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Death Valley in '49 by William Lewis Manly

Part 5 out of 8

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afternoon we found some small red berries, similar in appearance to what
I, in my childhood, knew and relished as Solomon's seal berries. I being
a natural coward, and fearing that they might poison me, did not eat any
of them, but generously allowed my good friend to eat them all.

We had now been almost entirely without water for two days and nights.
When night came on we picketed our animals in a grass plot and lay down
near them to see that they did not get tangled in the ropes and hurt, or
that some red skin, not having the fear of the Lord in his heart, did
not come and take them away. About ten o'clock my companion began to
complain of pain in his stomach and bowels, and was soon vomiting at a
fearful rate; so violently, indeed, that I was apprehensive that he
might die. If I had had an emetic I would have given it to him to have
assisted nature in pumping those devilish little red berries out of him,
for I felt quite sure that they were the cause of his illness. Perhaps
it was fortunate that there was no medecine at hand, for if there had
been I might have killed him with it.

He suffered most intensely, and soon became very thirsty, and, there
being no water within many miles of us, he appealed to me to bleed one
of the animals and let him drink the blood; I refused: he insisted; I
again refused: he commanded; I still refused. He swore, and called me
almost everything except a good Christian; he even expressed the wish
that I, his friend, might be sent to a certain place where the heat is
most intense, and the fire is never quenched.

At about eleven o'clock, when his pains were most severe, a dark cloud,
the first we had seen for months, came over us, and a little rain began
to fall, when I at once opened our little camp kettle and turned the lid
upside down, and into both kettle and lid there fell perhaps two or
three teaspoonfuls of pure water, every drop of which I gave to the
sufferer, whereupon he expressed thanks for another God-send, and at
once apologized for bestowing unmerited abuse on me. He afterwards often
asserted that he believed that the little rain-cloud was sent by God for
his special benefit, and that the water caught from that cloud was the
sweetest and best that he had ever tasted. I did not doubt the latter
half of the above statement, but I did have some doubt about the truth
of the former half when I called to mind the scene which followed my
refusal to bleed the horse. Whether the small quantity of water gave him
much relief, or not, I do not know, but I do know that he soon became
better and slept some while I watched. He was quite feeble next morning
when I put him on the old sore-backed mule, where he rode most of the
time for the next four days, while the little horse carried our baggage,
and I led the way as usual, on foot.

For four days from the time Field ate the little red berries we did not
have a drop of water except the two or three teaspoonfuls which the
stingy cloud left to save the life of the "berry-eater." We were still
on the desert, or in the mountains east of the river, traveling hard
during the day, and burning up with fever in the night. There was plenty
of drying grass in places, but our poor animals could not eat it any
longer, for they, too, were burning up for want of water. Oh, how much I
did wish that we had some camels from Arabia, which could have gone so
much longer without water, and traveled so much faster.

On the morning of the third day of starvation, we determined to change
our course, and, if possible, reach the river once more. Bearing to the
left over a high, barren range of rocky mountains, and down into a plain
of sand, sage brush, and cactus. During the afternoon I shot a small
rabbit, not much larger than a rat, which we carried until night, then
broiled and tried to eat it, not because our appetites craved it, but
hoping that it might strengthen and sustain us, at least a little while
longer. We were, however, so nearly burned up that there was not a
sufficient flow of saliva to moisten the little bits of broiled meat in
the mouth. Late that afternoon we fancied that our fast failing brute
companions scented water, or that they instinctively knew that it was
not far away. They would raise their heads, and extend their noses as if
smelling, while their physical force and energy seemed renewed, and they
certainly traveled faster.

That night we ate the little, as before stated, more as a duty than as a
pleasure. There was some green grass round about where we camped, or,
more properly speaking, where we lay, for we did not erect our little
tent,--but the poor starving animals did not eat a bite of it, but stood
over us as if in sympathy with us in our deplorable condition. We rose
before the sun, being somewhat rested and refreshed, for the night had
been cool, and took up our line of march, I, as usual, in the lead, then
came the old mule guided by its precious owner, and lastly, the faithful
little horse with the pack on his still quite round back;--on over the
still dry and barren plain we went, without a Moses, cloud, or pillar of
fire to lead us.

About ten o'clock, through the hot glimmer of the down-pouring rays of
the sun, we saw what appeared, and afterwards proved, to be a clump of
cottonwood trees. Our hopes and courage were renewed, for we well knew
the cottonwood usually grows near flowing water. There was no beaten
pathway, no signs of animal life, no quails, no manna in that desert;
but on we went, almost without a halt, and at one o'clock reached the
cottonwood grove, immediately on the bank of the great river down which
we had floated in our canoes more than a month before. On reaching the
bank of the river we recognized objects which we had seen while on our
way down.

We remembered that both men and horses might be water-foundered, and
that self-preservation is said to be the first law of nature; but it was
difficult to prevent the famishing brutes from plunging into the river.
We allowed them to take only a small quantity at first, and each of us
took only a small cupful; then after a little time all took more, and
the thirst was soon quenched. We were surprised to find how little water
it took to satisfy the raging thirst of four days of continued fasting.
The animals, after taking comparatively small quantities, seemed
satisfied, and went off in search of grass.

We now had an abundance of water, but we well knew that water alone
would not sustain life very long: therefore our next, and most serious
business was to determine how to prolong our lives. According to our
map, our recollections of different objects, and present appearances we
were now a little above the mouth of the Uinta river which comes in from
the northwest, all of which proved true. Our little map pictured Fort
Uinta on the Uinta river about one hundred miles from where we were; but
whether or not there were any human beings there, we did not know, and
in order to determine we must cross this great river and travel a
hundred miles, and this seemed a perilous undertaking for us in our
present starving condition; but after being refreshed by plenty of good
water we determined to undertake it, hoping that good fortune might
attend us.

After a little rest, the animals with grass, we packed up, and after
Field had put on his, once serviceable, life preserver he mounted the
old mule behind the small pack and started to swim across the river. He
took the lead in this instance for three reasons: first, we thought that
the mule, being much older than the horse, had probably had more
experience and therefore might be a much better swimmer; then Field had
the advantage in having the life preserver; but the last, and most
potent, reason was my fear of getting drowned. It was understood that I
was to remain on shore and be ready to assist him if necessary, or until
he had safely landed on the other side.

In he went, and the trusty old mule was swimming faithfully, and had
reached the middle of the river, when Field, as he afterwards told me,
to hurry the mule, gave a gentle jerk on the bridle, when, to his utter
astonishment, the mule made a complete somerset backwards plunging
Field, the pack, and himself entirely under the water, except his heels
which appeared above the water as his head went under. In a moment Field
popped up and, after shaking his head as a swimmer will do after taking
a plunge, cast about to take his bearings, or to determine just where he
was, and began to paddle with his hands, much as he did when the canoes
were upset on the river, or somewhat after the style of a swimming dog.
On coming to the surface, the mule cast a glance at the still living,
but unloaded portion of his cargo, then made a bee line for the shore
which he had so recently left. While Field continued to paddle and float
down the river, I dismounted and followed along the bank, trying to
encourage him to renewed efforts to float ashore. Finally he passed
behind a clump of willows out of sight; but soon I heard him call for
help and on going a little further down, found him stuck fast in the
mud. I waded waist deep into that mud, and literally dragged him out,
almost a mile below his starting point.

As we were struggling in this muddy swamp, Field said he wondered why
some of this superfluous water was not distributed over those dry
deserts from which we had so recently come. I told him, politely, that I
thought that a man of his age, ability, opportunities, and nationality,
(you know he was quite proud of being an Englishman) ought to know why
the moisture was not so distributed, and that I was too illiterate to
enlighten him on that point, but that, when opportunity offered, he
might consult some one who knew more of natural science than I did. I
informed him that I had an idea that if any considerable portion of the
water of that river had been distributed over that desert that we would
not have had the experience of the last fifteen days, whereupon he very
plainly intimated that I did not have much sense, or, in other words, he
called me a d--d fool.

After reaching solid ground and resting for a little while, we returned
to the place from which he had started out on his perilous voyage, and
where I had hastily left my horse. We found the horse and mule quietly
grazing with their packs on their backs. The faithful old mule had the
appearance of having been wet, but was now almost dry, yet not so dry,
internally, as he had been several days before.

What shall we do now? We are perhaps two hundred or more miles from any
white settlement. We do not know that Fort Uinta is occupied. Shall we
make another attempt to cross the river? I asked my brave friend if he
was willing to again mount the mule and make another attempt, when he
again exclaimed, "You must be a d--d fool!" I then, pretending to have a
little courage, asked him if he would follow provided I would lead,
whereupon he declared most emphatically that under no conditions would
he again attempt to swim across that river. I had not had his
experience, but fear of being drowned was quite sufficient to prevent me
from undertaking the perilous task, more especially after witnessing his

Well, what next? We could not depend upon fishing and hunting, for we
had no fish-hooks, nor means of catching fish, and not more than a dozen
loads of shot, and a little powder; so the matter of slaying one of our
animal friends was now seriously debated, and, after thoroughly
canvassing the whole situation, it was most reluctantly determined that,
however hard, this must be done. No doubt our starving condition at that
particular time had some weight in making this decision.

Then the question was, which of the animals shall be sacrificed? The
mule was quite thin, and probably tough, while the little horse was
young, and, notwithstanding the many days it had, with all of us,
starved and traveled without water, was still quite plump and round, and
probably tender, or, at the worst, not so tough as the poor old docile
mule; so, at length we decided to kill the innocent little creature,
jerk his flesh, pack it on the mule, and thereby try to save our own
lives, for a time at least, and endeavor to reach some place of safety.

The matter of slaying the horse was determined by casting lots, neither
being willing to perform that melancholy, but now absolutely necessary,
act. It fell to my lot, and that was one of, if not the most revolting
act in my whole life's experience, for I had, probably, become as
strongly attached to that little horse as man ever becomes attached to
animal. I most reluctantly took the bridle in my left hand, my revolver
in my right, stood directly in front of the poor, unsuspecting, innocent
creature with the murderous pistol close to, and a little above a line
extending from eye to eye, and fired. When the smoke of the powder had
cleared off a little, I saw at my feet the quivering, dying body. I
staggered off a few steps and sat down, sick at heart.

Field walked several steps away, and turned his back upon the scene
until after the fatal shot had been fired; then, after some little time,
he entered upon his share of the enforced duty, and, after having
removed a portion of the skin, cut off some slices of flesh and brought
them to a fire I had started. We broiled and ate a little of it, not
through desire or relish for it, but from a sense of duty, knowing that
our lives depended upon it.

It is said that for many years Dr. Franklin refrained from eating flesh,
having an idea that it was wrong to slay and eat the flesh of other
creatures; but that he changed his mind, and his diet, too, after having
seen large fish devour small ones. I strongly suspect that if the doctor
had been with us, or in a like condition, even before his conversion, he
would, more than likely have taken a little flesh, even though it had
been a piece of his own favorite horse.

I said we only ate a little at first: I only ate a little for two
reason; first, I did not relish the food; second, I had heard of persons
being killed by eating too much after fasting for a long time, and I had
no desire to commit suicide just then. Field ate too much. Night came
on, work was suspended, and we retired. The poor old lone, and, no
doubt, now lonely, mule, having filled himself with grass, came up near
the now terribly-mutilated remains of his late companion, and looked on
as Field continued his bloody work. Field, with an expression of sorrow,
said, "If that mule could reason and look forward to the time when his
body might be in a like condition as that of this horse, he would, no
doubt, take to his heels, bid us a final farewell, and seek other
society." But, fortunately for us, he did not know that he was to be
held in reserve for our future security. He was securely tied up every
night from that time until the day he was slain for our salvation.

Early in the night following that eventful day, my companion began to
complain much as he had done on the night after he had eaten the little
red berries; but there was no lack of water now, no need of a special
rain-cloud. I got up, heated water in our little camp kettle, applied
hot cloths to his aching belly, and did everything else that either of
us could think of for his relief. The pain was intense, and we feared
that he would surely die, and earnestly prayed all the rest of the night
that he might be relieved, and get well. Towards morning most violent
vomiting came on, which continued for thirty hours, or more. He was not
able to walk for three days, and during that time I nursed him, finished
jerking the meat, and built a raft of some partly rotten logs, which I
found in the vicinity, on which we floated across the river, on the
fourth day after our arrival here. I also looked to the welfare of the
mule, and prepared some bags in which to carry our jerk. Manley, I am
sure that you know the meaning of the term "jerk" so that a definition
of the word is not at all necessary.

The old logs of which the raft was made were remnants of log cabins, a
number of which had been built and occupied more than half a century
before, but by whom I do not know. Field remarked that the finding of
these old rotting logs there was another "God send," as we then had
neither ax, hammer, nor any tool of iron with which to cut down a tree.
I bound these logs together with long strips cut from the hide of the
dead horse. Paddles and poles were also provided. The mule was with
difficulty driven across the river.

When the raft was landed on the west bank, the mule packed, and all
about ready to start, I took the long strip of raw-hide from the raft
and tied one end of it around the mule's neck, mounted Field on the mule
behind the large pack, which made the whole outfit look quite comical
indeed. Before leaving the other side of the river I had discovered that
the saddle girth was not very strong, so I cut a wide belt from the hide
of the lately slaughtered horse and fitted it to the saddle as a girth,
knowing that the pack, now containing all of our goods and a supply of
more than a bushel of jerk, would be quite bulky, if not heavy, and more
difficult to keep on the back of a mule than it is for the camel to
maintain his hump on his back. This girth afterwards made us two or
three pretty substantial meals, as did also the long strip of green, wet
hide, one end of which I had tied round the mule's neck, allowing it to
drag for a long distance through the hot dry sand.

All being ready, I, as usual, took the lead with my shot gun, which I
always carried, but with which I seldom killed anything, on my shoulder.
The old mule followed with his high, towering pack, and Field almost
hidden behind. It was noon, but we did not stop for dinner, but simply
reached into one of the great bulging sacks, took out a piece of jerk
and ate it as we went marching on; no more trouble now about cooking.
Late in the afternoon we reached Uinta river, and, as my two-legged
companion had grown very tired of the back of the four-legged one, we
went into camp early. Our objective point was Fort Uinta, where we hoped
to find military. We could not risk turning the mule loose at night, and
the long strip of raw-hide was designed and used to secure him, and yet
to afford him liberty to graze while we slept. As you will see a little
further on, both girth and lariat were used for a purpose not

The second, third, fourth, and fifth days came and went, and we were
trudging on, up the Uinta, through a mostly very barren country, with
some little rich and fertile land. We saw signs of Indians often, but no
Indians. There was much cottonwood, but little other timber. We saw some
fish in the river which we coveted, but could not get. The main course
of this river is from north-west to south-east. We traveled most of the
way to the fort on Indian trails, some of which were much worn, but
mostly at some much earlier period. Of course we had plenty of good
water, and food, such as it was. Field did not walk two miles during
those five days, but seemed to be fattening fast. I sometimes thought he
might be just a little lazy, but I never told him so, for I realized
that he had recently had a severe tussle with death.

Early in the morning of the sixth day we arrived at the abandoned old
fort. There were only three log buildings, and they were in the shape of
three sides of a hollow square, with port-holes on the outer faces of
the buildings, and doors entering each of them from the hollow square or
court. Facing the vacant side of the court, the port-hole from which I
shot the wolf on the night after we had killed the mule, would be on
right hand side. We were unable to determine whether this fort had been
constructed and occupied by Americans or Mexicans, but, from its
apparent age, we were inclined to the opinion that it was Mexicans. It
had not been occupied for, probably, three or four years. Some little
farming had been done immediately around the fort. Surrounding the fort
is a large body of fine, fertile land which I have no doubt has long
since been occupied by mormons, or other enterprising people.

Having no means of subsistence here we soon decided to push on towards
Fort Bridger, and, after resting a few hours set out following the
larger fork of the river which comes almost directly from the north. We
now believed that we were almost, if not exactly, due south of Fort
Bridger. The river is small, and very crooked; we crossed it many times
within three days, and, at the end of that time, found ourselves in the
mouth of a rocky canon, and after struggling for one whole day, we came
to where the steep, high, stone walls closed the little river in on both
sides, rendering it impossible for us to proceed any further.

We were now nearly out of food; the jerk was almost gone. A council was
held, and it was decided that we should return to the fort and take
chances of being rescued, or scalped by some roving band of reds, or
starving to death. We at once set out on our return, full of
disappointment and melancholy forebodings.

The next day found us without food: and now came into use the long,
narrow strip of raw-hide which first bound together the old, rotting
logs of which the raft was made, then to secure the mule of nights. It
was now almost as hard as bone, and nearly round, having been dragged
through the hot sand while it was yet green and wet, closed up like a
hollow tube with sand inside. Two or three yards of it at a time, was
cut into pieces about five inches long, the hair singed off, the sand
scratched out, and these pieces were dropped into our camp kettle and
cooked until the whole formed one mass of jelly or gluten which was, to
us, quite palatable. When the lasso had all been thus prepared and
eaten, the broad girth which had served so well in holding the
pack-saddle on the mule's back, was cleaned, cooked, and eaten. These
substitutes for jerk sustained us very well till we again arrived at the

Another consultation was now held, and the question was--what shall we
do now? We were again, apparently, at the starting point of another
long, enforced fast. Our path seemed hedged in. The prospect was,
indeed, very gloomy. Our only reasonable hope for even the temporary
prolongation of our lives was centered in our ever faithful, and always
reliable old mule. We revolted at the idea of killing and eating him,
but the last bit of the girth was gone. After canvassing the whole
situation over and over, again and again, we finally, but most
reluctantly decided to kill the mule, and preserve all the soft parts,
even the skin with all of its old scars, and then gather in whatever
else we could find, and stay here until spring, or until good fortune
might afford us some means escape; till some Moses might come and lead
us out of this wilderness, notwithstanding the fact that we had not
borrowed any jewelry which we had failed to return.

There were signs of wolves in that vicinity, and it was decided that the
mule be slain about ten paces distant and directly in front of one of
the port-holes of the fort, with the idea that wolves might smell the
blood and come there and subject themselves to being shot, and thereby
afford us a chance to increase our stock of winter supplies in the form
of wolf steak, or jerk. Accordingly the victim was lead to the spot
indicated, and there slain in the same manner, and with quite as much
reluctance on the part of the slayer, as on the occasion of the
sacrifice of the little horse, more than three weeks before. The body
was skinned, cut up, and all taken within the building, nothing being
left except the blood which had been spilled on the ground, and which
was intended to attract wolves or, possibly, bears or other animals.

My now only living associate ridiculed the idea of killing wolves, and
insisted that the flesh could not be eaten, stating the fact that even
hogs would not eat the dead body of a dog, and insisted that a dog was
only a tamed wolf. I reminded him of a cat which had been eaten. He
finally agreed that, if I killed a wolf, he would get up and dress it,
but said most emphatically that he would not sit up and watch for it; so
he went to bed, that is, rolled himself up in a blanket on the ground in
front of a good fire inside of the fort, and went to sleep, while I sat
with my rather untrustworthy double barreled shot-gun protruding through
the port-hole in full view of the spot before indicated. The night was
clear, and the moon was shining in full splendor. It was probably eleven
o'clock; Field had been snoring for a long time, when I heard something
in the tall, dry grass, and soon a large, brownish-gray wolf came into
full view, with head up, apparently sniffing, or smelling, and
cautiously approaching the fatal spot. When he reached it, and began to
lick up the blood which was still on the surface of the ground, standing
with his left side toward the fort, and in full view, I took deliberate
aim, and fired, and he fell upon the ground without making any
considerable noise.

The tired, sleeping man was aroused by the report of the gun, and rushed
into the room where I was in great excitement, thinking, perhaps, that
some enemy had appeared, and had just then commenced to bombard the
fort; but when I explained to him that I had simply killed a wolf, he
ran out towards it, and, arriving close to it, the wounded creature rose
up on its hind feet and growled quite vigorously, which seemed to
frighten Field as much as did the noise of the gun. He dashed back to
the fort, and, after having time to recover from his speechless
condition, abused me most fearfully for having told him that I had
killed a wolf. I then went out and put a load of shot into the wolf's
head, and found that my first charge had passed through and broke both
of its fore legs near the body. Field was so thoroughly frightened that
I could not induce him to approach the dead animal for some time, and I
do believe that that wolf haunted him as long as I knew him, for he
seemed never to forget it. After dressing it by the light of the moon
assisted by a torch, we retired. On viewing the plump body next morning
Field exclaimed, "That's another God-send!" and notwithstanding his
opinion that wolf could not be eaten, he found that wolf to be the best
food we had eaten since we had assisted Walker and his tribe in eating
the mountain sheep.

The French may eat their horses, but I do not want more horse flesh. The
old mule made fair but quite coarse beef. While out on this little
pleasure excursion we ate horse, mule, wolf, wild-cat, mountain
sheep, rose seed buds, raw-hide, a squirrel, fatty matter from the
sockets of the mule's eyes and the marrow from his bones; but that ham
of wild-cat was certainly the most detestable thing that I ever
undertook to eat. The marrow from the mule's bones was a real luxury.

We now had a pretty good stock of food, such as it was, but not enough
to carry us through the winter on full rations; therefore we determined
to try to add to it by hunting. One was to go out and hunt while the
other would remain at home: we now had undisputed possession of the fort
and it was our home. Field took the first day's outing while I occupied
my time in drying and smoking meat. Late in the evening he returned,
tired and worn out, having seen nothing worth shooting.

Next day came my turn to hunt. I took a lunch, as he had done,
consisting of jerked mule. I did not tell him so, but I had determined
to make an excursion up the river to a point where we had seen some
fresh trails and deer tracks some days before. When I was putting up my
lunch my friend intimated that I was taking a very large amount for one
lunch, but I told him that I might stay out late and that I did not
intend to starve. I went, stayed all day, all night, and part of the
next day, and returned as he had done, tired and discouraged, not having
seen anything worth bringing in. In the evening of the first day out I
found a trail which appeared to have been used daily by deer going to
and from the river.

It occurred to me that they might go out early in the morning, so I
secreted myself within gun shot of the trail behind an old, moss-covered
log where I slept comfortably; and when it was light enough in the
morning to see a deer, I leveled my gun across the log in a position
commanding the trail and waited and watched until nine o'clock, but
nothing came upon that pathway that morning. After getting tired of
watching and waiting I went down to the trail where, to my astonishment,
I found the fresh tracks of a large bear which must have passed by that
way while I was sleeping. As a rule I do not like to be treated
discourteously, but in this instance I felt glad that this stranger had
passed me by.

On arriving at the fort late in the evening I found my friend in a
terrible state of mental excitement. He said that he had not slept a
minute during the whole of the night before. He had filled the door of
his room with rails, and sharpened one end of a long stick, which he
intended to use if necessary as a weapon of defence. When I arrived he
was again filling the door with rails. I had the gun, pistol and big
knife with me so this was his only means of defence. He said he would
not stay alone another night for all the gold in California.

I was much discouraged by our failures in hunting, and after a lengthy
discussion we decided to make another attempt to cross the mountains and
escape from what then seemed to us certain starvation. This was Thursday
night and we set Monday as the time for starting. By Saturday night
everything was in readiness for the start and Sunday we devoted to Bible
reading, for we each still had a pocket Bible. As much of the flesh of
the wolf and the lamented mule as we thought we could carry had been
thoroughly jerked, and finding that we would not be overburdened by it,
we economized by roasting and eating little scraps of flesh, the marrow
from the bones, and even the head of the mule was roasted, the fragments
of flesh scraped off and eaten, and Field found a rich fatty substance
in behind the eyes, which he ate.

We had a canteen in which our powder was carried, but the powder was
nearly all gone so we emptied it and used the canteen to carry water in.
Early Monday morning we loaded ourselves, mostly with jerked mule and
wolf, leaving many useful things behind, bid adieu to Fort Uinta and
took up our line of march rather reluctantly.

My companion was not strong and we soon found it expedient for me to
take on part of his burden. We rested often and yet long before night he
became so tired that we had to go into camp. Most of the day we had
traveled on an old deserted trail. The nights being cold we were under
the necessity of keeping up a fire as we had left our blankets at the
fort. The next morning we made an early start and rested often. At about
noon we found good shade and water, and the sun being quite hot we
stopped and rested in the shade for more than three hours, then trudged
on till nearly night when we found water, and plenty of old dry timber
for fuel and camped. Field expressed a wish that he had his old mule
again, and I reminded him that he had a portion of it left in his
knapsack, and that turn about was fair play: as the mule had carried him
for a long time when he was unable to walk he should not object to
carrying a portion of the mule now; whereupon he again plainly intimated
that he thought I was a d--- d fool. I kept up the fire and he slept
until morning.

Another day was passed without any unusual occurrence; we traveled and
ate at the same time as usual. Another day of pretty hard travel over
sandy plains and rocky hills brought us to the foot of the mountain
where we had plenty of good water and an abundance of fuel. A little
sprinkle of rain early in the evening was the first we had seen since
the memorable night after Field had eaten the little red berries.

Early Saturday morning we filled our canteen with water and started up
the mountain. I had been carrying most of the jerk, but the stock was
running down quite rapidly. My companions bag now being almost empty,
and as he had little else to carry while I had the gun and some other
things, including his heavy overcoat, I divided the jerk, putting about
half of it into his sack. All day long we were climbing the mountain.
Late in the afternoon I was several rods ahead of Field when he called
to me to stop: I did so and when he came up he appeared to be a little
cross and insisted that we were not traveling in the direction formerly
agreed upon. I requested him to let me see the little compass which he
had in his pocket, and on examining it he found that he was mistaken;
whereupon he muttered something which I thought was "swear words," and
then we went marching on. In a little while we were within the old snow
limits where we found large bodies of old icy looking snow in places
shaded by trees and rocks, and a little before dark went into camp. We
gathered some old dry timber and made a large fire, then some green fir
limbs for a bed. When I began to prepare our bed on one side of the
flaming logs, to my surprise Field began to prepare one on the other
side of the fire. Neither had spoken since the occurrence of the little
unpleasantness in the afternoon about the course of travel. Mutely each
took his side of the fire.

We had always slept together except when he was sick and the night I had
left him alone at the fort. Some time in the night I became thirsty and
got up and procured some snow, put it in our only tin cup and set it on
some live coals to melt and went to sleep. The snow melted, the water
evaporated, the solder melted and left the tin. While I slept, my dumb
friend woke up thirsty, took the tin cup, filled it with snow and put it
on coals. The snow melted and the water run out on the coals; his tongue
let loose and he then denounced me as a knave, an ass, a fool, an
unregenerate heathen, and what else I don't want to remember. I woke up
alarmed and did not at first fully understand what had created the
storm, but after having the bottomless cup dashed at my head I realized
the situation, and began to try to apologize and explain the unavoidable
and unfortunate circumstance; but no explanation would satisfy his now
thoroughly "Johnny Bull" temper. After this little nocturnal disturbance
had subsided, I, on my bed of fir branches with my feet towards the
fire, soon fell into a sound sleep and knew nothing more of the world
until the sun was shining. Whether or not my friend had cooled off I did
not inquire; but I do know that there was an unusual coldness between
us, for neither spoke to the other until about twelve o'clock and then,
as will appear, our conversation was very short.

As we did not rise until late no delay was made, but when each had his
bag on his back and a nugget of jerk in his hand we started up the side
of the mountain as quiet as two deaf mutes. There was no water to be
had; our camp kettle had been left at the fort, and through my stupidity
the cup had become useless, therefore we were obliged to eat the icy
snow or endure the thirst. No new snow had yet fallen in this high
altitude although it was now nearing the end of October. These mountains
were then heavily covered with pine and fir but the timber was not
large. In some places where the snow had melted away, short green grass
was found quite close to great banks of snow.

At about twelve o'clock we reached the summit of the great Uinta range,
and I, being a little in advance of my still mute companion, halted to
take a survey of the field before me. The top of the range here is bare
of timber and there was no snow. When Field came up I broke the silence
which had lasted since the little unpleasantness of the night before, by
suggesting that we attempt to cross the snow-covered range of mountains
which now appeared north of us and probably fifty miles away, through
what appeared to be a gap or low place in the great range of mountains.
He replied, "You may go that way if you want to, but I am going this
way," pointing in another direction and quickly started off at an angle
of about 45 degrees to the right, or directly north-east. I also started
immediately, and when we were a few rods apart I said, "Good-by; we may
not meet again very soon." He replied "Good-by," and within a few
minutes we were out of sight, and in a very short time beyond hailing

This was the last I saw or heard of him until after each of us had
undergone many more hardships, so I will now drop my friend but will
hereafter devote a chapter to him, and give you an account of his
experience as he afterwards gave it to me, detailing an account of many
most interesting incidents. Fortunately we had divided the jerk, for
nothing was said at this sudden and unexpected parting about anything
which either had in his possession. I had an idea when I bade him
good-by that he would soon turn about and follow me.

After the unceremonious parting I immediately began to descend the north
side of the mountain which was very rough, rocky and steep; but down,
down, down I went into a deep, dark canon where I slept on the leaves
under a fir tree, after having taken some landmarks. When it was light
enough to see the objects I had noted to guide me, I set out and spent
the day in crossing over hills and through deep canons. In the evening I
arrived at the foot of the range of mountains which I had seen from the
point of our parting. The sun disappeared, dark clouds began to float
over the mountains and it was evident that a storm was approaching.

While it was yet light enough I took some landmarks or guiding points;
and it was well I did so, for on the following morning when I woke I
found it snowing quietly but heavily, and before it was light enough for
me to see my guiding objects there must have been six or more inches of
new snow on the ground beyond my snug retreat under a sheltering pine.
When it was light enough I rose from my comfortable bed, took my
bearings as best I could without a compass and started up the mountain
through the rapidly accumulating bed of snow. The snow continued to fall
nearly all day, and before night it was more than a foot deep.

All day long I struggled through a dense forest. Some time in the
forenoon I crossed the fresh trail of a large herd of elk which forcibly
reminded me that my sack was almost empty, and I vainly wished that one
of these wild creatures might come in my way, but I did not dare to
follow the herd with the uncertainty of killing one, and the certainty
of losing my way this dark, snowy day. In order to maintain my course
during such dark days I was under the necessity of looking ahead and
observing trees or other objects in my line of travel.

That night I, as usual, slept under a pine tree where there was no snow.
I saw no sign of fire in either of these ranges of mountains, nor did I
see any signs of Indians on my trip over these two ranges. The next day
as I approached the top of the mountain I found the timber much smaller,
and mostly pine. There is much fertile land in some of the valleys
between the two great ranges of mountains.

Early on the following morning I arrived at the bald, snow-covered
summit. On my right and on my left were high, untimbered, snow-covered
peaks. From this point I could overlook a vast territory extending over
many hills, valleys, and smaller mountains where there was no snow; in
fact, the snow only extended a few miles down the steep sides of the
great range. As a rule there is more timber on the north than on the
south side of mountains west of the Rockies; but it was the reverse
here, for there was little timber on the north side of this range.

One more day's tramping brought me down into a large barren plain where
I gathered some dry weeds for a bed, and slept, without food or water;
the last bit of the mule or wolf, I know not which, I had eaten during
the afternoon. I had had very little jerk for the last two or three
days, and began to wish that I had another horse, mule, or even a wolf.
For many days I had seen no living thing except when I looked into a
small glass which I carried in my pocket, and then only saw a familiar

I spent another day without food, but had plenty of water; another night
on a bed of green brush beside a good fire. The next day was bright and
sunny, quite a contrast to the gloomy days I had spent in the mountains.
For want of food I was becoming quite weak and was not able to travel as
fast as usual. During the early part of the day I saw some tracks of an
unshod horse, which renewed my courage and hope of redemption; and at
about two o'clock in the afternoon I saw some dark spots on the plain a
long distance away, but almost in the direction I was going. Hoping that
these objects might be living creatures, I hurried on for a time, then
sat down and after having watched them for a time I found that they
changed positions and that satisfied me to a moral certainty that they
were living creatures, but what I could not tell. They might be horses,
cattle, elk, deer, antelope or buffalo; but no matter what, I must hurry
on and try to reach them before night.

Late in the evening I determined that they were horses but could not yet
tell whether they belonged to whites or Indians, or were wild. As I
approached them they stopped grazing and started toward me, but soon
disappeared in a deep gulch between us which I had not noticed before.
On arriving at the edge of the gulch or narrow valley I saw the horses
in the vicinity of about fifteen or twenty wigwams which were all in a
row on the bank of a little creek that ran through the gulch. Many
Indians were sitting outside of their lodges, the weather being warm.

On first sight of the village, being not more than 200 yards away, my
heart fluttered just a little, not knowing whether the savages would
scalp me or not; but, notwithstanding my natural cowardice, I at once
determined to "beard the lion in his den," and walked as boldly as I
could up to the lower end of the row of wigwams. Within a few feet of
the nearest one three young bucks met me and seemed to be anxious to
know whence I came and whither I was going; whether right down from
Heaven, and if so what was my mission. They seemed as much surprised at
my sudden appearance as I was on coming so suddenly upon them. My first
and most important business was to determine whether they would give me
something to eat, or eat me.

As the men, women, and children began to gather around me I heard some
one half way up the line of lodges call out saying something which I did
not understand, but on looking that way saw a man beckoning to me, as I
thought, when the young men motioned for me to move on up the line. On
arriving at the place indicated I found myself in the presence of one
whom I then suspected, and afterwards found to be the chief, who
extended to his royal right hand and greeted me in a most courteous and
polite manner, and then with a graceful wave of his hand and a slight
bow indicated that I should precede him at the low open door into his
Royal Palace where he very politely introduced me to his wife who proved
to be a sensible, clever, courteous woman. She soon prepared some thing
for me to eat, and after I had finished my supper an Indian brought in
two pistols and wanted me to take the cap tube from one and put it into
the other, which I soon accomplished. He was much pleased, went out, and
soon returned with ten or more pounds of elk meat which he tendered to
me as compensation for my work, but the chief objected, and insisted, as
I understood him, that he had plenty and that I was his guest, but
finally consented for me to accept part of the meat. I gave him to
understand that I wanted to go to Fort Bridger.

A case of nice new blankets was opened, as it appeared to me, for my
especial benefit. The chief, his lady, two sons almost grown, two or
three wolfish looking dogs which forcibly reminded me of Field's
terrible scare, and myself made up the number of lodgers in that mansion
that night. Late that night some warriors who had been out on a campaign
came home, and learning that there was a stranger within the gates came
to the king's palace to see him, and also to report that they had
discovered some white barbarians in the vicinity who had dared to enter
his domain without a special permit, and that they had sent a message to
his highness informing him that they had a good assortment of blankets,
cutlery, pins, needles, beads, etc., which his people might need or
desire, and also a limited amount of "fire-water," and that they would
be pleased to receive his order for anything he might desire.

The fact of the presence of these pale-faces in the vicinity was at once
communicated to me, and early on the following morning I was informed
that if it was my desire to cut short my stay at the palace, the king
would take great pleasure in furnishing me means of conveyance, a proper
escort, and a reliable guide who would safely conduct me to the camp of
the accommodating merchants or Indian traders, (but, in fact, Indian
robbers.) Notwithstanding my reluctance in leaving the society of the
noble ruler and his people I most readily accepted his generous offer,
and after breakfast, which consisted of elk meat and tobacco root in a
combination stew which was very palatable, a fine steed with a good
Mexican saddle and bridle was at the door. My escort, consisting of four
mounted warriors, was ready, and after bidding my good friends farewell,
I with some assistance mounted my charger and we were all off on a full
run, up and down hill and across valley, at what seemed to me a fearful

In less than two hours we entered the camp of the traders at full speed,
dismounted, and found one man, a long Jake from Illinois, who could
speak English. He had two wives, (squaws,) and several children which he
claimed, but some of them were quite dark. His name was John Smith; not
a very uncommon one. He was a very clever man, about 35 years old, was
not a Mormon, but had taken the women in order to become popular with
the Indians and to improve his opportunities for trade.

After getting something to eat, and learning something, through Smith,
of my adventures, my escort made ready to return to their camp. Their
trip, as Smith told me, was made solely for my accommodation and now I
had nothing with which to compensate them; but as they were about to
leave I took a large "bandanna," the only one I had left, and tied it
around the neck of the chief's son, he being one of the clever escorts.
He at first refused to accept it, but when Smith told him that I desired
him to take it as a token of regard, he accepted it with an expression
of thanks, and after I had bidden them all good-bye, they rode away as
rapidly as we had come. I will always hold that chief and his people in
kindly remembrance.

All of the other white men with Smith were French, and all had plenty of
wives (squaws) and numerous slaves. The wives were not slaves, but they
had slaves all around them. The whole tribe traveled about and lived
much as other tribes did, only much better, for they lived by trading
while the others lived by hunting and fishing. In this camp I ate bread
for the first time in many weeks. At the end of three days after my
arrival here a caravan was ready to start for Fort Bridger for winter
supplies for the traders. I was furnished with a good horse and saddle,
and Smith, one of the Frenchmen, five slaves, 20 horses, and myself made
up the caravan, and on the evening of the third day we reached the fort
where I was very kindly received.

Smith was a large man, had a good head, and some cultivation and
apparent refinement, and treated his women and children well. He said he
had been to his old home in Illinois since he had entered upon this kind
of life, but was not contented there and soon returned to his Indian
friends. He and those Frenchmen were as generous and hospitable as old
Southern planters, and their kindness to me will not be forgotten while
my memory lasts.

I was well treated at the fort which is 116 miles from the point where
the seven dug up the little flat-boat from its sandy bed on the fifth
day of August, just three mouths before, since which I had undergone
many hardships, took many fearful risks, and traveled more than a
thousand miles, far enough to have taken me from Green River to San

On the morning of the seventh day of November I started with a
Government train for Salt Lake City where I arrived on the fifteenth. I
soon found a home with a prominent Mormon, a Scotchman named Archie
Gardner, living in the fifth ward, on Mill Creek, one of the many small
streams coming down from the mountains east of the city. Mr. Gardner was
a clever gentleman about 45 years old, had a saw-mill up in, the
mountains, and was then building a flour mill only a few rods from his
dwelling. I assisted him in completing the little flour mill and in
attending it during the winter. Mr. Gardner had three wives, all living
in one house, but occupying separate rooms at night. I usually attended
the little mill until midnight, and Gardner made it part of my duty to
go to his house and call him. He usually told me where I could find him,
but not always, so at times I was under the necessity of rapping at more
than one door before I found him.

He had the largest house in the ward, and the religious services were
held there by Bishop Johnson who also acted as Justice of the Peace in
that ward. Gardner's family all ate at the same table over which the
first wife presided. She was, indeed, mistress of the house, the other
wives treating her with great respect, and all were, to all outward
appearance, quite friendly. Gardner bestowed much attention on his first
wife, though I always suspected that he was just a little more fond of
the youngest one, and I did not blame him much for she manifested strong
affection for him even in the presence of the others, and yet there was
no outward manifestation of jealousy.

The second, or the one I will call the second because she was in age
between the others, and was the mother of the third or youngest, a
widowed mother and her daughter having been sealed to Gardner at the
same time, the first wife having given her consent and standing with
them at the triple matrimonial altar, and then and there joining in the
sacred ceremony. As I was about to say, the second wife seemed to be
pleased at the manifestation of affection for the common husband by the
youngest wife, and No. 1 would in a good-humored way say:--"My, Annie,
don't be so demonstrative in the presence of other people," when the
husband would laugh and go and kiss No. 1.

Gardner spent most of his leisure time, particularly during the day and
evening, in his first wife's apartments with her and her children. He
was a very religious man, and always had family prayers before retiring
at night, and all persons about the house were expected to join, at
least formally, in this service. The use of profane language was not
allowed in or about the house.

Many of the higher church officers were entertained at Gardner's house
and table, among whom were Brigham Young, George A. Smith, Heber C.
Kimble, George Taylor, and Parley P. Pratt, with all of whom I formed
some acquaintance. Brigham was a dignified, clever gentleman, not
austere but kind and affable. Kimble was also a nice, genteel, genial,
redheaded gentleman. Smith was a heavy man with a very large abdomen,
dark hair full beard, exceedingly jovial and apparently always happy.
Pratt was a small, rather slim, quick and athletic man, rather austere,
refined, active and energetic. Taylor was a large man, highly
intellectual, and rather unsocial. Kimble was my favorite
notwithstanding the fact that he had fifteen wives, mostly young and
handsome, all in one house, and my impression is that none of them had
any children. I think it was conceded that his was the finest harem in
Utah. He called me his young Gentile, was very kind and affable, but he
never invited me to inspect his harem.

About the first of December, 1849, Field arrived in Salt Lake City, and
I will allude to a little matter in which he was concerned, after which
I will give you a short account of his trip from the time we parted
company until he arrived in Salt Lake as he afterwards gave it to me.
Soon after he arrived in the City of the Saints he heard of another who
had recently arrived from the south and that he was located in the fifth
ward on Mill creek at the house of one Gardner, and at which house he
soon arrived.

After staying with me for two or three days he found employment in the
family of the Apostle John Taylor. The family consisted of seven wives
living in seven different houses. How many children there were I never
knew, but there was one wife who did not have any. She was a fine
specimen of English beauty. Taylor's women were nearly all English. It
was the business of my friend to cut wood, and do chores generally for
the Taylor family living in seven different places at the same time.
Taylor was in Europe that winter looking after the interest of the
church, and possibly after a few more wives, and consequently could not,
in person, attend to all of the necessities of the seven branches of his
family. In his daily rounds looking after the seven wood-piles and other
little matters appertaining to the comfort of the family in so many
places Field happened to come in contact with the English beauty, and
the result was, mutual love at first sight, notwithstanding the fact
that this woman had passed, and taken all of the solemn vows of the Lym
house with the Apostle and his six other wives.

I do not think that my English friend had lost one iota of the fond
recollection of his long since dead English wife, the picture of whom he
still carried near his heart; but, nevertheless, he and this seventh
wife of the noted Apostle fell heels over head in love. Field, as you
know, was a well developed, good-looking, intelligent man of forty. The
woman was well developed, good-looking, and as smart as a steel-trap,
and both being English I was not at all surprised at their mutual
admiration and infatuation, nor did I blame them much. I was entrusted
with many closely-sealed envelopes which I carried from one to the
other. With my feeble assistance they tried to devise some method by
which they might escape from the city before the Apostle should return
home; but the Danites were always on the alert, and they well knew that
detection by the Danites of an attempt to get away together would lead
to certain death to him, and if not to her she would certainly have been
returned to her polygamous state of bondage. Spring came with little
hope of escape, and they reluctantly parted with the mutual
understanding that, if possible, she would make her escape and go to
Sacramento where he promised to keep his address. Ten months after the
parting they had not met yet, and if they ever did it was after I had
lost all further knowledge of him.

Mormon morals, exclusive of polygamy, are very good. I never saw a
drunken man in Salt Lake City, and heard very little profane language
there. The people were industrious and seemed happy. Their hospitality
rivaled that of the old Southern planters, and their charity was equal
to that of other Christians.

I will now go back to the place where Field and I separated on the
mountain top and give you a short statement as he gave it to me, and
while some things may border on the miraculous, and seem somewhat
incredible, I do not question the truth of his statements. When we
parted so unexpectedly he had about half of the jerked wolf and mule
combined. I went north while he bore off in a northeasterly direction,
and after traveling for three days came to the river at a point above
where we lost our flat-boat. He struggled on up the river without road
or trail, and nothing to guide him except the little compass which he
still carried in his pocket.

Two days more and his last bit of jerk was gone, starvation began to
stare him in the face once more. He saw signs of Indians having crossed
his pathless course which gave him renewed courage. Soon after starting
out next morning he was delighted to see a pony in the distance grazing,
and on coming up to it found one of its front legs broken. This, he said
was another God-send. The poor pony seemed to fear him. It was probably
an Indian pony, had its leg broken and was left to die. He followed it
for some time and finally got close to it and fired his revolver at its
chest and wounded it, but it then left him with the blood flowing from
its wound. After resting for a time he followed on and soon found it
lying down, but not dead. He told me how innocent and helpless it
appeared, and looked at him as if pleading with him not to inflict any
more pain; but he felt that his life was in a balance with its, and
after a little meditation he put the revolver to its forehead and ended
its life and suffering. Then came the usual process of skinning, cutting
up and jerking which took the balance of that day and part of the next.

Eight days more and he was again starving. On the ninth he arrived at
the spot where we had dug up the little ferry-boat which carried the
seven adventurers far down the river more than three very long dreary
months before. Snow now covered the entire country, and all emigrants
had long since gone by. His strength was failing fast but it would not
do to linger there, so he arose and was about to start when he saw a
poor old ox slowly coming towards him, and when it had come up near to
him he discovered a wolf not far behind which seemed to be following the
ox, but it soon turned and went away. Night was coming on and he was
very hungry. Something must be done. The last cartridge had been
exploded in killing the poor, broken legged Indian pony, and the
revolver was no longer of use. The ox, though feeble, was probably yet
stronger than the starving man.

Field feared that he was not able to catch the ox by the horns and hold
it until he could cut its throat, so the next plan was to get hold of
the animal's tail with one hand, and with the big knife in the other cut
his hamstrings so as to disable him, and then cut his throat. The ox
seemed fond of being rubbed and petted, so after a little time a firm
hold on the tail was secured, and the big knife vigorously applied, but
it was so very dull that he could not sever the tough old tendons. After
sawing with the dull knife and being literally dragged for some
distance, he became so much exhausted that he was obliged to relinquish
his hold and see the excited old ox disappear.

In almost complete despair Field spent the night beside a fire under one
of those large cottonwoods which I have no doubt you will remember even
though it is now more than forty years since you saw them. He rose early
next morning and started out on the well beaten road towards the Golden
West, but had only gone a few hundred yards when he was agreeably
surprised to again behold the old ox approaching him, but so much
exhausted that it could scarcely walk. The same, or some other, wolf was
near by, and had probably followed the poor old ox all night. When the
ox came close to Field the wolf growled and again turned away as on the
evening before. After the wolf had left the ox seemed to be relieved.

It then occurred to the starving emigrant that he had a sharp razor in
his "kitt" with which he knew he could cut those tough tendons, provided
he could get another hold on that tail. Field, as you probably remember,
always kept his face cleanly shaved. Even while we were starving he
would shave almost every day. The ox was tired and worn out and so was
Field; but he got the razor ready and soon had hold of that tail again.
Off went the ox, the keen razor was applied, soon the tendons parted and
down went the ox. But only half the victory was won, for the ox would
raise up on his front feet and show fight; but after resting awhile the
would-be victor rushed up, caught the poor beast by the horns, pushed
him over on his side, held him down and cut his throat.

After a long, much needed rest he cut out a piece of the poor beef,
broiled and ate it, and then spent the remainder of the day in hunting
out the small, lean muscles that still remained between the skin and
bones of the poor old ox. The poor beef was jerked and put into the sack
which on the following morning was thrown upon the back of its owner,
and from which he fed for the next six days, at the end of which he
arrived at Fort Bridger. From there he soon obtained a passage for Salt
Lake City, arriving there on the second day of December, seventeen days
after I had reached there, and finding me as before stated.

Some time in the winter we formed an acquaintance of a gentleman named
Jesse Morgan, a Gentile, who had left Illinois in the spring of 1849 for
California, but for some cause had been delayed and obliged to winter in
the city of the Latter Day Saints. Morgan had a wife, a little child, a
wagon and two yoke of oxen, but no food nor money. Field and I arranged
to furnish food for all for the trip from there to Sacramento, and
assist in camp duties, drive the team, &c. We made the trip together and
arrived in Sacramento in good condition on the fourth day of July, 1850,
and pitched our tent under a large oak tree where the State Capitol now

I spent five months with a wholesale grocery and miners supply firm,
Elder and Smith, Fourth and J streets, Sacramento, and three months in
the mines as a drummer, or solicitor and collector for the same firm. I
returned to Sacramento and was almost ready to start home when the Scots
River excitement broke out. I then went to the mines on Trinity River
and associated myself in mining with Hiram Gould, a young Presbyterian
clergyman who had laid aside the "cloth" for the time and engaged in
mining. I remained in the mines until July fourth, 1851, exactly one
year from the time I entered Sacramento, when I started home by way of
Nicaragua. In due time, after an interesting trip, I arrived home and
again entered upon the study of my chosen profession, graduated from an
honorable college, and am now, as you know, practicing my profession on
the sea shore.




In the foregoing chapters describing the trip across the deserts and
mountains, the author has had occasion many times to refer to the
"Jayhawkers." Their history is in many respects no less remarkable and
intensely interesting than that of his own party. The author has
therefore collected many notes and interviews with prominent members and
presents herewith the only written history of their travels.

The little train afterward known by this name was made up in the state
of Illinois in 1849, of industrious, enterprising young men who were
eager to see and explore the new country then promising gold to those
who sought. The young men were from Knoxville, Galesburg and other
towns. Not all were influenced by the desire for gold. It was said that
California had a milder climate and that pleasant homes could there be
made, and the long, cold winter avoided.

They placed some of the best men in position to manage for the whole.
The outfit was placed on a steam-boat and transported to Kanesville, on
the Missouri River above Council Bluffs. Some of the company went with
the goods while others bought teams and wagons in Western Missouri and
drove to the appointed place. Kanesville was a small Mormon camp, while
Council Bluffs was a trading post of a few log cabins on the river bank,
inhabited mostly by Indians. There was no regular ferry at either place,
and our party secured a log raft which they used to get their wagons and
provisions across, making the oxen swim.

They asked all the questions they could think of from everyone who
pretended to know anything about the great country to the west of them,
for it seemed a great undertaking to set out into the land they could
see stretching out before them across the river. Other parties bound the
same way, also arrived and joined them. They chose a guide who claimed
to have been over the road before. When all were gathered together the
guide told them that they were about to enter an Indian country, and
that the dusky residents did not always fancy the idea of strangers
richer than themselves passing through, and sometimes showed out some of
the bad traits the Indians had been said to possess. It would therefore
be better to organize and travel systematically. He would divide the
company into divisions and have each division choose a captain, and the
whole company unite in adopting some rules and laws which they would all
agree to observe. This arrangement was satisfactorily accomplished, and
they moved out in a sort of military style. And then they launched out
on the almost endless western prairie, said then to be a thousand miles
wide, containing few trees, and generally unknown.

These Illinois boys were young and full of mirth and fun which was
continually overflowing. They seemed to think they were to be on a sort
of every day picnic and bound to make life as merry and happy as it
could be. One of the boys was Ed Doty who was a sort of model traveler
in this line. A camp life suited him; he could drive an ox team, cook a
meal of victuals, turn a pan of flap-jacks with a flop, and possessed
many other frontier accomplishments. One day when Doty was engaged in
the duty of cooking flap-jacks another frolicsome fellow came up and
took off the cook's hat and commenced going through the motions of a
barber giving his customer a vigorous shampoo, saying:--"_I am going to
make a Jayhawker out of you, old boy_." Now it happened at the election
for captain in this division that Ed Doty was chosen captain, and no
sooner was the choice declared than the boys took the newly elected
captain on their shoulders and carried him around the camp introducing
him as the _King Bird of the Jayhawkers_. So their division was
afterwards known as The Jayhawkers, but whether the word originated with
them, and John Brown forgot to give them credit, or whether it was some
old frontier word used in sport on the occasion is more than I will
undertake to say; however the boys felt proud of their title and the
organization has been kept up to this day by the survivors, as will be
related further on.

The first few days they got along finely and began to lose all feeling
of danger and to become rather careless in their guard duty. When the
cattle had eaten enough and lain down, the guards would sometimes come
into camp and go to sleep, always finding the stock all right in the
morning and no enemy or suspicious persons in sight. But one bright
morning no cattle were in sight, which was rather strange as the country
was all prairie. They went out to look, making a big circuit and found
no traces till they came to the river, when they found tracks upon the
bank and saw some camps across the river, a mile or so away. Doty had a
small spy glass and by rigging up a tripod of small sticks to hold it
steady they scanned the camps pretty closely and decided that there were
too many oxen for the wagons in sight.

Some of the smartest of them stripped off their clothes and started to
swim the stream, but landed on the same side they started from. Captain
Doty studied the matter a little and then set out himself, being a good
swimmer, and by a little shrewd management and swimming up stream when
the current was strongest, soon got across to where he could touch
bottom and shouted to the others to do the same. Soon all the swimmers
were across.

They could now see that there were two trains on that side and that the
farther one had already begun to move and was about a mile in advance of
the nearest one, Doty said something must be done, and although they
only were clothed in undershirts they approached the nearest camp and
were handed some overalls for temporary use. The men in this camp on
hearing about the missing oxen said the fellows in the forward train
went over and got them, for, as they said there were no wagons in sight
and they must be strays. He said the forward train was from Tennessee,
and that they had some occasion to doubt their honesty and had refused
to travel with them any further. They said they were all old
Missourians, and did not want other people's property and if the boys
found their cattle with the Tenneseans, and wanted any help to get them
back again to call on them, and putting in some good strong swear words
for emphasis.

The boys, barefooted and with only overalls and shirts, started after
the moving train which they called to a halt when overtaken. The coarse
grass was pretty hard to hurry through, clothed as they were. The train
men were pretty gruff and wanted to know what was wanted. Capt. Doty
very emphatically told them he could see some of his oxen in their
train, and others in the herd, and he proposed to have them all back
again. The Jayhawker boys were unarmed but were in a fighting mood and
determined to have the stock at all hazards, and if not peaceably, war
might commence. The boys saw that the two trains were of about equal
strength, and if worse came to worst they could go back and get their
guns and men and come over in full force after their property, and they
were assured the Missourians would help them and a combination of forces
would give them a majority and they could not be beaten by the Tennessee
crowd. There was a good deal of talk, but finally when Doty demanded
that their cattle be unyoked and the others separated from the herd,
they yielded and gave them all their stock, some seventy head.

The Missourians had come up and heard the talk, and some of them went
back and helped drive the cattle to the river, and deal out some double
shotted thunder against the biggest scamps they had come across. It was
quite a job to get the cattle across the river. They would go in a
little way and then circle round and round like a circus, making no
progress. They finally put a rope on one of them and a man led him as
far as he could, which was more than half way, and although they landed
a good ways down stream, they got them all across safely, left their
borrowed overalls in the hands of their friends, with a thousand thanks
for valuable assistance, and plunged into the swift running Platte, and
swam back again to the northern side. They drove the straggling oxen
back to camp with a sense of great satisfaction, and in turn received
the praise of their friends who said that Ed Doty was the best Jayhawker
of the border.

This was the first unpleasantness and they were afterwards more cautious
and stood guard all night, watching closely all the time, both night and
day, for for any signs of danger. Thus in time they reached Salt Lake,
rather late in the season, but safe and sound, having escaped cholera or
other disease, and in good spirits to surmount any further difficulties
which might be met.

When the Jayhawkers reached Salt Lake it was found that it was not safe
to try to go the regular northern route to California, as they were
advised by those who seemed to know, as they might be snowed in on the
Sierra Nevada Mountains and perish. The Mormons told them that the snow
often fell there twenty feet deep, and some other stories likely to
deter them from making the attempt. They also told them of a route
farther south by which they could come into California at Los Angeles,
or they could remain in Salt Lake until May when it would be safe to try
the mountain route again. After listening to the talk of the
mountaineers who claimed to have been over the route and to know all
about it, and camping some time to rest and learn all they could, they
finally decided on taking the southern route. One Mormon told them of a
place where they could make a cut-off and save five hundred miles, and,
if they would follow his instructions, they would find the route fully
as good as the one usually traveled which was not much better than a
trail. The cut-off was so instilled into their minds that they had great
confidence in the report and talked very favorably of taking it.

The man Williams made for them a map of the proposed route and explained
it to them and others who had gathered at Salt Lake, and from the map
they could see how much was to be gained in time and distance by taking
that route. A month or two of travel was indeed something to gain, and
as the roads seemed similar in quality the reasoning was very plausible
The map explained all the watering places and favorable things but said
nothing about a desert, and as there was no one to tell them any
unfavorable side to this plan there were many who quite concluded to go
this way, and among those who did so were the Jayhawkers, and the
"Williams Short Route" was freely talked about as a settled thing by

They now set about preparing to move. They sold, traded, and bought oxen
till they had the best and fattest teams in Salt Lake Valley; selected
good provisions, and plenty of them so as to be safe in case of delay,
and contended that nothing could stop them in a country where but little
snow could be, and water was as plentiful as shown on the map. They
wanted to reach the gold mines and this was the shortest route and even
if it was still considerably longer than the northern way they said they
would rather be moving along and thus gain time than to so long in camp
with nothing to do by which they could earn a cent. There were here in
Salt Lake ten times as many men as could find employment, and Brigham's
saints would be pretty sure to get all of the odd jobs to the exclusion
of the heretics.

To bring the matter to a determination a paper was drawn up for those to
sign who wanted to go the southern route and it was pretty generally
signed. The Mormon elder, John Hunt, was consulted, and as he seemed to
know the general southern route better than any one else, he was
prevailed upon to guide the train through on the old Spanish Trail. This
had never been used as a wagon road, but he thought it could be without
much difficulty, and he said if they could secure him a fair sized train
he would go and conduct them through for ten dollars a wagon. This
proposition was accepted after some consideration, and all who wished to
do so were given permission to join the train. In a few days there were
one hundred and seven wagons enlisted for this route, including seven
Mormons bound for San Bernardino.

Preparations for the trip now began in good earnest, and the Saints were
liberally patronized in purchase of flour and meat which were the
principal things they had to sell. As their several wagons were loaded
they moved out in small lots to the south to keep in good fresh feed for
their animals, and to move on slowly till all were ready, when they
would join in one large body and proceed. The guide was in no special
haste as he said he wanted to wait a little later so the weather in the
south would be cooler than they would be likely to find it if they
pressed on at once. He said that in summer it was so hot that no white
man could endure the heat. He said they could work slowly along the
trail, and when the right time came he would move out himself, and that
they might be assured that it would then be the coolest and best time in
which to travel down there. So the company dallied along, and it was
October before the whole train was made up at a point about a hundred
miles south of Salt Lake.

The complete organization was divided into seven divisions, each with
its captain, and division No. 1 was to lead the march the first day and
then fall to the rear while No. 2 took the advance, and so continued
till all had taken their turn. The leading party was to guard and care
for the cattle and deliver them in the morning. The regulations were
read aloud to the captains, and this rather large army of men, women and
children, with about five hundred head of stock, moved out very
systematically. It would sometimes be fully ten o'clock before the rear
division could make a start, and correspondingly late before they could
get up with the main camp at night. They got along very well, but
cleaned the country of grass for some distance each side of the trail,
as they swept along.

About the first of November Capt. Smith overtook us with the pack train,
and camped with us at night. He formed many acquaintances and told them
he was going to take a shorter route and save five hundred miles, rather
than take the long route by way of Los Angeles. He had a map of his
proposed route, and it was very much like the one we had. He also stated
that it could probably be as easily traveled as the one by way of Los
Angeles, and as a consequence of his talk, cut-off fever began to rage
in camp again. Some got very enthusiastic in the matter and spoke
publicly in favor of following Capt. Smith when he should come to the
place when his short route turned away from the other trail. His plan
grew so much in favor that when the place was reached a hundred wagons
turned out into the Smith trail, leaving Capt. Hunt only the seven
Mormon wagon bound for San Bernardino, Hunt stood at the forks of the
road as the wagons went by and said to them;--"Good-bye, friends. I
cannot, according to my agreement go with you, for I was hired for this
road, and no other was mentioned. I am in duty bound to go even if only
one wagon decides to go." When the last wagon had passed him he still
stood talking with several who had chosen the new way and told them they
were taking a big risk, for they did not know very much about the route,
and he had been thinking that they might find it pretty rough and hard
to get over the first time. He said that if all decided to go that way
he would go and help them, even if they went to h-ll, but as it was he
could not. He wished them luck and the two trains parted company.

At the end of three days of travel on the Smith trail they came to the
top of a long steep hill. The trail went down and down, and they see no
way of crossing the terribly deep canon that was before them. So they
went into camp and sent explorers out to investigate and find a crossing
if possible.

On the second day the explorers began to return with very unfavorable
reports, and many who found their progress thus blocked turned about and
started to follow Hunt. Most of the wagons which remained had each one
or more of their men out exploring and could not turn back until their
return. Several of the Jayhawkers having once started on this route were
very anxious to get through on it if a way could be found for them to do
it, and therefore searched farther and with greater determination than
the others. When they returned they reported they had found a way around
the head of the canon and they believed it to be the right way. The map
Williams had given them did not show this canon and they believed it to
be correct, and that the real road led around at the place which they
had found, and no further trouble would be met.

Acting on this report about twenty wagons, including the Jayhawkers,
concluded to go ahead. "We can beat the other fellows a month," said
they, and so they hitched up and pulled out in a northerly direction,
feeling in good spirits and hopeful of success.

They named this place Mt. Misery. While camped here a lone and seemingly
friendless man died and was buried. None seem now to remember his name,
but think he was from Kentucky. He was low with consumption and not
strong enough to endure the hardships of the journey.

About the third night the Jayhawkers were overtaken by seven more wagons
owned by A. Bennett and friends, J.B. Arcane and family, two men named
Earhart and a son of one of them, and one or two other wagons.

The Jayhawker's train was made up of men from many states, but seemed
well united and was as complete as when they first started. The Author
was with the party that came up in the rear, which had started later but
traveled faster on account of having a road broken for them. He visited
the leaders in camp when they were discussing the necessity of forming a
new travelling compact to help and protect each other on the road. Those
who had no families were objecting to being bound to those who had women
and children with them. They argued that the road would be hard and
difficult and those wagons with women and children would require more
assistance than they would be able to render in return. They said they
could go back and follow Hunt who was on a better road and they could
proceed with more safely.

Among those with this train was Rev. J.W. Brier, his wife and three
children. He objected to being turned back and said he did not want to
be assisted, but would go with them and do his part and take care of
himself. The Author listened to the various speeches without speaking
and became satisfied that it would end in every one looking out for
himself in case of hard times. He went over to their camp again the next
night and wished to ask them why they were steering so nearly due north.
He said to them that they were going toward Salt Lake rather than
California, and that the Bennet party did not feel inclined to follow
them any farther in that direction. They replied that their map told
them to go north a day or more and then they would find the route as
represented. They would then turn west and reach Owen's Lake and from
there there would be no more trouble. The Jayhawker crowd seemed to
think they could go anywhere and no difficulty could happen which they
couldn't overcome. Bennett's little train turned west from this point
and the Jayhawkers went on north, but before night they changed their
minds and came following on after Bennett whom they overtook and passed,
again taking the lead.

Thus far the country had been well watered and furnished plenty of
grass, and most of them talked and believed that this kind of rolling
country would last all the way through. The men at leisure scattered
around over the hills on each side of the route taken by the train, and
in advance of it, hunting camping places and making a regular picnic of
it. There were no hardships, and one man had a fiddle which he tuned up
evenings and gave plenty of fine music. Joy and happiness seemed the
rule, and all of the train were certainly having a good time of it.

But gradually there came a change as the wagon wheels rolled westward.
The valleys seemed to have no streams in them, and the mountain ranges
grew more and more broken, and in the lower ground a dry lake could be
found, and water and grass grew scarce--so much so that both men and
oxen suffered. These dry lake beds deceived them many times. They seemed
as if containing plenty of water, and off the men would go to explore.
They usually found the distance to them about three times as far as they
at first supposed, and when at last they reached them they found no
water, but a dry, shining bed, smooth as glass, but just clay, hard as a
rock. Most of these dry lakes showed no outlet, nor any inlet for that
matter, though at some period in the past they must have been full of
water. Nothing grew in the shape of vegetables or plants except a small,
stunted, bitter brush.

Away to the west and north there was much broken country, the mountain
ranges higher and rougher and more barren, and from almost every sightly
elevation there appeared one or more of these dry lake beds. One night
after about three days of travel the whole of the train of twenty seven
wagons was camped along the bank of one of these lakes, this one with a
very little water in it not more than one fourth or one half an inch in
depth, and yet spread out to the width of a mile or more. It was truly
providential, for by digging holes along the border the water would run
into them and prove abundant for all, both oxen and men. If it had
proved dry, as so many before had proved, or if we had been a few days
earlier or later we might not have found a drop. This proved to be the
last time the whole twenty seven wagons were gathered in one camp

The Author came into camp about nine o'clock in the evening after
climbing many peaks and taking a survey of the surrounding country with
a field glass. Men from nearly every mess came to him to inquire what he
had seen. They asked all sorts of questions and wanted an opinion as to
the advisability of trailing across the prairie directly west, which
then seemed easy. They were told that from what could be seen from the
summit of buttes both north and south of the camp, ranging a hundred or
so miles in almost every direction, it was believed no water could be
found, between the present camp and a range of mountains which could be
seen crossing the route far to the west. "Well," said Capt. Doty of the
Jayhawkers, "I don't like to hear such discouraging talk from Manley,
but I think we will have to steer straight ahead. The prospect for water
seems to be about the same, west or south, and I cannot see that we
would better ourselves, by going north." When morning came Capt. Doty
and his party yoked up and set out straight across the desert, leaving
seven wagons of the Bennett party still in camp.

For some time all of us had seen in the range ahead an appearance of a
pass, or lower place in the mountain, and we had got to calling it
Martin's Pass, naming it after Jim Martin. There was a snow-capped peak
just to the south of it and the pass, now apparently exactly west of the
lake camp, seemed to the Jayhawkers easy to reach. Their wills were
strong enough and they were running over with determination and energy
enough to carry them over any plain, no matter how dry or barren, or
over any mountain no matter how rugged and steep.

Five days they traveled, without finding water, and small supply they
took along had been consumed. For lack of water they could not eat or
sleep. The oxen gathered round the little fire and seemed to beg for
water, they had no cud to chew unless it was the cud of disappointment.
The range of mountains they had been aiming for still seemed far away
and the possible show for reaching it seemed very poor indeed, and the
prospect of any water hole between them and the mountains poorer yet.
Hope was pretty near gone. Martins mess unyoked their oxen from the
wagons, put some small packs on their own backs, and loaded some upon
the backs of the oxen, and turned south toward the nearest snowy
mountain they could see, the same one towards which the Bennett party
steered from the lake camp.

The Doty party kept their courage longer and kept on straight ahead for
another day, and then camped, almost without hope. No rest came to them,
nor sleep. Towards morning as they stood around the fire a stray cloud
appeared and hid the stars, and shortly after began to unload a cargo of
snow it carried. They spread out every blanket, and brushed up every bit
they could from the smooth places, kindled a little fire of brush under
the camp kettles and melted all the snow all of them could gather,
besides filling their mouths as fast as ever they could, hoping that it
would full in sufficient quantities to satisfy themselves and the oxen,
and quench their dreadful thirst. Slowly the cloud moved scattering the
snowflakes till they felt relieved. The last time the Author conversed
with a member of this party was in 1892, and it was conceded that this
storm saved the lives of both man and beast in that little band of
Jayhawkers. It was like manna falling from Heaven, and as surely saved
their lives as did the manna of the Bible save the lives of the tribes
of Israel. They had no reason to expect a storm of rain or snow, but
came to them just as they were perishing. A little further on they came
to a small stream of water, and as the bed showed only a recent flow it
must also have come from the little local storm further up the mountain.
They used this water freely, even though it was not very good, and it
acted on them very much like a solution of Glanber Salts.

They decided at first that they had better follow the stream southward,
but after a little time, feeling the sickness caused by the water, they
saw it was no advantage and turned west again, bearing to the north
toward a sort of pass they could now see in the mountains in that
direction. This stream is now known as the Amargosa, or bitter, river.

The new direction in which they marched gave them an up-hill route for
thirty or forty miles, rough and barren, with no water or grass. There
was no road or trail to follow, the oxen were as weak as their owners
from drinking the bitter water, and the road needed some clearing and
breaking in places before the wagons could pass. They moved quite slowly
and reached the summit on the second night with the loss of a single ox.
The Author would say here that this was the last ox which was allowed to
die without using the flesh for food, and it was from this same one he
cut a steak to eat on Christmas eve, 1849.

From the summit they took a way down a dark, deep canon having a steep
slope, and very rocky and bad, but down which the oxen drew their loads
much easier than when they came up, reaching water on the third day,
where there were many springs, and a sort of coarse grass for the oxen.
The place is now known as Furnace Creek. The Jayhawkers passed on, and
here at these very springs was where the Author overtook the Rev. J.W.
Brier delivering a lecture to his children on the benefits of an early
education, as referred to in his narrative.

As the Jayhawkers drove out of this Furnace Creek Canon the valley into
which they came was very narrow, the high, snow-capped mountain before
them seemed steeper and rougher than ever, so steep in fact that it
could not be ascended by a man on foot. A short distance below could be
seen a lake containing water, and the pass toward which they had been
directing their course seemed to the north of them. They therefore
turned their course in that direction. The road was sandy, and the brush
that grew on it was only a few inches high. On their way they came to an
abandoned Indian camp occupied by one poor old blind red man. He would
hold his mouth open like a young bird begging for something to eat. One
man dropped kernels of parched corn into his mouth, but instead of
eating them he quickly spit them out; it seemed that he had been left to
die and could not or would not. His hair was white as snow. His skin
looked about the color of a smoked ham, and so crippled was he that he
crawled about like a beast, on all fours. It was barely possible that he
had been left to watch, and that his great infirmities were only
pretended, but they seemed genuine enough, and were doubtless true. They
left him in peaceable possession of the spot and traveled on.

They approached the base of the mountain in front of what they had all
along supposed to be a pass, and found, as they had lately begun to
suspect, that there was no pass that their wagons could be taken
through, and they must be abandoned. The camp was poor. What little
water there was had a salty taste, and they could only find here and
there a bunch of the poorest grass. The oxen stood around as if utterly
dispirited, and would sometimes make a faint effort to pick up and eat
some of the dry brush that grew around the desolate camp. This camp is
now known to be in the northern part of Death Valley, but then they knew
no names for anything, but if dreariness and absence of life, and
threatened danger all around were any indication, they might well have
named it Death Valley as was afterwards done by the party with whom the
Author traveled.

The party had been brave till now, but when they realized that they must
make pack animals of themselves, and trudge on, they knew not where,
perhaps to only a lingering death, the keen edge of disappointment cut
close, and they realized how desolate they were. They felt much inclined
to attribute all their troubles to the advice of the Mormons. Some said
that the plan was thus to wipe so many more hated Gentiles out of the
way, and wishes were deep and loud that the Mormons might all be buried
out of sight in the Great Salt Lake. They thought Lot's wife must have
been turned to salt in the neighborhood, everything was so impregnated
with saline substances, and the same result might come to them. But the
inherent manhood of the little band came to their relief and they
determined not to die without a struggle for escape and life.

They killed some of their oxen, and took the wood of their wagons and
kindled fires to dry and smoke the flesh so it would be light and easy
to carry with them. They scattered all surplus baggage around the
ground, carefully storing and saving the bit of bread that yet remained
and dividing it equally among the party. They also divided the tea,
coffee, rice and some such things, and each one agreed that he could not
ask aught of his neighbor more. Knapsacks were improvised from parts of
the wagon canvas, and long strips of canvas were made into a sort of
pack harness for the oxen. It was a sad sight to see the strong and
vigorous young men of a few days ago reduced to such straits; almost
skeletons now, with no hope of nourishment to invigorate them. They made
canteens by sewing a couple of small powder cans in cloth, with a band
to go over the shoulders.

The Jayhawkers were still making their preparations when the Martin
party and Rev. J.W. Brier and family came up to their camp, having taken
a circuit around farther to the south. The Martin party was already in
marching order and this camp was so poor that they did not wait, but
gave all their oxen they had left to Mr. Brier and said they could get
on faster without them. They took a straight course over the hills and
up the mountain, saying they believed they had provisions enough upon
their backs to last them through, and that nothing should check their
progress till they reached the other side, where they said were fertile
valleys and plenty of chance to live.

The Doty party, or Jayhawkers, when they were ready started first a
northerly course to find a more favorable place to cross the range and
drove their oxen with them, each with a small pack. They soon came to
some good water, and after refreshing themselves turned westward to
cross the great mountain before them. Both men and oxen were shod with
moccasins made of raw-hide to protect the feet against sharp rocks. They
could see no trail but merely picked out the best way to go. While
climbing the steep mountain side they came across a dead ox left by some
party that had gone before them. They cut out the tongue and some of the
best meat and ate it to eke out their own small stock, and carried some
pieces with them, but soon threw it all away but enough for a roast for

When it was getting dark they were almost at the summit, but there was
no good camping place, and they saw a small fire light at a little
distance and went to it, finding a poor lone camper taking care of
himself. They camped here also. It seemed as if there were many men from
the various parties scattered all around the country, each one seeking
out the path which seemed to suit best his tender feet or present fancy,
steering west as well as mountains and canon would permit, some farther
north, some farther south and generally demoralized, each thinking that
as a last resort he would be able to save his own life. It seemed to be
a question of will and endurance, strong hearts and keeping the body in
motion. The weak and faint must fail, and the strong said to the
weak;--"Stand up; be a man; don't fall down;" and so the strong spurred
on the weak and kept them up as best they could.

Down the mountain they went, on the west side and instead of Los
Angeles, which some of them expected to see, they saw only a salt lake
in the midst of a barren desert valley and their route lay directly
across it. They traveled in several directions as they went across. One
went across the valley on a strip of dried mud between two small lakes.
Others followed down along the east side of the lake near the foot of
the mountain, where they found some good water and an old Indian camp.
They found some mosquite beans, which they did not know were of much
use, but really, if they had known how to fix them up a little they
would have been good food.

Capt. Doty's mess crossed between the lakes on the strip of dry mud
while others went on where it was still soft and left marks of their
foot-steps. Both parties turned up a small canon on the west side and
began the ascent of a black and barren range, containing no water, but
in the bed of the ravine near the summit they found some damp sand and
tried to dig with their hands to find some of the precious fluid. But no
water came, and in the morning one of their number Mr. Fish died and was
left unburied on the barren rocks. No doubt his bones could be found
there to-day.

Turning west again, they had a down grade over a most barren and rocky
road for many miles. The prospect from this point was any thing but
cheering. To the left a large lake could be seen, and from their
previous experience they concluded it to be salt, and the valley they
were coming to was very sandy, and the hardest sort of footing for men
and animals as weak as those of the party were. It must be crossed
before there was any possibility of water, and when across it was quite
uncertain whether they could obtain any. One of their number had already
died of thirst and fatigue and all were suffering terribly.

The valley seemed about eight miles across, and before they were half
way over Mr. Ischam, one of their party sat down, perfectly exhausted,
and said he could not take another step. No one was able to assist him
or give him a drink of water, and they could not tarry to see if rest
would refresh him. They could only look sadly at him and pass on in
silence, for he seemed fast wasting away. The thought came to everyone
that perhaps it would be his turn next to sit down and see the others
pass on. In fact the probability of any more of them living another day
was very poor, for they all grew weaker and weaker with every hour, and
no one knew how many hours must pass before they could hope for water.
There was not moisture enough in their poor bodies to make tears, and no
one dare open his mouth, lest all the moisture suddenly evaporate and
respiration cease.

Those who had no cattle took different courses to reach the hills and
mountains on the west side of this valley, hoping there to find water
and signal to the others if they were successful. All except the two men
managed to get across, and finding no water the packs were taken from
the oxen and they were driven to the lake which appeared on the left.
Reaching the lake they found the water red in color and so strong of
alkali that no man or beast could take a single swallow. They drove the
cattle back again with sad hearts, and almost despondent, for in the
rough, dry rocks of the mountains there seemed no signs of water. But
they were saved again. Those who bore farthest to the right in their
course to the mountains, steering toward a pile of tremendous rocks,
found a little stream of good water which flowed only a short distance
and then sank into the sand. This good news spread rapidly, and all soon
gathered at the little streamlet. It was slow work getting water for
them all, but by being patient they were all filled up. Some took two
canteens of water and hurried back to Mr. Ischam, whom they found still
alive but his mouth and throat so dry and parched, and his strength so
small that he was unable to swallow a single drop, and while they waited
he breathed his last. With their hands and feet they dug away the sand
for a shallow grave, placed the body in it, covered it with his
blankets, and then scraped the sand back over again to make a little
mound over their dead comrade. Perhaps if he could have walked a mile
farther he might have lived, and but for the little trickling stream of
water from the rocks they might all be dead, so slight were the
circumstances that turned the scale to balance toward life or death.

There was so little feed for oxen that they could gain no strength, but
were much refreshed by the water and could still travel. One was killed
here, and the meat, poor as it was, gave the men new strength. They all
guessed it to be at least fifty miles to the base of the great snow
mountain before them, and what there was between no one could tell, for
there were hills and valleys between. Leaving the little spring their
course led first up a small canon, and when they reached the summit of
the ridge a small valley covered with sage brush was before them, the
most fertile spot they had seen for a long time. The descent to this
valley was through another canon which was filled with large boulders
for much of the way, and over these it seemed almost impossible to get
the cattle. They had seen no water since leaving the little stream, and
the plain they were now approaching seemed thirty miles wide, with no
signs of streams or springs. However just at the foot of the canon they
found a small water hole, but the water was so salt that even the oxen
refused to drink it.

They decided to make a push across the plain and endeavor to reach the
other side in two days, and they knew there could be no water on its
even expanse. The plain seemed quite an up grade from where they were to
the base of the mountain.

On the second day they all reached the point they were aiming for except
Rev. J.W. Brier and family, and they came in one day behind. Every one
looked out for himself and had no time nor strength to spare to help
others. Here on a small bench overlooking the country to the south and
east but still a long distance from the snow, they found some holes of
water, and some bunch grass a little farther up the hill. Here was a
large trail coming from the north and leading from this point westward.
There were no signs of recent use, but there were many indications that
it was quite ancient and had been considerably traveled in time past.
This was quite encouraging to many of them and they declared they would
follow this trail which would surely lead to some place well known, in a
better country. They cared not whether it led to California, Mexico, or
Texas, only that they might get out of this country which seemed
accursed. Any place where they could get something to eat and drink
would be better than this.

Mr. and Mrs. Brier had some pretty hard struggles to get along, and
everyone of this party has ever been loud in praise of the energy and
determination of the brave little woman of the Brier mess. All agreed
that she was by far the best man of the party. She was the one who put
the packs on the oxen in the morning. She it was who took them off at
night, built the fires, cooked the food, helped the children, and did
all sorts of work when the father of the family was too tired, which was
almost all of the time. They all said that he, like other ministers, had
fallen out with any work but that of the tongue, and seemed perfectly
willing for some one else to do the work. Mrs. Brier had the sympathy of
everyone, and many would have helped her if they could. She waited on
her big husband with untiring zeal, and still had time to care for the
children with all of a mother's love. It seemed almost impossible that
one little woman could do so much. It was entirely to her untiring
devotion that her husband and children lived. Mr. Brier had but little
sympathy or help from any one but her. Some were quite sarcastic in
their remarks about the invalid preacher who never earned his bread by
the sweat of his brow, and by their actions showed that they did not
care very much whether he ever got through or not. They thought he ought
to have asserted his manliness and taken the burden on himself, and not
lean upon his delicate and trusting wife as he seemed to do. All are
sure that it is to his faithful wife the Rev. J.W. Brier owed his succor
from the sands of that desert.

Looking back on the scenes of that day, the way the selfish dispositions
of people were made manifest is almost incredible. Every one seemed to
think only of saving his own life, and every spark of human sympathy and
kindness seemed extinguished. A man would drink the last cup of water
even if his neighbor choked.

This camp was the same one which the Author mentions in his narrative,
to which Rogers and himself crept so silently and carefully at night to
ascertain whether the occupants were friends or foes. They were much
pleased to find it was Capt. Doty of the Jayhawkers and his mess who had
remained behind to dry the flesh of an ox they had killed when it could
travel no longer. The others had gone on ahead, following the trail,
leaving these to follow. They staid here two days, and it was while
waiting here that the Rev. J.W. Brier came up as before related, and
they all went on together when they moved.

Nearly every man had carried a gun in the early days of the expedition,
hoping to kill game, and to be well armed in case of attack by Indians
or enemies, but they began to find that they were useless encumbrances,
and first one and then another would throw away his fire-arms as a
burden too great for a weary man to bear. There was no game, and the
poor weak men hardly deemed their own lives worth defending against an
enemy when a day or two of lack of water would end the matter of life at
any rate.

As they slept they dreamed the most tantalizing dreams of clear,
rippling brooks of water; of wading knee deep in the most beautiful of
ponds; of hoisting the old moss-covered bucket from some deep old well;
of breaking and eating great white loaves of bread; of surrounding the
home table with its load of steaming beans and bacon, fragrant coffee
and delicious fried cakes. With such dreams of comfort, they awoke to
realize more fully the terrors of their dry and swollen throats, the
discomfort of empty stomachs. Water and food were the great riches of
life to them then. Had piles of twenty-dollars pieces been on the one
hand and a bucket of cold water on the other there is no doubt of the
choice that would have been made.

Seven or eight miles from this place were two branches to the trail. One
led into the mountains toward the snow, and the other still bore
southerly. They could see that some other party who had no oxen to drive
had taken the more northerly route, which seemed to lead more directly
in the direction of the mines of California. Those who came later, with
animals thought it would be folly to try to cross the deep snow they
could see on the mountains before them and concluded that it would be
safer to the south of the snow line, braving the danger of scarcity of
water, rather than to perish in the snow. Capt. Doty was willing to
attempt the northern branch of the trail if the others so decided, but
the general feeling was in favor of the more plain and open trail which
led away from the snows. It is known that this Northern branch led over
what is known as Walker's Pass, coming out at the Kern River.

Taking then the southern branch, the party passed through a range of low
mountains, and then the country before them seemed quite level for a
hundred miles.

They expected they would find much difficulty on account of water, as
their experience had taught them that it was very scarce in such
locations, but this trail when they came to follow it led them for eight
or ten miles over a level piece of high land that looked as if it might
have slid down from the high mountain at some day long past, and this
easily traveled road brought them at last to the top of a steep hill,
down which they went and found near the bottom, a small weak stream of
water, but no grass, and but little fuel of any kind. (This was the same
camp at which Rogers and the Author overtook the advance party.) Here
they killed an ox, which made a good meal for all, and not much remained
over, for many had no oxen and were getting out of all sorts of
provisions. They depended much on the generosity of their fellow
travelers. Many of them stood back, and waited till those who owned the
food were satisfied, and were very grateful when they were invited to
take even the poorest morsels.

They could count the oxen and make a pretty close guess of how many days
they could live in this way, even with the best probable fortune
favoring them, and to the best of them there was but little hope, and to
those who were dependent it seemed as if the fate of Fish and Ischam
might be theirs almost any day. When the Author conversed with them at
this camp he found them the first really heart-broken men he had ever
seen. Some were men of middle age who had left good farms that gave them
every need, and these they had left to seek a yellow phantom, and now
there were yellow phantoms of a different sort rearing their dreadful
forms all about them. They called themselves foolish gold hunters to
forsake a land of plenty for a chance to leave their bones in a hot
desert. More eyes than one filled with tears, and hopes in more than one
breast vanished to almost nothing. More than one would gladly have
placed himself back where he could have been assured of the poorest fare
he ever saw upon his farm, for bread and water would have been an
assurance of life, of which there seemed to be really but little
expectation here.

When they left this camp in the canon the trail was between two high
rocks, rising like walls on each side. In one place they were so near
together that an ox could hardly squeeze through. In a very short time
they came to a bunch of willows growing out in the open ground. The
little bunch or grove was forty or fifty feet in diameter, and in the
center was a spring of water. The center of the clump had been cleared
out, making a sort of corral of bushes, enclosing the spring. On the
outside there was quite a little growth of grass, which was a fortunate
thing for their poor beasts.

Away in the distance, rising up a little against the western sky they
could see mountains with snow on them, and it seemed as if it were a
journey of five or six days to reach them, but the good water and the
grass bolstered up their spirits wonderfully for there was present
relief and rather better prospects ahead. They were pretty sure that the
wide plain held no water. Everything that would hold the precious drink
was filled, and the best preparations made for what they believed was to
be the final struggle for life. They rested one day and prepared for the
very worst that might before them. Early in the morning when they could
see plainest, they looked across the expanse before them and really it
did not seem quite so barren, hot and desolate as the region they had
passed, and they talked and hoped that this would be the last desert
they must cross and that Los Angeles lay just beyond the sunny ridge
they could dimly see ahead. There were some tears that more than one
would not live to answer roll call on the other side, but it was the
last hope, and worth an earnest, active trial.

Early in the morning, much refreshed, they started on again with rather
sober faces. That night one man insisted on sleeping with his clothes
and boots all on, for he said if he died he wanted to die in full dress.
Another day and some thought they could see trees on the mountains ahead
of them, and this renewed their courage greatly. In the middle of the
day they suffered greatly with the heat and the dry air seemed to drink
up every bit of moisture from everybody. When they killed an ox they
saved the blood and ate it. The intestines, cleaned with the fingers,
made food when roasted on the fire, and pieces of hide, singed and
roasted, helped to sustain life. The water was nearly all gone. Only
power of will and strength of body had kept any. Capt. Asa Haines sat
down one day and said he could go no farther, but his comrade, L.D.
Stephens, who had kept a little rice, a little tea, and a dry crust of
bread for time of need, took a little water in a cup and made some soup
which he forced his friend to eat and soon he revived and was able to
move on again. That was true friendship.

The next night Stevens himself awoke and seemed perishing with thirst.
He crawled over to Doty's bed and begged for just one sup of water, Doty
in the goodness of his heart, took his canteen from under his head
divided the last few drops with him and the death which threatened him
was held off. Capt. Doty found it necessary to talk very seriously to
those who mourned and talked of failing. He never gave up in the least.
He encouraged all to make every step they could and know no such word as
fail. When they said that death would be easier than life, he told them
so, but that life was possible if they only willed it, and a better life
than had been theirs. And so he kept them encouraged and kept them
putting one foot before the other, pointing out the ever lessening
distance to the mountain before them. He appealed to their manhood. "Be
men," said he, "Be brave and courageous, and you have more strength than
you believe." Thus by example and words he proved to be a true captain
to his little band.

Their water was all gone, every drop, and still the foot-hills seemed
far away. The supply of meat ran out. Tom Shannon killed an ox, and when
those who had cattle had taken some, the others who had none were told
to divide the rest. There was no water to dress or cook it, but it
helped to sustain life. Entrails, bones, sinews, bits of hide and
everything was used. One man was seen with an ox horn, burning the end
in the fire and gnawing away at the softened portion. It was something
terrible to see human beings eating what the dogs would cast aside. One
man saw some moist looking earth on the shady side of a bunch of brush
and he dug down and got a handful of it, from which he tried to suck the
moisture. He failed, and the bad taste of the earth made him suffer more
than before. Many bones of horses and cattle now appeared along the
trail. They seemed to have been there a long time, and some were partly
decayed. On this waterless stretch one of their number, a Frenchman,
wandered off, searching for water in little hollows or puddles, and
never came back to camp. He was supposed to be dead, but ten years
afterward some surveyors found him in a Digger Indian camp.

An idea how selfish men will get under such circumstances may be gained
by relating that on one occasion when an ox was killed the liver was
carried to the brave little Mrs. Brier for herself and children, and she
laid it aside for a few moments till she could attend to some other
duties before cooking it. Darkness coming on meanwhile, some
unprincipled, ungallant thief stole it, and only bits of offal and
almost uneatable pieces were left to sustain their lives. That any one
could steal the last morsel from a woman and her children surpasses
belief, but yet it was plain that there was at least one man in the
party who could do it. No one can fully understand or describe such
scenes as this unless he has looked into just such hungry looking,
haggard eyes and faces, a mixture of determination and despair, the
human expression almost vanishing, and the face of a starving wolf or
jackal taking its place, There are no words to paint such a state of
things to him who has never seen and known.

But there were true men, true, charitable hearts in that little band.
Though death stared them in the face they never forgot their fellow men.
As they slowly crawled along many would wander here and there beside the
trail and fall behind, especially the weaker ones, and many were the
predictions that such and such a one would never come up again, or reach
the camp. Then it was that these noble souls, tired almost beyond
recovery themselves, would take water and go back to seek the wandering
ones and give them drink and help them on. More than one would thus have
perished in the sands but for the little canteen of water carried back
by some friend. Only a swallow or two would often revive their failing
strength and courage, and with slow step they would move on again. How
much good a crust of bread would have done such a poor creature. Bread
there was none--nothing but the flesh of their poor oxen, wasted and
consumed by days of travel and lack of food till it had no goodness in
it. Even the poor oxen, every night seemed to be the end of their
walking; every morning it was feared that that would be the last time
they would be able to rise upon their feet.

Already five or six days had passed since they left the camp at the
willows where they had their last supply of water, and still they were
on the desert. The journey was longer than they had expected, partly
owing to the slow progress they had made for there were frequent stops
to rest or they could not move at all. The mountains seemed nearer every
day, and the trees were outlined more plainly each morning as they
started out. Capt. Doty used every circumstance to encourage them. He
would remark upon the favorable signs of water in the hills before them,
and the hope that there might be some game to provide better meat than
that of starving oxen. Thus he renewed their hope and kept alive their
courage. He must have had a great deal of fortitude to hide his own sad
feelings, for they must as surely have come to him as to any one, and to
keep up always an air of hope, courage, and determination to succeed. If
he had been a man of less spirit and good judgment it is very probable
that many more would have been left by the wayside to die.

About this point the trail which had been growing fainter and fainter,
seemed to vanish entirely. One could move in almost any direction to
right or left as he chose, and because of this, previous travel had
doubtless scattered and thus left no trail. It was thought best that
this company should spread out and approach the mountains in as broad a
front as possible so as to multiply the chances of finding water, and so
they started out in pairs, some to the right and some to the left, each
selecting the point where water seemed most probable.

Tom Shannon and a companion were one of these pairs. Tom was one of the
few who still stuck to his gun, for he felt that it might save his life
sometime. He and his companion separated about a mile, each looking at
all points that showed the least sign of water. Suddenly a jack rabbit
started from a bush, the first game Shannon had seen for more than a
month. He pulled the rifle on him as he was making some big bound and
had the good luck to nearly split his head open. Rushing up to his game
he put his mouth to the wound and sucked the warm blood as it flowed,
for it was the first liquid he had seen; but instead of allaying his
fearful thirst it seemed to make it worse and he seemed delirious. A
little way up the gulch he saw a rock and a green bush and steered for
it, but found no water. He sat down with his back to the rock, his rifle
leaning up near by, pulled his old worn hat over his eyes, and suffered
an agony of sickness. He realized that life was leaving his body, and
there he sat with no power to move and no desire to make an effort. It
seemed as if he could see plain before him all the trail from where he
sat, back over all the deserts, mountains and rivers to the old place in
Illinois. He entirely forgot the present, and seemed unconscious of
everything but the pictures of the past. The mind seemed growing freer
from its attachment to the body and at liberty to take in his whole past
life, and bright scenes that had gone before. How long he sat thus he
knows not. His companion was fortunate in finding water, and when he had
refreshed himself he set out to find poor Tom of whom he could see
nothing. Going toward where he heard the shot he followed on till he saw
him at the rock, almost doubled up, with his face concealed by his hat.
"O! Tom!" said he, but there came no answering motion, and going nearer
he called again and still no answer and no sign. Poor Tom had surely
passed on to the better land, thought he, and salvation was so near. He
approached and lifted the hat rim. There was a movement of the eyes, a
quivering of the muscles of the face, and a sort of semi-unconscious
stare such as precedes approaching dissolution.

Quickly holding back his head he poured water between his lips from his
canteen and it was swallowed. Then a little more, and then some more,
and life seemed coming back again into a troublesome world, bringing
pain with it, and the consciousness of a suffering body. After a time he
felt better and was helped to his feet, and together they went to the
water hole where they made a fire and cooked the rabbit which was the
first savory meat they had tasted for a long time. Tom felt better and
told his companion how he felt after tasting the warm rabbit's blood,
and how he had nearly gone off into the sleep of death.

"If you had been a little longer finding me," said Tom, "I should soon
have been out of this sad world." They fired a signal gun, looked down
at the bones of the rabbit, drank more water, and gradually felt new
life coming to them. The mountains seemed more fertile, and there was
brush and grass near by, timber farther up, and still higher a cap of
snow extending far along the range, both north and south. Towards night
on this eventful day the scattered travelers began to come slowly into
camp attracted by the guns and the smoke of the fire made by those who
first found the water. Some were nearly as far gone as Tom Shannon was,
and great caution had to used in giving them water on their empty
stomach. One man named Robinson became so weak before he got near camp
that his companions placed him on the back of one of the animals and a
man walked on either side to catch him if he fell off. When they got
within a mile of the water he insisted that he was strong enough to take
care of himself and not be watched every minute, and they relaxed their
vigilance. He soon fell off, and when they went to him he refused to be
put back on the animal again or to walk any farther. "Just spread my
blankets down," said he, "and I will lie down and rest a little and
after a while I will come along into camp." So they left him and pushed
on to water, and when they were a little refreshed went back to him with
water, and to help him to come in, but when they came to him they found
him dead. He did not seem to have moved after he had lain down. He did
not seem so bad off as Shannon was when he lay down, and probably a few
swallows of water at that time would have saved his life. It seemed sad
indeed, after so much suffering and striving to get along, that he
should die within a mile of water that would have saved his life. If he
had possessed a little more strength so that the spark of life could
have remained a little longer, the cooling moisture from the canteen
would have revived it, and a little rest would have placed him on his
feet again. They had no tools to dig a grave, not even a knife for they
had left every weight in camp, so they covered him closely in his
blankets and sadly returned to their friends. They had all along hoped
that the Frenchman who had wandered away would come in, but he never
came. There were several water holes scattered around at this point
which seemed to be a sort of sunken place in the hills, and quite large
brush could be obtained for fire, and grass for the oxen. Those who had
been good hunters and had thrown away their rifles as useless burdens,
now began to look at hills before them and think that game might be
found in them, as well as water. There were only one or two guns in the
whole party, They thought that this must surely be the edge of the great
desert they had crossed, and only the snow range before them could be
the obstacle that separated them from Los Angeles.

One day from here would bring them to the edge of the snow, and they
debated as to the best course to pursue. Some of them were fearful they
could not cross the snow with the oxen, for it seemed to be quite deep.
The best place to cross seemed directly west of them. South was a higher
peak, and to the north it was surely impassible. There seemed to be a

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