On one of my trips, when camping at noon, four or five Indians came to me asking for something to eat. After standing around for a few moments, they asked me if I was a Mormon. There were three or four other men with me at the time, and I said to the Indian “No, those fellows Mormons,” just in a joke. After a short time he said: “Are you Mormon?” I said, “No, those fellows Mormons.” He said, “You lie.” At this time the Indians were very troublesome on account of having trouble at Mountain Meadow. The other men were very much afraid of having trouble with them at this time, but I fixed them a meal of my famous paste, made of one pint of flour and four gallons of water brought to a boil, which they all enjoyed very much. They then felt much more peaceable.
Late one afternoon, when looking for a place to camp where there was plenty of grass, some Indians came to me and said there was plenty of grass just around the nearby hill. They said they would take my mules around where there was good grass if I would give them a shirt. While I was considering this proposition and getting something to eat, they said they would herd my mules and bring them in in the morning. After they had finished their meal, they were more talkative, and asked me for a shirt and some pants. I finally told them what I wanted, and ordered them off, and they soon left. I took my best riding mule, put a chain around her neck and fastened it to the wagon, knowing that the Indians would crawl up and cut a rope, but they could not cut a chain. We then took our animals back where the Indians had told us to go for grass and turned them loose. My one mule was secured in this manner in order that I would have something to get away with in case the Indians drove the others away. The mule squealed, pawed and jerked at the wagon so there was no sleeping done that night. We lay on the ground just far enough away so that we would not get stepped on, and at the break of day I went for my mules and found them all right. If I had allowed these Indians to take care of my animals and herd them, they were to leave two or three Indians in camp for me to keep as security for the return of the mules.
After crossing the desert with my two companions from Parowan, we reached the Muddy and found a number of Indians here. We had to feed them as usual. I also had to prepare for crossing the big desert—about fifty-four miles. I had to cook, fill up our water barrels, get my supper and start out again in the late afternoon when it was cool. Therefore, I had to stay here an hour or two. That night when we started on the desert, two Indians followed me. I asked them where they were going. They said “To Vegas.” I told them they could not go with me, for I did not have water or feed for them, and they must go back. But they would not do it. They followed me about eighteen miles, when I stopped to give my mules a bucket of water and a little grain, and make some coffee for myself. I would not feed the Indians nor give them a drink. They left me and started up a canyon. I traveled several miles and never saw anything of them. The next time I stopped to repeat the same thing, I started away from camp and was about forty rods away, and the fire blazed up. Happening to be looking back, I saw the two Indians standing by the fire. They had been watching me all this time within a few rods of where I was getting my supper. Of course it was an accident on their part as they did not want to be seen. It was only for the lack of courage that they did not shoot my two companions and myself. They had followed me nearly thirty-five miles on the desert. After this I made no more stops on the desert, as I knew they were after me, but this was the last I saw of them.
On reaching a spring where I usually camped, I heard a horse whinny, and looking up on the ridge of the mountains, I saw a horse coming. It came right up to my team and I tied it up. This animal had been left by some party that was several days ahead of me, and it showed me that there were no Indians here, or this horse would not have lasted long. I took it into San Bernardino, and on arriving there my two companions went into a little grove to camp. There they met the party that had lost the animal on the desert. They reported to him that I had picked up this animal, so he came after it. I considered that I had as good or even better right to it than they, because they had left it never expecting to see it again, and I came along and saved the animal. To decide the matter we left it to three disinterested men, and they decided that a value be placed on the animal, and we were to either give or take. They decided that the animal was worth thirty dollars, and they gave me fifteen dollars and took the animal. That with the twenty dollars that the two men had paid me for the privilege of traveling with me made thirty-five dollars, which was quite a help on my journey.
To be continued...
You can try your hand at making the famous paste. It makes a great Family Home Evening activity. Here is the recipe in smaller quantity.
Edwin Pettit's Famous Paste
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups water
Whisk flour into water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Feed to starving indigenous peoples.
Photo of the desert near Las Vegas from www.flickr.com/photos/rich_adams/5387049100/. Photo of the joshua tree at sunrise from www.flickr.com/photos/johnmueller/243901662/. Photo of the Joshua tree in the winter from www.flickr.com/photos/vgm8383/2163374918/.