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

August 29, 1847

Summary: Pioneers trade with the Shoshone Indians before going to Sweet Water.

Journal entry: SUNDAY, 29TH. It was decided to remain here today to rest the teams, but our ten obtained leave to go on to Sweet Water, expecting to elect the companv, and after reading the letter of instructions from the council to this camp, my wagon proceeded on slowly. At the Springs, we saw an aged Indian squaw near the road dwelling in a shelter composed merely - of wild sage and apparently dependent on passing emigrants for subsistence. She is doubtless left to perish on account of age and infirmity, but it is likely she will live some time on what she receives from those who pass by.

When we arrived near the summit of the dividing ridge or south pass, two Indians rode towards us and motioned for us to stop. Not seeing the other wagons coming after, we stopped to wait for the wagons and the Indians soon arrived. They made signs that a large party of them were over the mountain north and they wanted to " swap." While they were conversing a number more rode over the ridge and soon after a still larger number. About this time the wagons came in sight and when the brethren saw so many Indians they were alarmed.

John Pack rode back to the main camp to get some of the brethren to come up, but J. R. said he would not budge a foot. The brethren behind were much alarmed, some expecting to be scalped and one W. Carr ran and hid himself in the sage bushes. No one returned with John Pack but Norman Taylor and the wagons proceeded towards us.

In the meantime, after learning the object for which the Indians sought us, that none of them were armed except two, and by a certificate that the first visitor was a Shoshone chief, Brother Lamb and myself signified that we would trade with them and soon some of them returned with antelope, buck and elk skins and robes to trade. I traded some balls and a little powder for one role, one elk skin, two buckskins and nine antelope skin and a pair of moccasins. Lamb bought five antelope skins. While we were trading, the other wagons arrived and also commenced trading.

The Indians, about sixty in number, about twenty of them boys, all mounted, seemed highly pleased to trade with us which we did mostly through the chief. By request of the chief, I gave him a certificate stating that he appeared friendly and wanted to trade with the whites, etc. The chief gave us a very strong invitation to go to their camp to trade and made signs that they would feed us well and we should sleep with them. I answered him by signs that we should camp when we arrived where the road crossed the Sweet Water but they were very anxious to have us then turn off the road and camp.

After we started, the chief came up and wanted to swap a good mule for my spy glass but I refused. I had Jet him look through it and he seemed very wishful to try it. When they saw we were determined to go on, they left us and returned to their camp while we pursued our journey to the first crossing of Sweet Water where we arrived and camped at six o'clock, having traveled fourteen miles.

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.