"Correspondence from America" [George A. Smith, Ezra T. Benson, and William I. Appleby letter to Orson Hyde, 21 August 1849], Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star, 15 November 1849, 348-50.
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- Church History Library, M205.5 M646 v. 1-132 1840-1970
August 21st, 1849.
Brother Hyde,-We wrote you on the 5th inst., giving you a brief description of our journey up to that date, and sent the same to Fort Childs to be forwarded on to you. Another opportunity favours us this morning of writing you, by Brother Babbitt, who came into camp a few hours ago, twenty-six days from the Salt Lake. The news he brings from there is flattering, and cheering are the prospects before the Saints, as he and the documents he bears will inform you. As it regards the health of our camps, it has been quite good, no serious sickness with the exception of Brother Benson, who has been quite sick, for some ten days with an attack of his old complaint, the bilious cholic; however, he is getting a great deal better, and bids fair for a speedy recovery at present. We have sustained no losses, no serious accidents of any kind, the destroyer has not lain any of us low; but indeed in every thing we have been blessed and prospered, and the angel of peace and mercy, it appears has been our shield, and Joseph's God our kind protector, for which we feel truly thankful to him whose we are, and whom we desire to serve and obey. To be sure we have had our trials in wet, muddy, miry roads, sand bluffs, sloughs, rivers, &c.; also quite frequent and heavy showers of rain, thunder, lightning, wind, and great hail. But it has caused, where last year no grass grew, and no water to be found, plenty of each for us the present year, and the buffalo, antelope, ducks, &c., supply the camp with meat, which is excellent and plentiful; so you will perceive we are happy and contented, and blessed with the spirit of the Lord. We surely rejoice, and oft is the time the camps resound with the songs of Zion, and fervent aspirations to heaven for the mercies and blessings we enjoy, and protection from the Indians—they have not molested us; indeed, we have not seen half a dozen Indians since we left Winter Quarters. The cholera it appears, has frightened them, and they have deserted the path of the white man; scores of them have already died with it, and left on the prairie, covered over with a few skins, and the wolves have come and devoured the flesh from off their bones.
Last year we requested of the merchants in Kanesville to procure good and substantial materials for wagon covers, which was wanted by the imigrants to the valley, and we expected they would procure it, and they assured us they had, and we purchased under that consideration; but be assured we have been deceived, as the material (although double), will not prevent the rain from coming through and wetting our provisions, beds, &c. We would therefore counsel our brethren, that intend making purchases of material for wagon covers for future emigrating, not to purchase any such material as that sold to us, but purchase good, substantial, glazed cloth or bed ticking.
On the 9th, inst., we passed the grave of a gold digger, and from a writing found upon the same (a copy of which we send you), we learn that it was the grave of Edward Haggard, of Askaloosa, Iowa, (of the Hawkeye company,) who died in June last.
Copy of the writing found upon the tomb, (Verbatim.)
"To any one who may read—June 7th, 1849. May known the cause. The Hawkeye company on their journey to California, to inform any one who may read this letter, that mankind whilst journeying through this world are subject to troubles, crosses, and losses, of which we, the Hawkeye company, have to say that we mourn the loss of one of our company, (to wit,) Edward Haggard, of Askaloosa, Iowa, who departed this life June 7th, 1849,—was taken ill at Loup Fork, with diarrhoea, which was the cause of ending his existence here below, we all mourn the loss of a friend, and particularly to be left in a desert land. We add nothing more.
J. SHRADE, W. G. LEE.
There was a few lines of original (in part) poetry, on his death, which our sheet will not permit us to copy. The reason why we refer so particularly to his death, the copy of the note, &c., is this, Brother Joel Terrill, last spring, purchased some ten dollars' worth of ropes, and came on from the Bluffs to the Elk Horn river, with two or three others to build a raft, that the emigrants might have a way of crossing the river without being detained on their arrival. Accordingly he built his raft, exposed to the attack of the Indians, far from the habitation of white man, &c. Shortly after, the before mentioned Hawkeye company of gold hunters, on their way to California arrived at the Horn, and demanded of Brother Terrill what the fare was for conveyance over the river; he replied, that as he came a considerable way-periled his life as it were, in an Indian country, and attended with considerable expense, trouble, &c., he thought he ought to have one dollar per wagon. They retired a short distance, and shortly after returned, and with guns glistening with bayonets, presented the same at Brother Terrill, and ordered him under the pain of death to leave his raft, which he was compelled to do. They used the raft to cross over, and took the ropes, &c., belonging to Brother Terrill along with them, without remunerating him one cent. Brother Terrill related the circumstance to G. A. Smith [George A. Smith], together with the name of the company, &c.
We have been visited with two or three severe hail storms, one took place last Friday evening, a description we copy from Elder Appleby's journal of the camp.
"August 18th.—Last evening we experienced another heavy shower. It came on just as the camps were tying up their cattle. A dark cloud had been observed for some time before, lying off south of the Platte (near by which we were encamped); after some time it appeared to separate, one part passed east of us, the other a short time after came over us, and saturated our canvas well, and made those that were tying up their cattle expedite the business, or else take the cold and large drops. However, it soon passed over, and appeared to follow the one gone east, as if to wage a battle, as both seemed prepared. After some time they appeared to meet, and both united bent their way to give the camp a round of their artillery. On they came, riding upon the wind with the speed of the lama over the prairies, roaring and rumbling, charged with electricity, the lightning flashed and presented their vivid glare trough the darkness of the night and storm; sometimes a shaft would descend to the earth, followed by rumbling and exploding peals of thunder, that caused the earth to tremble. At length they reached the camp, and as if to defeat us if we undertook to keep them at bay, they first gave us a fine drenching, (perhaps to wet our ammunition,) except those whose canvass was thick enough to repel the force of the storm. After a few minutes their batteries were opened indeed: first cannister, then grape, afterwards half-pounders, not hot shot, but cold and hard, was poured into the camp. The plains and distant hills reverberated with the sound of the artillery of heaven. The cattle being made fast, withstood the storm, without seeking for shelter, except some horses that broke loose, and loose cattle in the carrel. The guard in the midst of the battle, cried the hour as the hail fell upon them, sometimes striking them on the head, nearly stunning them, and cracking like shot or balls when striking the wagon bows, and sprinkling the inmates of the wagons when striking their canvass covering, and rebounding to the ground.
"However, after awhile, appearing to have spent their fury, they retired, leaving the camp master of the field, and a considerable quantity of their large shot lying in and around the camp, which some gathered and put in water and made a pleasant beverage. The camp after their retreat reposed in sleep, the sentinels paced the dark, and in the morning all was well; no one hurt, killed, or wounded, no cattle missing, and not an enemy lying on the battle field."
Farewell, may peace, and happiness, be and abide with you and yours, and all the Saint's, and enjoy a crown of eternal life hereafter, is the prayer of your brethren in Christ,
EZRA T. BENSON,
W. I. APPLEBY, Clerk.