Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Pioneer 1847 Companies

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1847: Thursday, April 29 - The bugler roused the camp for an early morning start

Date: April 29, 1847

An early start was made by the Mormon pioneer company this day because of the need to find something for the cattle to eat. All the grass near the campsite had been consumed the previous evening.

Everyone in camp was up before dawn to load wagons, harness teams and get on the trail by 5 a.m. Breakfast was postponed until later in the morning.

As usual, it was the bugler who roused the camp with blasts on his horn. The night guards generally were the ones who awakened the bugler.

The job of bugler was handled by James Craig, 26, an Irishman who later served an extended mission in England and his native land.

Craig was assigned the job of exterminating predatory animals and snakes after the pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. He helped establish settlements in southern Utah and raised cotton in Santa Clara until his death at 47.

While the pioneer company marched, William Clayton complained that "there seems to be very little rain in this country and no dew." He called the dry conditions "a drought."

After moving three miles, the company halted to let the cattle graze on fresh grass. The pioneers sat down to their own breakfasts. Clayton said his meal consisted of "cooked goose and moldy bread." Resuming the journey, the group forded a l0-footwide stream after some delay and moved up a gently ascending tableland until reaching a small lake where they halted for a midday rest.

The lack of moisture and a strong south wind the past few days had parched the entire company. The pioneers, mostly from New England, were used to more moisture.

One of Orson Pratt's horses became sick and lay down several times while in the wagon harness -- a worry to the pioneers because of their previous losses among the horses.

"I am not astonished," Clayton commented. The wagons and everything else are suffering because of the wind "which is perfectly dry. There is no moisture in it." He said even his writing desk was beginning to crack because of the arid atmosphere.

The wagons also were churning up the prairie turf and the resulting clouds of dust were "almost sufficient to suffocate everyone," he said.

The company camped that night across from Grand Island, a body of land about 45 miles long, which divided the Platte River into two separate branches.

Near the campsite the pioneers found a "white substance which oozes out of the ground and tastes like salt, but not so strong as common salt." Clayton said.

The cannon hauled by the Mormons brought up the rear of the wagon train. Ten men had been named as a gun crew and were responsible for taking care of the weapon and bringing it into action, if necessary. They held occasional drills, especially if Indians were thought to be around. However, the cannon was never used against Indians on the trip.

Members of the gun crew were Thomas Tanner, captain; Stephen H. Goddard, Seeley Owen, Thomas Woolsey, Horace Thornton, Charles D. Barnum, Sylvester H. Earl, George Scholes and Rufus Alien.

One of the crewmen, Goddard, 36, reportedly was the handsomest man in camp. The New Yorker had an excellent voice and often led the singing around the campfire at night. He would later become the first leader of a Mormon choir in the old tabernacle.

Source: 111 Days to Zion © Copyright 1997 Big Moon Traders and Hal Knight. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. This includes educational uses.