Peter Gottfredson's Autobiography
by Peter Gottfredson
Page 2 of 4
That fall 1858, there was a very large bright comet in the western sky in the evening. I remember some said it was an ill omen. A sign of war, or some calamity. It was shortly before the civil war.
When winter set in I came home and attended school the rest of the winter in the second ward, Salt Lake City.
In the spring of 1859 I worked for Ezra T. Benson. One of the apostles. I was to have six dollars a month and board. He lived where Zion's Savings Bank now stands. On the corner of Main and South Temple street. I herded cows most of the time. I was not allowed to eat at the same table with the family. I herded along the Jordan River and caught fish that I brought home. I often had a bucket full of chubs and suckers cleaned and never got a taste of them. One day their best cow got poison. I had a hard time getting her home and was late. Some of the cows wandered off and did not get home. When I got there Benson was cross and said, "I ought to be kicked out of my britches." I went home and told my parents and did not want to go back. Benson owed me six dollars and would not pay me because the cow died.
I stayed home the rest of the summer and herded cows for the neighbors for two cents each, a day. I herded forty cows. I herded in Red Butte and Emigration canyons and on the bench east of town and over the Jordan River till the fields were open after harvest when I herded in the fields south.
I earned enough during the summer to buy a young cow and an old wagon. Father Traded his house and a lot for a yoke of oxen and we moved to Ephraim, Sanpete County.
Oscar Winters came from Mount Pleasant through Ephraim, going to mill at Manti. There was but one grist mill in the valley at the time. It belonged to John Lowry. Winters wanted a boy to work for him. I went to Mount Pleasant with him and stayed two winters and one summer. Our family stayed in Ephraim that winter and in the spring of 1860 came to Mount Pleasant and brought a piece of ground at the north west corner of town and built a house on it of rock picked up on the land.
During the winter of 1860 I herded sheep for Oscar Winters in Sevier Valley. There were no settlers in the valley at that time. The nearest were four families at the bend of Sanpitch river near where Gunnison is now located. They were Barney Ward, the old Mountaineer. Sutton, Tryan and Frank. The Mount Pleasant dry stock was taken to the Sevier Valley to winter, in care of George Wilson, his son David Wilson. Eli Openshaw and Samuel Allen.
The stock from Camp Floyd had been cared for there the winter before. Those in charge had built two large dugouts in the brink of a hill, or bench, south of Willow Creek, which we occupied. I did not get along well with some of the men. They imposed on me because I was a boy. After I had been out with the sheep all day, they made me bring water and drag wood from the creek about a quarter of a mile, and chop it, when they had laid around camp all day playing cards, and they picked at me in other ways till I got to dislike them. When I was out with the sheep I was making playthings with my jack-knife. I made a windmill with machinery that would run. I worked at it about a month. When I had it finished I put it up on a hill about a hundred yards from camp. I liked to watch it run. Openshaw and Allen threw rocks at it and hit, and broke it. I also made a small fiddle out of a piece of red cedar log that lay near the camp. I made strings of
sinew and horse hair and I learned to squeak tunes on it. I was fourteen years old then. They broke it. I learned that one held it against a post and the other kicked it to pieces. It made me feel hateful towards them and I wanted to retaliate, which I did by taking some paper cartridges and laid them out in front of the dugout and threw a shovel full of fire on them. That made matters no better.
Willow Creek Dugout to Right of Tree - Spring City
The wolves were very numerous and troublesome and I had to watch the sheep very close. There were two very large timber wolves and a large black dog with white around it's neck and on it's breast. They were very cunning. The men tried to to kill them with poison and by shooting. The dog had no doubt belonged to the soldiers that were there previous winter. They killed about thirty head of young stock during the winter. I had to stay close by the sheep to protect them from the wolves. I had a large flint lock horse pistol that took a half ounce ball to fire when the wolves got after the sheep. It made a noise like a young cannon and made lots of smoke from both the muzzle and pan. It loaded at the muzzle with an iron ramrod to push the bullet down on the powder and we opened the pan and filled it with powder and closed down the steel cover, then it was ready to fire. The hammer was a small vice that we fastened a piece of flint in the size of a fifty cent piece. To fire it, the flint strike the steel cover and knock it open and the sparks go into the powder in the pan and ignite it with a big puff of smoke from both the pan and the barrel. There was a small hole in the barrel and discharge it. It didn't take quite as long to fire as it take to tell it.
Early in the spring of 1861. Jake Bohn came from Mount Pleasant after a cow. The next morning when the men were out looking after stock. I fastened the sheep corral and left a note on the table saying I had gone home with Jake and that they could take care of the sheep.
I went with Bohne to Mount Pleasant. We had no horse. We got to Manti late in the night and tied the cow to a fence and we slept in a straw stack without supper or bedding, and started out the next morning at daybreak without anything to eat and passed through Ephraim without stopping and got to Springtown soon after noon. We were hungry when we got there. I went into a house a house and asked the lady for some bread, saying we were driving a cow to Mount Pleasant and had nothing to eat since the day before. She pitied us and made up two nice sandwiches; but Oh! it wasn't half enough and only aggravated our appetites. When we got to Mount Pleasant I went to Oscar Winters and told him what I had done, and why.
In a few days I was sent over the Sanpitch river to herd sheep with Caratat Rowe. He was kind and we got along fine. When it was time to put in grain I quit herding and worked at grubbing and burning brush, preparing to put in grain for Winter. We camped in the field about three miles from town. Our food was mostly guttamagrowly, as we called it. It consisted of hard bread cooked in bacon grease and water. I had an appetite like a wolf and could eat anything I could get, and all I could get of it.
When crops were in I herded sheep again, mostly north and east of town at the round hills. I was alone most of the time. One evening when I was driving the sheep home a large wolf got after them. I ran between the wolf and sheep, he came after me with bristles raised and teeth bared. I walked backwards, kicking at him when he got close till I got to a dry wash with rocks in it. I reached down and got a rock in each hand, I threw one rock and struck the wolf on the back. He turned and left me. The sheep ran to town and were in the corral when I got there. I fastened them in. I made a club of hawthorn that I carried with me after that, fearing he might come after me again. The people at that time lived in the fort for protection from the Indians. I had been having some trouble with the sheep and was thinking about it. When I passed through the fort gate, a boy by the name of Ephraim Woolsey was behind the gate and jumped out to scare me. I, without having time to think hit him on the head with the club and he fell as if I had killed him. As soon as I realized what I had done I carried him to his home close by. I told his parents how it happened.
The winter of 1861 I herded sheep on the west side of Sanpitch river with Caratat Rowe and his son Conderset. When the snow got too deep for the sheep to get feed we started to drive them to town, a distance of about three miles in a blinding snow storm. The sheep did not like to face the storm and drove slow. Night overtook us and it cleared up and turned very cold. The sheep were tired and would not drive. We were afraid to leave them for fear of wolves. Rowe froze his feet so the toes had to be amputated. I froze my heals so the skin came off. We had to leave the sheep or we would have frozen to death. The sheep were gotten the next day unmolested. The remainder of the winter I went to school. A.B. Strickland was teacher. Most of our studies was spelling and from the old blue-back Elementary spelling book. Our lessons were from a small book called Joseph Smith the Prophet written by his mother Lucy Smith. Each Friday was devoted to to spelling matches. We formed in lines and when a word was mis-spelled, the one who spelled it right moved up the line above the one who first missed it. At other times we would choose sides and stand in two lines and the one who missed a word would sit down. Some of us got so familiar with the old speller that we could give out the words word for word and lesson after lesson from first to last of the book. Ours was called the Junior school. Joseph Page taught the larger pupils, and his was called the high school.
Strickland challenged Page for a spelling match for the last day of school, which was accepted by Page's school was spelled down with quite a number of our school yet on the floor. Then it was proposed that those standing choose sides, with Gutaf Johnson to head one side and I the other. We chose turn about from those yet standing. We were not accustomed to Page's way of pronouncing. After all were spelled down except Johnson and I. In one word Johnson put in an I. I said E and finished the word and was pronounced champion speller. That was the last schooling I ever had. I picked up reading and arithmetic as occasion required.
In the spring of 1862 C.C. Rowe took the Mount Pleasant dry stock to herd in Thistle Valley. Which was about eighteen miles north of Mount Pleasant and was then unsettled. The Sanpitch tribe of Indians were there much of the time in the summer and fall. Men from North Bend, now Fairview, cut hay there and hauled it home. I hired to Rowe to help him and his son Conderset to care for the stock. In June they went to Mount Pleasant after supplies and left me there alone for two days. The night they were away the moon was full and it was nearing as light as day. Towards midnight I heard something making a racket above the shanty which was made by leaning two long cedar posts against two trees and covering it with cedar boughs. I raised up in bed and looked through the brush covering to see what was making the noise and saw a big grizzly bear
digging roots and eating them. While he remained above the shanty I was kneeling on the bed looking at him through the openings in the brush. Soon he came around to the front of the shanty which was open and I crawled under the bed covering and laid as still as I could, but my heart thumped so hard I feared he could hear it. He came into the shanty, our food and cooking utensils were tied up in a sack and sat against one of the trees that held up the roof. He rooted the sack out and down in front about a rod. The sack was tied, he could likely smell the food in it. He then came in the shanty again and sniffed around, he stuck hid nose under the foot of the bed and lifted it and my feet up a few times. I had a little sawed off shot gun in bed with me, but I knew it would have been foolish to use it. It was loaded with bird shot. Finally he went back above the shanty and dug roots as before. I remained on the bed watching him through the brush. At day-break he left, going north. We had a few days before turned the water out of a ditch that had been made to take water from the creek to water some meadow ground. We got more than a hundred fine trout by turning out the water. The water was turned over some brush land between the ditch and the creek. The bear went off in that direction and crossed where the water was on the ground and it was soft. In crossing he would often mire down to the middle of his sides. When he got to a large rabbit brush he would get on it and rest and go on again till he got over. It was near a mile across the water and about ten o'clock when he got over. The Rowe's came in the afternoon and we went and saw where he had wallowed in crossing.
In September of 1863, and Indian came to our camp late in the evening when we were milking. He was dressed in new military officers uniform with gilt epaulets on the shoulders of the coat. He asked for something to eat. We told him we would have supper when we were through milking and he could have supper with us. There was a lot of game in Thistle Valley and surrounding mountains. Large white hares, sage and prairie chickens, ducks and other small game in the valley, and deer and other large game in the mountains.
Nathan Staker had the Mount Pleasant sheep in Thistle Valley and two of his sons, Aaron and Joseph tended them and we camped together at the east end of the valley where the ditch was taken out of the creek. Staker and Rowe had gone to Mount Pleasant after provisions and we four boys were there.
After supper the Indian acted queer. He would sit and listen for a time without saying anything. After a time he said, in the morning when Tabby the sun is in that direction, pointing down east, indicating about daybreak, the Snakes, "Shoshone Indians" were coming to kill us and take our cattle. He told us the same thing several times. He had a fine cream colored horse but neither saddle or gun, which was unusual for an Indian. We asked where his saddle was, he pointed down the creek. I said I would go with him to get it and could stay with us over night. He did not act as he wanted to. He stayed till near midnight. He asked to let him see our guns. Aaron got the guns, a rifle and a shot gun, both muzzle loaders. Then he wanted to see our ammunition. When he wanted to see our guns I got a little suspicious and went and hid the ammunition under the bedding where Aaron couldn't find it. The Indian asked how much powder we had. I showed on my hand, about six inches in the powder horn. We only had three or four charges for each gun.
Rowe had made a wagon with wheels cut off the butt of a big red pine log and pinned the running gear together with wooden pins, he worked a yoke of bulls on it. We could hear it squeak a long way off. Near midnight we heard the sound of it in the west. When the Indian heard it he said Snakes. Con-Rowe said, "Katz, ninny montz pege." No, my father coming. The Indian also told us that the Snakes had killed eight men in Provo Canyon. Presently Rowe drove up. When he was near, the Indian took Con-Rowe's hat and put it on his own head and stood a-straddle of the fire. We did not know his object in doing so. Rowe looked at the Indian and said, he is here for no good. Conderset told his father what the Indian said about the Snakes coming to kill us and take our cattle, and about killing eight men in Provo Canyon. Rowe questioned the Indian about it. The Indian said it was "eight sleep yatis", eight days ago, holding up eight fingers. Rowe said, you are mistaken, for if it was so the papers would tell about it. The Indian said he would go and get his saddle and gun. Rowe said he would go with him. He was anxious to keep him with us till morning. The Indian seemed willing for Rowe to go till he got his horse, when he said his horses back was sore, which was common with Indian ponies, generally having bad fitting saddles. Rowe said that ten men would be here before morning and ten more later to help gather and drive the stock to Mount Pleasant.
Word had been received that Indians intended making a raid on Thistle Valley and drive off the stock. We heard horsemen down in the valley. The Indian jumped on his horse and was off. Rowe said, there is trouble brewing and we would each have to look out for ourselves. We were looking for men from Mount Pleasant, but not so soon and we thought it might be Indians coming. When the men came there were but four. They were R. N. Bennett, Don C. Seely, Peter Miller and James Hansen. They said, as they were coming up the valley they saw a fire in Indian Hollow and was going to it, when they got on a ridge they saw our fire where they expected we would be and came on up. We got supper for them. We looked for more men in the morning but no more came.
FIND SKELETON OF MAN DIFFICULTY WITH THE INDIANS
Late August 1864 my brother and I were gathering some stock that were rambling down Spanish Fork Canyon. Some Indians came to us. They wanted a large steer in the bunch. We told them it was not ours, that they would have to get an order from Bishop Seely. One Indian raised his gun to shoot it. Hans stood close by and took hold of it and pulled it down. Another Indian hit him in the face with a lariat and made it bleed. The Indian looked at him and said, can't you cry? The Indian with the gun raised it and shot the steer. It belonged to Christian Wintergreen. The Indians skinned the back parts and cut out the thick flesh of the thighs and left the other and went off.
Near that time Hans and I were chasing a big badger in some large sage brush. In a small opening we found the skeleton of a man. The clothing had been better quality than was generally worn by men. The coat and pants were corduroy and the shirt shiviot. We looked in the pockets but found nothing. The head was loose from the body. We carried the skull to the herd house and kept it in a deep spring hole.