Major Howard Egan Family Foundation

Sailor Rope Maker Captain in Nauvoo Legion Bodyguard to Joseph Smith Mormon Battalion Envoy Captain of the 9th 10 of the original 1847 Pioneer Vanguard Company Gold Rush Trading Post Owner Trail Blazer Cattle Drover Major in Utah War Pony Express Rider & Superintendent of Line from Salt Lake to California Stage Station Owner Friend & Missionary to Indians Salt Lake City Policeman Bodyguard to Brigham Young
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Egan Experiences: “The Indian, No Legs”

Egan Experiences: “The Indian, No Legs”


On my way to Fish Springs with supplies for the station I staid over night at Simpson’s Springs. It was there that I first heard of the “Indian no legs.” The boys said, he had left there yesterday morning to cross the desert to DugWayMountains, and said they did not believe he could make it and would die on the desert of thirst.

I was traveling alone. I had two mules and an ambulance, or mud-wagon, as we called it, and had quite a heavy load. The roads were dry and dusty and it was very warm during the middle of the day. I started about six in the morning and by eight o’clock was some eight or ten miles from Simpson’s, when I discovered something moving some distance ahead and keep­ing to one side of the road and bobbing up and down apparently in the same place.

On looking down at the road for tracks I saw what might have been made by setting down a flat bottom basket in the dust and repeating the operation on every foot of the distance along the road. Of course when I saw this I knew what it was that I could see ahead, and hurried up my team and was soon alongside of the man, who had turned just out of the road to let me pass.

I stopped, and asked him, where he was going? He said he was going to the Indian camp over to that mountain, (Point­ing to a place about fifteen miles away). I asked him how long it would take him to go there. He said, ” One day and one half day. You got water?” He asked me. I said, “Yes. have you?” “Just a little bit, will you give me some?” “Yes, have you anything to eat?” He had a small piece of bread that the boys had given him. “Are you tired?” “Yes, Indian all the time tired.”

I said, “I would give you a ride if I could get you up there” (pointing to a place back of my seat.) “Me go alright,” he said. How he did it I do not know, but he got to the place I had pointed to as quick as I could have done it, and as I started along he seemed as tickled as a little child on his first ride, and would watch the brush go by as fast as it did before he lost his legs, which was some fifteen years before.

He told me that he lost his legs by having them frozen, when he was caught in a blizzard, and a doctor had to cut them off to save his life. I thought it would have been better for him if the doctor had not cut them off for then he would have saved a good deal of suffering. I asked him if the Indians ever helped him to travel. He said, “No they have no horses and can’t carry me everywhere they go.” “Do they give you food?” “Yes when I am at their camp, but not at any other time.” How do you carry food and water enough across a place like this we are crossing?” “See I carry water in this, (holding towards me a willow water jug that would hold about one gallon).

Just think of that, crossing a twenty-five or thirty mile desert, one foot at a jump and in the hottest weather, with only one gallon of water and that as hot as the weather. What little food he left the camp with he made to last as long as possible by catching mice or the chipmunks that he could reach with his stick or dig out of their holes when he saw them go in.   What a life!    No, thank you, not for me.

I had went about ten miles from where I had caught up with the Indian when he asked me to stop as he wanted to go that way (pointing off to the right to a place about five miles away). As I could drive no nearer I stopped the team and be­fore I could get to help him he had taken hold of the side of the wagon and swung his body over the side and dropped to the ground all smiles and talking as fast as he could make his tongue travel and that was not slow.

I gave him his bottle full of water, and all of my dinner, a hand full of matches and my big red cotton handkerchief.   He seemed a very proud Indian. I asked him when he would get to camp.   He said, “Sun-rise tomorrow.”

Now when he started off I noticed that he twisted his body at every jump, placing one end of his stout stick on the ground by his side, and by force of his arms, lift his body, and at the same time shove it ahead about one foot or less. This he could repeat very fast which made it look to me as if his body was moving ahead all the time.

He had a raw-hide sack arrangement which was made to fit around his body fastened around him above the hips. The sole or bottom of this sack was made of the thickest hide, I do not know if he had any soft material in the bottom or not, but I presume he had, or how could he stand the shock of jumping out of the wagon? or the continual bump, bump, while traveling I heard of him several times after that but never saw him again.

SOURCE: Major Howard Egan events, told by his son, Howard R. Egan. Pioneering the West, pg. 265.


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