“Sure, We Can Swim This Little Stream!”
Written by Hugh Bradly- Virginia, Idaho, April 19, 1960.
Submitted by Marlin Brown
“It’s a hard day ahead of us. We must get some rest,” said Lindsay Anderson Brady. On bended knees his family gave thanks for the blessings of the day and petitioned for protection and rest through the night.
An early breakfast of fried corn-cakes and bacon satisfied the nine jubilant emigrants. By noon they were at the eastern side of the Missouri River. The spring flow had receded to where it was now safe to ford the river with their two covered wagons, four-yoke of oxen and cows. The muddy water splashed against the animals and wagons as they crossed. They stopped for lunch on the west bank where the animals could graze on good grass.
The cattle were unhitched and turned loose to graze while the family ate lunch. They were suddenly alerted by splashing water. To their astonishment and horror their animals were returning home. Call as they might the herd gave no heed, but continued ahead through the river. Fear was in every soul and their shrieks rent the stifling July air. Marooned with the Missouri on one side and a vast prairie on the other, and the caravan a day ahead, it was the calm thinking of the father that tried to relieve the hysteria of the mother and children.
“I wonder if Marion and Warren could swim back over the river and get the animals before they get too far…,” asked Lindsay.
Could they! Marion was fifteen years old and Warren just thirteen.
“Yes,” the boys said, “We can swim’er. We can bring ‘em back.”
“No, you can’t,” cried the hysterical mother, as she thought of the loss of her first born, Simeon, at Nauvoo. “I will not permit such a hopeless thing.”
“But,” implored Lindsay, “they swim well. I am sure they can do it. The Lord will provide, He will help them.”
“Yes, the Lord will provide” sobbed Elizabeth Ann. “That is what you have always said from the days we left our home in Kentucky until we reached Far West. Then again when driven from that place with infant in arms to Nauvoo, and then forced to leave a good home, cross that terrible Mississippi and head for this forsaken place; now only to be lost and murdered by Indians. No, I tell you we will all die together rather than risk these two boys in that wicked old river.”
“But Mother,” said Marion, “Don’t you remember all the good swimming lessons daddy gave us at Nauvoo? We could swim the Mississippi if necessary. We can easily swim this little stream. We know we can.”
Filled with a prayer in her heart Elizabeth Ann consented.
“We’ll go up the river to enter, so you can swim downsteam with the current,” explained the father.
About one-fourth mile up river the boys removed excess clothes, wrapped their tie ropes about their bodies to leave their hands and feet free to the swim. With no apparent fear they plunged into the current.
Fourteen tense eyes on the western bank of the river anxiously watched the boys as the distance widened and the boy’s forms seemed to be swallowed by the ugly waters. As they neared mid-stream only the two little black heads were visible as they bobbed up and down between waves. As the distance increased, the little black dots became smaller until they were lost from view. Their mother’s heart sank. She felt she could stand it no longer.
“They are gone. My darling boys are gone.”
She sank to her knees in despair and uttered pleadings for Divine assistance. She was still on her knees when she heard the cry of her husband; “They have made it.”
Springing to her feet, she beheld her precious boys climbing the bank far across the Missouri. “Thanks, dear Lord; they are safe. Please bring them back.”
Within the hour the animals were climbing the western bank and the two boys were safely mounted upon the backs of oxen. Again, they gave thanks to the Lord. The somewhat reconciled mother apologized to her faithful husband for her earlier unkind remarks.
It was almost dark when they arrived at the first camp site to find the company had gone ahead. To make sure the animals did not stray again, they were left yoked and herded all night. At noon the next day the weary family rejoiced and gave thanks as they caught the main company.
They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 18, 1850 with one wagon and six head of cattle, two of which they butchered during the following winter.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in