History: Charles Benjamin Harper

On June 11, 1866 the ship arrived in New York but the passengers were not allowed to leave the company. They went up the Hudson River by steamboat and over to New Haven, Connecticut. There they took a train to Montreal, thence to Toronto and on to Sarnia. From there they crossed to Detroit and went on to Saint Joseph, Missouri. Here they boarded a steamboat and proceeded up the Missouri River for two hundred miles to a landing called Wyoming, Nebraska. At this place the eighteen year old Charles (Charles Benjamin Harper) joined Chipman’s wagon train and the long worrisome trek began.

The train left Wyoming on July 13, and reached Salt Lake City on September 15, 1866. Each day was full of hardship. Charles walked every step of the way, tired and often hungry, for the food allowance was not too painful. Each person was allowed 1 ¼ pounds of flour a day, 1 pound of bacon a week, a little molasses and dried fruit given every two or three days, and a little saleratus to raise their bread. No sugar, tea, nor coffee was given to boys. This food was little enough for an active, growing boy and he and his partner, Joe Ellsmore, often picked up the burned crusts which the independent teamsters had discarded. At the Sweetwater, Joe Ellsmore sold his shirt for some dried currants, rice, and jerked, dried beef which he shared with Charles. At Coalville, Utah they went into the fields and raked barley for which Charles received about a half bushel of potatoes. A woman of the company traded some baby clothes for some beef and some of this she exchanged for some of Charles’ potatoes. 

The train arrived in Salt Lake City soon after breakfast on Saturday September 15. That same night Charles, in company with Fred Fowlkes, a teamster, left Salt Lake City for Pleasant Grove where Fowlkes resided. They spent the night camped along the Cottonwood just north of the present location of the Murray Smelter.

After his arrival in Pleasant Grove, he went to live with John Baker on what is now the Annie Holman property. As a climax to his first meal in this city, he had his first taste of native black currant pie. In return for his work he received his board, clothing and lodging. During his first Christmas season in Utah, he went to Fountain Green for a load of coal. His Breakfast on Christmas morning consisted mainly of frozen bread. He returned to Nephi in time for dinner, which he ate at the home of Pete Sutton. The Main Course of this well remembered meal consisted of pork sausage.

He remained with John Baker until March 1, 1867, when he went to work for Thomas Wooley for $150.00 a year plus his board and lodging. Out of this first year’s salary he paid his tithing, his temple donation, and his debt to the emigration fund. On March 1, 1868 he rehired to Wooley for $25.00 a month plus board and lodging.

To Be Continued…

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