The value of a journal or life story

Though she started when 69 years old the Journal of Elizabeth Lamb is most profound.

The story of her family's crossing the plains tells us of just what a challenge it was for some.

Once again we are reminded to show kindness to as we never know when our lot in life may be to receive help rather than one who gives assistance.

The Journey of Elizabeth Lamb

In my 69th year, thinking a sketch of my life would be of some use to my children, I will write from memory not having kept a journal. I was born in the town of Quincy, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, the 24 of October 1831. Am not large, brown hair, blue eyes, light complected. Am the daughter of George Gotlieb and Julianna Hoke Zimmerman, they were both natives of Germany, they came to this country in 1804.

When we started West with the Church he was sure the Indians would kill us or we would starve, he was not willing to let her go this was in the spring of 1846, it was hard for mother to give her up we only lived there 2 years. It was a lonely country to live in part timber and part prairie, it was not far from Chicago then a small town. In 1846 us and Jacob Secrist went to Nauvoo we were the only Saints in that part of the country. We had to stay in Nauvoo 1 month, father had a large mare in a corral with our cattle someone stole her and broke the fence down and let the cattle go so they had to hunt for them and found them all but the mare that made the team light. While there, I went to meeting in the grove and in the Temple when it was dedicated. Four families of us crossed the Mississippi River, it rained and the mud was deep, we camped there about 1 week that was our first experience in outdoor life. We went to Garden Grove. Mother left all her folks, it was a great trial for her, she loved them, but she never saw any of them afterwards. Father and her were the only ones that joined the Church. One of her sisters, Catherine Eyerby came to Utah years after Mother was dead and lived with us children and died here, but never joined the Church.

I went all through the Temple up on the tower. We had a large ox in our team that had a head and horns just like the oxen under the fountain, when we were traveling along so many made the remark that he was the image of them in the Temple. He was a fine red animal. We had such muddy roads and had to travel slow, none of the men ever drove oxen before it was a hard trip for us, but we got there all right. The first thing they done was to break land with large plows and from 6 to 8 oxen on them, take an axe and cut it into the sod and drop corn in that was all they had to do till the corn was ready to gather, it was called sod corn. Then it was fenced into a large field for all the settlers. We lived in our wagons and tent all summer.

In the fall Father and Levi Thornton put up a log house one room for each of us. We lived there the first winter then we had both. It was built of logs about a yard long and covered with clapboards split out of logs about a yard long and about 1/2 foot apart. One rafter under and one on top. Sometimes the snow would sift it through the boards. I well remember one night it snowed all night and the wind blew. Us girls slept in one room, in the morning the snow was half a foot deep on out bed. Mother brought us dry clothes to put on for ours were all covered with snow. As soon as our corn was large enough to grate, we grated it on graters and made bread of it. Then as soon as it would do to shell we ground it in hand mills. I have walked a mile with a bucket of corn, two of us went together and ground it to make bread. The mill was fastened onto a tree. Corn bread was all we had to eat. When we raised wheat it was ground and sifted in meal sifts after awhile there was a horse mill put up.

In 1846 I became acquainted with Suel Lamb. The first time I ever saw him, he came to our house one Sunday in company with some other young folks. In August 1847 I was baptized by John W. Smith who became a bitter apostate. Confirmed by Bros. Hunt and Shirtliff. The men had to go to Missouri to work to get something to eat and get our fitout (outfit) to come to Utah. Garden Grove was a lovely place to live in part of the town was in the timber, and part in the prairie. Father went to Missouri and taught school among strangers, but we did not feel to murmur nor complain. Us girls learned to spin and weave and make our own clothes. My sister Juliann went to Missouri to learn to weave coverlets. I wove one just before I was married and had it for years. We had some lovely times there were so many young folks lived there they did not care to get married till they got to their journeys end.

My brother John got married and stayed one year after we left. We left Garden Grove the 17 of May, 1851. Arrived in Salt Lake City 24 September, 1851. Father was old and never drove oxen so we got a boy to drive our team, Al Clyde. There were about 20 families of us a number of young folks. There were more joining our company when we left Winter Quarters. Our number was 50 families and 60 wagons. Harry Walton was our captain, he had traveled the road before. We stayed in Mount Pisgah several days. It was very rainy that spring and lots of mud and heavy loads. When we got to Winter Quarters our team consisted of one yoke of oxen, one of steers, one of cows. When we got near the old camp ground, our lead steers turned and led the team into a slough to get a drink and turned out wagon over into the water. Our things, most of all got wet so did the bedding. We camped 2 nights and had a gay time drying our things and a good time sleeping with most of our bedding wet but none of us took cold. The Elk Horn River was so high we could not cross it so we had to head it and had to travel several hundred miles further. Apostle Hyde took charge of 5 or 6 company. There was no road and it drilled our teams. It took us one month longer. It was a wild country. Thousands of buffalo could be seen. One day we could hear them come a roaring noise when they were miles away. They came straight for our train. We could not get out of the way so half of the teams stopped and the others went on. As they came up the hill and passed between the wagons, ours was the second one that stopped. It was a fine sight to look at. We had to give them room or they would have run over our teams. There was about five thousand of them. It took such a long time for them to pass. The men put ropes on the oxen horns and loosed them from the wagons. The women and children got in the wagons. It was a scary time for our cattle were so afraid of them. We had some of their meat. It was fine we could cut it in slices, salt it, and string it on sticks and jerk it over the fire to let it dry. It was sweet and good. We were in a wild country. Our cattle got so they could hardly be controlled. There were a good many stampedes.

Whole trains would run at breakneck speed. Spect half of our teams stampeded. One woman by the name of Ellen Weingsley jumped from her wagon, as she did so the next team and wagon run over her and she never breathed again. She left one child and sister. It was hard for them to leave her in that lonely spot. She was washed and dressed and some goods box put in the grave and she was put in and left. One day we travelled, all day till dark in deep sand. We had no water only what we were hauling. It was very hot and our teams almost perished. When we got to water it was a warm slough and full of live wrigglers. We strained and boiled it before we could use it. Then set it in the slough to cool it. In the night the buffaloes came near enough to frighten our teams and they stampeded so we had to camp there all day. We all washed in the boiling hot sun with no wood. The men had to hunt all day for them and found some with the buffaloes and had hard work to get them. One of our cows was with them. She was so wild they had to lasso her so they could milk her for the boys were almost perished. They said they could never have reached camp without a drink so she saved them. They were so glad she was there. Sister Tomson (who was Sister M. I. Horn's mother) died and was buried by the Platte River. The lonesomest night I ever spent, Betsy Crooks and I set up with her. There were a few wagons camped to one side so as to be out of the noise. We could hear the buffalo pass to go to the river. They made such a roaring noise we were frightened. There were 2 births in camp. There were many interesting things to see such as the Chimney Rock, the Lone Tree, the Devil's Gate, and a cave we went in to it, Independence Rock, we would climb on rocks, almost mountains. I often think it was dangerous. We might have run among wild beasts.

Two or three days before we came to Salt Lake, Sister Farrer sent us some garden stuff by boy and sent some to all the company, but he sold some of it, that vexed her, but we did enjoy it after not having green all summer. We never forgot her kindness to us. We had many good times. We would camp at night, get supper make our beds and our chores would be done. When the boys would scrape of the grass and we would dance as if we were not tired. We had 2 good fiddlers and several good callers in camps. The men had to stand guard every night, 7 till 12, then 12 till morning, rain or shine. Sometimes it would rain and the mud would be hub deep. We would have to double teams from 6 to 8 yoke of oxen on a wagon. We crossed one stream, it was so deep and no timber to build a bridge, so they cut long grass and put it in and a few wagons crossed and they had to put in more. We camped on one side of the stream one night and on the other side the next morning and the men worked so hard all day. There was 2 wagons emptied and put into the stream, one behind the other and the women and children walked over. That was fine for us all to sit in the boiling sun all day on the grass. For a long time we had to burn buffalo chips as we called them or dung. There was no wood to get. Then we got to wild sage, it was worse than the chips. The first night to it, oh how sick I got of the smell. We had to do all our cooking with it everything was seasoned with it. When the wind blew, we could not relish our meals, but the Lord provided for our needs.

We used tar to grease our wagons with the tar was carried in buckets swung under the wagons. We were getting short, but came to a tar spring. The men filled the buckets with tar. I did not see the spring but saw the tar. It was so far for the women to walk so we missed seeing it. Our supply was flour, meal, beans, dried bread, crackers, dried apples, sugar and milk, with some butter and bacon and a few dried parsnips. No wonder we were glad to get something out of a garden.

One man killed a very large tortoise and divided it to 5 or 6 families only kept one meal for themselves. It was fine, it was the only one I ever tasted. Our company was heavy loaded and had to walk so much. I have walked 20 miles in one day. We had good health all the time for which we thanked the Lord many times. It was fun to see the green teamsters drive unruly teams. They would run around behind their wagons to head their teams if they were off. I will relate one incident of the hundred that I saw. . .

One man, a clothesman, he has a 3 yoke on his wagon. He never handled a team before. He was a blacksmith and had his heavy tools in his wagon, oh the times he had. One day we crossed a stream and had to go up a long steep hill, all had to double teams when his wagon got part way up the hill the chain next to the tongue broke. The wagon and the wheelers went back in the creek so the end gate dipped water and most of the things got wet. The wagon had to be unloaded.

All along the route, if any man had a mean ox he would sell it to the Saints. We had the largest ox in the company. He could start the load himself, but if he took a notion not to pull, they could not make him. He was good most of the time.

We left Garden Grove the 17 of May and arrived in Salt Lake the 24 of September in good health, stayed there a short time then we went to Lehi, Utah County in 1851. This was settled in the spring before, there was only 15 families. We lived in one of Samuel White's rooms the first winter. They let us have half of their house only ours did not have a floor in it. They were willing to live and let live. They did not charge us rent. Father made and mended all their shoes and us girls helped do her washing and would milk and help her. Mother done lots of her knitting so we paid our way. The Bishop offered to help us with Tithing and donation but we would not take anything. Us girls would work at any kind of work we could get. I have worked and got wheat and meat, anything we needed. Father was old and could not do hard work, he got plenty of shoemaking to do. We would rather be independent and pay for what we got. There were good crops raised that summer. Such fine squashes we dried the tithing squash on shares, that was our first. We were glad to get to our journeys end but we had many lonely hours after being out doors and on the move all summer to settle down to house work.

Everyone and everything was strange to us. The Saints were very kind and sociable to us. It seemed odd to see old and young join in the dance. I liked it. In Garden Grove the aged did not dance.

In the spring, Father got a lot and bought a log house out on it. I slept in a covered wagon 2 winters. In the spring of 1853, we moved into a fort. The Indians were so hostile there was a company of men that tore down the houses, hauled them on the fort ground then another would lay up the houses and at night the folks would stay in them, soon had them up again. When we were crossing the plains we came to large beds of salaratus, white as snow. We gathered some, it made good bread, we brought some with us. It was all the kind of soda we used. That is all the settled used it.

Suel Lamb crossed the plains in '52 and went to Pleasant Grove in the summer of '53 he went on a years mission to Fort Supply among the Indians. While he was gone his folks moved to Lehi so he settled there. I was married to Suel the 30 of November 1854,

Elizabeth Zimmerman Lamb died June 10, 1911 at her home in Hyde Park, Cache County, Utah at the age of 79 years.

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