One day I was sitting beside the house, thinking of my hapless condition and of my departed wife, and such a wife. Never would I find another such a mother for my poor children [ten in number]. Brother Brigham [Young] and Heber [Chase Kimball] rode up to see me. After shaking hands and inquiring after the welfare of my children, they told me they had a widow lady for me to take to the Valley with me, to take care of my children. I did not like the idea but they insisted as they knew I needed someone to take care of the children. At last I consented to take her across the plains. Her name was Percilla Pearson. She afterwards married Samuel Thompson and settled in Spanish Fork. She was very good to my children and they all thought a great deal of Zilla as we called her. Zilla and Jane McCarl made my children clothes to cross the plains in.
I started with three yoke of oxen and one yoke of cows. We came out six miles south of Winter Quarters and organized two companies under Brigham and Heber. They organized them into tens and fifties. Brigham started one day and Heber on the following day. I was in Heber's Company. The second day we came to the Elk Horn river. It being high, we had to build a raft to ferry our wagons across the river. While we were getting them over, the Indians came and stole our cattle. Heber's boys and mine were herding them. We had to swim the wagons. Heber came and asked me to get some men and go after of the men went down within a half mile of three hundred lodges. Thomas Ricks was the cattle. I raised some men and went right after them and had a fight with them. Four shot, and fell from his horse. I took ten men and went after Tom. We put him on a buffalo robe and started for camp.
There were about three hundred warriors up on a bluff and they started after us yelling like demons. We stopped and laid Tom down. After Ricks was shot, a man ran and told his father that Tom was shot, but did not tell him that a man had been sent after him. He took a light spring wagon and a man by the name of [Thomas L.] Whittel [Whittle], also a boy by the name of George Boyd. They drove down to where Ricks was shot. The Indians took them prisoners, held a council of war over them and decided that they be shot, as there had been ten or fifteen Indians killed. They appointed the Indians to shoot them but when they tried to raise their guns, they could not. They told their Chief that they could not raise them. The Chief then told the men to get in the wagon and go home. They left Tom's trunk and a valuable two year old colt with the Indians.
After laying Tom down, I yelled at the Chief that we did not want to fight but had come after one of our men that the Indians had shot, and we had him and was going to take him home and if they did not stop and let us alone we would kill some of their men. If they would let us alone we would not hurt them. They stopped and seemed to hold a council. While they were parleying we took Tom and started off with all speed. We went about a mile when they came on again at full speed but we had got close to the timber, each man hiding behind a tree. When they saw us they stopped and we talked with them again. We told them that if they did not let us alone we would surely hurt them and they believed it for they turned and went back. I then sent two men to hunt a ford, then we took Tom and carried him to the river. We held him up at arm's length over our heads so that he would not get wet. I held the end of the buffalow robe in one hand, my gun in the other, and my ammunition on my head. The water was up to my chin. [Howard] Egan was shot in the wrist at that time.
After reaching camp and dressing Tom's wounds, we broke camp and started on. Traveled eight miles in two hours and camped when sun was about an hour high. I placed fifty men on guard for the night. We had two alarms during the night and two shots were fired at skulking savages. It caused quite an excitement, but they fled after we fired.
[Also in Chronicles of Courage, 8 vols. (1990-97), 1:207-9]