Journal of President Heber C. Kimballs division of Latter Day Saints Emigrants, journeying from Winter Quarters, Omaha Nation, to the valley of the Great Salt Lake during the summer of 1848
This division commenced leaving Winter Quarters about the middle of May and moved out about six miles, where they encamped untill a sufficient number arrived to proceed to the Elk Horn in safety, which required several days. Soon as a company was formed they proceeded to the Elk Horn and made preparations for crossing. During this time other companies also moved out and proceeded to the Horn as above.
On the 29th May Prest. Kimball accompanied by his family; Bishop N[ewel]. K[imball]. Whitney & family and some others, left Winter Quarters & encamped at the usual place about six miles out. On the following day several other wagons arrived, and on Wednesday the 31st the company proceeded on about 9 miles and again encamped for the night.
On Thursday June 1st the company proceeded onward and arrived on the banks of the Elk Horn at 3 o clock P.M. where an encampment was again formed. On arriving at this place we found nearly all the wagons which had previously arrived had safely crossed the River and were then encamped on the West side, except one company under Es Snow, who have this day proceeded to the Platte River. There were at this time over three hundred wagons on the west banks of the River all waiting and the saints anxious to proceed on their long journey.
Friday the 2nd June Prest. Kimballs commenced crossing and at 2 o clock all were safely landed on the west bank. On our arrival at the Horn Es Egan was dispatch back to Winter Quarters to urge Sister Mary [Fielding] Smith (widow of the late Patriarch Hyrum Smith) to come on as speedily as possible, and also to attend to some other items of business.
On Sunday the 4th most of the saints assembled for prayer meeting near Prest. Kimballs wagon, and were addressed by Bishop N. K. Whitney and Prest. Kimball on various subjects of interest, touching the journey before us, and the necessity of walking humbly and righteous before God, that we may realize the blessings we need during our journey &c.
On Monday the 5th it was purposed to move on, but a heavy thunder storm arose, which rendered it necessary to postpone our removal till tomorrow.
Tuesday 6th about 8 o clock an alarm was brought to camp, by one of the herdsboys, that Indians were driving off some of the cattle, from the herd about two miles below. A number of the brethren immediately started in pursuit, some on foot and some on horses. Howard Egan and Wm. H[enry]. Kimball went in company, and were afterwards joined by [Thomas Edwin] Ricks & [Noah Willis] Bartholomew all having horses. They proceeded at a rapid pace about six miles down the river and as they went heard a number of shots fired which created much anxiety for the safety of those on foot. When about six miles from camp, they came suddenly upon a party of about ten armed Indians who appeared very hostile, but the brethren did not anticipate any danger, their object being to hunt for the cattle and if they found any to drive them back. However, immediately on the arrival of the brethren amongst the Indians the latter fired several shots, one of which took affect on Ricks, who fell from his horse to the ground apparently dead. At the same instant Howard Egan observed an Indian standing about 20 or 25 feet from them, and taking a dead aim with his rifle at Wm. Kimball, quick as thought he levelled his pistol and fired at the Indian to save W's life. The rifle fell from the Indians hands, but in falling it exploded the ball passing through the fleshy part of Wms. horses hip. The Indian then ran off, but during this scene another Indian had fired upon Egan, the ball passing through his right arm above the wrist, mangling it severely, which caused his pistol (a six shooter) to drop to the ground. Another ball passed through his horses neck which caused him to wheel round making it difficult for Egan to keep the saddle. The brethren then saw it was best to retreat on account of lack of numbers and arms, and seeing that the Indians were determined to fight. All this scenery was but the work of a moment, during which time shots were heard in several other directions. The brethren then drew off towards camp, some distance, leaving Ricks on the ground, and on looking back, they observed one of the Indians proceed towards where Ricks lay & they feared it was to scalp him. However he only picked up the pistol and then followed the others down the river. Es [E]gan soon grew faint with loss of blood and had to be held on his horse by Wm. Kimball, who also bound up his arm with his handkerchief to staunch the blood. They then proceeded onwards towards the camp untill they arrived at the place where they crossed the river (being now on the East side) and here they found several other brethren and informed them of Ricks's situation, requesting them to fetch him to camp, which they agreed to do, and started accordingly by Es Egan and Wm. Kimball then proceeded slowly towards camp taking a circuit towards the bluffs, to avoid the timber, untill they saw some wagons going towards the camp, which proved to be a company with Martin H[orton]. Peck. On arriving at the wagons Es Egan was put in one of them being very faint with loss of blood, and they soon after arrived at the Ford of the Elk Horn. Here Dr. [John Milton] Bernhisel was sent for, and he dressed the wound, and ascertained that no bones were broke. The facts above being made known in camp brother Joel Ricks and T[homas]. [Levi] Whittle with one or two others, took a light wagon, and started to fetch up brother Ricks’ son, proceeding down the East side the river. On arriving near the place where they expected to find the wounded, they were surprised and taken prisoners by a party of 20 or 30 Indians, who took them some distance down the river. The brethren had a trunk or trunks in the wagon which the Indians ransacked, taking a number of articles, and a good coat, worth fifteen dollars. After doing this, and making many signs and gestures of a hostile character, they let the brethren go without farther harm, and they immediately returned towards camp, learning by the way, that the wounded man, had already been taken to camp by the route on the other side the river. Those brethren who started at the request of Es Egan and Wm. Kimball, together with others who joined them went back to this place, where the affray took place, and found brother Ricks still laying in the same place and alive. They took him up and proceeded with him towards camp, and were met by a carriage, in which he was placed and about two o clock arrived with him at his fathers wagon. Dr Bernhisel examined him and found that he was wounded by 3 large buckshot having penetrated the small part of his back. The Dr dressed his wound but it was generally believed that he could not long survive. However Prest. Kimball and one or two others laid their hands on him and prayed for his recovery. The Lord heard their prayers and he revived immediately. There were still one or two brethren missing who went out on foot, and much anxiety was felt on their account, but towards evening they arrived safe. The Indians succeeded in killing and carrying off an ox belonging to Br John Pack, but on starting away from the Elk Horn, a stray ox came to his wagon for which no owner could be found, so that the loss was in a measure made up. About 3 o clock the camp commenced moving off from the River, as it was considered wisdom to leave the timber as soon as possible, and all the wagons being over which had then arrived, so that we should not be in so much danger from the attacks of Indians, who, it is pretty certainly ascertained are of the Omaha and Ottoc [Otoe] tribes, and from every circumstance are doubtless in the neighborhood for the purpose of plundering us of cattle &c. Brother C[ornelius]. P[eter]. Lott, Joseph Fielding, sister Mary Smith and families had been expected at the "Horn" soon after dinner and as it was known that they were not far distant some anxiety was felt for their safety, after the camp had moved about 2 miles, and the encampment had been formed, Prest. Kimball sent back 10 footmen, well armed to meet brother Lott and company, and about 5 o clock they arrived all safe with the exception of having broke an axle tree and being very short of team. The wagons were soon ferried across, the chains attached to the raft taken up, the raft made fast, and the last wagons composing this company on their way to camp, and before dark we had the satisfaction of seeing <about> 210 wagons formed in one Carrol [corral] preparatory to our proceeding on our long journey West. Those who were wounded felt as well as could be expected after the short journey.
Wednesday June 7th About 9 o clock A.M. the camp was again in motion. The day was cool and pleasant, but the roads soft in places, caused by the late storms. On arriving at the Liberty Pole on the Main Platte river, we found Es Isaac Higbee's company encamped, they being a part of this division and numbering about 60 wagons. We halted to water our teams and brother Higbee’s company prepared to proceed with us. We then travelled on 5 1/4 miles further and formed our encampment on the banks of the "Platte," having travelled 15 1/4 miles.
Thursday June 8th we travelled only 8 miles and formed our encampment early on the banks of the river. After sundown the brethren of the first Fifty in this division were called together in front of Prest. Kimballs wagons, and Prest. Kimball addressed the company. He referred to the necessity their is for a reformation in our camp, in regard to our conduct, and then exhorted the brethren to commence it by reforming ourselves in the first place and then reforming our families. He knows their are but few who attend to family prayers, but he would exhort them to begin and have prayers with their families at least twice a day,—to pray for our cattle, for our wagons, for our stock, for the camp, and the presidency; and if we will do this, the Lord will remember us and we shall go safe and have the blessings of the Lord with us day by day; but if we do not we shall have trouble by the way. He wants the brethren also to refrain from swearing and using profane language, for he knows that it is practised in the camp, and he wants it put a stop to, for it shall not be suffered in the camp. He wants the men to keep their women and children in subjection and not suffer them to use profane language, nor to suffer their women to ramble away from camp, nor go a visiting from wagon to wagon, but to stay at home and keep themselves clean and their children and wagons clean. He wants the brethren not to abuse their cattle, nor get angry with them, nor with each other; but cease murmuring and control our angry feelings towards man and beast and we shall get along much better. If men will not cease to abuse their cattle they shall suffer the penalty, for it shall not be allowed in this camp. He would also advise the brethren not to sit up late at night, but got to rest early and see that their families also observe good hours.
After a variety of remarks and observations on these and other subjects connected with them, he asked the company "Shall we begin from this night to have a reformation-to cease from swearing, profane language, murmuring, angry feelings to our cattle and each other, and begin to attend to family prayers &c." It was decided by unanimous vote that we will do so. It was also voted, that from henceforth that all Dogs, Hogs, Bulls, and Cows shall be tied up at nights; and that the Guard who watch the camp, and those who herd cattle shall go armed with loaded guns, but not to bring them in camp with caps on the tubes, but put leather on the tubes and in the pans to keep them dry &c. Every man to stand guard in his turn, commencing at the 1st ten and going round to the last Ten, till all have stood their turn, then begin at the 1st Ten again &c. The last watch to wake up a guard to take out the cattle before sunrise, said guard being previously selected by each Capt. of Ten. No firing of guns in camp to be allowed, nor near it, unless by permission from the captain. There has been some accident already by firing guns and he wishes it to be avoided.
The camp was then organised as follows
Henry Herriman, Captain of the Hundred or DivisionTitus Billings[,] Capt. of 1st Fifty
William Burgess[,] Capt. of 1st Ten
Joseph G[rafton]. Hovey[,] Capt. of 2nd Ten
Newel K[imball]. Whitney[,] Capt. of 3rd Ten
John [Jehu] Cox[,] Capt. of 4th Ten
Albert P. [Bailey] Griffin[,] Capt. of 5th Ten
Joel Ricks[,] Capt. of 6th Ten
Norton Jacobs[,] Capn. of Guard
Wm. Clayton[,] Clerk
John Pack[,] Capn. of 2nd Fifty
The following is the report of the several Captains of Tens setting forth the names and numbers of persons, wagons, horses, mules, Oxen, Cows, Sheep &c. &c. &c. in each company of Ten in this division. . . .
Friday June 9th. This morning the camp again proceeded onward about 9 o clock and travelled about 12 1/4 miles. Found no difficulty in crossing Shell Creek. The day was warm and pleasant. We formed our encampment between the road and Shell Creek about 2 miles above the crossing place.
Saturday June 10th The day was very hot and the roads dusty. We travelled 10 1/4 miles and formed our encampment early, on the banks of the Platte to give the females a chance to do their washing &c., which was attended to with alacrity, the camp generally feeling well.
Sunday June 11th This A.M. at 11 o clock a meeting was held beween the 2 Carrol’s, and the company were addressed severally by Bros Herriman, Billings and others, and afterwards by Prest. Kimball on the subject of observing good order in travelling, cleanliness &c. He also reprimanded several, especially females, for bathing in the river at a late hour last evening some of whom are sick in consequence.
At 4 o clock the saints again assembled and were addressed by Prest. Kimball on various subjects, after which Es Gibson was appointed the Marshal of the Camp, and he was also appointed to receive all property found on the road, that the owners may know where to apply to for it.
Monday June 12th We travelled 19 1/4 miles, the day very warm and dusty. We formed our encampment on the "Loup Fork" of the Platte near a large lake, but it was late in the evening before all the wagons arrived.
Tuesday June 13th We travelled only 9 3/4 miles and formed encampment on the West bank of Be[a]ver River, it requiring considerable time to get all the wagons across the stream. This evening all the companies consisting of about 220 wagons formed in our Carol for the first time.
Wednesday June 14th we travelled 12½ miles and crossed and camped on the West banks of Cedar Creek. While crossing Ash Creek, brother [Peter Wilson] Conover broke one of his axle trees, but some of the brethren having a spare one, he was soon able to proceed on his journey. Also when we arrived on and were crossing Cedar Creek one of the wagons was upset on the east bank, and another on the West bank, but no damage done except breaking some bows and tearing the covers.
About dusk Daniel H. Wells and Daniel Wood arrived from Prest. Young's camp, having been dispatched with a letter to Prest. Kimball & company of which the following is a copy to wit:--