Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Edwin Pettit Autobiography, Part 7

During the following summer, on July 24th, just ten years to the day when the Saints entered the valley, a grand celebration was held in Big Cottonwood Canyon. I took part in this celebration, and it was during that time that word reached President Young that the soldiers were being sent out by the U.S. Government to take control of the people in this valley. The people were advised by President Young to move to the south, which most of them did, some of them going as far as Provo, leaving a few here to take care of their homes.

I moved south with the people, but continued my journey on to California, and thence east to the Colorado desert to dig some wells for the Overland Stage Route. We stayed there until our provisions were exhausted, expecting supplies to reach us, which they failed to do. That is where we took turns in chewing the last bacon rind until we were forced to break camp as we had neither water nor provisions. We walked thirty miles without a drink of water, after which I drank nine pints of warm water, similar to new milk. I don’t know what the others drank as I was too much interested in my own welfare. That is where I proved to my own satisfaction that I could stand as much hardship and fatigue as anybody, and more than most of them. When their tongues would begin to swell and their lips parch, and they became delirious and lay down to die, I was still in pretty good condition. Water had to be taken back for those that had given out but we lost no men. The trip was a failure financially, as we did not succeed in getting water. I again returned to San Bernardino and made an agreement with a party for me to furnish the use of $600.00 and a mule and he was to furnish the rest of the outfit to purchase goods to bring to Utah to sell, and we were to divide the profits, which we did, both being well satisfied.

From that time on for about ten years, I spent my time traveling in Utah, Nevada, and California, making trips into the gold mines in Montana. When the Union Pacific began to creep towards the coast, I went to Laramie, a distance of 600 miles, and took a hand in that enterprise. I drove a four-mule team to that point and worked for some time at $8.00 a day. One winter I started out from Salt Lake to Fort Bridger with freight, but the snow was so deep that it was impossible for me to proceed. I cached my freight at Coalville, and returned home after having both feet frozen; could not wear a shoe for several weeks.

On one of my journeys to California, I drove a team as far south as Parowan entirely alone, a distance of two hundred and fifty miles. My trips were generally made in the winter, and for that reason I endured many hardships from cold and exposure. At Parowan I made an agreement with two men, who had been waiting there for some time to make the trip to California, and they gave me $20.00 for the privilege of going with me, riding their own horses and feeding themselves. They only traveled with me for the sake of company. At one time our animals left us in the night and started back across the desert, and I followed them afoot twelve miles; overtook them and brought them back to camp, where the other two men had stayed. This was a big risk to take, as going out on the desert a person would soon perish for want of water, and had the animals started earlier in the night, I would have stood a good chance of being lost. I became rather reckless at times and took many chances on those various trips—more than most of the men whom I came in contact with.

To be continued...

Photo of Big Cottonwood Canyon from www.flickr.com/photos/spoiler_3/496289225/. Engraving of Brigham Young from Edward Tullidge's book Brigham Young. Photo of Wyoming from www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/611311642/.

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