Editor's Note: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering this day-by-day account of the Mormon Pioneers' original trek from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Tribune history writer Harold Schindler, using diaries, letters, journals and reminiscences that have come to light this century, has fleshed out the following narrative.
June 12, 1847
Some angry words this morning between Thomas Bullock, clerk/historian of the Camp of Israel, and George W. Brown, one of the other members of his Ten. Brown accused Bullock of "idling and fooling away his time for a half-hour" after being asked to look after the oxen.
"Oh, good God what a lie!" Bullock responded.
To which Brown retorted, "You were idling, and if you say that again I'll strike you!" He then turned and challenged Bullock, "Did you say I lied?"
"If you say I idled a half-hour, for I was not ten minutes," said Bullock.
Brown struck the clerk with his whip and snapped, "I am ready for a fight, for I'd as leave fight or not."
Said Bullock, "You shall hear of this again, for I shall tell Willard Richards." Brown raised his fist, but Bullock avoided another blow. Bullock said, "I have been more abused and reviled by George Brown than any other person, now he has struck me with his whip."
Elsewhere in camp, Stephen Markham had a conversation with a man named Bowman, captain of the Oregon-bound Missourians here at the lower crossing of the North Platte, and learned something of considerable interest. Bowman told him he was the father of Daviess County Deputy Sheriff William Bowman, who was a guard when Joseph and Hyrum Smith, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, escaped from custody in April 1839, and fled to Illinois. Gallatin citizens turned on the deputy because they suspected him of having contrived the escape. They rode him on an iron rail until they killed him.
Obediah Jennings was the principal instigator in the deputy's death, the elder Bowman told Markham. It was the first time the Mormons had learned the identity of the mob leader. Jennings also was a principal actor in the slaughter of Mormons at Haun's Mill in 1838.
It was that kind of day for Wilford Woodruff. He started out with Albert P. Rockwood, who was riding Brigham Young's stallion, when the horse sprang up Woodruff's mount, but in so doing he bit Woodruff's knee, and sank one tooth to the bone through three thicknesses of clothing, one of which was buckskin.
The main company of pioneers continued its journey west until they reached the upper crossing about 4:30 p.m., when William Clayton brought himself up to date on matters. The advance party had arrived at the North Platte crossing yesterday about noon. Two of the Missouri companies arrived about the same time. They all concluded it was useless to build a raft because of the high runoff. But the Missourians offered to pay the Mormons well if they would ferry them over in the Revenue Cutter, the pioneers' leather skiff. The advance party agreed to do the work for $1.50 a load, to be paid in provisions. They started and were finished by evening, having earned $34 in flour, meal and bacon. Flour sold for $2.50 a hundred pounds at Fort Laramie, but on the prairie it was worth $10 a hundred.
Woodruff and George A. Smith saw where the Missourians had a runaway the day before when a horse bolted among the wagons and frightened an ox team into running. Two teams careened up an embankment, overturning both wagons with women and children in them. One little boy was knocked in the river and almost drowned. Badly bruised and thoroughly frightened, but otherwise unhurt, Woodruff noted.
One of the Missourians tried to swim across the river with his clothes on and panicked when the current caught him. Men in the Revenue Cutter saved him. Rodney Badger swapped his good wagon to a Missourian for a wagon just as good, except for a broken wheel tire. In addition to the wagon, he was given a good horse, 100 pounds of flour, twenty-five pounds of bacon, and some crackers. Badger had one of the pioneer blacksmiths fix his tire. All agreed Badger made a good trade.
Since the advance party arrived, its men have killed five fat buffalo, four black bears (one old sow and three cubs), and shot at but did not down two other grizzlies. Seely Owen killed a bighorn sheep. Tunis Rappleye and Artemas Johnson wandered off during the day and caused much consternation in camp until they wandered in separately at night. They had been hunting.