“Breaking Up of Mormondom,” New York Daily Times, 18 July 1857.
- Related Companies
- Company Unknown (1857)
MORMONS RETURNING IN DIGUST,—THEIR OPINIONS OF ZION.
From the Plattsmouth (Nebraska) Jeffersonian.
A train, consisting of about one hundred persons with twenty wagons, passed through this place on Friday last, on their return from Utah to the States. They formed part of a company of two hundred persons and forty teams; but some distance back the remainder took the road for Leavenworth. They left Salt Lake about the 20th of April, and were on the road a little over two months. They bore the appearance of persons who had seen much trouble and privation—being reduced in body and dejected in mind. A more pitiable set of persons we never beheld. They rejoiced that they had at last reached a land where they could once more live at ease.
The account of their experience in Utah was touching in the extreme. In the narration of what they endured they seemed to approach the subject with reluctance and feelings of horror in calling to mind their sufferings, but in the course of their remarks would invariably become animated, and break out in expressions of indignation at the cruelty and oppression which they had endured. They declared the whole system to be but a grand scheme of robbery and sensuality, on the part of those in authority. It is not by direct compulsion, they stated, that the property of their followers is taken, but by means of religious enthusiasm. This is inspired by the promise of great spiritual rewards, and by setting before them the example of scripture characters; that as Job received an increase above all his former possessions, so should they, by their self-sacrificing, reap an increased reward, both of spiritual and temporal possessions. After all their property was exhausted, then the policy of their rulers would change, and their conduct would be such as to say, “Get away if you can.” If any one should become dissatisfied and desire to leave, they were publicly denounced, and the whole church forbidden to purchase any property they might wish to dispose of. From that day they would be subjected to the insults of the entire community, if not absolute danger of their lives. One person stated that in order to get away he had to sell his farm, clandestinely at that, for sixty dollars. They reported that one man went out with $3,000, and was retuning in the train with his team only, and had not enough to eat. Another, who had a farm worth there seven thousand dollars, sold it for thirty-five dollars. A man by the name of GEORGE BROOKS, (if we recollect aright,) who had considerable grain and goods stored in his house, on incurring the displeasure of the elders, had the sides of his house literally stove in, and his property all carried off, he only escaping with his life.
When the train first approached we inquired whether they were from California or Utah. An old man, who was standing near, replied “We are from Bountiful Zion.”
“What is your opinion of Zion?” we inquired.
His reply was: “I went once in search of Zion, but will never go again till I know where it is to be found. It is the worst Zion that I ever set my foot into.”
We inquired concerning the hand-cart trains, and the true reason of employing them. They said that it was the greatest piece of cruelty that was ever perpetrated; that it was at times horrible to behold the condition of those who arrived in that way; that frequently their hands and feet were frozen, and their limbs, from the effects of fatigue and exposure, swollen to more than twice their natural size; that sometimes when they were able no longer to pull the carts, the women and children were loaded with the baggage, and proceeded thus until they fell down with sheer exhaustion; and that after arriving in this condition, they would die off like “rotten sheep,” as they expressed it. They stated that one reason for forming hand-trains was, that those who came in that way, on becoming dissatisfied would have no ready means of returning, and that those in authority curse the emigrant trains which pass through on their way to the Pacific, as they afford means for dissatisfied persons to escape.
In speaking with one quite intelligent young man, he stated that he had been there nearly four years and that the reason he did not leave sooner was because he hoped it would be getting better. He remarked that if he should meet a train going through he would do all that he could to persuade him not to go; but if they persisted, he could only leave them to find out the reality by sad experience. The company report that four or five hundred men were going to leave this Spring, and are probably on the road by this time.