Transcript for Pratt, Orson, to Brigham Young, 29 June 1854, in Brigham Young, Office Files 1832-1878, reel 54, box 41, fd. 2
15 miles west of Fort Leavenworth
June 29th 1854
To President B. Young,
Knowing the anxiety which you must have for the welfare of the saints and for the preservation of church property entrusted to agents, I improve a few moments in writing, although I have a sorrowful tale to relate. Brethren [Horace Sunderlin] Eldredge and [Frederick] Kesler inform me that they have not been able, for the want of means, to fill all the orders they received from the valley, but they have done the best they could by borrowing funds and otherwise to accomplish your wishes. They will undoubtedly, inform you of the particulars, as I am not fully acquainted with them. Circumstances have occurred to prevent the camp from leaving until the present time although it was our intention to have started some 6 or 8 weeks sooner. It is very difficult to accomplish so much where all the funds have to be borrowed a few dollars here and a few there out of the saints who are already so poor that they do not know how to get along themselves.
All the tithing that I had on hand, with the exception of about $93, I have turned over to Bro. Eldredge, and also all the emigration funds to help him in carrying out your orders.
The church books arrived safely in St Louis; all the expenses up to that time on them amount to something over $4000. Bro Eldredge sent them to Fort Leavenworth hoping to have waggons & teams sufficient to bring them over the plains this season; but finding it impossible he ordered them reshipped to Weston, where they are safely stored until a future time. There were 33 cases of the books stored, & 12 cases of other merchandise. I have been informed that 2 cases of the books are in the waggons and will be brought on. The 45 cases, while laying at Fort Leavenworth, were not under cover, but were exposed to 4 or 5 very heavy showers, but whether their contents were damaged much is not known. During this time we were busily engaged in trying to secure the other merchandise in the waggons, which required some few days before the waggons could be put together, and loaded; and the covers secured. At the same time the cholera in its most violent form was raging in our camp which required the exertion of those who were well both day and night to take care of the sick. And what greatly increased our labor was the care of about 400 head of cattle which were turned over upon us. Bro. Eldredge, when at St. Louis, supposed that we had a sufficient number of teamsters and some 10 or 12 extra men, but the cholera and other causes so diminished the number that we found it impossible to start without a fresh supply of men. We procured 16 men from brother Empy's emigrating companies which were all he was willing to spare, although he has reserved 2 men to a waggon. We need more, yet we shall try to start with what we have about the 1st of July.
Since landing at the Fort, our small company has lost 41 persons by the cholera. Three of our blacksmiths, on whom we were depending, have died. Brothers Alondus D[eLafayette] L. Buckland and Jesse Turpin are both dead; they lived only a few hours after being seized. Those who survived are <many of them> so weakened down by sickness and over exertion that they can scarsely move about. I have been very healthy, though wearied with setting up nights and watching with the sick. My wife that is with me, has been sick 2 weeks with vomiting & purging: for about one week she has been so low that she was not expected to live: she at present is a little better and hopes are entertained that she may survive.
We are now in hopes that the pestilence has ceased and that no more will fall a prey. The cholera is at work among the Emigrating saints from Kansas, but to what extent I am unable to inform you. In Independence, it is sweeping off some 30 a day. Some towns on the Missouri are nearly deserted.
Our wild oxen & inexperienced drivers have already broke some waggons which have been repaired. Bro. Kesler was preparing to go to Utah by the July mail; but we have counselled him to remain until the August mail. We considered this indispensible in case of any more broken waggons; for we are left almost destitute of persons qualified to mend waggons &c. We thought that you would not be displeased with this, as we considered it necessary for the preservation of church property.
The health of Bro. Eldredge is feeble and he is much worn down with cares and anxieties.
From the latest information there was no prospect of selling the machinery which you sent Bro Haliday to dispose of.
When I left Washington about the 1st of May our delegate was doing all he could for Utah. Bro Bernhisel I believe to be true to us, as the Lu[illegible]. If he errs his errors are those of judgment, and not with intention to do wrong. There was not one out of a hundred that would do better.
Bro Aaron F[reeman]. Farr is coming through with Williams' merchandise train. Capt James Brown is with us: he has been very low with the cholera, but is now well. The emigration from England has been later than usual this season and considerable sickness has prevailed. Bro Empy or some of his agents will no doubt keep you informed concerning the emigration under their charge.
In March and April I wrote a lengthy article on the subject of a full consecration of all the properties of the members of the church, and of each one receiving their stewardship according to the law of God, illustrating the same from the revelations in the Covenants. This article was sent to England at the time to form the contents of the 7th or 8th Nos of the present vol. of the Seer. I am happy to learn that the spirit of the Lord
hasput these things into your heart about the same time, and that the heavenly order of consecration is being carried into practice. This, I consider to be a tremendous big step towards the redemption of Zion and the Celestial kingdom. May God enable the saints to carry it out faithfully.
The great territory of Nebraska is now open to the white man. Thousands are now rushing in to make claims: all the best of the land west of Missouri along the borders is already taken up. I have been reflecting
what that could a stake be established somewhere in this territory high upon the Missouri river where there would be no land carriage it would save a world of trouble & expense. All the freight and merchandise could be transported by water to the very spot, without the expense of waggons & teams. Many could gather to such a place that would not have means to cross the plains. But perhaps such a plan would not be wisdom. I see that you have appointed me a mission to Cincinnati after I return to Utah. I shall take pleasure in filling the same. I feel very anxious to do all I can for this cause while I yet live.
Orson Pratt, Sen.