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 6, 1847

Summary: Hordes of buffalo. Lost spyglass.

Journal entry: THURSDAY: This morning at five - fifteen, President Young called to the camp and proposed to go on to where we can find feed for the teams. The brethren assented and he gave orders to start as quickly as possible. However, some must feed their teams a little corn, some milk their cows, etc., and it took till near six - thirty to get started.

During the night the Lord sent a light shower of rain which has put the fire out except in one or two places and made it perfectly safe traveling. We have had a strong southeast wind through the night but the morning is calm and pleasant. We traveled about two miles and stopped on the unburned grass to feed at a quarter to seven.

Several antelope were surrounded by the brethren and some shot at them, killing one. The rest made their escape. We can see several large herds of buffalo, within about two miles of the camp and many calves amongst them. President Young and Kimball rode ahead to find a place to stop for feed. The ground is hard and good traveling.

At a quarter to nine, proceeded on, President Young and Kimball going ahead to point out the road. Our course about northwest, the wind strong from west. We traveled near the river. Saw thirteen elk together, also many antelope and numerous herds of buffalo on both sides of the river. Jackson Redding shot an antelope which Luke Johnson chased near the wagons.

A young buffalo calf followed Luke to camp, but the President advised him to leave it as it is only a few days old. We stopped near the river at a quarter to twelve, having traveled about six miles. We find a little more grass here, but the numerous herds of buffalo keep it eaten off close to the ground nearly all the way we have traveled today.

The President gave orders that no more game should be killed until further orders. It appears we have got as much meat in camp as can be taken care of.

While we were stopping for noon, some of the cows moved off towards a large buffalo herd, and when President Young and Kimball started ahead after dinner they discovered the cows near the buffalo. Brother Woolsey went to turn them back, but be had to run his mule some distance before he could prevent the cows from mingling with the buffalo. They brought the cows back to the wagons and then proceeded ahead again.

One part of the horsemen ' s business today has been to drive the buffalo out of our track, judging it unsafe to risk them between the wagons and the river. The camp proceeded on at one - thirty and in about two miles distance found a lake of clear water. Here we discovered the horsemen coming back, and found that the President had lost his large spy glass, while chasing the cows from the buffalo herd, a second time. He did not find it.

We traveled slowly this afternoon, some of the horses and oxen having given out in consequence of lack of feed to sustain them. We traveled till six - thirty and camped near some islands in the river, having traveled about seven miles this afternoon and fifteen through the day, our coarse a little west of northwest. Wind about west.

Some think we have traveled eighteen, some twenty and some even twenty - five miles today, but from the number of times we stopped and the slowness with which the teams moved, I feel satisfied that fifteen miles is plenty. About three quarters of a mile back we saw a buffalo cow which appears to be sick. She fought the dogs some time and then lay down, and the brethren went close to her, some venturing to feel and handle her. I was within six or eight feet of her and had a good view, as much as I wanted. She has lost all her hair and looks very poor and weak. The President ordered that the brethren leave her and not disturb her and she was left lying down, but it is doubtful the wolves will kill and eat her before morning.

When the brethren went back to hunt the spy glass they found that the wolves had killed the calf and nearly eaten it up. What they had not eaten, they carried off with them. We have never been out of sight of herds of buffalo today, and from where we are camped, I am satisfied we can see over five thousand with the glass. The largest herd, we have yet seen is still ahead of us. The prairie looks black with them, both on this and the other side of the river. Some think we have passed fifty, and some even a hundred thousand during the day, or have seen them. It is truly a sight wonderful to behold, and can scarcely be credited by those who have not actually seen them.

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.