Frederick Barker (1800) Oral History

When we first came to Utah or the Valley on October 20, 1849, we had very little flour and that was soon gone so we had to live on corn meal and ground wheat. We made our own sugar and molasses from beets.

The men planted all our spare grain and we were depending on it for our bread, so you can see how we felt when the crickets came. One day the children came running in and said, “Mother come and look! There is a big cloud going right toward our grain patch.” It was the crickets. Mother tried to get the men folks to go and help scare them away, but father was afraid they would only light on the neighbor’s field and then come back to ours. Mother said, “Come on girls, Harriet and Jane, let us go.” We took a sheet and tin pans to drum on and went back and forth through the grain but they did not move. Then we saw mother standing still and praying so we stood still. She was praying aloud in tongues and as she prayed the crickets began to rise until the sky was black with them. They all left and flew down to the lake and never came back. We raised six hundred bushel of grain that year.

The Utah and Bannock Indians were angry toward each other. One day one old Bannock Indian, his squaw and little sister were out hunting for deer near their home. He wounded a deer and trailed it for a long way, then killed it. By this time it was dark, so they decided to camp and drew the deer, which the Indian had killed.

A young Utah Indian who was out hunting horses saw their fire and slipped up on them. When he saw just one old man, he pretended to be friendly and very tired and hungry. He pleaded to stay with them all night. After the Indians were asleep, he killed the old Indian and told the squaw to go back to her people. He took the horses and little sister and went to Utah. After he had been there a little while, he brought her to the Mound Fort to beg for him. They came to Mother’s first. The little girl was all bruised and bleeding from cuts made with the back of his knife and covered with mud and snow. He had been dragging her and she was very cold.

Mother told him to leave the little girl there while he went around to beg. He pretended to go, but lay down under the window to listen. The little girl showed her arms and back, how she was bruised and cut. The Indian raised up and said something in their language. Mother asked her what was said. She said he told her that he was going to kill her on the way back. She asked mother if she could go into the bedroom. Mother thought she wanted to dress her wounds. She was in there so long that mother went in to see what was the matter. She was hidden under the bed under some extra clothes that were stored there. She said when the Indian cam, to tell him she “Keepanook.”

This bedstead was made by boring holes in the wall, poking poles in the holes and nailing two side pieces and two foot pieces, then lacing ropes cross-cross for springs.

When the Indian came back he asked, “where squaw?” Mother said, “She Keepanook.” He shook his head and said, “Ka ka, me look.” The Barkers had a puncheon floor. . . logs sawed in two and laid cut side up. He took his gun stick and punched down all over the floor, then went into the bedroom and did the same, raised the bed curtain and punched the clothes hard that she was under. She didn’t make a sound, though it must have hurt her very badly being so sore from cuts. When the Indian left they hid her in a straw stack that was near Weber River. The children had made a hole in the stack for a playhouse. They put bread and water in there and kept her there for about three weeks. One night she heard the Indians walking around the stack. They though she was there and were going to burn the stack that night. So mother had to bring her to the house. That night Little Soldier came and when he saw her, he knelt down crossed his gun sticks and sighted at her. My Uncle George was there and he jumped up and said, “Look here, what are you going to do?” (The Indians called Uncle George “Looka Here” because he always said look here.) The Indian said, “Me heap mad.” Uncle George said, “Me heap mad too”, and threw his cane and hit the Indian. He chased him clear off the place running and throwing his cane.

Mother kept little Squaw for about a month. One day she went to a neighbor to borrow some yeast and when she was coming back, Little Soldier tried to run over her on his horse. She was near a haystack that the calved had been eating on, so she got under that. A neighbor saw him and drove him away.

The next day the whole tribe came to get Little Squaw said they would kill the whole family if we did not give her up. Our Stake President, Brother Farr said to let her go and Little Squaw also begged them to let her go; said that she did not want her good mother and good sister killed.

They took her and began cutting her with the back of their knives and abusing her as they left the yard. My sister Harriet and Louisa Bronson ran right among the Indians. The Indians left her there, saying, “Heap brave squaws.”

The little squaw’s brother came from Bannock and mother told him to take her home. He started with her, but met Little Soldier and traded her for some horses. The Indians had begun to steal horses and cattle from the settlers and were afraid she would tell on them so they smoked while deciding how they would kill her. They decided to burn her at the stake. They sent her out with others to gather sticks to burn herself. Little Soldier’s young wife, Needra, went with them and kept crowding her toward the Weber River. When they were on the bank she then jumped from rock to rock and escaped. Needra would not tell which way she had gone.

Little Squaw came back to mother who was in the corn patch. When mother heard the corn rustling she was frightened and said, “Who is there?” The little girl said, “It’s me, Roda. Oh, I is so tired.” Mother said, “You poor little thing.” Her feet were cut and bleeding from jumping on the rocks and she was tired from running.

The next day the whole tribe came after her. The squaws were all jabbering at once and the others were swinging their tomahawks and knives. Father tried to tell them how wrong it was to abuse the little girl. He asked what they were going to do with her. Little Soldier just motioned with his knife across his throat. All at once father began talking in their language and they got so still you could hear a pin crop. He yanked Little Soldier’s gunstick from him and pointed from East to West and from North to South. He talked a long time and when he was done every Indian jumped on his horse, shook hands with father and Little Soldier said, “He no talk, Great Spirit talk through him. Great Spirit heap mad if we harm squaw.” Then they left.

Later on mother sent Little Squaw in custody of the freighter to the Bannock people. She married a white man by the name of Dempsy, and raised a splendid family. Mother had taught her to be neat and clean and to cook. She sent mother some buckskin trousers and me some beaded moccasins and said, for my good mother and my good sister.