy
recovery, we took passage on a steamer for St. Louis. This steamer, the
Atlantic, proved to be a real floating palace in all respects. The table
was supplied with everything the country afforded, and polite and
well-dressed darkies were numerous as table waiters. This was the most
pleasant trip I had ever taken, and I could not help comparing the
luxuriance of my coming home to the hardships of the outward journey
across the plains, and our starvation fare.

Our boat was rather large for the stage of water this time of year, and
we proceeded rather slowly, but I cared little for speed as bed and
board were extra good, and a first cabin passage in the company of
friends, many of whom were going to the same part of Wisconsin as
myself, was not a tedious affair by any means.

At night gambling was carried on very extensively, and money changed
hands freely as the result of sundry games of poker, which was the
popular game.

We reached St. Louis in time, and here was the end of our boat's run.
The river had some ice floating on its surface, and this plainly told us
that we were likely to meet more ice and colder weather as we went
north. We concluded to take the Illinois River boat from here to Peoria,
and paid our passage and stepped on board. We were no more than half way
through this trip when the ice began to form on the surface of the
water, and soon became so thick and strong that the boat finally came to
a perfect standstill, frozen in solid.

We now engaged a farm wagon to take us to Peoria, from which place we
took regular stages for Galena. Our driver was inclined to be very
merciful to his horses, so we were two days in reaching that town, but
perhaps it was best, for the roads were icy and slippery, and the
weather of the real winter sort. From here we hired a team to take four
of us to Plattville, and then an eighteen-mile walk brought me to
Mineral Point, the place from which I started with my Winnebago pony in
1849. I had now finished my circle and brought both ends of the long
belt together.

I now went to a drug store and weighed Mr. Evans' specimens, wrapping
each in a separate piece of paper, with the value marked on each, and
took them to his wife, to whom I told the news about her husband. In two
week's time he came home sound and well.

I was quite disappointed in regard to the looks and business appearance
of the country. It looked thinly settled, people scarce, and business
dull. I could not get a day's work to do, and I could not go much
farther on foot, for the snow was eight or ten inches deep, and I was
still several hundred miles from my parents in Michigan. So my journey
farther east was delayed until spring. The hunting season was over, and
when I came into Mineral Point without a gun, and wore good clothes,
making a better appearance than I used to, they seemed to think I must
be rich and showed me marked attention, and made many inquiries about
their neighbors who started for California about the same time I did.
The young ladies smiled pleasantly when near me, and put on their best
white aprons, looking very tidy and bright, far superior to any of the
ladies I had seen in my crooked route from San Francisco through
Acapulco, Panama, the West Indies and along the Mississippi.

After a few days in town I went out into the neighborhood where I used
to live and stopped with Mr. E.A. Hall, who used to be a neighbor of Mr.
Bennett, as he had invited me to stay with himself and wife, who were
the only occupants of a good house, and all was pleasant. But
notwithstanding all the comfort in which I was placed, I grew lonesome,
for the enforced idleness, on account of the stormy weather, was a new
feature in my life, and grew terribly monotonous.

After some delay I concluded to write to my parents in Michigan and give
them a long letter with something of a history of my travels, and to
refresh my memory I got out my memorandum I had kept through all my

As my letter was liable to be quite lengthy I bought a quantity of
foolscap paper and begun. I took my diary as my guide, and filled out
the ideas suggested in it so they would understand them. I soon ran
through with my paper and bought more, and kept on writing. The weather
was cold and stormy, and I found it the best occupation I could have to
prevent my being lonesome; so I worked away, day after day, for about a
month, and I was really quite tired of this sort of work before I had
all the facts recorded which I found noted down in my diary. My notes
began in March, 1849, in Wisconsin, and ended in February, 1852, on my
return to Mineral Point. I found, as the result of my elaboration, over
three hundred pages of closely written foolscap paper, and I felt very
much relieved when it was done. By the aid of my notes I could very
easily remember everything that had taken place during my absence, and
it was recorded in regular form, with day and date, not an incident of
any importance left out, and every word as true as gospel. I had neither
exaggerated nor detracted from any event so far as I could recollect.

I now loaned Mr. Hall, with whom I lived, six hundred dollars to enable
him to cross the plains to California and try to make his fortune. To
secure this I took a mortgage on his eighty-acre farm, and he set out to
make the journey. I had another eighty acres of land near here which I
bought at government price before going to California, but I could not
now sell it for what it cost me. When I went away I had left my chest
and contents with my friend Samuel Zollinger, and he had kept it safely,
so I now made him my lawful agent. I placed my narrative and some other
papers in the chest and gave the key into his charge, while I went
north, across the Wisconsin River, to visit my old hunting and trapping
friend, Robert McCloud. Here I made a very pleasant visit of perhaps a
week, and the common prospects of the country were freely talked over.
It seemed to us as if the good times were still far off; every day was
like Sunday so far as anything going on; no money in circulation, many
places abandoned, and, like myself, many had gone to California to seek
gold instead of lead. (The mines at Mineral Point are mostly of lead,
with some copper.)

Looking at matters in this light it did not need a great deal of
McCloud's persuasion to induce me to go back with him to California, all
the more so as my little pile seemed to look smaller every day, while
three or four years ago it would have seemed quite large. Deciding to
go, I wrote to Mr. Zollinger to send the account I had written to my
parents in Michigan, reading it first himself, and admonishing him not
to lend it. I also wrote to my parents telling them what they might look
for in the mails, and cautioning them never to have it printed, for the
writing was so ungrammatical and the spelling so incorrect that it would
be no credit to me.

I afterward learned that in time they received the bundle of paper and
read it through and through, and circulated it around the neighborhood
till it was badly worn, and laid it away for future perusal when their
minds should incline that way. But the farm house soon after took fire
and burned, my labor going up in smoke.

When the news of this reached me I resolved to try to forget all the
trials, troubles and hardships I had gone through, and which I had
almost lived over again as I wrote them down, and I said to myself that
I would not talk about them more than I could help, the sooner to have
them vanish, and never write them down again, but a few years ago an
accident befell me so that I could not work, and I back-slid from my
determination when I was persuaded so earnestly by many friends to write
the account which appeared a few years ago in the Santa Clara Valley now
the Pacific Tree and Vine, edited by H.A. Brainard, at San Jose,
California. The diary was lost, and from memory alone the facts have
been rehearsed, and it is but fair to tell the reader that the hardest
and worst of it has never been told nor will it ever be.


McCloud and I now took his skiff, and for two days floated down the
Wisconsin River till we reached the Mississippi, boarded the first
steamboat we could hail, and let our own little craft adrift. In due
time we reached St. Louis and boarded another steamer for New Orleans.

At a wood-yard, about dark, a lot of negroes, little and big, came on
board to sell brooms. The boat's clerk seemed to know negro character
pretty well, so he got out his violin and played for them. For a while
the young colored gentry listened in silence, but pretty soon he struck
a tune that suited them, and they began to dance in their own wild

In seven days from St. Louis we landed in New Orleans, and found the
government steamer, Falcon, advertised to sail in two days. We went
together to one of the slave warehouses. Outside and in all was neat end
clean, and any day you could see men, women and children standing under
the shed as a sign of what they had within, and the painted signs "For
Sale" displayed conspicuously. We were very civilly treated, and invited
to examine the goods offered for sale. There were those of all ages and
all colors, for some were nearly white and some intensely black, with
all the shades between. All were to be sold, separately, or in families,
or in groups as buyers might desire. All were made to keep themselves
clean and neatly dressed, and to behave well, with a smile to all the
visitors whether they felt like smiling or not. Some seemed really
anxious to get a good master, and when a kind, pleasant looking man came
along they would do their utmost to be agreeable to him and inquire if
he did not want to buy them. We talked it over some between ourselves,
and when we thought of the market and the human chattels for sale there,
McCloud spoke up and said:--"I am almost persuaded to be an

I now went on board the steamer Falcon, in command of a government
officer, to try to learn something about the family of Capt. Culverwell
who perished alone in Death Valley. He told me he had once belonged to
the Navy and had his life insured, and as I was an important witness for
his family I wanted to learn where they lived. The Captain looked over a
list of officers, but Culverwell's name was not there. I then wrote a
letter to Washington stating the facts of his death, and my own address
in Sacramento, California. I also stated that I would assist the widow
if I could, but I never received an answer.

We soon started down the river, having on board about one hundred
passengers, men going to work on the Panama Railroad. At Chagres we
found a small stern wheeled river steamer and took passage on it for
Gorgona, as far as the steamer could well go up the river. While going
up we met a similar boat coming down, and being near a short bend they
crashed together, breaking down our guards severely, but fortunately
with no damage to our wheel. A few miles above this a dark passing cloud
gave us rain in streams, and we had to drift in near shore to wait for
the storm to pass. I never before saw water fall so fast, and yet in
half an hour the sun was out and burning hot.

Before we reached Gorgona we got acquainted with a man named John Briggs
from Wisconsin, and Lyman Ross from Rhode Island, and concluded to
travel in company. Our fare thus far was ten dollars, and two horses to
Panama for which we paid twelve dollars each. We now rode and walked
turn about, and when we inquired about the road we were told that being
once in it we could not possibly get out except at the other end, and
would need no guide, and at the end of a very disagreeable day's work we
reached the big gate at Panama and entered the ancient city.

We waited but little here before taking the steamer Southerner, bound
for San Francisco. Three days after we sailed away one of our passengers
went overboard, a corpse, and three or four more died and were buried
alongside before we reached Acapulco.

Here we took on water and coal and were soon at sea again. McCloud soon
had to take his place in the sick ward, and I attended him most of the
time, but was not allowed to give him anything without a permit from the
doctor, and the long delays between the administrations of medicine made
the sickness hard to endure. The sick could see the dead sewed up in
blankets with a bucket of coal for a weight; then resting on a plank
with sailors on each side, the mate would read the brief services
appropriate to a burial at sea, the plank was tilted, and the lifeless
body slid down into the depths. Such scenes were no benefit to the
suffering, for each might think his turn was next, when a bright hope
and prospect would be better for his recovery.

One forenoon the fire gong rang out sharply, and all was in confusion,
supposing the ship to be on fire, but nothing could be seen but a dense
fog, except as a gentle wind lifted it a little and there, dead ahead,
was a rocky island, against which it seemed we must dash to destruction,
for there was no beach and very little chance for any one to be saved.
Ten minutes more in this direction and we were lost, but the officers
quickly changed the course, and we passed the pile of rocks scarcely a
rifle shot away. Whose fault it was, this danger so miraculously
avoided, we did not know, the captain's or the imperfect chart, and
opinions were freely given both ways.

About those days the air felt cooler the fog less dense, and the foggy
rain-bows we had seen so much when the sun tried to shine, were scarce,
while a more northern wind created a coolness that made sick folks feel
refreshed and hopeful. It gave me a chance to cheer up my sick friend
who was still in bed, and tell him it would continue to be cooler as we

On the Fourth of July the officers produced the ship's full supply of
flags, and the sailors climbed high and low, fastening them to every
rope till we had a very gay Independence day appearance. In this gay
dress we steamed into San Diego harbor to leave the mail for a few
soldiers stationed there, and get their letters in return.

I could see no town in San Diego, but a beautiful harbor, and some poor
looking mustard wigwams some way off seemed to contain the good people
of that place.

A boat with a small crew pulled out and came alongside to get the mail
and deliver theirs, and then we turned to sea again. The country all
around this beautiful little harbor looked mountainous and extremely
barren, and no one wanted to go on shore.

About dark we had made sufficient offing and turned northward, plowing
through large fields of kelp. The next morning the forward watch
announced land ahead, which could dimly be seen as the fog rose. The
officers rushed on deck and could see not far ahead a sandy beach, and a
moment more showed that we were headed directly for it, and that it was
not more than a quarter of a mile away. Quickly the helmsman was given
orders to steer almost west instead of the north course he had been
following. He was asked why he kept on his north course when he saw
danger ahead, and answered:--"It is my business to steer according to
orders, even if the ship goes ashore, and I can not change course unless
ordered to." The Captain now examined his chart and decided he was in
San Pedro harbor, off Los Angeles.

The sun came out bright and clear a little later, and I got McCloud out
of his bed and gave him a seat at the ship's side where he could see the
green grassy hills near the beach, and larger hills and mountains
farther back. We could see cattle feeding in the nearest pastures, and
the whole scene was a pleasant one; and as we sat on the eastern side of
the ship and snuffed the cool breeze which came from the north, we
thought we were comparatively happy people, and hoped that, if no
accident befell, we would soon be at the end of our voyage.

On the seventh day of July, 1851, we entered the Golden Gate, this being
my second arrival in California. On our trip from Panama seven or more
had died and been buried at sea, but the remainder of us were quite safe
and sound. We found the heart of the city still smoking, for a fire had
broken out on July fourth and burned extensively, and these broad,
blackened ruins were the result. Some said the work had been done by the
Sidney "ducks" and their numerous helpers, who were really the rulers of
the city. The place now looked much worse than it did when I left in
November before. These Sidney "ducks" were English convicts from
Australia, and other thieves and robbers joined them as agreeable
companion, making a large class that seemed to glory in destruction and
a chance for booty.

I walked around over the hills where I could see the burned district and
the destruction of so much valuable property, and when I thought the
civil law was not strong enough to govern, it seemed to me it would be a
good place for such men as the Helms brothers of Georgetown to come down
and do a little hanging business, for they could here find plenty to do,
and they could carry out their plan of letting no guilty man escape.

About four o'clock one afternoon we went aboard the Sacramento steamer,
Antelope, paying our passage with half an ounce apiece, and were soon on
our way past the islands and up the bay. When we were beyond Benicia,
where the river banks were close, McCloud sat watching the shore, and
remarked that the boat ran like a greyhound, and it seemed to him, beat
the old ocean steamer pretty bad.

He seemed to be nearly well again, and complimented me as the best
doctor he ever saw. Since he had been sick I had paid him all the
attention I could, and he gave me all the praise I deserved, now that he
was getting to feel himself again.

At Sacramento we changed to another boat bound for Marysville, which
place we reached without special incident. Here we invested in a
four-ounce donkey, that is, we paid four ounces of gold for him, just an
ounce apiece for four of us--W.L. Manley, Robert McCloud, Lyman Ross and
John Briggs. We piled our blankets in a pack upon the gentle, four-ounce
donkey, and added a little tea and coffee, dried beef and bread, then
started for the Yuba River, ourselves on foot. We crossed the river at
Park's Bar, then went up the ridge by way of Nigger Tent, came down to
the river again at Goodyear Bar, then up the stream to Downieville. This
town was named after John Downie, a worthless drunkard. I remember that
he once reformed, but again back-slid and died a drunkard's death.

We found this a lively mining town about sixty miles above Marysville,
on the north fork of the Yuba River, and only reached by a pack trail,
but everything was flush here, even four aces. The location was a
veritable Hole-in-the-Ground, for the mountains around were very high,
and some of them wore their caps of snow all summer, particularly those
on the east. The gold dust we found here was coarser than it was where I
worked before, down south on the Merced River. Before I came to
California I always supposed that gold dust was really dust, and about
as fine as flour.

We went up the North Fork about a mile or two above town and camped on
Wisconsin Flat to begin our mining operations. Our luck was poor at
first, and all except myself were out of money, and more or less in debt
to me. We made expenses, however, and a little more, and as soon as Mr.
Ross got his small debt paid he said he was discouraged mining, and with
blankets on his shoulders started up the trail towards Galloway's ranch,
on the summit south of town. Mr. Ross said the work was too hard for
him, for he was not strong enough to handle pick and shovel, and he
believed he could go down to Sacramento and make more by his wits than
he could here. I went with him to town and saw him start off with a fair
load on his back, and watched him as he toiled up the steep mountain
trail for about two miles, when he went out of sight.

The rest of us kept on mining. Our luck was not very good, but we
persevered, for there was nothing to be gained by fainting by the way. I
went into an old abandoned shaft about ten feet deep and found the
bottom filled with a big quartz boulder, and as I had been a lead miner
in Wisconsin, I began drifting, and soon found bed rock, when I picked
up a piece of pure gold that weighed four ounces. This was what I called
a pretty big find, and not exactly what I called gold dust. It was quite
a surprise to me, for the gravel on the bed rock was only about three or
four inches thick.

We kept on drifting for some time, sometimes making good wages, and on
the whole so satisfactory that we concluded to stay. We now located some
claims back in the flat where the ground would be thirty feet deep, and
would have to be drifted. These we managed to hold until winter, and in
the meantime we worked along the river and could make something all the

We put in a flume between two falls on the Middle Fork, but made only
wages, and I got my arm nearly broken, and had to work with one hand for
nearly a month.

One afternoon I went crevicing up the river, and found a crevice at the
water's edge about half an inch wide, and the next day we worked it out
getting forty ounces, and many of the pieces were about an inch long and
as large around as a pipe-stem.

Winter was now near by, and we set to work to build a cabin and lay in a
stock of grub, which cost quite a good deal, for the self-raising flour
which we bought was worth twenty cents a pound, and all kinds of hog
meat fifty cents, with other supplies in proportion. Our new claims now
paid very well. Snow came down to the depth of about four feet around
our cabin, but as our work was under ground, we had a comfortable place
all winter.

In the spring McCloud and I went to Sacramento and sold our chunks of
gold (it was all very coarse) to Page, Bacon & Co. who were themselves
surprised at the coarseness of the whole lot. When our savings were
weighed up we found we had made half an ounce a day, clear of all
expenses, for the entire year.

We now took a little run down to San Francisco, also to Santa Clara
where we staid a night or two with Mr. McCloud's friend, Mr. Otterson,
and then went back to our claims again. In taking care of our money we
had to be our own bankers, and the usual way was to put the slugs we
received for pay into a gallon pickle jar, and bury this in some place
known only to our particular selves, and these vaults we considered
perfectly safe. The slugs were fifty dollar pieces, coined for
convenience, and were eight-sided, heavy pieces. In the western counties
the people called them "Adobies," but among the miners they were
universally known as "Slugs."

The winter proved a little lonesome, the miners mostly staid at home and
worked. During the year we had been here I had not seen a respectable
woman in this mining country. There were few females here, and they were
said to be of very doubtful character. As a general thing people were
very patient with their wickedness, but not always.

Twice only in the history of California were women made the victims of
mob violence, once at Los Angeles and once at Downieville. The affair at
the last-named place occurred in 1851, and the victim was a pretty
little Spanish woman named Juanita. She and her husband, like many
another couple at that time, kept a monte game for the delectation of
the miners who had more money than sense, but beyond this fact
absolutely nothing was said against her character.

There was an English miner named Cannon living in town, who was very
popular among a large number of gamblers and others. He got drunk one
night and about midnight went to the house occupied by the Spanish woman
and her husband and kicked the door down. Early the following morning he
told his comrades that he was going to apologize to the woman for what
he had done. He went alone to the house, and, while talking with the
husband and wife, the woman suddenly drew a knife and stabbed Cannon to
the heart. What had been said that provoked the deed was never known,
further than that Juanita claimed she had been grossly insulted.

She was given a mock trial, but the facts of the case were not brought
out, as the men who were with Cannon were too drunk to remember what had
happened the previous night. It was a foregone conclusion that the poor
woman was to be hanged, and the leaders of the mob would brook no
interference. A physician examined Juanita and announced to the mob that
she was in a condition that demanded the highest sympathy of every man,
but he was forced to flee from town to save his life. A prominent
citizen made an appeal for mercy, but he was driven down the main street
and across the river by a mob with drawn revolvers, and with threats of
instant death. The well-known John B. Weller was in town at the time,
and was asked to reason with the mob, but refused to do so.

The execution was promptly carried out. A plank was put across the
supports of the bridge over the Yuba, and a rope fastened to a beam
overhead. Juanita went calmly to her death. She wore a Panama hat, and
after mounting the platform she removed it, tossed it to a friend in the
crowd, whose nickname was "Oregon," with the remark, "Adios amigo." Then
she adjusted the noose to her own neck, raising her long, loose tresses
carefully in order to fix the rope firmly in its place, and then, with a
smile and wave of her hand to the bloodthirsty crowd present, she
stepped calmly from the plank into eternity. Singular enough, her body
rests side by side, in the cemetery on the hill, with that of the man
whose life she had taken.

On Sundays Downieville was full of men, none very old, and none very
young, but almost every one of middle age. Nearly every man was coarsely
dressed, with beard unshaved and many with long hair, but on any
occasion of excitement it was not at all strange to see the coarsest,
roughest looking one of all the party mount a stump and deliver as
eloquent an address as one could wish to hear. On Sunday it was not at
all unusual for some preacher to address the moving crowd, while a few
feet behind him would be a saloon in full blast, and drinking, gambling,
swearing and vulgar language could be plainly seen and heard at the same
time, and this class of people seemed to respect the Sunday preacher
very little. The big saloon was owned by John Craycroft, formerly a mate
on a Mississippi River steamboat, who gained most of his money by
marrying a Spanish woman and making her a silent partner.

One enterprising man who was anxious to make money easily, took a notion
to try his luck in trade, so, as rats and mice were troublesome in shops
and stores, he went down to the valley and brought up a cargo of cats
which he disposed of at prices varying from fifty to one hundred dollars
each, according to the buyer's fancy.

During the summer Kelley the fiddler came up in the mines to make a
raise, and Craycroft made him a pulpit about ten feet above the floor in
his saloon, having him to play nights and Sundays at twenty dollars per
day. He was a big uneducated Irishman, who could neither read nor write,
but he played and sang and talked the rich Irish brogue, all of which
brought many customers to the bar. In the saloon could be seen all sorts
of people dealing different games, and some were said to be preachers.
Kelley staid here as long as he could live on his salary, and left town
much in debt, for whiskey and cards got all his money.

One of the grocers kept out a sign, "CHEAP JOHN, THE PACKER," and kept a
mule to deliver goods, which no other merchant did, and in this way
gained many friends, and many now may praise the enterprise of Cheap
John, the Packer. Prices were pretty high in those days. Sharpening
picks cost fifty cents, a drink of whiskey one dollar, and all kinds of
pork, fifty cents per pound. You could get meals at the McNutty house
for one dollar. The faro and monte banks absorbed so much of the small
change that on one occasion I had to pay five dollars for a two dollar
pair of pants in order to get a fifty dollar slug changed.

No white shirts were worn by honest men, and if any man appeared in such
a garment he was at once set down as a gambler, and with very little
chance of a mistake. One Langdon had the only express office, and
brought letters and packages from Sacramento. I paid one dollar simply
to get my name on his letter list, and when a letter came I had to pay
one dollar for bringing it up, as there was no Post Office at

Newspapers were eagerly sought for, such was the hunger for reading. The
Western folks bought the St. Louis papers, while Eastern people found
the New York Tribune a favorite. One dollar each for such papers was the
regular price. It may seem strange, but aside from the news we got from
an occasional newspaper, I did not hear a word from the East during the
two years I remained on Yuba river. Our evenings were spent in playing
cards for amusement, for no reading could be got. The snow between
Marysville and Downieville was deep and impassable in winter, but we
could work our drifting claims very comfortably, having laid in a stock
of provisions early in the season, before snowfall. The nights seemed
tediously long and lonesome, for when the snow was deep no one came to
visit us, and we could go nowhere, being completely hemmed in. All the
miners who did not have claims they could work underground, went down
below the winter snow-line to find work, and when the snow went off came
back again and took possession of the old claims they had left.

After the snow went off three German sailors came up and took a river
claim a short distance above us on a north fork of the north fork of the
stream, where one side of the cañon was perpendicular and the other
sloped back only slightly. Here they put logs across the river, laid
stringers on these, and covered the bottom with fir boughs. Then they
put stakes at the sides and rigged a canvas flume over their bridge
through which they turned the whole current of the river, leaving a
nearly dry bed beneath. This we called pretty good engineering and
management on the part of the sailor boys, for no lumber was to be had,
and they had made themselves masters of the situation with the material
on hand.

They went to work under their log aqueduct, and found the claim very
rich in coarse gold. They went to town every Saturday night with good
big bags of dust, and as they were open-hearted fellows, believing that
a sailor always has the best of luck, they played cards freely, always
betting on the Jack and Queen, and spent their money more easily than
they earned it. They were quite partial to the ladies, and patronizing
the bar and card tables as liberally as they did, usually returned to
camp on Monday or Tuesday with a mule load of grub and whiskey as all
the visible proceeds of a week's successful mining; but when Saturday
night came around again we were pretty sure to see the jolly sailors
going past with heavy bags of gold. They left one nearly pure piece of
gold at Langdon's Express office that weighed five pounds, and another
as large as a man's hand, of the shape of a prickly pear leaf.

They worked their claim with good success until the snow water came down
and forced them out. I went one day to see them, and they took a pan of
dirt from behind a big rock and washed it out, getting as much as two
teacupfuls of nuggets, worth perhaps a thousand dollars. When they went
away they said they would go to Germany to see their poor relatives and
friends, and one of them really went home, but the other two had spent
all their money before they were ready to leave San Francisco. These men
were, without doubt, the inventors of the canvas flume which was
afterward used so successfully in various places.

While I was still here the now famous Downieville Butte quartz mine was
discovered, but there was no way then of working quartz successfully,
and just at that time very little was done with it, but afterward, when
it was learned how to work it, and the proper machinery introduced, it
yielded large sums of bullion.

The miners had a queer way of calling every man by some nickname or
other instead of his true name, and no one seemed offended at it, but
answered to his new name as readily as to any.

It was nearly fall when we found we had worked our claims out, and there
were no new ones we could locate here, so we concluded to go prospecting
for a new locality. I bought a donkey in town of a Mr. Hawley, a
merchant, for which I paid sixty dollars, and gave the little fellow his
old master's name. We now had two animals, and we packed on them our
worldly goods, and started south up the mountain trail by way of the
city of six, where some half dozen men had located claims, but the
ground was dry and deep, so we went on.

We still went south, down toward the middle Yuba River and when about
half way down the mountain side came to a sort of level bench where some
miners were at work, but hardly any water could be had. They called this
Minnesota. We stayed here a day or two, but as there seemed to be no
possible further development of water, concluded to go on further.
Across the river we could see a little flat, very similar to the one we
were on, and a little prospecting seemed to have been done on the side
of the mountain. We had a terribly steep cañon to cross, and a river
also, with no trail to follow, but our donkeys were as good climbers as
any of us, so we started down the mountain in the morning, and arrived
at the river about noon. Here we rested an hour or two and then began
climbing the brushy mountain side. The hill was very steep, and the sun
beat down on us with all his heat, so that with our hard labor and the
absence of any wind we found it a pretty hot place.

It was pretty risky traveling in some places, and we had to help the
donkeys to keep them from rolling down the hill, pack and all. It took
us four hours to make a mile and a half or two miles in that dense
brush, and we were nearly choked when we reached the little flat. Here
we found some water, but no one lived here. From here we could see a
large flat across a deep cañon to the west, and made up our minds to try
to go to it. We went around the head of the cañon, and worked through
the brush and fallen timber, reaching our objective point just as night
was coming on. This flat, like the one we had left, was quite level, and
contained, perhaps, nearly one hundred acres. Here we found two men at
work with a "long tom"--a Mr. Fernay and a Mr. Bloat. They had brought
the water of a small spring to their claim and were making five or six
dollars per day. We now prospected around the edge of this flat, and
getting pretty fair prospects concluded we would locate here if we could
get water.

We then began our search for water and found a spring about three
quarters of a mile away, to which we laid claim, and with a triangle
level began to survey out a route for our ditch. The survey was
satisfactory, and we found we could bring the water out high on the
flat, so we set to work digging at it, and turned the water in. The
ground was so very dry that all the water soaked up within two hundred
yards of the spring.

By this time we were out of grub, and some one must go for a new supply,
and as we knew the trail to Downieville was terribly rough, I was chosen
as the one to try to find Nevada City, which we thought would be nearer
and more easily reached. So I started south with the donkeys, up the
mountain toward the ridge which lies between the middle and south Yuba
Rivers, and when I got well on the ridge I found a trail used some by
wagons, which I followed till I came to a place where the ridge was only
wide enough for a wagon, and at the west end a faint trail turned off
south into the rolling hills. I thought this went about the course I
wanted to go, so I followed it, and after two or three miles came to the
south Yuba river. This seemed to be an Indian trail, no other signs on
it. I climbed the mountain here, and when I reached the top I found a
large tent made of blue drilling, and here I found I was four or five
miles from Nevada City with a good trail to follow. The rolling hills I
then passed through are now called North Bloomfield, and at one time
were known as "Humbug."

I started along the trail and soon reached the city where I drove my
donkeys up to a store which had out the sign "Davis & Co.." I entered
and inquiring the prices of various sorts of provisions such as flour,
bacon, beans, butter, etc., soon had selected enough for two donkey
loads. They assisted me in putting them in pack, and when it was ready I
asked the amount of my bill, which was one hundred and fifty dollars.
This I paid at once, and they gave me some crackers and dried beef for
lunch on the way. Davis said--"That is the quickest sale I ever made,
and here the man is ready to go. I defy any one to beat it." Before sun
down I was two or three miles on my way back where I found some grass
and camped for the night, picketed the animals, ate some of Mr. Davis'
grub for supper, and arranged a bed of saddle blankets. I arrived at
camp the next day about sun down.

Next day I went on up the divide and found a house on the trail leading
farther east, where two men lived, but they seemed to be doing nothing.
There were no mines and miners near there, and there seemed to be very
little travel on the trail. The fellows looked rough, and I suspected
they might be bad characters. The stream they lived near was afterward
called Bloody Run, and there were stories current that blood had been
shed there.

Here was a section of comparatively level land, for the mountain divide,
and a fine spring of good cold water, all surrounded by several hundred
acres of the most magnificent sugar pines California ever raised, very
large, straight as a candle, and one hundred feet or more to the lowest
limbs. This place was afterward called Snow Tent, and S.W. Churchill
built a sawmill at the spring, and had all this fine timber at the mercy
of his ax and saw, without anyone to dispute his right. He furnished
lumber to the miners at fifty dollars or more per thousand feet. Bloody
Run no doubt well deserves its name, for there was much talk of killing
done there.

I, however, went up and talked to the men and told them I wished to hire
a cross cut saw for a few days to get out stuff for a cabin, and agreed
to pay two dollars a day for the use of it till it came back.

We cut down a large sugar pine, cut off four six feet cuts, one twelve
feet, and one sixteen feet cut, and from these we split out a lot of
boards which we used to make a V-shaped flume which we placed in our
ditch, and thus got the water through. We split the longer cuts into two
inch plank for sluice boxes, and made a small reservoir, so that we
succeeded in working the ground. We paid wages to the two men who
worked, and two other men who were with us went and built a cabin.

I now went and got another load of provisions, and as the snow could be
seen on the high mountains to the east, I thought the deer must be
crowded down to our country, so I went out hunting and killed a big fat
buck, and the next day three more, so fresh meat was plenty.

About this time a man came down the mountain with his oxen and wagon,
wife and three or four children, the eldest a young lady of fifteen
years. The man's name was H. M. Moore. We had posted notices, according
to custom, to make mining laws, and had quite a discussion about a name
for the place. Some of the fellows wanted to name it after the young
lady, "Minda's Flat," but we finally chose "Moore's Flat" instead, which
I believe is the name it still goes by. Our laws were soon completed,
and a recorder chosen to record claims. We gave Mr. Moore the honor of
having a prospecting town named after him because he was the first man
to be on hand with a wife.

I became satisfied after a little that this place would be a very snowy
place, and that from all appearances it would fall from two to four feet
deep, and not a very pleasant place to winter in. An honest acquaintance
of mine came along, Samuel Tyler and to him I let my claim to work on
shares and made McCloud my agent, verbally, while I took my blankets and
started for the valley.

The first town I passed through was a newly discovered mining town
called French Corral. Here I found an old Wisconsin friend Wm. Sublet,
the foster father of the accomplishen wife of Mayor S.W. Boring of San
Jose. From here I went to Marysville. The storm had been raging high in
the mountains for some days, and the Yuba river rising fast, overflowing
its banks as I walked into town, and the next day the merchants were
very busy piling their goods above high water mark. I went to a hotel
and called for a bed. "Yes," says the landlord "Is your name John or
Peter?" I told him William, which he set down in his book and we went up
stairs to the best room which was fitted up with berths three tiers high
on each side, and only one or two empty ones. He looked around for
covers, but none could be found unoccupied, but one fellow who was sound
asleep and snoring awfully, so he took the blanket off from him saying:
"He wont know a thing about it till morning, be jabers, so don't say a

Next morning the river was booming, its surface covered with all sorts
of mining outfit such as flume timber, rockers, various qualities of
lumber, pieces of trees as well as whole ones, water wheels and other
traps. The river between Downieville and here must have been swept clean
of all material that would float, including "long Toms." The water
continued to rise till it covered the Plaza, and in two days a steamer
came up and sailed across the public square. This looked like a wet
season to me, and when the boat was ready to go down the river I went on
board, bound for Sacramento. Here it was also getting terrible wet and
muddy, and the rain kept pouring down. In the morning I worked my way up
J street and saw a six-mule team wading up the streets the driver on
foot, tramping through the sloppy mud, occasionally stepping in a hole
and falling his whole length in the mud. On the street where so much
trouble was met by the teamsters, a lot of idlers stood on the sidewalk,
and when a driver would fall and go nearly out of sight, they would,
like a set of loafers, laugh at him and blackguard him with much noise,
and as they were numerous they feared nothing.

Suddenly a miner, who had lately arrived from the mountains, raised his
room window in the second story of a house, put out one leg and then his
body, as far as he could, and having nothing on but his night clothes,
shouted to the noisy crowd below:--"Say can't you d----d farmers plow
now?" At this he dodged back quickly into his window as if he expected
something might be thrown at him. The rain continued, and the water rose
gradually till it began to run slowly through the streets, and all the
business stopped except gambling and drinking whisky, which were freely
carried on in the saloons day and night.

While here in Sacramento I was sufficiently prompted by curiosity to go
around to the place on J street where the Legislature was in session. I
stood sometime outside the enclosure listening to the members who were
in earnest debate over a question concerning the size of mining claims.
They wanted them uniform in size all over the state, but there was some
opposition, and the debate on this occasion was between the members from
the mining counties on one side and the "cow" counties on the other. The
miners took the ground that the claims were of different richness in the
different mining localities and that the miners themselves were the best
judges of the proper size of claims, and were abundantly able to make
their own laws as they had done under the present mining customs, and
their laws had always been respected, making any further legislative
action unnecessary.

While this wrangle was going on. Capt. Hunt, of San Bernardino (our
guide from Salt Lake in 1849), came along and stopped where I stood,
shaking me heartily by the hand, inquiring where I was from, and when I
told him I was from the mines he said he thought the cow county fellows
were trying to make the miners some trouble. I told him the present
mining regulations suited us very well, and after he had talked with me
a little he went inside and whispered to some of the silent members that
the miners wanted no change, for he had just consulted a miner to that
effect. When occasion offered he called for a vote which resulted in the
defeat of the cow counties and a postponement of the measure

My next move was to try to find a dryer place so I took a boat for
Benicia, then for Stockton, where I found a sea of mud, so that a man
needed stilts or a boat to cross the street.

Here in a livery stable I found my old Platte River boss, Chas. Dallas,
for whom I drove in 1849, but he did not seem to know me and took no
notice of me, but talked "horse" and horse-racing to the bystanders very
loudly. I suppose that Dallas had made money and did not care for a poor
ox driver, and on my part I did not care very much for his friendship,
so I walked away and left him without a word.

Every way I looked was a sea of black, sticky mud; dogs mired in the
streets and died, and teams and animals had forsaken the usual route of
travel. The gambling houses and saloons were crowded, gum boots in
demand, and the only way to get out of town was by water. I took this
way out, and on the same boat by which I came, going to San Francisco.
This was high and dry enough to be above the highest floods of Yuba,
Sacramento or San Joaquin, but all business except the saloons was dull.
Fronting on Portsmouth Square was the Hall of Corruption. Inside was a
magnificently furnished bar, more than one keeper and various gambling
tables, most of them with soiled doves in attendance. The room was
thronged with players and spectators, and coin and dust were plenty. The
dealers drew off their cards carefully, and seemed to have the largest
pile of coin on their side.

I climbed Russian Hill and to take a look over the city. It seemed
poorly built, but the portion that had been burned in July 1852, had
been built up again. The business part was near the beach and north of
Market street.

I had never lived in a town and did not know its ways, so I strolled
around alone, for without acquaintance I did not know where to go nor
what to look for. I therefore thought I would see some other part of the
country. I found that a schooner was about to sail for San Pedro, near
Los Angeles. I took hold of a rope to help myself on board, when it gave
way and I found myself floundering in the water. They helped me out and
the Captain gave me a dry suit to put on, I was profoundly grateful for
the favor, and found him a generous man.

We sailed away and stopped at Monterey for 24 hours which gave me a good
chance for a good look at the old Capitol houses, which were of adobe,
and to find that this city was also liberally supplied with gambling,
card and billiard tables. The majority of the people were Spanish and
fond of gaming, and the general appearance of the place was old and
without good improvements, though there were more two-story houses than
in most places in California.

Some houses were of stone, but more of adobe, and there seemed to be no
fertile country round, and the hills about had small pines on them.

Some of the sailors went out and gathered a large bag of mussels and
clams, from which they made a liberal allowance of chowder for the
table. After seven or eight days we arrived in San Pedro, and found the
town to consist of one long adobe house. The beach was low and sandy,
and we were wet somewhat in wading through a light surf to get on shore.
We had on board a Mr. Baylis, who we afterward learned came down with
Capt. Lackey on a big speculation which was to capture all the wild
goats they could on Catalina Island, and take them to San Francisco for

The goats were easily captured and taken on board the schooner, and
thence to shore but many were drowned in the transit, and when driven to
San Francisco the dead were scattered all along the route. Although wild
they seemed to lack the vitality that tame goats possess. The
speculation proved a disappointment to the projectors.

At the adobe house, kept by a Spaniard we had breakfast, then shouldered
our packs for the march of ten leagues to Los Angeles for there was no
chance to ride. It was night before we reached the City of Angels, and
here I staid a day to take a look at the first city I saw in California
in March 1850.

I inquired for my mining companion, W.M. Stockton who worked with
Bennett and myself near Georgetown in 1850, and found he lived near the
old mission of San Gabriel nine miles away, whither I walked and found
him and family well and glad to see me. He had jumped an old pear
orchard which was not claimed by the Mission Fathers, although it was
only three-fourths of a mile away. The trees were all seedlings and very
large, probably 50 or more years old. Some of the Mission buildings were
falling down since they had been abandoned, and the Americans would go
to these houses and remove the tile flooring from the porches and from
the pillars that supported them. These tiles were of hard burned clay,
in pieces about a foot square, and were very convenient to make fire
places and pavements before the doors of their new houses. Out-side the
enclosed orange and fig orchard at this place were some large olive and
fig trees, apparently as old as the mission, being a foot or more in
diameter and about 50 feet high. I had never seen olives, and when I saw
these trees covered with plenty of fruit about the size of damson plums
I took the liberty of tasting it and found it very disagreeable, and
wondered of what use such fruit could be.

Mr. Stockton fenced his orchard by setting posts and tying sycamore
poles to them to keep the stock away, built an adobe house on the claim
and called the property his. I went to work for him at once, pruning the
trees, which improved their appearance, and then turned on a little
stream of water which ran through the place, and on down to the mission.
With this treatment the trees did well without cultivation.

I bought one half the stock consisting of some Spanish cows, one yoke of
oxen and some horses, worked enough to pay my board, watched the stock
and still had plenty of time to ride around over the adjoining country.

When the pears were ripe the Spanish men, women and children eagerly
bought them at 25 cents per dozen and some Sundays the receipts for
fruit sold would be as high as $100. That taken to town would bring from
$5. to $8. per box, the boxes being a little larger than those in
present use. An Indian woman, widow of a Mr. Reed, claimed a vineyard
near the orchard, and laid claim to the whole property, so Stockton gave
her $1000 for a quit claim deed.

Near by was a small artificial lake made by a dam of cobble stones, laid
in cement across a ravine, which was built perhaps 50 years before, and
yet the tracks of a child who had walked across before the cement was
dry, were plainly seen.

Stockton and I visited Mr. Roland, an old settler who lived south of San
Gabriel river, and staid all night with him, finding him very sociable
and hospitable. All his work was done by Indians who lived near by, and
had been there as long as he. He had a small vineyard, and raised corn,
squashes, melons and all that are necessary for his table, having also a
small mill near by for grinding corn and wheat without bolting. The
Indians made his wine by tramping the grapes with their feet in a
rawhide vat hung between four poles set in the ground. The workmen were
paid off every Saturday night, and during Sunday he would generally sell
them wine enough to get about all the money back again. This had been
his practice for many years, and no doubt suited Mr. Roland as well as
the red men.

Roland was an old Rocky Mountain trapper who came to California long
before gold was discovered, and during the evening the talk naturally
ran to the subject of early days.

Mr. Roland related that while his party were in camp in the upper
Colorado they were visited by a small band of Indians who professed
friendship and seated themselves around the fire. Suddenly they made an
attack and each trapper had an Indian to contend with, except Mr. Roland
who was left to be dispatched afterwards. But as he ran, a squaw among
them followed him, and after a while overtook him and showed friendship.
He had neither gun or knife and so concluded to put faith in the woman
who safely guided him in a long tramp across the desert where they both
came near starving, but finally reached Los Angeles Valley, when the
brave squaw mingled with her own people and he lost sight of her

No white man could alone have traversed that desert waste and found food
enough to last him half the journey.

He gradually learned to speak Spanish, and was granted the piece of land
he applied for, and where he then lived; married a Spanish girl, with
whom he had a happy home and raised a large family, and grew rich, for
they were both industrious and economical. The first wife died, and he
was persuaded to marry a Texas widow, and now had to buy the first
carriage he ever owned, and furnish a fine turn-out and driver for the
lady, who wore much jewelry and fine clothes, and spent money freely.
Roland was not a society man, his thoughts and habits were different
from his wife, and he staid at home, better contented there.

There were many other pioneers in the neighborhood, Dan Sexton, Col.
Williams, of Chino ranch, Workman, B.D. Wilson, Abel Stearns, Temple,
Wolfskill and many others, Scott and Granger were lawyers. Granger was
the same man who read the preamble and resolutions that were to govern
our big train as we were about to start from Utah Lake.

Scott was quite a noted member of the bar, and when Gen. Winfield Scott
ran for President, some wide awake politicians caused the uneducated
Spaniards to vote for their favorite lawyer instead of the redoubtable
general, and they did this with a good will for they thought the famous
avocado was the best man, and thus the manipulators lost many votes to
the real candidate. Scott was afterward retained by many of the
Spaniards to present their claims for their land to the U.S. Government
and was considered a very able man.

Mr. Stockton related that when he left his family here to go to the
mines he rented one half a house of Michael Blanco who had a Spanish
wife and children, and these and his own were of course constant
playmates. When he returned in the fall he found his children had
learned to speak Spanish and nearly forgotten English, so that he had to
coax them a great deal to get them to talk to him at all, and he could
not understand a word they said.

I now tried to learn the language myself. I had money to loan, and the
borrowers were Spanish who gave good security and paid from 5 to 25 per
cent interest per month, on short time. Mrs. Stockton assisted me very
much as an interpreter.

I bought young steers for $8. each and gradually added to my herd. I got
along well until next spring when the beef eating population began to
steal my fat cattle, and seemed determined I should get no richer. The
country was over-stocked with desperate and lawless renegades in Los
Angeles and from one to four dead men was about the number picked up in
the streets each morning. They were of low class, and there was no
investigation, simply a burial at public expense.

The permanent Spanish population seemed honest and benevolent, but there
were many bad ones from Chili, Sonora, Mexico, Texas, Utah and Europe,
who seemed always on an errand of mischief a murder, thieving or

Three or four suspicious looking men came on horseback and made their
camp near the Mission under an oak tree, where they staid sometime. They
always left someone in camp while the others went away every day on
their horses, and acted so strangely that the report soon became current
that they were stealing horses and running them off to some safe place
in the mountains till a quantity could be accumulated to take to the
mines to sell. On this information the Vigilance Committee arrested the
man in camp and brought him to a private room, where he was tried by
twelve men, who found him guilty of horse stealing, and sentenced to be
hung at once, for horse stealing was a capital offence in those days.

To carry out the sentence they procured a cart, put a box on it for a
seat, and with a rope around his neck and seated on the box, the
condemned man was dragged off by hand to an oak tree not far away,
whither he was followed by all the men, women and children of the place,
who where nearly all natives. While preparations were being made under
the tree some one called out that men were riding rapidly from the
direction of Los Angeles, and from the dust they raised seemed to be
more than usually in haste. So it was proposed to wait till they came
up. It was soon known that an Indian had been sent to Los Angeles to
give news to the man's friends there, and they had come with all the
speed of their horses to try to save his life. They talked and inquired
around a little and then proposed the question whether to hang him or to
turn him over to the lawful authorities for regular trial. This was put
to a vote and it was decided to spare him now. So the rope was taken off
his neck, and he was turned over to Mr. Mallard the Mission Justice of
the Peace, much to the relief of the fellow who saw death staring him in
the face.

The Santa Anita ranch, now owned by E.J. Baldwin, was owned by Henry
Dalton, an Englishman, who came with a stock of goods worth $75,000,
years before, but now had only the ranch left. The Azuza, a short
distance south was occupied by his brother.

I became well acquainted with many of these old California natives, and
found them honest in their dealings, good to the needy and in all my
travels never found more willing hands to bestow upon relatives, friends
or strangers ready relief than I saw among these simple natives. Their
kindness to our party when we came starving on the desert in 1850, can
never be praised enough, and as long as I shall live my best wishes
shall go with them.

I was one day riding with Vincent Duarte down toward Anaheim when he
suddenly dismounted to kill a large tarantula by pelting him with
stones. It was the first one I had seen, and seemed an over-grown
spider. I asked him if the thing was harmful, and he replied with
considerable warmth, "Mucho malo por Christianos" and I wondered if the
insect knew saints from sinners.

This spring we concluded to go to the Mormon settlement at San
Bernardino and secure some American bulls to improve our stock, and
starting late one day I rode as far as the Azuza Rancho where I staid
all night with Mr. Dalton, reaching the holy city, a branch of Brigham
Young's harem next day. Here I found a town of log houses in a circle,
enclosing a plaza. There was a passage between the houses. I stopped at
the principal hotel kept by a vigorous and enthusiastic Mormon woman,
who delighted to preach the doctrine.

Walking around on the outside of the fortifications I came across Capt.
Hunt, the man who was hired in the fall of 1849 to bring the big train
from Salt Lake to San Bernardino.

I told him who I was, and what I wanted, and he seemed to know me,
inviting me in the most friendly and social manner to take supper with
him, which I did. He sat at the head of the table and introduced me to
his three wives. The furnishing of the house was cheap and common, but
the table was fairly provided for. He said he would help me to find the
animals I wanted, and in the morning showed me two which he had, that
were young and suitable, and a larger one which he said I could have if
I could drive him.

I soon found out that I had better move or sell my cattle, for with all
my watching I could do they gradually disappeared, and hungry thieves
who could live on beef alone, visited my little band of cattle too often
and took what they wanted, and I could not detect them. I soon sold to
four buyers from the north, L.D. Stevens, David Grant, Sam Craig and Mr.
Wilson, and hired out with my two horses to help them drive the band
north, at a salary of $100 per month.

Disposing most of my money with Palmer, Cook & Co., I went to see my
mine at Moore's Flat. There were two boats leaving at about the same
time, one for Stockton, and one for Sacramento, the latter of which I
took, and Rogers the other. Both landed at Benecia, and when we swung
away from that wharf Rogers and I saluted each other with raised and
swinging hats, shouted a good bye, and I have never seen him since.

At Moore's Flat I found my mine well and profitably worked by Mr. Tyler
and as his lease was not out I returned to San Jose, as I had learned
from Rogers that Mr. A. Bennett was at Watsonville, and Mr. Arcane at
Santa Cruz, and I desired to visit them. I rode back across the country
and found Mr. Bennett and family at the point where the Salinas river
enters Monterey Bay. They were all well, and were glad to see me for
they did not know I was in California. Mrs. Bennett was greatly affected
at our meeting and shed tears of joy as she shook hands.

Bennett had a nice Whitehall boat and we had a genuine happy time
hunting, fishing and gathering clams, and also in social visits among
the neighbors and old acquaintances, among them one Jacob Rhodehouse of

While here I rode my horse around to Monterey and to Carmel Mission,
where I staid two or three days, with Mr. Gourley, a brother of Mrs.
William M. Stockton, who was here engaged in raising potatoes. I walked
along the beach near some rocky islands near the shore, and on these
rocks were more sea lions and seals than I supposed the whole ocean
contained--the most wonderful show of sea life on the California coast.
Returning I staid all night at the crossing of the Salinas with a
colored family who gave me good accommodations for self and horse. I
heard afterward that this family was attacked by robbers and all but one

Mrs. Bennett's father D.J. Dilley lived near here also, and I had not
seen him since the time in Wisconsin, when he hauled my canoe over to
the river in 1849. One day while fishing on the beach we found the body
of a man, which we carried above the tide and buried in the sand.

I gave one of my horses to Geo. Bennett, and went over to Santa Cruz,
where I found Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Arcane and son Charles in a comfortable
home, well situated, and overjoyed to see me.

He knew everyone in town, and as we went about he never missed to
introduce me to every one we met, as the man who helped himself and
family out of Death Valley, and saved their lives. Arcane was a very
polite Frenchman and knew how to manage such things very gracefully, but
with all his grace and heartiness it made me feel quite a little
embarrassed to be made so much of publicly and among strangers. He took
me in his buggy and we drove along the beach, and to the lime-kiln of
Cowel & Jordan, also to the court house when court was in session.

Upon the hill I met Judge Watson, the father of Watsonville, and a Mr.
Graham, an old settler and land owner, and on this occasion he pulled a
sheet of ancient, smoky looking paper from beneath his arm, pointed to a
dozen or so of written lines in Spanish and then with a flourish of the
precious document in Watson's face dared him to beat that, or get him
off his land. I must say that never in my life was I better entertained
than here.

From Santa Cruz I crossed the mountain on a lonely and romantic trail to
San Jose again, finding very few houses on the road. Here I went to work
for R. G. Moody building a gristmill on the banks of the Coyote Creek,
to be run by water from artesian wells. When the mill was done I went
for my horse, and on my return I ran very unexpectedly upon Davenport
Helms, to whom I had sold my little black mule in 1850. Our talk was
short but he told me he had killed a man in Georgetown, and the sheriff
was looking for him. He was now venturing to town for tobacco, and would
hurry back to the hills again where he was herding cattle.

He said he kept them off at one time by getting in a piece of chaparral
and presenting his gun to them when they came near, they dare not
advance on him. Then he laughed and said--"And all the time my gun was
empty, for I did not have a d----d thing to put into it." "I tell you
they don't catch old Davenport. Now don't you tell on me. Good-bye." I
saw him no more after that.

The town of San Jose was now more of a town than it was a few years
before. The "Forty Thieves," and others, commenced building a city hall
of brick on the top of old adobe walls, and this was the principal
improvement, except the Moody mill near the Sutter house, one street
north of Julian.

After finishing work on the mill I drew my money from the bank in San
Francisco and started for the mines on horseback. Near French Camp, on
the east side of the San Joaquin Valley, many cattle were feeding on the
plains, and among them, much to my surprise I found "Old Crump," the ox
that brought Bennett's and Arcane's children safe through from Death
Valley in February, 1850. He was now fat and sleek and as kind and
gentle as when so poor upon the terrible journey. I got off my horse and
went up to him, and patted my old friend. I was glad to find him so
contented and happy, and I doubt not that he too was glad. I met a man
near by and asked him about the ox, and he said that the owner would not
sell him nor allow him to be worked, for he knew of the faithful part he
performed in the world, and respected him for it.

At Sacramento I deposited my money with Page, Bacon & Co., a branch of
the St. Louis firm of the same name, considered the safest bank in the
United States. Their bills were taken in payment of Government land.
Some rascals had some counterfeit bills on their bank, and traded them
off for gold with the Missourians who were going home, and the poor
fellows found themselves poor on arrival.

Going to my mine, where I left only a cabin or two, I found quite a
village with two hotels and a post office.

News soon came that the banks had closed their door, and Page and Bacon
also, so I concluded that I was broke. The "Pikers" said Page and Bacon
could not, nor would not fail, but news was against them. The boys now
tried to persuade me to go to Sacramento, and try to get my money and if
I succeeded, to bring up a good stock of goods and they would buy of me
in preference to any one else. On this showing I went down, and finding
my old friend Lyman Ross (well known in San Jose) who was keeping a
fruit store. I told him my business and he took me to L.A. Booth, Carrol
& Co., and I stated to him the facts about my money in the bank and the
doors closed. I told him if he would assist me I would buy $2000 worth
of his goods, and send them to Moore's Flat. I endorsed the certificate
over to him, and in half an hour he came back with the coin. How he got
it I never knew, but he did me a great favor, and we have been good
friends ever since. I was no merchant, nor had I any mercantile
education, so I took lessons from Mr. Booth, and allowed him to make out
for me a bill of goods such as he well knew I needed. With these we
loaded up two 6 mule teams, and started for the mountain.

I had about $700 left besides paying for the goods, but I felt a very
little troubled as to my prospect for success, for it was a new business
to me. Mr. Booth in a business way was a true father to me, and the much
needed points in trade which he gave me were stored away for the use I
knew I would make of them. Of all those whom I bear in grateful
remembrance none stand higher than this worthy man.

I went first direct to Nevada City to take out a license that I might
best protect myself against oppositions and from there I had a walk of
18 miles over a rough mountain trail to my selected place of business.
Climbing the great hill of the S. Yuba river I often tired and sat down
to rest, and I used this time to study my bill of goods, and add the
freight and profit to the cost, so as to be well posted, and able to
answer all questions readily when I unloaded the stock. The new trade
seemed quite a task to learn, but I felt that I was compelled to
succeed, and I worked manfully at it.

When I reached Moore's Flat I found that the boys had rented a store for
me, and their welcome was very hearty when they found how lucky I had
been in securing my money and starting out as their "grub supplier."

Four of us now located some mining claims, and began a tunnel both to
drain the ground, and to work through the bed-rock. This we named The
Paradise, and we expected that three or four months would elapse before
we made it pay, but there was in truth two years of solid rock-work
before we got under the ground, but it paid well in the end.

The largest nugget of gold ever found before this time was a quartz
boulder from the Buckeye sluice, about 8 by 10 inches in size, and when
cleaned up at the San Francisco mint the value was about $10,000.

Two of my partners in the work, L.J. Hanchett, and Jas. Clark ran out of
funds at the end of the first year, and I took as much of the expense as
I could upon my own shoulders.

About this time learning by a letter from her father that Mrs. Bennett
was lying at the point of death at Mr. L.C. Bostic's in San Jose, I left
H. Hanchett in charge of my business, and in four days I stood beside
the bedside of my friend, endeared through the trials when death by
thirst, starvation and the desert sands, stared us in the face with all
its ghastliness.

She reached out her arms and drew me down to her, and embraced me and
said in a faint whisper--"God bless you:--you saved us all till now, and
I hope you will always be happy and live long." She would have said
more, but her voice was so weak she could not be heard. She was very low
with consumption, and easily exhausted. I sat with her much of the time
at her request and though for her sake I would have kept back the tears
I could not always do it. Two doctors came, one of them Dr. Spencer, and
as I sat with my face partly turned away I over heard Dr. S. say to his
assistant--"He is a manly man."

This presence and the circumstances brought back the trying Death Valley
struggles, when this woman and her companions, and the poor children, so
nearly starved they could not stand alone, were only prevented from
sitting down to die in sheer despair by the encouraging words of Rogers
and myself who had passed over the road, and used every way to sustain
their courage.

She died the following day; with Mr. Bennett, I followed her remains to
Oak Hill cemetery, where she was buried near the foot of the hill, and a
board marked in large letters, "S.B." (Sarah Bennett) placed to mark the
mound. The grave cannot now be found, and no records being then kept it
is probably lost.

I went home with Mr. Bennett to his home near Watsonville, and spent
several days, meeting several of our old Death Valley party, and Mr.
D.J. Dilley, Mrs. Bennett's father. Mrs. Bennett left surviving her a
young babe.

I returned to Moore's Flat, and soon sold out my store, taking up the
business of purchasing gold dust direct from the miners, which I
followed for about two years, and in the fall of 1859 sold out the
business to Marks & Powers. I looked about through Napa and Sonoma
Counties, and finally came to San Jose, where I purchased the farm I now
own, near Hillsdale, of Bodley & McCabe, for which I paid $4,000.

In the fall of the same year my old friend W.M. Stockton of Los Angeles
Co. persuaded me to come down and pay him a visit. His wife had died and
he felt very lonely. I had been there but a few days when my old friend
A. Bennett and his children also came to Stockton's. The children had
grown so much I hardly knew them, but I was glad indeed to meet them.

I found Mr. Bennett to be a poor man. He had been persuaded to go to
Utah, being told that a fortune awaited his coming there, or could be
accumulated in a short time. He gave away the little babe left by his
wife to Mrs. Scott, of Scott's Valley, in Santa Cruz Co. and sold his
farm near the mouth of the Salinas River. With what money he had
accumulated he loaded two 4 mule teams with dry goods, put his four
children into his wagon, and went to Cedar City, Utah.

He gave a thrilling account of passing through Mountain Meadows, where
he saw, here and there little groups of skeletons of the unhappy victims
of the great massacre at that place of men, women and children, by J.D.
Lee, and his Mormon followers and told me the terrible story, which I
here omit.

Smarting under the terrible taxation of one tenth of everything, Bennett
grew poorer and poorer and at last resolved that he must go away, but
his wife could not leave her own people, and so he set off with his
children, somewhat afraid he might be shot down, but he reached Los
Angeles Co. in safety. One daughter married a lawyer in San Bernardino,
and died a few years afterwards. The other married a Capt. Johnson of
Wilmington, and Bennett and two sons went to Idaho.

A few years ago in passing from San Jose to the Coast, my wife and I
spent Sunday at Scott's Valley. Mrs. Scott invited us to visit them in
the evening at the house when all would be at home. Mrs. Scott was the
lady to whom Bennett gave his girl baby when he started away for Utah,
and I felt very anxious to see her now she was grown up. Mrs. Scott
introduced us, and I sat and looked at the little woman quite a long
time, but could not see that she resembled either father or mother. My
mind ran back over the terrible road we came and I pictured to myself
the woman as she then appeared.

I studied over our early trials, crossing the plains over the deserts
and our trying scenes out of Death Valley and turned all over in my mind
for some time and finally all came to me like a flash and I could
clearly see that the little lady was a true picture of her mother; I now
began to ask questions about her folks, she said her father lived near
Belmont, Nevada, and her grand-father died at the Monte, Los Angeles
county Cal.. Our visit now became very interesting and we kept a late


Since writing the connected story which has thus far appeared, I turn
back to give some incidents of life in the mines, and some description
of those pioneer gold days.

I have spoken of Moore's Flat, Orleans Flat and Woolsey's Flat, all
similarly situated on different points of the mountain, on the north
side of the ridge between the South and Middle Yuba River, and all at
about the same altitude. A very deep cañon lies between each of them,
but a good mountain road was built around the head of each cañon,
connecting the towns. When the snow got to be three or four feet deep
the roads must be broken out and communication opened, and the boys used
to turn out _en masse_ and each one would take his turn in leading the
army of road breakers. When the leader got tired out some one would take
his place, for it was terrible hard work to wade through snow up to
one's hips, and the progress very slow. But the boys went at it as if
they were going to a picnic, and a sort of picnic it was when they
reached the next town, for whisky was free and grub plenty to such a
party, and jollity and fun the uppermost thoughts. On one such occasion
when the crowd came through Orleans Flat to Moore's Flat, Sid Hunt, the
butcher, was in the lead as they came in sight of the latter place, and
both he and his followers talked pretty loud and rough to the Moore's
Flat fellows calling them "lazy pups" for not getting their road clear.
Hunt's helper was a big stout, loud talking young man named Williams,
and he shouted to the leader--"Sid Hunt, toot your horn if you don't
sell a clam." This seemed to put both sides in good humor, and the
Orleans fellows joined in a plenty to eat and drink, rested and went
home. Next day, both camps joined forces and broke the road over to
Woolsey's Flat, and the third day crowded on toward Nevada City, and
when out and across Bloody Run, a stream called thus because some dead
men had been found at the head of the stream by the early settlers, and
it was suspected the guilty murderers lived not far off, they turned
down into Humbug, a town now called Bloomfield, and as they went down
the snow was not so deep. They soon met Sam Henry, the express man,
working through with letters and papers, and all turned home again.

A young doctor came to Moore's Flat and soon became quite popular, and
after a little while purchased a small drug store at Orleans Flat. In
this town there lived a man and his family and among them a little curly
headed girl perhaps one or two years old. She was sick and died and
buried while the ground was covered thick with snow. A little time
after, it was discovered that the grave had been disturbed, and on
examination no body was found in the grave.

Then it was a searching party was organized, and threats of vengeance
made against the grave robber if he should be caught. No tracks were
found leading out of town so they began to look about inside, and there
began to be some talk about this Dr. Kittridge as the culprit. He was
the very man, and he went to his drug store and told his clerk to get a
saddle horse and take the dead child's body in a sack to his cabin at
Moore's Flat, and conceal it in a back room. The clerk obeyed, and with
the little corpse before him on the horse started from the back door and
rode furiously to Moore's Flat, and concealed the body as he had been

Some noticed that he had ridden unusually fast, and having a suspicion
that all was not right, told their belief to the Orleans Flat people,
who visited the Doctor at his store and accused him of the crime, and
talked about hanging him on the spot without a trial. At this the Doctor
began to be greatly frightened and begged piteously for them to spare
his life, confessing to the deed, but pleading in extenuation that it
was for the purpose of confirming a question in his profession, and
wholly in the interest of science that he did it, and really to spare
the feelings of the parents that he did it secretly. He argued that no
real harm had been done, and some of his friends sided with him in this
view. But the controversy grew warmer, and the house filled up with
people. Some were bloodthirsty and needed no urging to proceed to buy a
rope and use it. Others argued, and finally the Doctor said that the
body had not been dissected, and if they would allow him, and appoint a
committee to go with him, he would produce the body, and they could
decently bury it again and there it might remain forever. This he
promised to do, and all agreed to it, and he kept his word, thus ending
the matter satisfactorily and the Doctor was released. But the feeling
never died out. The Doctor's friends deserted him, and no one seemed to
like to converse with him. At the saloon he would sit like a perfect
stranger, no one noticing him, and he soon left for new fields.

The first tunnel run at Moore's Flat was called the Paradise, and had to
be started low on the side of the mountain in order to drain the ground,
and had to be blasted through the bed rock for about 200 feet.

Four of us secured ground enough by purchase so we could afford to
undertake this expensive job and we worked on it day and night. Jerry
Clark and Len Redfield worked the day shifts, and Sam King and Wm. Quirk
the night shift. When the tunnel was completed about 100 feet, the night
shift had driven forward the top of the tunnel as a heading, leaving the
bottom, which was about a foot thick, or more, to be taken out by the
day shift. They drilled a hole about two feet horizontally to blast out
this bench. King would sit and hold the drill between his feet, while
Quirk would strike with a heavy sledge. When the hole was loaded they
tramped down the charge very hard so as to be sure it would not blow
out, but lift the whole bench. One day when they were loading a hole,
King told Quirk to come down pretty heavy on the tamping, so as to make
all sure, and after a few blows given as directed, there was an
explosion, and Quirk was forced some distance out of the tunnel, his
eyes nearly put out with dirt blown into them, and his face and body cut
with flying pieces of rock. He was at first completely stunned, but
after awhile recovered so as to crawl out, and was slowly making his way
up the hill on hands and knees when he was discovered and helped to his
cabin where his wounds were washed and dressed.

Then a party with lighted candles entered the tunnel to learn the fate
of King, and they found him lying on the mass of rock the blast had
lifted, dead. On a piece of board they bore the body to his cabin. There
was hardly a whole bone remaining. A cut diagonally across his face,
made by a sharp stone, had nearly cut his head in two. He had been
thrown so violently against the roof of the tunnel, about 6 feet high,
that he was completely mashed.

He had a wife in Mass. and as I had often heard him talk of her, and of
sending her money, I bought a $100 check and sent it in the same letter
which bore the melancholy news. King had a claim at Chip's Flat which he
believed would be very rich in time, so I kept his interest up in it
till it amounted to $500 and then abandoned the claim and pocketed the

We made a pine box, and putting his body in it, laid it away with
respect. I had often heard him say that if he suffered an accident, he
wished to be killed outright and not be left a cripple, and his wish
came true.

After this accident the blacksmith working for the Paradise Co., was
making some repairs about the surface of the air shaft, and among his
tools was a bar of steel an inch square, and 8 or 10 feet long, which
was thrown across the shaft, and while working at the whim wheel he
slipped and struck this bar which fell to the bottom of the shaft, 100
feet deep and the blacksmith followed. When the other workmen went down
to his assistance they found that the bar of steel had stuck upright in
the bottom of the shaft, and when the man came down it pierced his body
from hip to neck, killing him instantly. He was a young man, and I have
forgotten his name.

Those who came to California these later years will not many of them see
the old apparatus and appliances which were used in saving the gold in
those primitive days. Among them was the old "Rocker." This had a bottom
about 5 feet long and 16 inches wide, with the sides about 8 inches high
for half the length, and then sloped off to two inches at the end. There
was a bar about an inch high across the end to serve as a riffle, and on
the higher end of this box is a stationary box 14 inches square, with
sides 4 inches high and having a sheet iron bottom perforated with half
inch holes. On the bottom of the box are fastened two rockers like those
on the baby cradle, and the whole had a piece of board or other solid
foundation to stand on, the whole being set at an angle to allow the
gravel to work off at the lower end with the water. A cleat was fastened
across the bottom to catch the gold, and this was frequently examined to
see how the work was paying, and taking out such coarse pieces as could
be readily seen. To work the rocker a pan of dirt would be placed in the
square screen box, and then with one hand the miner would rock the
cradle while he poured water with the other from a dipper to wash the
earth. After he had poured on enough water and shaken the box
sufficiently to pass all the small stuff through he would stir over what
remained in the screen box, examining carefully for a nugget too large
to pass through the half inch holes. If the miner found that the dirt
did not pay he took his rocker on his back and went on in search of a
better claim.

Another way to work the dirt was to get a small head of water running in
a ditch, and then run the water and gravel through a series of boxes a
foot square and twelve feet long, using from one to ten boxes as
circumstances seemed to indicate. At the lower end of these boxes was
placed the "Long Tom" which was about two feet wide at the lower end,
and having sides six inches high at the same point. The side pieces
extend out about 3 feet longer than the wooden bottom, and are turned up
to a point, some like a sled runner, and this turned up part has a
bottom of sheet iron punched full of holes, the size of the sheet iron
being about 3 feet by 16 inches.

The miners shovel dirt into the upper end of the boxes slowly, and
regulate the water so that it dissolves the lumps and chunks very
thoroughly before it reaches the long tom where a man stands and stirs
the gravel over, and if nothing yellow is seen throws the washed gravel
away, and lets the rest go through the screen. Immediately below this
screen was placed what was called a "riffle box," 2 by 4 feet in size
with bars 4 inches high across the bottom and sides, and this box is set
at the proper angle. Now when the water comes through the screen it
falls perpendicularly in this box with force enough to keep the contents
continually in motion, and as the gold is much heavier than any other
mineral likely to be found in the dirt, it settles to the bottom, and
all the lighter stuff is carried away by the water. The gold would be
found behind the bars in the riffle box.

These methods of working were very crude, and we gradually became aware
that the finest dust was not saved, and many improvements were brought
into use. In my own mine the tailings that we let go down the mountain
side would lodge in large piles in different places, and after lying a
year, more gold could be washed out of it than was first obtained, and
some of it coarser, so that it was plainly seen that a better way of
working would be more profitable. There was plenty of ground called poor
ground that had much gold in it but could not be profitably worked with
the rocker and long tom. The bed rock was nearly level and as the land
had a gradual rise, the banks kept getting higher and higher as they dug
farther in. Now it was really good ground only down close to the bed
rock, but all the dirt had some gold in it, and if a way could be
invented to work it fast enough, such ground would pay. So the plan of
hydraulic mining was experimented upon.

The water was brought in a ditch or flume to the top of a high bank, and
then terminated in a tight box. To this box was attached a large hose
made by hand out of canvas, and a pipe and nozzle attached to the lower
end of the hose. Now as the bank was often 100 feet or more high the
water at this head, when directed through the nozzle against the bank,
fairly melted it away into liquid mud. Imagine us located a mile above
the river on the side of a mountain. We dug at first sluices in the rock
to carry off the mud and water, and after it had flowed in these a
little way a sluice box was put in to pass it through. These were made
on a slope of one in twelve, and the bottom paved with blocks, 3 inches
thick, so laid as to make a cavity or pocket at the corner of the
blocks. After passing the first sluice box the water and gravel would be
run in a bed rock sluice again, and then into another sluice box and so
on for a mile, passing through several sluice boxes on the way.
Quicksilver was placed in the upper sluice boxes, and when the particles
of gold were polished up by tumbling about in the gravel, they combined
with the quicksilver making an amalgam.

The most gold would be left in the first sluice boxes but some would go
on down to the very last, where the water and dirt was run off into the
river. They cleaned up the first sluices every week, a little farther
down every month, while the lower ones would only be cleaned up at the
end of the season.

In cleaning up, the blocks would be taken out of the boxes, and every
little crevice or pocket in the whole length of the sluice cleaned out,
from the bottom to the top, using little hooks and iron spoons made for
the purpose.

The amalgam thus collected was heated in a retort which expelled the
quicksilver in vapor, which was condensed and used again.

When they first tried hydraulic work a tinsmith made a nozzle out of
sheet iron, but when put in practice, instead of throwing a solid
stream, it scattered like an shotgun, and up at Moore's Flat they called
the claims where they used it the "shotgun" claims.

From that time great improvements were made in hydraulic apparatus until
the work done by them was really wonderful.

In 1850 there lived at Orleans Flat and Moore's Flat, in Nevada County a
few young, energetic and very stirring pioneers in the persons of lads
from 10 to 15 years of age, always on the search for a few dimes to
spend, or add to an already hoarded store, and the mountain air, with
the wild surroundings, seemed to inspire them always with lively vigor,
and especially when there was a prospect of a two-bit piece not far

In winter when the deep snow cut off all communication with the valley,
our busy tinner ran short of solder, and seeing a limited supply in the
tin cans that lay thick about, he engaged the boys to gather in a supply
and showed them how they could be melted down to secure the solder with
which they had been fastened, and thus provide for his immediate wants.
So the boys ransacked every spot where they had been thrown, under the
saloon and houses, and in old dump holes everywhere, till they had
gathered a pretty large pile which they fired as he had told them, and
then panned out the ashes to secure the drops of metal which had melted
down and cooled in small drops and bits below. This was re-melted and
cast into a mould made in a pine block, and the solder made into regular
form. About one-third was made up thus in good and honest shape.

But the boys soon developed a shrewdness that if more fully expanded
might make them millionaires, but in the present small way they hoped to
put to account in getting a few extra dimes. They put a big chunk of
iron in the mould and poured in the melted solder which enclosed it
completely, so that when they presented the bright silvery bar to the
old tinker he paid the price agreed upon and they divided the money
between them, and then, in a secure place, they laughed till their sides
ached at the good joke on the tinman.

In due time the man found out the iron core in his bar of solder, and
thought the joke such a good one that he told of it in the saloon, and
had to spend at least $5 in drinks to ease off the laugh they had on him
as the victim of the young California pioneers. And these young
fellows--some have paddled their own canoe successfully into quiet
waters and are now in the fullness of life, happy in their possessions,
while some have been swamped on the great rushing stream of business,
and dwell in memory on the happy times gone by.

The older pioneers in these mining towns were, in many respects a
peculiar class of men. Most of them were sober and industrious, fearless
and venturesome, jolly and happy when good luck came to them, and in
misfortune stood up with brave, strong, manly hearts, without a tear or
murmur. They let the world roll merrily by, were ever ready with joke,
mirth and fun to make their surroundings cheerful.

Fortunes came and went; they made money easily, and spent it just as
freely, and in their generosity and kindly charity the old
expression--"He has a heart like an ox" fitted well the character of
most of them.

When luck turned against them they worked the harder, for the next turn
might fill their big pockets with a fortune, and then the dream of
capturing a wife and building up a home could be realized, and they
would move out into the world on a wave of happiness and plenty. This
kind of talk was freely carried on around the camp fire in the long
evenings, and who knows how many of these royal good fellows realized
those bright hopes and glorious anticipations? Who knows?

The names come back in memory of some of them, and others have been
forgotten. I recall Washington Work, H. J. Kingman, A. J. Henderson, L.
J. Hanchett, Jack Hays, Seth Bishop, Burr Blakeslee, Jim Tyler, who was
the loudest laugher in the town, and as he lived at the Clifton House he
was called "The Clifton House Calf." These and many others might be
mentioned as typical good fellows of the mining days. The biggest kind
of practical joke would be settled amicably at the saloon after the
usual style.

One day Jack Hays bought a pair of new boots, set them down in the store
and went to turn off the miners supply of water. When he returned he
found his boots well filled with refuse crackers and water. This he
discovered when he took them up to go to dinner, and as he poured out
the contents at the door, a half dozen boys across the street raised a
big laugh at him, and hooted at his discomfiture. Jack scowled an awful
scowl, and if he called them "pukes" with a few swear words added, it
was a mild way of pouring out his anger. But after dinner the boys
surrounded him and fairly laughed him into a good humor, so that he set
up drinks for the crowd.

Foot races were a great Sunday sport, and dog fights were not uncommon.
One dog in our camp was champion of the ridge, and though other camps
brought in their pet canines to eat him up, he was always the top dog at
the end of the scrimmage, and he had a winning grip on the fore foot of
his antagonist.

A big "husky" who answered to the name of Cherokee Bob came our way and
stopped awhile. He announced himself a foot racer, and a contest was
soon arranged with Soda Bill of Nevada City, and each went into a course
of training at his own camp. Bob found some way to get the best time
that Bill could make, and comparing it with his own, said he could beat
in that race. So when it came off our boys gathered up their money, and
loaded down the stage, inside and out, departing with swinging hats and
flying colors, and screaming in wild delight at the sure prospect of
doubling their dust. In a few days they all came back after the style of
half drowned roosters.

Bob had 'thrown' the race and skipped with his money before they could
catch him. Had he been found he would have been urgently hoisted to the
first projecting limb, but he was never seen again. The boys were sad
and silent for a day or two, but a look of cheerful resignation soon
came upon their faces as they handled pick and shovel, and the world
rolled on as before.

One fall we had a county election, and among the candidates for office
was our townsman, H.M. Moore, from whom Moore's Flat secured its name.
He was the Democratic nominee for County Judge, and on the other side
was David Belden, he whom Santa Clara County felt proud to honor as its
Superior Judge, and when death claimed him, never was man more sincerely
mourned by every citizen.

The votes were counted, and Belden was one ahead. Moore claimed another
count, and this time a mistake was discovered in the former count, but
unfortunately it gave Belden a larger majority than before, and his
adversary was forced to abandon the political fight.

In the fifties I traveled from the North Yuba River to San Bernardino on
different roads, and made many acquaintances and friends. I can truly
say that I found many of these early comers who were the most noble men
and women of the earth. They were brave else they had never taken the
journey through unknown deserts, and through lands where wild Indians
had their homes. They were just and true to friends, and to real
enemies, terribly bitter and uncompromising. Money was borrowed and
loaned without a note or written obligation, and there was no mention
made of statute laws as a rule of action. When a real murderer or
horsethief was caught no lawyers were needed nor employed, but if the
community was satisfied as to the guilt and identity of the prisoner,
the punishment was speedily meted out, and the nearest tree was soon
ornamented with his swinging carcass.

Many of these worthy men broke the trail on the rough way that led to
the Pacific Coast, drove away all dangers, and made it safer for those
who dared not at first risk life and fortune in the journey, but,
encouraged by the success of the earliest pioneers, ventured later on
the eventful trip to the new gold fields. I cannot praise these noble
men too much; they deserve all I can say, and much more, too; and if a
word I can say shall teach our new citizens to regard with reverent
respect the early pioneers who laid the foundations of the glory,
prosperity and beauty of the California of to-day, I shall have done all
I hope to, and the historian of another half century may do them
justice, and give to them their full need of praise.

As long as I have lived in California I have never carried a weapon of
defense, and never could see much danger. I tried to follow the right
trail so as to shun bad men, and never found much difficulty in doing
so. We hear much of the Vigilance Committee of early days. It was an
actual necessity of former times. The gold fields not only attracted the
good and brave, but also the worst and most lawless desperadoes of the
world at large. England's banished convicts came here from the penal
colonies of Australia and Van Diemen's Land. They had wonderful ideas of
freedom. In their own land the stern laws and numerous constabulary had
not been able to keep them from crime. A colony of criminals did not
improve in moral tone, and when the most reckless and daring of all
these were turned loose in a country like California, where the
machinery of laws and officers to execute them was not yet in order,
these lawless "Sidney Ducks," as they were called, felt free to rob and
murder, and human life or blood was not allowed to stand between them
and their desires. Others of the same general stripe came from Mexico
and Chili, and Texas and Western Missouri furnished another class almost
as bad.

The Vigilance Committee of San Francisco was composed of the best men in
the world. They endured all that was heaped upon them by these lawless
men, and the law of self protection forced them to organize for the
swift apprehension and punishment of crime, and the preservation of
their property and lives. No one was punished unjustly, but there was no
delay, and the evil-doer met his fate swiftly and surely. Justice was
strict, and the circumstances were generally unfavorable to thoughts of
mercy. I was in San Francisco the day after Casey and Cory were hung by
the Vigilance Committee. Things looked quite military. Fort Gunny-bags
seemed well protected, and no innocent man in any danger. I was then a
customer of G.W. Badger and Lindenberger, clothiers, and was present one
day in their store when some of the clerks came in from general duty,
and their comrades shouldered the same guns and took their places on
guard. The Committee was so truly vigilant that these fire-bugs, robbers
and cut-throats had to hide for safety.

Those who came early to this coast were, mostly, brave, venturesome,
enduring fellows, who felt they could outlive any hardship and overcome
all difficulties; they were of no ordinary type of character or habits.
They thought they saw success before them, and were determined to win it
at almost any cost. They had pictured in their minds the size of the
"pile" that would satisfy them, and brought their buckskin bags with
them, in various sizes, to hold the snug sum they hoped to win in the
wonderful gold fields of the then unknown California.

These California pioneers were restless fellows, but those who came by
the overland trail were not without education and refinement; they were,
indeed, many of them, the very cream of Americans. The new scenes and
associations, the escape from the influence of home and friends, of wife
and children, led some off the dim track, and their restlessness could
not well be put down. Reasonable men could not expect all persons under
these circumstances to be models of virtue. Then the Missouri River
seemed to be the western boundary of all civilization, and as these gold
hunters launched out on the almost trackless prairies that lay westward
of that mighty stream, many considered themselves as entering a country
of peculiar freedom, and it was often said that "Law and morality never
crossed the Missouri River." Passing this great stream was like the
crossing of the Rubicon in earlier history, a step that could not be
retraced, a launching to victory or death. Under this state of feeling
many showed the cloven foot, and tried to make trouble, but in any
emergency good and honest men seemed always in the majority, and those
who had thoughts or desires of evil were compelled to submit to
honorable and just conclusions.

There were some strange developments of character among these travelers.
Some who had in long attendance at school and church, listened all their
lives to teachings of morality and justice, and at home seemed to be
fairly wedded to ideas of even rights between man and man, seemed to
experience a change of character as they neared the Pacific Coast.
Amiable dispositions became soured, moral ideas sadly blunted, and their
whole make-up seemed changed, while others who at home seemed to be of
rougher mould, developed principles of justice and humanity, affection
almost unbounded, and were true men in every trial and in all places. A
majority of all were thus fair-minded and true.

Men from every state from New Hampshire to Texas gathered on the banks
of the Missouri to set out together across the plains. These men reared
in different climates, amid different ways and customs, taught by
different teachers in schools of religion and politics, made up a
strange mass when thus thrown together; but the good and true came to
the surface, and the turbulent and bad were always in a hopeless
minority. Laws seemed to grow out of the very circumstances, and though
not in print, flagrant violations would be surely punished.

Some left civilization with all the luxuries money could buy--fine,
well-equipped trains of their own, and riding a fat and prancing steed,
which they guided with gloved hands, and seemed to think that water and
grass and pleasant camping places would always be found wherever they
wished to stop for rest, and that the great El Dorado would be a grand
pleasure excursion, ending in a pile of gold large enough to fill their
big leather purse. But the sleek, fat horse grew poor; the gloves with
embroidered gauntlet wrists were cast aside; the trains grew small, and
the luxuries vanished, and perhaps the plucky owner made the last few
hundred miles on foot, with blistered soles and scanty pack, almost
alone. Many of these gay trains never reached California, and many a
pioneer who started with high hopes died upon the way, some rudely
buried, some left where they fell upon the sands or rocks.

Those who got through found a splendid climate and promising prospects
before them of filling empty stomachs and empty pockets, and were soon
searching eagerly for yellow treasure. When fortunate they recovered
rapidly their exhausted bodies to health and strength, and gained new
energy as they saw prosperity.

Prospectors wandered through the mountains in search of new and suitable
gold diggings, and when they came to a miner's cabin the door was always
open, and whether the owner was present or absent they could go in, and
if hungry, help themselves to anything they found in shape of food, and
go away again without fear of offense, for under such circumstances the
unwritten law said that grub was free.

By the same unwritten law, stealing and robbery, as well as murder, were
capital offences, and lawless characters were put down. Favors were
freely granted, and written obligations were never asked or given, and
business was governed by the rules of strictest honor. The great
majority of these pioneers were the bone and sinew of the nation, and
possessed a fair share of the brains. In a personal experience with them
extending from early days to the present time I have found them always
just and honorable, and I regret that it is not within my ability to
give the praise they deserve. When a stranger and hungry I was never
turned away without food, and my entertainment was free, and given
without thought of compensation or reward.

In the chambers of my mind are stored up the most pleasant recollections
of these noble men whose good deeds in days gone by have earned for them
the right to a crown of glory of greatest splendor.

These noble souls who came here 40 years ago are fast passing away
across the Mystic River, and those who trod on foot the hot and dusty
trail are giving way to those who come in swiftly rolling palace cars,
and who hardly seem to give a thought to the difference between then and
now. Those who came early cleared the way and started the great stream
of gold that has made America one of the richest nations of the world.

I have a suggestion to make to the descendants of these noble pioneers,
that to perpetuate the memory of their fathers, and do reverence to
their good and noble deeds in the early history of this grand State,
there should be erected upon the highest mountain top a memorial
building wherein may be inscribed the names and histories of the brave
pioneers, so they may never be blotted out.


The most perfect organization of the pioneers who participated more or
less in the scenes depicted in this volume, is that of the Jayhawkers,
and, strange to say, this organization is in the East, and has its
annual meetings there, although the living members are about equally
divided between the East and the Pacific Coast. As related elsewhere,
February 4th is the day of the annual meeting, for on that day they
reached the Santa Clara Valley.

It is greatly regretted that a more direct and complete account of the
Death Valley experience of the Jayhawkers could not have been obtained
for this work. To be sure it was from the lips of a living witness told
in many conversations, but no doubt many striking incidents were left
out. It is, however, a settled thing that these, and other individuals
with whom he was immediately connected, were more intimately connected
with the horrors of the sunken valley which was given its name by them,
than were any other persons who ever crossed that desert region.

It will be considered that this was the most favorable time of year
possible, and that during the spring or summer not one would have lived
to tell the tale.

The Author, to his best, has done his duty to all, and concludes with
the hope that this mite may authenticate one of the saddest chapters in
the history of the Golden State.


This story is not meant to be sensational, but a plain, unvarnished tale
of truth--some parts hard and very sad. It is a narrative of my personal
experience, and being in no sense a literary man or making any pretense
as a writer, I hope the errors may be overlooked, for it has been to me
a difficult story to tell, arousing as it did sad recollections of the
past. I have told it in the plainest, briefest way, with nothing
exaggerated or overdone. Those who traveled over the same or similar
routes are capable of passing a just opinion of the story.

Looking back over more than 40 years, I was then a great lover of
liberty, as well as health and happiness, and I possessed a great desire
to see a new country never yet trod by civilized man, so that I easily
caught the gold fever of 1849, and naught but a trip to that land of
fabled wealth could cure me.

Geography has wonderfully changed since then. Where Omaha now stands
there was not a house in 1849. Six hundred miles of treeless prairie
without a house brought us to the adobe dwellings at Fort Laramie, and
400, more or less, were the long miles to Mormondom, still more than 700
miles from the Pacific Coast. Passing over this wilderness was like
going to sea without a compass.

Hence it will be seen that when we crossed a stream that was said to
flow to the Pacific Ocean, myself and comrades were ready to adopt
floating down its current as an easier road than the heated trail, and
for three weeks, over rocks and rapids, we floated and tumbled down the
deep cañon of Green River till we emerged into an open plain and were
compelled to come on shore by the Indians there encamped. We had
believed the Indians to be a war-like and cruel people, but when we made
them understand where we wanted to go, they warned us of the great
impassable Colorado Cañon only two days ahead of us, and pointed out the
road to "Mormonie" with their advice to take it. This was Chief Walker,
a good, well meaning red man, and to him we owed our lives.

Out of this trouble we were once again on the safe road from Salt Lake
to Los Angeles, and again made error in taking a cutoff route, and
striking across a trackless country because it seemed to promise a
shorter distance, and where thirteen of our party lie unburied on the
sands of the terribly dry valley. Those who lived were saved by the
little puddles of rain water that had fallen from the small rain clouds
that had been forced over the great Sierra Nevada Mountains in one of
the wettest winters ever known. In an ordinary year we should have all
died of thirst, so that we were lucky in our misfortune.

When we came out to the fertile coast near Los Angeles, we found good
friends in the native Californians who, like good Samaritans, gave us
food and took us in, poor, nearly starved creatures that we were,
without money or property from which they could expect to be rewarded.
Their deeds stand out whiter in our memories than all the rest,
notwithstanding their skins were dark. It seems to me such people do not
live in this age of the world which we are pleased to call advanced. I
was much with these old Californians, and found them honest and
truthful, willing to divide the last bit of food with a needy stranger
or a friend. Their good deeds have never been praised enough, and I feel
it in my heart to do them ample justice while I live.

The work that was laid out for me to do, to tell when and where I went,
is done. Perhaps in days to come it may be of even more interest than
now, and I shall be glad I have turned over the scenes in my memory and
recorded them, and on some rolling stone you may inscribe the name of
WILLIAM LEWIS MANLEY, born near St. Albans, Vermont, April 20th, 1820,
who went to Michigan while yet it was a territory, as an early pioneer;
then onward to Wisconsin before it became a state, and for twelve long,
weary months traveled across the wild western prairies, the lofty
mountains and sunken deserts of Death Valley, to this land which is now
so pleasant and so fair, wherein, after over 40 years of earnest toil, I
rest in the midst of family and friends, and can truly say I am content.


[Transcriber's Note: Several variant spellings of, for example,
"medecine" and "Mormon", have been retained from the original.]

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