Bowen, William P. - Remarks

Made by

January 1922


With John Hunt's Company, I crossed the plains in 1856. The feature of the trip that impressed me most was the arrival of the Relief Company from Salt Lake City which met us near South Pass. Brother David T. Davis and I were driving the worn out cattle in advance of the teams. I was then a boy, eleven years old. We were very cold and tired when we met the first team of the Relief Company. The outfit belonged to Bishop Archie Gardner and was driven by Fred Hansen, late of Lake Shore. The gentleman called out to me, "Don't you want a ride, little boy?" I didn't wait for a second call but got into his wagon as fast as I could. How grateful I felt!

Mr Hansen turned around and started back to Salt Lake City. We met other teams which picked up the following Company. There were men from the Relief Company stationed along the road to prepare camps for the oncoming pioneers. When we stopped for the night there was a fine fire ready for us which was very much appreciated for it was a very cold and stormy day.

The next thing of note that I remember was crossing what was then known as "The Little and Big Mountains". The men had to break the road through the snow which was a very hard and tedious task. Two men would take hold of hands and tramp down the snow until they were tired when two others would take their place and the first two would drop behind the double row of men. This they continued until there was a wall of snow each side of the road higher than the tops of the covered wagons.

Previous to this my father's team of four oxen had been reduced to one ox. Father's friend, John Lewis, had lost five oxen out of his team of six. The two families were put into one wagon hauled by the two remaining oxen and with the help of another team from Fort Supply we were able to make the trip to Fort Bridger. We reached Salt Lake City about December 22nd. Here we were met by a party who took us to a house where we were greeted by a good fire and supper. The Lewis family remained in Salt Lake City, but Father's family stopped here just one night and in the morning Mr. Harvey brought us to Lehi to the home of Abel Evans where we spent the next night. From Lehi, George Sevey and John Mott brought us to Spanish Fork. We reached here Christmas Eve and went to the home of Morgan Hughes where we lived the rest of the winter.

I would like to pay a tribute to those brave and hardy men who came out from Utah to meet us, and who broke the road through the snow. They did not seem to mind the trials and hardships that they had to pass through in order to save our lives which they surely did. They were jovial and good natured at night as if they were at a picnic, which disposition seems to have been transmitted to many of their descendents up to the present times.

At a meeting of the Daughters of the Pioneers, held at the Third Ward Meeting house in honor of the Pioneers of Spanish Fork, Alonzo Argyle and others spoke and gave an account of their experience of the early pioneers. Also Marinus Larsen was asked to speak and he gave the following account of how the Pioneers in their poverty helped to emigrate the poor Saints from Missouri River to Utah.

In the spring of 1861, the leaders of the Church called upon the people to send teams back to the Missouri River, but the teams were very scarce in those days. They called first, 225 men to be Captains, teamsters and night herders. They were divided into Companies every year, from 55 to 60 wagons in each Company and 200 wagons were sent back; 1600 oxen, 15000 pounds of flour to feed the poor emigrants while crossing the plains.

In 1862, 293 men, 360 wagons, 2880 head of oxen, 15,331 pounds of flour were sent back. In 1863, 488 men, 384 wagons, 3604 oxen, and 235,969 pounds flour was sent back. Also that year there was sent back with the oxen teams 4300 pounds of Utah raised cotton to be sold back East.

In 1864, 274 men, 170 wagons, 1717 head of oxen, there was also sent that year and every year enough flour to feed the emigrants while crossing the plains, but I have no record of the amount.

In the year 1865 on account of the Indian troubles on the plains no teams were sent back; the only emigrant train that came that year was Captain Miner G. Atwood's independent Company, and they had trouble with the Indians. Mrs. Grudtvig was carried away by the savages and was never heard from again.

In 1866 there were 466 teamsters, 10 captains, 49 mounted guards, 459 wagons, 3092 head of oxen, 134 mules, and 89 horses sent back to Missouri River. In the year of 1867 on account of the Indian trouble again no teams were sent back. In the year 1868, 427 men, teamsters, captains, and all, 395 wagons, 3160 head of oxen, I think it will total 1968 wagons, 16,060 head of oxen, 2215 men, 134 mules and 89 horses, besides all the captains and night herders furnished their own horses -- now this was all done without pay.

The bishops of the wards would call upon the boys who wanted to go, and I never heard of one that refused. They would leave the latter part of April and return in October. The teamsters were furnished with a whip and likely a keg of molasses, a little home made cheese and some bacon and flour. I think this is as near correct as can be found on the records. There are only eight now living in Spanish Fork of the teamsters that were sent or sent from Spanish Fork, they are as follows: Joseph Boyack, Charles O. Robertson, Hans Rigtrup, Andres Dahle, Peter F. Boyack, Charles Brown, and your humble servant, Marinus Larsen.



Bowen, William Parry

Jones, Ruth


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