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

Previous | Next

Mississippi Saints, 1846-1847, from the journal of John Brown

1846 We left the city of Nauvoo on the 14th of January with our families; also Brothers William Mathews and George P. Dykes, traveling through snow, frost and rain. Before we reached Perry county, Brother Crosby's little boy took the measles. We rested one day and he got better. On the 26th we arrived at Brother Robert Crow's in Perry county, and the next day we went to Benjamin Crain's, my brother-in-law, to whom I sold some lands left me by my father. He paid me in property and on the 29th of January, I let Brother Dykes have two yoke of oxen worth $65.00 each and two horses worth $65.00 each; also $10.00 in cash to enable him to remove his family to the wilderness, he not having means of his own.

While here, my wife took the measles and was sick for over a week. Brother Dykes returned to Nauvoo, and on the 7th of February, we started on our journey, my wife having so far recovered as to be able to ride in the wagon. On the 22nd we reached home.

We were instructed by President Young to leave our families here and take those families that were ready and go west with them through Missouri and fall in with the companies from Nauvoo, in the Indian country. We started out some fourteen families. I left home on the 8th of April. William Crosby, D. M. Thomas, William Lay, James Harmon, Geo. W. Bankhead and myself formed a mess. We had one wagon, calculating to return in the fall. We crossed the Mississippi River at the Iron Banks and traveled up through the state of Missouri to Independence, where we arrived on the 26th of May, a distance from home of 640 miles. There was great excitement there. Rumor said Ex-Governor Boggs had started to California and the Mormons had intercepted him on the way and killed and robbed several companies, etc. They tried to persuade us not to go on the plains on account of the Mormons, but we told them we were not afraid.

Brothers Crow from Perry county, Illinois, Wm. Kartchner and some Oregon emigrants joined us here. We had in all 25 wagons. Wm. Crosby was chosen captain of the company; Robert Crow and John D. Holladay, his counselors. When we got into the Indian country, our Oregon friends found out that they were in company with a lot of Mormons. They were a little uneasy and somewhat frightened, and began to think that we did not travel fast enough for them. They left us and the next day we passed them and left them in the rear. They were a little afraid to go on not being strong enough. This repeated again. At length they traveled with us until we got to the Platte River where we met a company of six men from Oregon and when they saw six men who had traveled the road alone, they took courage, having 13 or 14 men in their company. They left us again and we rested a day for repairs, so we saw them no more.

We had nineteen wagons left and twenty-four men. The Fox Indians stole one yoke of oxen belonging to Geo. Therlkill. We traveled the Oregon Road from Independence and expected when we got to the Platte River to have fallen in with the company from Nauvoo or find their trail, but we found neither and could hear nothing of them. We supposed they had gone up the north side, so we continued our journey up the river though some of the company were very loath to go.

On the 25th of June, we got among the buffalo and laid in some meat. We were very much delighted with buffalo hunting. Our eyes never had beheld such a sight-the whole country was covered with them. On the 27th, a buffalo calf came running into the train of wagons. The dogs, teamsters and everyone else took after it, running through the train several times, and it finally got into the loose herd, and the dogs driven out, it became contented. A Spaniard whom we had taken in a few days before, caught it with a lasso and tied it up, but it killed itself in a few minutes. It made good veal. This Spaniard, whose name was Hosea, had started down the river with some traders. The river being low, they lodged on the sand. He was afraid to stop in the Pawnee country and turned back with us to the mountains. He was of great service to me in camp life and helping to care for the animals; also taught us how to approach the buffalo.

At the crossing of the South Fork of the Platte, we encountered a severe storm in the night. There were five of us sleeping in a tent which blew down. We tried in vain to pitch the tent again. The wind was so violent that we had to find shelter in the wagon, seven of us together, and when morning came, we were almost frozen. This was the 29th of June. Next day we crossed the river, and July 1st we reached Ash Hollow. This day my Spaniard was bitten by a rattlesnake and was laid up a week or more. We camped near the brush in the hollow after dark, not knowing we were so near the North Fork of the Platte. I came on the second watch that night. The first guard told us to keep a sharp lookout. The mules were uneasy. One man discovered something near where a mule was staked and threw a bone at it, supposing it to be a dog, but it ran off like a man half bent. About this time I discovered a horse going loose across the corral. I went and examined the rope which was about six feet long. I felt the end of it and pronounced it cut, and immediately alarmed the camp and turned out all hands. We found several horses cut loose and one mare and two colts were missing.... In the morning we moved down the river and six men followed the trail that day but could see nothing. We here met a company from California, by whom we learned that there were no Mormons on the route ahead of us.

There was considerable dissatisfaction in the camp. Some were in favor of turning back. However, we went on. On the 6th day of July, we came to Chimney Rock. We stopped one day at Horse Creek and repaired wagons. Here an alarm of Indians was made but none could be found....

A few miles below Laramie we met with John Reshaw. He had some robes to trade and was camped in Goshen Hole. Said that he had heard the Mormons were going up the South Fork of the Platte. We held a council and concluded to go no farther west but find a place for the company to winter on the east side of the mountains. Mr. Reshaw said that the head of the Arkansas River was the best place, as there was some corn growing there and it was near the Spanish country where the company could get supplies. He was going to Pueblo in a few days with two ox teams, there being no road, and as he was acquainted with the route, we concluded to stop and go with him.

We moved over to his camp, and on the 10th of July, we stared for Pueblo. Mr. Reshaw proved faithful to us and rendered all the assistance he could on the plains and among the Indians. We camped one night without water and fearing lest the cattle would stray off, we corralled them. I was on the watch and about 10 o'clock every animal was on the keen jump. All the horses pulled up stakes. One mule being nearby I caught its rope and it was all I could do to hold it. When loosed, I mounted its back and away we went after the band. I could not stop the mule nor control it in any way. I thought that if the Indians got our animals they would get me too, for the mule was bound to go with the band. They ran about a quarter of a mile and when they stopped I was with them. I caught several of their ropes and held them until others came to my assistance. We drove all back.

On the 19th of July, twelve Indians came into camp. They were Cheyennes. We made them a feast and gave them some presents. Next day we came to their village. They received us kindly and made us a feast which consisted of stewed buffalo meat ... Two lodges of them traveled with us a few days.

On the 24th we camped on Crow Creek and remained one day.... after which we moved to the South Fork of the Platte. We searched in vain for the trail of the Mormons, not knowing anything of their moves. We crossed the South Fork on the 27th of July, a few miles below St. Vrains Fort. Here we struck a wagon trail that led to Pueblo, made by the traders. We reached Pueblo on the 7th of August. We found some six or eight mountaineers in the fort with their families. They had Indian and Spanish women for wives. We were received very kindly and they seemed pleased to see us. We have now performed a journey of over eight hundred miles since leaving Independence, Missouri. The day before we reached this place, Messrs. Lay and Therlkill were pursuing a wounded deer in the brush when they were attacked by a grizzly bear. It knocked them both down before they knew what it was about. Mr. Therlkill was bitten on the head, cutting him severely in three places. We gathered to the place and succeeded in killing the bear. News had reached this place that the Mormons had stopped at the Missouri River and 500 of them had joined the army and were on their way to New Mexico.

We counseled the brethren to prepare for winter and build them some cabins in the form of a fort. The mountaineers said they would let them have their supplies, corn for their labor, etc. Those of us who had left our families stopped here until the 1st of September. We organized the company into a branch and gave them such instructions and counsel as the spirit dictated, telling them to tarry here until they got word from headquarters where to go. They were much disappointed as they expected to get with the main body of the Church. We comforted them all we could and left our blessing with them.

Leaves Company at Pueblo: We bade them adieu on the morning of September 1st and started home, following down the Arkansas River to the Santa Fe trail. Our company consisted of the following persons, viz: William Crosby, D. M. Thomas, John D. Holladay, William Lay, James Smithson, George W. Bankhead, and a man by the name of Wales Bonny who had been to Oregon. We reached Bent's Fort on the third. Here we found the report to be true concerning the Mormons; also that forty-five men, teamsters for the government, had started for the states from this place two or three days before. We thought we would try and overtake them and then have company through the hostile country.

On the 7th, we passed the Arapahoes" village. Next day we overtook our expected company, who were very friendly with us. We met troops and baggage trains almost every day on their way to Santa Fe.... . On the 12th we met the Mormon Battalion which we were glad to see as we were acquainted with the greater portion of them. On the 13th we met John D. Lee, Howard Egan and James Pace ... Our provisions run short ... We started for Independence, Jackson county, Missouri. On Sunday the 27th of September we met Judge Thompson, who on learning of our situation, gave us provisions to last us. We reached Independence on the 30th. We now began to enjoy ourselves once more. Here Mr. Bonny left us. The remainder of our journey home we took in solid comfort, not denying ourselves the luxuries of life. We traveled pretty much the same route that we came. We reached home (Mississippi) on Thursday, the 29th of October. Found all well; we had not heard a word from home during our absence.

Return to Family in Mississippi: After a few days rest, we commenced to wind up our business and prepare to leave early in the spring for Council Bluffs to go out with the Church, when unexpectedly, in came two Elders right from the Bluffs, viz: Bryant Nowlin and Charles Crismon, with an epistle from the Council of the Twelve, instructing us to remain another year to fit out and send all the men we could, to go as pioneers. We called a council to consider the matter. We concluded to send some six pioneers, one of whom was to take charge of the whole, being mostly black servants. It fell to my lot to go and superintend the affair. William Crosby to send one hand; John H. Bankhead one; William Lay, one, and John Powell, one, and I was to take one besides myself. We had to travel to the Bluffs in the winter in order to get there in time.

1847: The necessary preparations were made and by the 10th of January all was ready, about which time we started. Daniel H, Thomas took his family along. Brother Crismon was in company with us all the way up. We had two wagons. As we traveled north, the weather grew colder. I called and saw my relatives in Perry county as we passed through Illinois.

We purchased our wagons and teams, etc., at St. Louis. A few days travel from this point Brothers Jas. Stratton and Nowlin overtook us, also Brother Matthew Ivory. Brother Stratton had his family along. They had one wagon. We now had six wagons. It finally turned cold and we had a severe time of it. The negroes suffered most. My boy, whose name was Henry, took cold and finally the winter fever set in which caused his death on the road. I buried him in Andrew county, at the lower end of the round prairie, eight miles north of Savannah, Missouri. In this neighborhood we purchased some more cattle.

We reached the Bluffs a few days before the Pioneers started and while I was lying here, Bankhead's negro died with the winter fever. It was the severest trip I had undertaken. I left one wagon and load with Brother Crismon to bring out with the families. I took the other two wagons, the two black boys (Oscar Crosby and Hark Lay) who survived the trip. David Powell and Matthew Ivory, had joined the Pioneer Camp.

A Member of Pioneer Group On the 8th of April we started from Winter Quarters. On the 11th we crossed the Horn River on a raft. Next day the Twelve had to return to Winter Quarters. I accompanied them back and we were gone three days, returning to the Horn on the third day. The camp had all gone on to the Platte River, excepting my teams and Geo. A. Smith's wagons which were still at the Horn. The men had caught some fish and found a bee-tree. We served up a fine supper. Brothers Orson Pratt, W. Woodruff, Geo. A. Smith, A. M. Lyman and Erastus Snow took supper with us; also breakfast the next morning. Brother Pratt took out the sextant and took an observation of the sun and obtained the true time. About this time, President Young and H. C. Kimball, whom we had left behind, came up. We helped them across the river, after which we all followed on after the camp which was located on the Platte.

We reached Fort Laramie on the first day of June. Here we found Brother Robert Crow from Pueblo with six wagons. He had been two weeks waiting for the first company of Saints to come on.

In the Robert Crow company were eleven men and the following six women: Elizabeth Brown Crow (cousin to Pioneer John Brown and daughter of Captain Benjamin Brown), and her five daughters, viz: Harriet Crow, Elizabeth Jane Crow Therlkill, Isa Vinda Exene Crow, Ira Minda Almarene Crow (twins) and Matilda J. Crow Therlkill. These six women from Perry county, Illinois, came into the Salt Lake Valley July 22nd, 1847, with President Young's Pioneer company and with the three Pioneer women who came from Winter Quarters, made a total of nine women who came into the valley on that historic date.

The remainder of the company at Pueblo were waiting to come with a detachment of the Battalion that wintered there. At this place we crossed the river, which had to be ferried. We got a boat at the fort. On the 3rd of June, Brother A. M. Lyman, with three others, started for Pueblo to meet the company and bring them along.

On the 4th we left Fort John, Brother (Robert) Crow having joined our camp. On the 7th I killed a black-tail deer which was the first I had ever seen. The Oregon emigrants began to pass us. We met some traders who had crossed the North Fork in a raw-hide boat which they left. A company of us were detached and sent on to get the boat before the emigrants got it. We reached the ferry first but could find nothing of the boat. We turned out and killed a fine lot of meat by the time the camp came up. The river was full and very rapid. We crossed several companies of emigrants in our leather boat, drawing the wagons through the river. They paid us provisions which we afterwards needed. We got everything safely across the river excepting a few wagon bows and the drowning of one horse owned by Brother Crow. We left a small party to keep the ferry until the families that were following on should come up. On the 19th we left the river. On the 30th we reached the Green River, where we met Samuel Brannan and others from California. The river being very high, we had to make some rafts and ferry on them. We got over without any accidents. Here a great many of the brethren were taken down with mountain fever.

On the 27th, the Twelve and a few more of us went out to explore. We went west and came to the outlet of Utah Lake, which was named Jordan. While we were crossing, Brother Amasa M. Lyman came to us and joined the expedition. He said the detachment of the Battalion with the Mississippi families from Pueblo, were near by. He had come in ahead of them. On the 29th the detachment, under the command of Captain James Brown, and the families whom we left at Pueblo, nearly one year ago, came into the valley.

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.