Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Guest Bloger: Darius Salem Clement

Me: Darius Salem Clement is my great-grandfather. He was born in Dryden, New York in 1834. His family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints(Mormons) about that time. His father died in 1842, and in 1844 his mother relocated to Nauvoo. She and Darius' older brother and sister died in Nauvoo or winter quarters, leaving Darius and two younger siblings in the care of an aunt and uncle. They then walked across the plains to Salt Lake City in 1847. Darius homesteaded in Mesa in 1906, and died here in 1917. He has been agitating me to allow him to tell some of his story. Go ahead, Grandpa.

 Darius: Thanks, Mike. Don't know where that name came from—no Clement's or Kelsey's are Michael. Oh, wait. I remember now. Your grandmother's father was Mike Fairless. Sorry—got side tracked. Happens at my age. As soon as I could get away from the uncle I traveled with, I went up to Fort Union to my uncle Warren Foote. After a bit I worked a place of my own and married Louisa Kelsey. The Church had a program of sending wagons, pulled by oxen, with supplies to store along the trail and experienced teamsters and guides to the trail head at Florence, Nebraska to bring emigrants to Utah. In 1862 I was one of those “down and back” boys. Took us from the 15th of May until the first day of October. I think I had about 500 pounds of flour in my wagon to stash along the trail so we could eat on the way back. There was still a lot of snow in the mountains and the rivers and streams were very full. Rather than me trying to pull it out of memory, here are some excerpts from the journal I kept.

           “Wednesday, 4th of June. Weather more favorable. Finished crossing about 2 hours by sun, My wagon was the last but one taken over. This has been the hardest job we have had. Ham's Fork is quite a passable stream in low water time. One can hardly tell now where the main channel is. The water spreads all over the bottom, about a ¼ of a mile wide. Had to swim our cattle and wagons, and our loads were taken over in a small boat. Grass very scarce.”

Note: Ham's Fork is about 20 miles from Green River, Wyoming. They arrived at Ham's Fork on May 31st, and didn't complete the crossing until June 4th.

           “Thursday, 5th. Camped at the ferry on Green River, 20 miles from Ham's Fork"

         . “Friday, 6th. We were busy at an early hour getting the wagons over, 2 in the boat at a time. The cattle were made to swim over by being driven in above the ferry. The water being very high, and the river from 15 to 20 rods wide, many of the cattle would turn and come back out on the same side. Some had to be drove back and started in 3 or 4 times. The most of us had to get ourselves wet for the cattle and rolled out and camped on Sunday. 8 miles. Rain enough to lay the dust.”

      “Monday, 9th. Started on before breakfast and stopt at Pacific Creek about 3 hours. Went over the Divide, and camped near the Sweetwater on the new road. We meet immigrants and gold diggers every day. They are eager to buy feed for their animals, flour, bacon, vegetables etc.”

                                              Oregon/Mormon Trail Near Continental Divide

 Note: Pacific Creek was so named because it was the first or one of the first streams the pioneers came to after crossing the Continental Divide heading west, and thus it flowed towards the Pacific ocean.

      “Tuesday, 10th. Traveled a few miles and stopt for noon. Camped in a hilly, rough, rocky country. Plenty of antelope. Some killed.”

      “Wednesday, 11th. Unloaded 600 of flour out of our 2 wagons, which was sent to a station off the road., with a quantity from the whole company. Camped early p.m. At next mail Station. Some rain today.”

                                                                    Devil's Gate

   “Saturday, 14th. Heavy rainstorm while traveling. Passed the Devil's Gate, and crossed Sweetwater about ½ a mile below. Wagons taken over on a log raft, which the soldier boys from the Valley had made, and where they were building a bridge. Stream 70 feet wide. Wind blew rather hard and cold.”  

                                                                     Sweetwater River

      “Friday, July 18th.Rained in the night. Crossed the bridge and traveled over a hilly country thinly settled all the way. Camped back from Florence about 3 miles.”

      “Wednesday, 23rd. Took my team to town and got 570 lbs. for the Bishop, and then loaded with passengers, and drove to camp.”

      “Sunday 27th. Started for home. Weather very warm. Made short drives for a few days, the captain staying back. I walked nearly 200 miles on the way back, and finding it rather too hard I had to ride some.”  


      “14th. Crossed (Sweetwater River) and went up and nooned at Rocky Ridge Station. Got the flour left here. Started on and while going up on to began raining with a cold wind which continued till dark when we made camp and chained cattle to wagons. Could make no fires, no wood, no water. Got our clothes wet through.”

      “15th. This morning no rain but foggy. Hitched up first thing and went to next old station place affording plenty wood for breakfast. Again went on and cold wind and rain came on us before got to camp, getting wet to our skin again. Crossed river and camped in rain. We suffered with being wet and cold.”

      “16th. Thin snow lay on the ground this morning, and snowed some while at breakfast. Made one drive and camped on Pacific Creek. Some of the cattle gave out today, in the company. Weather moderated.”

     “29th. Parley's Canyon.”

 I would like to tell more at a later time, if Mike will let me. D.S.C.

 Me: I'm sure we can work something out. Darius went to the Big Muddy settlements near present day Las Vegas for awhile, and then went to Fairview, Utah in the early 1870's, where he established a farm and apparently a commercial orchard and nursery. In 1906 he and Louisa sold out, packed up and moved to Mesa, AZ.