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

Wendy Westergard Journals

July 12, 1997

Location: Bear River - 63 miles left, Wyoming - (6 rods wide, 2 feet deep. Swift current - clear and cold water; plenty of timber and grass. Altitude at ford, 6,836 feet.) - [Nine more miles and Brigham Young became sick with tick fever on July 12.] 950 1/4 miles from Winter Quarters.

Summary: Hypothermia.

Journal entry: We travelled who knows, but it was a short day. We only went until lunch. It started out to be a brisk morning and soon turned fridgid. I was in the back of the Winona with John Cornell because we were very tired. It didn't work very well, but I soon did rest.

It started to rain maybe an hour after we had headed out and then the wind picked up more than it already was. Most of us were not prepared for this type of weather. We though we had left this kind of weather back in Nebraska in April and May. Luckily I was prepared this day. I had brought my winter coat, my tarp and a jacket. The canvas of the wagon we were in leaked like a sieve. There are holes all over the place. Also in addition to this the fabric is not woven as tightly as it once was so that makes it not waterproof at all. In fact it hardly makes a difference at all. It is anything but water tight.

We threw my tarp over us and this helped to protect us from the rain. It also helped to keep the wind chill factor down. Soon Bob Lowe came to the back of the wagon belting a question asking who was in the back of the wagon. We answered that there was only two of us. Actually Paul had joined us in the back because he was still driving the wagon but shelter from the pelting rain and he drove the team.

Bob brought Donna who was freezing to join us. When she came in through the back I knew what was up. She was crying she was so cold. She was cold, wet and frozen. She looked like a soggy rag-a-muffin. I gave her my winter coast. She was so cold that she couldn't even put it on. I helped her get her windbreaker off and put the coat on her. She still wasn't warm enough. I knew she had a case of hypothermia. I still do not know how bad of a case she had. This still wasn't enough. I knew if I got her hands warm it would make a difference. I knew we had to do body heat. I unbuttoned the lower half of my dress and put her hand on my stomach. She couldn't even feel anything. Soon they started to hurt and ache because they were getting warm. She said that it felt like she had knives going into her hands because they were getting warm. We then got her in the middle and got her warm by our warmth permeatting through our clothes.

Soon after getting her warm enough we had a potty stop. I had to go to the bathroom really bad. After I came out of the pots I saw Ben. I asked how he was doing he said that he was freezing. I knew then that he had hypothermia as well. I went and asked for something for him to wear from Paul. Paul gave him one of his coats and a wool hat. Ben had been riding a horse so he got the full thing of it. I had to strip him of his coat because he was too cold to do it for himself. I put the new dry coat on him and hat. He was grateful. I made him get on the wagon. He told me later this evening that he was glad that I made him get on the wagon because He had a bad case of hypothermia. People on the wagon he rode in recognized that the new coat and hat was not enough and they had him strip out his clothes and they gave him some of the clothes that thy had been wearing. A while later he was doing much better. Donna got out and got into a car to go into camp early. She didn't want to sit in the back of a wagon freezing or cold and bored.

Later we passed the walkers. As we passed them I shouted out and asked them if they needed anything. All some of them said they needed was gloves. We didn't have them so we gave them a pair of socks instead.

After we passed the walkers I decided to get out and walk because I was cold. It was only 4-6 miles into camp. It was a beautiful walk. There was lush foothills all around with sagebrush and grass. That lovely grass. It help lift our spirits.

We got into camp and were given hot chocolate by someone. Heaven on earth. Warm pur cold bones up. Thank heaven for wonderful people. I never did think that I would be thinking of hot chocolate in July.

We got a paper telling us where the laundromat, rodeo, food, and recreation center was in Evanston. We went swimming and got a shower for a dollar. It was heaven. It wasn't for very long, but it felt wonderful.

After swimming, Nathan dropped me off at the laundromat. I ate dinner at Smiths. After that we went to the Evanston rodeo. I'd never been to a rodeo before. I'd only seen 8 seconds before. That was all I thought about as I watched these cowboys race around and bucked in the arena. I didn't understand all of the rules so I kept asking the Whitakers who were sitting in front of me questions about what was going on. They were very helpful in telling me what I needed to know. I hope they know how appreciative I was for them telling me what the rules were for roping calves and bareback bucking horses. The only thing that I couldn't understand was how they could walk after they had gotten bucked around so much. Everything I've seen of guys would indicate that they are intense pain after being slammed so much.

My family is coming out tomorrow. I am so excited to see them. I haven't seen them since I left, with the exception of my parents. I miss them so much. It means so much for them to come out.