Transcript for "The Mail Arrived from the Salt Lake," Frontier Guardian, 5 September 1849, 2
On Monday Evening, Sept. 3d.
A. W. Babbit [Almon W. Babbitt] Esq., arrived here on Monday evening last thirty-six days from the Valley of the Salt Lake, having been water bound on the route eight days. He came safely through with one man and seven horses and a light wagon in which he brought the mail.
News from the Valley is quite encouraging. The crickets entirely disappear where fowls and swine are permitted to range. They have suffered comparatively none this year by those insects. Their wheat crops are good, corn looks prosperous-beets, carrots-squashes, pumpkins and other vegetables are excellent. The health of the citizens there was good, and great activity in business prevailed. About twelve or fifteen thousand California emigrants passed through the Valley, and about three thousand calculated to winter there. Many of the Californians have been baptized and intend to make that place their home-some of the first class of them for wealth, character, and influence. No difficulty occurred between our people and the California emigrants, and the Indians are all friendly and seem anxious to learn and to become civilized. They wish to learn to cultivate the soil, so that they can have plenty of bread &c.
Our people celebrated the 24th of July instead of the 4th, for two reasons:-one was, because that was the day on which Br. Young and the Pioneers first entered the Valley; and the other was, they had little or no bread, or flour to make cakes, &c., that early, and not wishing to celebrate on empty stomachs, they postponed it till their harvest came in. A full description of the feast and celebration may be expected in our next. We are only able to sketch the heads of the news for this week for want of time and space, but we intend to pour out the whole flood in our next number. The Valley has been a place of general deposit for property, goods, &c., by Californians. When they saw a few bags and kegs of gold dust that had been gathered and brought in by our boys, it made them completely enthusiastic. Pack mules and horses that were worth twenty-five or thirty dollars in ordinary times, would readily bring two hundred dollars in the most valuable property at the lowest price. Goods and other property were daily offered at auction in all parts of the city. For a light Yankee wagon, sometimes three or four great heavy ones would be offered in exchange and a yoke of oxen thrown in at that. Common domestic sheeting sold from five to ten cents per yard by the bolt. The best of spades and shovels for fifty cents each. Vests that cost in Saint Louis one dollar and fifty cents each, were sold at Salt Lake for three bits, or 37 1/2 cents. Full chests of Joiners' tools that would cost one hundred and fifty dollars in the East, were sold in that place for $25. Indeed, almost every article, except Sugar and Coffee, is selling on an average, fifty per ct. below wholesale prices in the Eastern cities. Would it not be a grand speculation for Kanesville and St. Joseph, Merchants to go to the Salt Lake to lay in their fall stock of goods? They can buy plenty of wagons there for less than one half what the iron cost in Saint Louis, and any number of cattle to haul them back. This kind of operation has put the people on their legs in the valley, but when the alcohol was brought forward and sold, it threw some of them off their legs, not having had any for a couple of years or so, and being rather exhausted by digging gold all the time, they were not wise to hazard a contest with so potent an enemy, more to be dreaded than the mobs of Illinois. The people there think more of their wheat crop than of the Gold Mines. They know, because they have been made to feel its superior worth. Many of the emigrants would pay no attention to the warnings of our people not to let their cattle drink of the water so strongly impregnated with saleratus. They said it was all a "Mormon humbug" about the alkali being strong enough to kill their cattle, and the consequences were that more than 2000 dead carcasses of oxen lay strewed along the way, and the very offensive smell caused thereby, rendered it almost impossible to travel near the road. The cholera has been very fatal among the Indians. In one place Mr. Babbitt mentions as having passed ten deserted lodges with many dead Indians lying about, and their bodies torn and half eaten by the wolves.
He met Livingston & Kinkade's company, commanded by William Miller, about 200 miles west of Laramie, then all well. Met Egan [Howard Egan] at Weber River-Hickman and Hatch beyond the South Pass-Perkins' and Taylor's [Allen Taylor's] company this side of Laramie. They had one stampede; about a hundred and fifty teams hitched up took fright in the day time, and ran with their loads like wild buffalo. One lady was killed (Mrs. Hawk) [Margaret Hawk], and several others badly bruised and injured. George A's [George A. Smith's] and Ezra's [Ezra T. Benson's] company were all well, but getting along slowly on account of high water and constant rains. Gully [Samuel Gully] , McCarty [Nelson McCarty], and Kellogg [Ambrose Kellogg] died of cholera out of the first company. But four of our people died of cholera on the road.