WOOLSEY, Thomas

THOMAS WOOLSEY (1805 – 1897)

by Wilford Whitaker

Descendants of Thomas Woolsey

During the years 1846 and 1847, there was much more traffic across the unmarked prairies than what we usually think. There was that seemingly endless stream of immigrants on their way to Oregon, a few to California, and the Mormons, across Iowa to Winter Quarters [Council Bluffs] and then the Mormon Battalion, on their way to Santa Fe and San Diego, California. But there were also others involved in this general migration.

  • Apr 1846 – Brigham Young called John Brown to lead a group of Latter Day Saints from Monroe County, Mississippi – west – from Northeast Mississippi to the Platte River and rendevous there with the Nauvoo Saints. There were fourteen families and several single men – 43 adults (24 men and 19 women) and an unknown ****** of children.
  • 8 Apr 1846 – Five men were selected to assist Brown, to return to Mississippi and guide the families west.
  • 26 May 1846 – At Independence, Missouri, they were joined by the Robert Crow family of 17 adults and children – with this company, the Brown Company totaled 60 adults.
  • Mid-June 1846 – Brown and Company were at the Platte River where they waited one or two weeks and then continued west towards Fort Laramie where they were advised to go to Pueblo, Colorado, on the head waters of the Arkansas River, where they could winter. The fort was in a sheltered valley, with a surplus of corn and other food and supplies could be found at Bent’s Fort, which was about 75 miles away.
  • 2 Jul 1846 – Thomas Woolsey, the oldest son of Joseph Woolsey and Abigail Woolsey, was an intrepid, courageous pioneer. His life deserves more attention than that hitherto given to him. He was an original volunteer for The Mormon Battalion, marching bravely off to the stirring martial music of the Pitt band, on that 2 July 1846 morning with the rest of the 500 volunteers, albeit reluctant volunteers. Like many others, Thomas Woolsey left wives and children (2 wives and 5 living children) to fend for themselves in his absence. The men had agreed to go only on conditions that their leaders provide for and protect their loved ones, that their pay of $16 per month per enlistee be retrieved and brought back to help not only their own families but the covenant poor generally, and that they be led by their own officers.
  • 16 Jul 1846 – This date was celebrated by some as the date of enlistment of the Mormon Battalion.
  • Jul 1846 – The Brown Company continued along the Oregon Trail on the south side of the Platte River past Grand Island toward Fort Laramie. In July they met eastern-bound travelers near Chimney Rock, and learned there were no Mormons on the trail ahead of them. They then headed south to the Arkansas River.
  • 7 Aug 1846 – John Brown and his group arrived in Pueblo and began building log cabins and planting crops.
  • 1 Sep 1846 – After helping the families get settled, John Brown and his assistants left Colorado to return to their families in Mississippi.
  • 12 Sep 1846 – These men on their eastward journey met the Mormon Battalion traveling west, at about the “Crossing of the Arkansas” and told the soldiers about the branch of the Mormon Church members in Pueblo.

(Here the dates become a little confusing, possibly because there were three actual “detachments” that were “detached” from the main Mormon Battalion. Ricketts said the Higgins Family Detachment left on the 18 Sep 1846, but it must have been as early as 12 Sep 1846, as Norman Sharp wounded himself on the trail to Pueblo, on the 16 Sep 1846. After hearing Brown’s report of the LDS settlement at Pueblo, Lt. A. J. Smith, temporary battalion commander, decided to send some of the women, their husbands, and children back to Pueblo. The first detachment, known as the Higgins family Detachment (Arkansas Detachment), consisted of 11 men, 9 women and 33 children.)

  • 12 Sep 1846 – After reaching Santa Fe, almost one-fifth of the Mormon Battalion enlistees were too ill and exhausted to complete the grueling overland march to San Diego. Colonel Doniphan, commandant at Santa Fe, and Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cooke agreed to send a “sick detachment” of 89 men, 18 women laundresses, and some children on a 300 mile detour to Pueblo, 75 miles west of Bent´s Fort. Captain Higgins, with a guard of ten men was detailed to lead this detachment, [They were actually “at the Crossing of the Arkansas” on the Arkansas River at this time.] to Pueblo, a Mexican town located farther up the Arkansas, to winter. This company and the guard, which included Thomas Woolsey, split off from the main Battalion, who were on their way to Santa Fe and traveled up the Arkansas river and across the mountains to Pueblo.
  • 16 Sep 1846 – After four days travel up the river, private Norman Sharp accidentally shot himself in the arm. He was so badly wounded it was deemed advisable to send him back a few miles to a friendly Indian village for treatment. Thomas Woolsey volunteered to stay with Sharp and his family. The medicine man appeared very friendly and seemed almost certain he could cure him in a very few days. His treatment, however, was against his recovery. A warm fire was kept up day and night for about three days, when mortification set in and he died, a stranger in a strange land. . . . Brother Woolsey dug a grave, wrapped him in a blanket and buried him, and then took his (Sharp´s) family and brought them on and overtook the company, which had stopped to set tire irons. They proceed on to Pueblo, after negotiating a snow-bound mountain pass with much fatigue and hardships.

Sometime after this date Thomas Woolsey, alone and in a strange land, traveled from Pueblo back to Santa Fe and then on the trail of the Mormon Battalion until he caught up with them, on the Rio Grande River.

  • Early Oct 1846 – Higgins Family detachment arrived in Pueblo.
  • 18 Oct 1846 – When Philip St. George Cooke assumed command of the battalion in Santa Fe, he thought there were [still] too many women, children, and sick soldiers and decided to send a second detachment to Pueblo. This group left Santa Fe 18 Oct 1846 under James Brown, Captain. This was known as the Brown Sick Detachment (Santa Fe Detachment). (Ricketts, ibid)
  • 29 Oct 1846 – John Brown’s group reached their families in Mississippi.
  • 04 Nov 1846 – Here we (the main body of the Mormon Battalion) were overtaken by Thomas Woolsey, one of Capt. Higgins detachment, who went to Pueblo from the crossing of the Arkansas. He traveled from Santa Fe alone and brought us the first information we received of the accidental shooting and subsequent death of Norman Sharp. When Capt. Higgin´s detachment reached Santa Fe, Gen. Doniphan gave them the privilege of returning to Pueblo, which privilege was accepted by all except Woolsey. William Coray wrote as follows:

This evening Thos Woolsey overtook the command; he gave us the desired information concerning Pueblo, Capt. Higgins´ company, etc. They had arrived at Santa Fe a short time after we left and got on detached service to go back again to their families by order of Col. Price. He stated that there were 17 families from Mississippi at Pueblo. Bro. Woolsey showed no small amount of courage to undertake a journey lone-handed and in an enemies´ land at that.

  • 10 Nov 1846 – Colonel Cooke sent Lieutenant William W. Willis with the last detachment at the Rio Grande River 10 Nov. This was known as Willis Sick Detachment or Rio Grande Detachment.
  • 10 Nov 1846 This sick detachment, under Lt. W. W. Willis, accordingly started back. Included Thomas Woolsey and John H. Tippets.
  • 17 Nov 1846 – The Brown Sick Detachment arrived in Pueblo with 92 men, 19 women and 10 children.

Before 20 Dec 1846 – [31 Dec 1846] [Report of Lt. Wm. W. Willis – this date must not be correct because the Willis Sick Detachment arrived in Pueblo 20 Dec 1846 and because Woolsey and Tippets stated they left Pueblo for Winter Quarters “two days before Christmas”.] . . . I concluded to take Thomas Woolsey and start early next morning and go ahead to Mr. Turleys and make arrangements for the sick. [Brought up the sick, and then a very difficult time over the mountains, through deep snow, to Pueblo).

  • 20 Dec 1846 – The Willis Sick Detachment arrived in Pueblo 20 Dec 1846. [This date does not agree with the date above as reported by Lt. Wm. W. Willis.] There were 56 men and one woman in this Willis Sick Detachment.

Thus we have Thomas Woolsey volunteering to go with the Mormon Battalion to San Diego, then on the Arkansas River, being assigned to go to Fort Pueblo, Colorado, with the Higgins Family Detachment. He stayed with Norman Sharp, who had accidentally shot himself, until Sharp died, then buried him. Then he took Sharp’s widow and family on to Pueblo. When he arrived at Pueblo, he was sent back to travel to Santa Fe, and then he traveled, alone, south of Santa Fe until he caught up with the main body of the Mormon Battalion, on or near the Rio Grande River, made his report, where he left with the Willis Sick Detachment, [including John H. Tippets ] for Pueblo, again. Arriving in Pueblo, he started the New Year [1847] preparing to take this bold journey, with John H. Tippets, through the plains back to Winter Quarters and the main body of the Saints, carrying money and mail.

After this most perilous journey of over 600 miles, and many adventures later, through unmarked prairies and treacherous Indians, he and Tippets were reunited with the Saints in Winter Quarters, where they made arrangements to travel with the Pioneer Group under Brigham Young to the Salt Lake Valley.

  • 23 Dec 1846 – Thomas Woolsey and John H. Tippets left Pueblo for Winter Quarters [Council Bluffs.] – First day – lost
  • 24 Dec 1846 – Second day, it took all day to find ourselves.
  • 25 Dec 1846 – Next morning started again traviled till near four o clock in the afternoon, got near the crossing of the Fountain Fay Baryd (??) (Fountain Creek) where our pilote that we had to pilott us to the south fork of the Platt got turned round and bewildered and said we was not on the road so we turned to the right into the open peaie (prairie) and travild till dark and camped the wind blew heard and cold
  • 26 Dec 1846 – Third day, on and on – We rose the next morning and our pilott Declared he would go back and we thought we had beter go back and find the road if possible we traviled till four o clock which brot us to where we camped the first night – brother Woolsey and I camped and told Serat (?) Our pilot to go to Puebelow and get information about the road and come or send the next morning and bring us word
  • 29 Dec 1846 – Again there is confusion as to the dates here, but it appears that they returned to Pueblo to get their bearings because Tippets and Woolsey write that “on the 29 of December, 1846, we left Puehebeu (Pueblo) traveled ten miles and camped.” This date seems the more reasonable.

THOMAS WOOLSEY´S FAMILY ACCOUNT

This account, prepared from the research of Laurna Jessie (Taylor) Bennett, a great grandchild of Thomas Woolsey and Mary Burrell, through their daughter Eliza, seems to follow the “Autobiography” instead of the Journal below. I will put in brackets [and italicize ] data from this account.

JOURNAL OF JOHN H. TIPPETS & THOMAS WOOLSEY

[When Thomas (Woolsey) was called to the Mormon Battalion, he left his wives, Mary (Burrell) and Julia Ann (Mitchell), and eight children in Winter Quarters – their home, a dugout; their means of support, faith and prayer.] [During the Mormon Battalion march, records show that on 10 Nov 1846, the Colonel ordered a detachment of 56 men, under the command of Lieutenant Willis, to be sent to Pueblo. They were furnished with 26 days rations, 10 ounces of flour per day. Lt. Willis reports that they ‘had one big government wagon, four yolk of poor cattle, five days ration and two dressed sheep.´]

After mutch anxiety and several Days inn he stroving [? striving] we got leave of lieutenant Willis to make the adventure from Fort Puthelow (Pueblo) to Counsel Bluff where the main hdq of our breathering ware

John H. Tippets

Thomas Woolsey

Here Thomas Halsey [Woolsey] and I got leave to go to Sanpear Point on the Missouri River.

We started on the 23rd of December. First day – lost

[Two days before Christmas, 1846, Thomas Woolsey and John H. Tippets left Pueblo, alone and without a guide.]

on the 29 of December – 1846 we left Puehebeu (Pueblo) traviled ten miles and camped

  • 29 Dec 1846 [?] – Second day, it took all day to find ourselves.
[The second day they passed Pike´s Peak. When they awoke in the morning, they were under six inches of snow.]

next morning started again traviled till near four o clock in the afternoon got near the crossing of the Fountain Fay Baryd (??) where our pilote that we had to pilott us to the south fork of the Platt got turned round and bewildered and said we was not on the road so we turned to the right into the open peaie (prairie) and travild till dark and camped the wind blew heard an cold

  • 30 Dec 1846 – Third day, on and on.

we rose the next morning and our pilott Declared he would go back and we thought we had beter go back and find the road if possible we traviled till four o clock which brot us to where we camped the first night brother Woolsey and I camped and told Serat (?) our pilot to go to Puebelow and get information about the road and come or send the next morning and bring us word

  • 31 Dec 1846 – Fourth day, camped near ledge of rock.
  • 1 Jan 1847 – we rose this morning which is the first day of January 1847 wated for the word till we was tired of wating and started at aventure rode three miles and the mesinger overtook us and told us we was on the right road an that there was but the one road and told me that the Lieutenant ordered me back and that Brother Woolsey could do as he pleased about it so we road back 4 miles and met Br Holida (?) counseled with him a few minits we told him to go and consult Captain Brown and Cap Higins and Lieu Willis and send us word the next morning or they might expect we should be gone. This was the fourth nigt and only ten miles from Puebelow

Fifth morning under four inches of snow.

  • 2 Jan 1847 – and the second Day of January we started and rode ten miles and it was so rainy and cold we could not ride and we camped
  • 3 Jan 1847 – Sixth and we started the next mornhing before Day and it was very cold we rode till betwen Day light and sunrise and had to stop and make a fire and warm us started again and rode till night come to what is called Jimes (?)camp it took its name by reason of aman beeing murdered there

seventh days on Cherry Creek (near where Denver is now)

[The fourth night they camped on Cherry Creek, near where Denver is now.]
  • 4 Jan 1847 – traviled the next day to a plase cald the point of rocks camped for the night
  • 5 Jan 1847 – in the morning we found ourselves two inches under the snow and the road was filed up so we could not folow it and we stopped for the day near the midle of the after noon there came along four strangers with eight pack meuls and porters so it was fortunate for us for they made a tract plain for us to folow
  • 6 Jan 1847 – we started the next morning came to cherry Creek and camped on the 6 of Jenuary rode down the Creek
  • 7 Jan 1847 – on the 7 and
  • 8 Jan 1847 – 8 Days of the month
  • 9 Jan 1847 – we rose on the ninth early in morning it was severely cold the sun rose with two sun Dogs as bright as the sun with a half circle above it and a purfect circle around it and one that incurcled a large portion of the sky and run through the center of each sun dog and through the center of the sun with two pale sun Dogs at a Distance each side of the bright ones the figure there bares a resemblance. This day was so cold that we could see the frost as high up as we could see the day was verry dear and we only traviled ten miles through the day
  • 10 Jan 1847 – Eighth day, on day, on South fork of the Platte.
[On arriving at the South Fork of the Platte River, they decided to follow along the bank, and passed an old deserted Indian village. An east wind blasted their faces, and the temperature plummeted. They were forced to take shelter under the bank of the river, where they slept on the ice. The weather was so cold that six inches of the tail of one of their mules was frozen.]
  • 10 Jan 1847 – we started on the tenth traviled to the south fork of the Plat and camped
  • 11 Jan 1847 – traviled down the plat river past Bents and Louries trading fort
  • Ninth day on the Platte, near Indian Trading Fort. We kept down the river.
  • 12 Jan 1847 – on the 12
  • 13 Jan 1847 – on the 13 past through the Shians Indians
  • 14 Jan 1847 – traviled comfortably along on the 14
  • 15 Jan 1847 – and 15
  • 16 Jan 1847 – and 16

A cold wind arose, took us in the face, had to take shelter in the bend of the river. There was no wood; so little fire. Our mules froze their tails. Ice on the river froze ten feet in width in less than half an hour.

  • 17 Jan 1847 – on the morning of the seventeeth it was warm and comfortable the snow thawd some we roade till two o clock when we saw the wind along ways ahead of us it meting in the fase and was so cold and blew so heard we had git off from our meuls and get down in the grass we sat a while it grew so cold we dare not stay no longer fore there was no wood in sight nor within our knowlege we see we must find wood or freeze to Death we tried to go against the wind but we found it in vain so we turned back took up the bank of the river looking for flud wood and a bank to brak the wind but all was vain till we rode back three miles where we found a bank of the river near three or four feet high from the water and a little handful of wood that the Indians had left but not near anuff to make one comfortable fire the night came upon us it turned cold so fast that it froze over twelve feet of water in twenty minutes the prospect of freezing to death was verry fare for us and our animels our minds was fill with serious and meloncoly meditations feering it might bee the last night with us and leave the world unknown to any human to give any information of our fete and our bodys must be left to be Devoured by the wolves but considering there was a god and his goodness extended to them who loved him we took a bite to eate and laid down our buffalows and blankets half the length on the sand and half on the eyce and rested in hoples of seeing the returns of another Day we got quite comfortable after lying Down went to sleep being kindly preserved by our father in heaven in answer to our prayer
  • 18 – 20 Jan 1847 – We were 200 miles out on the open Plains, strangers in a strange land. We kept on down the river, all day we rode; at night we camped. Cold so extreme we stopped three days. We were out of provisions. We tried, but failed to kill a buffalo.

The last day at sundown, a small herd came by. It was given by inspiration that THAT DAY we should get one. We did.

  • 21 Jan 1847 – we rose in the morning in life and health but the foot of our beding was froze in the ice it was extreemly cold and we had but a verry little fire we got a bite to eate and the consequence was that we must either go back forward or freeze to Death it apeared as we must freeze the best we could do unless we could find timber and none to be seen we sadled our mewls got ready to start the minits was well imploid by me with serious reflections I thought of home I thought of wife and children I thought of the church I thought of the twelve I thought of the priest hood I thought of my garmentes I thought labe? which was all lovely to me while get ready to start I said to brother Woolsey shall we go back or forward he answered I Don´t know Jest as you say about it Said. I hardly know what to do I Drecd (?dreaded) the consequence ether way we got on our mewls
  • 22 Jan 1847 – Started out next day. At night camped in an old Indian Wigwam. Staid over a day because of the cold. As I was going for water an old buffalo ran me back to camp. From behind a log I shot him later. and started east at aventure we traviled twelve miles crosed the river to a couple of coten wood trees tha we see there found an Indian wig wam that some of the Shians hunters had left which made us a comfortable place to brak the cold wind we come to this place on the 18 of January here our provisions gave out we had but four canty (scanty) meals we staid here three Days and tried every day to kill a buffalow as ther was hundreds of them around us but having no guns but muskets we had no sucksess
  • 23 Jan 1847 – [Another day in the unmarked wilderness and they found wood. The fire they were able to kindle kept them alive for three days of blizzard and cold.]
  • 19 Jan 1847 – 19th
[They killed a buffalo, and feasted like princes while waiting for the storm to subside.]
  • 20 Jan 1847 – 20th
[When the blizzard abated they continued their journey. The first evening, after setting camp, they started for water, but were driven back by a belligerent buffalo who was guarding the water for his herd.]
  • 21 Jan 1847 – on the twenty first we thought me must start we went one mile and tried to cross the river back to the road we got on the ice and our mewls sliped down it was verry cold we got back as quick as we could returned to camp we thought we would venture to stay the day so we unsadled our mewls while womething whispered me if we staid through the Day we should kill a Buffalow Amediately Br Wootsey said I am going to kill a Buffalow today we tried faithfuly all Day without sucheess our provisions was now gone but a trifle and the distance we had to go we knew not some meat we had to git or starve there was a dead buffalow a half mile below us that the woolves had eaten a part of it we saw there no othr chance but to take some of it but we thought we should have to be starved to the eating of it Jest at night we took our hatchet and knives and started to git some of the woolf meat going to it we saw a hurd of Buffalow coming towards us we huried to meat them as they crossed a little below us but they got to the crossing before uz ine (?) bef still till they all crossed we took after them Br Woolsey shot at one without suchess the Shot started them towards our camp I took up the creek kep under the bank out of sight till they got in thirty rods of our camp but I was not near a nuff to shoot and I crald out on the bank an lay close to the ground and crold 20 or 25 rods and shot a cow in the point of the shoulder she started and stumbled hur calf observed the fright and win up to hur left std to suck she not willing to stand he run under hur next to hur right and back to hur left and she stoped for the calf to suck and the hurd stoped Br Woolsey cralled by me to git near anuff to shoot while my heart was raised in earnest prayer to god that he would give us a buffalow to keep us from starving in the mean time Br Woolsey shot and she droped in hur tracks our hearts was raised with thanksgiving to god for the answer to our prayers by this time it was about dark and our meat in thurty rods of our camp we took 40 or 50 pounds of it and left the rest
  • 22 Jan 1847 – we procued our Jowrny the next morning which was the 22 day of January traviled a few days and met a large hurd as we camped and kild a calf we traviled a few days more one morning I got up and went to look for our mewls and started some deer and they run by our camp and Br Woolsey sat on our bed and shot a fine buck we traviled on till
  • 29 Jan 1847 – the twenty ninth of Jan an came to the Junction of the north fork of plat the whole cuntry seamed to be filled up with Buffalow. The weather turned warmer. We came to some Indian Camps, they took us in, kept us all next day, held a council over us. At noon we left at the rist of consequences, rode till dark, camped in the brush.
[They followed the river to Grand Island, where a group of Pawnee Indian braves attacked them, captured them, and took them to their camp.]
  • 5 Feb 1847 – on the fifth of February we fel in with the Pawne Indians – there was near two hundred of them. They took us and condicted us to the chief they took our sadles and mewls guns and loading and put them in the care of the chief gave us some dinner and they was agoing to moove 5 or 6 miles down on the grand Island so we sadiled and packed our mewls went down the river a couple of miles where they crosed the branch and we was for going our way but the chief would not let us so we had to go and lodge with him through the night he invited us to eat with him in diferant lodges where his wives ware night came on se slep in the lodge with his young men and squws the chief invited us to take of couple of young squaws of his withought any thrsoy (?) to hep (?) pease (?) so we told him we would when we came back giting away was our object little before noon they cald a counsel an made a corn soup we was invited in the chief asked me to give him a rechamend to washaterra meening the states how he had kep us and fed us and we had slep with him and had treated us kindly the spokesman comensed speaking and I comensed writing as he spoke evry few minits a sanction was given all around he closed and the chief spoke a few words after he spoke he kittle of soup was carried out dores and the soup bowls fild ech one of the men took a soup spoon filed with with corn and gave it to the chief the chief gave it back to the man and he devided it and put it on the ground before to indians opiset the chief the indian raised up bowed over and made a beat with both hands over the corn turned about to us and made the same motion then the soup bolls was braught in one to each two I eate with the chief our fate we new not I thought eating would not make it none the worse and as I had the chance I improved it Br Woolsey et but litle after eting we went out I got my mewls and loaded our things out Br Woolsey watcht them after I got them all out we sadled and packed our mewls they had taken a mare from broth Woolsey worth 65 or 70 dolars and gave him a mewl a mewl worth 30 dolars we got ready to start and the chief went with us tw miles put us on our road he shook hands with us and bid us good by we traviled on saw af ew indians ahead of us we watched them closely suposing them to bee the ones tha was designated by the corn they hid and and (sic) we went on unmolested we traviled till nine o clock at night camped in some dry brush made but verry little fire et a bite and laid down
[Thomas (Woolsey) later expressed his thoughts concerning being captured by Indians on that journey. He said, “I knew we were in a trap, and only through the power of God could we hope to escape, and believe me we did send up a petition to our God. Our prayers were answered, and on 15 Feb 1847 we arrived at Winter Quarters and in time to come west with the first company of Saints led by President Brigham Young.”]

We were stopped by seven of these warriors, searched and let go.

  • 6 Feb 1847 – [The next day the Indians decided to scalp and kill them. Fortunately, the Indian Chief (Sethmalin, Pawnee Chief) returned to camp and ordered his braves to release them. Thomas Woolsey, in gratitude, later did the temple work for this Indian Chief in the Manti temple.]
  • 7 Feb 1847 – Starte in the morning traviled five miles and saw seven in waryers of the pawnese we motioned to them to keep back and not more than two to com up they inscisted on coming we prepared to fire and the captain laid down his bow and arrows and gun came up with his pipe the all came up and shook hands and we must git dow and eate with them they kep us three hours and searched evry thing we had but my knapsack that I would not have searched they stole Br Woolseys shirt and garment they was determind to have my flanil shirt off from my back rather than strip in the cold I told them I would give them one out of my sack and done so and left them this was the seventh of February
  • 8 Feb 1847 – Next day we crossed the Platte on ice.  we traviled three Days along the side of the iland come to abed of rushes stoped aday and ahalf to let ou mewls feed as gras was giting verry poor. Next day we crossed the Loop-Fork on the ice at great risk and came to Miller´s Trail, made the summer before.
  • 10 Feb 1847 – Started on the tenth of the month past the pawne village about noon no indians there

Camped on a little island in the Platte river.

11 Feb 1847 – on the 11 we crossed the main river and took the north side

[They crossed the river on the ice below Grand Island, then continued eastward to the Elk Horn River.]

traviled two dais with out the sine of a road or trail

  • 13 Feb 1847 – we found the road on the thirteenth day of the month now our meat was nearly gone and no feed but the dry grass how fur we was from our bratherin we knew not we calculated to travil as fast as we could as long as our mewls would live and make the best of it we could we had but little to eate so we hurried
  • 14 Feb 1847 – Next night we camped in the timber and had plenty of rushes. Stayed over to let our mules feed as they were nearly starved.  we luckly found abe (a bed) of rushes on the fourteenth day of the month and we thought we could stand it with out eating as long as the mewls so we stoped a day and a night to let them feed

We came to the [Elk] Horn River, carried sand to throw on the ice so mules wouldn´t slip. Crossed on the ice. The Indians stopped us, one of them could speak English. I asked him where we were. Learned we were 16 miles from Winter Quarters. For three days we had not eaten one meal of victuals. That night rode to Brigham´s door — they were just ready to sit down to supper, no excuse, we must eat with them, dirty as we were. After supper I found my family. It had taken us 52 days on the route.

[They packed sand in their blankets and threw it on the ice to keep the mules from slipping, and crossed the thin and treacherous ice in safety.] [They were stopped by a band of Omaha Indians. A white man was living among them. Brother Tippetts asked him if he spoke English. When he answered ‘yes´, the weeks of deprivation, loneliness and hunger spilled over, and Brother Tippetts cried, “For God´s sake, tell us where we are!”] [They were sixteen miles from Winter Quarters, where they arrived at dark at President Brigham Young´s home.]
  • 15 Feb 1847 – early on the morning of the fiftenth we started in hopes of giting home in 2 or 3 days came to the horn it was glare ice we made a path of sand and got over without our mewls sliping as they was not shod we came on to the omehoes indians they Detained us a few minutes took us to there camp we found a man that could talk inglish we inquired for Sanpees at Counsel point to our surprise we found we was in 6 miles and 15 miles of the breathrerin beeing over anxious to git home we hurried and got to President Youngs doore Jest at Dark on the 15 day of February being fifty one (crossed out, 49 written above it, 49 would be the correct time.) Days on the open praies.

{Bennett, Richard E. We´ll Find the Place. The Mormon Exodus 1846-1848. Deseret Book Company. Salt Lake City, Utah. 1997. p. 77. “Two totally unexpected latecomers were John Tippets and Thomas Woolsey, who made a surprise appearance in Winter Quarters during an evening of food and entertainment at Brigham´s home. Half-crazed and starving, the two men had just completed a harrowing two-month journey by mule and on foot from 280 miles south of Santa Fe, where they had left the Mormon Battalion. From there – in the dead of winter – they proceeded north to Pueblo and then west down the Platte River Valley to the Missouri, some 750 miles. They brought with them 137 letters, news of the Battalion and of the Mississippi Saints, and a desire to know the plans of the main camp. Paralyzed by blizzards, captured and robbed by the Pawnee though paradoxically saved by Pawnee hospitality, they stumbled into camp like two dazed prodigal sons. “Their arrival produced no small stir throughout the camp,” said Woodruff, [Journal, 12 Feb 1847] and people came “in all directions to enquire after their friends in the Army.” Despite their harrowing ordeal, Tippets and Woolsey summoned up the energy to join the pioneer camp and make the return journey back the way they had come, thereby proving an invaluable asset to the camp.}

[There are few such journeys of sheer courage and endurance recorded in the history of the Church. To travel alone, in the dead of winter, and follow a blind trail for six hundred miles was a hard and hazardous challenge – a saga of true western pioneers.]

In all, I acknowledge the hand of the Lord. We arrived home on the 15th day of February 1847.

through this adventure and ath (?after) our exposures and the providing our meat and deliverance from the Indians we atribut to the kind and afectionate care of our heavenly father in answer to our prayers learning by experience he will answer according to his word to them was (?) firy (?firm) in faith believeing that they do receive glory honor and praise be given to god the Farther son and holy ghost for our Deliverance and preservation and salvation worlds without end.

Stayed until the first of April and started with the Pioneer Company for Salt Lake Valley.

[He (Thomas Woolsey) arrived in Utah with the first pioneer company, 24 Jul 1847.]

(in another hand, on the back) John H. Tippitts & Thomas Woolsey´s Journal from the 29th Dec 1846 – to 15th February 1847. inserted 15 Feb 47 condensed gas(?)

End of Journal

  • Early Spring 1847 – The Robert Crow family grew impatient and started West and were waiting at Fort Laramie when Brigham Young and the Pioneer Company arrived 1 Jun 1847 and traveled with them to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake.
  • 16 Apr 1847 – [The first company of 143 men, three women and two children (of which Thomas Woolsey was a member), as well as subsequent companies, were organized much as Moses had organized the Children of Israel for their flight from Egypt. Companies were divided into hundreds, fifties, and tens, and a captain was placed over each. Thomas Woolsey was in the Sixth Ten. Charles Shumway was the Captain. Members of the Sixth Ten, in addition to Thomas Woolsey and Andrew Shumway, were Chauncey Loveland, Erastus Snow, James Craig, William Wardsworth, William Vance, Simeon Howd, and Seeley Owen.]

In company with Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball — another company came three days travel, camped three days to let our teams browse on cottonwood brush as there was no grass. Started our march to Missionary Station, to civilize the Pawnee Indians — then on to Pawnee town; forded the loop fork of the Platte River, came to Wood Creek, to a place called Laramie, a distance of 501 miles. Before we came to Laramie, we crossed the north fork of the Platte, myself and Roswell Stevens. Amasa Lyman went south toward Pike´s Peak to meet our Company. We had left the December before. When we got to the dry fork of Crow Creek we lost our road, it being very blind weather all that day. Next day we came to the south fork of the Platte, forded across, came to the trail we had gone down in the winter. We could see below where we should be so we rode up the river and in the latter part of that day we came to the Old Mountain. We could see our Company had left there was on the road to Laramie. We took their track, crossed the river back again, then to Crow Creek and camped next day. Came on to our Company as they camped for the night. Next day, great rejoicing for they had heard by way of an Indian that we had been killed during the winter. (I forgot to say when we lost our way to Dry Fork on Crow Creek, we ran out of provisions and killed a pelican for breakfast. Had the good luck to shoot an antelope next day.

{Bennett, We´ll Find the Place. p. 124. “The decision to pass near the main Pawnee village was both deliberate and dangerous, and was prompted, no doubt, by those in camp who had firsthand experience with the Pawnee. James Case, a former employee at the government-operated farm near the Pawnee village who was dismissed after his conversion, had spent much of the past year at the now-abandoned farm and adjacent Presbyterian mission. Case knew the area and the Pawnee well. He also knew that his farm associates had stored a large cache of hay and provisions, which might still be hidden from the Pawnee.  “Tippets and Woolsey had spent several weeks among the Pawnee as grateful, if unwilling, winter captives. Before their release, they had told the Pawnee about Mormon intentions, one of the chiefs had even pledged two of his daughters in marriage to the two sojourners. The pioneers hoped to build on this friendship.”}

  • 14 Apr 1847 – [By 14 Apr 1847 the pioneers had reached Loup Fork. They crossed Plum Creek with little difficulty, but found it difficult to cross Cedar Creek before reaching the fording place on the banks of the Loup. It was decided that they would build two rafts to make the crossing. Tarlton Lewis was assigned to build one, Thomas Woolsey the other.]
  • 29 Apr 1847 – [By 29 Apr they had reached Grand Island, Nebraska. The cannon brought up the rear of the wagon train. Members of the gun crew were Thomas Tanner, Captain; Stephen H. Goddard, Seeley Owens, Thomas Woolsey, Horace Thornton, Charles D. Barnum, Sylvester H. Earl, George Schools and Rufus Allen.]

{Bennett, We´ll Find the Place. p. 131. “Rockwell, quick with both word and gun, was soon claiming bragging rights for having felled the first buffalo. But John Pack felt constrained to paint a slightly different version of the story: “There was considerable anxiety in the camp who should kill the first buffalo,” he later wrote to his family back at the Missouri. We had none ever killed any except Bro. Wool[s]ey and Tippets that came from the army. I said but very little for fear I might not kill one at all. One afternoon about 3 0´clock we came in sight of about 300 buffalo in one herd. 11 of us which had previously been chosen for hunters prepared for the chase on horse back . . . . We started off on a slow walk the buffalo being 3 miles off. There was much bragging by the way. I told them I did not expect to kill any. I was going along behind to skin with my big jack knife. However we got up within 1/4 mile and the buffalo started. We put spurs to our horses and as they ran around a hill I cut across and came in ahead of all the hunters and along side of the buffalo. I fired away and killed one dead on the spot…. Porter had shot at one of them once but did not touch them then rode on and left them. I spurred up my horse and came alongside and fired away and shot the largest one through the shoulder….He fell dead on the spot. This one is allowed to be much the largest of any that has been killed….I killed 2 alone and helped Bros. Kimball and J. Redden kill one. They had to all give up. But well you must know that I felt first rate.”

  • 18 May 1847 – [William Clayton was one of the camp scribes. On Tuesday 18 May, he recorded:

Brigham´s horse nearly stepped on a large rattlesnake and when Thomas Woolsey came walking by moments later, the snake coiled and struck at him, missing his foot by scant inches as he jumped aside. John Higbee shot the head off the snake and the serpent was thrown into the creek, which Brigham Young named Rattlesnake Creek.]

  • 24 May 1847 – The Pueblo Detachment and remaining Mississippi Saints under Captain James Brown left Pueblo and gained on the vanguard company until they were only a day behind at the ferry on the Platte River. Finding a blacksmith there, they stopped to get their animals shod.
  • 1 Jun 1847 – Seventeen of the Mississippi Saints and twelve Mormon Battalion men joined the Pioneer Company at Fort Laramie. This group continued on with the Pioneer Company to the Great Salt Lake Valley. These were of the Robert Crow family.
  • 2 Jun 1847 – [Two miles from Ft. Laramie, four men were picked by Brigham Young to travel to Pueblo, to gather some of the Saints there and bring them to Ft. Laramie, and then on the Mormon Trail to the Great Salt Lake Valley. These four men were Amasa Lyman, one of the twelve; Thomas Woolsey, John H. Tippets and Roswell Stevens.]
[Brigham Young and Willard Richards signed Amasa Lyman´s letter of authority, and also prepared a letter to Elder Thomas Dowdle, the presiding Elder at Pueblo. They then gathered 349 letters to the Battalion and gave the mail pouch to Thomas Woolsey, appointing him Deputy Postmaster. Dr. Richards instructed Brother Woolsey to bring back all the letters he was not able to deliver.]

{Bennett, We´ll Find the Place. p. 174. The Pueblo detachment had weathered the winter reasonably well, reported Crow, and most of them were presently en route from Fort Pueblo for Fort Laramie. However, because of dissension over Mormon versus non-Mormon authority within their ranks, as well as rumors and reports on how their families were faring at Winter Quarters, the detachment had so soured in morale that some were talking openly of mutiny and desertion. Almost “half of the men rebelled and entered into obligation to leave the company at Laramie, take their portion of teams and provisions and go to the States.” “Nothing in the world would have held us together” wrote John Steele, a member of the disenchanted company, “but the gospel and some were fast forgetting that.” Upon hearing such happy as well as disturbing news, Brigham requested that Apostle Amasa Lyman and Rosewell Stevens, plus John Tippets and Thomas Woolsey (who were enlistees in the Battalion), head south through dangerous Indian country with a large mail, intercept the oncoming party, and douse the smoldering discontent. Lyman was then to bring the detachment west, hard in the wake of the pioneer camp. On the morning of 3 June 1847 . . . .”}

  • 3 Jun 1847 – [The four men then started on horses and mules for Pueblo. President Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, and Orson Pratt accompanied them to Laramie Fork, where they held a council meeting seated on a large tree which had fallen on the bank of the river; after which they knelt down and President Young blessed the Brethren who were going on the journey and dedicated them to the Lord.]

{Bennett, We´ll Find the Place. p. 174. “Brigham read some instructions . . . . and gave them to Amasa Lyman [in which] he told the [Battalion] brethren that they had accomplished their designs in getting the battalion to Mexico but the brethren at Pueblo must not follow Brown to Mexico, but go to California. If the officers will not do right, he instructed Amasa to call out the men, and choose officers who would do right . . . and throw all the Gentile officers out of the Battalion when you come up to it.}

  • [Date not given – Thomas Woolsey met up with the Pueblo Saints, who were already on the road and started after the Pioneer Company under Brigham Young.] – Next morning after we came to the Company, we started our long march under the mountains. Crossed the middle fork of the Platte at Fort Laramie. Here we took the road that Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball were on with the Pioneer Companies. Went over the hill where they had camped at Independence Rock, on the Sweet Water and stayed one day. Then on up the Sweetwater to Pacific Springs, passed them and camped on the Dry Sandy. From here to Big Sandy, then to Green River, crossed and camped at Hams Fork, just a hundred miles from Salt Lake Valley, it was in August.
  • 4 Jul 1847 – The Pioneer Company met thirteen of the Mormon Battalion men and there was general rejoicing and thanksgiving.
  • 8 Jul 1847 – Sgt. Williams and Samuel Brannan were sent back along the trail to meet members of the Mormon Battalion Detachment coming from Pueblo, which included Thomas Woolsey. There were 140 men in the detachment, which was seven days behind the Pioneers. Thomas Woolsey pushed ahead and caught up with the Pioneer Company sometime before they entered the Valley.
  • 24 Jul 1847 – Thomas Woolsey arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley with the Pioneer Company.
  • 29 Jul 1847 – {Bennett, We´ll Find the Place, p. 230. “The very next day [29 Jul 1847] the combined company of Mississippi Saints and the Pueblo detachment of the Mormon Battalion, some 240 souls in all, arrived in camp with 60 wagons, over 100 horses and mules, and some 300 head of cattle, more than doubling their ******s. Marching to fife and drum, the soldiers, now looking like mountaineers, sunburned and weather-beaten, entered the valley in smart military procession – council and officers first, infantry next with martial music, then the cavalry, with the baggage wagons bringing up the rear. ‘The brethren were very much rejoiced at getting once more among their friends, ‘ Bullock noted, ‘and a general congratulations took place.´
  • 30 Jul 1847 – The Pueblo Saints made a campsite about ½ mile north of the Temple Lot.
  • 31 Jul 1847 – Brigham Young took command. “Praising the Battalion boys enthusiastically, Brigham assured them that all their families were well and many of them were already on the overland road. Shouting ‘Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna, give glory to God and the Lam,´ he congratulated the Battalion for having ‘saved the people by going into the Army. If they had not gone, Missouri was ready with 3,000 men to have wiped the Saints out of existence.´ … He closed his comments by asking the Battalion to erect a bowery 40 feet long by 28 feet wide for Sunday preaching.

“The truth of the matter was that many of the new arrivals had almost mutinied on their way to Fort Laramie, wanting to return to their families. Many were unhappy with how some of their enlistment pay and later wages had been appropriated and were convinced that their wives and families were getting less than their due. While some made secret arrangements to leave for the East in a day or two, others wanted assurances that their families were indeed part of the emigration camp (or ‘Big Company´) that was following the advance camp. Some had the ‘California fever´ and were anxious to follow Sam Brannan to the Pacific, there collect their muster-out pay, and set out on their own.”}

Middle of Sep 1847 – We found Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball Companies. Stayed until the middle of September and started back for Winter Quarters without teams, with 15 pounds of provisions, but killed buffalo along the way and got along well. When we got to the upper crossing of the Sweetwater, we met the first company of Saints on the way to the valley. [This was the John Taylor Company, which included George Whitaker, Wilford W. Whitaker’s English ancestor.] [Thomas Woolsey left the Valley of the Salt Lake and returned East in the fall of 1847. He and his families, augmented now by two more children, settled on a prosperous farm at Mt. Pisgah, Iowa, to grow produce to help the Saints to get to the Utah Territory. They continued in this special calling until 1842, when they, too, crossed the plains and the Rocky Mountains to Salt Lake City.] [Also with them here were his brother Richard Woolsey and his wives and children, and the wife and children of their brother James Hopkins Woolsey, Lavina Patterson Woolsey. www.] [To review, Thomas Woolsey had traveled with the Battalion only to leave on assignment to go to Pueblo and then back to Winter Quarters. He then commenced the Mormon Trek with the original company headed by Brigham Young, only to be sent again to Pueblo as the Deputy Postmaster. With Mormon Battalion Saints from Pueblo, he again traveled to meet Brigham Young´s company. He was with the original company of Saints who came down Emigration Canyon into the Great Salt Lake Valley.]

  • 30 Nov 1847 – Arrived back at Winter Quarters on the last of November (1847). Found Alvah Tippets very sick. He died three days after I got there. (Total miles from 16 Jul 1845 to 1 Nov 1847 is 5,900 [this is a fantastic figure, equivalent to crossing the continent twice.], most of it on foot. I went to work teaming to get means to return in the spring with my family. [John H. Tippets]

 

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