Pioneers had to be jacks-of-all-trades

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    By SHAWN DICKERSON

    To cross the plains, pioneers had to be able to drive a team of oxen, hunt effectively, take care of the sick and ill, repair broken equipment and basically tackle any difficulty that fell before them.

    This week’s pioneer journal entry is taken from the autobiography of Mosiah Hancock, an example of these jack-of-all-trades pioneers.

    Born in Kirtland, Ohio, on April 9, 1834, Mosiah suffered with the early saints and began his journey to the west in 1848. This is a part of his story:

    “We started with 27 bushels of cornmeal, 15 lbs. of flour, 2 pigs, a dog, and a cat. There was Uncle Levi Reed, 2 1/2 years older than I; and Uncle Ira Reed, a little younger. Levi and Ira drove one team and I the other; although when I would be out hunting, mother would drive my team. We all walked because we were heavily loaded.

    We left the Indian Mills on May 14, 1848, and we left Winter Quarters on May 18 … We went over to Elk Horn and was organized in Zera Pulsipher’s company of 50. He was captain.

    I took my duty through the day with the men, and had my turn standing guard at nights. My first turn standing guard was with John Alger. He said I could have the first turn if I would stand till one o’clock, which I did.

    “We killed our first antelope at Soapfork; and I also caught a catfish there that weighed 36 pounds — John Pulsipher helped me pull it out. We got our first buffalo about 100 miles out of Soapfork. There were four of us boys, and we went to camp and brought out seven yoke of oxen to get the buffalo! John Benton mourned because of the parts of the buffalo we threw away.

    Then we boys thought we would stroll along up the Platt in quest of other game; but we went too far and got surrounded by wolves before we got back. We got a severe scolding when we got home, but the howling and the massing of the wolves was a great deal worse in my estimation!

    When we got to within about two days travel of Laramie, we just about got into some trouble with a large company of Sioux Indians. John Alger started in fun to trade a 16 year-old girl to a young Chief for a horse. But the Chief was in earnest! We got the thing settled, however, and were permitted to go without the loss of Lovina.

    We went through Laramie and on to Platt Ferry. Father, in returning from the Battalion trip, had stopped there, but had gone on to Salt Lake valley because he had heard we were not coming until next year. We found Lewis Robinson at Platt Ferry, and he was going on to the valley.

    Mother wished to go also, for I was so free to do everybody’s bidding that I was nothing but skin and bones, and mother was afraid I wouldn’t live through it. She talked to the captain of the company, but he gave her the most insulting language, so we pulled out and went on. I did not have to stand guard for that company anymore, and I began to mend from that time forth.

    “When we got to Cash Cave, we met father and Brother David Petigrew going back to the bluff for us. So father returned with us to the valley. While we were going down East Canyon Creek mother’s foot got caught in between the box and wagon tongue and broke the toe at the upper joint; but the skin was not broken. So father anointed her foot there and administered to her and it was healed quite soon. We went on and at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, I broke a hind wheel; but we had some of father’s carpenter tools along and the wheel was mended.”

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