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 Old Man Left To Die”

Egan Experiences: “The Old Man Left To Die”


Old-Navajo-ManThere is a little spring of very brackish and warm water about a mile north of Fish Spring station and a few rods below the road. Between this spring and the road the Indians had selected as the place to leave a very old man to die. He was totally blind and very poor, hardly any flesh on his bones. He was clad with only a very old and small strip of rabbit skin robe hung about his neck.

The Indians had gathered some sagebrush and made a small semi-circle about two feet high. He was led to the spring and back to the circle and left to die of starvation. Father heard of this from one of the stage drivers and the first time he passed that way was prepared to supply the old man with food and blankets. He told the driver to drive out of the road to the old man’s camp.

When they arrived there the old man was down to the spring with his bands down in the water, which was literally alive with fish that were about two inches in length. When he could feel one of them touch the inside of his hands he would grab them and immediately eat them. That was the only way of keeping himself alive.

Father raised him from the spring and tried to make him understand that he would give him something to eat and a blanket to keep him warm. But he soon found that the old man was very deaf and did not seem to understand a word. Father got him back to his camp, gave him enough food to last several days, also a gallon can of water, placed a good new blanket around him and left the old man eating very sparingly of the food, as if to make it last as long as possible.

Father went on his way west, but left word with the stage driver to bring food for him after that every time he passed that way. On his return trip, when he met the driver he asked him about the old man. He said, “He is still alive, but the blanket, water can and grub was gone the first time I passed there. I have left him food every trip. He seems to be some stronger than when we first saw him.

Father got another blanket, more food and a water can, and when he arrived at that place found the old man sound asleep, curled up about as a dog would for a nap, and getting him awake and placing the bread in one hand and the other on the can of water with the blanket around him left him to himself again.

Father was planning to have the old man moved near the station, where he could be fed at regular times and provided with more shelter and clothing and with means of having a fire when necessary, as the weather was getting quite cold. Too late, for on his next trip out he learned that the old Indian had been taken away and everything that had been given him and even the small semi-circle wind-brake had been burned.

Father’s generosity had not been appreciated by the old man’s relatives, or the band of Indians that he belonged to, so they made it impossible for him to prolong the life of the old man, who ought to die, and would very soon if let alone.

SOURCE: Major Howard Egan events, told by his son, Howard R. Egan. Pioneering the West, pg. 251.


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