Taylor, John, to William I. Appleby, 9 July 1857, in The Mormon, 8 Aug. 1857.
Camp, Elm Creek,
15 Miles above Fort Kearney,
July 9th, 1857.
Bro. Appleby – Dear Sir: I embrace an opportunity now offered of addressing you a few words. The first hand-cart company is about five miles ahead of us, and we are now camped with Capt. [William Holmes] Walker’s company, which is the first ox-train company, and is principally laden with goods belonging to the last year’s hand-cart emigration; a few teams have joined in with them. All the emigration is moving on well, their cattle are in good order, and they are moving generally from eighteen to twenty miles per day. The camps are all healthy, and a spirit of union and harmony prevails. Just before we left Florence, a company of eighteen wagons arrived with apostates. From what little we saw of them, Utah is a great deal better without them; they are composed of such as could not endure the late revival and purging among the Saints, and, like the dross when subject to the refiner’s fire, they have floated off. You need feel no trouble about them or their influence, for they exhibit themselves wherever they go; they overflow with wormwood and gall, their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness, and they are a disgrace to any decedent society.
We left Florence on the 1st, and visited Genoa, our new settlement, on Saturday afternoon, where we were honored by a military escort and an address (the particulars of which hereafter.) Genoa is a beautiful location, the land rich and fertile, and a sufficiency of timber with care for all necessary purposes. There is about eighty men there, most of whom have families, and they have taken up claims; they have enclosed two large fields, containing about seven hundred acres, about four hundred of which are in crop. Although laboring under many disadvantages, they have made better improvements than any other settlement within fifty miles of them. Their gardens were better and more forward than any we have seen in the western country. Among other vegetables, we were treated to green peas. We held a conference there, and appointed Brother Alburn Allen as President, and Nathan Davis and Henry Peck as his counsellors. Bro. Wm. Felshaw was appointed President of Florence, Nebraska, and Western Iowa, with Alburn Allen and John Gleason as counsellors. We organized a land company in accordance with the provisions made by the Territorial statutes of Nebraska for the legal protection of the citizens and their claims. A new steam saw mill is also erected, to which a grist mill can be attached when necessary.
It may be well here to inform you that the spirit of “border ruffianism” is rampant in most of the western country, and “Regulators” and mob law seem to bear rule. At Independence, Mo., Bro. James Gamel [Gemmell], who was with a company of Texians on their way to the valley, was mobbed by a band of ruffians in front of the public square at the instance of Mr. McGraw, the former mail contractor, who told him “if he was not gone in fifteen minutes he should hang on that tree,” pointing to one in the vicinity. Gamel immediately fled, as he saw a number of ruffians armed with revolvers; they followed him on foot and on horseback, firing at him as he ran; by leaping fences, he, however, evaded them, although he had as many as fifty shots fired at him; he afterwards swam the Missouri river and escaped, and is now with us. Threats were also made against Bro. Erastus Snow. In consequence of this and other appearances of hostility, we selected a guard of our own brethren who have accompanied us to this place. We expected here to join the mail, en route for Utah, but the river is impassable, and we can only correspond through a medium of two or three good swimmers. We were informed that this said McGraw is superintendent of the construction of the military road, and acting as government agent on said road; that twenty men were going on as an advance surveying party, and that about one hundred were to follow them. Bro. Gamel says that some of those in the advance party were the men who fired at him; but as he is preparing a statement of the affair, and will forward it with the next mail, I must leave this matter with him.
We are now going to dismiss our guard. As we have none of the beauties of western civilization, and nothing but the Indians to contend with, we think we are perfectly safe; but thus far we thought it prudent to be prepared both for civilization and the Indians. We take this public manner of acknowledging the kindness of our brethren who volunteered to come with us, several of whom were hand-cart missionaries, and also to those who fitted out horses and teams from Bluff City, Crescent City, Florence, and Genoa. We say God bless and prosper them all in their undertakings; and as they have stepped forward in this emergency, we pray that they always may find friends and protection in every emergency.
My kind regards to bros. Stenhouse, Dulin, Clinton, Cannon, and all the good Saints.
As ever, yours in the E.C.,