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

May 23, 1847

Summary: Snake bite! Bone mail. Gnats that bite.

Journal entry: SUNDAY: The morning very fine and pleasant. Brother Egan commenced washing very early on the banks of the river. He kindly volunteered to wash my dirty clothing which I accepted as a favor.

After breakfast President Young, Elders Kimball, Richards. Pratt, Woodruff, Smith and Benson and Lyman walked out to view Bluff Ruins and returned at half past eleven.

A while ago I went out a little distance to view an adder which George Billings had discovered. It was a dark brown color about 18 inches long and three quarters of an inch thick through the body. They are represented as very poisonous.

About eleven o'clock Nathaniel Fairbanks came into camp having been bitten in the leg by a rattlesnake. He went on the bluffs with Aaron Farr and Brother Rolf and as they jumped off from the bluff, the snake bit him, the others having jumped over him farther. He said that in two minutes after he was bitten his tongue began to prick and feel numb. When he got to camp his tongue and hands pricked and felt numb as a person feels their feet sometimes when they are said to be asleep. The brethren immediately applied some tobacco juice and leaves, also turpentine, and bound tobacco on his leg which was considerably swollen.

We laid hands on him and Luke Johnson administered a dose of lobelia in number six after he had taken a strong drink of alcohol and water. The lobelia soon vomitted him powerfully. He complains much of sickness at his stomach and dimness in his eyes. He appears to be in much pain.

While the brethren of the quorum of the twelve were on one of the high detached bluffs they found the skeleton of a buffalo's head. Brother Woodruff wrote the names of all the quorum of the twelve present and set it upon the southwest comer of the bluff. John Brown also wrote his name on it. Elder Pratt took the altitude of the bluff and found it to be 235 feet above the surface of the river. He did not calculate the height above the sea, owing to the state of the atmosphere. He, however, predicted wind from the same cause.

At twelve o'clock the camp was called together for meeting, and after singing and praying we were addressed by Elder Snow, followed by President Young. The latter said there were many items of doctrine which he often felt like teaching to the brethren, but as to administering sealing ordinances, etc., this is no time or place for them, they belong to the house of God and when we get located we shall have an opportunity to build a house, etc.

He expressed himself satisfied with the conduct of the camp in general. He is pleased to see so much union and disposition to obey council among the brethren and hoped and prayed that it may continue and increase.

He wants the brethren to seek after knowledge and be faithful to acknowledge God in all things but never take his name in vain nor use profane longtime. If all the knowledge in this camp were put together and brother Joseph were here in our midst, he could comprehend the whole of it and with it around his little finger. And then think of the knowledge of angels, and above that, the knowledge of the Lord. There is much for its to learn and a faithful man who desires eternal glory will seek after knowledge all the time and his ideas never suffered to rust but are always bright. He will not throw away the knowledge of small things because they are familiar, but grasp all he can and keep doing so and by retaining many small things he will thus gain a large pile, etc.

He expressed his feelings warmly towards all the brethren and prayed them to be faithful, diligent and upright, for we are now sowing seed, the fruit of which will be plucked in after days whether good or bad. G. A. Smith made a few remarks, also several others of the brethren. The president then stated that on Sunday next he wants the brethren to understand that there will be meeting at eleven o'clock and the sacrament administered, and he wants the brethren to attend, all that can, and not ramble off and fatigue themselves but use the Sabbath as a day of rest. He enjoined it upon Bishops T. Lewis, S. Roundy, J. S. Higbee and A. Everett to see that the proper necessities were prepared for the sacrament. The meeting was then dismissed.

A while after meeting I walked out with Elder Kimball a piece from the camp. We sat down and I read to him, my journal of the last four days with which he seemed well pleased. We then knelt down together and poured out our souls to God for ourselves, the camp and our dear families in Winter Quarters. While we were engaged in prayer the wind rose suddenly from the northwest, a heavy cloud having been gathering from the west all the afternoon. A sudden gust struck Elder Kimball's hat and carried it off. After we got through, his hat was nowhere in sight, but following the direction of the wind we soon saw it at a distance on the bottom of the prairie still flying swiftly. We both ran and chased it about three quarters of a mile and caught it a little from the river.

While we were out together I remarked that the buffalo gnat had bitten us very severely. Elder Kimball said they bit him very badly last evening. Their bite is very poisonous, and although they are extremely small, they punish a person very much with an itching, aching pain like a mosquito bite.

About five o'clock the wind blew a perfect gale and continued till seven when it commenced to rain very heavily, large drops descending, accompanied with hail, which however, did not continue very long but the wind continued nearly all night. The lightning and thunder continued some time but not very severe. We saw the necessity of having good stout bows to our wagons, and the covers well fastened down, for the very stoutest seemed in danger of being torn to pieces and the wagons blown over. When the wind commenced blowing so strongly it turned very cold and long before dark I went to bed to keep warm. Brother Fairbanks seems considerably better. This evening President Young, Kimball and Benson laid hands on him and he seemed much better afterwards.

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.