Pioneer Moments: `It was laughable'

James Thomas Wilson, a 22-year-old Irish emigrant, crossed the plains in 1852.

He learned to milk cows and became the company milkman. He was also selected to herd the loose stock.He wrote in his personal narrative that he enjoyed watching the men in his company pursuing a stampede.

"A team and sometimes, several, would run out on the prairie, the men running as hard as they could fly on both sides endeavoring to stop them," he wrote. "It was laughable to see

a manT with a big club on his shoulder, a heavy coat and a stiff stovepipe hat on, his coat tails in midair."

He also watched a man holding a whip. "In place of striking the team, he would get [the whip] tangled around his head and neck, then stop to undo it and [then be] after them again; the team running at full speed, making circles and semi-circles in quick time, the [man] puffing and blowing like a porpoise."

During his journey, Wilson bought a buffalo robe for $3. He planned to sleep on it while crossing the prairie, but ended up doling it out in pieces to sisters with sore feet and to a shepherd who needed shoes.

In his narrative, Wilson mentions passing Ft. Laramie and crossing the North Platte. On the rolling prairie, "sagebrush and buffalo begin in earnest," he wrote.

After reaching Echo Canyon, in what is now Utah, he noted that his company met teams from the valley almost on a daily basis.

He said getting the company down Big Mountain, with locked wheels and using ropes to secure the wagons was a monumental effort. But after they had accomplished their task, the company held a dance and other festivities.

Before arriving in the city, the sisters in Brother Wilson's company changed their apparel in order to look good for President Brigham Young and the other Church members. Wilson felt that if it had not been for the ladies' tanned complexions they would have looked like ladies coming from an "old English fair." (Source: "The Life of James Thomas Wilson," Provo, Utah, pp. 43-55)

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