Porter, Sarah Angeline, Reminiscence, 1-4.
In the Summer following there was another company coming to Salt Lake Valley, and Father fixed an old wagon with one yoke of oxen and a scant supply of provisions and bedding and what clothes we had and started Lydia with the children. My brother, Alma, was 14 years old and was to drive the team. Malinda was 12, I, Sarah, was seven, Nancy, five, and Warren [Warriner] four months old. We were put into the hands of the Captain, Andrew Cunningham, and sent to Salt Lake Valley.
Father started us with a good fresh cow, but we could not bring the calf. We kept her tied up as long as we could get food for her; but when we came to where the feed was very poor, we had to turn her in the herd at night and she got out of the herd and went back to her calf and we had to do without milk except what the neighbors gave us.
We soon came into the country of the Indians and buffalo. The buffalo would come in big droves right close to the wagons, and we were afraid they would stampede the teams with their pawing and bellowing. The men got their guns and killed one now and then and the meat tasted very good to the wandering pilgrims.
Then the Indians came and they were more trouble than anything. They wanted to trade for nearly everything they saw, and one old fellow wanted to buy Nancy and they followed us several days trying to get Mother to sell her. He offered her twenty-five head of horses and a pile of buffalo robes as high as his head while he was on his horse, and crowded up to the back of the wagon and put his hand through the hole where the cover was gathered down to throw beads and other trinkets to her. She was so afraid of him she would cry when came near. One day we heard the Captain say to Mother, “Sister Porter, you will have to keep good watch of that child, or the old fellow will take her in spite of us. He is so determined,” And that frightened Nancy so she did not eat nor sleep when he was near.
Then they left for a few days and we thought they would not bother us anymore, but one hot day here they came with their families. We had come to a nice stream of water with green trees but the Indians headed us off. There were so many of them, they occupied all the shade and we had to remain in the hot sun, but we found some green feed for the poor teams.
After we had eaten dinner, one of the squaws came up to Mother and said, “Let me see your baby.” Step-mother, Lydia said, “You can see him.” Then the squaw said, “Let me take it,” and Mother let her take it. She had no sooner got hold of him than she whirled around and ran as fast as she could go to the crowd of Indians and they all hollered and laughed and made such a noise. There was a big noise in our camp, too. I, Sarah, was screaming as loud as my lungs would let me. Step-mother Lydia was crying; Alma was scolding Mother for letting the squaw take the baby and some of the women were sympathizing; others were chiding her for her carelessness and in all the turmoil the Captain got up on his wagon tongue and called order.
In a minute everything was still. Then he took off his hat and spoke in a loud voice and said, “Let the Sioux listen to the white Man! Bring that baby back or there will be war right here. The white man will fight for their children.” Then he said in an under-tone, “Every man to your gun!” and in a minute every man had his gun and was in line.
Then the Captain repeated “Bring that baby back!” And in a short time here came the squaw with baby and running as fast as she did when she took it and hollering. “Here, take it!” The baby was laughing; his white hair flying in the wind. I can see him in my mind just as he was then. He was five months old and was always laughing.
You may be sure we were a thankful family to get the baby and get started on the road again.
The people thought that was a scheme the old Indian had worked up to try again to get Nancy—to take the baby and Mother would give Nancy to get her own, but were not counting on a fight.
But since I came to years of maturity I have concluded it was a quick answer to prayers for a silent prayer went up from that company that everything would come right without serious trouble and it did. There were three times as many Indians as white people in our company. We were not troubled with them any more after that incident.
Our next trouble was crossing rivers and deep sand and going up as well as down steep mountains. There were places where it would take all the men to help with one wagon at a time and a little band on foot men followed along. But we worked and worried along day after day until we got where we could see the big Salt Lake.
There the company all took a part in the program. Some cried, some laughed, and some yelled, and yet some did all three stunts at once and all for joy. I took part when my sister, Malinda, told me we would soon be to Grandma’s. Just one more day in the wagon, then to Grandpa’s house, Nov. 1848.