John E. Davis, Mormonism Unveiled, or, A Peep into the Principles & Practices of the Latter-day Saints (1856), 14-26.
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We are now leaving St. Louis, and taking another steamer that is smaller, to go further up the river, to a place called Caycock [Keokuk], which lies about two or three hundred miles higher up; here we are told we are to meet our cattle and waggons.
When we arrive and land we find this place to be a pretty little town on the banks of the river: here we are to encamp and wait for the cattle, &c. We had our tents and waggon covers with us, having brought the materials from Liverpool, and made them on board the ship during our passage. We now form part of a camp, consisting of thousands, some from all nations, but chiefly from England and the British dominions—English, Welsh, Scotch and Irish. Well, we remain encamped here two months waiting for the cattle, &c.; and now the scheme is beginning to come out, and the mask is gradually removed. We are told that the cattle are risen in price, that they are very difficult to be got, &c., &c. The waggons are rose in price, too, but they are come: and now I shall give a little specimen of the make of them. The felloes are two inches thick, made very plain and roughly put together—the axletrees are hard wood with two studs of hard wood on each bolster, and a thin bit of hoop iron on the outside of the four studs, with a slight coat of red paint on the carriage—the bed is made of four wide boards, one inch thick, and about sixteen or eighteen inches wide, two for the bottom and two for the sides. At both ends there are four strips, something like the fixing of a board across the doorway of a house to prevent children getting into the street; there is an iron rod going through each to keep the bed together, with a nut at the ends. The whole of the boards are rough from the mill, so the value of such a vehicle can easily be imagined. Timber is cheap in America, but iron rather dear. A respectable person at Caycock [Keokuk] told us what they were worth: he was asking me what they cost, "What do you think, now?" said I, "well," he replied, "having so many of them, I should think you did not pay more than £8 each for them;" this he said was their full value, but our head men said that the waggons cost £13 each; of course I cannot contradict them, but to say the least, it appears highly improbable. Our cattle have not yet arrived, so, as this is a flourishing little town and plenty of employment at this time of the year, our people are going to work, both men and women; some of the latter earning two dollars a week and their keep. Provisions are very cheap here, flour, 1d. per lb.; bacon, 2d. to 2½ d. per lb.; eggs, 2½ d per doz., in fact, I have had six dozen for thirteen pence! Tea and sugar very cheap, and potatoes very reasonable. Our weekly allowance from the company cost about 10d. a head per week only—if I said 9d. perhaps I should be nearer the mark; it consisted of seven pounds of flour and two pounds of bacon per head, but this must be calculated at the wholesale price, and this was all that was furnished us by the £10 company: those who have money can buy at a cheap rate what they want to help out, and those who have no money can get work if they chose to do it, there being, as I before said, plenty of employment here. The time spent here is the most pleasant part of our journey, but our cattle have not yet arrived, although our money was stated to have been sent from England to America five or six weeks before we left our homes, in order that the purchases might be made, and the cattle ready on our arrival.—I must here explain that the two first calls of £1 and £5 were made long before leaving our homes for Liverpool.—But we remain still in camp, anxiously expecting the arrival of the cattle to enable us to go on, when one day our Leader and Elder, Isaac Height [Haight], came to the camp and said he had been disappointed very much, that the cattle were advanced in price greatly, that he had been obliged to borrow the sum of seven thousand dollars, with the money that we sent to pay for the cattle, and that he could not have the quantity of cows that had been agreed upon for us to have; a disappointment which can be better imagined than described, especially as we had sent out the not inconsiderable sum of £1458 6s. 8d., and I began to calculate that we should be brought in in debt instead of receiving any distributive share of the produce of our waggons and teams, when sold, and I said to myself, this is a roguish piece of business all through. Oh! Yankee Doodle, you are too deep for us. I had almost forgot to mention that there was some little hard bread, and a small quantity of damaged rice sent in from the ship to our camp at Caycock, in about three weeks after we arrived, for the purpose of blinding us.
After having been encamped about two months, we received intimation that we were about to leave, and got orders to have our luggage weighed, as the allowance for each person to take with him was one cwt. across the plains, (short weight,) including cooking utensils and all; this we certainly were given to understand before we left England, but of course we expected it to be long weight. As I had upwards of two cwt. of luggage, I was rather puzzled as to what was to be done, until at length I remembered that Chuckliffe, one of the American Elders who had been previously preaching in the neighbourhood of Cardiff; and with whom I was then very intimate, had waggons and cattle, although when he came to England to preach he had neither purse nor scrip. I applied to him for permission to place my overweight baggage in his waggon; he replied that he would carry anything I had for seven-pence a pound, and if it was not worth that, I had better throw it away; and, in fact, I did throw and give away several things rather than pay carriage, and even afterwards my overweight luggage cost me upwards of two pounds, but it was not Mr. Chuckliffe who carried it; and I learnt there was no reliance to be placed on any one, however intimate they might have been when cajoling us, for that when we were entrapped, they cooled in their professions of friendship and intimacy, and that before long they were quite estranged and distant. There are no favors to be obtained from the Mormon Elders and Preachers without paying for them—and that, in every case, "through the nose." The Elders who are so poor and so meek in this country, who have scarcely anything to support them but the charity of their dupes, alter very much on arriving at St. Louis, and higher up; here they suddenly become possessed of cattle and waggons, and here they make purchases of merchandize, which they carry to the Salt Lake, where it is sold for four or five times its cost price. One fortunate thing in our journey across the plains is, that there is nothing to be paid for but food for ourselves, there being no turnpikes, and plenty of grass for the cattle on the prairies, as we proceed. I forgot to mention that at St. Louis we were advised over and over again to remain there; the inhabitants warning us that we should repent going to Utah; some went so far as to preach to us about the practices followed there, but what with the notions we had imbibed at home, and the advice of our Elders, who told us not to go near them, only a few remained behind there; but some did remain, and some few left us coming up the river, stopping in the towns and villages. To account for the number of receders being so small, it is necessary to state that our Elders held a sway over us, and made us believe that if we remained at St. Louis, or any other place as receders, we should be disobeying council and rebelling against the Church, and for which some evil would certainly happen to us. At the Salt Lake we were generally called "Greenhorn Bunglishmen," (in ridicule of Englishmen,) and well they might, I think they were quite right in the name they gave us. At Caycock once I had a conversation with a person whom I met, who somewhat shook my faith in the Mormons; but which, unfortunately, was not sufficient to prevent my going on. This man was in company with another, driving a waggon laden with Indian corn; they were both very respectable looking persons, and one of them asked me if I wished to purchase some Indian corn, I replied that I did not; to which he remarked, "I suppose when you want any you go and fetch it:" I again replied in the negative, and he rejoined, "well, that is the way with some of your people when they stop in this country." I made answer that, "the cattle were the Lord's upon a thousand hills, but that he had commanded me not to covet or desire other men's goods." "Is that your creed?" said he, "It is, sir," I answered. "Well, you differ very much from the Mormons who were in this country before," he observed, and left me; but I afterwards learnt, upon good authority that some of the body who had been previously in the country, had been guilty of taking that which did not belong to them; and that was in a great measure the cause of their being so much disliked in Caycock and the neighbourhood, and persecuted so much. Again we receive orders to move, but our cattle have not come yet: we are to go to a place called the Potters' Fields, situate about four or five miles from the city of Navon [Nauvoo], formerly the settlement of the Mormons, where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were brought, after they were shot in Cathry [Carthage] Gaol [Jail]. His mother and his wife (that was and still is in the eye of the law) reside in the same house; the latter is now married to another man, but neither of them are members of the Mormon Church. The house in which they reside (and also Joseph Smith's son) was built at the expense of the Mormons, and settled upon Joseph Smith and his family so long as water should run and grass grow. It has been said, and I have heard it declared by the ministers while preaching, that Joseph Smith gave himself up to his persecutors, and was led like a lamb to the slaughter; but this statement is not true, although it has been given out from the pulpit; the fact is, he got away from the people and crossed the river Mississippi, where he was followed by some of the Mormons, who made long faces, and exclaimed, that if brother Joseph left them they should be massacred: one of these men, named Cahom, was in the Salt Lake city when I was there, and from him and others I learnt the truth of the matter. My remarks are necessarily disconnected, because I am unaccustomed altogether to book making, but if wanting merit in this respect, the reader can depend upon it that he will in this simple recital meet with nothing but truth, and facts that will bear the utmost scrutiny.
At length some of our cattle have arrived, and we receive orders to pack up and be journeying. The cows have not come yet, and we are told it is difficult to get them, but this is nothing more than a blind. However, we make shift to leave this place and proceed a distance of fifteen or sixteen miles, with the assistance of some cattle which were sent back from a party who had moved on before us, and with much difficulty we get on with the borrowed aid, through very bad roads, so bad that the waggons are sinking to the axletrees, and it often required six or seven yoke of oxen to get them out of the ruts. The cows are not yet arrived, but we are told that they will follow us soon
On Sunday some people from the States came to preach to us, but we are ordered not to listen to them, and we must obey counsel: well, we proceed for about three or four days and wait again for our cows, and pitch our tents for a week in a nice open wood, where there is plenty of water and wood, and good grass for our cattle; a farm house is near, and here we could purchase butter, milk, potatoes and eggs, and many other things if we chose to do so. The people here are chiefly Dutch, and are very civil. These are good times; no rent and taxes to pay; it did not however last long, for part of our cows having arrived, we are again to be on the move: we must be satisfied with what have come, as we cannot have more. I should have observed that during our stay at Caycock there were a few deaths, and our ranks were also thinned by the receding of several who remained behind and refused to go any further; among whom was one of the leading men, the second council of the president of Wales, who left the sect altogether—being an example which many of us would have been wise in following.—This man's name was David Jones one of the Elders who had been preaching in Wales. It was here also that we again saw Hannah Harris, the young woman who had been married to one of the sailors at New Orleans, and who followed our camp after her husband went to sea. Hannah Harris's mother was also married at Caycock, secretly, under the Mormon law; she had seen her legal husband at St. Louis, on our journey, he having come there with a former party of emigrants, but as they had not lived happily together while in the old country, they did not renew the connexion. We are now fifteen or sixteen miles from Caycock, and the continuation of our journey shall be shown in another chapter.
In pursuance of orders we left our pleasant encampment in the wood and moved on, and after travelling many days we arrived at a place which the Mormons call the "Garden of Eden." I went to a farm house, which was near, in company with two or three others, to ask for a drink of water, and there I heard something more about the Mormons, which increased not a little the doubt I was beginning to entertain. The farmer very kindly brought out a large quantity of buttermilk, and which upon his invitation we partook of upon a seat in front of his house. He questioned us as to what we were, and where we were going, and we answered that we came from England, and were going to the Salt Lake; that our camp, which was back in the valley, was coming on, that they were watering the cattle: we had a long conversation about the Mormons and Mormonism; he told us that when the Mormons had been driven from Navou [Nauvoo], that two of the seventy missionaries, who are ministers ordained by the Mormons, in imitation of the seventy disciples sent out by our Saviour to preach, had come to his neighbourhood and had a place to live in on his farm, that winter, and had obtained work so as to make a good livelihood, and that he liked one of them very well, but that some of the Mormons had been found committing some bad deeds in that neighbourhood, but that he did not blame them all, yet he blamed them for harbouring and cloaking the delinquents, who they well knew had been guilty of the depredations committed; he said there had been fourteen horses stolen from persons in that neighbourhood, which were found among the Mormons, and although the Mormons knew the thieves who belonged to their body, they sheltered them, and denied having seen them; however, the horses were at length recovered. This farmer and his wife were very civil people, and appeared to be very sincere in their communications to us, without exaggerating in the least: he said that it cost the country a good deal of money every year to drive the Mormons out of the State; he said he hoped their conduct would be better for the time to come; he admitted that it would be more difficult to drive them from the Salt Lake, and was afraid that much more expense would be incurred in the attempt, as the Salt Lake is a central place between the States and California, and an accommodating place for the Californians to winter in, when it gets severe, late in the season, and a place to procure fresh supplies of provisions; but the Mormons do not omit to make the most of the necessities of the Californians, by taking the advantage of rising the price of their goods to double, and even treble the value, when they sell to the Californians; this they did during the time I was there, and by these means the Mormons make a most excellent profit upon their stock and provisions, but the Californians begin to be wide awake, and provide themselves with supplies before they leave home. After leaving here I travelled some part of the way in company with an elderly man, who had been living at the Mormon settlement at Navou some years, he told me several things which came under his notice; I recollect one thing in particular, that was, one day as he journied through a wood, he met two men driving before them a fine fat ox, but he did not pay any great attention to the circumstance at the time; by-and-by he met a farmer looking for an ox which he had lost, who asked him if he had seen one on the road, he replied that he had seen two men driving one; and the other then said that there was a Mormon camp a few miles distant, where he followed and made some enquiries about his missing ox. They denied all knowledge of it, although some beef was roasting, but after searching some time he found the skin, and then threatened them with the law: to this they replied that, "The Lord had need of it," and then willingly paid for it, and also bought the other ox (his yoke fellow) of the farmer, and paid for both, apparently very glad to escape in such a manner after committing a robbery. I have every reason to believe this person was telling the truth, as numbers of similar depredations are currently reported in the neighbourhood, and this person's manner of relating the fact had every appearance of sincerity.
On we journeyed till we came to a place called Michel's Tavern; here we encamped with good grass, water, and firewood. It is very hot here in the day time, so that after remaining the night we made another move onwards. I and five other elderly men, like myself, started before the camp, in order that we might have some time to rest on the road, by which step we got rather into a difficulty. There were two roads, and on enquiring our way, we were directed by one which afterwards turned out to be the wrong one; on we travelled, expecting of course that the camp, was following us; we came to a place called Fort Desmoy [Des Moines], formed out of a few houses; here we had two ferries to cross; money must be found; well, I paid the two ferries, it was now about 6 o'clock in the evening, we wanted food, and, upon conferring together, I found that three of our company had no money; we were six in company, four Welshmen and two Englishmen; three had money and three had none; we agreed to mate, one monied man and one without, in order to keep the reckoning the easier; by this time it was getting late, and we felt that we wanted victuals very much, and it was difficult to get any, we had been travelling in the hot sun all day; at length we met an open hearted man on the road going home from work, and we told him our case, and he invited us to come with him to his house, to which we gladly agreed, and when we arrived were delighted to find there was a good supply of roast pork, and plenty of bread and good water; we ate and drank to our satisfaction, and I then asked him what was to pay, but the good man refused to take anything; I persisted in my offer, saying I did not wish that, but would rather pay; at length he consented to take some trifle by way of rememberance, and then we left. He directed us on our road, and we travelled on all night through woods and over prairies, we were afraid that the camp would pass on before we could reach the place where we understood the camp was to pass. This part of our journey was very tedious, as one of our party was blind, and I myself partially so;
we came about 11 or 12 o'clock the next day to the place where we expected to meet our companions, and were greatly disappointed on not seeing or hearing anything of them. Onward we went, having nothing to eat until the next morning about 8 or 9 o'clock, when we reached a farm house. Here we halted, and having satisfied our present cravings we resolved to remain a few days until we could hear some tidings of our company, and agreed for our board by the meal, at a reasonable rate, till the camp should come by: we remained at this place four or five days until the camp came up; what kept it so long was, that some of the waggons had broken down, and had to be repaired before they could proceed. Well, we joined the camp again in good spirits. It will easily be believed how glad we were to see our companions again after having met with such difficulties, and been harassed by the fear that the camp had gone on without us; we were like sheep that had gone astray, and were welcomed as such by our fellow travellers, and with as much joy as the shepherd is described to have had on recovering his lost sheep. The next town we arrive at is Winterset: this place is also formed out of a few houses, new settlements, a store or two, a blacksmiths' shop, &c., being an accommodating place for people who travel, and for the neighbouring settlers about the country. We make no stay here but pass on to the next place, called Counsel [Council] Bluff, or Cainsville [Kanesville] this will be our last stage in the United States before reaching the Indian country; we are going on in good spirits, believing there are good times before us if we can reach our destination; some deaths occur on the road. We are now come within eight or ten miles of Cainsville, where the Mormons call it the winter quarters, and here we encamp for two days; we are again cautioned by our American Elders on the Sunday to beware of Cainsville and the people in it, for that as we read in Scripture of the Third Heaven, so the place we are now about to arrive at is the "Third Hell." Here they also prepared us by a few hints, to pave the way for reconciling us to the discovery which was now approaching, of how we had been gulled in money matters, as they no doubt expected there would be great murmuring, if not something more serious, when so large a body would find out that the expected division of the sale and profits of our waggons and stock would be mere moonshine; this they endeavoured to temper down by saying, that probably some of us might be expecting that some of our money would be returned when we arrived at Salt Lake, but that we must bear in mind that our board cost a good deal. The reader will recollect that I before stated our board to have cost from 9d. to 10d. per head, per week; flour being less than 1d. per lb., and it stands to reason, that, by purchasing several tons at a time and paying ready money, it can be purchased at a much cheaper rate than by buying a single pound; and the same remark applies to the buying of bacon; but this cajolery, as I before observed, was only to smooth us down, and soften our disappointment.
We now arrive at Cainsville, and here we encamp for a week, the water being too high to cross the Missouri river. At last we have orders to cross the river; and, having procured a kind of vessel of curious construction, built something after the fashion of a platform or wooden bridge, to take our waggons, cattle, &c. over the ferry, we all got over safe, with the exception of a few more receders, who remained behind in Cainsville, notwithstanding the cautions of our Elders, that it was the Third Hell. After crossing the river, we proceed on our journey; and after journeying some distance, we came to a fine open ground, where there is good grass and water, and plenty of wood; here we halted a few days to put matters to right, and to feed our cattle. There were no back doors here, if we wished to run away; and not a house or habitation before us, for near a thousand miles, otherwise, no doubt, several would have left the camp here, and at the time our allowance of provisions was reduced, as set forth in the next chapter, because the scanty allowance was no doubt one reason why several had left us before our arrival so far on our journey. The whole of those who left us at different places on our journeyings, including deaths, might now amount to the number of somewhere about one hundred. I make this calculation from the circumstance, that our number of waggons was fifty-six; and, as I before said, a waggon was appropriated to twelve persons, instead of ten, as agreed upon; but our party were now reduced so as to average somewhere about ten to a waggon.
We now experience a little more of the arbitrary dealings of our leaders; we are informed that our allowance of bacon is to be only three quarters of a pound per head, per week; instead of two pounds, as agreed upon; this was rather short allowance to travel on for so long a distance, and we did not feel very comfortable, especially as we had to travel hard, and this was not the worst of it, sometimes we met with grass and sometimes none, our oxen got weak, and we had to put our cows to work, to help the oxen, and then the cows becoming dry we lost their milk, we had neither tea nor sugar allowed us, so that we were far from being happy at our lot. This is the way we were treated going to Zion; well, I thought nothing of it, if the Lord should spare my life to reach the journey's end; we all kept up our spirits pretty well; I made up my mind to endure everything in order to reach the promised land, this sort of feeling seemed generally to pervade the whole camp, notwithstanding what I have before said about our unhappiness. It was a sort of quiet resignation to bear all the ills we might meet with, hoping to find comfort and rest, at the end of our journey. After some time we met with a troop of mounted Indians, numbering about five hundred, who had just returned from a war with another tribe. We willingly gave them some bread, having nothing else to give them. Their appearance was very savage and they were all armed, they were called the Pawnees; they were not satisfied with the bread given them, but wanted to rifle our pocket, and take our handkerchiefs off our necks, and to rob the waggons. We had to haul up our waggons into two tiers and put the women and children in the waggons, and get out guns, and fired off eight or ten shots, to clear the guns. Then their chief made a motion that he did not wish to fight, and gave orders to the Indians to go away, upon which they all drove off on their ponies to the wood; but the chief remained in our camp all night, for fear the Indians would return and come in the night and steal our cattle, or do some other mischief. In the morning he left us with many Indian compliments and great civility, having been well regaled by our party.
About this time, some of our hearty young men began to feel the want of sufficient food very much, they could make use of twice seven pounds of flour in a week, if they had it; it was very hard upon them after we had left the States, but as for myself, I did not require so much as young hearty men, because I was advanced in years, and besides, I had provided myself with some nourishing food while at Cainsville, but I did not think our allowance of bacon would be reduced. After going on some distance we passed several graves in places on the route, over one of which I noticed a board with the name of Chambers on it, it directly struck me, that as it stated he came from England, it was my old friend Chambers, one of the Mormon Elders with whom I had been previously acquainted, especially, as I knew that the camp to which he belonged passed that way. I remember that at one time when I was suffering from a disease in my eyes, when at home, he had told me that I had no faith to get well, he professed to have the gift of knowing the mind of the Almighty, to a great extent, as the Mormons pretend; he had been admitted into Priesthood, and he told me that if I had sufficient faith I should be perfectly cured and my sight would be as good as ever.
But to return to our camp, we have now passed Fort Laramy [Laramie], and here some of the party became dissatisfied with the manner in which the victuals were served out, it had nearly come to a revolution in the camp; some contended that the victuals were not farely divided, but I believe they were wrong, I had my own opinion. The Elders, however, called a meeting, at which the non-contents stated their grievance, but as they could not establish their case, they had to humble themselves and ask forgiveness, or be left behind alone in the wild desert.
We next arrive at Fort Bridget [Bridger], about one hundred miles from the city of Utah, in the valley of Salt Lake. At this spot the Indians are very troublesome to the Mormons. A party of Mormons had been sent out here to protect the parties who were coming to the Salt Lake, this party was stationed for the season, and of course we expected to get some victuals of them by paying for it, but we were disappointed, they had nothing to spare, they said they were sorry for it but they were short themselves, and enquired when we expected the last emigrants would arrive, stating, that if they had to remain there much longer they should be obliged to kill their mules and eat them; in fact some among our party were ready to do somthing of that kind, they had indeed devoured very one of our cattle which died, whether from accident, fatigue, or any other cause, and our casualty deaths among the cattle were not few: for what with over work in hot weather and scarcity of food, our cattle became so weak and lean that they died, or when they laid down could not proceed from exhaustion. We did put the knife into them and let their blood run, if they had any blood in them, and they were skinned and devoured, and the people were ready to fight who should have the most of this unhealthy stuff, for hunger is sharp.
This stationary party further told us that we ought to be satisfied with a half a pound of flour per day, that they were obliged to do with less, and upon which they have been compelled to exist—this was not altogether agreeable to us; we remained here one night, protecting our camp by very strong guards, lest the Indians should come down and carry off our women, as they had been in the habit of doing to other parties: their mode of capturing the women was very singular and ingenious. They came down in a party with horses and lassos, (the lasso is a kind of sling or long strap, with a running noose) which they threw over the females, pulled them up, and galloped off: and they were not seen afterwards. Nothing however happened to us during the night,
and the next morning we were off again; but we had passed a very unpleasant night here, as it was extremely cold to camp at night at this season in this part of the country (the month of October having commenced). At this place we heard that a man by the name of big Jem, an Irishman, had joined himself to the Indians, and had become a leading man among the Indians who were about Fort Bridget; this the Mormons did not like, thinking that he would learn them too much; so they went in search of him, and three of them took him, and said he was their prisoner; he resisted and said with an oath that he would not suffer himself to be made prisoner, upon which one of them walking close behind shot him.—Jem said while bleeding on the ground, if you had given me a little more time I would have shot the lot of you, calling them at the same time most approbrious names. We are now on the move again for the land of plenty, as we had been led to believe it was; and heartily did we wish for the termination of our trials and sufferings; well, we journied on, and nothing particular happened till we arrived in the city of the Salt Lake; but many had a hungry belly when we got in.
It was on the 10th of October when we got to our journey's end, in the dusk of evening; and glad were we to have arrived in any condition.