When we last checked in with Mr. Johnson, he was on his way to Wells.

The next morning …

“I left the ranch at Hallocks on the 12th [of September 1882] and reached Wells on the 13th, a distance of about thirty miles. It was about break of day as I awoke from my sleep and got up and gave the cattle their liberty to eat hay or grass as they choose, and then went back to bed again. It was a cold and frosty morning.

“After a little while the owner of the ranch came out to me saying, ‘Well, stranger, did you sleep well, and could you keep warm during the night?’ ‘I did, sir.’ ‘It is a cold, frosty morning, come into the house, I have a good fire. Your cattle are all right and doing well; go in.’ I took my lunch basket and went into the house; the lady was making the breakfast ready. While this was going on, I went out and greased my wagon, which I do every other day. As I was returning to the house I met my friend with two pails of grain, which he gave me for my cattle. After breakfast I prepared to leave and turning to them, said, ‘Friends, what can I say to you for your hospitality? I shall ever gratefully remember you; good morning.’ ‘Good morning. Success to you, I trust you will get along all right. I should like to hear how you get along on your journey.’

“It was just half-past five o’clock as I left the ranch. After traveling about a mile, I came to the river, which I successfully forded. My road now lies between the railroad and the river, the latter on my right. It is a fine morning, a fine trail, and we are all feeling finely. Shortly we shall leave this long alkalic desert.

“About half-past six the express train we met and at eleven o’clock we came to a stop. It was where I could get down to the river to water my cattle. Here I made my dinner. While we were resting, the emigrant train from the west passed by, the hands on the train saluting us, as they still remembered me and my outfit. At one o’clock [we] resumed the journey toward Wells, and at half-past two we came to the river once more, that had to be forded again and for the last time I had been informed. I have followed this river, right and left, for more than three hundred miles, crossing and re-crossing many time, and only once on a bridge. This ford looked a nasty one, with only about thirty feet of water to cross; the rest appeared to be all mud.

“I got on to the carriage and spoke to the horse, saying, ‘Fanny, this is a nasty, muddy hole, but we have got to cross, so let us try it.’ We went down the bank into the mud, the horse sinking up to her knees at every step and on getting to the water there was good stepping, as we were then on a sunken bridge. Here I stopped to let the cattle drink all they needed, and having drunk all they would, I spoke to the horse, saying, ‘Fanny, go on.’

“After stepping about eight or ten feet, she left the bridge, got into the mud and floundered over, breaking both of her tugs, and bringing me and the dashboard face downwards into the mud and water, leaving the carriage, cow, and dog in the creek. I was a muddy fellow, you bet.

“My thoughts quickly comprehended my situation: here I was, far from any help and nothing to get my carriage out of the creek with. What to do, was the question: I want two ropes about thirty feet long. First, I detached the cow and the dog from the carriage, then unloaded my goods and secured my horse to an alder tree, let the cow loose to graze for herself and then started for Wells for some means of extricating the wagon out of the creek. I knew that Wells was a large town for that part of the world. The railroad was about fifteen rods to my left. I took the railroad and went on traveling, I think about four miles an hour. About five o’clock I saw a man with two horses about a quarter of a mile from the railroad and went to him. He was traveling West, where he did not just know. He had made a fire and was cooking beans for his supper. I told him the fix I had got in, in crossing the river and was on my way to Wells for two ropes, so that I could hitch them on the forward axles and make them fast to the tug buckles, then I thought my horse would drag the carriage out of the creek. He replied, ‘Stranger, if I had not these beans cooking, I would break camp and go back to help you. But I can let you have the ropes, they are on my horses; take them. I can hobble one of them, the other will not then go away and you need go no further.’

“I took the ropes and went back, finding all right but the cow; she was nowhere to be seen. It was dark, so that I was not able to see any distance. For a few moments I had some peculiar feelings. Where can she be and where gone? On going for the ropes I remembered seeing a herd of cattle, so I thought that she might have strayed off with them. I called for her, ‘Bessie, Bessie,’ and the horse would call after me, for a time without success. I continued calling for the cow, when after a time she came scampering back into camp with a large herd of cattle after her. I had been feeling pretty blue, but her appearance cheered me up. I caught and made her fast, giving her some grain.

“My wagon was still in the creek and in the wagon was a box made to fit the body of the wagon. In this box I kept all needful articles, and now I wanted my lantern and some kerosene oil. I took off my boots, stockings, pants, and drawers, put on my overcoat, fastening the skirt tight around my waist and went into the creek and got my lantern and oil, and made the ropes fast to the front axles of the carriage. With the oil I filled my lamp and the balance I poured on the ground and set it on fire. The water I used to wash me. After this, I re-dressed and ate a cold supper, not being able to find wood for a fire. Then I fed the cattle and went to bed to rest, as I was very tired. During the night I was awakened by the passing express train. And the herd of cows that my cow had become acquainted with, kept around the camp all night and disturbed me some.

“Early on the morning of the 13th, I was up and connected the ropes with the tug buckles, and then hitched my horse to the ropes, and it was not much trouble to drag the carriage out of the creek. I put my things back in the carriage and got all ready for moving on.”