05/04/1847 - Crockett
Location: Overton, Nebraska - Location: 40:44:19N 99:32:14W Elevation: 2320 feet
Date: May 4, 1847
On the Platte River, Nebraska:
The cannon was fired at 4 a.m. which woke up the camp. The temperature was thirty-three degrees in the morning. Two horses ran east as far as six or eight miles and were pursued by several men back. William Smoot was thrown from a horse and knocked out of him by the fall. He soon recovered and appeared to have no serious injury.
Brigham Young called the camp together at 7:30 a.m. and cautioned them against leaving their wagons to scatter off hunting without permission. The Indian threat was a great concern. Ten additional guards were appointed to protect the company. The pioneers started out their journey at 9 a.m. by traveling in four columns, making five rows. This was done to be ready in case of an Indian attack. The cannon traveled was hauled in the rear. Levi Jackman wrote: "We started on but had not gone far before we found that our fears were too true. The Indians had set fire to the old grass which was among the new and all was burned together, excepting here and there a small spot. The sight was gloomy indeed."
After traveling three miles, they noticed three wagons across the Platte River on the Oregon Trail. No knowing much about the river at that point, they continued on. But later, one of the men waded across the Platte to see who the pioneers were. This man explained that his company of nine were traders, heading back from Fort Laramie. He introduced himself as Charles Beaumont. He had been at the Fort for two years and had not tasted bread for four years. He informed the pioneers that they were about sixteen days from Fort Laramie and that the grass was green and good on the south side of the river but burned away on the north side. He said that he had never seen so many buffalo along the trail as he had seen this year. There were several times that they had to halt the wagons to let herds pass.
The trader offered to take letters to Trader's Point, so the pioneers stopped and quickly wrote fifty-two letters in six and a half minutes to their families.
Brigham Young wrote to his wife, Mary Ann Angell: "I want to wright a long letter but have not time. We are all pretty well at present though my labour has been verry hard for me on the journey. I pray for you continualy. The Pawnees have watched us close and we have watched them but they have got two of our horses, Bros. Richard's and Little's. Our cattle stand it well. . . . We stop every Sabbath and have a day of rest -- the Lord has blessed us in all things for which we are thankful. . . . On Saturday last we saw Buffalo for the first time; they went on a chase after them and got four old ones and five calves which have made us plenty of meat. . . . We shall have to cross the Platte River here on account of feed . . . the prairie is all burnt over on the North side . . . the Pawnees have gone ahead of us and burnt it. The next company had better keep up on the North side. I think it is a good route for us hereafter. . . . Joseph and Brigham be good Boys and mind your mother."
Howard Egan wrote to his wife Tamson: "Not having an opportunity to send this letter when I expected to have one, I believe there is now a chance to send it, and I embrace the opportunity with pleasure. There is some travelers on the other side of the Platte River going down, one of them came over and will take the mail for us. My health continues to be pretty good. Thank the Lord we are now in a buffalo country and have killed a number of them, and we are now traveling 5 wagons abreast of each other as there is Indians all around us, and we have not time to write much. We have just stopped our teams for a few moments, we are about 250 miles from the camp. . . . Dear Tamson, I want you to be humble and prayerful, to take good care of yourself and your children, pray for me for I do not forget you night nor morning. . . . May the Lord God of Israel bless you and your children, and preserve you until I return that we may enjoy each other's company again. Give my love to all. Goodby my dear, think of me."
William Clayton wrote in his journal: "I feel my mind relieved by this unexpected privilege of writing back to my dear family and hope they will have the pleasure of perusing the contents."
John Brown, Thomas Woolsey, and John Pack accompanied Beaumont back across the Platte to deliver the letters to their wagons. They also delivered enough bacon and bread to last their company until they reached the Missouri as payment. Some of the men also purchased buffalo robes. [John Brown had traveled the Oregon Trail during the previous year with the Mississippi Saints. He went over the river to confer with the leader of this small company of traders, Pierre Didier Papin.] The rest of the pioneers continued their journey for three miles and then rested the teams. When the three men returned to the company, a council meeting was held to determine if the company should cross the Platte or continue their journey on the north side of the river. They understood that it appeared that the grass would be much better on the south side.
Wilford Woodruff wrote: "But when we took into consideration the situation of the next company & thousands that would follow after & as we were the Pioneers & had not our wives & children with us we thought it best to keep on the north side of the river & brave the difficulties of Burning Prairies & make a road that should stand as a permanent route for the Saints independant of the old emigration route & let the river seperate the emigrating companies that they need not quarrel for wood, grass or water & when our next company came along the grass would be much better for them than it would on the south side as it would grow up by the time they would get along. A vote was called & it was unanimous to go on the north side of the river."
After the council meeting, the pioneers moved on, traveled a total of nine miles, and camped near a creek which the pioneers gave various names: Grand Creek, Buffalo Creek, and Clear Creek. A large herd of buffalo lay only a short distance ahead.
Orson Pratt recorded: "Antelope for a few days have been quite plenty, and buffalo almost constantly in sight. We have not as yet seen any fresh signs of Indians or their horses & we have generally concluded that the large party seen yesterday [by William Empey] were nothing but a drove of antelope or some other wild animals mistaken in the distance for Indians, a mistake is not unfrequent in western prairies."
Summer Quarters, Nebraska:
A meeting was held in the evening at John D. Lee's house. Several resolutions were adopted. M.M. Sanders was to herd all of the cattle for $1.50 per day, payment in crops in the fall. All the sheep were to be penned up at night. A bridge was to be built over Mire Creek on Saturday for the cattle to pass over. Sumauel Gully was appointed as the Summmer Quarters clerk. A gun fired three times was to be an alarm of distress.
Garden Grove, Iowa:
Luman Shurliff arrived back safely from his journey to obtain donations for the Garden Grove Saints. He had been gone for three months. He had traveled two thousand miles and had successfully obtained $1,500 worth of goods through much hardship. He was very glad to be home.
Mormon Battalion, at Los Angeles, California:
Jefferson Hunt wrote a letter to Brigham Young: "We are in perfect suspense here. In two months we look for a discharge and know not whither to steer our course. We have a very good offer to purchase a large valley, sufficient to support 50,000 families connected with other excellent country, which might be obtained. The rancho connected with the valley is about thirty miles from this place, and about twenty miles from a good ship landing. We may have the land and stock consisting of eight thousand head of cattle, the increase of which was three thousand last year, and an immense quantity of horses, by paying 500 dollars down, and taking our own time to pay the remainder, if we had only the privilege to buy it. There are excellent water privileges on it."
Company B, Mormon Battalion, at San Diego, California:
Thomas Dunn wrote: "We received 6 months of our pay which was glady received. Though many made a bad use of it in drinking and carousing." The "Hauns Mill Begger" was convicted for stealing a pocket knife and sentenced to work the the "Doby Yard."
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, email@example.com.
- Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:167-69
- Howard Egan's Diary, Pioneering the West, 33
- Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 553
- Watson, ed., The Orson Pratt Journals, 384-85
- Luke S. Johnson Journal, typescript, BYU, 6
- Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 14, p.506
- The Exodus and Beyond, 40
- William Clayton's Journal, p.127-32
- Levi Jackman Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.30
- Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 4, p.373
- Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 14, p.208
- Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 144-46
- Journal of Henry Standage in Frank Alfred Golder, The March of the Mormon Battalion, 220-21
- Journal Extracts of Henry W. Bigler, Utah Historical Quarterly, 5:60
- Kelly, ed., Journals of John D. Lee, 1846-1847 and 1859, 159-62