Latter-day Saints held their first 24th of July (Pioneer Day) celebration in Salt Lake City in 1849, two years after Brigham Young first entered the Salt Lake Valley.1 The Saints had reason to celebrate in 1849: Their second full season of crop raising promised a good harvest. Early maturing vegetables had already relieved them from a winter of extreme want. They were doubly blessed by the temporary influx of gold-seekers hurrying to the California mines.2
The first forty-niners reached the Salt Lake Valley on June 16, 1849,3 bringing with them much-needed supplies that they traded or sold for provisions. During the next fourteen months, an estimated twenty-five thousand argonauts passed through the Salt Lake Valley. For the Saints, the arrival of the gold-seekers fulfilled a bold prophecy of Heber C. Kimball,4 who, according to one account, had declared:
I Prop[h]ecy in the Name of the Lord that this People will be the Richest People on Earth, although you are now Poor & destitute, all most naked. But if you are faithful you shall have every desire of your Hearts. Clothing of all kind will be brought here abundantly & my only fears are that unless you are humble & prayerful, you will be led away & lifted up in the Pride of your Hearts & neglect your duty & fo[r]get to give thanks to the Bountiful Giver. This is my only fears. I am not trobled about Your Poverty.5
In addition to clothing, the forty-niners brought tools, wagons, and foodstuffs. Joseph Holbrook gratefully declared, “‘The Lord provided for the poor saints by His providence in opening up the gold mines in California and inspiring the Gentiles with a lust for gold.’”6
Argonauts welcomed the opportunity that they had in Salt Lake City to rest themselves and their animals, partake of such delicacies as milk and fresh vegetables, and refit for the rugged journey that still lay ahead. They left Salt Lake City, generally having stayed for six or seven days,7 with varied opinions about their experiences there. Many felt shortchanged in trading and business transactions. Others reacted negatively to Latter-day Saint “pulpit oratory,” especially when it included railings against the Saints’ former persecutors in Missouri and Illinois.8 On the other hand, many would have agreed with James M. Hutchings, who wrote as he prepared to resume his journey: “Tomorrow we leave civilization, pretty girls, and pleasant memories. . . . I am thankful to you [Mormons] . . . for the many advantages your city in the wilderness offers to the weary emigrant, on his journey overland to California!”9
While some Native Americans may have benefitted from trading with westbound forty-niners, the majority experienced negative consequences from the gold rush. It brought another wave of white people to the West and resulted in the destruction of vegetation and game. Some forty-niner companies “burn[ed] the grass behind them” to impede the progress of competitors.10 Argonaut John F. Cobbey recorded in his journal on May 21, 1850:
A heard of Buffaloes pass the road before us. in the
atattempt they awas assailed of the huge animals were brough[t] to ground and yealded their carcasses to the hunters will. . . . they are quite poor at this time and of litle use of killing only as its serves to gratefy the sportmans vain ambition. some of the chois pieces is selected such as the “hump” Toung’ &c.11
Two journals held by the Department of Special Collections and Manuscripts in the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University provide valuable perspectives on the forty-niners’ experiences among Native Americans and Mormons in the land that became Utah. The accounts, recorded by Massachusetts natives William Z. Walker and Edward Jackson, are absent from prominent bibliographies of overland-trail diaries.12
There is no evidence that Walker and Jackson knew each other, nor did they travel together, but their journals reveal interesting similarities. They were born the same year, 1827; both embarked on the wilderness section of the journey at or near Independence, Missouri, in May 1849; both reached South Pass on July 9; they arrived in Salt Lake City just a day apart; both attended the pioneer celebration on July 24; and both concluded their journals immediately after they arrived in Sacramento, California.
William Z. Walker was born October 21, 1827.13 He left Boston for California on March 19, 1849. He traveled by train, canal boat, and steamer to Kansas City, Missouri, arriving on April 10. After some difficulty, his party headed west from Westport on May 10. He entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 23. His descriptive and matter-of-fact journal includes a drawing of Chimney Rock (Nebraska), where he camped on June 18.
Edward Jackson was born June 14, 1827, in Newton, Massachusetts. He documented his gold-rush experiences as if he were speaking to family members.14 In 1855 his account was recopied by his sister Marian Jackson Gilbert into a volume of family histories.15 He began his account in Independence, Missouri. He entered Salt Lake City on July 24, the day after William Z. Walker.
The following journal extracts focus on the authors’ experiences beginning on the Salt Lake Road, east of the Green River in what is now Wyoming, and ending in the vicinity of the Mormon Ferry on the Bear River, near present-day Collinston, Utah. Original spellings, strikeouts, and punctuation, have been preserved as much as possible. Angle brackets < > indicate words written above or below lines in the manuscript texts. Insertions by the editor are indicated by square brackets [ ].
William Z. Walker Journal Extract,
Tuesday July 10th We started early in search of water, and after travelling about 6 miles arrived at the Little Sandy, a small stream of water with plenty of grass along its banks, we remained here till noon, when, we started for the Big Sandy about 10 miles distant where we arrived early in P.M. waiting here till 12 <oclk> for the moon, we started for the next crossing of the Big Sandy 17 miles distant & neither wood water or grass between the two points—<discovered we were on the Salt Lake road>17
Wed. July 11th We arrived at
nextthe Big Sandy early this morning and remained here till P.M. & started for Green River about 8 miles distant, where we arrived early in P.M.
The river being high we were obliged to cross by ferry (a temporary arrangement kept by Mormons)18 We got our packs safely over but in spite of all our efforts our animals would not cross: we waited till sundown and
started<tried them> again but after an hours hard work we were obliged to give it up till morning
Thurs. July 12th We succeeded with the assistance of the ferrymen in getting our animals across & started from Green River and struck it again <in> about 8 miles. Where we encamped waiting for Nichols whom we left at the ferry & whose mule had come up without him, thinking that he might have been attacked by the indians Crackline went back to look for him.
The mosquitoes here were so thick and troublesome, that Cowan19 & myself concluded to move on to Black’s Fork 15 miles distant and there wait for Crackline & Nichols
Friday July 13th Cowan and myself started for Black’s Fork
searly this morning. We were overtaken on the road by Crackline & Nichols—Nichols having been thrown from his mule and waited at the ferry with the Mormons for his mule which he expected would be sent back. We arrived at Black’s Fork (a fine stream of good water) atearly in P.M. and encamped.
Sat. July 14th The grass being good
athere we remained here throughout the day to give our animals a chance to graze.
Sunday. July 15th Started early, crossed Ham’s Fork and several other small streams. We made a long drive in A.M. and
remaidid not leavestart in P.M. till 6 o’clk when a < the first we ha> drizzly rain set in. By some means we missed the road laid down in our guide book,20 and <finding no water> we travelled till midnight in search of it. The night was pitchy dark. My horse threw me completely over his <head> three times during the night and we proceeded with the greatest difficulty: At last giving up all hopes of finding water, we encamped among some wild sage bushes, and laid ourselves down without any supper, men and animals completely exhausted—dis[tance traveled] 33 miles.
Mon. July 16th I started off at the first appearance of light on foot in search of water, none of us having tasted any for nearly 24 hours.
Seeing some trees to the South of us (almost always sure indications of water on the prairies) I made my search in that direction, and on arriving at the summit of a high ridge I found myself at once on the borders of the beautiful streams around Fort Bridger. The deep green foliage on the banks of the numerous streams, the level prairie along the banks of the rivers <covered> with roses and wild flowers, the Bear river mountains
to thecovered with snow to the South gave the whole the appearance of a second Eden. After quenching my thirst at a small rivulet, with water fresh from the mountains and as cold as ice, I filled my canteen and returned to our camping place andimparted the welcome news to my companions and we immediately started for this beautiful place, where we remained during the forenoon to rest ourselves and animals. We left here in p.m. in the midst of a drizzly rain passed Fort Bridger21 which was near by, (a small trading post built of logs on mud presenting altogether a most miserable appearance,) travelled till near sundown when we met six indians on horseback armed with rifles, pistols, bows & arrows &c who stopped in our path till we came up and shook hands with us all, saying ‘how d’ye do’ ‘how d’ye do’ all the english they could speak. They called themselves Shoshones or snakes.22 There being but three of us (Crackline having stopped at the fort to make some purchases) we were fearful that they would attack us or stampede our animals, as they followed close behind us without saying a word, we stopped got our fire-arms in orderready for immediate use and motioned for them to leave us (one of them an ugly looking dwarf makingoing through with the pantomime of cutting my throat as we<I> gave the order. We camped here and Crackline coming up we got all our arms ready in case of an attack during the night; but we were not troubled by them dis. 8 miles.
Tuesday July 17th Started early. On our road passed an encampment of Shoshones on Muddy Fork without molestation, and Commenced ascending the high range that connects the Bear river and Wind river mountains. At the foot of the ascent we saw a Copperas or Soda Spring, the water of which tasted very much like soda water. The ascent was difficult and tedious. It was 1I miles to the summit the altitude of which was 7315 feet above the level, according to our guide book. Our road was along the top of the ridge for 7 miles when we encamped at noon near a Spring of clear water. In P.M our road was through a deep gorge in the mountains most of the way. We passed Sulphur Creek and Oil Spring which we did not stop to see on acct of an encampment of indians which was there who we feared might be troublesome. We arrived at Bear River about sundown where we found an indian Village consisting of about [a] hundred tents. We passed through them without molestation forded Bear river the water of which was so swift that our
mules<animals> could hardly breast it. We camped about a mile beyond in the finest herds grass I ever saw The indians had several hundred horses herded here but we were unable to trade for any of them. Several Shoshones came into our camp during the evening and we had to keep a sharp look out to keep them from pilfering. dis 23. miles
Wednesday July 18th We travelled over a high ridge of the mountains this A.M. and through a deep gorge in P.M. passing over Some of the wildest and most mountainous country we have yet seen. We encamped at night on Echo Creek. dis. 22 miles—<fine grass here.>
Thursday July 19th Quite a <frost> in camp this morning. We commenced travelling through a <deep> gorge in the mountains between Echo Creek and Weber river, a distance of about 20 miles over the worst roads and wildest country we have yet passed. Echo Creek extends the whole length of the gorge and we crossed it about a dozen times. A ridge of high rocks looking very much like freestone almost perpendicular formed in the most grotesque and fantastic shape bounded one side and a ridge of mountains the other. The day was intolerably hot and the road dusty. Some of the way
thewe passed through long willow groves meetingabout high enough for a person to set on horse back, in which the dust was so dense that we could not see a rod in advance. Near the road where we left the gorge the mountains were on fire blazing, and crackling with a tremendous roar we passed here five emigrant waggons, the first we have seen in the last hundred miles the road being almost entirely deserted. We encamped on Weber River having travelled 8 hours, a fine stream, where we found very little feed and any quantity of mosquitoes. dis. 20 miles.
July 20th Travelled over a rough mountainous country road dusty and disagreeable, crossed numerous creeks and small streams and encamped at night in a deep gorge in the mountain, on Kanyon Creek. very hot dis. 19
Saturday July 21st Started early & commenced ascending the Bear River mountains &
whenfrom the summit had a splendid view of the valley of the Great Salt lake. The height laid down in theour guide book is 7345 feet above the level.23 In descending our road was almost perpendicular. The road crosses Kanyon creek 13 times and passes through two bad swamps.24 We had a cool invigorating breeze from the mountains in desending but <in the> valley the rays of the sun almost scorched the skin. In P.M. we passed the last ridge before entering the Valley of the Great Salt Lake.
My horse which I have been unable to ride for the last few days got mired at a creek at the foot & I got him out with the greatest difficulty, hoping to save him by recruiting at Salt Lake I remained behind to drive him along. Having several bad creeks to cross I endeavored to lead him around them by a narrow trail on the side of the mountains but
itit was so steep that he lost his foothold and rolled over a precipice in the gulf below where Ihurting him so bad that I was obliged to leave him after removing <his> trappings
I was overtaken by a smart shower before arriving at the mouth of the Kanyon and when I arrived at the valley it was so dark that I was unable to find our party
itor to tell which was the right road. I gave up the search after travelling an hour an[d] crawled under an emigrant wagon, wet to the skin, where I slept soundly till morning
Sunday July 22nd Started early in search of our party which I found after a short search encamped with[in] a few rods of where I slept. We remained here all day. The city of the G. S. Lake visible about 3 miles ahead.
Monday July 23rd. We started for the city where we arrived after an hour’s travel. The city is situated about 25 miles east of Great Salt Lake & about 35 miles from Utah Lake. The city is about 4 miles square and contains 6000 inhabitants <all Mormon,> The town is irrigated by water brought from the Jordan a small stream emptying into G.S.L. They have little or no rain here in the summer although it is frequent in the mountains.
The houses are
mostall one story high and mostly Adobes (built of sun dried brick) Each man is entitled to an acre of land if he cultivates it. We found here plenty of vegetables and fresh beef, other kinds of provisions we were unable to purchase owing to the scarcity. We passed throug the city and encamped on the river Jordan, a small stream about half a mile West of the city, intending to remain here a week to recruit our animals our horses ancompletely fagged out and our mules badly galled. Owing to the scarcity of grass we were obliged to herd our mules across the Jordan about two miles distant from our camp.
Tues. July 24th
To day being the anniversary day of the entrance of the Mormons into the valley <They gave a dinner> which we attended. They had their dinner under a roof built for the purpose,25 where we found about 5000
persons<mormons> collected listening to inflammatory speeches and threats against their enemies in Missouri,26 after two hours hard talking dinner was announced and emigrants being kindly invited we sat down to one of the best dinners we had enjoyed for many a day. The tables were loaded with every delicacy. The dinner went off admirably and was followed by toasts songs recitations &c and we left highly pleased with our first day among the <Mormons.>
Wednesday July 25th
We passed the day in visiting emigrant waggons and strolling about
amongthe Mormonstown. We lost one oneof <our> horses today and have as yet, been unable to <find> him.
Thurs. July 26th We purchased some provisions today of emigrants. I engaged myself today to write guides to California to raise money enough to buy provisions enough to carry us through.
Thurs. Fri. Sat. Engaged in writing. Little doing—We heard a rumour that some emigrants ahead of us had killed some indians of the Utah tribe,27 and taken their horses and that the indians had sworn vengeance against the emigrants. Most of the emigrants here are leaving their waggons and packing fearing they will not get through on account of the scarcity of feed.
Sun. July 29th—I awoke early this morning and started for Warm Springs about 2½ miles distant at the foot of the mountains
When I arrived there I found several persons in the basin enjoying the luxury of a warm bath
The water was strongly impregnated with Sulphur and almost scalded me but after remaining in it a few minutes I found it about the right temperature for bathing. The water in the basin was about <3> feet deep and of density enough to buoy a person up. I remained in the water nearly an hour.28
enWe spent part of the day in arranging our packs. In the afternoon I visited Mr Carrington a mormon, the same that employed me to write Guides to California, <(>he was formerly a minister of the gospel in Vermont<)> anwith whom I passed the time very agreeably.29 I remained to tea with him, & left him promising to call on him when I had got plenty of the dust[.]
Monday July 30th Today Cowan and myself after having purchased all our provisions, seperated from our two other companions intending to start in the P.M. but we were so delayed that we concluded to stop till morning
Tues. July 31st Cowan and myself started on route, leaving Crackline
to& Nichols to follow at their leisure. Both of us having lost our horses we were obliged to travel on foot and drive our mules.
We have two mules packed with 110 lbs each, about 80 lbs of provisions each and the remainder in clothing. A third mule, which we have is unfit for riding or packing being badly galled & we drive him along hoping for a chance to dispose of him to advantage. We hope to make the trip in 35 days the distance is 861 miles We encamped at noon at Hot Springs where I boiled a peice of meat for dinner in the water coming from the springs, the water comes from a rock in the mountain
sand is slightly impregnated with Sulphur.30 As we left the Springs we met about 40 indians on horseback, hearing at Salt Lake that they had sworn vengeance against the emigrants we made up our minds our time had come, but they passed us very quietly with the salutation of ‘how d’ ye do swap’ we afterwards learned they were Shoshones and were going to hold a council with the Utahs on account of the murders Comitted on their people by the emigrants—We passed numerous small creeks and encamped at night near a small settlement of the Mormons—dis—10 miles
Wed. Aug. 1st Immediately after starting from camp we were overtaken by Nichols & Crackline who travelled along with us. Our course is along the foot of the Bear River mountain<s> between the mountains and G.S. Lake, which we can see very plainly from the road the shores of the lake are lined with Salt as far as the eye can reach. We passed Several Mormon farm houses to day & encamped at night on a small stream of fine water, dis—15 miles Heat intolerable—
Thurs Aug. 2nd Hot and dusty we made the Weber
Creek Riverabout noon and encamped beneath the trees along its banks where we remained till near sundown on account of the heat. I took a swim in the stream which runs very rapid, we forded theit with our animals the water being about 3 feet deep. After an hour’s travel we arrived [at] a small settlement called Capt. Browns,31 we encamped about two miles beyond the settlement dis—19 miles
Fri. Aug. 3rd Hot—We passed several hot springs at the foot of the mountains, Box Elder Creek & several streams of fine, cold water. The atmosphere is so clear in the valley that objects can be seen at a great distance. The snow clad summits of ‘Twin Peaks’ near the Mormon city are are [sic] plainly visible [from] a distance of
a75 miles. The grass is covered with crickets which are as large as a man’s thumb these are dried and used in the winter, by the indians, for food. We were almost devoured by mosquitos during the night dis. 18 miles.
Sat. Aug. 4th Strong wind during the night and this morning which kept me getting up and running after my hat in the night we managed to raise a fire after considerable perseverance. We crossed several fine creeks today and found good camping all along. Arrived at Bear River ferry about sundown & encamped on East side32
The mosquitos were so ferocious we were obliged to suspend our culinary operations and make a hasty supper on hard bread.
Sun. Aug. 5th We crossed the river by ferry and swam our animals which detained us so long that we made but 3 miles in A.M. & encamped at noon on Malad or Mud creek.33 the water here was so bad that we could not use it in P.M. we travelled 6 miles before we came to water, which was so brackish we could hardly drink it and we pushed on for better water. We travelled on till 9 o’clk in the evening, a distance of 16 miles when we arrived at ‘Warm Springs’ The water was salt and unpalatable but we were so thirsty we drank large quantities of it. We made Coffee of it but it was very unpleasant to the taste—dis 25 miles
Edward Jackson Journal Extract,
[July] 11. This morning the wind was cold & blew directly from the mountains, cold enough to freeze, & our hands & feet were numb. After travelling 9 miles we came to fort Hall, where the Oregon & Mormon or Salt Lake roads meet.35 Which road to take we could scarcely choose, but by vote, decided to take the Mormon. We nooned at the Big Sandy, a rapid current & deep, withal.
This afternoon, our march was hot & short. (For we camped after marching 6 miles) on the Big Sandy with beautiful grass for the mules.
13. Started a little before sunrise this morning for a long march of 28 miles. After rising out of the valley we came upon an antelope but did not succeed in capturing him altho three were after him.
After a march of 3 hours, we met an emigrant, who was on his way to stop emigrants, from taking the Oregon road, as the grass is so scarce & the water so poor that the cattle are dying off by hundreds, & as few had taken our course, we find the grass plenty, & the water good, & but four dead cattle in two days march, while for the last two weeks, the
avenumber has been from 30 to 50 a day.
We camped this noon on another Big Sandy which is similar to the first, with a quicksand bottom. We are always grateful when night comes for then it is cool, but in the middle of the day it is excessively hot.
We camped to night on the Green River, a majestic stream with banks well wooded with cotton trees, & plenty of grass. Here the Mormons have a ferry & are taking emigrants across at the rate of 4 dolls. a waggon & one doll. an animal. Their average receipts are $100 per day; for they only pay the hands to work the boat $5 a day & the emigrants work a little harder than they do. We crossed one waggon tonight, & 5 mules by swimming.
14. This morning we commenced swimming the rest of our mules; but they would not go; so after trying three times we gave it up & began on the waggons; After getting them across we took an old cart-body & towed the mules across by pairs; which required much hard labor & perplexed us much; & as there are always some drones in the hive, three of us had to do ninetenths of the work. However, we got them all across at 10 o clock. I regret to say that we lost one mule, because we tied the rope so tight round his neck, that he strangled. My own dear ‘Mouse’36 as usual took the lead, & swam across last night. We started off, &, to let our mules graze a little encamped about 3 miles from the river in an old Indian encampment, where we found a wigwam & other marks of the race. We also caught an eagle which measured 5 feet from wing to wing. We did intend to camp here tonight, but the mosquitoes have driven us off & we encamp on the bluff 5 miles from here & let the animals graze on wild oats
15. <Sunday.> I say nothing against travelling on the Sabbath Stops; it is only to do more work than it will be to travel; so I think it would be as much sin one way as the other. We came today on a branch of the Colerado & stopped here 4 hours. While here Birt caught a salmon, which weighed, according to my best judgement, 5 lbs. We broiled him & he proved to be one of the few sweet morsels a fellow gets in crossing a prairie. We journeyed on to the next creek, called Black Fork, intending to camp there; but finding 4 encampments there we concluded to push on. In so doing we lost our way & did not come to the little dirty creek where we encamped till 10 o clock. It was quite dark, no moon, & so we just pick
ketted our mules as best we could; made a little tea, broiled a little fish, then turned in for the night having travelled 36 miles in the day.
16. As we turned in late, so we turned out late. It was 4½ when I awoke & I awakened the rest of the camp & we hitched right up as there was no feed here we travelled on 4 miles & came to fair feed—untackled & camped 5 hours & here I was obliged to go two miles for a bucket of good water. At the creek I had the good luck to find a nice memorandum book, having an Almanac, banking table & a blank
espace for every day in the year besides a place for gold: —
The hardships of this journey over the prairies cannot be
toldwritten. You should hear it from the mouth & then you could not realize the fatigues & deprivations of a journey which would take the life of a common man. In the morning, cold bracing wind, with pure crystal water—in the afternoon sultry air, if any & water impregnated with alkali, or some mineral substance, to quench the thirst. These are the extremes we often suffer. We had a slight sprinkling of rain tonight. The first we have had since we left Ft. Laramie, 19 days.
We have travelled today over a country of delightful scenery. The Colerado mountains in the distance <covered with snow> & the curious formation of bluffs over which we travelled, in the foreground. The soil produces little but wild sage. This is very abundant & answers our purpose for fuel.
In the afternoon, I saw in the horizon 2 or 3 showers & towards evening one came directly over & caught me about a mile from the train, and gave me a complete ducking.
We have encamped at Ft. Brydger, situated on Bear Creek in a beautiful valley surrounded by high hills. The Ft. is a mere trading station, built of logs, forming a hollow square of about 50 feet. Around it were encamped a few Snake Indians. They seem civilized to a certain extent. They were cooking as emigrants do.
17th We have left the fort behind & our next spot of interest is the Mormon city. For 12 miles after starting the country was good for grazing & the water plenty & good. As we came into the valley of Muddy Creek, we came upon the Eutaw Indians with their families. We loaded up & prepared for action—but they seemed friendly & wanted to trade, which we did to some extent. I exchanged an old shirt for a pair of moccasins. I saw a fine looking squaw with rings on her fingers & I offered her a shirt for them & she took me up & when I come home you shall see them. I saw among them an old Indian, I should think 80 years old. Also, a deformed one. The first I ever saw. While one of our party was trying to trade a revolver for a pony, he fired the pistol to show it off & it burst into a hundred atoms.
We encamped to night after a long search for water in the mountains with a small supply of grass for the animals. Just as we were about retiring (throwing ourselves on the ground) we heard Indians at a little distance off & concluded to get our mules & tie them up to the waggons. It was my watch & I heard them occasionally all night & at one time, one of their large wolf-dogs came into the camp, looking more like a wolf, than a dog.—
18th This morning, as we were taking breakfast, about 50 Indians, squaws & children came into the camp. We found them disposed to be friendly & after eating of our breakfast they marched off.
We commenced our tramp
edover the steep hills & wound our tedious way down some of the sharpest pitches that a road ever went over. From the top of one of the hills, or mountains the view was very picturesque.
For miles, we saw the valley, not clothed with sand & prickly pear, but it was like our own New England soil, waving with luxuriant grass, watered by a mountain stream which wound itself thro its wilds with now & then a clump of cotton trees. We nooned at the banks of the bear river & here found a hundred Indians who were soon among us, trading. They were Snake Indians. We bought a lot of moccasins—& I bought, or swapped a shirt for the dress of a squaw. But afterwards she wanted to back out; & I had to give her 3 rings to make her stick to her bargain. During our stay, two Indians got to fighting. They were strong & their way of fighting was, to lift each other up & throw him with all vengeance on the ground, & to pull each others hair. When we left they were still fighting. The Bear river, like all streams in the mountains is a swift current, about 3 ft deep & about 60 wide. After leaving here, we began again to ascend the hills, & at the close of the afternoon had just gone thro a high rocky pass, we came upon an encampment of Indians. There were a thousand of them; & they made a fine appearance. Some were preparing skins—some were shooting—others were jumping & hooting—dogs were barking & upon the whole, it was an amusing medley. They did not mind us much, except a few of the papooses who came & looked over the bank, at us.
Locke37 went to jump a stream just here & (Lockelike) came down just in the centre of the stream, when they set up such a <yell> laughter as made the rocks ring.
We left them, & after climbing a tedious hill, encamped in a lovely valley well watered, & <wooded.>
July 19. What a cold morning. The white frost is upon every thing. After breakfast, we started, &, like a tunnel, the road wound up into a narrow ravine, which grew more narrow until the mountains encircled us; & thus we travelled all day in one of the most wonderfully grand passes that I can imagine. Above us towered the high mountains, hundreds of feet, & along our path ran a little fretful stream, which wound itself on in the narrow passage in such a way as obliged us to cross & recross it; a dozen times during the day. At times it would seem as tho the way was wholly stopped. But the little path would glide thro an unseen cleft in the rock, & bring us upon a beautiful sweet mountain spring, refreshing indeed.
During the day, one of our party shot a young elk, & at noon, Capt. Groves made broth of some of it, & it was splendid. Encamped 4 miles from Webbers Creek. It was about the size of Bear’s Creek & noted for its trout. Two Mormons came to the camp & spent the night with us, & from them we derived much information.
July 20. We began to descend the river this morning & just as we came out of the south pass we were in sight of a curious rock or rocks resembling an ancient dilapidated castle.
We met some Indians, but had no trouble with them. Indeed, I consider this tribe a very cowardly set. An inferior class of Indians in all respects.
One of the company caught a regular New England trout today, which weighed a pound.
Just after entering another pass like the one we were in yesterday, we stopped to dine, & Locke made us a soup. The pass was more tedious than yesterday, for we were forced to cross the creek 10 times, & in some places very bad crossings. In one of these, we had the misfortune to wrench one of our wheels, but I think it will stand us yet, for we are getting along quite comfortably. We camp tonight at the foot of a mountain which alone separated us from the Mormon settlement, a distance of 30 miles. We camped with an old mountaineer who told us doleful stories of our route, & gave us useful information.
He had with him a boy 10 or 12 years old, who he was training for a life like his own.
21. This morning we started again to climb the mountains, & crossed the stream 13 times, wading thro mud & water.
I found today some half-ripe gooseberries which were quite a luxury, as it was the first fruit I had tasted since I left the states; except a few strawberries I gathered at Bear River.
The mountains to day were not so rocky, but were covered with a sort of green bushes Two mountains in particular attracted my attention. They were remarkably high & seemed to encircle us. I thought of you Ellen38 & if you could only see it, I should be satisfied. For me to enjoy alone all this truly grand & picturesque scenery is more than my portion. But, after all, the thorns are with the roses, for they have just told me that the wheel has crippled more & the axletree has cracked; & now our last resort is, to pack from Salt Lake. So you see link after link gives way, & mile after mile wears away, but my hope is that the last link will not break until the last mile is passed, & I am in the gold diggings.
22d After leaving our encampment our [road] became even more rugged & up sharper pitches & for the first time since I left Independence, I found a great many large sized balsams & what attracted my attention more was a large sized white honeysuckle shaped flower as large as a dollar. After passing several beautiful springs, we came to the highest peak of the Rocky Mountains & from this point we saw the valley of the great Salt Lake through a small gap in the mountains. We are now about 7000 feet above a level of the sea. The mountains around us are covered with snow & the valleys are a living green. The contrast is strangely beautiful.
To descend this mountain is almost impossible, it is so very steep. We commenced by locking both of the waggon wheels & tying a rope on to the hind end & all hands hanging on. Even then it went down with all fury. When we got half way down, crash went a wheel; so we unhitched one team, got a young tree & made a pole of it; took off the hind wheels & put them in the place of the front; & took the front wheel. that was left & put behind & with the help of the pole got to camp.
23. Sun. We started on after crossing the Kenyon Creek which by the way we have crossed 19 times today & began the ascent of the mountain for the last time, before entering the Mormon Valley. It was so hard to ascend that we had to stop to rest every few rods. We soon began to descend but it was not so hard as the other descent tho quite difficult enough for the springs are constantly running across the road; & emigration has worn it out. Just as we were ascending a side hill with a rivulet running 10 or 12 feet below, off went one of our waggons & away went the mules. With a little exertion we caught them & brought them back. But our waggon! O, it
itwas all in a heap. Every thing mixed together. Grease sugar (a little) flour; all was one mass. We picked up what we could & packed it on to one of the other waggons—harnessed up again—drew up the fragments of the waggon—straightened up the wheel (for another had crushed) & started on determined to get to the Mormon City with our waggons. After going thro the worst mud-hole I ever saw, we came to a pass where the mountains were so high that the sun did not shine in after 4 oclock. We camped on the banks of the Kenyon, 5 miles from the city.
24th After washing up & putting on clean clothes (quite an event,) we started for the city & arrived within ½ a mile when coming upon a small elevation, there lay the far famed city before us! Extending 6 miles in length & 2½ in breadth; divided into squares each containing 1¼ acres of ground which was cultivated. They were growing different kinds of grain. They were reaping rye & gathering in many vegetables which were ripe.39
I took myself down the first street & came to a house which was made of clay, baked in the sun. This makes a cool house in summer & a warm one in winter & resembles the blue granite. Here I got water in a glass tumbler, from the hands of a lady! (what an incident!)40 which was cool & refreshing. While I was looking round the City to see what was to be seen, the waggons broke down entirely.
Early in the morning I had heard cannon roaring & I now learned that this day was the anniversary of their coming into the valley & that they were to have great ceremonies in a tent during the day & at the same time <we>
Ireceived an invitation from elder Pratt41 to go with him, which we readily accepted. So after each one of us had fixed up in his best, we started & walked over a bout a mile & found a kind of shed supported by a great number of posts where were collected about 5000 people & on a platform were the elders, & Prophet Young. In front of the platform was a band of music. Along the middle of the assembly were 24 silver greys, (old pioneers;) next on one side were 24 young ladies, & opposite, 24 young men, each holding a long lamp or a pole representing a lamp. All these 48 were dressed entirely in white. The saints were all around dressed in their best.
The services in the morning consisted of speeches from prophets Brigham & Young & the Elders interspersed with music from the band & songs from the 48 young men & women. Both the prophets & elders speeches were rantings malignant & hostile to our government & administration & the people in the West.42 They hold Young to be the greatest man now on earth, & that he knows every thing that is to come. For instance one man has left his wife & children in the states & the prophet tells him he shall soon see them, so that he rests, perfectly contented. They are the most ignorant class of people I ever met with.
At 12 oclock the bell rang, & the prophet taking the lead—then others according to their rank, came in & formed a procession & marched around the tabernacle while the tables were preparing for the feast. The emigrants had a general invitation to partake, so, when all was ready, they marched in with the others & seated themselves to a well furnished table, having all the luxuries of the season besides pies puddings cakes & extra fixings. After dinner was over we again resumed our seats & listened to Yankee, Irish, & the like, stories which entertained us for the rest of the day.43 I left about 3 & went to the camp to write you a letter which I mail tomorrow. In the evening they had a dance; but I was prevented from going by fatigue; but altogether this has been one of the happiest days of my journey.
25th I woke this morning perfectly well—but McCloud & White are both quite unwell from the effects of yesterdays dinner; but I think it will prove nothing serious. We now begin to sell all that we can possibly spare, at a great sacrifice. I shall sell all my fine things & keep only what I need. My jewelry now sells well & I find the camp in milk, butter, peas, beans &c. I get some money. Nothing in particular happened to day.
26. To day like all the days at this season of the year is fine & we have spent it in selling our things as well as we could. I bought a gun—giving
ma pair of pants, a vest, & my old gun to boot.44
This valley is surrounded by a high range of mountains, some of whose tops are always covered with snow. The valley is 40 miles long & 25 wide, almost level. On the west, lays Salt Lake, 20 miles from the City. The water is so buoyant that in Autumn it will float a person. No fish can live in it. The people make a tour to it for salt & shovel it up by cartloads. In the centre of it (the lake or plain?) is a mountain on which the people herd their cattle all the year round, the winter being very mild. They seldom have any snow—but have a wet & a dry season. They have an aqueduct in the city from some of the mountain springs, which conducts the water all over the city, so in the dry season they can raise fine crops. Trees are rare—There are no fruit trees. There are a few cotton wood trees. All their wood they draw down from the mountains 10 or 15 miles, which makes fuel scarce. Two miles from the city is a warm sulpher spring which flows from a mountain into a basin about a rod square, which makes a beautiful bathing place. About 2 miles further on are the hot springs. These I will describe bye & bye. To sum it all up, this valley is the most beautiful, I think, in the United States. We are now living on butter, milk, & vegetables. Is’nt it high living? I think it is. We are lounging round camp making sales as often as we can. This evening, I had an invitation to sup in town; which I, of course, accepted. The gentleman came for me, & I fixed up & went with him to his house which was just large enough for one room. I was introduced to his wife & daughter. The latter, pretty & about 18 years old. Both were talkative. Some _ dozen little children completed the circle. After chatting a while we sat down to a good supper of Tea, warm bread, peas, & rhadishes. All was nice, & served up on a large chest, neatly covered with a white table cover. The tea disposed of, I spent the evening conversing with the young lady, the father having to go & hunt his cows. (What a pity!!)
At 9½ I started for the camp, & losing my way wandered about till eleven, when I came to a stack of rye & concluded to sleep there, when an emigrant happening to come along, I asked him where I was. He said he did not know, but he knew where a flag was flying. This I had noticed & made for, as he directed; but did not find it, & was just making up my mind again to lie down where I was, when I blundered on to our camp. I was a little tired, & finding some milk, I devoured it, & turned in for the night.
July 27. This morning our pack-saddles came in all rigged; & before night we were all ready for a start. I bought a pair of buckskin pants for which I paid not far from 15 dolls. (a modest price) but they were rec
commended so high that I took them.
28 Rumors came in the morning of the murder of two squaws by
the<some> emigrants, who took their horses & sold them at this city. The consequence of this cannot be told. It is certain that two of the emigrants must forfeit their lives for the penalty. The Indian character you all know & innocent blood must be shed.
I had the pleasure today of seeing Walker, or the ‘Hawk of the mountains,’ as he is called. He is the most powerful chief in the Rocky mountains.45 He is known by all the tribes from here to California. They all fear & revere him. He is not more than thirty years old, middle size, mild, but very striking countenance. Naturally good disposition. It is said that with but a handful of men, he will sweep the mountains. It is wonderful how the Indians ride their wild horses. With nothing but a larette in his mouth, they will dash off at full speed, fearing nothing. The Eutaws are a medium size & good features. They use generally bows & arrows.
28th [29th] We are still lying idle here, waiting for the Virginia company. Nothing of note has occurred today. We still live on buttermilk.—
Sunday 30. To day is observed but little among the Mormons. They were early around our tent this morning, to trade, but we taught them we did no trading on Sundays. The forenoon I spent in writing & sleeping; in the afternoon, I went to church. After sitting a long time, one of the elders got up & made a speech & of all speeches I ever heard it was the worst. He was an ignorant infidel, not knowing what he said; condemning the Bible & everything & everybody except themselves & all praise was not enough for these ignoramuses. The music was the same Mormon tunes I had heard so often. They played before & after services.
31st This afternoon, after some trouble, we got our mules, & began packing. I hired an old packer to assist me & for a wonder the mules stood still.
After waiting a long time for the Virginia Company, we started without them and got along very well, until after we passed the warm spring where we found a dozen emigrants bathing. We had passed it only a few rods when a girth broke & Doll commenced prancing; but I caught her in time to save a general fracas & had her to pack again.
She was hardly packed when another laid down & so had to be repacked. We came today to the hot Springs—hot enough to boil eggs. One of the mules got in here; but she was soon out, I assure you. ‘Mouse’ got her pack oneside, & we were obliged to
un<re>pack her. We came to an encampment about 3 oclock & concluded to wait here for the Virginia Company, who made their appearance about 5 oclock. Our camp is at the foot of a range of mountains, beside a beautiful spring & a log hut where I have just spoken for some butter & milk. The Indians have become very hostile. The chief refused to smoke with the Mormons & that is the sign of enmity. Many armed indians passed thru the city yesterday & I am afraid we shall have trouble. We shall number 15 well armed men & hope to be able to defend ourselves.
Aug 1st After a tedious tramp we came to Brown’s Ft. a Mormon fort of small note. The road was sandy & difficult to travel & the day hot & sultry.
At noon we camped by a beautiful spring in which I found two parts of a skull. This afternoon we passed several mountain rivulets clear & beautiful; and beside one of these we camped for the night. Giving up our waggons at Mormon city, we were obliged also to give up also our plates & forks as well as all other extras & do as well as we can without.
Aug 2. This morning, the mosquitoes helped us to get up at 4 oclock & by six we were off & marching thro beautiful scenery & a fertile country, well watered by beautiful streams
It is now quite difficult to find feed because a company before us burned all the grass in their reach. At noon we came to a valley, in which I found six springs. Two were hot salt springs, two were copper, & two deliciously cold.
We had good water, but no wood, where we stopped & nooned. So for our comfort, we had to eat ship-bread & drink cold water, but as I was hungry it went well. A vision appeared to me as I
eatate my supper tonight of a nice white table-cloth, white cups & plates, new baker’s bread, some of Friday White’s butter, with a piece of ice upon it, some currants with white sugar, &, to wind off, a nice cup of green tea from C——e’s hand. You see my wishes are few, but too many to be gratified.—
We came today to Bear River, a rapid stream about 60 feet wide. Here the Mormons have a ferry; although it can be forded a little way above. We camped on a bluff hard by.
Edward Jackson arrived in Sacramento on September 15, 1849. William Z. Walker arrived nearly two months later, on November 12, having stopped to prospect at other places on the way. Under date of September 13 at Bear River (California), he recorded, “After working all day . . . we had made just $4. to be divided among four of us. . . . finally, the ridiculous expression that each could see on his neighbor’s face struck us at the same time and we all burst into a hearty laugh.”
A terse, photocopied newspaper obituary is affixed to the page containing Walker’s last journal entry. It reads: “WALKER.—Killed in the battle of Newbern, N.C., March 14, 1862, Lieutenant William Z. Walker, of the Ninth Regiment New Jersey Volunteers, formerly of Haverhill, Mass. [San Francisco and Sacramento, California, papers please copy.]”46
Edward Jackson’s sister wrote on the last page of his recopied diary:
After [blank] years residence in the mines, he returned to Newton [Massachusetts]; & found his family in good health. Under the paternal roof were gathered all his brothers & sisters with their husbands & wives; to receive the wanderer; in all, 17; his parents, & plenty of nieces & nephews, beside.
He relinquished all idea of returning, & went into business in Thompson Ct.