Thursday, March 24, 2011

Edwin Pettit Autobiography, Part 4

All the land in the city was surveyed and we drew lots for it. By doing this, we got twenty acres of ground, and put in a crop. During this time, we had to depend upon my brother-in-law, who was a pretty good gunman, as it was very hard for us to get along, and occasionally he would bring in a quail or a wild duck. Many a time we have had to depend on thistle roots or pig weed as our bill of fare. I have taken the brass buttons off my coat and traded to the Indians for segos—anything to get enough to eat.

For two years we spent our time in getting along the best we could, depending on the canyons for our wood. At one time, after our crops were nearly ready for harvesting, the grasshoppers and crickets came by the thousands and almost caused a famine in the land by destroying our grain fields. The seagulls came to our rescue and devoured the crickets and grasshoppers and we were able to save a small portion of our crops.

Early in November, 1849, my brother-in-law and myself, enlisted with Pomeroy [1] to help him take his big ox train through to California. Pomeroy brought an ox train through from the eastern states with merchandise and sold out what he could and traded the remainder for cattle. He took me along to drive his cattle on horseback. There were about forty or fifty head of cattle that I had to take charge of. He had about twenty wagons with two men and two yoke of oxen to each wagon. These men boarded themselves, but were paying their way to California by driving these teams.

During the day I drove the cattle, and had to corral them at nights to keep them from the Indians. I was always the one to turn out the cattle every morning to let them eat while we had breakfast and got ready for our move. Then I had to bring up the cattle and eat my breakfast after everyone else was done. The cattle got tired and footsore—so much so that they began to give out and lie down, and when I could not get them up any longer, I would have to leave there. I would leave two a day; five a day; as they gave out, and the last day I was with the company, I left nineteen head of cattle, as they could not go any further. When we reached the Muddy Desert [2], our teams were so reduced and the cattle so nearly gone that we put the wagons off to one side, using them for kindling wood, and packed everything up into as few wagons as possible.

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. They 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 [3] 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.

To be continued...

Part 2 
Part 3

[1] This appears to be Francis Martin Pomeroy, one of the early pioneers, later a pioneer in the Bear River (Utah-Idaho border) area, and later in life, one of the founders of Mesa, Arizona. Here is an interesting biography.

[2] Southern Clark County, Nevada, in the area of the Muddy (formerly Moapa) River, approximately between St. George and Las Vegas. If you've ever driven on I-15 between these two cities, imagine doing it on foot!

[3] Charles C. Rich was an early leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and one of the founders of San Bernardino, California. Chapter 3 in the book Establishing Zion: The Mormon Church in the American West, 1847-1869 by Eugene Campbell, "The Lure of California Gold," is online and it tells about the gold mission and explains and provides context for some of Edwin Pettit's upcoming adventures.

Photo of the Seagull Monument on Temple Square in Salt Lake City from Photo of the plaque on the Seagull Monument from

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