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 18, 1847

Summary: Lecture on gratitude and waste. Hunters chastised. Creek named.

Journal entry: TUESDAY: The morning fine and very pleasant.

At seven o'clock the President called the captains of tens to his wagons and gave them a pretty severe lecture. He referred to some who had left meat on the ground and would not use it because it was not hind quarter. Some would murmur because a fore quarter of meat was alloted to them, etc., which is not right, for God has given us a commandment that we should not waste meat, nor take life unless it is needful, but he can see a disposition in this camp to slaughter everything before them, yea if all the buffalo and game there is on our route were brought together to the camp, there are some who would never cease until they had destroyed the whole. Some men will shoot as much as thirty times at a rabbit if they did not kill it, and are continually wasting their ammunition, but when they have used all they have got, they may have the pleasure of carrying their empty guns to the mountains and back, for he will not furnish them. We have now meat enough to last some time if we will take proper care of it.

As to the horsemen, there are none with the exception of Brothers Kimball, Woodruff and Benson, that ever take the trouble to look out a good road for the wagons but all they seem to care about is to wait till their breakfast is cooked for them, and when they have eaten it, they mount their horses and scatter away, and if an antelope comes across the track, the whole of us must be stopped perhaps half an hour while they try to creep up near enough to kill it, but when we come to a bad place on the route, all the interest they have is to get across the best they can and leave myself and one or two others to pick out a crossing place and guide the camp all the time.

Such things are not right, and he wants them to cease and all take an interest in the welfare of the camp, be united, and receive the meat as a blessing from God and not as a stink offering from the devil. It is not necessary to preach to the elders in this camp, they know what is right as well as he does, and he will not preach to them all the time. Let the captains do the best they know how and teach their men to do likewise.

The meeting dispersed, the meat was taken care of and at a quarter past eight we started out again, and traveled three and a quarter miles nearly a west course over a very hard prairie and good traveling and then arrived at a nice stream, Rattlesnake creek, about twenty or twenty five feet wide, a foot or 18 inches deep and a very strong current. This stream must take its rise some distance back in the bluffs or else is supplied from many strong springs, for there is much water comes down it.

We traveled on from this near the bank of the river about a northwest course over tolerably rough land till 11:10 and then stopped to feed having come six and a half miles this morning, the weather very hot.

Opposite the stream last mentioned on the south side the river, are several pine groves, or rather cedar groves. There is some little, pine wood, such as knots and dead branches that can be picked up on the banks of the river. It has floated from above. This, with a little buffalo chips, makes a good fire for cooking. Latitude noon 41' 3' 44'.

Rattlesnake creek was so named from the following incident: President Young, as he rode up to the banks of the creek discovered that his horse stepped within a foot of a very large rattlesnake. He turned his horse away without harming it. Soon afterward, one of the brethren came up on foot and stepped within two feet and a half of it. It immediately coiled up and sprang at him and would have struck him (as it sprang 2 112 feet) had he not jumped to one side. He took his rifle and shot the snake dead.

The head of Cedar Bluffs, as named by Fremont, is three miles west of where we camped last night.

At 1:05 p. m. we continued our journey. Our route lay near the banks of the river which seems narrower here. After traveling three and a half miles, we crossed a stream about six feet wide, and three quarters of a mile farther another stream of tolerably deep, clear water about five feet wide. This stream is very crooked and seems to run from the bluffs to the river in a perfect serpentine or zig zag direction.

Soon after starting this afternoon, we discovered some dog towns, the grass eaten perfectly bare all around. The feed is growing worse again, evidently eaten up by the buffalo.

At noon, a heavy black cloud arose in the west and we had a little rain, accompanied by lightning and distant thunder. After passing the last mentioned creek about a mile, we had to change our course to nearly northwest on account of a bend in the river.

We traveled till 5:30 and formed our encampment on the west bank of a running stream about eight feet wide and one foot deep which is five miles from the crooked creek, making our afternoon travel nine and a quarter miles and the day's travel fifteen and three quarters. The bluffs and the river here are about a quarter of a mile apart, the river very wide, feed poor, plenty of float wood, pine and cedar, for fuel. The weather calm and warm, though cloudy.

After encampment was formed, went with Elder Orson Pratt to Dr. Richards' wagon to enter into arrangements for making a map of our route. The doctor wants me to do it, assisted by Elder Pratt's observations. He handed me Fremont's map, and I retired to my wagon to commence operations, but soon found that the map does not agree with my scale nor Elder Pratt's calculations.

I then proposed to Elder Pratt to wait until we get through the journey and take all the necessary data and then make a new one instead of making our route on Fremont's. The subject is left here till morning.

After supper I took my candle and finished this day's journal. At dark Colonel Markham called the camp together to tell the brethren their duty in regard to traveling, guarding teams, and standing guard at nights. The old laws of April l8th were talked over and additional by-laws added, but not being present I did not hear them, neither can I learn anything from those who were present, for they all say that there were so many little matters touched upon, and so many resolutions passed that they remembered only one and that is, when any man goes out of the sound of the horn to fetch in his team and sees another man's horse or mule or ox, a little beyond or near his, he shall drive it also to camp, and if he neglect to do so, he shall be sent back to do it even if it requires an escort to make him. About seven o'clock the wind shifted around to the north and blew strong and 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.