Beginning in July 1846
At Mount Pisgah a place where the pioneers had made a farm to raise sustenance for those who should follow—we fell in with a considerable number of English brethren, with whom we traveled to Council Bluffs. Distance from Nauvoo about 330 miles. Here we received a requisition from the United States for five hundred men to volunteer to go to California to fight in the Mexican War. This was one of the most barbarous and cruel requisitions that could have been made upon any people under the circumstances. The notion had gone out amongst them that the Mormons had gone out to join the Indians against the Government. This requisition was got up as it was said to test our loyalty—and with a scheme laid, that if this call was not attended to an army should come and reenact the Missouri scenes; only to destroy entirely the Mormons as a people.
However, the men were forthcoming, which took the flower of the camp. The young, stout and robust men. Thus left their families shelterless and many of them without food to travel on foot a journey of several thousand miles across deserts and plains almost impracticable to cross. Why I mention this is because some were obliged to be responsible for those families who were thus bereaved in such an unfavorable time. There were no houses for shelter, no neighbors but Indians, and nothing save the open uncultivated prairie to live upon, the summer was now nearly spent. We arrived at the Bluffs, July 15th, and everything to be done, inasmuch as circumstances rendered it impracticable to travel further that season. . . .
Crossing the Missouri River at Sarpy’s Point, we traveled to a place called Cutler’s Park, where the great camp had located themselves to take care of their stock, and cut hay for to winter them. Distance about 20 miles. My uncle and myself were both sick with ague and fever and frequently delirious. Our disease seemed very distressing, and we had none of the comforts of life to help ourselves with. here we remained until sometime in October, when the camp removed down to a spot on the Missouri river, called by us Winter Quarters, the site of the present city of Florence. Here those who were able built them houses, but the sick had to remain exposed contentedly or not, as they could compose themselves until cots could be provided. We remained in our wooden wagon in the open air until sometime in December. It was very cold—My aunt was compelled to take our oxen and go to the woods and fetch to the wagon wood to make a fire to keep us warm. And we used to keep the wagon warm by placing a quantity of live coals into the bake-kettle, and placing it in the wagon, around which by placing our feet we endured the inclemency of the weather.
Bro. Channay Warner Porter, put up a small split-log building—10 ft. square—for sister Cox, who had remained with us. . . . Sis. Cox gave us the privilege to go in with her and her four children into her new cabin for which in our circumstances we were extremely thankful. We were now destitute of provisions—inasmuch as we had not team to haul it from Nauvoo. We sold abundance of corn at Nauvoo for ten cents per bushel the year previous, and now we could not get it for money if we had had money to have bought it with. Brethren who were in health, went down to Missouri and either worked for provisions, or traded for it by selling their clothing or what they could spare to obtain it with. We not having any means to send to exchange for provisions, were now rendered entirely destitute and compelled in our sick situation to ask our brethren for assistance. Daniel Carn was appointed bishop over that part of the settlement where we lived, and it was to him we had to seek. He was somewhat a cold-hearted man towards the poor, though a very efficient business man, and able defender of the faith. But in these times no one had anything to spare, and it was an exceeding hard matter for even a bishop to obtain anything for the poor. Hence many times we had not enough to eat, and that we did have was frequently very rough. Parched cornmeal and bran were both poor food which we sometimes were glad to eat in order to sustain life and keep from returning to our mother earth, as we were very low from ague and fever, which never relaxed, until upon both of us a new and worse disease attacked us—the effects of which were permanent in our systems.
I mean the Black Scurvy. This disease is somewhat similar to that experienced by persons on lengthy voyages at sea. Sister Cox and her four children were also attacked by it. One of her children died. The disease was so prevalent that hundreds became victims thereto. The road to the burying ground led by our cabin and we could see every day numbers being carried thither. In our small place there were only two out of the nine inmates that were in health. These were my aunt Bundy and my sister Ann. They were employed day and night waiting upon us that lay sick. This I believe seemed to be the longest winter that i ever saw. My Uncle’s limbs were all discolored. I was afflicted in my stomach. It was not expected that I should live. I recollect hearing my uncle express his doubts concerning my life in an undertone to his wife. But I had great hopes because of the promises contained in my patriarchal blessing. But at one stage of my disease—sometime in February 1847—I became convinced that I must die unless I could obtain immediate relief. I called for my blessing, and read it, and sent for Father John Smith to come and administer to me. I spoke to him of my blessing that he had given me two years previously and he read it. I believe from th way he replied to my inquiries that he thought I could not live, not withstanding the promises in my blessing. But he prayed for me and I told him if it was the will of God I desired to live and to fulfill it in the flesh. He then blessed me and prophesied that I should recover. He asked me if I would become his son, and I believe I promised him in my distress, that I would. He was very kind to me during all my sickness, and I felt under a deep obligation to him. After he left me the enemy seized upon me and it did seem for a time as though I should die for certain. I sent for Father Smith again in my distress, and he brought with him C.P. Lott, and Abel Butterfield—They prayed for me—rebuked the destroyer—and said I should live. From that time I began to amend. The following evening Johnathan C. Wright and George Bradley washed and anointed me that I might recover. I felt the power of God to operate upon me, and I can bear testimony that I was healed by the power of God. But my limbs were affected for several weeks so that I had to use crutches to go about with. As I recovered and got abroad, during the early part of spring, I feel to record the kindness of several brethren to me, who gave me food and administered to my temporal wants. Namely L.E. Harring, D. Russell, besides Father Smith the patriarch at whose house I have always been welcome. And as we had no provisions at home I was glad to accept their kindness and feel indebted to them in a measure for the preservation of my life; as when I went out on my crutches and stopped in their houses they always fed me and administered to my temporal wants. . . .
About this time—as soon as I was able to do anything I went and learned to make fancy baskets of Sister John Young and thus employed myself until I was able to go and help break up prairie for the purpose of putting in a crop.
In March the pioneers started to find a location for the saints: and in June following a large portion of the people—all those who were prepared with provisions to last them 18 months started west in the trail of the pioneers. My sister Ann went with President John Young’s family. In May we were obliged to move out of the house that Brother Porter built and went into a small log cabin that was vacated by Wm. Corbit who had gone to make a farm for W. Clayton. We lived in that room until the following autumn, when I bought the log cabin that Bro. Porter built that we lived in the last winter, and removed into it. It had been removed close to Bro. Porter’s house. During the summer of 1847 I labored hard and succeeded in raising sufficient buckwheat and corn to last us the winter, and chiefly what we had with which to undertake our further journey. During the Winter of ’47–8 I made a quantity of baskets, which in the spring I sold at Kanesville (Bluff City) and other places for necessaries. I also went down with Bro. John Gailey to Missouri with baskets, and a feather bed, to trade for clothing and uncle still continued crippled and unable to do anything. It was now over a year since he was first attacked, since which time he had not been able to go a hand’s turn out of the house, nor get about the least whatever except with crutches.
The pioneers returned sometime in November ’47, after having explored the country westward and found the location of Great Salt Lake City—which they laid outg—put in crops—made roads etc.
As spring advanced we made further preparations for removing west—tried to get another wagon to remove with—but could not, having no means where-with to purchase one. Consequently, we concluded to cix up our wooden wagon again in which to cross the plains. It had lain by ever since we came to Winter Quarters, and we now got it repaired and put our provisions and what little clothing we had into it and made ready for a journey to Great Salt Lake Valley.
However, that more provisions might be carried I engaged to drive a team for Bro. W. G. Perkins, for the carriage of 450 lbs of breadstuff and my board to the valley. I drove team for Br. Perkins 120 mils,—at which time some of President Brigham Young’s teamsters went back, and he called upon Bro. Perkins for to spare a teamster if he ould,—after which I drove one of the President’s teams about 100 miles, and was then sent to drive one of Thomas Bullock’s teams, which I continued to do until I arrived in the valley.
Account quoted from Remembering Winter Quarters/Council Bluffs, Larsen and Larsen, 2004, p27–33