|James D. Ross had served two missions in England and been first counselor in the European Mission. Returning from his mission, he presided over 594 British and Swiss emigrants aboard the ship Underwriter. He was appointed captain of a company made up of 249 individuals—Americans, English, Swiss, and possibly Germans. A few men joined the company to avoid the Civil War draft. Those who had excess baggage had to leave it behind. The Swiss emigrants had eight or ten wagons out of a total of thirty-five or thirty-six in the company. There were 142 oxen and 54 cows. All of the emigrants, including Captain Ross, were inexperienced in frontier living and plains travel. Many had to learn to drive oxen. Some had to learn to milk a cow or grease a wagon.
They left Florence, Nebraska Territory, in mid-June. On 2 July they were at Wood River Center. On 4th of July they heard cannons firing near Fort Kearny as the soldiers celebrated the nation’s birth. Like other travelers on the plains, they saw large herds of buffalo, thunderstorms, and ever-present begging Indians. They hunted rabbits, sage hens, and duck. They killed a deer and a bear. They passed numerous trading posts where they could buy a variety of goods at inflated prices. At times they traveled within a few miles of other Mormon companies including those led by Jesse Murphy and John Smith. They passed Fort Laramie on 27 July. On 5 August they camped on the Platte River opposite Deer Creek. They followed the road to Green River, passed Fort Bridger and reached camp in Emigration Canyon on Sunday, 2 September. The camp was visited by a number of Church leaders including Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, Lorenzo Snow, and Franklin D. Richards. They gave the company practical advice. They drove into the city the following day. Upon their arrival, Brigham Young and Daniel H. Wells greeted them and gave more counsel. A single death had occurred en route. The emigrants expressed great respect for Captain Ross.
Annie's last name:
On the list of trek members Annie Hegetschweiler is listed as:
Source of Trail Excerpt: "News From the Plains," The Mountaineer, 11 Aug. 1860, 202.
NEWS FROM THE PLAINS.—Messrs. Judson Stoddard and G. H. Van Schoonhoven arrived in this city from the east on Thursday last. These gentlemen left Florence, N. T., on July 12th. They state that the last hand-cart train crossed the Loup Fork at Genoa July 14. They passed B. H. Young's train at Eagle Island on the 15th, and Taylor's train on the 16th. They passed James D. Ross' and Jno. Smith's trains, at Fort Laramie, on the 27th; both trains were together, and numbered 80 waggons. All were well and getting along finely.
Ann Walton journal references:
From Handcarts to Zion: