07/16/1847 - Crockett
Date: July 16, 1847
Advance Company on Weber River, Utah:
Orrin Porter Rockwell was sent back to the main camp to report that they thought it best to follow the Donner-Reed trail over the mountains rather than the Hastings trail down Weber Canyon. While he was away, they started their journey up a small steam, sending ahead a dozen men to work with spades, axes, and other tools to clear the road. After ascending six miles, a 500 foot elevation climb, they crossed over a ridge and then descended into a ravine. After two and a half more miles which took four hours to travel, they camped for the night. Levi Jackman and Lyman Curtis were sick. After camp was established, Orson Pratt and Elijah Newman walked further down the ravine to examine the road. They saw evidence that the Donners and Reeds had spent several hour's effort working on the road, but evidently gave up and turned back up the ravine taking a detour.
Main Company in Echo Canyon, Utah:
After a morning shower, the main company started at 8:45 and entered Echo Canyon. They had difficulty crossing the creek and Harvey Pierce's wagon broke but was soon repaired. William Clayton wrote: "The mountains seem to increase in height, and come so near together in some places as to leave merely room enough for a crooked road." Norton Jacob added: "We came into this valley which looks more cheering than the arid desert we have been passing through."
They halted for the noon, deep in Echo Canyon. There was plenty of grass, no timber except for a few cedar trees on the sides of the mountains. Orrin Porter Rockwell came back from the advance company, reporting their location and route taken. He explained that they could not follow the Hastings route through Weber Canyon, but were instead going over the mountains following the route taken by the Donner-Reed party. During the noon rest a few men hiked to the top of one of the mountains on the north side of the canyon. William Clayton said that they "looked like babes in size."
Wilford Woodruff continue to drive his carriage containing the sick Brigham Young and Albert P. Rockwood. The rough roads tired out the two sick men.
At 1:40 p.m., their journey continued into the canyon which became narrower and narrower. It seemed strange to them that a road could ever be made in the narrow canyon. At some points they could only see two wagons ahead. They crossed the creek several times with difficulty. Patches of oak shrubbery were appearing and move groves of trees. The elderberries were in bloom. The high red cliffs on both sides were very impressive.
After traveling a total of sixteen miles, they camped for the night in Echo Canyon. William Clayton described, "We are yet enclosed by high mountains on each side, and this is the first good camping place we have seen since noon, not for lack of grass or water, but on account of the narrow gap between the mountains." Erastus Snow described: "Toward night, for about one-half or three-quarters of a mile, the whole camp seemed perfectly immerged in a dense thicket of large shrubbery and weeds with scattering trees which filled the valley. As we emerged from the thicket we passed through some extensive beds of what moutaineers call 'wild wheat,' small patches of which we have seen all the way from Bear River." This grass was as high as ten feet tall near the creek. Solomon Chamberlain broke his wagon two miles back and John Wheeler unloaded his wagon and went back to get the axeltree to be mended.
Echo Canyon received its name of course because of the echoes heard in it. William Clayton wrote: "There is a very singular echo in this ravine, the rattling of wagons resembles carpenters hammering at boards inside the highest rocks. The report of a rifle resembles a sharp crack of thunder and echoes from rock to rock for some time. The lowing of cattle and braying of mules seem to be answered beyond the mountains. Music, especially brass instruments, have a very pleasing effect and resemble a person standing inside the rock imitating every note. The echo, the high rocks on the north, high mountains on the south with the narrow ravine for a road, form a scenery at once romantic and more interesting than I have ever witnessed."
After camp was established, some of the men tried their hand at mountain climbing. William Clayton warned: "The ascent is so steep that there is scarce a place to be found to place the foot flat and firm, and the visitor is every moment, if he makes the least slip or stumbles, in danger of being precipitated down to the bottom and once overbalanced, there is no possibility of stopping himself till he gets to the bottom, in which case he would doubtless be dashed to pieces."
William Clayton finally reached to top and could see the Weber River ahead. To the rear he could only see ranges of mountains. He descended which was a much more difficult task than the climb, but got down before dark. Wilford Woodruff went one mile more down Echo Canyon and fished in Weber River. He caught a trout for Brigham Young.
Big Sandy River, Wyoming:
About 150 miles behind the main company, the detachments of the Mormon Battalion and the Mississippi Saints were camped on Big Sandy River east of Fort Bridger. The soldiers celebrated the end of their enlistment in the army with a salute of guns at daylight. John Steele noted that this salute "let every one of Uncle Sam's officers know we were our own men once more. We still kept up our organization, and respected the command as usual, and was rather better than some had been before."
Mormon Ferry, Wyoming:
In the late afternoon, a wedding was held at the camp. Jacob Cooper and Kittean Hucklebee of an Indian company were married. Fourteen men arrived at the river crossing, heading east with fifty pack horses and mules. This company had met the pioneers near Fort Bridger. [This company had left Oregon on May 6 and was led by T.G. Drake, who had captained the ship Modeste. They would arrive in St. Louis near the end of August.]
On the North Platte River, Nebraska:
The second company traveled about twelve miles and saw thousands of buffalo. Jesse W. Crosby wrote: "On each side of the river hills and valleys were liteerally covered with them." The grass were very short, eaten by all the buffalo. After camp was established, a herd of buffalo ran into one of the camps among the oxen and cattle. One of the buffalo was shot in full view of the women and children.
Bear River Valley, Idaho:
The Mormon Battalion members of the Kearny detachment noted that their enlistment was up, but they weren't discharged and continued serving with the detachment riding to the east.
Mormon Battalion, in Los Angeles:
The battalion was mustered and formerly discharged from their year's service in the United States Army. They received their discharge from their former commander, Lieutenant Andrew Jackson Smith. Azariah Smith wrote: "At 3 o'clock P.M. the five companies of the battalion were formed according to the letter of their company, with A in front and E in the rear, leaving a few feet of space in between. The [notorious] Lieutenant A. J. Smith then marched down between the lines, then in a low tone of voice said, 'You are discharged.'" The men were pleased that the despised Lt. Smith's remarks were very short. Captain Davis, Lt. Pace, Lt. Lytle, Levi Hancock and David Pettigrew all made remarks followed by three cheers.
Robert S. Bliss wrote: "I felt to thank my Heavenly Father that I had been preserved to accomplish the work I was sent to do thus far." The men could not leave for home yet, because they had not yet received their pay. Many of them traveled three miles and camped on the San Pedro River.
Levi Hancock recorded: "The 16 of July has come and what there has passed I canot tell only there has bin a great strugle for power and to get us enlisted again I said I would not and many others say the same such crualty on soldiers I never saw men chained and a ball hung to them and to ware it for 6 8 or 10 months gagued and imprisoned."
Those who re-enlisted for six months were put under the leadership of Captain Davis and prepared to march to San Diego.
Source: 150 Years Ago Today ©These materials have been created by David R. Crockett. Copies of these materials may be reproduced for teacher and classroom use. When distributing these materials, credit must be given to David R. Crockett. These materials may not be published, in whole or part, or in any other format, without the written permission of Mr. Crockett, Tucson Az, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- William Clayton's Journal, p.294
- Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:230
- Erastus Snow Journal Excerpts, Improvement Era 15:360
- Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 448
- Appleton Milo Harmon Goes West, 40, 41
- Journal of William Empey, Annals of Wyoming, 21:140
- Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife, The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions, 91
- Beecher, ed., The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 185
- Jesse W. Crosby Journal, typescript, BYU, 36
- The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:111
- Eugene E. Campbell, BYU Studies, Vol. 8, No. 2, p.141
- Norton Jacob Journal, typescript, 105
- Bagley, ed., Frontiersman, 54
- Levi Jackman Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.39
- The Journal of Nathaniel V. Jones, Utah Historical Quarterly, 4:21
- Hoshide & Bagley, eds., The 1847 Donner Camp Diary of Levi Hancock