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

William Clayton Journals

April 30, 1847

Location: Grand Island (Sturh Museum), Nebraska - Location: 40:55:30N 98:20:30W Elevation: 1864 feet

Summary: Buffalo chips. Cold and windy.

Journal entry: FRIDAY: Arose at half past five. Morning cool and pleasant. The teams have filled themselves with rushes. Started at 7:40 and soon after the camp started, I started ahead on foot and have traveled about five miles. The prairie level and green with grass.

We travel on the first bench about three quarters of a mile north of the timber on Grand Island. There are many wild geese on the prairie, also buffalo dung, but none very recent. There are immense patches of blue grass which from appearances, the buffalo are fond of. There are also numerous patches of buffalo grass which is very short, thick on the ground, and curly like the hair on a buffalo's hide, and much resembling it, except in color.

About a mile from where we camped last night, we passed a place where the Indians have camped no doubt during their hunt. They must have been very numerous for their camp has covered a number of acres of ground.

President Young, Kimball and Lyman are gone ahead on horseback to look out the road. We have thus far followed the Indian trail, but it is now so grown over and so old it is scarce discernible.

The wind blows strong from the north and the dust is very bad. The atmosphere is dull and cloudy. Our course today has been about west. At a quarter to twelve we stopped to feed beside a small creek of clear, good, water, having traveled about eight miles. The grass along this creek is long and plentiful. We are about a half a mile from Grand Island.

Having the privilege of copying from Brother Bullock s journal, I will now record the names of the standing guard as organized April 16th, also the men selected by Brother Tanner to form the gun division as ordered Saturday, April 17th.

Tarlton Lewis, Stephen H. Goddard, Seeley Owens, Thomas Woolsey, John G. Luce, Horace Thorton, Charles D. Barnam, Sylvester H. Earl, George Scholes, Rufus Allen, William Empey, John Holman, George R. Grant, William P. Vance, James Craig, Datus Ensign, William Dykes, John Dixon, Samuel H. Marble, Artemus Johnson, Norton Jacobs, Addison Everett, William Wordsworth, John W. Norton, Francis M. Pomroy, Lyman Curtis, Horace W Frink, Erastus Snow, Hans C. Hanson, William C. A. Smoot, Barnabas L. Adams, Rodney Badger, Charles Burk, Alexander P. Chesley, Appleton M. Harmon, David Powell, Joseph Mathews, John Wheeler, Gillrid Summe, Mathew Ivory, Edson Whipple, Conrad Kinsman, Joseph Rocker, Nathaniel Fairbanks, Orzo Eastman, Andrew S. Gibbons, William A. King, Thomas Tanner, Hosea Cushing, and John H. Tippets.

The names of the gun detachment are as follows:
Thomas Tanner, Captain; Stephen H. Goddard, Seeley Owens, Thomas Woolsey, John G. Luce, Horace Thornton, Charles D. Barnam, Sylvester H. Earl, George Scholes and Rufus Allen.

At twenty minutes after ten o'clock started again, the wind blowing from the north tremendously strong, and clouds of dust arose from under the wagon wheels. It has turned very cold and gloomy.

We traveled again over a level prairie some distance from the river and turned off to camp under the bench soon after 5:00 p.m. having traveled about eight miles, our course a little southwest.

The wagons were formed in an imperfect circle in such a manner as to have all the wagon mouths from the wind, which took near an hour to form the encampment. We are about a mile from water and a mile and a half from timber, with very little grass for our teams. It is now so cold that every man wants his overcoat on and a buffalo robe over it.

We have had no accident and the brethren feel well; some are wrestling to keep themselves warm. Some have had the good luck to bring a little wood with them but it seems as if many will have a cold supper. And some perhaps little or nothing as they have no bread cooked.

Eight p.m., the camp have found a good substitute for wood in the dried buffalo dung which lies on the ground here in great plenty, and makes a good fire when property managed.

Brother Kimball invented a new way of building a fire to cook on and which is well adapted to the use of this kind of fuel. He dug a hole in the ground about 8 inches deep, 15 inches long and 8 inches wide. Then at each end of this hole he dug another about the same dimensions as the first leaving about 3 inches of earth standing between the middle and two end hols. At the end of these partitions he made a hole through about 3 inches in diameter to serve as a draught. In the bottom of the middle hole the fire and fuel was placed, and across the top two wagon hammers to set the pots and pans on, so that the fire could have free circulation underneath. By this method much cooking was done with very little fuel.

To save the trouble of carrying water so far a well was dug in a short time about 4, feet deep and good water obtained. After supper I went and gathered some dried buffalo dung. [politely called buffalo chips] to cook with in the morning.

Brother Hanson played some on his violin and some of the brethren danced to warm themselves. I went to bed early to get warm but having only one quilt for covering, I suffered much with cold.

Source: William Clayton's Journal

Published by the Clayton Family Association, and edited by Lawrence Clayton. To the best of our research, this contents of this book are no longer under copyright.