|mail: Bill Thayer||
July the 16th. The Battalion was mustered out of service. Soon after, we commenced making arrangements to start on our return to Council Bluffs, at least, as many as chose to go. We chose for our place of encampment a beautiful place for water and feed for animals, three miles from Pueblo.º
On the 20th we were organized into companies of hundreds and fifties. Lieutenants Lyttle and Pace were chosen Captains of hundreds. I was chosen the Captain of the 1st fifty, Brother Tyler of the 2nd, and Brother Reddick Allred of the 3rd.
On the 23rd we started on our way. Traveled •20 miles. Camped at Puchoes Ranch.
The 24th. Traveled •18 miles. Came to Francisco Ranch. Tarried at this place until the 28th and purchased 40 head of beef cattle of Mr. Francisco.
The 28th. Started with our cattle, which were as wild as deer. Crossed the main divide between Francisco's and the Tularry Valley. Traveled •12 miles.
The 29th. Traveled •12 miles. Camped in a small, but beautiful valley.
On the 30th we laid by and killed our cattle, and dried the meat and prepared it for packing.
The 31st. Brother Elisha Averetta started ahead with a few men to look out the route and camping places, etc.
August the 1st. We again started on our course, passed through small valleys and over small ranges of mountains, and after a few days travel, we came to the extensive valley lying between the Sierra Nevada and the coast range of the mountains called the Tuele, or Tularry Valley. We continued our course between these two ranges of mountains, nearly Northwest, until the 20th, on which day we came to settlements on the River Sacrimento.º
On the night of the 24th we camped near Sutter's Fort. At this p39place some of the brethren concluded to stop, as it was now getting late in the season, and after a mature consideration, it was thought best that a portion of the company tarry, as the wages were good, and labor until spring. Included in the company that tarried wasº Brothers Wilford Hudson and Sidney Willis, who, in the course of the winter, were the first to discover gold in Upper California.
The 26th. Started on our route.
On the 27th left the Sacrementoº River and took the emigration road leading from the States.
The 28th. Traveled to Bear River.
The 29th. Left the Valley and started on our route over the Sierra Nevada mountains, and on the 5th of September reached the Valley on the east side of the mountains. This day we passed where several emigrants from Missouri had perished the previous winter. Their carcasses and bones were bleaching upon the ground, not having received a burial.
On the morning of the 6th, soon after starting, we met Samuel Brannan, who had been through from San Francisco to Salt Lake Valley, where he had met the Presidency of the Church, together with the pioneers and the first companies of the Saints to that place. Brother Brannan was now on his return to San Francisco. On meeting him we learned that Captain Brown would be along in a day or so on his way to California, and that from him we would get more information. On receiving this news we concluded to return to our place of encampment and wait his arrival.
On the 7th Captain Brown came up with a small escort, direct from Salt Lake, where he had left that portion of the Battalion that had left us at Santa Fe. From the Captain we nearly all received letters from our families, and also a letter of council from the heads of the Church. From the information which we here received it was thought best that the greater portion of the company return to the settlements in California and labour till spring. I received letters at this place from my family, which brought me the sad news of the death of my only sister. She died at Council Bluffs, after a lingering sickness which was caused by exposure. At this place of encampment, I also received the news of the birth of my son William.
On the 8th of September those of the company that had fully made up their minds to see their families the ensuing winter, again started on our route.
On the 4th we resumed our journey and without as much as an Indian trail to guide us.
Reached the camp of the Saints in Salt Lake Valley on the 12th of October. The reception with which we met gladdened our hearts and revived our spirits. A small portion of the company found their families here, and consequently had got home. The Presidency and some of the pioneers had returned to Winter Quarters. The saints that were remaining in the Valley had built a fort and were preparing for farming, etc. I felt very well pleased with the situation of the Valley, and my conclusions were that it was a place of retreat, or a hiding place which God had, in his wisdom, prepared for his people.
On the 15th of October I left Salt Lake, with 16 in company, for Winter Quarters.
The 19 we reached Fort Bridger, distance •115 miles.
p40 The 20th. Laid by. Snow fell •two inches.
The 21st. Continued our journey, and on the 25th camped on Sweetwater.
The 29th. Camped at Independence Rock.
The 30th. Left Sweetwater and traveled •4 miles to Willow Spring. The weather was very cold and windy.
On the morning of the 31st found that one of my mules was missing, and after hunting for some time was obliged to pursue my journey without it. This day the weather was extremely cold. Traveled •15 miles.
November 1st. Reached Platte River. Two buffalo were killed.
The 2nd. The weather continued cold and disagreeable. Made a short drive.
The 3rd. Camped on Deer Creek.
On the morning of 4th snow fell •1 inch. At 10 o'clock a.m. clouds broke away and we again picked up our traps and rode •10 miles. At this place of encampment I killed a buffalo, some of the meat of which was partly dried and taken along with us, and was truly a help to us as we had started from Salt Lake with a very small quantity of flour.
The 5th, 6th and 7th. The weather about as cold as I ever witnessed. Had to run behind our mules with robes wrapped around us to keep from freezing.
The 8th. Reached Fort Laramie. At this place we were very hospitably received and entertained. A substantial supper and breakfast, with mule feed, was furnished us free of charge.
The 9th. Started in the afternoon. Crossed the Platte on the ice. Traveled •6 miles.
The 10th. Traveled •30 miles.
The 19th came to timber.
The 23rd. Two of the best horses in camp were stolen by the Indians.
The 24th. Had a snowstorm. Weather very cold and disagreeable. The wind blows hard and the air is full of snow, and the roads are also being drifted full.
The 28th. Reached Loup Fork. We were detained here 6 days as the stream was swollenº and so much ice running that it was impossible to get across. After finding itº impossible to cross at or near the ford, we concluded to go up to the forks of the River, which was •some 12 or 15 miles distance through brush and over broken ridges without any road or trail. After reaching the forks we were two days before we succeeded in getting all things across. I was the first person that crossed each fork. I crossed on foot to try the depth of the water. The last stream I had to swim part of the distance. The water was extremely cold with much ice running. In crossing the animals, one of the poorest of the horses mired in the quicksand, and as our provisions had entirely failed, and as it was impossible to get the animal out alive, we concluded to cut its jugular vein and save the meat, which was done.
The 4th of December started on our homeward course. Traveled •15 miles.
The 5th. Passed some corn fields belonging to the Pawnee Nation. We went into one of the fields and by kicking up the stocks that lay under the snow we succeeded in finding a few nubs of corn. This we ate p41raw, but it had become sour by laying under the snow, and it did us much more harm than good.
On the 9th we camped within about •15 miles of the horn, which place is •30 miles from the general camp of the Saints, or Winter Quarters. But as we were strangers to the route, we were not aware that we were so near our place of destination, and as the snow was deep, and our meat which we had saved from the horse entirely exhausted, we seated ourselves upon the snow around our camp fire and entered into council as to the wisest course to be pursued. Some thought best to send two men on two of the best mules in camp, for Winter Quarters. To this I replied that we had now traveled •near five thousand miles, and that we had suffered much with hunger, cold, thirst and fatigue, and now to give out on the last •hundred miles I didn't like the idea. I then said that in case we could not get through without, I would make a free will offering of my riding mule and we would eat her, as she was in as good order as any in camp. To this proposition all readily agreed.
On the morning of the 10th, we all were united in calling on the Lord to regard our situation in mercy and send us food from an unexpected quarter that we might have wherewith to subsist upon. And here the Lord heard our prayer. Soon after reaching the Horn, wild turkeys began to pass our camp in droves, and such a sight I never before witnessed. Drove after drove continued to pass through the woods until night set in. We succeeded in getting four, which was one to every four persons, and after this we could not get any more altho our shots might be considered ever so fair, and we concluded to be satisfied. Probably it would have been a damage to us if we had got all we wanted as we wereº then suffering in the extreme with hunger.
The 11th. Went to the camps of the Saints at Winter Quarters. The day was bitter cold and the company was well nigh used up. Our clothing being in no wise calculated for winter, we had suffered much with cold, as well as with hunger. Brother Ira Miles, from poor health and extreme suffering, had become as helpless as a child. But the reception with which we met, and the blessings that were poured upon our heads on our arrival, seemed to cause new life to spring up and to compensate us for all our toils. This company, numbering 16 souls, were the first to return from the Battalion after our discharge in California.
December 12th. I crossed the Missouri River and rode to Council Point, a distance of •12 miles, where I found my family and father's house. All were well, and I am pretty certain we were glad to meet again. I reached home on Sunday, and as it was dusk when I arrived, the people of the little burgh had gathered for worship. The news of my arrival soon reached their place of gathering, which proved the breaking up of their meeting. All were so anxious to see me that without ceremony they flocked out of the meeting house and gathered into my humble but happy cot which had been built by my father and brother for the benefit of my family in my absence. This was a joyful meeting, but as the evening began to wear away my appetite began most keenly to return, and I was induced to say to the people, that inasmuch as they felt a kind regard for me, they would manifest it by withdrawing that my wife might have the privilege of preparing me a morsel to eat. Their love was readily manifest, and a warm supper was soon ready. But as to satisfying my appetite, this was out of the question, as I had suffered p42too long to have my appetite become natural by eating one meal or in one week.
I spent the winter with my family and friends. In the spring my brother Rosel and I did what we could to assist father and he took his departure for Salt Lake Valley. I spent the summer on the farm which my father and brother had opened, and my brother hired to drive team for the government, with an agreement between us that our income for the season should be for our mutual interest, that if possible both might be prepared the ensuing season to take our departure for Salt Lake.
In the spring of 1849 I started with my family, in company with my brother Rosel and his family, for Salt Lake City. The Lord had blessed our labours so much that we were comfortably fitted for the journey. I was appointed to the charge of 63 wagons, under the presidency of Brother Samuel Gully, who had the charge of the hundred. We had in the company some 40 or 50 tons of merchandise for Livingston and Kinkead from St. Louis. Soon after reaching the Platte River, Brother Gully died with the cholera.
July 5, 1849, some 4 or 5 died with the same disease, and before leaving the Platte I came very near falling with the others, but through the mercy of God I was restored.
We reached the Valley the 22nd day of September. The remainder of the year, together with the most of the years 50 and 51, I spent in clerking for the firm of Livingston and Kinkead at $600 per year. During this time I purchased a small farm •10 miles south of the City, on which I situated my family.
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Page updated: 4 Mar 13