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

April 27, 1847

Location: Chapman, Nebraska - Location: 41:01:27N 98:09:32W Elevation: 1767 feet

Summary: More horses stolen. An accidental shooting. More rain.

Journal entry: TUESDAY: Arose soon after five. The morning fine and pleasant. During the night the guard fired twice but they supposed they were wolves they fired at. I went back to the old Indian village before breakfast, and also with 0. P. Rockwell, to see if any tracks of the lost horses could be found. He followed one track someway into a bunch of willows, but having no arms we returned.

At 7:45 the wagons commenced moving and traveled till 2:15 being about twelve miles nearly a south course, the design being to go to the main branch of the Platte. President Young, Kimball and others went forward again to point out the road. 0. P. Rockwell and some others started back to hunt the horses about the time we started.

The land today has been very rolling and uneven. It is also very sandy and dry.

After traveling about four miles through dead grass we found a large space where the grass had been burned off. Here it is quite green, and there are quantities of buffalo dung, which proves that we are not far distant from some of them. The hunters have been out again, but have not discovered any. There are a great many lizards on these sand ridges, but they are of a small size.

President Young and Kimball discovered a dog town a piece back, and many little prairie dogs. In one hole was a very large rattlesnake, and around the holes many small owls which seem to correspond with what travelers have said previously -- that the prairie dog, rattlesnakes, and owls all live in the same hole together.

The sun is very hot but there is a nice west wind although it is dry and parches our lips.

When we stopped at noon the brethren dug several holes and obtained a little water, as there is none here above the surface. The could not obtain any for the cattle and horses.

At 3:15 the teams commenced to move again. Just as they started, John Brown, Rosewel Stevens and Brother Woodruff all shot at an antelope. They all hit him and killed him. Having skinned it, they put it into one of the wagons.

The afternoon was very hot and the roads very dusty. After traveling about two miles some of the ox teams gave out and had to stop and feed. The rest went on till they found a small branch of water and the grass being very good we stopped for the night at half past five, having traveled about four miles, course about south.

President Young and several others went back with mules and horses to assist the teams up which are behind.

Luke Johnson shot a very large rattlesnake and brought it to camp for the oil. Rosewel Stevens killed a hare, the nearest like the English hare of any I have seen in this country.

Soon after we arrived here it began to lightning and thunder and we had a light shower with a very strong wind. There is an appearance of more rain which is very much needed indeed.

At 6:30 O. P. Rockwell, Joseph Mathews. John Eldridge and Thomas Brown returned from hunting the two lost horses. They reported that they went back to within about two miles of where we encamped on Sunday and looking off towards the river they saw something move in the grass at the foot of a high mole. They proceeded towards it thinking it was a wolf, when within about twelve or fourteen rods Porter stopped to shoot at the supposed wolf. The moment he elevated his rifle, fifteen Indians sprang to their feet, all naked except the breech cloth, and armed with rifles and bows and arrows. Each man having a rifle slung on his back, and his bow strung tight in this hand and about twenty arrows.

The Indians advanced towards them but the brethren motioned and told them to stop and held their riffles and pistols ready to meet them. When the Indians saw this they began to holler Ïbacco! Bacco!Ó The brethren told them they hand not tobacco. One of the Indians came close beside J. Mathew's hors to shake hands with Mathews but kept his eye on the horse's bridle. When nearly within reach of the bridle,Brown cocked his pistol and pointed at the Indian shouting if he did not leave he would kill him. At which, the Indian seeing the pistol read to fire, retreated.

The Indians made signs to get the brethren lower down the river, but the brethren turned their horses to come to camp, thinking it unsafe to go near to the timber where they expected more Indians lay in ambush. When the brethren turned to come back the Indians fired six shots at them with their rifles and the brethren immediately faced about at which the Indians fled towards the timber below.

The brethren did not shoot at the Indians, even when the Indians shot at them. They saw the tracks of the horses which are missing and returned satisfied that Pawnees have got them, and no doubt intended to get the horses on which the brethren rode, but they met with too stern a reception to risk an attempt. Some of these same Indians were amongst those who came into camp when we stopped for dinner near their village, and proves that they eyed the horses pretty close, and also proves that they have followed us close ever since. The brethren ran great risks indeed, but got back safe to camp without harm.

About the same time the brethren returned, a gun accidently went off and broke the nigh fore leg of Brother Mathew's horse. Those who saw the accident state that when the rain came on, some of the men put their guns in John Brown's wagon, loaded, and with the caps on. Brother Brown threw his coat on the guns, and soon after went to get his coat and plucking it up, some part of the coat caught the cock of the gun and raised it so that when the coat slipped off, the gun went off, and the ball struck the horse's leg on the back side about half way between the knee and upper joint. The bone was broke entirely off.

There were several men and horses close by the wagon at the time. The wagon was set on fire, but soon put out with little damage. This makes four of the best horses lost within the last four days, but the last circumstance is by far the most painful, and breaks up Brother Markham's team. Brother Brown made Heber a present of a little antelope meat. About dark the wind moved to the north and blew strong a little while and we had a little more rain.

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.