Monday, September 5, 2011

The Emigration of Richard Litson, Part 2 of 2

Continued from here...

One little girl was hurt very badly by falling off one of the wagons. By using what medicine they had on hand and by several elders administering to her, she got well and was able to romp and play again. They camped at a house called Junction House and then proceeded on their way, camping near houses as much as possible so as to procure water and wood. They passed two graves, one inscription reading "H. Veight [or Voight] died 1865, Sept. 15, age 31 years." A second inscription read "K. Wilden [or Milden], died June 2, 1864, late of Preston England."

One morning, after traveling about a mile from camp, they were passed by a regiment of soldiers. Further along the way they passed several graves with inscriptions as follows: Lawken K. Stevens age 14 years; E. Hunter, died July 3, 1865; N. P. Wells, Late of Biethan [Bethany?], Missouri, killed by Indians, aged 39 years.

They had intended to cross the Platte River but decided the crossing too dangerous, so went along further to find a safer place. All the wagons crossed before it got dark, except two or three  waited and crossed in the morning. They traveled three or four miles, then stopped for dinner and camped. The next morning they started at 8 o’clock and traveled until 12 o’clock, stopping for dinner and continuing until 6 that evening. They traveled eight or ten miles the next day, thinking to go to North Platte but unexpectedly found water, so they camped. There was a grave at this spot named John Brain Craon [Graon], crossed shore, died August 23, 1844. The next day they continued several miles and camped by a creek running close by the road. The next day they camped by North Platte for dinner. The first mule train passed there on the 30th of July. They camped again by the river that night and the next day they crossed over some sand hills and after a few miles they met some soldiers. After most of the wagons had passed about a half dozen or so, the soldiers came forward and tried to claim some of the mules that had the U.S. brand on them. The Litsons insisted that the mules belonged to them, having bought them from rightful owners, but the soldiers argued and took one of the mules. The company traveled on and camped for the night. The next day when they camped, the captain and two teamsters of the soldier’s regiment drove in and returned the mule that was taken the day before, apologizing for having taken it.

In the next few days of travel, they saw Indians several times, some at a distance and some close, but they did not molest them. On crossing a bridge they saw Laramie to the left, and had to stop and be examined before they could proceed further. During the time the company was stopped for examination, a child of Brother and Sister Bell died and they buried her beside a large tree on a hill.

The next time the train made camp it was by some ox trains. They continued the next day and passed the other trains that were traveling. When those trains camped, the Litson train continued on, stopping by a creek where a mule train was camped. There was a notice here that read: "To Bridger's Ferry 15 miles," "To Virginia City 425 miles." They found plenty of wood to use for the rest of the journey.

The next two days they traveled 20 miles the first day and 18 miles on the second, covering more ground than usual. They camped the next day on the Platte River. They followed the river, camping by it again and saw a few soldiers there. On crossing the North Platte River bridge they saw two graves. Joseph D. Graves, a private of Company D, Ohio Cavalry, died at Platte Bridge, October 16, 1863, age 20 years. The next one in memory of Phillip W. Rhod, a private of Company Y, 110 V. C., killed by Indians March 8, 1865, age 19 years.

They left the Platte River and traveled a long way, stopped at a creek, and then continued on again. That night when they camped, they discovered one man named Robert Daybell was missing. The next morning men were sent out to look for him. The train continued on, crossed a bridge, and stopped by a store. The men came to camp but reported that they had not found the missing man. The men went out again the next day in search of Daybell and the train waited, but the men returned at midnight reporting they could not find him. They traveled on their way, and on the 17th of August they camped by the Rocky Mountain River, following it along, crossing it twice, and camping nearby. After continuing a long way, they crossed a little brook and found the country quite unlevel. They had to cross several hills. One day, by traveling a little later than usual, they managed to cover thirty miles. That night a woman died and was buried by a creek a little further on the road the next day.

At their next stop they did not have good water to drink, but that night when they camped they found plenty of clean water and the weather was warm. They had to cross the river twice the next day and camped that night by it. They continued on their way and crossed the Green River. A few of the wagons crossed on the ferry boat instead of the usual way. As they knew there would be no water available for several miles, they took some with them from there, however, they found water that night where they camped. There were some soldiers stationed there, but they were not to be trusted, so guards were stationed to watch that night, and the men were on the alert.

They traveled on and had water from Green River, crossed it, and camped on the left side. After many miles they passed a house and some trains. The water was scarce where they stopped for dinner. Further on they saw some miners going the opposite way.

They did not travel one day because it was raining quite hard. They had some potatoes from Salt Lake for their dinner and everyone was thrilled with this luxury. The Litsons could not travel on with the others the next day as some of their mules got lost and they had to search for them. They found the mules and started on. They crossed many bridges and toll bridges and finally caught up with the others.

It was a pretty dry camping place, and some of the mules went in search of water making part of the company hunt for them again. They found the mules and caught up with the other wagons before noon. They passed Cush [Cache] Cave on the right side of the road and camped for dinner at Echo Canyon. They passed many inhabited places that day including Kimball’s Hotel and camped at Silver Creek. The next morning they traveled from Twenty Miles Creek over the summit and camped at the head of Emigration Canyon. A little further on they met Joan Jeanetta Litson, daughter of Richard Litson, and friends who had come in Hammers Great Salt Lake Express to meet them. The next day the Litsons and their friends, Brother Glade and his little girl [1], started out before the rest of the train and traveled on, reaching the mouth of the Canyon and passing through Coalville, having breakfast at Elizabeth Kates'. Traveling they soon came in sight of the city, arriving at 4 o'clock. [2]

With God's help they  arrived at their destination, the Valley of the Mountains. The family was reunited and lived in happiness and religious security until the death of Richard Litson, October 29, 1872.

(From an account by Mabel and Leo Turpin, Blackfoot, Idaho, Feb. 14, 1940. Leo Turpin was the son of Joan Jeanetta Litson named above.)

[1] Mary Jane Glade was the daughter of James and Mary Dyer Glade. Mary Dyer Glade died on the plains near Florence, Nebraska, in 1861, along with her newborn son William. James Glade was left a widower with one daughter, Mary Jane. James later met Eliza Mary Litson and they were married in Salt Lake City.

Eliza had recently given birth her second child, Frances Ann Elizabeth Glade, when her parents arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, so she would not have taken the trip up into the Canyons to meet them.

Mary Jane Glade was six years old when she accompanied her father into the Canyon to meet the Litsons. Her future husband, Joseph Young Litson, was seven years old.

[2] The two accounts are a bit mixed up here, and I have not been able to tell the exact sequence of their descent into the Valley.

Many thanks to Martha Spencer for typing this history. She and I have standardized punctuation, spelling, and typesetting. This history was written by Mabel and Leo Turpin, but credit has also been given in some copies to Alice Floto. I have used the text as written by the Turpins as much as possible since it seems to be the earlier account. Anyone know the history of this history?

Picture of the North Platte River available under a Creative Commons License from

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