Ash Hollow, its original beauty ruined by thousands of passing emigrants, was noted by countless diarists. Many commented that Sioux Indians were often at the site, and in September 1855, General William S. Harney and a command of 600 soldiers attacked an encampment of approximately 250 Sioux. Harney’s soldiers killed 86 men, women, and children; took 70 captives; and looted and burned the encampment’s tepees. Ash Hollow was also a significant cholera graveyard during the gold rush years.
August 5, 1845
“The first division left according to my coun[sel] though with great reluctance. I spent the day at Ash Hollow mending waggons. We had good Cold spring water in this Hollow which was a great Benefit to the camp As most of the water we had to drink on the way was either slew [slough] or Platt[e] water And seemed to be unhealthy.”
Wilford Woodruff’s Journal: 1833–1898, Typescript, ed. Scott G. Kenney, 9 vols. (Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983–95), 3:566.
Age 36, Willie handcart company division captain
“Sept. 18, 1856, Ash Hollow. At dinner Sister Reade . . . was missing. . . . She is bound to stay out overnight. Sept. 19, Today we remained in camp to repair our carts. . . . A company of brethren went in search of Sister Reade. . . . They returned and reported they had followed her footsteps seven or eight miles, mingled with Indian footsteps and suppose that the Indians have gotten her. President Willie was not fully satisfied and determined to go himself. He chose me and ten others. We found her steps as reported, but I was satisfied that she had not been disturbed by Indians. She had taken the road up Ash Hollow. . . . Dark came and we returned to camp. When we arrived we found she had just been brought in by some of the brethren who had gone to the canyon for timber. She was nearly exhausted, having been thirty-six hours without food and water.”
William I. Appleby
August 24, 1849
“Ten and a half miles traveled to-day; roads quite good; pasture but middling; weather continues hot. Encamped opposite to Ash Hollow on the banks of the north fork of the Platte. I was busy preparing dispatches for the city in the valley of the Great Salt Lake to send by Brother Campbell. Near by where we encamped were the bones of Indians, sculls, buffalo robes, etc., supposed to have died of cholera last spring and the flesh eaten off by the wolves.”
William I. Appleby journal, Aug. 24, 1849, in the Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Oct. 27, 1849, 10–11, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.