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 1848-1868 Companies

Previous | Next

1852 (age 7), Willden (Johnson), Ann Jane

I was born in Sheffield, England, May 15, 1845. When I was three years old I was at my grandmother's. My mother was milking a cow; noticing the streams of milk I asked if they were knitting needles. One day a lady gave me an English penny, and I was sure I could get a fine large doll with it, so I gave it to my father to buy me a doll, and he bought one that was worth a penny. It was only a rudely carved wooden doll with a painted face and no legs. My disappointment was very great, for I expected that my penny would buy one of the beautiful show dolls in the shop windows.

In the year of 1849, my parents decided to leave England. We arrived in the "States" in the year 1849, and as we were going up the river to Iowa, my little sister died, and we were forced to land that we might bury her. I was about five years old, and the burial service made a deep impression upon me.

We first settled in a neighborhood where there were no little children, and the Scottish settlers thought I was a "fine wee lassie," so asked mother to let me visit them for a day, which she did, but I returned with the germs of the "itch." Soon the whole family had contracted the disease. Mother was much troubled and worried, for this was a new disease for her.

I was much interested in our first cow, and one day while I was studying her actions, she picked me up with her horns and threw me over her back. Someone ran and helped me up, but I was unhurt. ...My mother had a few chickens. One of them died. My brother and I remembered about the burial of our little sister, so we conducted the same service for the chicken.

When we had gone up the Mississippi River we settled at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in a Mormon colony. Here my father bought a fine farm and was quite prosperous. We lived on this farm for two years, then came the call to go to Great Salt Lake, Utah. Father arranged with an agent to sell the farm, as we had to leave right away. This agent traded the place one hundred acres of the best of land, for an old second-hand watch.

We crossed the plains in the Third Company of Capt. Thos. C.C. Howell in 1851 [1852]. We loaded our covered wagon with our household goods and the family, and started on the long hard journey to Salt Lake. Earlier in the year, other companies had gone to Utah. The traveling was so hard that their stock had given out, and so to lighten the loads, many of the household goods were thrown out and left behind: pots, pans, tubs, heavy articles of wearing apparel, and feather beds, were strewn all along the roadside. Our party would have liked to have picked up many of the things, especially the feather beds. Our teams were in good condition, and we could have carried many of these things.

Sometimes the stock would stampede if they saw a dead animal by the roadside. At one time some women were walking ahead of the wagons, when they came upon a dead ox. They knew there would be trouble if something was not done, so they stood in line between the dead ox and the road, holding out their long skirts at their sides, thus making effective screen while the long train passed by.

One day an old Indian chief came to our wagon. I saw him coming and ran to the far end of the "prairie schooner." He saw that I was afraid of him, so to tease me, ran his long spear as far into the wagon as he could reach. I surely was frightened for I thought he was going to kill me.

At one time, all the men who could get away from the wagons went after a herd of buffalo. All returned from the hunt but my father and a companion. The train could not wait for them, as camp had to be made further on so they were left behind. At nine o'clock that night they had not reached the camp and the company became uneasy about them. A lantern was hung on a tall tree and guns were fired. About three o'clock in the morning an answer came to the watching and anxious people. The answer was a gunshot fired by the lost ones.

A few days later, my brother Charles was lost for four days. He had gone back to help another company, which had taken the wrong road, and in trying to find it, was himself lost. But he kept up the search and at last found where they were camped. He led them back to the main road and to the camp of the wagon train.

One day Charles was driving our wagon and John was driving the sheep behind the wagon. There was another company behind our outfit, and our parents got out of our wagon and said they would walk awhile and talk with the people. Mother told me to stay in the wagon and care for my little sister. After awhile, John came to the wagon and called to me. "Annie, won't you come drive the sheep, I am so tired?" I was willing to do so. Had I gotten out of the wagon on the "nigh" side all would have been well, but instead, I got out on the opposite side. The oxen, not being accustomed to this, kicked me under the wagon, a wheel struck my back and squeezed up my dinner, and my prized lead pencil. Though I was badly hurt I mourned the loss of my pencil.

In Utah. While passing through Echo Canyon, we found it to be a very wonderful place, for there were great rocks and high cliffs, the first we had ever seen. We children shouted, "Hurrah," and there came back to us, the answering "Hurrah." Again we called, "Who are you?" and again came the answer, "Who are you?" So we called, yelled, and shouted just to hear the mysterious, answering voice, echoing from the rocky cliffs. Soon after reaching Utah we made our way south.

After our company reached Cedar City, Iron County, Utah, men were examined to see what type of work they were fitted for. My father was a steel refiner. A company had built a furnace, and the refining of iron was started, but the refined iron was of an inferior quality, either because of poor quality of iron or because of poor workmanship. The company wanted father to build his furnace, but he would not go to the expense till he found if their refined iron was good enough to make into good steel, so he went to farming, and was considered one of the best farmers in all that country.

We built a cellar and our large family lived in it for some time. We slept, cooked and ate in that one room. The beds were piled in one corner during the day and spread out on the floor at night. This did not last very long, for my father was an enterprising man. He built a house, the kitchen first, then the other two rooms being added later. While living in the cellar, an old Piute Indian came to trade. Mother had to step out a few minutes and told me to watch to see that the Indian did not try to steal anything, though there was not much to steal. When mother left, the Indian took hold of me. I was dreadfully frightened and thought I was to be killed then and there. I pulled away and ran to mother and left the Indian to steal what he would.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.