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Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies

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Joel Hills Johnson, 1859-60 (age 58)
Return to Utah from Genoa
Journal entries, 19 July 1859 - 1 Nov 1860

Released from labors in Genoa, Trek Preparations
Tuesday 19th, got home a little before noon. Called a meeting in the evening. Brother Eldridge spoke to the Saints, gave them some instructions and told them that he was satisfied that I had done the best I could for the people of Genoa and that I must be released from my labors and return home.

Wednesday 20th, Brother Eldridge called a meeting a gain in the morning at 5 o'clock in which I was honorably released from my labors in Genoa and Brother Poppleton was appointed to take the Presidency until a man could be sent from Salt Lake.

Thursday 21st, I hired brother George Moore to take me down to Florence. We started about noon and arrived in Florence on Saturday about noon, and went over to Ellisdale and in the evening went to Council Bluffs City. We stopped there until Sunday about noon and returned to Ellisdale and from there to Florence. On Monday settled with my brother William and made from him a small purchase of goods and then started for home by way of Omaha, where I purchased a few more goods and came as far as the Little Papillion Creek and camped for the night.

Tuesday 26, started early in the morning and arrived home on Thursday about noon.

Friday 29th, commenced packing my goods and preparing for my journey home across the plains.

Thursday August 4, 1859, sold out my share in the mill to Michael Pilling for $350. Received one yoke of oxen in payment down and his note for the balance, payable the first of June next. I had previously sold the ferry for $500, and received two yoke of oxen, one cow and one wagon in part payment. The purchaser's names were N.I. Hudson, Moses Welsh, Daniel Welsh and James Freston. I took their notes in balance due for $240, one of which I sold to my brother, William.

To Utah (Aug. 5, 1859)
Friday 5th, stated on my journey in company with Margaret and Thomas Athchinson, a young lad of 14 whom I took to assist in driving team. My teams consisted of three yoke of oxen and one yoke of cows and one wagon laden with about 30 hundred. Drove about 20 miles and camped beside the road.

Saturday 6th, stated early in the morning and came about 15 or 20 miles and broke the fore axle tree in our wagon. I then unloaded the wagon and took off the box and placed it in a position to shelter us from the scorching sun and the heavy night dews, after which I dug a well for water to use and for the cattle.

Sunday 7th, this morning I put the four wheels of the wagon on the hind axle tree of the wagon and hitched a yoke of oxen to reach and drove to Loup Fork, a distance of about eight miles to get a piece of timber to spice the axle tree.

I came to the river and after searching four or five miles up and down, was disappointed in not finding a stick to answer the purpose. Although very much fatigued and faint through excessive labor, I had to ford the river on foot, which was very high and rapid, to find a stick. Afer reaching the opposite side and searching about on hour, I found a small ash tree, at the foot of which I knelt down and thanked my Heavenly Father for the blessing. Then I went to work and cut out a piece and shaped it suitable for the purpose intended and laid it on my shoulders in the act of which I staggered like a drunken man through fatigue and faintness.

After wending my way for a half or three-fourths of a mile through brush and ravines, I reach the river, but was in doubt whether I should be able to stem the current to the other shore. I knelt down and asked my Heavenly Father to give me strength. I then breasted the stream and forded nearly a mile, with the current obliquing towards the side of which my team stood. I reached it in safety and lashed my stick of timber to the cart and seated myself thereon. I started for the scene of my disaster, faint and weary almost unto death. I reached the place about 4 o'clock and laid myself upon the ground in the shade of my wagon box until nearly sundown. I then commence to repair my broken axle-tree.

Monday 8th, finished splicing the axle tree and reloaded the wagon and started about 10 or 11 o'clock and traveled until 9 o'clock in the evening and camped beside the road.

Tuesday 9th, started early in the morning and crossed Pavarie Creek at 11 o'clock and camped for the night about 10 miles from the Wood River Settlement.

Wednesday 10th, came to the settlement about noon and employed Brother Carroll to make me a new axle tree.

Thursday 11th, got axle tree made and went to the blacksmith shop to get ironed. Had to wait for coal to be burned.

Friday 12th, very stormy. Nothing done to my axle tree today, and as Brother Homer's company, with whom I had expected to cross the plains, had gone four days ahead of me, I got discouraged and gave up all hope of overtaking them and concluded to stop another year.

Saturday 13th, got my wagon finished or repaired and put together ready for a start.

Sunday 14th, moved my wagon back down to the forks of the Columbus and Genoa roads and attended meeting with the Brethren at Brother Huff's. Had a good time in speaking and finally concluded to take up a claim and build a house for a store.

Broken Wagon Changed Plans (Stayed another year)
Monday 15th, moved my wagon onto my claim and unloaded my goods. Took off the wagon box and went to the timber for a load to commence building a shanty to live in until I could build a house.

Tuesday 16th, went to the timber again for building materials.

Wednesday 17th, commenced putting up my cabin.

Thursday 18th, finished my cabin, which consisted in large forks set in the ground with poles laid across and hay put on the top with willows cut the right length and set in the ground at the lower end with a pole pinned across the top, after which I unpacked my groceries and drugs and set them up on temporary shelves.

Friday 19th, finished fixing up my goods and traded some with the emigrants or returning to Pikes Peakers.

[another bad year with bad health, drunks vandalizing his business, false charges against him in court; skip to June, 1860]

Another Start for Utah
Monday 11th [June, 1860]. Very warm and pleasant. At home packing up things and fixing to go below preparatory to starting for home.

Tuesday 12th. Helped Nephi to repair the wagons with which I expect to cross the plains.

Wednesday 13. Busy all day at the wagons.

Thursday 14th. Expected to start below today but was disappointed.

Friday 15th. Stated late in the afternoon to go to Omaha and Florence in company with my son Nephi and Margaret to purchase a outfit for crossing the plains. Went 5 or 6 miles and camped for the night.

Saturday 16th. Started early in the morning and went a little below the Dutch Settlement and camped for the night.

Sunday 17th. Started early and traveled a little below Crystal Brook and camped for the night.

Monday 18th. Started early and came to Genoa a little after noon where we met the first company of hand carts. We crossed the ferry towards evening and stopped at Brother Hudson's for the night, where I extracted a large piece of bone from the ulcer in my face.

Tuesday 19th. Swapped wagons with Dan Welch and started towards evening and camped for the night on Looking Glass Creek.

Wednesday 20th. Started early in the morning and camped for the night at Mr. Russels.

Thursday 21st. Started as soon as daylight and camped for the night at Widow Hogans where we found a large company of Saints in camp bound for Utah.

Friday 22nd. Started late in the morning and crossed the Elkhorn bridge a little before sundown and camped for the night a small distance above Elkhorn city.

Saturday 23rd. Started early in the morning and arrive at my brother William Johnsons in Florence City a little in the afternoon.

Sunday 24th. Stopped at my brothers all day being tired and unwell.

Monday 25th. Stopped to herd the oxen and take care of them while Nephi went over the rover to Ellisdale.

Tuesday 26th. Assisted my brother in his store and sent a small boy of his out to herd the oxen and during the day one of them slipped away and could not be found at night.

Wednesday 27th. Spent the day in looking for the lost Ox.

Thursday 28th. Spent the forenoon in herding the oxen and the afternoon in visiting with my sister Almera, while Nephi was hunting the lost Ox.

Friday 29th. Took care of the oxen while Nephi was still looking for the lost one.

Saturday 30th. Spent the day with the oxen who keep trying to run away.

Sunday 1st of July. This morning I found that a large company of English and Danish Saints had landed at the wharf during the night from the steam boat Omaha. They rushed into my brothers store this morning for board, but he had none so I went down to Omaha with a team and brought up a quantity and assisted my brother the balance of the day in supplying them with bread and the necessaries.

Monday 2nd. Found the ox that we had lost.

Sunday 15th. Since the last date I have assisted most of the time in tending my brothers store and in preparing my fit out for the plains. I started today with a few families for my home at Hood River. Nephi was obliged to stop behind to pilot out a large company of saints he being their chaplain or pilot. Stopped at the camp two miles from Florence.

Monday 16th. Started from Camp a little after noon in company with John Snider and some Danish families and came to the big Papillion Creek and camped for the night.

Tuesday 17th. Started early in the morning and camped for the night within two miles of Fremont.

Wednesday 18th. Started early and camped for the night at Shell Harbors old place.

Thursday 19th. Started early and camped for the night at Shell Creek.

Friday 20th. Started early. Very hot through the day. Came near melting. Some of our calls went for water. Camped for the night at Spauldings.

Saturday 21st. Left camp in good season and camped for the night at Looking Glass Creek.

Sunday 22nd. Came to Loup Fork Ferry and crossed over the river.

Monday 23rd. Stopped in camp on the bank of the river all day.,

Tuesday 24th. Started early in the morning and camped for the night just below Crystal Brook.

Wednesday 25th. Started early in the morning and camped for the night a few miles above the Lone Tree Station on he Platte River.

Thursday 26th. My brother Joseph met us in camp this morning on his way to Genoa and Columbus. Started rather late and camped for the night a little below Woodrow crossing.

Friday 27th. Started early and arrived home at Woodview Center about sundown.

Saturday 28th. Commenced fitting up my wagon bow and cover.

Wednesday August 1. Since the above date I have been busy fitting up for my journey. Today I had a severe attack of the Asiatic Cholera cramping, vomiting, and purging. It was thought several times by those attending me that I was dying but the Lord in his goodness saw fit to spare my life for which I thank his holy name.

Thursday 2nd. Still confined to my bed through weakness. Nephi arrived a day ahead of his train.

Friday 3rd. Nephi's train arrive today in the forenoon.

Saturday 4th. Today in the afternoon the train started on but I was not ready and able to start.

Sunday 5th. Started a little after breakfast on my journey across the plains with two wagons belonging to myself, one containing goods belonging to the hand carts and other companies gone before which I was freighting under contract with Brother G. O. Cannon, the other with goods, provisions, etc, belonging to myself. Nephi, Margaret and an old maid who was with us by the name of Mary Ellen I had charge also of another wagon sent out by my brother Joseph E. Johnson to take out the children of the late Sister Babbitt and an old maiden lady by the name of Hannah Allen, sister to the above mentioned Mary with a young lady and child sent by my brother by the name of Eliza Sanders. We camped for the night a little above fort Kearny on the Platte River.

Monday 6th. Fell in company with Nephi's train this morning. The train was divided into two companies consisting of about 35 wagons each. One division of the train being Scandinavians and Brother Patterson being their leader. It was thought best for them o go ahead. We started from camp about noon and traveled about eight miles and camped by a large Slew near the river while the other divisions of the camp went on in order to keep a little in the advance that we might not hinder each other in traveling.

Sunday 12th. The past six days has been fine, cool weather and first rate traveling. We have had good luck and good time to this place, the Pawnee Springs, about one hundred miles above Fort Kearny.

Monday 13th. Started early and traveled about 20 miles and camped for the night on the bank of the river.

Tuesday 14th. Today Brother Budge (the president of the Camp) lost a small child by death it having been sick for several days. It was buried at evening about a mile west of the Bluff Fork of the Platte River. I wrote the following lines on the occasion and gave them to the mother.

On the bank of Platte River
Near the Bluff Fork's sandy wild
There I saw a loving mother
Weeping o'er her dying child.
There the darling babe we buried
Just as daylight disappeared
Where the red man long has tarried
And the wolf's shrill howl is heard.
Sleeping on his sandy pillow
Where no friend his grave can strew
With sweet flowers, or plant the willow
Loves sweet token to renew.
There must wait till all that slumber
With the just are waked again
Then he shall be with the number
Free from sorrow, toil and pain.
Then his mother shall behold him
Still more precious than before
And with songs of joy enfold him
In her arms to part no more.

We traveled today about twenty miles and camped near the river.

Wednesday 15th. Today we traveled over immense sand banks and passed an Indian village a little before midnight and camped about half a mile from the river having traveled about twenty miles.

Thursday 16th. This morning Brother Sharp found that his horses was missing. Nephi immediately started back to look for them he tracked them for several miles until they came near a camp of returning apostates from Utah when no further traces of them could be found, he therefore supposed that they had been stolen by them and returned to the camp. We started about 4 o'clock and traveled a few miles and camped for the night on a small stream.

Friday 17th. Started early and traveled about 10 miles and camped for the night on Rattlesnake Creek having had a very hard sandy road.

Saturday 18th. Started at about 8 o'clock and traveled about seventeen miles to Sandy Creek for the night.

Sunday 19th. Started early and traveled about six miles and come to the Sand Bluffs and had to double all our teams to cross them after which we traveled five or six miles and camped for the night.

Monday 20th. Traveled about eighteen or twenty miles and camped for the night.

Tuesday 21st. Traveled about twenty miles and camped for the night.

Wednesday 22nd. Started early, nooned at the foot of Cobblestone Bluffs passed over them in the afternoon and made in all today about 18 miles.

Thursday 23rd. Started very early and traveled over a very heavy sandy road for 12 miles and stopped for noon near the river. I had to walk most of the way and was very tired which has often been the case over this heavy sandy road, in the afternoon we traveled 8 or 9 miles and camped for the night near the river.

Friday 24th. Started early. Nephi being obligated to attend to some other business employed a lad to drive his team who in driving over a sideling [?] place capsized it which detained us an hour or more at night. We camped opposite Chimney Rock.

Saturday 25th. Started about 7 o'clock. Traveled about 10 miles and stopped for noon on the river. Some of my cattle getting foot sore so I had to shoe one on both hind feet. Camped for the night at Scotsbluff.

Sunday 26th. Started after 6 o'clock and came to Cold Creek and stopped for noon, weather very hot, and have to drive my own way which is very hard considering my poor state of health. I sometimes get so tired it seems as though life would depart. Camped for the night near the river.

Monday 27th. Started early and traveled about 20 miles and camped near the river.

Tuesday 28th. Started about 7 o'clock and traveled about 10 miles through nothing but heavy sand and stopped for noon near the rover. Camped for the night 8 or 9 miles below Fort Laramie.

Wednesday 29th. Started early and stopped opposite Fort Laramie about noon, while some of the company went over to the Fort to trade, Nephi went over also and got a letter from home, we then went about four miles above the fort and camped for the night.

Thursday 30th. Started early and came to the Black Hills Road. Found it very uneven and stony. Traveled about fifteen miles and camped for the night at some springs on the north side of the road.

Friday 31st. Started at 7 o'clock and traveled about seven miles over a hard, rough, hilly road to the view and stopped for noon. Started a gain about 4 o'clock and traveled in a small sprinkle of rain about three miles and camped for the night on a high hill without water.

Saturday September 1st. Started about 7 o'clock and traveled about 10 miles to Alder Springs and stopped for noon. Road very hard over the Black Hills and I am almost tired to death of walking all day and driving team which is my constant lot, camped for the night on the river.

Sunday 2nd. Started early and camped for the night on the river.

Monday 3rd. Stopped all day to repair wagons, and shoe oxen, wash, etc, at this place. I caught a few fine fish in the river.

Tuesday 4th. Started at one o'clock in the afternoon and traveled till nine o'clock at night and camped on the bank of the river at this place. I also caught some fish.

Wednesday 5th. Forded the river to the South side and at night camped on its bank.

Thursday 6th. Started at 7 o'clock and camped for the night at dark on the bank of the river.

Friday 7th. Started very early and overtook Joseph Young's train, and camped about 9 o'clock at night.

Saturday 8th. Started early and crossed the upper bridge of the Platte and camped for the night on the river where the road leaves it.

Sunday 9th. Started early. Traveled all day behind Joseph Young's train and passed him in camp late in the evening. Camped for the night on Goose Creek.

Monday 10th. Started in good time. Traveled all day and camped for the night on the Sweetwater River at Independence Rock.

Tuesday 11th. Started early. Traveled all day and camped for the night on the river.

Wednesday 12th. Started early. Passed the Three Crossings about noon. Traveled all day and camped for the night on the river.

Thursday 13th. Started late. Traveled all day and camped at night on the river.

Friday 14th. Started early. Traveled all day and camped at night on the river, the bones of animals and other remains of wagons lie thickly strewed all along the road being the remains of Uncle Sam's war expedition against the Saints.

Saturday 15th. Started early and left the river about noon and crossed the rocky ridges towards evening, and camped for the night near Small Springs Stream.

Sunday 16th. Last night and this morning the train lost four oxen which died from the effects of Alcohol. We started late and traveled to Rock Creek and camped for the night.

Monday 17th. Started at 10 o'clock. Wind very high. Came to the last crossing of the Sweetwater and camped for the night.

Tuesday 18th. This morning the ground was white with snow with ice in the water buckets. Found two of our oxen dead. I thing the camp has lost eight up to this time. Started early and crossed the South Pass and camped for the night on Pacific Creek.

Wednesday 19th. Started early and traveled about 8 miles and camped for the night without water five miles from Little Sandy.

Thursday 20th. Started about sunrise without breakfast and drove to the Little Sandy for water and grass and stopped for the Camp to get breakfast. We then started on and camped for the night on the Big Sandy.

Friday 21st. Started early and traveled twenty miles and camped on the Big Sandy again.

Saturday 22nd. Started at 8 o'clock and camped for the night one mile below the crossing of the Green River.

Sunday 23rd. Started a bout 7 o'clock. Traveled all day. Made about 20 miles and camped for the night on Blacks Fork. Here I caught several pounds of very fine fish.

Monday 24th. Started as usual. Took the new or right hand road leaving Fort Bridger to the left. Traveled about 18 miles and camped for the night again of Black Fork.

Tuesday 25th. Started about 10 o'clock and camped for the night on Muddy Creek without water it being dry.

Wednesday 26th. Started early. Traveled about 15 miles. Road passes bad. Some springs of the left in the afternoon. Camped for the night on a burnt piece of ground without water.

Thursday 27th. Started before breakfast. Traveled about 8 or 9 miles to the Station on the middy near Iron Springs where we camped for the balance of the day and night, at this place we buried Sister Bennett, an aged Saint from England, who died the day before.

Friday 28th. Started early and crossed the Bear River Mountains and camped for the night on Sulphur Creek.

Saturday 29th. Started early. Crossed Bear River where we left Mary Allen with her niece. Traveled 18 miles and camped for the night at Cash [Cache] Cave in Echo Canyon.

Sunday 30th. Traveled about 18 miles and camped fr the night in the canyon.

Monday, October 1st. This morning some of our cattle were missing and after a long search all were found except one of Brother Bodilys. We started late and came on a few miles and Brother Bodily and some other stopped and went back to look for the lost ox. The balance came on about 16 miles and camped for the night in a canyon a few miles west of Weber Crossing.

Tuesday 2nd. Crossed the mountains and camped on Canyon Creek.

Wednesday 3rd. Ascended the big mountain on the top of which three and half years ago I took my last view of the sweet valleys of Ephriam with a sorrowful heart.

The snow camped peaks of Deseret
With Ephraims peaceful bells
Though absent long I love them yet
For there sweet union dwells.
Again upon this mountain top
Those lovely scenes can view
Though years ago with tears
and hope I did bid them adieu.

We camped for the night at the foot of the mountain.

Thursday 4th. Crossed the little mountain and camped for the night at Emigration canyon.

Arrival in Salt Lake City
Friday 5th. Arrived in the city and camped on the Public Square.

Saturday 6th. Attended to some business relative to the load of freight that I had hauled for the emigration, Conference commence today.

Sunday 7th. Attended conference.

Monday 8th. Attended conference again. Met hundreds of my old friends yesterday and today who gave my hearty welcome back to our mountain home.

When one returns, from foreign land
To meet old friend again
Sweet heartfelt joy, without alloy
Thrills every pulse and vein.

Heard much good instruction and felt to rejoice and thank my Heavenly Father for his protecting care in returning me safe back to the Valleys of Ephraim and for the prospect of soon enjoying the society of my family and fiends in my sweet mountain home. The Conference at evening adjourned to April 6th, 1861-- Moved my wagons from the Camp Ground to the house of my brother in law, David LeBaron.

Tuesday 9th. Attended to business in the tithing office in regard to the load of freight.

Wednesday 10th. Busy all day settling up some business in the city.

Thursday 11th. Went today with Sister Margaret Therekold to President Young's office and had her sealed to my by the President. She was born in Carlish, England, July 21st, 1840.

Return home to Summit Springs (by Parowan)
Friday 12th. Packed up and fixed my wagons for starting home.

Saturday 13th. Started from camp and came out of the city about five miles and camped for the night.

Sunday 14th. Started from Camp early and came to the warm springs and camped for the night.

Monday 15th. Stared early and camped for the night near Battle Creek.

Tuesday 16th. Started from camp in season passed through Provo a little after dark. Camped for the night about 2 or 3 miles south.

Wednesday 17th. Camped for the night near Payson.

Thursday 18th. Came to my brother Benjamin's at Santaquin in the afternoon and stopped for the night.

Friday 19th. Stopped all day at my brothers.

Saturday 20th. Started late and came within five miles of Nephi City and camped for the night.

Sunday 21st. Passed through Nephi and camped for the night a little east of Chicken Creek.

Monday 22nd. Today Brother Brown, (who with his brother in law, a Brother Wood, fell in with us at American Fork) accidently shot a pistol into his foot which detained us a little, we camped for the night without water about four miles form the Sevier River.

Tuesday 23rd. Camped for the night at the new settlement in Round Valley.

Wednesday 24th. Started late and camped for the night at the Cedar Springs in Parawan Valley.

Thursday 25th. Started late. Passed Fillmore about noon very stormy and cold. Brother Brown and Woo stopped at Fillmore. We camped for the night about half way between there and Meadow Creek.

Friday 26th. Started early and camped for the night at the mouth of the canyon.

Saturday 27th. Started early and camped for the night at Pine Creek.

Sunday 28th. Started early and met a part of my family about noon consisting of my two wives Susan and Janet and three of my sons, Seth, James, and Almon, who came out to meet me with Brother Thomas Smith. I then left my teams with my sons Nephi and Seth, and went on with my Family and Brother Smith who had a horse team. We came to Beaver and stopped with Sister Pratt for the night.

Monday 29th. Started early and got home to Summit Creek in Iron County where my family was living about 8 o'clock in the evening.

Tuesday 30th. Went down to my old farm at the Springs and found my orchard and fences broken down and scattered abroad, my house stripped of windows, locks, hinges, latches, etc. And otherwise very much mutilated and torn to pieces, and when I came to look after my stick I found them reduced about through the Grasshoppers and worms destroying the crops on the farm for two or three years in succession which forced my family to abandon it. But I soon concluded that there was no other course for me to pursue but to go to work and repair up the houses and move my family back again as soon as possible so as to prepare for winter the best that I could, although there was not a lock of hay or straw or grain of any kind except wheat to be procured at any price.

Wednesday 31st. Went to Parowan to settle with Brother Edsford who with his family I had brought down from the city.

Thursday November 1st. Went to the springs and commenced to prepare up the houses preparatory to moving my family back.

This Journal transcribed by Bertha McGee (Joel's great grandaughter), her daughter Linda, and Linda's husband Chuck Harrington, and Bertha's son Scott. If you want further information, contact Scott by e-mail.

Source: Miscellaneous personal histories This information has been gathered by various people interested in Utah history. These are unpublished biographies.