Ellsworth Handcart Company


As the Ellsworth Company started its third month of travel, food supplies began to dwindle. During this part of the journey, the pioneers were blessed to come across many buffalo on the Plains. The pioneers replenished their food supplies by shooting a few buffalo, cooking and eating the fresh meat, and then drying some meat for the days ahead. Buffalo chips were used, in the absence of wood, to build fires for warmth and for cooking. The pioneers spent many hours repairing the handcarts that often carried up to 500 pounds of goods over hard roads, through numerous streams and rivers, and up sandy bluffs from Florence, Nebraska, to the Salt Lake Valley. Meanwhile, the Saints already in the valley were organizing to help the approaching companies. Food was sent in wagons to Deer Creek to help the pioneers on the last leg of their journey.

Map of Nebraska and Wyoming(click to view larger)

Illustrated by Shauna Mooney

August

1

Crossed Prairie Creek twice—second time brethren had to carry handcarts across (16 miles)

2

Forded two creeks; saw many buffalo; camped at Wood River (18 miles)

3

Sunday—rested and mended handcarts; ate shellfish from river (no miles)

4

Roads good; camped near Platte River (18 miles)

5

Roads pretty good; wood plentiful; water merely sufficient (16 miles)

6

Saw thousands of buffalo—killed four, which furnished camp with good supply of meat (12 miles)

7

No water found all day; at night dug for water, which was sufficient but very thick (25 miles)

8

Traveled without finding water; Brother Sanders somehow left behind; men unsuccessfully searched for him (13 miles)

9

Found Brother Sanders five miles ahead of camp; brought him to camp on a mule (13 miles)

10

Sunday—many ill; camped in excellent place near cold spring (14 miles)

11

Four men sent to shoot two buffalo; one milk cow died (17 miles)

12

Dried buffalo meat and repaired handcarts (no miles)

13

Roads difficult to travel, owing to rainfall last night (12 miles)

14

Travel hard; one handcart broke down (18 miles)

15

Forded five creeks; camped by Rattlesnake Creek, 352 miles from Florence (14 miles)

16

Camped on east bank of Wolf Creek; buffalo chips not plentiful; good grazing for cattle (17 miles)

17

Sunday—Brother Peter Stalley died; camped opposite Ash Hollow (12 miles)

18

Forded Hustle Creek; camped on banks of Platte River (19 miles)

19

Plenty of buffalo chips to burn; camped opposite Ancient Bluff Ruins (20 miles)

20

Started out at 7:30 A.M.; crossed sandy bluffs; camped by Platte River (20 miles)

21

Tolerably good road; camped two miles past Chimney Rock (16 miles)

22

Delayed in travels for three hours by thunderstorm; camped on Platte River half a mile from Spring Creek (21 miles)

23

Captain Ellsworth shot a buffalo, which was very thankfully received (16 miles)

24

Sunday—at evening meeting, Brother Ellsworth admonished those who had robbed handcarts or wagons to repent (no miles)

25

Saw many Indians; plenty of wood—quite a treat after burning buffalo chips (19 miles)

26

Forded North Fork of Platte River; camped three miles from Fort Laramie (17 miles)

27

Bacon and meal porridge for supper—best supper for many weeks (21 miles)

28

Camped near Horseshoe Creek, 4:30 P.M.; washed clothes and mended handcarts (15 miles)

29

Forded Platte River and camped where wood was plentiful and feed fair (25 miles)

30

Met two Californians, who said wagons from Salt Lake were waiting to meets Ellsworth Company at Deer Creek (19 miles)

31

Sunday—Brother Stoddard died of consumption; at Deer Creek met wagons with provisions for last part of journey (24 miles)