Nils Nilsson And Boel Jonsson Nilsson
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HISTORY OF NILS NILSSON AND BOEL JONSSON NILSSON
(Original spelling retained)
Blessing given to Nils,
NEILS NEILSON, son of Neils Neilson and EIsa Larson, born in Simmersams, Malmo County, Sweden, on the l3th Dec. 1811, blessed in Smithfield, Cache County, on Thursday, the 29th of June 1865. (Recorded Book E Page 284)
NEILS, In the name of Jesus I place my hands on your head to seal upon thee a father's blessing. Thou shalt do much good in this kingdom, with great wisdom and knowledge before the Lord, your God, in council and wisdom, in teaching, thine own native people the way of life and salvation. For the Father had his eye upon thee before the world was and thy wisdom shall reach behind the veil; therefore let your heart be comforted, for thy tongue shall be let loose in due time and thou shalt prophecy of many things. Thou art of Jacob and a lawful heir to the fullness of the priesthood and with wives in the great kingdom upon the earth. You shall have houses, lands, flocks, and herds, and partake of all the glories of Zion and riches till you're satisfied. And redeem your ancestors and all your father's household, be crowned with glory and eternal life with God, the Father, for ever and ever, Amen.
BOTHILDA JOHNSON wife of Nils Nilson born in Fultofta, Sweden the 15 May 1812 blessed in Smithfield the 29 June 1865 by Patriarch C. W. Hyde.(Recorded Book E Page 284)
BOTHILDA (Boel) Thou beloved of the Father I lay my hands upon your head and seal upon thee a Patriarchal blessing. Thou shall accomplish much good by thy councils and teachings. Thou shalt receive great wisdom of the Lord thy God. Thou art of Ephraim and have the right to the blessings of the Priesthood in connection with thy Husband in that great and righteous kingdom on earth. Therefore let thy heart be glad and rejoice for your last days shall be the best. Thou shalt be a Mother in Israel, and no good thing shall be withheld from thee. Thou shalt take part in all the glories and riches of Zion; until thy heart is satisfied. Thou shalt sit down with Adam thy Father and talk with many of the Holy Prophets who have lived on the earth since the beginning of time. Thy table shalt be laden with all the bounties of the earth. Thou shalt be instrumental in bringing salvation to thy Fathers' house until thou art content. These blessings I seal upon thy head with crowns of eternal glory and eternal life to God and the Lamb forever more. Amen.
A blessing by Patriarch Morley on the head of Neils Neilson, son of Neils and Elsie Neilsonborn Sweden 30 Dec., 1811
Given October l9th, 1861, Smithfield, Cache Co. U.S.
Bro. Neils in the name of Jesus of Nazareth I lay my hands upon your head & I seal the blessing of a Father & Patriarch upon you. I ratify this seal as a fathers blessing. I bless you with the blessing of Abram, Isaac & Jacob that you may be honored at the head of your family like Abram & be a father of a great people. I ask my heavenly Father to heal you. To strengthen you in body & mind. I seal upon you the Gift & blessing that you may yet aid in redeeming your father’s household, your progenitors who have past behind the veil. I bless you in your priesthood that thy faith may increase even till you know for yourself that your Redeemer lives. I bless you in your intellect faculties of mind that you may be quick to comprehend the keys of the priesthood. I bless you that your name & priesthood may continue with your posterity. That you may enjoy all the blessings of posterity and everlasting inheritances. The Lord is thy Friend, has caused thy name to be written in the book of life. Light & truth will increase in thy bosom, will illuminate thy mind. The fruit of the earth will crown thy labors & thou wilt live till thy heart is satisfied with life. I ratify this seal as a father's blessing. Thou art of Ephraim. Thou art beloved of the Lord by virtue of the holy anointing. I seal thee up that you may come forth in the morning on the resurrection. There thou wilt be a father & Patriarch at the head of thy family. I seal thee up to enjoy blessings of thrones & dominions & endless increase, I ratify this seal. In the name of Jesus, Amen. H.C. Robinson, Scribe
A blessing of Patriarch Morley on the head of Bool Neilsen daughter of John & Ellen Teekesen born 5 May 1812 Sweden (Recorded Book X Page 206)
Sister Bool in the name of the Lord Jesus I lay my hands upon your head and I seal the blessing of your father upon you. I ratify this seal for the comfort that you may enjoy all the blessings that have been extended to the daughters of Abram. Thou art numbered with them by covenant & promise. Thy name is written with theirs in the lambs book of life. I seal upon thy heart & memory the attributes of faith love & fidelity of heart that you may be blest of the Lord that you may have wisdom & power to overcome every evil that you may enjoy life with the increase of light & knowledge till thy heart is satisfied before thy Creator. I ratify this seal for thy comfort & for the edifying of thy mind & I bless you as one of the mothers in Israel. Thy name & memory will be extended throughout all thy Generations in time. Thou shalt enjoy the blessing through the holy anointing in redeeming thy fathers household. The blessing of the earth will crown thy labors & table. Thou wilt live till thy heart is satisfied with life. I ratify this seal by virtue of the Priesthood. That you may live long to do good, be a blessing to thy companion & children. Thou art of Ephraim. Thy name & memory will be extended in honor by virtue of the holy priesthood. I seal thee up that you may come forth in the morning of the first resurrection1 be reunited with thy companion & posterity & enjoy immortality & eternal lives in the mansions of thy Father. I ratify this seal in the name of Jesus. Amen.
LIFE SKETCH of NILS and BOEL JONSSON NILSSON
NILS NILSSON (Nilson), was born 30 December 1811 at Kvesarum, (Qvesarum) Sodra Rorum, Malmohus, Sweden, a son of Nils Nilsson born in 1772, of Sodra Rorum, Sweden. His mother, EIsa Lassesson was born 21 January 1776 in Benarp, Malmohus, Sweden. His father died 27 February 1836 and his mother the 26 March 1820.
BOEL JONSSON NILSSON (Nilson) was born 15 May 1812, Fulltofta, Malmohus, Sweden. Her father, Jon Tykesson, was born 1 January 1775 in Fulltofta, Malmohus, Sweden and died 31 August 1813. Her mother Elna Olasson was born 20 September 1773 at Ekastorp, Malmohus, Sweden, and died 5 June 1847.
The distance between the Kvesarum area and Fulltofta is about six or seven miles.
Nothing is known of the younger life of Nils and Boel. Nils was just past twenty-five years of age when married and Boel just twenty-five. They seemed to have lived the next almost twenty years in the farming area of Kvesarum. All of their children were born in the county or parish area of Sodra Rorum.
They apparently were very poor, making a livelihood at various jobs including tending sheep and farming. It is understood that Nils owned a small plot of farmland. Most of the farms in that area were10 to 12, maybe 20 acres in size. His farm included some timber.
A grandson, Samuel P. Nilson, who served two missions in Sweden, said that the land in the south (Sodra Rorum) was quite fertile. It was more free of rocks, but only because they had grubbed away at them harder. The farming area is tied together with timber and lakes. The rocks removed from the ground are used to build the numerous rock fences. It is a rather rainy, damp country and did take a long time to dry the hay, oats and other grains and feeds. Frequently the grain was shocked and reshocked and finally scattered in the barn to dry and to be threshed at a later and more convenient time. The Swedes have the fine reputation of being industrious and hard working.
The first LDS missionary to go into Sweden was a native Swede returning to his homeland to preach the gospel. This was in l850. The first Mormon emigrants left Sweden in 1852 and the first branch in Sweden was organized in Skane in 1853 with 106 members. The first stake to be organized there was 20 April 1975, the 691st in the church with 4 wards, 4 branches - 2,247 members.
The predominant church in Sweden in 1853 was the State Lutheran church. There was no religious freedom in this country at that time. The first Mormon elders to come to the town of Nils and Boel came in the summer of 1853. A few people had met together in a home and their oldest daughter, Else, who was 15 happened to be there and heard them preach. After that the missionaries came frequently to the Nils Nilsson home. The family accepted the message of the gospel and Else was baptized 19 April 1854; Peter, age 14, was baptized the 14 May 1854; and the parents, Nils and Boel, were baptized 23 June in 1854. All were baptized by Peter Toolson.
One child, Nils, had died previously at age 6. Daughter Elna and son Ola were not yet eight years old - the age for baptism. Bangta was born the following August.
Free churches were banned in Sweden at that time and the authorities hunted for the Mormon elders. The Nils Nilsson family frequent1y hid the missionaries during the day and in the darkness of night, Peter, took them to the woods or to another place . Peter told of the beating inflicted upon a man because he refused to let the priest baptize his baby into the state church.
Denmark had religious freedom at that time and some of the young people from Sweden went to Copenhagen to work. Else, now 16 and Peter nearing fourteen, traveled that four or five miles across the channel with some other young Mormons to work in Nyhams factory where they wove all kinds of cloth.
Nils and Boel sold their little home, and leaving their little child in the cemetery, and followed these children soon afterward. Nils worked as a mason tender according to the record written by a grandson, Oliver Nilson.
During the l9th Century gathering to Zion” was the first step after conversion to the LDS church. The gathering had two major purposes. Zion needed to be built up with a strong population to occupy the territory and make it economically self-sufficient. Also, these converted pure in heart needed a place of refuge from persecution.
In the fall of 1855 the General Authorities in England and Denmark were making arrangements for converts to emigrate to Utah. Apostle Franklin D. Richards was the contracting agent for the church.
From 'The Contributor' we read: Ninety-First Co. -John J. Boyd, (boat) 512 souls.
On the 29th of November 1855, 437 Scandinavian Saints sailed from Copenhagen, Denmark, on board the steamship Laven, under the direction of Elder Knud (Canute) Peterson, who returned from his mission to Norway. After a pleasant voyage Kiel (Germany) was reached, and the emigrants continued to journey by rail to Gluckstadt, (Germany) thence by steamer to Grimsby, England and thence by rail to Liverpool, where the Scandinavian emigrants were joined by 42 British and 30 Italian Saints, and went on board the ship, John J. Boyd. 3 From Sweden, 47 adults, 8 children, 3 infants, total - 58.
The cost for (British pound). was at that time. the adults was 5, children 4, infants 1. We do not know what the rate of exchange Between 1930 and 1960 it fluctuated from $4.86 down to $2.80. Whatever the value of the 'pound' at it would have been a tremendous expense and sacrifice for family. Some records indicate it was necessary to have a sizable deposit in advance to insure passage to the United States.
The shipping records of 12 Dec 1855 further states: Niels Nilson, age 43, Boel 43, Else 17, Peter 14, Elna 9, Ola 6, Bangta infant. The profession of Nils was listed as a farmer, they having come from the country of Sweden; with description of emigrant as ‘ordinary' meaning that they paid their own passage and their ticket was No. 57.
Elder Knute Peterson was President of the Company with Jorgen W. I. Jensen and Charles R. Savage as Counselors. The latter three would be missionaries returning home. There were aboard 395 adults (8 years and upwards), 94 children under eight years and 20 infants (under one year) plus the three elders. Peter reported this to be a 3 mast sailing vessel.
Charles R. Savage one of the returning missionaries, gives the following report of the
voyage. We left Liverpool on Wednesday, December 12, at 7:a.m. and had a fine run down the channel, sighted Cape Clear on the Friday following and with mild weather with a fair wind for 3 days after. During this time we had leisure to devise plans for the maintenance of order and cleanliness during the voyage. Not withstanding that our company consisted of Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Irelanders, Italians, English, Irish and Scots, the rules adopted proved efficacious in maintaining a strict ‘entente cordiale' among us all. The Saints were, by the sound of the trumpet, called to prayer morning and evening. Meetings were also frequently held in the Danish, English and Italian languages during the voyage. On the whole we enjoyed ourselves first-rate, not withstanding the gales and hurricanes we experienced, from the breaking up of the fine weather in longitude 15 degrees, to our anchoring off Sandy Hook.
About midway on our passage we fell in with the clipper ship Louis Napoleon, from Baltimore to Liverpool, laden with flour, with all her masts and spars carried away, and leeward bulwarks stove in; upon nearing the ship we found her in a sinking condition. The Captain and crew desired to be taken off, which was done. This acquisition was of great advantage to us, as the bad weather, sickness, and exhaustion from overwork had made quite a gap in our compliment of sailors. We had much sickness on board, from the break out of the measles, which caused many deaths among the Danish, chiefly among the children. In the English and Italian companies two lost three children. Nils and Boel’s baby daughter, Bangta, just six months old, died three days before they landed and was buried at sea. Fifty-four died during this crossing.
The weather got worse after crossing the Banks, so much so, that we were driven into the Gulf stream three times, and many of our sailors were frost-bitten. Cur Captain got superstitious on account of the long passage, and ordered that there should be no singing on board. the mate said that all ships that had preachers on board were always sure of a bad passage; however, the Lord heard our prayers, and in His own due time we arrived at our destination. On the evening of the 15 of February we were safely at anchor having been 63 days our from Liverpool. Our supply of water was almost exhausted, had on our arrival only about one day"s water on board. The provisions were very good, and proved abundant to the last.
Very likely the emigrants on ship board were organized into wards. This usually was the procedure. Peter records that they landed on 26 February and Mr. Savage, the 16th of February. This difference might indicate a discrepancy in the death date of Bangta. The difference isn't serious. We do know it was a long, tedious and perhaps a perilous journey because upon taking the “pilot” for the purpose of docking they were informed that there had been many ships wrecked during the months of January and February.
“On the 16th of February 1856, the emigrants landed in New York, and after tarrying a few days at Castle Garden, the journey was continued on the 21 or 22 by rail via Dunkirk and Cleveland to Chicago, where the company, according to previous arrangements, was divided into 3 parts, of which one, consisting of about 150 souls, went to Burlington, Iowa, another to Alton, Illinois, and a third to St. Louis, Missouri. Most of those who went to Burlington and Alton remained in these places or near them a year or more working to earn means where with to continue the journey.
Elder Chr. Christiansen, who was sent as a missionary from Utah, to preside over the Scandinavian Saints in the western states, relates the following about the emigrants who stopped in Burlington:
On the 29th of February 1856, about 150 Scandinavian emigrants arrived in Burlington, Iowa, to be placed under my jurisdiction, as they through the lack of means, were unable to continue the journey to Utah that year. I assisted them in the transportation of their luggage across the Mississippi river on the ice and brought them to a house belonging to an apostate Mormon by the name of Thomas Arthur of whom I had hired a room for the accommodation of the emigrants in the only one I could secure in the whole town. On that day the editors of the Burlington papers announced to the public the startling fact, that the town had been 'taken’ by the 'Mormons’. Without friends or money I stood in the midst of many poor brethren, not knowing what to do; but I set to work in earnest and succeeded in finding employment for some in the country, where I also rented a number of empty cabins for the Saints, who subsisted on corn meal, bacon and other articles of food which they received as advance payment for their labors. For the young men and women I also secured places as servants, and in Burlington alone I found places for 50 of them. I also hired wagons and took some of the emigrants to Montrose and Keokuk in search of employment. Thursday, in less than a week after the arrival of the emigrants at Burlington, all who were able to work had found something to do. But there were a number of sick persons who needed financial aid, and as I had no money I approached one of the emigrants who had a $20.00 gold piece, but he was an unbeliever and refused to lend his money to me or anyone else, even for the relief of the sick. A few days later he died, and his widow promptly advanced me the means, and thus I secured the necessary medicine and other things needed by the sufferers.”
Upon reaching Burlington, Boel and the two children Peter and Ola were the only ones who were well. Nils and the two daughters were ill, Peter says “ sea sick , having contracted it aboard ship. EIna died in about a month and was buried there. She was ten years old.
My next step was to organize the Saints into branches of the Church, over which I appointed Presidents. After a little while everything went well and in a remarkably short time the emigrants earned means enough to continue their journey to the Valley.
The experiences of Peter and his parents are interwoven and other experiences are told in Peter's history. Burlington and the towns in that vicinity and the few towns across the Mississippi River were the 'western states'. All of the west was beyond and that was still territories. This was the frontier. Because of the trouble with Johnston's Army in the Utah territory, no emigration of importance crossed the Atlantic (ocean) or the plains in 1858.
Besides the European emigration...a large number of Saints emigrated to Utah from the States In 1859; this of course, included many who had previously come from Europe but had stopped in the States in order to obtain means wherewith to defray the expenses of the overland journey.
The first large wagon company of the season to start out on the plains was organized at Florence on the twelfth day of June 1859, with Elder James Brown, the third, of Ogden, as captain. When the company left Florence, June 13, 1859, it consisted of three hundred and fifty- three persons, with fifty-nine wagons, one hundred and fourteen yoke of oxen, eleven horses, thirty-six cows, and forty-one head of loose cattle. The emigrants were coming from different parts of the United States. A few families were picked up as the company journeyed along, and on their arrival in Salt Lake City in the evening of the twenty-ninth of August, the company consisted of three hundred and eighty-seven persons, sixty-six wagons, and four hundred and fifteen head of cattle. Two deaths and five births occurred while crossing the plains. About twenty-five head of cattle died or were lost; only one wagon was upset during the entire journey, and no serious accident occurred. On arriving in the city, Captain Brown did not leave his company till they were all provided with homes or places of residence.
It is perhaps safe to state that at least two thousand Saints crossed the plains to Utah in 1859. )
On Saturday, August 27, 1859, Apostles John Taylor and Franklin D. Richards, according to the request of President Brigham Young, left Salt Lake City in charge of a relief train, to meet the emigration, find out the condition of the Saints, and give them such counsel and aid as their circumstances might require. On the twenty-eighth they met Captain Brown's company near Lewis station, and soon afterwards the Church train at Hennefer's station on the Weber.
Parley P. Pratt in his autobiography writes: September 11, 1856. ...Started on my eastern mission...We met, on the journey across the plains, several companies, chiefly from Europe. Some of them were companies traveling with ox teams, and several hand cart companies. The first hand cart company we met was near Green River. These had crossed the plains from Iowa City - some 1,200 miles - the women as well as men drawing hand carts and the children walking. They had traveled twenty miles a day and sometimes more. Their faces were much sunburnt and their lips parched; but cheerfulness reigned in every heart, and joy seemed to beam on every countenance. The company gathered around us and I tried to address them, observing that this was a new era in America as well as Church history; but my utterance was choked, and I had to make the third trial before I could overcome my emotions. Although our people were not a part of this wagon and hand cart company their conditions would have been much the same. Certainly the distance traveled was lengthy for all and the sun just as hot and the rocks equally as hard."
From the Deseret News we read:
LATTER DAY SAINTS' IMMIGRATION....1859
Names of Persons in Capt. James Brown s Company, Organized at Florence, June 12, 1859:
(2nd column - 2nd name from top)
Nels and Botila Nelsen Pider and Ola Nelssen
Arrived in GSL Cit; Aug 29, 1859
U. S. historian H. H. Bancroft wrote of the difficulty of reaching pre-railroad Utah:
Excepting perhaps some parts of the Soudan, there were few places in the world more difficult to reach than the valley of the Great Salt Lake.
Their journey across ocean, plains and mountains totaled probably 5,000 miles.
It was also the practice for President Brigham Young or Presiding Bishop Hunter to greet the arriving immigrants.
They traveled to Brigham City. The oldest daughter, Else, was living there, having come to Utah two years earlier. They stayed over the winter there. In March 1860 Nils and his wife, and the two sons, Peter and Ola went to Smithfield, Utah, to make their home. They built a small log house on a city lot, towards the southeast corner of the block that is now the 200 south block but because of the Indian trouble in July of that year they were forced to build homes in a fort fashion. The settlers moved their tents or wagons to where they were intending to build. These cabins were built of rough logs - no shingles - factory on the windows. (See Pages Fl, F2 and F3)
They had brought a little seed wheat from Brigham and were able to plant 3 acres the first year and this provided bread for the next year. They threshed their grain by beating it out with flails. Nils and Peter threshed grain for other people, earning 1 bushel in 7. They gathered sagebrush to burn for cooking and warmth. Boel had no stove in her home but did the cooking and baking over an open fire. The food was well prepared and delicious. They moved from the fort in 1864.
The land was re-surveyed and allotted to the settlers. Nils and Peter each got 20 acres of land and a city lot. Nils’ lot was on the northeast corner of the intersection of Main and 3rd South streets. He built a two-room log house there. This must have been very satisfying to finally again have their own home with permanent roots in this new land.
Oliver Nilson, a grandson, described their house in his writings as follows: The log house faced the south and was made of logs that Nils had hewn by hand, with a broad ax, until they were very smooth on two sides and fit snugly together. Nails were very scarce so this home was constructed without them. A small hole was bored at the corners of the house and the logs were joined together with handmade wooden pins. The door was of hardwood joined together with more wooden pins. A locking latch was constructed on the inside of the door to which was attached a rawhide latch-string. In the daytime the latch-string was put on the outside of the door and anyone knocking at the outside could pull on the string and lift the latch on the inside when they were invited to come in. At night the string was pulled to the inside of the door and provided a good night lock. The house had two unpaned windows on the south side with sliding doors to cover the openings when desired. The roof was covered with wheat grass that had been cut and bound in fist sized rolls while the grass was green and tough. These grass bundles were overlapped on the roof and laid as put on shingles today. This made a leak-proof roof for their new home. The inside had a dirt floor and was divided into two rooms. One room was a bedroom and the other served as a combination kitchen and living room. Cooking was done on an open fireplace until sometime later when Boel became the proud owner of a stove that had been brought from Brigham.
We frequently read of the contributions made by Nils toward civic and church projects. In 1861 Nils worked on the Logan, Richmond canal - labor on side hill 24ft. 3in. - $22.00. We do not know that they were paid, but all labor and donations were equated in dollars. His proportion of wheat towards this canal project was 1 Bi. Labor on canal by those owning land inside that fence, Nils 29 acres, tax 13.05, amt. Worked 12.00 with 1.05 due. There always appeared a mark indicating payment of assessment. They were called upon to donate oats to be credited on property tax in 1865. Voluntary subscription in butter to assist to pay for ward flag, N. Nielson l#. He volunteered to help cut wheat and assist the widow of a man killed.
In 1867 donation were called for to buy oil for lamps used in the meetinghouse - 18* oats. Called to the assistance of a small company of Snake River Indians in 1867 - 8# potatoes. Money for the Perpetual Emigration Fund - 1871, 5 B wheat. Cash donations in 1871 for missionaries - Niels .50. Subscription for Pres. Young in 1871 - Niels 1.00, Botilda 1.00. Donation for emigration fund - Niels 2 bu wheat 2.25. This is indicative of their faithfulness in the church when they would give when they really had nothing to spare in those first years living in the settlement.
The list of names belonging to the school of the Prophets up to Dec. 26 1868 included Niels Nielson. (See more info in Peter's history Niels was ordained a priest May 25, 1856 by N. Jenson; an elder June 27, 1858 by J. C. Jenson and a High Priest December 19, 1865.
Niels and Boel were endowed in 1862. And according to Peter's records they were privileged to do some ordinance work for the dead prior to their deaths. This must surely have been a blessing, gratefully received.
They must have experienced far greater trials and happiness’ than we can ever visualize. They sacrificed all for the gospel and settled in a country completely unfamiliar to them in customs, attitudes, economics, geography and language. They left behind them three children. Then in l874, their youngest son, 25 years old, Ola, was taken by death. Nils died 16 October 1886 at age of 75 and his wife, Boel, 7 April l894 at the age of 82.
We salute you, Nils and Boel, our progenitors, and thank you for your faithfulness, perseverance and devotion to the gospel and for the worthy name of NILSON that you provided for us. Written by Roberta Nilson Geary, Great Granddaughter
Crossing the Plains with Captain James S. Brown
Colaborador: juicyjaffa Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Here is an account of the crossing by Captain Brown himself. Taken from Brown, James S., Giant of the Lord: Life of a Pioneer (1960), 415-22.
On Sunday, June 12th, Elders Eldredge and Cannon visited the camp [three miles northwest of Florence] and held meeting, then organized the company, naming James S. Brown for president and captain, the selection being unanimously sustained. George L. Farrell was made sergeant of the guard, William Wright chaplain, and John Gordon secretary. A captain was appointed over each ten wagons, namely: first, Wm. Steel; second, W. Williams; third, Christopher Funk; fourth, Newbury [Anders Olsson Nyborg]; fifth, Eli Kent; sixth, [William] Giddens. These names were suggested by Messrs. Eldredge and Cannon, and were unanimously sustained by the company of three hundred and fifty-three souls. The outfit consisted of fifty-nine wagons and one hundred and four yoke of oxen, eleven horses, thirty-five cows, and forty-one head of young cattle that were driven loose. We had provisions for seventy-five days.
On June 13th, 1859, the company set out for Salt Lake City, Utah. There were nine different nationalities of people represented, namely: English, Irish, Scotch, Welsh, Danish, Swedish, Norwegians and Icelanders; we also had some Americans from the Eastern, Middle and Southern States, all mixed together. Many of them had never driven an ox one mile in their lives, and the result was almost like herding a train on the plains. If it had not been for G. L. Farrell, James Hickson, Samuel [Solomon] Garnet and Willis Brown, all excellent ox teamsters, besides some five or six others that were quite handy, we would doubtless have had most destructive stampedes. As it was, the company did not have any serious mishaps. In a few days the train became regulated and we had more system and order in travel. For the first five or six days of the journey the stock seemed in danger of being destroyed by flies and mosquitoes, and the people suffered much from the same cause. On the 18th we passed Captain Rowley with the handcart company.
On June 19th the camp stopped on the Loup Fork, a tributary of the Platte River. There was a small town there called Columbus. On the 20th the company moved up the river and camped on a small stream, Looking Glass Creek. That afternoon I baptized and rebaptized eighty souls, and other Elders confirmed them, while some men of the company bridged the stream. On the 21st we proceeded to Genoa Ferry, where we were joined by Captain Walding’s company of thirty-seven souls and ten more wagons, thus increasing my company to three hundred and ninety persons and sixty-nine wagons, with cattle and other property in proportion. At that place we charted the ferry boat from J. Johnston and did the work ourselves. We paid seventy-five cents a wagon, and it took fifteen hours’ hard labor to cross. The stock all swam safely over, and the company camped on the west bank. The handcart company came up that night about 10 o’clock. On the 23rd our company proceeded up the river.
We met with a company of Sioux Indians on the 24th. These formed a line of battle across the road ahead of the company, and sent two men to meet us. I was traveling in advance of the company, and although I had never been among the Sioux Indians in my life for an hour, nor had I ever been where I had an opportunity to study their language, I had not the slightest difficulty in talking to them, or they to me. Consequently I learned at once that these Indians were on the war path, and were hunting the Omahas and Poncas. They were hungry and said they must have food from the company; so they were told to form a line parallel with the road, and to keep one-fourth of a mile back, so as not to stampede the train or frighten the women and children. They were allowed to send two men on foot to spread blankets where the company could put such food as we had to share.
Meanwhile I gave orders to the sergeant of the guard, G. L. Farrell, and the several captains to draw up in close order, have every teamster in his place, and all the women and children in the wagons, and for each man to have his gun where he could lay his hand on it without a moment’s delay. Each family was to place some food on the blankets by the roadside. Not one team was to stop without orders. The wagons were to be corraled as quickly as possible, if they must be, at the first signal from the captain to do so; for the Indians appeared very warlike in their paint and feathers.
When the red men learned that it was a company of Mormons they had met, they readily complied with the captain’s terms, and a number rode up and shook hands with him. As the company passed their lines of not more than one hundred and fifty warriors, there came fourteen buffalo in sight, quite close, and attention was turned to them so much that the Indians took what the company had placed on their blankets and we passed on without further interruption.
It was about this date that the teamsters had become acquainted with their teams and the latter acquainted with their drivers, so that things began to work more orderly than before. The camp was called together every evening for prayers, and for instructions for the next day.
About the 26th the company started across from the Loup Fork to Wood River. That night the stock took fright and gave some trouble before they were recovered; but the next morning the company resumed its journey, leaving [Nehemiah] Wood Birdno to pursue two valuable young fillies, one his own and the other belonging to Captain Brown. Mr. Birdno did not overtake the company till the fifth day.
One evening the company camped on a tributary of the Platte River, where Almon W. Babbitt was killed by the Sioux Indians some eighteen months or two years before. The company crossed the stream and camped just opposite where that terrible tragedy occurred, and just as the cattle were being unyoked the Sioux Indians flocked into camp, all well-armed warriors. I saw that it was quite possible that they meant mischief, as there were no Indian families in sight; so I called to the company to continue their camp duties as if nothing unusual had happened, but for every man to see to his firearms quietly and be ready to use them if an emergency should arise. Then I turned to the chief, and it being again given to me to talk and understand the Indians, I asked what their visit meant, if it was peace that they go with me to the middle of the corral of wagons and smoke the pipe of peace and have a friendly talk, as myself and people were Mormons and friends to the Indians, and that I wished them to be good friends to me and my people.
The chief readily responded, and called his peace council of smokers to the center of the corral, where they seated themselves in a circle. I took a seat to the right hand of the chief and then the smoking and talking commenced. The chief assured me that their visit was a friendly one, and to trade with the emigrants. I inquired of him why, if their visit meant peace, they all came so well armed. He answered that his people had just pitched camp a short distance back in the hills, and not knowing who we were had come down before laying down their arms.
By this time it seemed that there were about three Indians to one white person in the camp. I told the chief that it was getting too late to trade, my people were all busy in camp duties, and I was going to send our stock to where there was good feed for them. It was my custom, I said, to send armed men to watch over them, and the guards always had orders to shoot any wild beast that might disturb them, and if anybody were to come among the stock in the night, we thought them to be thieves and our enemies. If they attempted to drive off our stock, the guards had orders to shoot, and our camp guards also were ordered to shoot any thief that might come prowling around camp at night. I said that, as we did not desire to do the Indians any harm, we wished the chief and his men to go to their camp, as it was now too late to trade. But in the morning, when the sun shone on our wagon covers, not when it shone on the mountain tops in the west, but when it shone on our tents and wagon covers, they could leave their arms behind and come down with their robes, pelts and furs, and we would trade with them as friends; but he was not to allow any of his men to visit our camp or stock at night.
The chief said that was heap good talk, and ordered his people to return to their own camp. They promptly obeyed, to the great relief of the company, which had been very nervous, as scarcely one of them except myself had ever witnessed such a sight before.
Next morning, between daylight and sunrise, the Indians appeared on the brow of the hill northeast of camp. There seemed to be hundreds of them formed in a long line and making a very formidable array. Just as the sunlight shone on the tents and wagon covers they made a descent on us that sent a thrill through every heart in camp, until it was seen that they had left their weapons of war behind, and had brought only articles of trade. They came into the center of the corral, the people gathered with what they had to trade, and for a while a great bargaining was carried on. For once I had more than I could do in assisting them to understand each other, and see that there was no disturbance or wrong done in the great zeal of both parties.
The trading was over without any trouble, there was a hearty shaking of hands, and the company resumed its journey up the river, passing and being repassed by numerous companies moving west to Pike’s Peak and to Utah, California, or Oregon. There were gold seekers, freighters, and a host of families of emigrants; and as the company advanced to the west we met many people going to the east. They were traveling all ways, with ox, horse and mule teams, as well as by pack trains of horses and mules; while some were floating down the Platte River in small row boats.
I have omitted many dates, but feel that I must say that some time in July we came up with Captain Horton Haight, who started two weeks ahead of us, with a Church train of seventy-five wagons of freight. Both trains passed Fort Laramie that same day. Mine camped seven miles above the fort on the river, where we laid over the next day, and had our wagons unloaded and thoroughly cleaned from the dust and dirt; then they were reloaded so as to balance their loading anew. All sick cattle were doctored, while the female portion of camp washed and did considerable baking. The next day we proceeded on to the Black Hills, in good spirits, the people generally well and encouraged. The road then began to be rough and gravelly, so that the cattle began to get sore-footed, and that changed the tone of feelings of some of the people.
We went on in peace over hills and dales to the Sweetwater, thence up that stream to what was called the last crossing, where we stopped one day, and again overhauled our load, doctored sick cattle, baked, etc. From there we crossed the summit of the great Rocky Mountains to Pacific Springs, so called because their waters flow down the Pacific slope. From that point we traveled over very sandy plains and saleratus deserts, to the Little Sandy, then to what was called the Big Sandy, and thence to Green River, the last hundred miles being the most soul-trying of the whole journey, owing to being sandy and poisonous to the stock. We traveled day and night, all that the cattle could endure, and in fact more than many of the people did endure without much complaint and fault-finding.
After a day’s rest on the Green River, however, and being told that there was no more such country to cross, the train entered on the last one hundred and fifty miles of the journey, crossing over to Ham’s Fork, then to Fort Bridger on Black’s Fork, and on to the two Muddys and to Quaking Asp Ridge, the highest point crossed by the emigrant road. From there we went down into Echo Canyon, then to Weber River, crossed it and over the foothills to East Canyon Creek and to the foot of the Big Mountain, where we met Apostles John Taylor and F. D. Richards. A halt was called to listen to the hearty welcome and words of cheer from the Apostles. Then the company passed over the Big Mountain to the foot of the Little Mountain, where we camped. Many of the people were sick from eating chokecherries and wild berries found along the roadside.
Next day we proceeded to the top of Little Mountain. When I saw the last wagon on the summit, I left the sergeant, G. L. Farrell, in charge, and went ahead to report the approach of my company and their condition, as there were one hundred or more without food for their supper. I called first on General H. S. Eldredge, and took dinner with him. He received me very kindly, and accompanied me to President Brigham Young’s office. The President welcomed us as cordially as a father could. After he had inquired and was told the condition of the company, he sent word to Bishop Edward Hunter to have the tithing yard cleared for the cattle, to have cooked food for all who needed it, and to have the company camp in Union Square.
When steps had been taken to carry out these orders, I called at my father-in-law’s in the Fourteenth Ward, where I learned that my family were well. Then I went back, met the company on the bench east of the city, and conducted it down to the square, where we found Bishop Hunter and a number of other Bishops and people of the several wards, with an abundance of cooked food for supper and breakfast for the whole company. Several of the Twelve Apostles were on the ground to bid the company a hearty welcome, and delivered short addresses of good cheer. This was August 29, 1859.