[Goddard, George], "Review of an Active Life," Juvenile Instructor, 15 May 1882, 156.
I told him I was willing to try any kind of honorable labor and earn my living, rather than depend upon the charity of the few honest Saints in that neighborhood.
I therefore commenced with a few articles in a basket, then increased my assortment and started off four miles with a hand-cart, having no companion to assist me. The work was simply immense, and in going over rough roads or swampy places it seemed impossible for human nature to endure the strain to keep the wheels moving. My clothes would be as thoroughly saturated with perspiration as if dipped in the Missouri River. On my return, my friends fitted up a mule team and supplied me with nearly a thousand dollars worth of goods, and I went over sixty miles away from Florence, among the farmers; but as it was late in the season and very cold weather, and the farmers had previously hauled their produce to market in exchange for their winter's supply of merchandise, the trip proved a financial disappointment.
Nothing daunted, however, my friends kindly told me if I could find an opening within the reach of a good team, to send supplies to, they would stock a store for me to conduct through the winter.
I soon found an empty store at Omaha, enquired the rent, returned, and made arrangements to commence business in time for Christmas. The store had to be fitted up with counter, shelving, etc., and a few wagon loads of goods, such as candies, poultry, dressed hogs, etc., soon enabled me to make an attractive display. My store was a little unlike anything else in Omaha, and, as it became quickly known that it was managed by a "Mormon" Elder, many came out of curiosity to make purchases and ask questions. During that winter, very few merchants made expenses, trade being duller than usual. It was generally conceded that I was doing the most lively business in Omaha.
Jesse Lowe was mayor of the city, and was a bitter enemy to the Saints. I was told that he had held some office under government in connection with the Mormon Battalion. He tried during the winter that I remained at Omaha to get permission from headquarters to raise a volunteer regiment to go and wipe out the "Mormons" in Utah in the spring. I refused to give him credit because of his unreliable reputation, and he tried his best in the city council to have me expelled from the city, but was overruled by some of the council, who were very friendly towards me.
I was in business about four months, and early in April took stock and delivered it over to Mr. Charles Blake, a partner of J. E. Johnson. He was so well satisfied with my labors, that he made me some very tempting offers if I would stay, all of which, of course, I refused.
The result of my four months' business in Omaha (though the dullest winter the merchants had experienced for years), furnished me with two horses, a second-hand Dutch carriage, some clothing for my family and sufficient food for my journey across the plains. Thanks to my Heavenly Father for His goodness and mercy towards me.
On one occasion, while crossing the Missouri River on the ice with Brother A. C. Pyper, the ice being considered unsafe, we were each supplied with a long pole, lest the ice should break and let us in. The poles were carried along that they might prevent us from going entirely under if the ice gave way. While I was walking a little in advance of Brother Pyper, the ice gave way beneath my feet, and one of my legs went suddenly down. In my sudden fright I threw away my pole, though it was my only security, and brother Pyper could not suppress a hearty burst of laughter, especially when he saw I was enabled to drag my leg out, and very miraculously escape from a watery grave.
During my stay in Omaha, all kinds of startling news would appear in the papers about the United States army, which was then on its way towards Utah, and of grand preparation that were going on at Leavenworth to increase the forces already sent; but the most sensational item of all, was the news of the burning of twenty-six wagon loads of government supplies by Brother Lot Smith, during the month of April.
Every steamer that arrived from St. Louis would bring some returning missionaries, all of those who had been laboring in Europe or America having been called home.
On the 3rd of May, 1858, we left Florence and started on the plains for home. The entire company consisted of eighty-five missionaries, twenty-one others, one woman and three children, making in all one hundred and ten souls.
Many interesting and providential incidents occurred while crossing the plains. We passed by and examined what we supposed to be the remains of the twenty-six government wagons destroyed the previous fall by fire. And by taking a circuitous route over what is called Kinney's Cut Off, we managed to pass by Johnson's army unobserved, leaving them twelve miles behind us.
On the 21st of June, between six and seven o'clock. p.m., we entered Salt Lake City-a city without inhabitants. It presented a grand and imposing appearance from the abundant foliage and extraordinary amount of fruit with which the trees were loaded; but the stillness of death reigned supreme; neither man, woman nor child could be seen, all having left and gone south with the exception of a few brethren left as a guard.
Coming along First South Street, a little east of the City Hall, W. H. Hooper met us, whom we were delighted to silently greet with a warm grip of the hand, our hearts being too full to give expression to our feelings in words.
No language can adequately describe the reflections we had while going through such a city and under such circumstances.
All the information we could get respecting our families was, that they had gone south.