Monday, August 31, 2009

A few months later, Robert's family moved south to Spanish Fork, where Robert's mother died suddenly. The cause was attributed to her exposure in the river when their wagon had overturned. Robert continues- "In the spring of 1859 my father, two sisters, and two other couples and I moved to Mendon, Cache Valley, and settled there. After our crops were planted I got a desire to see Logan, so I took a four-horse team and a crowd of young folks and went to the settlement, and was quite disappointed as there were just a few wagons with no kind of a town. Providence consisted of several families camped in the brush hiding from Indians.
As soon as there were enough settlers in the valley, there was organized a Minute Company for protection to the citizens. We would take turns standing picket guard watching for Indians and in case there was any, our duty was to arouse the other Minutemen and all go to protect the settlement upon which the Indians were preying. One night, as some of us were standing picket guard, we saw what we thought was a cloud of dust in the valley. We were just getting ready to sound the alarm when we discovered it was just the moon shining through the clouds. It was a good thing we discovered our mistake, because if we had once started we would not have stopped until we had the whole valley aroused."

Monday, August 24, 2009

After arriving in the Salt Lake valley, Robert remembers the following:
"There was a fort constructed, and within the fort we built a house from adobe brick. We planted 20 acres of wheat, but never harvested it the next fall as the now-famous crickets destroyed it. I remember my stepfather, sister and myself making instruments similar to huge fly swatters. We would walk through the grain with these instruments, killing and frightening the crickets. The battle was rather discouraging, and one day after a hard struggle we looked back and saw the crickets were as bad behind us as they were in front of us. Father cried like a baby and said, " It's no use, we're goners."
The next year we moved to Millcreek, hoping to escape the crickets, but when the grain and other crops came up they cleaned us out again. We raised our potatoes and planted corn where the grain had been and had a good crop which we gave away. At the time when we thought our cause was lost to the crickets, I was herding cows and suddenly saw swarms of seagulls gorging themselves on crickets and then coming to the streams and disgorging them. Then we knew our crops were saved."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Here is a recollection of Robert Sweeten's about his experiences coming to Utah:
"Every night we would pull the wagons into a large circle and form a corral for protection against the Indians, and as an enclosure for the animals. The kids would play around the wagons and campfires. After supper the older folks would get out the fiddles and have dances around the fires, some of them dancing in bare feet as they had no shoes.
I walked most of the way across the plains with but an occasional ride. One time, while I was driving two yoke of oxen so my step-father could ride and rest awhile, I stepped on a prickly pear, and being barefoot, ran the needles in my foot and Mother had to pull them out.
Our only means of crossing rivers that were too deep to wade across was to chop down trees, chain them together, and make a raft upon which we would pull one wagon across at a time. We were crossing a narrow deep stream one time, and they were just starting to pull our wagon across when Mother shouted for them to let the children out before crossing. We got out, and when the wagon was halfway across it flopped bottom-side up in the stream. Everything we owned was in the wagon, and Mother jumped into the water to save what few things she could.
While following the Platte River we saw many buffalo, sometimes in herds so large we had to stop the company and let them go past. One day I became lame from walking so much and fell behind. Suddenly, I heard a strange noise, and looking up, I saw a large buffalo bull intently watching me. His fierce snorting frightened me into screaming, which attracted the attention of the driver on the last wagon. He shouted at me to run, but I was too frightened to move. Some men came back and were going to shoot the animal, but the captain stopped them, saying that Brigham Young's orders were to shoot the animals only to be used for food.
My first sight of Brigham Young was when we met him at the Green River when he was on his way back to get his family and assist more Saints across the plains. As we reached the top of Big Mountain we could see the lights of another camp ahead of us, so we came down the mountain at the head of Emigration Canyon in the dark. The Canadian wagons were lower than the American wagons so they struck stumps the American wagons would pass over. We had to chop off all the stumps our wagons struck.We finally reached the company ahead and camped with them for the remainder of the night, and traveled together the next day. During the day the call was passed down the trail- 'There is the Great Salt Lake.' We reached Salt Lake that night and camped with Brigham Young's company. The kids played high spy in the grass and sage."
More to come!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Today I'll share a little about my great-great grandfather on my dad's side, Robert Sweeten. These excerpts from his life history were told by him at the age of 92 to his grandson Melvin Atkinson during the summer of 1932 in Holbrook, Idaho. I have the entire account, but it's rather lengthy so I'm writing some of the highlights.
"I was born December 14, 1840 in the township of Brooke, Kent County, Ontario, Canada. My father, George Sweeten, was born in North Ireland; my mother, Mary Gardner, was born in Scotland. When I was two years old my father died of overwork- the immediate cause being the breaking of a blood vessel. About two years later my mother married Roger Luckham. About this time the church entered my life in the form of 2 missionaries- Elder John Borrowman and Elder Bolton- who converted the whole Gardner family of uncles,aunts, parents and a sister. Shortly after our conversion we left Canada for the West, having no idea where we were going, only that we were joining the Mormons. This was in 1846. By the time we reached the United States, there were about 100 wagons in our company. We heard that Nauvoo was peopled by Mormons so we headed there, but when we arrived we found that they had been driven from the city about a week before. We rested a few days in the deserted houses before continuing our journey. It rained all the time. I saw the Nauvoo temple and can remember one of the oxen under the baptismal font had a broken horn. We went on to Winter Quarters, where the houses were just huts. While we were there we had almost continuous rain. The following spring the different companies began leaving for Salt Lake, which to them was unknown country. The first company reached Salt Lake on July 24, 1847, and we arrived either in August or September of the same year."
More of Robert's recollections next time. Oh, and the picture is of Robert and his wife Amanda Hagle Sweeten.