January 4, 1851. I took leave of every acquaintance I could collect together, in all human probability, never to see them again on earth; I am now (with my children) about to leave forever, my native land, in order to gather with the Church of Christ, in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, in North America.
5. Left London for Liverpool, on arriving at Euston, southwest found that the train had gone two hours, took lodgings for the night.
6. Arrived in Liverpool at ½ past 8 p.m.
7. Passed our medical examination, and went on board the ship, George W. Bourne, in which our passage is taken. Myself, 6 sons, 1 daughter, 1 daughter-in-law, and my late husband's brother, uncle and aunt, also Mr. and Mrs. Derrick and their 4 children.
8. Myself and son paid a farewell visit to Mrs. Naisby at Oxton in Cheshire. I have now, as I suppose seen the last of all my friends, in this country.
11. The ship towed out into the river to be ready for a fair wind.
12. Sunday. Meeting on deck in the afternoon, spent the evening singing.
13. Provisions served out for a week. Laughed heartily at our supply of oatmeal - 70 pounds.
15. The ship has just got part of the mooring chains of a government hulk and lost her largest anchor and cable. The wind has been very high the last four days, but against us. The ship rolls as badly as if she were off the North Foreland in a gale and that is no joke as I well know.
17. The anchor has just been fished up.
19. Sunday. Meeting between decks. Wind still contrary.
23. Shift of wind in our favor. At 10 a.m. the tug hauled us out of the river into the Irish Sea. At 6 p.m. the wind turned dead against us, more than half of the passengers sick and we who have hitherto escaped are obliged to hold on to anything that comes in our way, in order to keep on our feet.
24. The wind blowing tremendously, only 10 our of our company of 181 but are seasick. Myself, I am happy to say, with Eliza, are in the minority. [p.1]
25. We have had a dreadful night, the ship has seemed as if she really must turn over several times, some of the passengers much frightened, but as to myself, the sea has never had any terrors, at anytime. One of the sisters delivered of a fine healthy boy this morning.
26. Sunday. Meeting between decks. The sacrament administered, after which a couple were married by Elder Gibson, our president.
30. I went on deck today, the first time for a week, and a bad week it has been. All of my children have been sick but Eliza. Contrary winds all the time. The ship has not advanced 20 miles for the last 6 days.
31. A clear view of the Irish Coast. It appears very mountainous at this distance; quite as much so as the Welsh Coast. Saw many fishing boats in Dublin Bay, also 5 ships. The wind has changed in our favor, and if it continues we hope soon to be out of this terrible Irish Sea. My dear little Josiah continues very weak, but is not I think, any worse than when we left home. Oh, how I do pray that the sea air may restore his health.
Feb. 1. We are going at the rate of eleven miles an hour. Mr. and Mrs. Derrick still poorly; also Aunt and John. The dear child has suffered more from the sickness than any of us. Josiah has escaped it, and I hope is recovering.
2. Sunday. We are now on the broad Atlantic; the wind still favorable. Meeting as usual. Cooked our last piece of fresh meat today.
3. Plenty of wind. Going at 12 miles an hour. 7 or 8 porpoises playing round the vessel. Passed a Dutch ship which saluted us.
4. Spoke an English schooner. Wind not so good.
6. Almost a dead calm the last two days. The folks at home are, I suppose, sitting by a good fire, while we are on deck enjoying the view of a smooth sea, in a warm sunshine.
9. Sunday. Meeting on deck. A fresh breeze has just sprung up.
14. Still favorable wind. We have averaged 8 miles an hour since Sunday last, preaching on deck this evening by Elder Thomas Markets [Margetts]. I can hardly describe the beauty of this night. The moon nearly at full with a deep blue sky studded with [p.2] stars, the reflection of which makes the sea appear like an immense sheet of diamonds, and here are we walking the deck at 9 o'clock in the evening without a bonnet or shawl; what a contrast to this day three weeks ago when we were shivering between decks and not able to keep our feet without holding fast to something or other, and if we managed to get on the upper deck, the first salute was a lump of water in the face. Well, I have seen the mighty deep in its anger, with our ship nearly on her beam ends, and I have seen it, (as now), under a cloudless sky, and scarcely a ripple on its surface, and I know not which to admire most. I cannot describe it as it should be described, but I feel most powerfully the force of these words, "The Mighty God," which Handel has so beautifully expressed in one of his chronicles.
15. Still a fine wind. 3 sails in sight. My dear little fellow not so well today. Signs of squally weather this evening.
16. We have had a heavy gale all night. Scarcely one of ten of us can keep our footing on the deck. The sea looks like a number of hills rolling over one another. We are obliged to sit on the deck to eat our meals and hold our plates pretty firmly to prevent their running away from us. My Charles fell down the after hatchway this afternoon. It seems almost miraculous that he is alive, having fallen on his head. Josiah very poorly.
17. The wind has moderated a little, but still squally.
18. The weather very rough all night. Saw shoals of flying fish this morning. Josiah neither worse, tho no better I am afraid.
19. A good breeze in our favor.
22. At ½ past 5 p.m. my dear little Josiah breathed his last. He had sunk rapidly since Thursday, when he partially lost his speech. I did not think his death was so near, though when witnessing his suffering, I have prayed that the Lord would shorten them. He has done so and my much-loved child is now in the world of spirits, awaiting the morning of the resurrection, to again take possession of the tabernacle purified and fitted to enter the presence of the great eternal, in the Celestial Kingdom. The captain has given me permission to retain his little body till tomorrow, [p.3] when it will be committed to the deep, nearly a thousand miles from land, there to remain till the word goes forth for the sea to give up its dead, then shall I have my child again, with those others have gone before him, to present before the Lord, never again to be separated. I do feel this trial to be a severe one. I had hoped to have been allowed to take my family safely through to the city, in the tops of the mountains. My poor little Charles is suffering too, with inflammation of his eyes. He has been quite blind for two days. Spoke a French war tug.
23. Sunday. A beautiful morning. The body of my dear boy is removed to a snug little cabin under the forecastle where the male adults of my family have watched it all night. The second mate, with the assistance of Uncle Bateman have just sewn up the body of our dear little fellow, ready for burial. At 11 o'clock the tolling of the ship bell informed us that the time had come, that the mortal part of my dear child has to be committed to the deep. Elder [William] Booth conducted the service in Longitude 44'-14 West Latitude 25-13 North. This is my first severe trial after leaving my native land, but the Lord has answered my prayer in this one thing. That if it was not his will to spare my boy to reach his destined home with us, that he would take him while we were on the sea, for I would much rather leave his body in the ocean than bury him in a strange land and leave him there. Charles's eyes are better today. He can open them a little. The rest of us are in good health.
24. A most tremendous squall this morning with such a stream of rain as I never saw before. It had the appearance of a dense fog, the deck was covered with water to the depth of 3 or 4 inches in less than 5 minutes, rushing through the scuppers in a torrent. The passengers were all ordered below so that I was unable to watch the effect of the storm, but our ship was in a greater bustle for a short time than we had ever seen it. Every sail was taken in and in a minute or two the vessel began to roll and pitch as if she would turn us all into football. Keeping your footing was impossible so that our only alternative was to sit on the deck and hold on how we could. This lasted about an hour, when we could go up on deck again. We found that the storm had passed away, but we had the effect of it in a heavy swelling sea, during the remainder of the day. Charlie's eyes are much better. [p.4]
25. Fine morning. Numerous schools of porpoises just ahead of us. One of the brethren struck one and hauled it on board. It measured five feet in length. It was soon skinned and cut up into pieces. A part was presented to me. I did not admire it. It was like very coarse beef and in color, nearly black.
26. Squally weather and the heat almost unbearable. Charles's eyes nearly well. The rest of us in pretty good health. The sea is covered with foam and gulfweed with a flying fish here and there springing out of the water, and a few porpoises tumbling over and over, as if enjoying the warm sun. Our ship the center of an immense circle, bounded only by the clouds, all is grand and beautiful and fully repays me for the inconveniences of a sea voyage. By the by I have said nothing as yet about our every day life.
A bugle sounds every morning to let us know it is six o'clock, when all who think it proper arise. At half past seven it sounds again for morning prayer, after which, breakfast. We then make beds, and so we employ ourselves during the day according to our inclinations. Sometimes a few musical ones got together and had a few tunes, sometimes sit down and gossip, and so the days pass along. When we have rough weather we have enough to do to keep on our feet, and laugh at those who are not so clever as ourselves but we are most of us getting what the sailors call, "our sea legs." For my part I can now walk about the ship when she is rolling or pitching, with tolerable ease. I have only had two tumbles from the first. Sometimes a lurch will come on a sudden when we are at our meals, and capsize our teapot and send us, one over the other, but we are getting accustomed to it so we can be on our guard. Our general custom is to sit on the deck and take our meals on our laps. Each family have their own department in front of their berths and can have their meals without being intruded on by others. We can cook our food in any way we please and can amuse ourselves in anyway we like (within the bounds of decorum) go to bed and get up when we choose. Indeed we have no restraint whatever. Our president is I believe, a really sincere servant of God. His name is William Gibson, an native of Bony Scotland, his office is to watch over us as a pastor, to counsel, exhort, reprove if necessary, in short, to [p.5] see that all our doings are in accordance with our profession as Saints of the most high God. I much regret that we shall not have his company to the Valley, but he will leave us at St. Louis.
March 2, Sunday. Meeting as usual. The last three days have been a succession of exceedingly heavy squalls to the terror of many of our company, who have been again attached with seasickness. I have much course for gratitude, that neither myself or family have suffered; I have gone on deck as often as I could, but the motion of the vessel was so violent that I could not do so without difficulty. It was awful, yet grand, to look upon the sea. I could only compare it to the boiling of an immense cauldron covered with white foam, while the roaring of the winds and waves was like the bellowing of a thousand wild bulls. Conversation on the deck was out of the question. I could only look and wonder and admire, for through all our literal ups and downs, I have felt no fear and were it not that my bones ache with the incessant motion, I should feel no inconvenience. I was on deck this morning just about six o'clock in order to see the sunrise, but was disappointed, the weather being very cloudy, but not boisterous as it was yesterday. We have now a fair wind and are progressing at the rate of nine miles an hour. I hope it may continue, for the last few days have driven us back some hundreds of miles.
9 Sunday Fair wind and plenty of it for the whole of last week. We have passed the Bahama Islands, and are as happy in the expectation of seeing land of the America very soon. We had a sad meeting this afternoon. . . .
10. I came on deck this morning before five o'clock, to enjoy the cool breeze, and see the sunrise. The heat is intense during the day and it is dangerous to be on deck with the head uncovered. Nearly half of our company are effected, more or less, with the prickly heat. The captain has supplied us with a large tub for the purpose of bathing the children, and the little ones are ( many of them) dipped in it every morning. The men amuse themselves after another fashion. They put on a thin pair of drawers and pour buckets of water over each other, proving the benefit they receive by the increased healthiness of their appearance. This evening we came in [p.6] sight of the Island of Abercoa [Abaco]. It has a stationary light.
11. Passed the Island of Great and Little Isaacs, Green Turtle-Islands; the last we were within three miles of and could distinctly see the houses upon it, with a number of small schooners lying by anchor. About the middle, upon a rising ground stands a revolving light which made a brilliant appearance. The Island is 40 miles in length.
12. Passed Bush Island also double-headed-shot. This last is not exactly an island, but a long chain of rocks. At the distance we were, it had the appearance of detached buildings. On one stands a large lighthouse, bearing a stationary light.
We are now in the Gulf of Florida. Held a meeting this afternoon . . .
14. Fine weather but intensely hot. Passed 17 sails of various sizes. Upon measuring the water it is found that we have sufficient for 23 days supply. Our allowance has always been ample. I was on deck this morning to see the sunrise. There was not an atom of clouds to be seen in any direction. I have often read of the beauty of Italian skies, but I am sure they cannot exceed in splendor, that which at this moment arches over the Gulf of Florida, or Mexico, as it is mostly termed.
16. Sunday meeting as usual, saw a waterspout at 11 a.m. At 7 in the evening a violent squall came on, driving most of the passengers below, myself with a few others remaining on deck bidding defiance to the rain, for the sake of enjoying the night of the lightning, which was very beautiful, seeming to illuminate one-half of the horizon at once. We heard no thunder. [p.7]
17. We have had a very rough night and have been rolled about nearly as badly as we were when skirting the Bay of Biscay. Aunt and Mrs. Derrick as sick as they were in the channel. Foul winds all day. When I came on deck this morning it was as much as I could stand and to my astonishment the sun was rising on our starboard bow instead of astern of us. It is now 8 p.m. and the wind has veered a little in our favor.
18. A fine boy has been born in the night. At 10 a.m.. a boat brought a pilot, a horrid looking fellow; the very facsimile of a pirate. We could now see land plainly. At 12 o'clock a steamer came and took hold of us, and at 2 o'clock we were at anchor, off Biloxi, Mississippi, a pretty looking little village. A boat has come alongside, loaded with oysters, which have found a ready market.
19. Coming on deck this morning I was struck with the appearance of the water. It is a perfect mirror. The reflection of the houses on shore is seen as clearly in the water as they are above it. There is a small schooner lying in anchor just by the landing place and every rope and block in her rigging is seen reversed, exactly as if standing on an immense looking glass. The water seems quite still, as much so as in one of our cisterns at home. At 9 a.m. a steamer took us in tow and we are now going up the river. The Mississippi.
20. Our ship is at anchor at New Orleans. One 170 from the mouth of the river. We arrived here at 5 p.m. today.
To describe the scenery on each side of this mighty stream needs a better pen than mine. No description I have ever read has done it anything like justice. Sugar and cotton plantations abound. The houses of the planters are built in the cottage style, but large with verandas on every side, and beautiful gardens. At a little distance are the negro huts. From 30 to 50 on each plantation. They are built of wood with a veranda along the front, painted white, and mostly have either jasmine or honeysuckle growing over them. Each cottage has a large piece of garden ground attached to it in general appearance they are certainly very far superior to the cottage inhabited by the poor in England. Groves of orange trees are very numerous; [p.8] the perfume from which is very delightful, as the breeze wafts it toward us. Thousands of peach and plum trees are here growing wild and are now in full bloom. We saw plenty of wild geese, also foxes and a raccoon or two. Storks here in numbers over our heads, and settle down on the riverside, and stretching out their long necks, look as if in astonishment. There is an endless variety of landscape. The one thing which deteriorates from its beauty is the sight of the hundreds of negroes at work in the sun. Oh! slavery how I hate thee!
21. I and Walter went onshore. I had a letter of introduction from Miss Longhurst of Gower Street, Bedford Square to her sister, the wife of a French gentleman residing here, so we started at once for her residence. She received us with a truly English welcome, and actually burst into tears at meeting with a country woman. She has been here 13 years. I stayed with her two days, and would have liked to stay longer. I had a good drive through the principal streets which are very wide and handsome. Visited the markets. They are just like Convent-Garden. The houses are from three to six stories. Some of them as noble in appearance as any in Regent Street. I was shown the house in which Jennie Lind lived during her late visit, but it is more like a palace than a hotel. The Custom House, churches, and theaters are splendid buildings. Of course, I can only speak of the exterior. The roads themselves are not kept in order as they are in London. They are not paved. Just now the weather is hot and dry so in crossing them you sink in dust up to the ankles. In wet seasons I am told, they are one continual canal and great lumps of stone are placed across the ends of the streets about two feet asunder to enable foot passengers to go from one side to the other. The sidewalks are from 16 to 20 feet wide, and very nicely paved with flagstones. They are raised 18" above the carriage road, so that they are always clean and dry. The streets are laid out in exact squares, crossing each other at right angles. The spaces between the streets are called blocks, thus on inquiring for St. Peter Street I was told it was 5 blocks further. The city stretches on one side of the river for about five miles, as near as I could judge, the whole of which length is on continued wharf or levee as the French have named it. The ships and steamers lie 3 or 4 deep, the whole length, and as [p.9] close as they can be stowed. The river is about as wide as the River Thames at Blackwall. The levee is not level with the Brunswick Wharf, but of a gradual decent from the houses to the river and completely covered with bales of cotton and other articles of merchandise; leaving sufficient room for the drays, which are used for conveying of the cargoes form the ships to the warehouses. New Orleans was originally a French colony, and a large portion of its present inhabitants are Frenchmen, mostly married to English women. They seem to live in very luxurious style. During the two days I stayed with Mrs. Blime I was amazed at their manner of living. For breakfast they take coffee, (boiled in milk) with eggs, ham, hung-beef, dried fish, salads, hot soda cakes, bread and butter. For dinner we had red-fish boiled, stewed pigs feet, rumsteaks, wild goose, (rabbits and squirrels too are commonly eaten) with vegetables, pickles and salad. Two tumblers are put to each plate and wine and brandy are placed on the table. Each takes which they please. The idea of pouring either in wine glasses, they will laugh at. Even ladies will drink off a tumbler of port, as if it were water. Pies, tarts, cheesecakes, confectionery, fruit, ice-cream are brought on table after the meals are removed and French brandy poured into a glass and most beautifully sweetened with pulverized sugar, furnishes the meal. Tea as a meal they know nothing about, but at 7 o'clock they take supper which is quite as luxurious an affair as the dinner. By 10 o'clock everyone is in bed and the streets are deserted. Now for the dress part of the affair. The higher class of citizens (there is no nobility in America though never was there a people fonder of titles: colonels, majors, captains, judges and squires being as plentiful as blackberries). The Upper-Ten dress very handsomely in European style, the ladies especially and they dress their slaves even more expensively. I saw slave girls following their mistresses in the streets, clad in frocks of embroidered silk or satin, and elegantly worked muslin trousers, either blue or scarlet, morocco walking shoes and white silk stockings, with a French headdress, similar to that worn by the Savoyards, composed of silk with all the colors of the rainbow coming [p.10] led, jewelry glitters on their dusky fingers (which are plainly seen through their lace gloves) and in their ears. Their only business in the street seems to be to follow the ladies, who own them, and carry their reticule. Bonnets are not known to be worn, but a queer looking thing made of muslin, some thing like a Quakers bonnet, except that the front is not rounded off. They are stiffened with cane, or strips of pasteboard. The front is 12" deep, with a horseshoe crown, and curtain half a yard in depth, and when on the head answers the purpose of bonnet and shawl. I thought them the most odd looking things I have ever seen, but was soon glad to avail myself of the comfort of one, in this blazing sun. I also visited the female slave market, (no lady enters that for males.) It is a large hall, well lighted with seats all around on which were girls of every shade of color from 10 to 30 [TRANSCRIPTION THEN READS: sentence not finished] utter astonishment they were singing as merrily as larks. It expressed my surprise to Mrs. Blime. Ah! she said, "though I as an Englishwoman; detest the very idea of slavery, yet I do believe that many of the slaves here have ten times the comforts of the laborers in our own country, with not half the labor. I have been 13 years in this country and although I have never owned a slave or ever intend to do so, still I do not look upon slavery with the horror that I once did. There are hundreds of slaves here, who would not accept their freedom, if it was offered to them, for this reason; they would then have no protection, as the laws afford little or none to people of color." I could not help thinking that my friend's feelings had become somewhat blunted, if not hardened, by long residence in a slave state. From further conversation I found that if a freeman married a slave, all the children of that marriage are the property of the owner of the mother, but if a free woman marries a slave the children are free. I was shown a gent of color, who is what we should call, managing clerk in one of the largest stores in this city; he is the property of a rich proprietor in the neighborhood; he pays his master $500 annually: his salary is $1000. He is married to a free woman, quite a light mulatto, by whom he has a family. They live in a very handsome house which is the property of the wife, as a slave is not allowed to possess real estate; they keep a carriage and four servants, and this is by no means a singular case; it [p.11] is a common occurrence for master to hire out their slaves in this manner, at a salary of from 50 to $70 per month, out of which they pay their masters an agreed upon sum, the rest is their own, but in spite of this all, the system is a horrible one, to English minds. Well might Sterne say, "Oh Slavery, disguise thyself as thou wilt, thou art a bitter drought."
22. I returned to the ship this morning, with much regret; I should greatly have preferred spending a few more days with this truly amiable and generous lady and her family. She loaded us with presents, consisting of the delicacies of the climate, accompanied with several bottles of French brandy and claret; we agreed on a [-] and separated with, I believe, a mutual feeling, that we should meet no more on earth.
23. The steamer “Concordia” came alongside and received us and our luggage and we started for St. Louis.
29. Arrived at St. Louis, our passage up the river has been delightful, yet you must know that an American steamer is nothing like an English one. If I describe the “Concordia” it may serve for a general description though some are larger and some smaller. Its length is 300 feet and its width 60 feet. It is flat bottomed and when heavily laden draws 7 feet water. She is built of fir, and is consequently very light. The engines and boilers are on the deck, the stokehole quite open on each side and the firemen have an interrupted view of the country. The head of the vessel is pointed the stern circular. There is a clear passage of 8 feet in width all around the boat, except where it is stopped by the paddle boxes, and those have good steps both up and down. From this which is called the lower deck you ascend by a handsome flight of steps to what is called the hurricane deck, which is an open gallery 5 feet wide, entirely round the vessel with a low railing next the water and roofed overhead. There are chairs here for the accommodation of the passengers. On the inner side of this gallery is a row of cabins with two doors each, one opening onto the gallery the other into the saloon, which is one 105' in length by 30' in width. Here the cabin passengers dine. The ladies cabin is placed astern. Its six is 50' by 30, and is splendidly furnished with sofas, rocking chairs, work [p. 12] tables and a piano. The floor, as well as the saloon is covered with Brussels carpeting. There is also a smoke room for the gentlemen, opening out of the saloon forward, into which are card tables, etc., and in front of this there is a large open space. The whole width of the ship roofed over like the gallery and furnished with seats. From this is another staircase, ascending to the upper deck, on which are built several neat cabins for the officers. The one forward encloses the steering wheel. Here stands the pilot completely secured from wind and weather; to the wheel two ropes are attached which are conveyed downward to the lower deck. Each rope is then fixed to a lever which works the rudder. The whole arrangement is very simple and the elevated position of the pilot (40 feet above the lower deck) enables him to see and avoid any collision with snags, which are pretty plentiful still, though the government has done much toward clearing them away, by sending out what they call snag-boats with men in them, to either drag away the snags by force, or let them float off; or by sending down divers to cut them off close to the mud. I do not know whether you know what I mean by snags and sawyers. A snag is a large tree which has either been uprooted by a hurricane or loosened by an inundation and at last been blown into the river. The heaviest part, of course, sinks to the bottom and it becomes fixed in the mud, generally in a nearly upright position and as the foliage decays, the naked trunk remains above the surface of the water. A sawyer is the same thing, with the exception that the top of the tree is below the surface, and of course more dangerous, and steamboats coming in contact with them are likely to have a hole knocked in the bottom in a moment. They then generally sink at once. Scores of steamboats have been lost in this manner. However I have run away from the upper deck, which is not a very pleasant place except in cloudy weather, and you are seated at an elevation of 40 feet from the river, although, on a moonlight night the view is delightful, at least to such an admirer of wild scenery as I am. The tops of the two funnels are 10 feet higher. They are placed forward and when there is a headwind, the upper deck is covered with hot cinders. They burn wood, not coal, and when the steam gets low, or they want to pass a steamer in advance of them, the firemen throw on rosin by shovelfuls. The “Concordia” carries the mail and is, as [p.13] may be supposed one of the fastest boats on the river. The captain behaved to us, as company, in the most respectful manner. He conversed with me a good deal about England and English manners, and to him I am indebted for most of the information I have given you. St. Louis is 1,250 miles from New Orleans in the state of Missouri. It is a large and fine city extending five miles along the riverside, and about half as far inland. The plan of New Orleans will apply to this city, so that no other description is necessary. I took a house for a month, into which we had our luggage brought and once more found ourselves in a home. It contains two parlors, two bedrooms, an outhouse answering all the purpose of a kitchen and washhouse,. A large yard with back entrance and a cellar, in which I found coal enough to last me three months, left by the last tenant. I suppose the reason of this apparent waste is to be attributed to the cheapness of the article, as the mines are but seven miles from the city. The next discovery I made was that I wanted a cooking stove which I purchased with all the utensils belonging for $14.00. Early in the evening a gentleman by the name of Howard came to the door, and introduced himself as a member of our church, appointed by his branch to visit all newcomers, inquire of them if they are in want of anything, and see their need supplied, and here I would say that I feel under much obligation to Brother Howard for his untiring kindness, and advice to us all during our stay in St. Louis. His wife also greatly attached herself to me. She introduced me to the best stores of all kinds, and was the means of saving me many a dollar. Their house is exactly opposite to mine. They have a family and their children and mine soon became acquainted and enjoyed themselves finely in their rambles about the town, and the open country beyond. The markets are extremely good. They open at 4 o'clock every morning except Sunday. All kinds of meat, poultry and fish are very cheap. The fresh meat is good, but not so large and fat as in the English markets. Vegetables and fruits are abundant, and of great variety. Groceries, wines, and spirits are very cheap. I have omitted to say that we have found the weather gradually cooler coming up the river.
April 4. We have a heavy fall of snow and were glad to sit by a good fire. On the next day to our astonishment we were glad to throw open the windows, and this, I am [p.14] told, is the general character of American springtime, but the summers are intensely hot. We had one day's heavy rain with thunder. On the following morning I looked in vain for the road, but saw a perfect river in place of it, and Mrs. Howard at her parlor window, laughing at my evident astonishment. The sidewalks are all right, being raised so much above the road, and the lumps of stone I have before mentioned, in describing New Orleans, enable the pedestrians to get on pretty well. As to the horses and oxen (which last are more commonly used, except in private carriages) they dash through it without ceremony, sending the watery mud in all directions, which to those like us, do not believe in sprinkling, is not very agreeable. The town however, being build on a raising ground from the river is soon dry again. The churches are magnificent buildings. By the by, any place of worship, let it belong to what denomination it may, has a steeple and is called a church. The Catholics have three churches each surmounted with a gilded cross; the Presbyterians three; (two of them splits from the first). The Baptists four; the Episcopalians and Independents, several each; then there are the Methodists, Lutherans and Swedish churches, so that religions are as plentiful as can be wished. The poor despised sons of Africa too, have a little church to pray and praise the Lord in, but it is only lately that their masters have allowed them this privilege. The Mormons have six meeting rooms. They have also the use of the Concert Hall in Market Street on Sunday, which holds three thousand persons, and I could but feel amazed to see that spacious room filled to overflowing and the staircase and lobby crowded with those who could not get inside. They have an orchestral band, and a good choir, ten of whom are trebles. I went in one of the Catholic churches on Palm Sunday. I had as good a squeeze as I ever had, when endeavoring to gain admission to one of Julian's concerts. When I did get inside, the lay brothers in attendance put me in a seat where I could both see and hear to advantage. The Mass was splendid. They have a powerful organ, and a fine set of singers. The solos and duets were beautifully performed. The organ began which gave to the choruses a much finer effect. After the services were ended I was allowed to look around the interior of the building. At the upper end are three alters. (The high alter of course in the center.) The alter cloth is of white satin, richly [p.15] embroidered, edged with rich lace half a yard in depth. The coverings for the cushions are of purple velvet. The alter rails are of black walnut handsomely carved and polished. On each side are seats for the scholars and Nuns of the adjoining Convents. Strange looking beings these last. They wear black woolen shawls, reaching down to the hem of their coarse black camlet gowns. A close bonnet made of black glazed cambric, and black crepe veils reaching to the knees. Well may they be called the black nuns. The attendant priests wear long gowns, also black, with a hempen cord round the waist, to which hangs a rosary and crucifix. On each side of the room are confessionals with dark green curtains. The walls are ornamented with a number of finely executed oil paintings, but horrible to look at, being all of them representations of the martyrdom of different Saints. In the upper part of the church (above the gallery) are several little chapels, dedicated to various Saints, and gloomy looking places they are, but the alter in each of them is much ornamented. Adjoining the church is a college similar, I am told to that at Maynooth so much for public places. I have purchased eight yoke of oxen and four wagons, each wagon to old a fourth part of our luggage and provisions for our journey. Our four wagons are to leave here in company with sixteen others on April 19th for Alexandria, by steamboat, and then to travel overland to Council Bluffs, to join the company who intend to go on to the Valley this year.
19. At 5 p.m. went on board the “Financier” Steamboat; on each of the vessels was lashed a barge, one of which received our wagons, the other our cattle. Seeing this, we thought it better to waive our right to berths in the steamer, and betook ourselves to our wagons, where we made our beds and slept in comfort, without the constant jerking, which is always caused by the action of machinery. In the morning when I drew aside the curtains at the end of our wagon, I was almost startled at finding myself close to what I took to be a high stone wall, but on looking upwards I found it to be a pile of rocks some hundreds of feet in height, the top of which was covered with verdure. I cannot describe the grandeur of the scenery. It was almost appalling. In some places it seems as if the pressure of a finger would have sent it toppling down. Their rocky shores are so perpendicular that our boat could, in [p. 16] safety run in close enough for us to pluck the blossoms off the trees which grow at their base, and in the crevices within our reach here and there. Masses of the rock had fallen and trees and shrubs had grown in their places. Every few miles we came to a town built near the river side, the hills behind rising above the tops of houses. Leaving the towns, we every now and then saw the cottage of the solitary settler, with its enclosure of perhaps 40 or 60 acres of land, the cattle and sheep grazing; and pigs and poultry running at liberty. The man and his elder children would, in most cases, look at us as we passed, sometimes waving their hands to us in the way of a salute, while the wife would stand at the door mostly with a child in her arms. We passed hundreds of these farms besides seeing ten of thousands of acres without an inhabitant. While gazing on these scenes, a gentleman passed me on the edge of the barge, and looking up I found that he was intoxicated. I had scarcely turned my eyes from him, when I heard the shouts of the passengers that somebody had fallen into the river. Going around the other side I saw the same gent, who had just passed me struggling for his life. The boat was stopped instantly, and every effort made to save him, but to no purpose. As he sunk he threw out his pocketbook, which was picked up by one of the men, and given into the hands of the clerk, in order to be restored to the relatives of the deceased. It contained his address and $275.00. It appeared that he was a citizen of the town of Hannibal, in the State of Illinois. He was the owner of what is here called a flat, which is a sort of a barge very wide and long and made square at both ends. These are filled with produce of various kinds and then roofed in, and the sides closed. At one end a cabin is built for sleeping and cooking in. These flats are taken down to New Orleans, the freight is taken out and sold, and the vessel is then taken to pieces, and the timber sold also, the owner taking his passage in a returning steamboat to his home and when arrives there sets to build another, load it and away again. These flats are built entirely of fir planks and are very light. They seem to just lie on the surface of the water, and when laden will carry from 50 to 80 tons. Our unfortunate fellow passenger had been down to New Orleans and was returning with the profits of his journey, [p.17] when he met with his death in the way I have described, not more than fifty miles short of his home. Our vessel remained sometime stationary but we say him no more. The probability is that he had been sucked into one of the holes with which the river abounds, or his clothing caught by a sawyer and he was unable to extricate himself. This occurrence passed a gloom over us for the remainder of the passage, and I was glad when we landed on the 18th in the evening, and a bad landing it was for our poor cattle, for the brutality of the men belonging to the boat was most shameful and many of the poor beasts suffered much in consequence, however, we all got ashore at last, and without losing any of our luggage which was more than I expected. We drew up our wagons on an open space of ground by the side of the river close to the town of Alexandria in the State of Missouri, immediately opposite to Warsaw in the State of Illinois, and here we made our first encampment. We then had a fire, there being plenty of wood lying about in all directions and soon had our kettles boiling and we sat down to a comfortable cup of tea. Afterwards the men took our cattle to water, and then placed them in a large yard near at hand, having procured some hay for their food for the night. During this time we got our beds made in the wagons, and on the return of the brethren, we unitedly offered up our thanksgivings to the God of Heaven for bringing us here in safety, through unseen and unknown danger, and then retired to rest, feeling sure of his protection during the night.
I should like to say here a little about this mighty river which I have seen in all probability for the last time. Mississippi is the name given to it by the Indians, signifying the "Father of Waters." It has been explored, I am told, for 4800 miles without coming to its source, and is supposed by some to at least lose itself in the Pacific Ocean. It has tributary streams, more than any other river known in the world. It is of various widths and on its surface are many small islands inhabited only by birds and otters. The water is very muddy, but perfectly sweet and as soft as rain water. The instant you leave the Gulf of Mexico the water is entirely free from salt, the current running only one way, that is toward the sea. The distance from St. Louis to this place is 230 miles so [p.18] that I have traveled on this river 1,630 miles, and I will say that such splendid scenery, both wild and beautiful, I never expected to have looked upon. It has seemed to pay us for all our inconveniences, and here we are all in good health. I do not anticipate as much pleasure in our overland journey, as we must expect a life of toil, fatigue, and many privations, to which we are unaccustomed. Still, when I recall to mind the various scenes through which we have passed, and the thousands of miles we have traveled during the last three weeks, or I would say the last three months, and the manifold instances of preserving mercy, we have received at the hands of our Heavenly Father I doubt not I shall still (if I remain faithful) enjoy the same protection, upon the land as I have done upon the waters. I have told you as well as I could the major part of what I have come in contact with and the future will most likely be an account of the trials, difficulties and privations, such as at present I have no idea of, so as to be able to provide against them but as you are aware I am not one to go through the world with my eyes shut, I expect to be able to send you some little description of my travels by land, to amuse you in a winter's evening. In the meantime may the God of Heaven bless you eternally.
Jean Rio Baker
May 21-1851 We have been at Alexandria three days. It is a newly settled town containing about a thousand inhabitants and boasting of its Mayor, Corporation, Courthouse and Schoolhouse which last does duty for chapel on Sundays. There are some very good stores here with a bakery, post office, 2 doctors shops, 2 public houses, a saddler’s, a furniture store, a small levee near which a worn-out steamboat is moored and styled the hotel and is a place of resort for the gents of the town, who are fond of gambling or drinking. The lower part is fitted up as a general provision store and is very convenient for passing steamers, which generally stay a short time for passengers to make purchases.
22- We left Alexandria this evening at 5 o’clock intending to go a mile out of town and then turn our teams out to graze. I can just fancy how you would [p.19] laugh could you just see us taking our first lesson in ox-driving, and our cattle taking every direction excepting a straight-forward one. I regret to say that two of my oxen have been much injured by the brutality of the boat men that I have been obliged to buy two more in their place, thus losing at once $46.00 to begin with. On encamping and examining our animals we discovered that another had been so badly strained as it make it doubtful as to whether it will recover or not.
23- After breakfast we moved on four miles, and encamped on a very pretty spot with plenty of grass. We are close to a wood through which runs a branch of the Des Moines River. Here we intend to stay for a week in order that the cattle may recruit, as they are in far worse condition than they were when we left St. Louis. Thanks to the steamboat men.
28- We have had a very pleasant week, lovely weather and I have been reminded of the days we used to spend in Epping, Forest lang syne. The only drawback has been that my sick ox has died and I have had to pay $26.00 for another. There is a very comfortable farmhouse near our encampment, which we have procured a plentiful supply of butter at 10 cents per pound and milk at 50 cents the bucketful. Our boys have also been several times to the wood shooting, so we have been able to add a little game to our table. When they started I charged them to respect the haystacks, but to my astonishment they came back bringing with them a squirrel and a bird about the size of a pigeon, both of them very nice eating. We have been visited by some of the country people who behave in a friendly manner, and seem ready to give us any information that may be useful to us in our travels. Some of them appear to be intelligent, and some exceedingly uncultivated. One man congratulated me on having been able to escape from such a land of slavery and oppression, as he said he understood England to be. I felt all my British blood rising at his insulting speech, but the poor mortal evidently knew no better, so I only smiled in reply. He had just caught a very fine catfish weighing 25 pounds which I purchased of him for a quarter of a dollar. He inquired if we had any such food fish in the old country. I acknowledged we had no catfish, but said I “We have [p.20] sprouts and shrimps”. I thought of our halibut suppers in bow-lane, when partaking of our purchase, to which in flavor and richness it bears a striking resemblance.
June 2 We have traveled some few miles every day and are now stopped by a snow- storm. The cold is so great we are glad to take refuge in our wagons. Do not expect me to describe our road, as they call it. It is a perfect succession of hills, valley, bogs, mud holes, low bridges, quagmires with stumps of trees a foot above the surface of the watery mud, so that without the utmost care, the wagons should be overturned 10 times a day. Oh for the Taun- Roads of Old England. Each day hope that we shall have better traveling on the next, but as yet our changes have only been from bad to worse.
3- The sun shone brightly this morning and the snow which fell yesterday is fast melting away. We have stayed here the whole day. A middle-aged man, from whose farm is close by, joined us in the evening by our campfire, and chatted with us for two hours giving us a deal of information, interesting in itself, and very useful to us.
4- Sunday. We stared this morning, much to my regret for I do not like Sunday traveling, but our captain gave us a reason for doing so; the fear of not being in time to meet the company at the Bluffs. At first starting one of our teams turned sulky and would not move in any direction, when all at once they gave a sudden start, and running round broke the tongue off the wagon. I felt my heart sink at this beginning, supposing in my ignorance that we should have to remain until a wagon maker could be procured form the nearest town, however, Uncle Bateman without asking any questions proceeded at once to lash a piece of cord and then affixed a chain to the wagon, one end of which he fastened to the oxen’s yoke, and so enables us to move onward. We found the road very heavy and the water still lying in the hollows. We managed to get along until noon when we halted for an hour to feed the cattle and ourselves. On looking among our company I found that there was scarcely one wagon but had received some injury, or met with some disaster or other. After dinner we set off again. Our traveling today is over [p.21] prairie land. It is 15 miles from one wood to the other covered with grass, but not the smallest shrub to be seen. In the hollows the mud is so deep that the wagons sink to the axles. We have had to double teams, and so help each other out of our muddy difficulties. We got along pretty well until we came to the top of a higher hill than those we had passed, and on looking down we saw Elder Margett’s wagon sunk to the axles, and himself with some others unloading it. The prospect was a gloomy one, as each of us might expect the like disaster, however we got him out, and by going a little higher up, we got ourselves over. After getting to the top of the next hill we saw before us as bad a gully as the last. We at once double our teams, in order to take over half the wagons, and then returned for the remainder. This time one of my wagons stuck breaking the tongue pin with a jerk. Fortunately it was the last vehicle in company so we at once made up our minds to halt for the night. We soon had a fire and the kettle on. While we were preparing our supper, a farmer looking man accompanied by a tall well looking negro came up and offered to assist us in repairing our wagon, and setting to work at once, in about two hours all was right again. The farmer then bade us good night, refusing all recompense and taking two of the lads in order that they might bring back a supply of corn for our cattle. Our black visitor remained with us and shared our supper which consisted of coffee, bread and butter and remains of two fine geese, which I purchased yesterday for $.25 each. Our new acquaintance proved himself to be a very intelligent man and amused us very much by his description of some Indian wars and their termination in which he had been engaged. Told us of the manner in which the great Keokuk was by stratagem taken prisoner, with one of his warriors, and how he was taken to St. Louis receiving there the visits of almost all the city; spoke of the dignity of his whole bearing, and the splendid blanket and leggings he wore. This is 12 years since and a town is now built where the last fight took place, which is named Keokuk. He was afterward taken to visit several of the large cities and was presented with a valuable rifle, plenty of ammunition, a horse and trappings of the most expensive kind, and liberty to return to his own nation and tribe, when a peace was [p.22] concluded between him and the whites which has never been broken. We sat conversing until 12 o’clock when our friend bade us goodnight and left us to go to his home about 1/4 mile off. After he was gone we expressed to each other our surprise at finding so much intelligence, and I may add refinement in the language and manners of our late visitor when Walter told us that he learned from the farmer, who had supplied us with food for our travel, that John was a slave and had been from his birth but that he was free in everything but the name. That he had the sole management of a large farm out here on the prairie; that he bought and sold how he pleased; went out and came home when he thought proper. By this time all of the company had gone to bed excepting Uncle Derrick and myself. I thought of you all and what you would say, could you see us sitting in the open air with nothing to tell us of a living world, but the creaking of the frogs in the springtime near us; the stars glittering in the heavens, and the moon shining brightly, enabling us to see for miles around us. I felt at the moment a sense of freedom and security I cannot describe and retired to rest with a thankful heart that we are brought thus far in safety.
5- We started this morning early and traveled on (allowing time for dinner) till the evening, when we saw before us a tremendous hill, or rather a continuance of them, for as we got to the top of one, we discovered three others, each towering above the rest. One of them, brethren called it going up, a flash of lightening edgeways, however we arrived at the top at last and encamped for the night. We then sat down by the campfire, enjoyed our warm coffee and toast and went to bed.
6- Started at 8 this morning and went on prosperously, it being level prairie. About the middle of the day we came in sight of a log house surrounded by a very neat garden, near the roadside, when out ran a tidy looking woman and inquired if we wanted any groceries. I and Eliza went into the house and found that it was kept by an English woman. She had been in America 7 years, and was a native of White Chapel. When she found that we came from that neighborhood she seemed as rejoiced as though she had found some of her family. We stayed about half an [p.23] hour bringing with us a plentiful supply of various kinds of eatables. We then traveled on again and came to Dogtown, a little village containing about 30 houses possessing however, a post office, and a doctor’s shop. About from this we entered the state of Iowa.
7- This day one of my oxen took sick, so at night we encamped by the side of the wood, through which ran the Sac-and-Fox River, intending to remain the next day in order to doctor it up a little. The weather is beautifully fine and a ramble in the forest very agreeable. Eliza and I, with some of the children visited a little town at a short distance, and were invited into one of the houses to rest and refresh ourselves. We found the lady a kind motherly woman, and her husband as friendly and sociable as could be wished. We stayed three hours and left, promising to visit them again the next day if we had time.
9- Paid our visit to Mr. and Mrs. Biggins. They much wished the camp would stay a few days to recruit the cattle. This little town does not contain more than 40 houses, among them is the post office, merchant store, for the sale of linen drapery, iron mongery, stationery, glass earthware, saddlery, grocery, boots and shoes, powder and lead, etc., the bar room or whisky shop and the school house which last does duty for church on Sunday, and a little out of the town on the bend of the river, is the mill. The name of the place is Stringtown. We remained with our kind hosts till the train came up and I left them with regret. I would just remark here, that nothing can exceed the kindness of the people as we pass along. Many a time when our wagons have been in a mud hole, the men working in the fields have left their plow to come and help us out. Men, too, who in our country, would be called gentlemen, owning 500 to 1000 acres of land. But, it seems to be a rule among them to help everyone who is in need and they are ready at all times to impart any information which they think will be useful to us. Their wives are just the same and as we in general, encamp near a farmhouse for the convenience of supplying ourselves with butter, eggs and milk, and we are sure to be invited to their houses in order to partake of the hospitality. I often think there is [p.24] no person so independent as an American farmer, for his land is his own. He has beef, mutton, pork and poultry. He shears his own sheep and his wife spins the wool, dyes it of various colors, and in many cases weaves it into cloth for dresses and other articles of clothing, blankets and flannels. I have been in many a farmhouse and never could discover anything like scarcity of the comforts of life. Their furniture is plain, but good of its kind and in most cases their houses are very clean.
9- We left Stringtown today and encamped at night in a spot, to which I gave the name of Devil’s Glen, from its horrible entrance, having to pass through a bog in which the axles sunk to the axles, however, we got through without accident, made our coffee, had our supper and went to bed.
10- Purchased three yokes of oxen this morning and started forward on our journey, passing through a town called Drakestown. (Johnathan [Jonathan] is very fond of French arminations.) We encamped at night on a hill a mile from town, where I bought a pig, which when killed and cleaned weighed 70 £ for a dollar, also three fowls for $.25.
13- We have been detained by incessant rain for two days. We set off this morning and at 2 o’clock arrived at Wap Creek, and now I want you all by my side, for I cannot by any description of my own do justice to the scenery around us. Imagine yourself standing upon a hill at least three times the height of that in Greenwich Park, and look down into a complete basin, across the bottom of which runs a wide stream of water which we have to ford, the drivers wading up to their waists, one on each side of the cattle, in order to keep them in the right track. I confess as I trembled as I looked for I expected no less than to see the wagons run over and crush the cattle during the descent. As soon as we got over we made a good fire and concluded to turn our animals out to graze as they were much exhausted.
14- Our route today has led us through a complete quagmire through which the cattle were floundering for nearly four hours, at the end of which we had progressed about 3 miles. We came out on a rising ground and encamped for the night. [p.25]
15- Rest all day.
16- Started at 8 o’clock and in an hour came to a worse bog than the last, if possible. It took 16 oxen to a wagon so we could proceed but slowly. We were obliged to leave one wagon, our animals being worn out. After going through a small wood we came out on the top of a hill and encamped.
17- Some of the company set out to fetch the wagon we were obliged to leave behind yesterday, and which they were between three and four hours accomplishing. This night we had an awful thunderstorm with the rain literally pouring. In England we know little about thunder, but here among the hills the echos are so numerous that we frequently hear the second clap begin to rattle before the first has finished. We were confined to our wagons the whole of the next day.
19- This day one of our company lost a dear little babe by death. We started this afternoon, but found the roads quite impassable. We proceeded for about 2 miles and came to a nice dry hill, at the bottom of which runs a clear stream, with a pretty waterfall. The weather is now fine and the flowers are lifting their heads and looking more beautiful than ever. There are a great variety of flowers growing on the prairie, such as are cultivated in our gardens at home. We are constantly walking over violets, primroses, daisies, bluebells, the lily of the valley, columbines of every shade, from white to the deepest purple, Virginia stocks in large patches. The wild rose, too, is very plentiful, perfuming the air for miles, with the numerous variety of beautiful plants whose names are unknown to me. Onions also grow wild by the sides of several streams, while in the forests, hundreds of the trees have their trunks covered with the hop or the grapevine.
20- Started at 7 this morning, and by 12 o’clock came to Dodges Point. Halted for dinner in a delightful grove of cottonwood trees, afterwards started and came out on the open prairie. Traveled on till dusk without seeing a human habitation, or a single tree. Encamped had our supper and went to bed.
21- We had a most awful thunderstorm during the night. Surely this is a stormy land. This morning a large wolf ran across the prairie in front of the [p.26] camp. We passed, yesterday a great many of their dens. They are simply mounds of earth, which the animals throw up and make their nests in the hollow underneath, leaving an entrance hole on one side. They do not attack the human race or any large animals. They live chiefly on deer, squirrels, rabbits, and [-] which are very numerous. At 10 o’clock we had another storm begin which has continued the whole of the day. While I am now writing, the claps of the thunder are awful. They seem to be all around us at once. Our vehicles shake violently at each clap. The little gully at the bottom of the hill across which I could have stepped with ease yesterday evening, is now a rapid stream at least 20 feet in depth, I mean width, and is rushing down the hollow in a perfect torrent. We are quite snug in our castles. This evening after the rain cleared we saw myriads of fireflies, the first we have ever seen, and I thought them the most beautiful natural phenomena I had ever beheld.
22- Thunder again during the night, with the wolves howling in concert. We set off this afternoon at 3 o’clock intending to go 8 or 10 miles, when at the first start our captain’s oxen ran round, and before they could be stopped broke the wagon tongue, so we have to stop her today and repair it. Tedious traveling this. 32 days since we left Alexandria, and only advanced 116 miles.
23- Started after breakfast and traveled on till 4 o’clock when we came to what they call a slue, that is a hollow part of the prairie, where the rain has settled and created a perfect bog, sometimes extending for miles when we have to double teams, and perhaps triple them in order to get our wagons over. Well, we came to the slue and had succeeded in getting all of the vehicles to the opposite side except Elder Marget’s [Margett’s] and two of mine. I and Eliza were sitting in one of them when Margett’s cattle started round. Mrs. Marget [Margett] and her sister-in-law Mrs. Bond, each of them with an infant in her arms was standing near, and in trying to stop the oxen were thrown down by them. How I got out of my wagon I know not but on coming up with them I found that the wheels had gone over Mrs. Bond’s waist, and Mrs. Markets, [Margett’s] legs just above the ankles. The children were unhurt. William snatched up the two babies and ran off with them to Eliza. He then came back and [p.27] assisted me to raise the poor women. The weight of the wagon had completely forced them down into the soft mud, and providentially they had no bones broken. Had it been of the soft ground, nothing could have saved them from being crushed. We laid them on my bed, and in this way we got them over the bog. As soon as we got on the solid ground we halted for the night.
24- Started this morning at 9 o’clock. Mrs. Margetts had had a good night and is able to walk with assistance. Mrs. Bond has slept part of the night, but suffers much pain and is not able to move but as she is lifted. We got through today without much disaster, encamped and had our supper, and afterwards sat down around the campfire and enjoyed ourselves in singing for an hour and then to rest.
25- Sunday. Our leaders have agreed upon traveling today in consideration of having had to wait so long for favorable weather and the fear of not being able to reach the Bluffs in time to join the principal camp, else it is a rule, never to travel on the Lord’s day. We started at 6 1/4 and traveled very comfortably for a couple of miles when we came to a little town composed of log and plank houses. I went into one of the houses to get a drought of milk and has a few minutes chat. About 11 we came to the head of Sheridan River, which we had to ford and ascend a dreadful hill on the other side; however, we got along without accident and then halted for dinner and then traveled on till 3 and then encamped for the night.
26- A violent thunderstorm with rain from midnight till 8 in the morning. Started about noon, the roads very heavy, went six miles when the captain’s wagon tongue and axle broke, so we are obliged to wait.
27- All day repairing the captain’s wagon.
28- Got 4 miles when Jones ran on a bank and smashed one of his wagon wheels. Awful thunderstorm this evening.
29-30 Thunder and rain all the time. Started by 11 a.m. and by doubling teams managed to get about 8 miles. Arrived at little Whitebreast Creek. Found it a roaring torrent. Encamped for the night on the side of a hill. Plenty of wood and the water cool and sweet. Plenty of gooseberry bushes also plum and peach trees loaded with fruit. [p.28]
31- Our men rose at 4 this morning in order to make a bridge, when one of the storms we are used to, came on and in a few minutes they were drenched through, finished the bridge at 8, had breakfast, began to get the wagons over, the creek rising fast, 3 feet in 3 hours. Got 4 wagons over when the bridge washed away. All but the sleepers waited until the water subsided, rebuilt the bridge and got the rest over by 6 o’clock. A right hard days work — (misery) plentiful.
June 1- Traveled 12 miles to a creek which we had to ford. Encamped among some gooseberry bushes and picked fruit enough for a pudding for supper.
2- Started at 8 came to a creek with a sandy bottom which we forded. Wagon turned over on is side, but was lifted up uninjured. Halted for dinner, crossed crooked creek stopped for the night at 6, found muscles 4" long, heard the whippoorwill. Thunder and rain at night as usual.
3- Started at 8, came to a deep creek at 11. No place to ford, so encamped while the men built a bridge. Very pleasant spot being a perfect grove.
4- Started at 8, made one mile and stopped by another creek. Were 6 hours getting over it, thus encamped.
5-6 The road impassable. I went to a farmhouse 1 mile off in hopes of getting some butter. Heavy rains came on so that I could not return to the camp; the water being in the hollows, higher than my knees. I have stayed all night at the farm house. The thunder has been fearful. It seemed even to have frightened the wolves, who have been howling and yelping round the house all night. We have had thunderstorms every day for 4 weeks. Arrived at Pisgah, found the river was swollen. We could not cross it, the low lands being under water. Encamped on the high prairie one mile from Pisgah. Wild strawberries in abundance.
7- The men all day, making a bridge over the part of the bottom, which had been broken up by the overflowing of the river just in our road. The river is falling slowly. Only 5 families left in Pisgah. I visited the graveyard. It tells a sad tale of the sufferings of the Church in the driving from Nauvoo.
8- Crossed Grand River on a dugout. Dined with woman’s family who had [p.29] been washed out of their habitation, traveled 3 miles, crossed another creek and stopped for the night.
9- Started at 10. Crossed a sandhill at noon. Got to 12 mile creek at 6, forded it without accident and encamped on the edge of 20 mile prairie.
10- A miserable day altogether got 16 miles, crossed five ravines and four creeks, upset three wagons, got my own bedding wet through and encamped by ourselves, surely this is anything but pleasant.
11- Started at 7, overtook the camp, breakfast with them and started at nine and one half, Margetts and Taylor took themselves off, much to the satisfaction of us all, they, being not very agreeable traveling companions. We stopped at night at a wood by a river, a pretty spot, but mosquitoes plentiful.
12- The river being deep we had to unload the wagons previous to fording it. The men laid two logs across the stream in order to carry over our luggage. All was accomplished in safety. We made 3 miles and were stopped by a storm, which has every appearance of continuing. Enjoyed a hearty supper of fried ham pancakes and cocoa.
13- The storm increased gradually during the night. At midnight it seemed as if the thunder were close to the earth. About 5 it cleared off. Some of the men got up and made us a good fire and the captain rode forward to examine the road, found a creek one mile off, but so swollen as not to be fordable. Our camp is on a hill, with a small wood on one side of us. This afternoon it has dried up a great deal and I took a walk back to our last camping place, which was in a bottom, but found it completely under water. We are reduced to 6 wagons, (division having entered among us, the rest have left us at different times), the captain Jones and my 4. There is every prospect of another storm tonight, but roses are in full bloom all around us, with various other flowers. Their perfume is delightful.
14- The storm began about 11 last night and has continued without intermission till nearly noon today. I cannot describe the thunder. It is unlike any I have ever heard. As to the rain upon our wagon covers, I can only compare it to millions of shot falling on sheets of copper. Sleep is out of the question as well [p.30] as conversation, for though Aunt and I were in the same wagon it was with difficulty we could make each other hear. Of course there is no chance of proceeding, so I made up my mind to a day’s needlework. Being on the top of the hill we are not inconvenienced by the surrounding waters. We are 45 miles from human habitation but are as merry as larks and our small company much happier than when there were so many of us. Our long anxiety is, whether we shall be too late to go to the valley this year.
15- Heard from a stranger that there are no wagons within 70 miles of us, so it is not likely that Hawkins will overtake us now. Started at 3 p.m. and by throwing a great deal of birch wood into the creek, we were able to cross it and made about 8 miles.
16- Fine weather, came to a dense forest, except where it has been partially cleared for the road. Found a deserted log house. A creek runs along the hollow, which from the accumulated waters has overflowed its banks. The captains sounded it and found its depth 40 feet, so we must remain here until another bridge is made.
17- An equestrian traveler came up, who is on his road to Kanesville, but he too is obliged to wait until the bridge is completed. Here are gooseberries in abundance, giving us a nice variety in our fare.
18- Saw a traveler on foot and without a coat approaching on the opposite side of the creek. As he came toward us, he told us he was on his way to St. Louis. He left Kanesville 2 days since and had walked the distance. He tells us there are 200 wagons waiting there, so we think we shall not be too late at last. He had passed 6 wagons yesterday, 40 miles off. We supposed them to be those of Margetts et al. Finished the bridge by 12, had dinner and started. Crossed the bridge safely and went over some mile of prairie. Came to another creek, found it too wide and deep to cross; and had no timber to make a bridge, so tried to head it by going two miles around. Had to go over a dreadful piece of bottom land entirely under the water. Had to put 7 yokes of oxen to each wagon. At first going off, [p.31] the captain’s wagon tongue broke. They lashed it together with ropes and set off again. Found on getting to the opposite hill that there was another bottom to cross, worse than the last, and a long steep hill to finish with. We had to increase our teams to 9 yoke to each wagon and were even then obliged to stop every few minutes for the cattle to recover breath. Eliza’s wagon and mine went over first so that by the time they all got over, (3 hours) we had our kettles boiling, tea made and supper ready. As soon as the sun went down the lightning began to flash which was a good thing for our men, as they were thus enabled to see and avoid a deep serpentine ravine which crosses the bottom. They came in completely exhausted.
19- It has been a very stormy night. Started at 10. Came to a very high hill, where we have waited all day for the river to fall so that we can make another bridge. Mended the captain’s wagon. Plenty of wild fruit.
20- Still waiting for the river to fall. The stranger who overtook us on the 17th still remains with us. He tells us he has been possessed of considerable property as a stock raiser, but has lost everything through the villainy of his partner. His object is going to Kanesville is to endeavor to get into some way of business, he care not what. He is from the state of Virginia, where he left his family.
22- Sunday. Still waiting. We had a prayer meeting this afternoon, the first we have had in 8 weeks. It seems to have put new life into the men. The weather is very fine and the river is falling fast. I call this spot Greenwich Park as it has some resemblance to it, only on a very large scale. We hope to be able to make the bridge and cross the river tomorrow.
23- Got the bridge finished. Got the wagons across and over a swamp by 6 p.m. and encamped on a hillside. No fruit here but plenty of mosquitos.
24- Started at 9, arrived at Nishnabotna River. Met a lad returning from the Bluffs to Pisgah, who gave us the startling information that the Indians had refused to allow the Mormon camp to pass through their territories. Crossed the river in safety and came upon a swamp 1 ½ miles long. Had to put 22 yoke of oxen to each wagon, the mud in some places being over the axles, got over safely and encamped on a hill. [p.32]
25- Started at 5, came to 7 mile creek. Called at a farmhouse. Found the creek too deep to cross and not timber to make a bridge. Concluded to lay stringers across and draw the wagons over by hand. The oxen could swim over. Were joined by a traveler from Dubuque going on foot to Kanesville, who stayed with us and shared our supper.
26- Got over the stream in safety. Halted to dine and then went on again, until we came to a deep ravine which they had to half fill with brush in order to cross. The stream at the bottom was 3 feet wide. We all got over on a plank, but Eliza, who managed to fall in receiving no injury but a thorough wetting, and a slight graze on the side. Traveled all day until stopped by a thunderstorm near to a wood, so turned out the cattle to feed and went to bed, thankful that we have shelter in these awful storms. Surely this is a dreadful spring.
27- Started at 5 o’clock. Came to a farm; the first sign of cultivation we have seen in the last 100 miles. The farmer came up and spoke to us, and gave us some lettuce and spring onions, which were quite a treat. We passed through some splendid groves of trees and meadows, crossed a ravine and encamped near a wood.
28- We have had a great deal of rain during the night, and have been much bothered with some cattle belonging to a farm close by. Some of them got at our herrings, which were in a box under one of the wagons and ate them all, tempted by the salt. Got up, had our breakfast, paid a visit to the farm house, bought some butter, milk and eggs, also some cows with their calves for $30. Found the river we had to cross so much swollen as to be half a mile in width. Crossed in a ferry boat in safety. Got to a hill and encamped.
29- Sunday. Remained in camp at Macedonia, a Mormon town containing 5 houses. Visited two of them. The inmates treated us very kindly. We got some mutton (I bought a whole sheep for a dollar) and some green vegetables. In the evening Margetts came back to tell us that the company was waiting for us at Kanesville. We started out and traveled 2 miles, when rain came on and we halted for the night. [p.33]
30- Started at 4 a.m. Traveled to Silver Creek near which is a settlement. We forded the creek in safety, except breaking the captain’s tongue pin, and hounds. Mended up with chains and proceeded on. We arrived at Keg Creek, (Another small settlement), smashed up Jones’s wheel against a stump. Jones made up his mind to stay behind at Brother Dunn, whom he seemed to have been previously acquainted with, and we want on to a hill and encamped.
July 1- Got to Centerville, where we stayed all day.
2- Arrived at Kanesville. Quite a pretty town and the surrounding scenery very beautiful. . . We stayed 2 days in Kanesville, where I purchased some more provisions. Met with some pleasant people and this morning recommenced our journey . . . [p.34]
. . . 29- Rose this morning with a thankful heart that our travels are nearly finished, at least we hope so. After breakfast and looking after my two patients, who are doing even much better under the circumstances that might have been expected, and the babies first rate. I ascended the hill before us, and had my first view of the city, which is laid out in squares, or blocks as they call them here, each containing 10 acres and divided into 8 lots, each lot having 1 house. I stood and looked. I can hardly analyze my feelings, but I think my prevailing ones were joy and gratitude for the protecting care had over me and mine, during our long and perilous journey. . .
. . . Oct. 6th- During the last week I have purchased a small house [in Salt Lake City] with an acre of garden attached to it. . . . [p.48]
BIB: Baker, Jean Rio Griffiths, Diary typescript (Ms 1788) and (Ms 8620 reel 13 #1), pp. 1-34, 48. (HDA) (source abbreviations)