John Theophilus Gerber's Mormon Trail Journal
Addedby Terri Hanauer-Brahm
My GG Grandfather John Theophilus Gerber's 1864 Journal
This is a journal written by my great great grandfather, John Theophilus Gerber.
This was his second wagon train. The first time was from Ohio to SLC in 1854, when he was 17 years old. This trip was made with his parents.
Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868 Gerber, John Theophilus
Birth Date: 7 Apr. 1837 Death Date: 24 Dec. 1920 Gender: Male Age: 26 Company: William Hyde Company (1864)
Pioneer Information: returning missionary; married Anna Maria Knapp (Ruopp) en route Aug. 28
Sources: "List of Immigrants," Deseret News, 19 Oct. 1864, 18. Read Trail Excerpt Source Locations Ancestral File Source Locations Gerber, John T., Journal, in Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26 Oct. 1864, 3-9. Read Trail Excerpt Source Locations Mormon Immigration Index Source Locations
Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868 Source of Trail Excerpt: Gerber, John T., Journal, in Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26 Oct. 1864, 3-9. Read Trail Excerpt: Elder John T[heophilus]. Gerber, a returned missionary, who crossed the plains in Capt. Wm. Hyde's company, kept a daily journal of the journey, from which we cull the following in his own language.
I joined Capt. Wm. Hyde's company numbering [blank space] souls and 62 wagons chiefly Perpetual Emigrating Fund Emigrants. We started from Wyoming this afternoon about 6 o'clock bound for G. S. L. City.
Traveled about one mile and camped on the prairie where the grass wood and water were good and plentiful. The weather was fine.
Wednesday, Aug. 10. I returned from Wyoming on business. The camp moved about 4 miles, and I returned to camp as the company was making their evening corral. At this camping place several independent wagons caught up with us .
Thursday, Aug. 11. The brethren in camp were busy weighing out provisions to the company.
Friday, Aug 12. This morning we buried a little child. The company moved about 9 miles and camped on a creek which was partly dry, but wood and grass was plentiful.
Saturday, Aug. 13. The camp moved about 12 miles and camped on a small creek where the wood and grass was good. A sister died after we had made our encampment.
Sunday, Aug. 14. Capt. Hyde received a dispatch to the effect that he should lay over, or make a very short drives, until Capt. Warren G. Snow's train would be close behind us, as the Indians are very hostile ahead. We buried the sister who died last night and also her little son and two other children. In the evening a heavy rain set in, accompanied by thunder and lightning.
Monday, Aug. 15. Nothing unusual to Camp life happened, there are were still a number of sick in camp, chiefly sufferers with diarreah [diarrhea]. It rained part of the day.
Tuesday, Aug. 16. I wrote out a list of rations for the company. Bro. John L. Smith lent me one of his revolvers to carry across the plains. We burried another brother. The day was stormy.
Wednesday, Aug. 17. Bro. John L. Smith tried out pistols in shooting at the target. Another person was buried. e traveled About 10 o'clock up a hill about a mile distant to a healthier place. The weather was beautiful.
Thursday, Aug. 18. We broke up our encampment about 8:30 a.m., traveled about 5 miles when we hauled for noon on a small creek where the grass was good and wood plenty.
Sunday, Aug. 28. During the past few days I have been very busy attending to camp duties, waiting on the sick, etc. Travelers reported that the Indians were very troublesome ahead. Bros. Jos[eph]. W. Young and Batey came from Bro. Snow's camp to pay us a visit. After they had counseled with Capt. Hyde and the brethren concerning our camp arrangements, I asked Bro. Young for permission to marry Sister Mary Knapp; he cheerfully granted the request. After attending Bro. [Daniel] Clark's funeral, we broke for camp about 1 p.m., and traveled 9 miles and camped about sundown near Bro. [Warren Stone] Snow's camp on the Platte river. Mary and myself dressed up preparatory to being married. We attended meeting in the center of the corral about 8 p.m. After singing Capt. Hyde made a few remarks concerning camp duties. Bro. Smith announced to the saints my desire to be united in marriage to Miss Anna Mary Knapp and asked if there were any objections. There being none, he performed the ceremony making Sister Knapp and myself man and wife. After this Bro. John W. Young preached and counseled the saints. After meeting a number of the Elders and Saints congratulated us. We retired to our tent with Bro. and Sis. [Carl Christian and Matilda Sophia] Schramm and Sis. L. [Lisetta Margrethe Elizabeth] Dolder took supper with us. I retired with my wife about 11 o'clock. The weather was fine.
Monday, Aug. 29. After attending the funeral of Sister [Mary Ann Jolley] Miller at 7 o'clock a.m., we traveled about 8 miles and nooned. In the afternoon we traveled, several miles further and traveled bout 7 miles from the Platte River, where grass was plentiful. We used buffalo chips for fuel. My wife complained of being very sore footed, she having walked nearly the whole distance since the company left Wyoming.
Tuesday, Aug. 30. We broke up our encampment at 7 o'clock a.m. I was appointed officer of the day to follow up behind the train and see that no one was left behind. We traveled 8 miles and nooned about 8 miles from Ft. Kearney. We resumed the journey about 2 p.m. and encamped an hour later on the west side of Ft. Kearney. We are now 145 miles from Wyoming. The mail has stopped running on account of Indian troubles along the line. Also emigrant and merchant trains have been stopped temporarily on account of the hostile attitude of the Indians. Here we also overtook Bros. A[rnold]. Bischoff[,] [Jacob] Burgener and J[ohannes]. Winckler and families who started from Wyoming with horse teams, they joined us.
Wednesday, Aug. 31. I assisted Bro. [Alexander] Ross in issuing rations to the company. We traveled 7 miles in the forenoon and six miles in the afternoon; camped on the Platte river where the feed was good and water plentiful.
Thursday, Sept. 1. Bro. [Jacob] Niifenegyer's [Nieffenegger's] child was buried. We broke up our encampment about 8 o'clock a.m., traveled 10 miles and nooned. In the afternoon we traveled 5 miles and camped near Plumb Creek. While making our corral, a number of soldiers (cavalry and artillery) passed us, accompanied by some Indians. We saw horsemen stations on the hill south of us.
Friday, Sept. 2. Mother [Jane Haddon] Lyne's [Line's] funeral took place this morning. We resumed our journey at 8 o'clock a.m., passed a camp of soldiers and some Indians on Plumb Creek traveled 6 miles and nooned. In the afternoon we traveled 10 miles and camped about dusk on the Platte river. The cattle were driven across the river to feed. About 500 Indians are reported to be in the camp within one mile of us.
Saturday, Sept. 3. Prayer meeting was held in camp at 7:50 a.m. We traveled about 7 miles in the forenoon and 9 miles in the afternoon and encamped on the Platte river where feed was scarce.
Today a woman in Mr. Batie's freight train was run over and instantly killed.
Sunday, Sept. 4. We traveled about 9 miles in the forenoon and six miles in the afternoon and camped for the night on the river where the feed was good. A rainstorm, accompanied by heavy thunder and lightning visited us.
Monday, Sept. 5. At 6 o'clock p.m. Sister A[nna]. Stayner [Steiner] was buried. We broke camp at 7 o'clock a.m. traveled 12 miles and nooned by a vacated station. All the ranchers and station keepers on the road so far have fled from the Indians. A Sister Smith was buried here. In the afternoon, in continuing our journey, we crossed Cottonwood Creek, where a few soldiers are stationed; camped three miles west of Hinman's range and drove the cattle into a pasture for the night. The weather was cloudy all day and a rain storm came up in the evening as we were making our corral and continued the greater part of the night.
Tuesday, Sept. 6. This morning the clouds disappeared and the rising sun and everything seemed cheerful again. After the usual morning prayer, we broke camp at 8:30 a.m., traveled about 4 miles and camped to dry our clothes. We found some nice plums and grapes. In the afternoon we traveled 8 miles, passed a deserted junction of houses and camped for the night on a nice little creek.
Wednesday, Sept. 7. We resumed the journey at 7 a.m. After the train had started, I stayed behind and caught a nice mess of fish which I presented to Bro. John [Moburn] Kay, a returned missionary who is very sick with rheumatism. We traveled 8 miles and nooned on Fremont Springs. In the afternoon we traveled ten miles and camped on O'Fallen's Bluff on the Platte. We saw a few soldiers and families traveling east.
Thursday, Sept. 8. We broke camp at 7:30 a.m., traveled about 9 miles and nooned three miles west of Baker's ranch. Here a child was buried. We passed some emigrants and met a small company going east. In the afternoon we traveled six miles and camped on a slough.
Friday, Sept. 9. We resumed our journey about 7 o'clock a.m., traveled 9 miles and nooned about a mile from the river. In the afternoon we traveled 9 miles and camped on the Platte.
Saturday, Sept. 10. Another Sister was buried. Bro. Paul A. Schettler in company with Bros. Jos. W. Young and about 15 other brethren started ahead with horse and mule teams for G. S. L. City, expecting to arrive at their destination in 16 days. Our camp moved at 7 o'clock a.m., traveled 9 miles and nooned on the Platte, where a young sister was buried. In the afternoon we traveled 9 miles and camped on the Platte. High winds prevailed.
Sunday, Sept. 11. We arose at 4 o'clock a.m, had prayer at 6:30 p.m. , resumed our journey at 6:45 a.m., traveled 3½ miles when we came to the old California crossing of the Platte. We traveled 10 miles in the forenoon and passed Buck Station where there is a small store. In the afternoon we traveled 10 miles and encamped on the river about dusk. Here fedd was scant and we used buffalo chips for fuel . We passed several small trains during the day. The evening was cloudy and heavy winds prevailed.
Monday, Sept. 12. We traveled 9 miles in the forenoon and nooned 1 mile east of Junesborrow. In the afternoon we traveled to Junesborrow and crossed the Platte river about a quarter of a mile below that place. In crossing the river, one of the wagons was upset, containing several persons, but none were seriously hurt. All the wagons had crossed over by dark and were encamped on the opposite bank of the river. Part of Capt. Snow's bank also crossed the river.
Tuesday, Sept. 13. It was nearly noon before our camp moved today, some of the cattle having strayed off from the herd. We traveled a few miles up Pole Creek and camped where feed was more plentiful. In traveling today we had to face a very heavy wind. The atmosphere was damp and chilly. Several of the brethren caught nice bunches of fish in Pole Creek. We shall travel to the head of this creek about 180 miles, distant then pass over the Black Hills about 100 miles south of Ft. Laramie, cross the North Fork of Platte river and strike the head of Bitter Creek which course we shall follow a few days. This is a new route, and , we travel over the same agreeable to council, as feed and water is more plentiful than on the old route via Ft. Laramie.
On account of my wife Mary taking very sick with a fever similar to typhoid I was unable to keep a daily account of passing events. Mary continued sick nearly three weeks and for some time she was so low that I had but little hope of her recovery. Dr. Mc Quin attended her. Every evening after camping and pitching our tent I had to carry her from the wagon to the tent and in the morning carry her back into the wagon, besides attending to the cooking and other camp duties. Game is very plentiful on this route. The brethren, chiefly the teamsters from the valley, are killing antelope nearly every day. On the 6th of October Bro. John L. Smith and myself took our rifles (I had Bro. [Jacob] Burgener's Swiss rifle) and went ahead of the train on a hunt after antelope. After getting 3 or 4 miles ahead of the train, we left the road and struck off to the right about 1½ miles where we met with some antelope. Bro. Smith shot at them twice with his Endfield rifle, but missed. I also had one shot but missed. About 2 o'clock p.m. I stopped to decoy antelope with a red handkerchief. This s[t]ruck the animal with admiration and it came within 50 yards of where I had taken a position where I leveled my rifle and shot it through. While I was engaged in shooting the antelope Bro. Smith got separated from me by taking a course with the intention of overtaking the train. I started in pursuit of him, and overtook him on his way toward the train which was then a long distance ahead. We returned to the antelope which was a very big one and after we had skinned and cleaned it we halfed it and each took part and started toward camp. We soon discovered, however, that we had undertaken too large a task in attempting to carry all of our meat. We threw down our loads and left the four quarters of our animal behind. We arrived at camp about half a mile after dark, after having traveled 12 or 14 miles on foot carrying some 18 to 20 pounds of venison each besides our rifles, ammunition and a navy sized revolver. We were not a little tired when we arrived in camp. While traveling on Bitter Creek we had a very disagreeable tasting water; generally it tasted worse than brine, being so heavily pregnated with alkali and saleratus.
Sunday, Oct 23. By this time Mary's health had improved greatly, so much so that she could enjoy herself walking ahead of the train in company with the saints when the weather was pleasant. The camp moved about 9 o'clock a.m. Mary got into the wagon to ride while I went ahead of the train with Sister Glogg taking some tea and rice with me to trade for some potatoes and butter at Coalville on the Weber River. We met several persons who came from the Valley to meet their friends. Products are very scarce here on account of late frosts nipping the vegetation, but I succeeded in getting some potatoes and butter. We crossed the Weber River and arrived at Camp about sundown.
Capt. Hyde in the evening read a letter of instructions from the presidency of the Church to the camp.
Monday, Oct 24. We experienced a stormy morning in camp; one or two sisters were buried on this camp ground. We resumed our journey about 9 a.m. My brother Lewis met me at first I did not recognize him. He made me acquainted with my brother-in-law Ira Jacob (husband of my sister Julia who died in confinement March 28, 1864). We walked together to Bro. Geo. Snyder's store where we bad adieu to the saints with whom we had traveled across the plains. My brother Lewis brought a wagon drawn by his steers, picked up our baggage and rode to Bro. Geo. Snyder's where we were hospitably received and made comfortable.
Tuesday, Oct. 25. After breakfast my brother Lewis, Ira Jacob and his sister Mary and myself and wife started on our way home to Mount [Mound] City (Midway) Provo Valley, Wasatch Co., 41 miles southeast of G. S. L. City. We arrived at Mound City about 6 o'clock p.m. after having traveled some 26 miles through canyons and over a summit.
Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868 Source of Trail Excerpt: "List of Immigrants," Deseret News, 19 Oct. 1864, 18. Read Trail Excerpt: LIST OF IMMIGRANTSIn Capt. Wm. Hyde's Train. Which leftWyoming Aug.—, 1864.Ann and Pricilla Boyd, Henry Code, Daniel Clark and family, Elizabeth Denny, Ulrich Forrer and family, Erusla Korner, Susan Krebser. Jacob Wefenegger and family, Anna Steiner, Pius and Caroline Hirth, Doratha Schmidhause, Johanus Bosshard and family, Margaret Huber and family, Jacob Reiser, Johanes Meier, Heinich Bretscher and family, Barbara Knetcht, August and Louisa Kohler, Carl Schaal, Gottfried Lienhard, Anna Aberlye, Susan and Henrie Rebsamen, Elkee Jasper and family, Johan Zeoeifel, Saml. Wolfli [Wolfley], Habldus [Habidus] and Anna Faunenberger, Leopold and Anna H. Withlen [Wirthlin], Maria Rupp [Knapp or Ruopp], Catherine Sinnu and family, Lisetta Dolder, Rudolph Winklu and family, Eloza Ku[e]hni, Louis Bertrand, P.H. Dronbay and family, Louis Gerard and family, Michel Weyland and family, Ludwig Wolz, Elizabeth Jones and family, Elizabeth West, Ann M. Thom[p]son and family, Elizabeth Ruck, Joseph Howard and family, Wm. Archer and family, Wm, Norgeate, Wm. Moss and family, Ellen Kay, Chas. Cotterell, Robert Gale and family, Betsey Geeves, Mary A. Seaby, Hannah East, James Rapworth [Papworth] and family, George Coleman and family, William and Amelia Hall, Sarah Barber, John Arborne [Arbon] and family, Josiah Perren, Wm. Carpenter, Samuel Ridout and family, Geo. and Mary McKinley. Robert Smith and family, Wm. Bunce and family, Wm. And Isabella McNeal [Mc Neil], James and Maroni Smith, Andrew and Isabella Richardson, Henry and John Hagell, John Lines and family, Mary A. Bass [Voss] Phoebe Cockerhill, Anthony Haynes and family, John E. Ellis and family, Charlotte Hesman, Ann Turner, Emily Powell, Sarah Osborne and family, Elizabeth Jones, Mary Lowe, Caroline and John Kemp, Henry Adamson and family, Mary A. Ellis and family, James and Susan Ellis, William Richan, Alfred Ward and family, William Blake and family, Thomas Sayer and family, Mary and Emily Perkins, Mary A. and John H. George, Hannah Adams, Wm. Davis and family, Emma Hope, Mary A. Rawlings, Thomas Clifton and family, Diana Waller, Wm. D. Hobbs and family, Zillah M. Smith, Richard and Ann Hall, Amelia Brindle, Richard Russell and family, Oscar Workings [Wilkins], Henry Sutton and family, Wm. Lawrence, Thomas Thurgood and family, Henry Goodey and family, Mary A. Clark, Caroline Johnson, Wm. C. Spence, Sarah Burell, George Munford and family, Lucy Munford, Mary Ramsey and family, Wm. Dallemore [Dallimore], Euphenia Simpson, James Watson, John Sears and family, Mary Ann and John Barrett, Henry and Sarah Bridges, Louisa C. Cox, Alice Minchell, Sophia Warren, Mercy Symons, Maria Cook, Elizabeth J. Brown, Edward and Matilda A. Wherrett, Edward Southwick and family, Anna and Ellen Brown, Saml. Eslen [Nelsen], returning Missionary, John and Mary Ann Willis, Elizabeth Chittock, George and Joseph Willis, John and Mary Miller, John T. Gurber [Gerber], returning missionary.
Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868 Company: William Hyde Company (1864)
Narrative: William Hyde's Church train with 62 ox-drawn wagons left Wyoming, Nebraska Territory, on August 9. Wyoming was a Missouri river port founded in 1855 and used as the principal outfitting place by Mormon companies from 1864 to 1866. It was located 44 miles south of Omaha and 6 miles north of Nebraska City. Mormons were attracted to the port city of Wyoming because of its expansive staging ground and distance from Nebraska City. It was just far enough away from the rough elements and lures of Nebraska City, yet close enough that they could easily connect with the Nebraska City-Fort Kearny Cutoff. This cutoff was established about 1860 by military freight contractors and Nebraska City businessmen. It was the shortest route from the Missouri River to Fort Kearny and became a secondary route of the Oregon Trail. It ran 169 miles directly west and shortened the distance from the old Ox-Bow Trail by about 50 miles.
Most of the 375 people in Hyde's company were Perpetual Emigrating Fund emigrants. Because of Indian troubles, Church officials instructed the party not to go beyond Salt Creek until Warren S. Snow's company caught up with them; then the two companies were to travel together. On August 30 they reached Fort Kearny, where their numbers were bolstered with others for added protection. The army reserved grazing rights at Fort Kearny, and companies weren't permitted to camp within a mile of the fort. Beyond the fort the train passed abandoned ranches and way stations and sometimes met travelers fleeing eastward. Rumors about Indians made them edgy. At one time, 500 Indians were rumored to be within a mile of the company, but no one reported actually seeing them. Although small groups of Indians did visit the train, they seemed contented with the few gifts doled out by some of the travelers. Traveling on the south side of the South Platte River, they reached Julesburg on September 12. At this place they sent a telegraph to Salt Lake reporting that many of the cattle in Hyde's and Snow's companies had a hoof ailment and requesting that 50 fresh yoke of oxen be sent to help. Within days fresh oxen and teamsters were assembled in the valley and sent east to assist them.
Julesburg was the site of a French trading post and strategically positioned at the junction point of the Upper California Crossing on the South Platte. Here they forded the South Platte and followed a new route up Lodgepole Creek. This route took them about 70 miles south of Fort Laramie through the Black Hills (present-day Laramie Mountains). They decided to take this route because feed and water were reported to be more plentiful than on the usual route via Fort Laramie. The new route took them all the way to present-day Laramie, Wyoming. Here they joined with and followed the Overland Stage Road to where it joined with the Oregon Trail near Ham's Fork. Hunters were sent out after game to augment their short rations. The company reached Ham's Fork on October 16 and arrived on a cold day in Salt Lake on October 26. Some members of the company traveled south from Echo Canyon to Heber Valley and others went down Provo Canyon. An estimated 47 people died in this late-arriving company. This was one of the largest death tolls among Mormon wagon companies.