Sunday, July 5, 2015

Martin Company Pioneer: Robert Mattison Jr., 20

Robert Mattison traveled with his parents and younger siblings.  He recounts much of the hardship of the journey, beginning with nightly guard duty and the poor carts.  Because of the dry weather, the carts could hardly carry their load and took much repairing.  Because of the scarcity of food their rations were cut down.  Robert’s father was always dutiful to performing his tasks, pulling the handcart, gathering fire wood, setting up the tent.  One night early in October, after he had done this he went to bed, never to rise again.  After the crossing of the Platte, the company made only little progress, with short drives.  The days were getting shorter and they were cold.  The cattle too were poor, many freezing and many being devoured by wolves.  Joseph A Young was the first of the relief to reach them, and that next day they were given full ration and where traveling again.  As the reached Devil’s Gate, part of the stockade was knocked down for firewood, and the other part used for shelter. 
He said, “The next evening we crossed the Sweetwater to Martin’s Ravine, where there was plenty of cedar wood.  The water was waist deep and just freezing enough to let us through the ice.  It was a bitter cold night.”  Leaving Martin’s Cove he no longer pulled a handcart.  There were about seven deaths per night.  They were buried the next morning.  He further recounts, “I was called to help bury the dead.  It was a terrible job, as they are buried just as they were dressed.
The year after arriving in the Valley he was called to help with the Johnston Army issues.  He was also later called to go and bring other pioneers to the Valley as one of the “down-and-outers.”

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