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November 1849

1 November 1849 • Thursday

Cleared away & promised to be fine, we packed up & started8; turned back about half mile & then struck over the ridge to the Westward after about a mile’s travel crossed a small spring branch had to climb a good many ridges; passed in a Cedar grove two or three Indian wigwams very comfortably fixed for them, out of Cedar limbs & tops; they seemed to have been not been long untenanted. Struck South West to a gap th in the Mountains, crossed a valley diagonally of several miles width storming in the mountains at the point we calculated to strike; we soon arrived at the gap we aimed for, & in time to get into the rain; heard several peals of thunder travelled some distance up the dry bed of a Creek, struck off over some spurs raining all the time very heavily very miry in consequence & very bad travelling for man & beast; it was very cold & we had to get off <& walk> to keep warm, we were thoroughly drenched & very cold the rain beating in our face; we travelled on in silence every one absorbed in his own reflections which were not very pleasant as our bedding & every thing we had was wet through; upon rounding the point of a rock we discovered the forward part of our company dismounted9 & preparing to Camp, it was an acceptable sight, & we soon drew up under the shelter of some rocks with caves in, which we named the Rock of Refuge, about 15 miles travelling brought us to this place. I had <no> expectation of having so <such> comfortable quarters for the night, the rain subsided as we stopped; we made large fires and dryed our things & made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances admitted for the night. <found water in standing pools close by, about a mile below some running springs>

2 November 1849 • Friday

Continued up the by the side of a dry creek called Dry Sandy, the same we struck the previous evening after about a mile’s travel came to Capt. Smith’s Camp ground; after 2 miles travel came to a small stream impregnated with iron, this sinks in the bed of Sandy; our course still continued up bed of creek for 10 miles from Rock and came to a beautiful spring on our left; before reaching this spring we passed thro’ a fine patch of grass; kept on in a S. W. direction until we came to a narrow pass in a Cañon about 3 miles from spring, & here found plenty of water which arose & sunk in some 300 Y’ds. (The Valley up to this point affording plenty of feed & good land, the mountains destitute of any timber, but cedar & scrub pines & sage,) continuing our course up the Cañon we came to a small valley surrounded by hills or low mountains; we still continued our S. W. course for about 1½ miles we then struck southward still continuing up the bed of Creek for ¾ miles, then entered a narrow cañon on our right filled with cedar; my pack horse here began to fail & Bro. Cain led him along by the halter while I walked behind & drove him; the old fellow had been failing for some time we have been eating out of his pack for some days back; we travelled up this Cañon about 1 mile & then turned our course Southward over the dividing ridge of the Great Basin; here considerable snow had fallen during the night, some still remained upon the ground, after crossing we came to a large Cañon running W. S. W. down which we went until we came to the Devil’s offset as it was called by our boys, we found we could go no further, by this time Bro. Cain & myself were alone with the exception of Bro. Bigelow [Bigler], who had remained with us to help us drive he drove Bro. Cain’s pack animal for us; we were perfectly non-plussed not knowing which shoot to take having lost the trail; upon hunting around awhile we again found it, upon coming <when they came> to the Rock, they had turned back about a ¼ of a mile & struck over the hills to the Southward for about 3 miles, then struck the same Cañon about 100 Y’ds. below the offset (With a little <labor> a road can be made to the left of the Rock for pack animals,) continuing down the Cañon we came to some Rocks resembling the ruins of an ancient Castle; it was growing dark we still continued down hoping every turn to see the fires, until Bro. Bigelow, who was ahead, as we rounded one of the points shouted that he10 smelt the camp, we still could not see the camp but were glad to know we were close to it for we were afraid we would have to Camp by ourselves, on account of not being able to keep the trail in the dark; we found Capt. Smith’s company & ours adjoining upon a plat of grass <containing> about 50 acres of grass, at the lower end of which we found some good springs which supplied us with plenty of good water; this day’s travel amounted to 25 miles. There was an old corn cob found near an Indian Lodge just vacated the fire in which had just been covered up. Some Indians seen at11 a distance. Several Pitch Pines found. The animals were much fatigued with this day’s travel.12

3 November 1849 • Saturday

Remained encamped here until after dinner to rest our animals after the fatigues of yesterday; we expected to reach a valley this evening to camp in.13 Travelled down the Cañon crossed the creek several times, had some bad places, rather miry; Cañon narrow & the Mountains on each side high perpendicular & rocky; there <are> a great many caves & excavations in the sides. Climbed a Mountain, the Cañon being impassable, sides covered with Cedar <ascent> very difficult for our pack animals, travelled thro’ some Cedar Ridges & ascended a very steep rocky Mountain extremely difficult of ascent; upon gaining the summit we found Capt. Smith’s company stopped, busily engaged in fixing a road to descend the Mountain, this was extremely difficult they made it to wind round the side of the Mountain to a spur that descended more gradual to the creek below; great care had to be taken in descending for one false step would precipitate animal & pack down the mountain without any prospect of escaping with life. All arrived at bottom of mountain without any accident. Crossed creek a great number of times it had increased in size very [much] since we left it; arrived at a large bend with a tolerable supply of grass in it; concluded it best to camp for the night as there was no prospect of us reaching the Valley; day had been cloudy & we could not see by the sun the course we were travelling. looked very much like storm. Rained very heavily during night. I thought I would prevent the water running under us, as it had done the last rain, by making a small trench round our bed, but it was not sufficient I made it after the bed was made, & all the water that ran of the robe ran inside the trench under the bed; arose in morning wet through felt very uncomfortable still raining very heavily. Indian wigwam found close by Camp recently vacated the pot, made of earthenware being on the fire, a bow lying close bye, they inhabitants had left upon hearing us. We were <are> now in the Pah-Utah territory & as they were notorious for their depredations, we had to be very vigilant.14

4 November 1849 • Sunday

After rain had subsided packed up & started, animals looked bad in consequence of storm. Still kept down Cañon crossing & recrossing Creek a great many times <some places very bad> upon rounding a point we found the companies all stopped not being able to go any further in the opinion of some; surrounded upon all sides by high Mountains impracticable to cross, several men were sent to the tops of those surrounding us to reconnoitre & see if there was any possible outlet, all returned with unfavorable reports, nothing to be seen but mountains; Capt. Flake & one or two others then descended the Cañon to see if there was any possibility of our being able by laboring a little to make a practicable route for us to descend, the men that had been on the Mountains stating that the Cañon grew wider a little lower & that if we could surmount the obstacles immediately ahead we could still proceed. The Capt. returned, stating that it was extremely rough being very rocky, & a very precipice to ascend, but thought we would be able by rolling a few rocks out of the way to go on; we were glad to hear of this for we had now been standing for about four hours in a drenching rain, every thing we had on us & on our packs being completely drenched. We commenced our descent of the Cañon found it as represented by Capt. F. but thro’ it all without accident until we reached the precipice; the animals with some help from the men with <and> very little unpacking succeeded in reaching the top without accident with the exception of <my pack horse> “old Croppy” as he was called, he succeeded in reached nearly the top of the steepest part when his hind feet slipped & he fell & would have rolled down if I had not caught him as he fell & stayed him, there several close by helping him by the halter; they caught hold <of> him & arrested his downward progress; but we found he was unable to get up where he15 was, and we rolled him over once more to get him on a better spot to raise him & succeeded in doing by helping him & taking his pack off which was very light, about 30 lbs. In his fall he had cut the skin <of the> cap of his knee upon a sharp rock. By helping him he got over into the Cañon again. After about 1½ miles travel reached a place we thought it best to stop at. Tolerable supply of feed for animals. Awakened during <in> night by Bro. Cain, who was on guard telling me that “Croppy” had got in the Creek. 3 of guard drew him out, but he had fell in again & he wanted me to get up & get him out, with some trouble we succeeded in getting him out & on his feet, but he was chilled thro’ & I did not think he would live, he was worn down & very weak. I had sewed up his knee where it was cut.

5 November 1849 • Monday

This morning found “Croppy” in creek drownded.16 Started early, crossed creek a great many times expecting to see a valley every headland we rounded but were disappointed until the afternoon about 3 o’clock we came into a small valley about 20 acres of cultivated land soil sandy old corn stalks lying <round> evidences of cultivation, of last year’s growth we travelled on down creek about three miles & came to another small valley with a standing corn field <ears of> corn taken off stalks standing, Beans, Morning glories, Squash vines, &c &c. all in a good state of cultivation large drains being made for irrigating showing industry & perseverance; the corn afforded our animals good feed for night.17

6 November 1849 • Tuesday

Cañon more open than it had been pleasanter travelling, very large specimans of Cactus or Prickly Pear 4 or 5 inches in diameter also the Prickly Pine as large round the butt as a man’s body it resembled Pine18 apples <in> the leaves the bark was a good deal like oak bark.19 Travelled 12 miles & came to a beautiful grove of Cottonwoods making a fine shade on the banks of Creek, which was considerably smaller scarcely running any, it having been sinking & decreasing gradually for some time back. This day’s travel reckoned at 12 miles. Passed in afternoon a place where Indians had been working; seeds of Bitter Squash spread out to dry being used as we supposed by them for food, some pieces of ox & cow hide recently taken we thought from the animals; a robe made out of rabbit fur was also lying close by, a great many articles of Indian manufacture scattered round. they had fled in great haste upon hearing our advance.

7 November 1849 • Wednesday

A corn field found about 1½ miles below we moved down this morning intending to remain until we found out something of our whereabouts & the best course to take we had nothing to travel by excepts the Compass; we had not been able to find any trail with the exception of Indian trails small ones not leading to any particular spot, running in all directions over the country. Our course had been for the last few days in a Southerly direction; after reaching the corn field we resolved to stay remainder of day & recruit our animals as the fodder was green & made excellent feed for them. It was surprising to see the foliage so luxuriant and green it was more like July than November. We intended to strike Westward about 1 mile below.20

8 November 1849 • Thursday

This morning 6 Emigrants <with 5 horses> overtook us from wagons, the <people with> wagons had all determined to come this route.21 Travelled down creek about a mile & struck over some high hills to the W. & kept in this direction nearly all day. Camped in dry bed of a creek after dark with no water or feed for our animals after 32 miles travel; animals very much exhausted for want of feed & water. Many of [the] men suffered very much for want of water. Capt. Smith’s men many of [them] offering anything they had for it.—A good many gave way to feelings of despondency, the prospects not being very promising of finding for a good distance.

9 November 1849 • Friday

Travelled up Bed of Creek to the Northward expecting to find water at the Mountains; after 10 miles travel we came to the Cañon after about a little travel up which we came to water; both men & animals drank greedily, for all had suffered. Several animals had given out, Capt. Smith’s animals many of them failed. This was called Providence Cañon on account of finding <it> so providentially; it was as sweet water as I ever drank. Upon the foremost ones seeing it the[y] shouted it was answered back the length of the line with rapture. This afternoon two of the men that had overtaken us yesterday morning came in the others 4 were behind with the animals. They started back, after eating dinner with 4 Canteens of water for their comrades but were not able to find them; we were afraid the Indians had laid in ambush & killed them as they had some narrow Cañons to descend, & two of Smith’s men had been back <for a horse but could not find them> & saw 22 or 23 Indians three of them had rifles.22

10 November 1849 • Saturday

This morning there was a call for 5 men to volunteer to go back to find these men if possible five from our co. & five from Smith’s making in all 12 with the two belonging to the co. I offered myself as one; we armed ourselves & started taking a canteen <of water> apiece with us; and met them, coming up, about four miles from Camp; we were glad to see them, as <we> were afraid the Indians had waylaid & killed them; they had found water in a cave about 8 miles below our old camp ground upon this creek bed.

11 November 1849 • Sunday

Started this morning & travelled down bed of Creek about a mile & then struck off to the Westward over some low mountains. This day’s travel was one an uninterrupted succession of hills very fatiguing for both animals and men we did not seem to make much headway as we had to tack round considerable to avoid heavy hills. After travelling until near night we saw a creek to our right down in a Cañon a long distance from where we were by searching awhile we found a place where we could descend; upon examination we found that it was Providence Creek & that we had not gained over three miles by our day’s travel. We all felt low spirited at the result of our hard day’s travel. Bro. Rich said this evening that he was not going to be led round in this manner <any longer,> we should all perish <in the mountains> if there was not an alteration; if he could not have his way he should go back to the wagons as quick as he could. He said if his counsel had been taken we would not have been here.23 I was glad to hear <him> speak as he did for I had seen that he had not taken a very active part in matters, & that Capt. Smith’s opinion had been taken taken in preference to the Generals; it had been his mind to travel on the table land and keep out of the mountains & if <we> could not go that way we could not go at all.24 One of John Dixon’s horses had given out to-day the horse Uncle had bought of G. L.25

12 November 1849 • Monday

Started this morning with the intention of striking for the bottom we took all the water we could carry with us in case we did not reach any this evening. Travelled until evening stopped & fed an hour on excellent grass. Capt. Flake went ahead to see if he could find water and grass to camp. We travelled until about ten o’clock & camped without water and grass. We travelled 32 miles.

13 November 1849 • Tuesday

Started at day light. Bro. Rich went ahead on foot two or three going of us going with him. We climbed several high ridges the prospect was dreary, no signs of water. We travelled until afternoon we began to feel hungry & thirsty, it began to rain a little & increased Bro. Rich stopped the animals on a spot of good grass thinking the wet grass would help them. I felt very weak & faint for want of something to eat. Bro. Rich got at some hard bread he had on his pack mule & gave us all an invitation to eat I thankfully accepted his offer and never felt tasted anything sweeter in my life.26 We started again after stopping about an hour it still continued raining; as we went along every rock that had any water [at] <a hollow with> water standing in <it> was greedily drank by the men, it soon began to stand in puddles on the ground & we soon got satisfied as well as the animals. When it first commenced I turned the rim of my hat up and caught enough in it to afford me occasionally a drink. We camped in a hollow and cooked our supper with rain water & filled every thing that would hold water for the morrow. Never in my life did I see the hand of the Lord more plainly shown than in the present instance (Capt. Smith said to Gen. Rich that the finger of the Lord was in this.) for we must have suffered, had it not been for this, very much & probably have perished for to all appearances there was no water any nearer than Providence Creek. Ceased raining in evening.27

14 November 1849 • Wednesday

Capt. Smith sent out men early this morning to search for water; three of our men started for a range of Mountains west to see if they could find any water or any signs of any coming from them; but could not find any. Capt. Smith’s men found a small spring in the bottom, to the Southward, & thought by digging we might get to water. Started afternoon & went over to the spring it was very weak furnishing enough for us, but the animals finding water enough standing in pools. Grass very good.

15 November 1849 • Thursday

Bro. Rich started for the Mountains West calculating to see what chance there was to go on the other side. He was gone all day, he had three men with him, & did not return until long after nightfall The prospect from the mountain was very dull for us going this route; the country westward was considerably higher than this & very sterile; he thought there was not enough grass for one animal to subsist upon & he did not see any signs of water, the land was undulating spurs putting out from the range North; to the Southward there was a valley <running> to the west that he thought if any route went this way it must be thro’ it; but there was not a good prospect for water thro’ it. He saw a range of Mountains about 80 miles as he supposed from the range he was on; beyond this he saw a large snowy peak looming thro’ the clouds but whether connected with a range or not he could not tell on account of the fog, he judged it to be 150 miles distant. Upon mature consideration he did not think it would be wisdom for him to take the company thro’ & he thought he would strike for the Spanish Trail. The brethren were unanimous in their feeling to go the Spanish Trail.28

16 November 1849 • Friday

Capt. Smith came up to hear the result of Bro. Rich’s view. Bro. Rich stated to him what he had seen & his opinion of the route. Capt. Smith expressed his determination to persevere & swore by the G—ds he would go, if he died in the attempt, & said that if we did not hear from him we might know that he died with his face westward & not before he had eat some mule meat. All the men with the exception of one or two, that belonged to joined our company not belonging to the church left & went with Capt. Smith. We parted with the best of feelings each one believing his way the best.29 Travelled until afternoon stopped & fed about half an hour started and travelled thro’ a narrow Cañon thro’ a mountain sides rising precipitously to several hundred feet camped about a quarter from mouth of Cañon tolerable feed.

17 November 1849 • Saturday

Travelled down bed of Creek until we came to Cañon about three miles long, sides <of solid rock> rising perpendicularly several hundred feet; it was good travelling down the Cañon, upon emerging from it we came to splendid grass & some warm springs of water; we fed our horses an hour & again started the springs soon formed a creek with considerable water in it. Very bad travelling in consequence of the mire. Camped on Creek in good feed; Bro. Fife who had been the Spanish Trail home from California thought it was the Muddy Creek from the looks <its> appearance. Our course Yesterday and to-day had been South East with the intention of intersecting the Trail.30

18 November 1849 • Sunday

Travelled about five miles down the Creek and came in sight of some cattle grazing on the other side of the Creek & seen some men who told <us> Capt. Hunt was here with seven wagons, the rest having left him & gone on our trail; we were glad to hear it & we felt to return thanks to our Heavenly Father for this, we had been all seperated from the Train Capt. Hunt with enough men to go thro’ in safety, & we had seperated from Capt. Smith’s Company just as some of them had ran out of provisions & they were threatening to us[e] their rifles if they could not get any other way; & our agreement with them was to divide with them when they were out. Capt. Hunt was glad to see us & we got some provisions enough to serve us as we thought to the settlements.31

19 November 1849 • Monday

Remained Camped all day to recruit our animals.33

20 November 1849 • Tuesday

Started to-day about noon, we had before us the fifty mile desert.34 we travelled until after night fall when we came to some puddles of water to the left of the road where we watered our animals; the moon shone brightly & made it pleasant travelling; we reached a spot of grass to the right of the road about 25 miles we thought from Muddy & found water among some bushes about a mile & half from feed it was in puddles from the last rain.35

21 November 1849 • Wednesday

We had this morning a gradual ascent of about 12 miles & then descended for a few miles over very rough road & then travelled on a bottom until we struck the Vegus where our folks camped part of day had very rough rocky road, several horses gave out to-day, among the rest John Dixon’s; Bro. Cain & myself stayed with him trying to get it up if possible we drove him on until dark when we found we could not get him up to Camp, we then left him & came into after they had camped an hour or two. The wagons did not come up until near morning.36

22 November 1849 • Thursday

As there was good feed here Bro. Rich thought we had better stay here & let the animals recruit; but after<wards> thought we had better travel about 6 miles to the head of the springs.37

23 November 1849 • Friday

Very Windy this morning too cold almost to ride on horseback, it made it very tedious travelling it seemed a long 14 miles, & we were glad when we struck the creek upon which we camped; it was formed by springs rising immediately above where we were encamped; they were rather warm. The country we passed thro’ to-day was barren & rather rocky; feed this evening was very poor having all been eaten out by the traveller’s animals who were ahead of us.38

24 November 1849 • Saturday

Concluded this morning to go about 3 miles further & encamp for the day upon some good feed that Capt. Hunt had found last evening; we found good grass & a weak spring of water affording grass sufficient to supply Capt. Hunt’s Company & ours.39

25 November 1849 • Sunday

Fine pleasant morning To-day’s travel was rough we camped at a spring to the right of the road upon a grassy ridge affording rather poor pasturage to our animals having been all eaten off; we found some good feed on the side of a Mountain about ¾ of a mile from camp. We had an abundance of wood this evening having plenty of cedar & pine all around us. To-day my mare gave out I had to let her go without anything on her; my things being carried by the brethren of the mess. I had saved her as much as I possibly could having walked principally the whole of the [way] for fear of her failing.40

26 November 1849 • Monday

We had thirty miles travel before us to-day but they road was good & descending; we came before we knew it to some willow trees very large in a bottom where we found a spring of water; this the roadometer made 27 miles some of us when we came here thought it could not be over 22 or 23 miles; but when the wagon came along they set us right; there had been some feed but not very good & it was all eaten. We went to <the> right Northward when we left this spring & after leaving traveling about 3 miles we struck a bottom & after travelling about a mile to the westward; we came to some excellent <bunch> grass of very fine quality; but did not find any water.

27 November 1849 • Tuesday

Bro’s. Fife and [Henry Eliot] Gibson went out this morning & found some water still further west; we went down to it & cooked breakfast. We travelled about 7 miles & crossed a ridge rather bad descending, travelled in the valley about 12 miles & turned to the right & crossed a steep ridge travelled about 5 miles & camped upon a spring with very good feed but very strongly impregnated like all the grass in this country with saleratus.41

28 November 1849 • Wednesday

Remained encamped here all day bought some provisions & beef which from the wagons; we dried the beef.

29 November 1849 • Thursday

Started about noon to the spring on Saleratus Creek a distance of 7 miles; to our right as we travelled we could see about a mile & a half distant the banks crusted white with alkali; we had some very steep descending to get into the bottom where the creek <ran>; never during the whole of the route did <have> I seen a place so sterile & the curse of God so visibly manifested as I did here 42 it seemed as tho’ his strong displeasure had been exhibited; the water was poisonous looking like strong ley more than water. We found the water where we camped passably good; we had to be careful with the animals in crossing & recrossing the creek to prevent them drinking.43

30 November 1849 • Friday

Started very early this morning & travelled down the creek about 10 miles crossing and recrossing repeatedly when we emerged from the Cañon we turned to the left & rounded the point of a Mountain we travelled some distance in very heavy sand making it toilsome for both man & beast we passed thro’ a Rocky Cañon very rough travelling in which we found a weak brackish spring of water not fit for use. About ½ a mile further we came to grass & some very strong Salt Springs not fit for use; we remained here until 3 o’clock when some of the boys found some pools of standing rain water up to the left where we watered our animals; this stretch we called 14 or 15 miles. We travelled this evening & night we had a beautiful moon to travel by the light of, about 28 miles, part of the road was hard & level as a MacAdamised road44 & part quite rough & rocky; we travelled up a Cañon about a mile & camped no feed & had to tie our animals to the bushes; I arrived in Camp about 1 o’clock I was very much fatigued & felt unwell I had the travelled the whole distance on foot <about 43 miles>, with the exception of about45 a mile Wm. [William] Farrer. Farrer let me ride on his mare.


  1. [1]William Lewis Manly, Death Valley in ‘49, Important Chapter of California Pioneer History. The Autobiography of a Pioneer, Detailing His Life from a Humble Home in the Green Mountains to the Gold Mines of California; and Particularly Reciting the Sufferings of the Band of Men, Women and Children Who Gave “Death Valley” Its Name (San Jose, Calif.: Pacific Tree and Vine Co., 1894), 111.

  2. [2]William B. Lorton diary, 3 Nov. 1849, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (hereafter cited as Bancroft Library).

  3. [3]L. Dow Stephens, Life Sketches of a Jayhawker ([San Jose, Calif.: Nolta Brothers], 1916), 19.

  4. [4]Addison Pratt autobiography and journal, 4 Nov. 1849, Historical Department, Archives Division, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter cited as LDS Church Archives).

  5. [5]James S. Brown, Life of a Pioneer: Being the Autobiography of James S. Brown (Salt Lake City: Geo. Q. Cannon & Sons Co., 1900), 135–36.

  6. [6][George Q. Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago: A Trip to California” [chap. IV], Juvenile Instructor 4, no. 4 (13 Feb. 1869): 28.

  7. [7]At least three Jayhawkers, one member of the Bennett-Arcan party, and perhaps nine of the Pinney-Savage party perished in or near Death Valley. Although a number of persons or events are attributed with giving the valley its name, a member of the Bennett-Arcan party is the most likely candidate. For an account of the fate of San Joaquin company members in and around Death Valley, see Richard E. Lingenfelter, Death Valley & The Amargosa: A Land of Illusion (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986); and Manley, Death Valley in ‘49.

  8. [8]The company had traveled up Holt Canyon, east of the present town of Enterprise, Utah, to make their camp the previous evening. For details on the route followed by Cannon and the packers from this point until they reached the California Crossing of the Muddy near present day Glendale, Nevada, see Geographical Register at the end of this volume.

  9. [9]Or dismounting.

  10. [10]The word he is written over we.

  11. [11]Or in.

  12. [12]Bigler wrote of this day, “this morning Snow was on the mountains at 9 we left camp went up a beautiful little valley a bout 1/4 mile wide past through a Canion and over low hills a long here was a little snow left that had felln [fallen] through the night. here we past over the Rim of the Great basin, we crost over in to a Canion Running about S. west made a bout 25 m. the Road generally to day was Rough, we are now encamped in the Canion on a level spot of grass about 50 acres wood and water plenty.” (Henry Bigler diary, “Book B,” 2 Nov. 1849, HM57022, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California [hereafter cited as Huntington Library].)

    In a later copy of his journal Bigler added some details about being separated from the main company: “it was after night fall before I and a few others got to camp as the company some way or other got divided or apart from each other not intentionally and I was in the crowd left in the rear. I created quite a merriment and it seemed a novel thing when I remarked to my companions behind that we were drawing near to camp for ‘I could smell their camp fires!’ I admit this might appear to some to be more like a fable than otherwise but there is a smell of fire when burning wood and brush grass etc. that can be detected by close observers and especially I beleave to hunters and woodmen sooner than others perhaps.” (Henry W. Bigler journal, “Journal A,” 2 Nov. 1849, HM57034, Huntington Library.)

  13. [13]On this date Bigler wrote, “laid by until nearly noon for our animals to rest and eat grass. I Cut the 3 first letters of my name on a Rock & the date.” (Bigler diary, “Book B,” 3 Nov. 1849.) His initials have survived and mark with certainty the company’s location in Beaver Dam Wash on 3 November. Historian Charles Kelly located the initials in 1938. See Charles Kelly, “On Manley’s Trail to Death Valley,” Deseret Magazine 25, no. 9 (September 1962): 30–34.

  14. [14]Rich adds some details regarding the Indian camp they discovered. He wrote, “here we found an Indian Lodge pot on boiling all their effects in and about the Lodge, the Indians having fled found corn cobs, Pumkin Seed, also Specimens of stone tool.” (Charles C. Rich journal, 3 Nov. 1849, LDS Church Archives.)

  15. [15]The word he is written over we.

  16. [16]Cannon’s concern for “Croppy” wasn’t simply one of emotional attachment. He later wrote, “I then returned to bed. He [Croppy] soon wandered off again to the creek, and there I found him the next morning stretched out stark and cold. He was drowned! Under some circumstances my position would have been a very disagreeable one, left with but one animal at a distance of nearly five hundred miles from any point where I could obtain supplies; but the only feeling of unpleasantness that I had arose from my being dependent. The brethren of my mess were very kind; they divided my pack and carried a portion on each of their horses. Their doing this still left me my mare to ride.” Although Rich’s and Bigler’s journals mention Croppy’s death, neither mentioned carrying Cannon’s effects. (See [George Q. Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago: A Trip to California” [chap. VII], Juvenile Instructor 4, no. 7 [27 March 1869]: 52.)

  17. [17]The packers apparently never recognized the contradiction between their uncompensated appropriation of Paiute crops and food stores and their character assessment of Paiutes as being, according to Pratt and Cannon, “a thievish race” and “notorious for their depredations.” The Bennett-Arcan party acted in similar fashion, consuming winter stores of Paiute squash. Lewis Manly had misgivings primarily from the fear of revenge and he later wrote, “I considered it bad policy to rob the Indians of any of their food, for they must be pretty smart people to live in this desolate country and find enough to keep them alive, and I was pretty sure we might count them as hostiles, as they never came near our camp. Like other Indians they were probably revengeful, and might seek to have revenge on us for the injury.” (Addison Pratt autobiography and journal, 4 Nov. 1849; see George Q. Cannon journal, 3 Nov. 1849, herein; Manly, Death Valley in ‘49, 126; and Lingenfelter, Death Valley & the Amargosa, 42.)

  18. [18]Two words written on top of each other, one being Pine.

  19. [19]Traveling the Spanish Trail, Addison Pratt also remarked on the appearance of the Joshua tree: “There is a Solitary looking vegitable, of the prickley pear order, called, prickley pine, that are scattered over those deserts, growing from 3 to 30 feet high. they often grow in one columner Shape & these we would often mistake for Indians, & others branch out & on the extremity of each there is a branch of leaves of spines & each with a very sharp point.” (Pratt autobiography and journal, 10 Nov. 1849.)

  20. [20]Cannon failed to mention an incident that occurred this day, recorded by both Rich and Bigler. Rich, in his Spartan style, recorded, “Br Keeler had a Spur accidentally stuck in his foot which hurt him Verry much.” (Rich journal, 7 Nov. 1849.)

    Bigler wrote, “this morning Brother Keeler and Joseph Peck got to playing and accidently Bro. Keeler received a wound in his foot from the spur of J. P. it set him all most Crazy.” The accident would have an impact on Bigler, as he could no longer share a horse with Keeler until Keeler’s foot improved. (Bigler diary, “Book B,” 7 Nov. 1849.)

  21. [21]Writing with twenty years of hindsight, Cannon reflected, “Had we continued on the course we were then pursuing we should have struck the Spanish Trail before long, as we were traveling in a southerly direction, and this wash on which we then were doubtless led into another wash or stream which crossed the Trail on its route to the Colorado river.” With a sense of reproach he added, “This, of course, would not have suited those who wished to go through by ‘Walker’s cut-off.’” ([Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago” [chap. VII], 52.)

    On 6 November, Bigler also noted that the decision to take the cutoff seemed to appear more foolish: “we made about 15 m. and Campt in a Cotton wood grove near the banks of the stream, the water is getting scarse sinking in the Sand thare is no valley yet I think from the looks of the Contry we are near the Spanish trail and have not Cut off much yet.” (Bigler diary, “Book B,” 6 Nov. 1849.)

  22. [22]Cannon would later write of the impact of this experience after twenty years: “It seemed as though we would never reach the kanyon for which we were aiming. The distance was not very great; and men with plenty of food and drink would have soon traveled it; but we were all weak, as we did not like to eat for fear of increasing our thirst, and we found it difficult to drag ourselves along through the sand in the bed of the creek. The travel of that morning tested the endurance of all very thoroughly; and the company straggled along in a broken condition. The men on the lead reached the kanyon a long time ahead of those who were behind. After proceeding up the kanyon a little distance they found running water. As soon as they saw it they shouted, ‘Water, Water’ at the top of their voices. The cry was caught up by those behind, and was rapturously repeated the whole length of the line. This delightful news infused new life into the drooping frames of the men, and they pushed forward with increased energy. Some of them were so long, however, in reaching the water, that an impression began to prevail among them that they had been deceived. But they reached it at last. Pure, sparkling, cold water was there, gurgling as it ran over the rocks in the channel. Oh, what music to our ears was in the sound! How ravishing the sight! It was not a large stream; but it was sufficient; and a body of water as large as Lake Superior could not have produced more joy or thankfulness. I thought that morning, and many times during that journey, that I would never cease to be thankful for the precious gift of water. Though nearly twenty years have elapsed since then, the impression still remains; I cannot bear now to see water wasted. We rushed eagerly to the stream, and, stretched at full length on the ground, slaked our thirst by copious draughts, taken at such intervals as not to hurt us. What more appropriate name could we think of for this place than ‘Providence Kanyon?’ for the finding of this water had indeed been providential.” ([George Q. Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago: A Trip to California” [chap. VIII], Juvenile Instructor 4, no. 8 [10 April 1869]: 60.)

    Of this desperate day Bigler wrote, “we left Camp and traviled up the bed of the Creek went a bout 3 miles when one of my animals give out. I left him and put the pack on the one I wride. Bro. Keeler who had the wound in the foot I told him to go a head with the Camp and if they found water to send and meet me with a Canteen full of water for I should be late in getting in to Camp for the animal I had was nearly give out for it was with much labour that I could get him along. I was soon left behind without any arms and no one knew I was so far behind. I freequently scratched holes in the sand for water and Chewed bullets to make moisture in my mouth. a bout 3 o clock I seen Bro. Cain cuming directly. I seen him raise his hand and shake it and a tin cup glissnend in his hand, I understood the sign when we met he handed me a Canteen full of the best water I ever drank I Clened the Canteen of evry drop. My mouth had began to feel bitter and I began to feel like vomiting. it was not far to Camp when I got in Supper was ready I eat and drank until I was satisfied. By this time 2 of the men who had overtaken us yesterday morning Came in on foot leaveing the other 4 behind with their animals—after I had eaten and rested I Returned with 4 other men who had also left horses behind belonging to Capt. S. Company to fetch in our horses filling our Canteens full of water. when I came up to whare my mare was the men helped me and we poored a canteen full of water down his throat,—two of the men went on with their Canteens of water to meet the 4 men that was yet behind, it was some time after dark when I got in with the mare—finily the 2 men returned, not finding the 4 men, they are supposed to be killed by indians. this Creek the Camp call providence creek—traveled to day a bout 10 miles.” (Bigler diary, “Book B,” 9 Nov. 1849.)

  23. [23]Rich recorded in his journal, “I here advised to [go] Down the creek. Capt Smith took north crossed over some rough ground and quite a high mountain all seemed Dissattisfied here I made up my mind to leave Capt Smith and take those that would go with me after traveling all Day hard we camped about 8 miles higher up on the Same Creek we left in the morning here I told Capt Smith and Flake that I was going to take my own course and those that would follow me might and those that chose might go some other way they both a greed to yield the point the men all having become Dissattisfied with our course.” (Rich journal, 11 Nov. 1849.)

  24. [24]In his reminiscences Cannon wrote: “Our precarious condition aroused Gen. C. C. Rich. The time had come for him to speak and act. He had been led to travel with the company to save us from just such a fate as then threatened us. Up to this time he had not taken a very active part in the guidance of the company. Captain Smith’s opinion had been taken in preference to his. But this evening he told the company that he was not going to be led around in this manner any longer. If there was not an alteration in our mode of travel, we should all perish in the mountains. He was determined now to have his way, or he would go back to the wagons as quickly as he could. We were relieved by his remarks. They made us feel glad; for we knew that he, not Captain Smith, had the right to lead us, and that if we should be saved from our perilous circumstances, it would be through him. It seemed as though the Lord had permitted us to wander about on that 11th day of November, without making any progress, to arouse every one to a sense of the peril we were in, that he whose right it was to lead us might be justified in the eyes of all in dictating our future movements. . . .

    “Smith’s company soon learned that there was to be a change in our plan of travel, and that if they traveled in our company they must follow our lead. You may be sure that some of them sneered at the idea of the ‘Mormon’ apostle leading them. They would now see how successful we should be in finding feed and water and a good route with an apostle to dictate. I was young and inexperienced then, and did not realize, as I have since, the responsibility which Brother Rich felt. When Smith was on the lead nobody blamed him if we did not make much progress or did not find feed or water; but with Bro. Rich it was different. These men would not acknowledge that he had any more authority or knowledge than they had yet they expected more from him than they did from one of themselves. In their hearts they felt there was an authority which their mouths denied.” ([George Q. Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago: A Trip to California” [chap. VII], Juvenile Instructor 4, no. 8 [10 Apr. 1869): 60; [chap. IX] no. 9 [24 Apr. 1869]: 68.)

  25. [25]Possibly G.T.

  26. [26]This was not the first time Rich displayed his kindness to the suffering packers. A few days earlier, when Smith’s men were offering any price for water, Bigler recorded, “by some means the Camp got seperated I was in the hind most Company, night Cuming on and we lost the trail of the Company before us we halloured and fired guns at last we herd some person answer we continued towards the Camp but finding none we at length saw the flash from 2 guns but herd no report Br. Whittle took the course by a starr and got in to Camp about 10 o clock but not a drop of water was thare the Camp was in a dry bed of a river we dug in the sand for water but all in vain a emigrant belonging to Capt. Smiths Company Came in to our Camp offered to pay any price for a drink of water thare was none for sail I had no water and but fiew of the boys that had. the day had been vary warm and I had walked all day that I was exceedingly thirsty myself all though I had started with a Canteen full this morning I had drank and divided it all out soon after starting I observed [to] this man that I was to dry myself that if I had a drink I would not take $50 for it Brother Rich was setting by Said he have you no water? no I replied after a fiew minutes he Cald me to Cum thare I went [and] he handed me his Canteen Saying drink you are welcome his Canteen seamed to be about 2/3 full I did not expect to get a drink for it was only accidently on my part that I said what what [sic] I did I told Bro. Rich I would not drink for I was not badly suffering but he told me to drink[,] drink[,] that he himself had not been vary thirsty all day.” (Bigler diary, “Book B,” 8 Nov. 1849.)

  27. [27]All the journalists recorded this “miracle of the rain.” In addition to his journal entry, Cannon later wrote, “I have always believed that this shower of rain was sent to save our lives. We all felt very grateful, for the providence of the Lord was very visible to us in this timely relief.” ([Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago” [chap. IX], 68.) Rich characteristically understated the miracle, recording simply, “if ever I was thankful for a rain it was now also all the men.” (Rich journal, 13 Nov. 1849.)

    Bigler wrote, “All hands sat off at day light this morning in hopes to find water soon, one of Capt. S. men laid out all night a longe, a bout 10 it began to Rain I left the train and went on the top of some mountains to look for water. I could see no prospect by this time it began to rain and I was soon wet to the hide, in passing over the table lands among the Rocks I soon quinched my thirst by drinking the rain water that had gethered in the hallow places in the rocks. I Soon seen the train strike Camp. I made up to them, water was plenty for boath man and beast standing in large puddles on the Ground Every man had filled his Canteen & Camp Kittle with water that had fell and was buisy in getting Something to eat. thare was no timber nothing but a Kind of large weed that grows on the desert for fuel and not withstanding it was Raining all the time I never seen anything burn so well as theese weeds, all the Camp is up but one man belonging to Capt S. Company. in the evening it began to Clear up and the Son shone a little we campted in a gully dug away in the bank and got dry ground to lay on. I had went to a bed of a Creek whare water had run in times past found a lot of little bushes strait from 6 to 10 feet high a bout as thick as a mans thumb I cut a back load of them and took to Camp to make a wigwam to turn the Rain but by the time I got to Camp the son was a Shineing. I feel that the Lord in great mercy sent this Rain to us. some of our party said they heard Capt. Smith say to Bro. Rich that the finger of the Lord was in this for my part it is plain to me and I shall acknowledge the hand of god in it.” (Bigler diary, “Book B,” 13 Nov. 1849.)

    James Rollins in his reminiscent account identifies Bigler’s “large weed” and also gives his own account of the providential rain: “Brother Rich took the lead and Captain Smith and myself were sent to prospect for grass and water. We discovered a Mt. Summit some 3 miles distant, while on this Mt. I discovered a small cloud rising in the southwest. I said to Captain Smith, ‘It’s going to rain.’ He answered and said, ‘Why it hasn’t rained here since Noah’s flood.’ I said to him, ‘we must get down from here to our mules. As we saw the train going in the same direction that we wished. By the time that we arrived to where our mules were, they being tied at the foot of the mountain, it began to rain very hard, our hats both being alike, we turned them up so as to catch the water in them and when the water was gathered sufficient to swallow, we drank, he drank it off and I also gave him what was on my hat. All the water that gathered in the holds [holes] in the rocks he would lick out like a dog, until he got sufficient to quench his thirst.”

    “By the time that we arrived at the train, it was pouring rain and we [s]topped and scooped small holds [holes] that was filled with water and our animals got sufficient water to drink, being 36 hours without water and we would have perished if it had not been for this rain at this time. We pilled [piled] up dead Jawshaways [Joshuas] and made a great fire to dry our blankets.” (James Rollins reminiscences, MS 12554, p. 18, LDS Church Archives.)

    Edwin Pettit, traveling with Pomeroy’s company, learned about the providential rain from Smith or some of the packers in his company when he encountered them coming back from the cutoff. Pettit later wrote, “About two weeks after Pomeroy left Salt Lake, there was an independent company started out for the gold mines of California and they got out on the desert and got lost. They were without water or food and were about to perish. Thy could not agree on which way to go, and some started out afoot—alone. They reached the Muddy Desert just at the time we did—ragged, starved, and almost perished. When this company were out on the desert and did not seem to agree, Apostle Chas. C. Rich started out from the camp one morning, and the boys asked where he was going. He said he was just going out for a short distance and would be back soon. They thought probably he was out of his mind. He said: ‘I am just going over here to pray for rain.’ They waited for him to come back, and just as he arrived in camp the clouds were seen to arise from the southwest and the rain poured down and soaked up the ground. They got all they could in buckets and cooled off their cattle and horses. Ponds of water were left on the ground and they were all revived. Some of them later came up with Pomeroy’s company near the Muddy.” ([Edwin Pettit], Biography of Edwin Pettit [Salt Lake City: Arrow Press, n.d.], 12.)

  28. [28]Rich recorded, “This morning in company with Darwin Chase[,] George Bankhead and Mr. Adams I started for the mountain about 2 oclock we reached the top passing throug[h] thick cloud[s] the whole way when on top we found our Selves above the clouds with a good View to the west here we saw a high mountain about 150 miles west[,] a high range South west about 80 miles[,] Low hill or mountains north after a few minutes View, we Started Down heard some hallowing below some one of our company answered they Hallowed the second time I advised the boys not to answer for it might be Indians we missed the way we come up and went Down 2 miles south of where we went up it was after Dark when we reached the foot of the mountain passing Down a small kanion near the mouth we Saw a fire in a low place we approached Carefuly and when within about 20 feet we saw an Indian Sitting in a Squatted Position Looking at us we with Drew carefully and struck our camp about 9 oclock here I feel to acknowledge the hand of the lord in our Deliverance thare is not Doubt the main Party was way laying our Path which we ascended we traveled this Day not less than thirty miles.”

    Some of Smith’s men apparently didn’t take well to Rich’s announcement that the Mormon packers would head south to find the Spanish Trail. Rich noted, “after I got to camp I told a few of the company we would go south to the trail Smiths compan[y] be[g]un to swear they would take their guns to get [more provisions?].” (Rich journal, 15 Nov. 1849.) Several days later Bigler wrote about the threats from Smith’s men: “We left Captain Smiths Company just as some of his men was getting out of provisions and the word was that they ware threatening us with their rifles if we did not divide with them for we had agreed to let them have [some provisions] when they got out.”

    Bigler also recorded that Rich, “on Considering . . . gave it as his Council for us to go the spanish trail. his mind is not to go any other [way] at present and all that is a mint [mind] to follow him Can do so, if not they Can go their own way. his heart has ached ever sence we left farm Creek in fact he told Capt. F. at farm Creek he wanted to go father south, Capt. F. Said he acknowledged that he had not done as he was told.” (Bigler diary, “Book B,” 15, 17–18 Nov. 1849.)

  29. [29]Cannon later wrote of Smith’s statement: “These were brave words, and were designed to draw a contrast between, what he thought was, our lack of perseverance and courage, and the pluck, energy and unyielding resolution which he and his men possessed. They had, however, little effect upon us. To our minds it was no evidence of bravery in a man to plunge himself into the midst of difficulties, to expose his life unnecessarily, or to brave starvation and dangers when they could be honorably avoided. It was with no disposition to flinch, or to back out that we came to the conclusion to no longer pursue this route; but prudence and wisdom alike forbade our persistence in that direction.” ([George Q. Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago: A Trip to California” [chap. X], Juvenile Instructor, 4, no. 10 [8 May 1869]: 78–79.

    Cannon also wrote, “It was with a great sense of relief that we changed our course in leaving Division Spring on the morning of November 16th, 1849. We had been traveling direct West as nearly as we could; but that morning we started in a south-easterly direction. As if to encourage us, we all felt buoyant and cheerful, so much so that we spoke of our feelings one to another.” ([George Q. Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago: A Trip to California” [chap. XI], Juvenile Instructor 4, no. 11 (22 May 1869): 84.)

    Cannon’s reminiscences also describe the fate of Smith and his company: “I will here relate what I afterwards learned respecting them. The morning we separated they pursued their way westward, and after traveling that day and part of the next without finding water, they became alarmed, and concluded to return to ‘Division Spring.’ They reached there in a very exhausted condition, and some of them would likely have perished before arriving there, had they not killed a mare and drank its blood! By this time Smith had either forgotten his oath, or thought dying with his face westward was not so pleasant as he had imagined it would be; for he and some of his men decided upon taking the back track.

    “The route over which they and we had traveled in company, bad as it was, they preferred rather than encounter the horrors of the unknown wilds west of ‘Division Spring.’ They might have followed us, but their pride revolted at this. They never stopped going eastward until they met a company of our people—I think it was Major Howard Egan and party—who were on their way to California. This was after they had got inside the Rim of the Basin. They furnished Smith and his men provisions and carried them through to California, where they arrived some time after we had been there.” ([Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago” [chap. X], 79.)

  30. [30]The packers were traveling south through Double Canyon and Arrow Canyon towards the Warm Springs at the head of the Muddy River. (See the Geographical Register at the end of this volume for details.)

    Bigler’s spirits were considerably improved and he recorded, “everything seames to go write sence the General has took things in hand, we have no mountains to pass over but pass rite through them and the River Runs the rite way and we have water when ever we want it for ourselves and animals in deed we feel like new men sence the masheen has been put in order as we left the Canion we came to fine grass for our animals we halted and let our horses eat a while, near hear is some warm Springs we past by some of them and Some of our road rather muddy in places caused by thoes [sic] springs Came to day about 15 m. and Campt near the Creek lots of water and good Grass this Stream is Supposed by Bro. Fife to be muddy creek Bro. F. had traveled the spanish trail last year after being let loose from uncle Sam and Judged this to be mudy from the looks of the water. to night I stand guard, but what is worse than all I have left my pocket knife whare we eat breakfast back at our old camp lieing on the ground.” (Bigler diary, “Book B,” 17 Nov. 1849.)

  31. [31]Many besides Hunt’s small group were camped at the California Crossing, an important stop on the Spanish Trail. (For details of the site, see the Geographical Register at the end of this volume.) On 15 November, California emigrant Arthur Shearer wrote, “Capt. Hunt came up—100 of his wagons had left him,” and on 18 November he recorded that, “A pack train of Mormons come in and report that they have travelled for several days to the north of us and found the passage [of] that route impracticable, and had abandoned Smith in the mountains & set out in search of the spanish trail. They expected it was some 75 or 100 miles south yet—agreeably disappointed to find &c. Many of them nearly out of provisions. They report all the high mountains have snow on them.” (Arthur Shearer journal, as transcribed in Benjamin I. Hayes, “Notes on Overland Journeys of the Gruwell family, H. Stickney and Mr. Shearer,” 15, 18 Nov. 1849, Bancroft Library.)

    The encounter with Hunt and the wagons was joyful. Cannon later wrote, “It was with a feeling of great relief that we reached the Spanish Trail. We were tired of traveling on a ‘cut-off,’ and to say that a certain road was a ‘cut-off’ to any one of the company during the remainder of that journey was sufficient to prejudice him against it. To this day I have a dislike to ‘cut-offs.’ I prefer traveling on roads that I know something about. We had been traveling for eighteen days in a country of which we knew nothing. Our animals were failing every day, and our provisions were rapidly disappearing. While in this condition we could not divest ourselves of a feeling of anxiety about the result. The fact is I, for one, did not feel at ease respecting our position and mode of traveling at no time after we took the cut-off until Brother Rich avowed his determination to lead; and I felt still better after we left Division Spring with the intention of going to the Spanish Trail.” ([Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago” [chap. XI], 84.)

    Addison Pratt described his encounter with Rich as memorable: “On the morning of the 18th I was out in pursuit of some ducks that frequented a pool, there was in some high grass, as I was creeping through the grass I espied Brs. Rich & Brown, on the side of the pool. they discovered me at the same time, & Br. Rich called out, at the top of his voice, ‘good morning Br. Pratt!!’ At the Sound of his voice, the ducks arose out of the water, & flew towards me, & as I returned the Salute & Said, ‘good morning Br. Rich!!’ I at the same time discharged my fowling piece at the ducks; when two fell from the flock. And Br. Rich often laughed at me afterwards about the oddity of the occurrence. Br. Rich, had just before arrived in camp with his company of packers, from the mountains, & reported great distress among the waggons that had taken the cutoff. He tried to have Capt. Smith return with him, but he was determined to find a road through to California or die in the attempt.” (Pratt autobiography and journal, 17 Nov. 1849.)

    Bigler also reflected on their good fortune, writing, “at 8 we was on the march went 5 m. when we Saw a Smoke in a fiew minutes we seen Cattle feeding on the other side of the creek and some men with them, they told us Cap. Hunt was encampted just below us with a train of waggons when we made up who did we find but Captain Hunt sure a nough with a large train of waggons on the spanish trail just at the edge of the 50 m. drive a mong the train was Bros. Pratts, Brown and Blackwell still with the Roadometer on their way to the islands this fild our hearts with joy in deed we was happily disopointed we did not expect to strike the trail for 2 days yet, this Reminds me of my dream last night I dreamed of seeing Bros. P. & Brown we all felt to Rejoice and thank the Lord to meet with friends and provisions so quick whare we could recruit we got Some Crackers and I thought it the best eating ever I had. I naturally like to eat hard bread any how. . . . Capt. H. says that a train of 100 waggons has started to follow us to go it or perish and they will perish if they dont back out for I am sure they cant go it. as for Capt. Smith he is a goner if he dont beat down south on the Spanish trail.” (Bigler diary, “Book B,” 18 Nov. 1849.)

  32. [32]Pratt to Young, 15 Apr. 1850, Brigham Young Collection, Historical Department, Archives Division, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City (hereafter cited as LDS Church Archives). Hunt’s small group continued south through Mountain Meadows to the Santa Clara River and the Virgin River, over Virgin Hill and Mormon Mesa, finally arriving at the Muddy. For a detailed explanation of this portion of the Spanish Trail, see C. Gregory Crampton and Steven K. Madsen, In Search of the Spanish Trail: Santa Fe to Los Angeles, 1829–1848 (Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 1994).

  33. [33]Recruiting, a nineteenth-century term that meant more than mere resting, included the idea of rejuvenating or refreshing. Animals, critical to overland travel, received attention that is difficult to understand in our current society. James S. Brown also stated that the company “burned charcoal and made nails to shoe our cattle, having to throw the animals down and hold them while Apostle C. C. Rich shod them. Brother Rich did his work well, for the shoes never came loose till they wore off.” (James S. Brown, Life of a Pioneer: Being the Autobiography of James S. Brown [Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons, 1900], 138.)

  34. [34]The fifty-mile trek from the Muddy River down the California Wash to the Vegas, or meadows, was one of the worst stretches on the Spanish Trail. The plentiful water of the Vegas proved a blessing for all travelers. In 1851 the Mormons established a fort and a mission to the Paiutes at the Vegas and used the site as a supply base for lead mining operations. The fort served the needs of the Church until Brigham Young ordered it abandoned in 1857 when troops under the command of Albert Sidney Johnston were marching toward the Great Salt Lake Valley to suppress what the federal government perceived as a Mormon rebellion. Today the Old Mormon Fort in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a historic site carefully managed by the Nevada State Department of Parks and Recreation. For more details on this section of the trail, see Geographical Register at the end of this volume.

  35. [35]On this date Bigler reported that “a dutch man got in who had left Smith’s train he was Robed by the indians of nearly all of his provisions. at noon we took up our line of march haveing a 50 mile desert before us Some time after night we Came up to whare Bros J. Brown & Geo. Cannon was they had wrode on a head and had found some holes of water and had stopted to give notice. We halted and watered our animals and then drove on having the train of waggons a following in our rear. the moon shone and we had good traveling a bout 10 oclock we struck Camp haveing found a good spot of Grass and plenty of water for our animals standing in holes that had fell during the late rains this encampment was to the right of the road and the water was over a mile still far to the right among some bushes the other water was near the road to our left. Came today about 25 m.” (Henry Bigler diary, “Book B,” 20 Nov. 1849, HM57022, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California.)

    James S. Brown stated, “I accompanied Captain Hunt and [James] Henry Rollins twelve miles and found some small pools of water about two miles to the right of the trail; I went back to turn the packers to it, while Captain Hunt and Henry Rollins went ahead in search of more pools of water and found some. George Q. Cannon and I stayed there as guides for the wagon train, and turned them off to the water. When the train arrived, about 11 o’clock P.M., we had to dip water with cups and water the stock from buckets. Then we pressed on till daylight, made a halt long enough to take breakfast, and pushed on, for there was no feed for our stock.” (Brown, Life of a Pioneer, 138.)

  36. [36]The packers, traveling light and fast, invariably moved ahead of the wagons as they traveled toward southern California.

  37. [37]When they reached the head of the Vegas springs, Pratt described what they encountered: “here we began to <See> the Sacrifices of property <made> by those that were on ahead of us. they had camped here & lightened their waggons of clothing & feather beds. there was piles of goosefeathers down, lying in heaps, as if it had got to be troublesome times with them.” (Addison Pratt autobiography and journal, 22 Nov. 1849, LDS Church Archives.)

  38. [38]Pratt wrote, “This is the worst day’s travel we have had for our cattle’s feet. Those that are barefooted, cripple verry much.” It became so bad that the following day Pratt noted, “here we camped & as Br. Emmet had a blacksmith’s bellows & Some tools along, we went about Shoeing the barefooted cattle.” (Pratt autobiography and journal, 23–24 Nov. 1849.)

  39. [39]Shearer wrote on 25 November, “Hunt’s train of Mormons encamped where we now are and left as we came in, having first set fire to the grass.” (Arthur Shearer journal, as transcribed in Benjamin I. Hayes, “Notes on Overland Journeys of the Gruwell family, H. Stickney and Mr. Shearer,” 25 Nov. 1849, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.)

  40. [40]Cannon later wrote, “By walking, and permiting my only animal to run loose, I had hoped to save her; but she failed and could not travel with us. Brother Francis M. Pomeroy had concluded to stop and travel through with Captain Hunt and the ox-teams, and kindly proferred to take charge of her, and drive her through with his animals. When we parted with Brother Pomeroy I did not expect to ever see her again. But he succeeded in bringing her through, and she afterwards did me considerable service.” ([George Q. Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago: A Trip to California” [chap. XI], Juvenile Instructor 4, no. II [22 May 1869]: 84.)

  41. [41]The company remained two days at Archuleta or Resting Springs. The springs contained saleratus, a nineteenth century term for bicarbonate of soda, and are noted on Fremont’s map as Archilette Springs. Pratt recorded, “a year or two since a company of Spanyards were camped on this Spot with a drove of horses, & were attacked by a band of Indians, & were nearly all massacred. Br. Rich, & his company of packers, left us here & went ahead. The last day we were here the most of the waggons that we left on Far Muddy come up with us.” (Pratt autobiography and journal, 27 Nov. 1849.)

    Bigler wrote, “Clear and frosty. Bro. Fife found some water about 1 mile and a half down the creek below us, we went thare and took breakfast. after which we traviled 20 m. and encampted at a spring plenty of grass and water the land round about in places is saleratus the Road today was not so good past over 2 hills. it is said some spaniards was Kiled here by the indians. the fires of the foremost trains was not gone out. seen several dead oxen by the way. I [saw] one live ox so poor he had give out I felt sorrow for him when I seen him standing a lone with no other Cattle a bout and was perhaps at least 5 m. from water. yokes and Kegs was lieing a long by the way.” The next day, he wrote, “wagon got up last night at 9 oclock. laid by all day the provisions was examined. our mess has been liveing on Rashions we have but 4 days provisions and it will be at least 8 days before we can reach the Settlements. Bro. Rich let us have 23 lbs of flower & 3 of hard bread, one man of the wagon train Killed a beef and we got 43 lbs at 8 cts per pound so that we now have 8 days provisions.” (Bigler diary, “Book B,” 27–28 Nov. 1849.)

  42. [42]The word here is written over hear.

  43. [43]Bigler describes the brutal pace and hard traveling the packers kept up. Because of the condition of the animals, the party walked a considerable distance. Bigler noted his extreme fatigue after walking about thirty-five miles and once again noted Rich’s kindness: “I got vary tired I do not Know but I should of give out had it not been for Bro Rich for I had no horse to wride for Bro. Keeler and me had but 2 animals between us and they ware so poor and week we ware saveing them al[l] we could. Bro Rich let me have his mule to wride in turns with him which I feel was Cind [kind] and I truly felt thankful.” (Bigler diary, “Book B,” 30 Nov. 1849.)

  44. [44]A macadamized road was made from compacting small broken stones on a roadbed until it provided a smooth surface. At times so many small stones covered the desert that it apparently reminded Cannon of a roadbed.

  45. [45]The word about is written over a mile.