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

July 17, 1847

Location: Weber River Ford - 41 miles left, Utah - (4 rods wide, 2 feet deep. Good to ford. Plenty of grass and timber.) [Close by are the "Witches" rock formations, Echo Canyon, and at one time at the mouth of the canyon, "Pulpit Rock."] - 990 miles from Winter Quarters.

Summary: Clayton turns 33 years today; Pioneers reach the red fork of the Weber River. The Canyon is in sight. President Young is very ill again.

Journal entry: SATURDAY, 17TH. Arose to behold a fine pleasant morning, my health much better. This is my thirty - third birthday. My mind naturally reverts back to my family and my heart is filled with blessings on their heads more than my tongue is able to express. The richest blessings that ever were bestowed upon the head of woman or child could not be more than I desire for them, whatever be my lot.

President Young is reported as having had a very sick night. A forge was set up and sonic repairs done to wagons and Brother Chamberlain's repaired also. The cattle and mules seem very uneasy and continue lowing and braying all the morning. I suppose it is in consequence of the singular echoes, they no doubt thinking they are answered - by others over the mountains.

At 9:40 the camp renewed the journey and one mile farther arrived at the Red fork of the Weber River. We also seem to have a wide space to travel through and now turn to the right in a western course, the ravine having run mostly southwest. The distance we have traveled through this narrow pass is twenty - three miles.

Yesterday was the first day we have been out of sight of snow a whole day since we arrived at Fort John. We could not see it for the high mountains although surrounded - by it. On arriving at this stream we see it again on the mountains to the east. This stream is about four rods wide, very clear water and apparently about three feet deep on an average. Its banks lined with cottonwood and birch and also dense patches of brush wood, willows, rose bushes, briers, etc. By stepping to the top of a small mound at the bend of the road, the mouth of the canyon can be seen very plainly, as also the mountains between which we pass to avoid it. The canyon appears to be about eight or ten miles west of us. I should judge not over that.

President Young being so very sick found he could not endure to travel farther. Accordingly Elder Kimball and some others went to select a camping ground and soon returning reported a place a little farther. The camp moved on and formed encampment on the banks of the river having traveled two and a half miles, the day very hot and mosquitoes plentiful. Several of the brethren have caught some fine trout in this stream which appears to have many in it.

In the afternoon Elders Kimball, Richards, Smith, Benson and others went onto a mountain to clothe and pray for President Young who continues very sick. On returning they rolled down many large rocks from the top of the mountain to witness the velocity of their descent, etc. Some would roll over half a mile and frequently break to pieces. John Nixon found and brought to camp a very singular kind of thistle which I have never seen before nor recollect of eye reading of the like. He found it.... the low land near the camp and say.; there are many more like it. It is great curiosity and worthy of decription.

The stem is about four feet long, about six inches wide and a quarter of an inch thick. It is formed of a double leaf or case and when broken is hollow, although the stem lies close together, perfectly flat. It is ornamented with prickles from bottom to top. These leaves are but sparsely scattered all along up the stem. The top is a kind of crown and bush formed by the same kind of prickly leaves and is about ten inches long by five inches broad, forming a very handsome head or crown. But the great curiosity of this thistle is a perfect resemblance of a snake coiled around the crown as though in the act of guarding it against foes. The head of the snake lies on the top of the crown at one end and is ornamented by a small bunch of flowers like common thistle flowers on the snake's head. At the extremity of the tail is a bunch of small burrs covered with prickes something resembling the rattles on a rattlesnakes tail. The body of the snake is formed of the same kind of substance as the thistle itself and has a very singular appearance. It seems that two of the great enemies of mankind have combined, the most bitter and destructive guarding the more innocent. The serpent tempted the woman causing her to sin, in consequence of which the earth was cursed and decreed to produce thorns and thistles, etc., but this is the first time I ever saw the snake guard the thistle.

In the evening Elders Kimball, G. A. Smith and Howard Egan rode down the river to visit the canyon. They returned about ten o'clock and said they had been eight miles down the river but at that distance did not arrive at the canyon and being late they concluded to return to camp.

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.