Transcript for "Correspondence from the Plains," letter from Amos M. Musser to President Appleby, 16 July 1857 in Millennial Star, 26 September 1857, 620-22
On the Plains, five days from Florence, July 16, 1857.
Dear Sir—I now beg to submit for the satisfaction of your readers a brief statement concerning the emigration of 1857. Captain William Walker's company was the first that left Florence for the mountains. I succeeded in organizing it on the 13th ultimo, while encamped on the Little Papeau. It numbered eighty-six souls, twenty-eight wagons, fifteen horses, three mules, one hundred and forty-one head of oxen, twenty-six cows, nineteen loose cattle, and one hand-cart. Before they left, about twenty-seven of the emigrants were baptized-a number for the first time. Among the candidates for this ordinance appeared the venerable Thomas B. Marsh, once President of the Twelve Apostles. He received this holy rite in all humility, and is now on his way to Zion, rejoicing in the salvation of the Lord.
On the evening of the 13th ultimo, the first company of hand-carts, under the supervision of Elder Israel Evans, made its appearance on the opposite bank of the muddy Missouri; they were detained several days in Florence on account of incessant rains, which swelled the small streams to an impassable depth. The company numbers one hundred and forty-nine souls, (eighty of whom are females-twenty-one under eight and two over sixty years old, the eldest, a female, sixty-eight years old,) twenty-eight hand-carts, and an excellent four-mule team. We furnished them with a good out-fit, and they left Florence on the 19th instant, feeling well and in high spirits. Before getting under way the next morning from the Little Papeau, brothers Taylor and Snow came up and gave them many words of encouragement, and blessed them in the name of our Redeemer.
The week following the departure of this company, Captains Jesse B. Martin's and Jacob Hoffein's [Hofheins'] companies arrived; the former consisted of one hundred and ninety-two souls, thirty-four wagons, one hundred and thirty oxen, seven cows, and one horse; the latter, after being augmented by accessions from St. Louis, numbered two hundred and four souls, forty-one wagons, one hundred and seventy oxen, seventeen cows, and four horses. These two companies left a few days after their arrival.
The Danish team company, under the direction of Captain M. [Matthias] Cowley, arrived on the 2nd instant, and left on the 6th; it numbered one hundred and ninety-eight souls, thirty-one wagons, one hundred and twenty-two oxen, and twenty-eight cows.
On the 3rd instant, the Danish hand-cart company arrived, under the supervision of Elder J.[James] P. Park, and other Valley brethren. This company numbered about three hundred and thirty souls, sixty-eight hand-carts, three wagons, and ten mules. Captain [Christian] Christianson, a Dane from the Valley, was deputed to conduct them to Utah; they left on the 7th instant, in good spirits.
On the 8th instant, the freight train, under the guidance of Elder W. [William] G. Young, came in with several accessions at Florence. This company number fifty-five souls, nineteen wagons, eighty-three oxen, four cows, and one mule. I have the honour to be numbered with this train. On the 12th instant we left Florence, and are now five days from that place. Our company is the last one on the Plains. We have a thorough organization; brother J. A. Little, president; W. G. Young, captain; Henry Lunt, chaplain; Albert P. Tyler, sergeant of the guard; and your humble servant, clerk and historian. Besides these brethren from the Valley, we have brothers P. H. Young, James Case, and G. W. Thurston, with us. Sister Nancy Kent, President Brigham Young's eldest sister, is accompanying us to Zion; she is seventy-one years old.
By recapitulating, we find that there are now on the plains one thousand two hundred and fourteen souls, one hundred and fifty-seven wagons, six hundred and forty-six oxen, twenty horses, eighteen mules, seventy-five cows, nineteen loose cattle, and ninety-seven hand-carts; add to these the isolated emigrants in company with brother Taylor and others, and you will have the sum-total of our this year's emigration; which, I believe, have been as well fitted out, and are under as prosperous circumstances, as our emigrants have been in any preceding year. Our united desire is to see all things pertaining to the emigration brought to a successful conclusion, and satisfactory to all parties concerned. May the Lord assist us all in bringing about these results, is my prayer. Amen.
Now, brother Appleby, I am going to write you aboutsomething else. Five years have nearly elapsed since I bade you adieu in our own mountain home beyond the craggy ridge which divides the waters that flow into the great Atlantic from those emptying themselves into the noble Pacific. How many changes have taken place with Gentiles and Jews since then! How many myriads of human beings have at the bidding of the Great Author of our existence, come into and departed from this world of sorrow, pain, and degeneracy! How varied have been our own individual circumstances, situations, callings, and duties. While I have been circumscribing the earth, twice in distance and once in reality-preaching to Asiatics, Anglicans, Welsh, Irish, Scotch, &c, forming a religious medley of Hindoos, Pagans, Mahomedans, Parsees, Jews, Gentiles, and a heterogeneous mass of discordant elements under the appellation of Protestants, your time has been occupied very differently.
Permit me to congratulate you on your ascension to the editorial chair of the ever welcome Mormon. May you be highly successful as your worthy predecessor has been, in closing the mouths of those despicable members of the fourth estate, whose tales and editorial caterings are inundating the country, and exciting their greedy readers against an inoffensive, and strictly virtuous people. If editors exercised the sense, wisdom, honesty, and discrimination of ordinary capacitated donkeys, they would cease their incessant braying, and publish the truth concerning the Utonians. When about to indite a chapter on "Mormonism," I fancy I can see them with goose quill in hand, seated in ghostly dishabille, in their opaque editorial chamber, emulating the example of the fellow, who
"Gnawed his pen, then dashed it to the ground,
Sinking from thought to thought a vast profound!
Plunged for his sense, but found no bottom there,
Yet wrote and floundered on in mere despair."
You have also the influence of a horde of sulphuric shepherds-keepers of the public consciences to deal with. Like the former they crawl between Heaven and earth (backwards like the crab) apparently for no other purpose than to create dissension and confusion, setting every man against his neighbour. This is to every reflective mind the obvious tendency of their doings.
Poor fools, they little think they are taking the night train for Paradise, and that they will have to render an account of their stewardship.
I regret I did not find you in New York during my brief visit a few weeks since. I desired much to see you, and congratulated myself with the idea of accompanying you across the Plains.
I have been so busy since my arrival in America that I have not had time to visit but one of my relatives. After settling up the business pertaining to the emigration in Boston, I took the express train for Iowa city. A few days after my arrival in Iowa, I was deputed to accompany brother J. A. Little to St. Louis, where we bought supplies for the two first companies of emigrants; I accompanied them up the river to Florence. We had on board about one hundred and fifty ladies and gentlemen, cabin passengers; amongst whom were two Reverends and a theological student, or graduate from the city of Gotham. Prior to quitting St. Louis, I was introduced to the Captain and Clerk of the Edinburgh as a missionary of the "Mormon" faith from the East Indies. This brought me into note, and to satisfy a flatulent curiosity I was obliged to preach to them on Sabbath evening, and on the evening following, I delivered a lecture on the manners and customs of the Orientals of Hindoostan. Of course the knowing could not remain silent. The two following nights were occupied in delivering rejoinders. In turn, to consummate the affair, after repeated solicitations, in a discourse which occupied over two hours, I answered all the objections of my opponents to the satisfaction of all my hearers, every one of whom, after I had concluded my remarks, tendered me a voluntary expression of their thanks.
Enough-I must conclude, as my advantages for writing are very meagre. A crammed portfolio for a desk, and inverted wash-tub for a seat, and surrounded by a parcel of loquacious emigrants, discussing their success, and other matters of the day, while their hands are employed in performing the varied paraphernalia of a camp life.
With kind regards to your able assistants, brothers Stenhouse and Dulin, and with fervent prayers for your prosperity, I remain, my dear brother Appleby,
Your friend and well wisher,
P.S.—It is reported and believed that the Government has wrested from the conductors the July mail, while they were endeavoring to effect its transit to Utah.
It may be pleasing for you to learn that the family of Martin Harris (one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon) is in Pottawattamie, and purpose migrating to Zion next spring.
Saturday, 18th. We have this day travelled about ten miles, and camped on the Platte, within half-a-day's drive of our Beaver River settlement. A meeting has been called, and the propriety of all being re-baptized was suggested, carried, and immediately attended to. We had a good time and purpose going up to the mountains as pure before the Lord as our gross nature will permit.