06/28/1847 - Crockett
Date: June 28, 1847
On the Oregon Trail, Wyoming:
During the morning, many of the men made trades with Moses Harris for pants, jackets, and other items. He was an experienced trader and they had difficulty bargaining for fair prices. At 7:30 a.m., the pioneer company rolled out of their camp and parted with Moses Harris who was waiting for some Oregon companies to guide. After traveling six miles, they came to a fork in the road. The road to the right was the Greenwood cutoff, which bypassed Fort Bridger on the way to Oregon. The pioneers took the road to the left which headed toward Fort Bridger.
They halted at 1:30 to rest on the banks of Little Sandy River. The country was barren, with very little grass. William Clayton wrote: "One of the brethren has picked up a large piece of petrified wood. It resembles the outside layer of a cottonwood tree next to the bark, and appears to have rotted and broken off short then petrified and turned to a solid, heavy, hard, flint stone, but retaining its original shape and appearance." Sister Harriet Young, traveling with her two children, wrote: "This journey is very fatiguing. We feel almost wore out."
At 4:15, they crossed over Little Sandy which was soft and muddy. Several of the teams needed during this difficult crossing. They were planning on going eight more miles, but instead were soon met by George A. Smith, who had traveled ahead of the camp. Elder Smith introduced the brethren to the legendary Jim Bridger who was heading to Fort Laramie with two other men. Mr Bridger knew that the pioneers wanted to meet with them, so he offered to spend the rest of the day and night with them if they would stop and camp. They soon found a camp on Little Sandy.
Soon after they camped, the Twelve and several others went to visit with Mr. Bridger, to ask him questions about the road ahead and about the Great Basis region. William Clayton commented: "It was impossible to form a correct idea of either from the very imperfect and irregular way he gave his descriptions."
Bridger described the route ahead and the area around Green River. He discussed the Hastings route to the Great Salt Lake which went through Weber Canyon. He said that there was no timber on Utah Lake which was fifteen miles long, but the streams that ran into it were well timbered. Utah Lake was thirty miles from the Salt Lake. The banks of the river that ran between them had plenty of blue grass and red and white clover. Some of his men had traveled all the way around Salt Lake in canoes. It took three month and these believed it was 550 miles around it. Regarding the Ute Indians he said: "The Utah tribe of Indians inhabit the region around the Utah Lake and are a bad people. If they catch a man alone they are sure to rob and abuse him if they don't kill him, but parties of men are in no danger."
Bridger spoke about the Bear River Valley to the north. A man had started a farm in the valley. The soil was good but it would be difficult to grow corn there because of the very cold nights. He described in detail the country south of Utah Lake and into present-day Arizona. Some areas were rich in minerals such as copper, iron, and silver. William Clayton wrote: "He thinks the Utah Lake is the best country in the vicinity of the Salt Lake and the country is still better the farther south we go until we meet the desert which is upwards of 200 miles south from the Utah Lake. There is plenty of timber on all the streams and mountains and abundance of fish in the streams. There is timber all around the Utah Lake and plenty of good grass; not much of the wild sage only in small patches."
William Clayton summed up the meeting with: "Such was the information we obtained from Mr. Bridger, but we shall know more about things and have a better understanding when we have seen the country ourselves." Supper was provided for Mr. Bridger and then the brethren retired to discuss all the new information that they had obtained.
Wilford Woodruff included this summary in his journal of this historic meeting: "He spoke more highly of the great Salt Lake for a settlement than Major Harris did. That . . . if this people settled in it he wanted to settle with them. There was but one thing that could operate against it becoming a great grain country & that would be frost. . . . He said there was a spring at the end of the Salt Lake that produced both Hot & cold fresh water, & hot & cold salt water out of the same hole or spring & formed a large body of verdegreece below which the Indians get to paint skins, arrows."
Brigham Young recorded in his journal, "Bridger considered it imprudent to bring a large population into the Great Basin until it was ascertained that grain could be raised and he said he would give on thousand dollars for a bushel of corn raised in the Basin."
Howard Egan recorded: "After I ate supper I went down to where Mr Bridger was encamped, and from his appearance and conversation, I should not take him to be a man of truth. In his description of Bear River Valley and the surrounding country, which was very good, he crossed himself many times." His description greatly contradicted the one given by Moses Harris.
On the Loup Fork, Nebraska:
Some of the cattle started to fail from the hard journey. Some of the oxen started to get sick from "foul feet." More rest would need to be given to the animals. Wagons started to break down from being damaged while crossing the creeks. The Joseph Noble company was delayed because they had not all crossed over Beaver Creek. They continued on and crossed Indian Creek. Corn fields were noticed as they neared the Pawnee Mission. Some of the caretakers of the mission visited the companies.
Charles C. Rich recorded: "Bro. Taylor's company traveled ahead, Bro. Pratt and myself in the rear. After Bro Taylor's started out and gone about 2 miles, Mackelroy sent us word that there was a war part lurking about. Taylor returned and I went with him. We fired the cannon twice. Traveled six miles; myself and Pratt camped at the Missionary Station; pickets out; all things safe."
Summer Quarters, Nebraska:
John D. Lee notified the brethren to build their share of the public fences, so that the crops would no longer be destroyed by the cattle. He spent the day building chimneys from the brick obtained from the Old Council Bluff ruins.
Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:
Colonel Stevenson returned from San Diego. The battalion learned that twenty-four of their brethren stationed in San Diego had re-enlisted for six months. Colonel Stevenson stepped up his efforts to convince others to re-enlist.
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, 272-78
- Diary of Lorenzo Dow Young, Utah Historical Quarterly, 14:163
- Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 561
- Howard Egan Diary, Pioneering the West, 89
- Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:219-20
- Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 1846-1847 and 1859, 180-81
- Cook, Joseph C. Kingsbury, 117
- Beecher, ed., The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 181
- Arrington, Charles C. Rich, 116
- Journal of Henry Standage in Frank Alfred Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 230