Spencer, Daniel, Letter, Salt Lake City [Utah] to Brother Grove, 1848 Oct. 5.
Great Salt Lake Valley,
Salt Lake City, Oct. 5, 1848
It having been some time since I have heard anything from you and having spent about one year in this valley I think that a few lines from me may be somewhat interesting. As you have probably heard from us since our departure from Nauvoo, I shall not be as particular as I otherwise should. I will say, however, that we started on the 14th day of February, 1846 from Nauvoo by compulsion as it were,
as it were, as we had orders not to be seen at that place after the first of May following: The consequences of our staying if we had done so has been demonstrated by the conduct of the mobs toward our brethren who were not able to remove until that time. Immediately after we started from our homes, which were quite comfortable, the weather was quite cold and a heavy snow storm came on, th at<e> snow falling deep. We all had to camp out, some with, and some without tents, and having to cook in the rain and snow, and to lodge on the damp ground or in our wagons which leaked much. You will see that we were much exposed, in consequence of which Catharine, Orson's wife lost her life, as did Mary Spencer, and D. Hendrix' wife; many others suffering much then, and death and disease being fastened upon others which showed when we arrived at Council Bluffs, or what we called Winter Quarters, for our people died by hundreds during the next winter. When we left we had not time to dispose of our land or property, and as our means to start with was small, we concluded to return and dispose of our houses and land for something to aid us on our journey. Accordingly brother Hiram and Claudius went back to sell our farms and houses, and they succeeded in getting an offer for a small part of their value principally in cattle, and they some hundreds of miles from Nauvoo. They went in pursuit of them in the month s of July. They had about 100 head quite wild, and after they started them they found our enemies were determined to steal them. As you know, that brother Hiram is quite cautious and persevering, he attempted to escape them, and did so by driving night and day and misguiding those that pursued them in the way they were going. Thus by fatigue, and want of sleep, he lost his life; and Claudius' was despaired of for many days. Thus have many of our relatives suffered martyrdom by the hands of mobocrats who were sustained by the hands of mobocrats who were sustained by the authorities of the State in which it has been done. And for what? What has Hiram's or Orson's or Daniel Spencer's family done contrary to the laws of our country? Or what have we in any way upheld others in doing? I leave that question to you, who are well acquainted with us all, to answer. After suffering much we at length arrived at the Bluffs, where we spent the winter, spending most of our time in waiting upon the sick and dead. We lost some 30 or 40 head of cattle at this place by Indians and other causes.
On the 18th of June, 1847, we started for the Rocky Mountains, in company with about 600 wagons, all that could fit out that season. Brother Hirams' family and our own had about 60 head of cattle and horses; 7 wagons with calculated provisions for one year. We took a westerly course up the Platte river, traveling on a level bottom from one to ten miles in width, plenty of feed, but little wood; and most of the country abounding in antelope and buffalo. The later quite numerous so much so, that many times the herds of them would extend farther than your eyes could behold. Being quite tame they served us for meat of the best kind. We continued up this river about 450 miles to what is called Fort John or Laramie on the Laramie river. Our travel was upon the northside of the Platte, being a new route most of the way and very good. After we arrived at the Fort we left the Platte and came into the mountainous country; feed and timber were scarce, as were also buffalo. We continued a westerly course until we arrived at what is called Fort Bridger, passing over the Rocky Mountains and deep ravines and canyons about 450 miles farther. This is an Indian trading house occupied by a man by the name of Bridger, who says he has been here about 18 years; has many Indians about him and pretends to have much power over them. From there we left what is called the California trail and bore more to the south, traveled about 100 miles and arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake all in good health and spirits.
Having spent about four months on the way, arrived the 23rd September, not losing a hoof of cattle or horses during our journey; but this was not the case with many others; many cattle were lost on our journey. This valley is about 25 by 50 miles; climate last winter much like Massachusetts; the soil quite rich, as it is all made ground from the wash of the hills, which are quite high on all sides and covered with perpetual snow, it is extremely well watered with good water and plenty of mill sites. About two miles from this place is a warm spring bursting up from beneath a mountain, the water as warm as common dish water. About two miles from this Spring is another much hotter, so much so that a person cannot hold his finger in it longer than to count thirty, it means instant death for any live thing that gets into it. These waters are sulphuric and within a few rods of the hottest one there is a cold spring of beautiful cold water quite pleasant to drink. Twenty miles distant is a Salt lake which will yield about one gallon of salt to five of water. On its shores there is plenty of coarse salt, good for all purposes except table use; that we have to boil. The wild grass <that grows> here is rather coarse on the worst of the land, the upland more fine. It has been said by travelers that there never was rain in this valley, but since we have been here it has been tolerably plenty, but not so much so but that we have had to irrigate our land in order to raise our grain. Last winter our herds lived by running at large. Between our mountains in our canyons there is plenty of timber, stone etc. We have not been able as yet to find iron or coal, but we have found gold. We have raised about 100 bushels of wheat, and some 300 bushels of corn this season with other crops common to other countries sufficient for the inhabitants of the valley. The climate is very healthy, the most so of any I was ever in, not excepting old Massachusetts. We have all been well since we came here. Bro. Orson left us and his family for England in the fall of 1846. His family are here in good health. We are here surrounded by Indians, many of the tribes quite numerous and powerful, but all have called upon us, and we have smoked the pipe of peace with them, they expressing much pleasure in our homing here. The ground we occupy is disputed ground by them, but they all appear willing that we should remain here in peace. We have just received a visit from the Ute tribe, who brought about 500 horses for sale; many we purchased for one blanket, some for a gun a piece, <they were> very good horses. Last week a company of the Mormon Battalion arrived from California, who have discovered near Francisco bay a gold mine, from which they procured several thousand dollars in a few days; getting from $2 to $20.00, per day; common wages worth $50.00 per day. This mine is no doubt the richest in North America, or almost anywhere else, I have written but a small part of what I wish, but as my paper is all but occupied I must close by wishing you to write me on the receipt of this. Direct your letter to Great Salt Lake Valley, Salt Lake City, by way of Austin's Post Office, Atchison country near Hunsaker's Ferry, Missouri. If you have anything from Gunnison country since the death of Electa write us as we have nothing since. My best wishes to your wife and all the little ones. I should be pleased to see you at this place, but I do not expect it as you could not visit us at Nauvoo I shall not expect it here.