Transcript for Daniel Spencer letter to Franklin D. Richards printed in "Foreign Correspondence," Millennial Star, 2 August 1856, 489-90

L. D. S. Camp, near Iowa City,
Iowa, June 22, 1856.

President F. D. Richards.

Dear Brother—In reply to your favours of the 8th and 27th May, I am happy to inform you that everything moves along well with us, even better than I could have anticipated. . . . . .

The Thornton’s passengers I am expecting in a day or two. I received, on the 20th, a message of their arrival, but without date, and the telegraphic element becomes very lazy when it points its course westward. From New York a messenger will arrive here some days a-head of his own message sent to announce his coming.

It will give you much joy to learn that the hand-cart experiment is now being fairly, and so far, most successfully tested. Captain Edmund Ellsworth left here on the 9th, with 274 souls, accompanied by elders [John] Oakley and [William] Butler as assistants. Captain D[aniel]. D. McArthur left on the 11th with 221 souls, accompanied by Elders [Spicer Wells] Crandall and [Truman] Leonard as assistants. These numbering in all 497 souls, embraced 104 of the S. Curling’s company, and their fit-out was, together, 100 hand-carts, 5 wagons, 24 oxen, 4 mules, 25 tents, and provisions to Florence. Brother Ferguson visited their camps 35 miles out, and accompanied them during a portion of a morning’s march. He reports that, though their first two days’ travel were good marches for strong men, considering the sandy roads, he never visited a camp of travelling Saints so cheerful and universally happy. All were full of faith in God, and the fulfilment of His promises through His servants, and what few doubts existed in the minds of half-weakly believers, had all vanished when they saw the reality before them. The weak and feeble had already begun to gather strength; the sick were fast recovering, and the power of God was made abundantly manifest in the pouring out of His Spirit upon the people. Much credit is due, not only to the brethren in charge of the companies, but to the native Presidents of Conferences, who emulated each other in setting an example of putting in practice the theories they had taught their flocks in their fields of labour in their own country. The remainder of the S. Curling’s company of Fund passengers will leave to-morrow, numbering about 320 souls. They are organized with elder Edward Bunker as their Captain, assisted by Elders David Grant, John Parry, and Geo. W. Davis. To fit out these companies, brothers Grant and Kimball succeeded in purchasing, in the vicinity of Weston, a few cattle and mules, which, including travelling expenses, average nearly $85 per yoke for oxen, and $120 per head for mules. Since then cattle have lowered some in value, and brothers Van Cott and Grant have purchased about sufficient to fit out the independent hand-cart and ordinary dependent companies, at an average of from $38 to 65 per yoke, cows will cost from $15 to $18 each. These will be furnished at the Bluffs with the through fit-out. They have also contracted for young stock to supply the demands already made at the rate of $7 for yearling and $12 for two-years-old heifers ; dry cows $15 each. Brother George has also purchased and brought in 16 head of mules at $110, which with seven or eight which brother Van Cott has got, will make sufficient for a mule team to each 500 of the Fund companies, and for those who will cross the Plains with you. . . . . .

I am looking for brother Van Cott daily, with the general drove of cattle, from which I expect to supply the ordinary passengers who are here, as well as those coming, with whose names you have furnished me. The first company of wagons left Florence about the 6th instant, of which, by my appointment, Elder P[hilemon]. C. Merrill took charge. Elder Peterson’s company were expected to accompany them. Elder Joseph France left in company with Captains Ellsworth and McArthur, with the appointment to take charge, on his arrival, of such of the Saints congregated there from St. Louis and other parts, as would form the second company of wagons.

Business having called me down to St. Louis a few days, I was much rejoiced, on the 14th, to meet brother Erastus, together with brothers G. A. Smith, E. T. Benson, Orson Pratt, and the other brethren bound eastward. Brother Erastus accompanied me here. He leaves to-morrow for St. Louis, and is in tolerable health. I expect he will meet the Horizon’s company at Boston, and, having a copy of that portion of your letter pertaining to the business of that company, will give it the necessary attention. I will continue to draw upon you, as heretofore, until I shall have completed the money part of the season’s operations. I shall expect to meet you at Florence, and will endeavour to have the mules harnessed and whip in hand on your arrival, and a crust of bread in pocket . . .

The health of the camp is unusually good this season. My own is also excellent. Truly the Lord has been with us, and has favoured the opening of the new route. Since we have taken the making of the hand-carts into our own hands, it is getting along beyond our best calculations. Brother Webb has been most faithful and successful in the charge of this department. The Church goods, sent by the Thornton, were already ordered to this place, and will have the proper attention.

Brothers Ferguson, McAllister, Grant, Webb and the brethren generally, join me in much love to yourself, brothers Cyrus, Little, Dunbar, Linforth, Calkin, Williams, Turnbull, and all the Saints. May success be multiplied to you in all your exertions.

Faithfully in Christ,