Erastus Snow, "Our Correspondence," Deseret News, 5 September 1855, 8.
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UNCLE SAM'S MAIL SERVICE—THIS YEAR'S IMMIGRATION, &C.
G. S. L., Sept. 3, 1855
EDITOR OF THE NEWS—Dear Sir:—
As you and your readers are already aware that I left this city July 8, 1854, to take charge of the general affairs of the church in St. Louis and Western States, and to superintend the affairs of our emigration, I embrace this the earliest opportunity to communicate the result of my labors, and to inform the saints of the present condition and whereabouts of our emigration.
I would preface my report by saying that I had a pleasant trip over the plains last season in company with Elder Orson Spencer and others, carrying with me the United States Mail for Messrs. McGraw & Co., for which service they have as yet NEGLECTED TO PAY ME—their premise to the contrary notwithstanding.
We reached St. Louis Aug 28. The weather was excessively hot, and all Missouri literally parched up.I called a special conference on the 4th of November, and organized a Stake of Zion at that place, appointed and ordained a Presidency, High Council, bishops, &c.; for a full report of which I refer your readers to the first No. of the "St. Louis Luminary."
About the middle of November I commenced the publication of the 'Luminary' under very discouraging circumstances. But it has gradually increased and extended its circulation and influence, until its tottering, childlike steps have been superceded by the firmer and bolder tread of conscious strength and manhood; and when I left it in July last, its circulation was about 1500; and under the able management of Elder O. Spencer; who takes charge in my absence, assisted by Elder Jas. H. Hart, I trust its circulation will be greatly extended, and its blows tell for wead or woe upon both saint and sinner.
I left Mormon Grove with a light carriage and four mules in company with the mail party, Aug. 3, 2 1-2 p.m. Mail party consisted of two new vehicles, which I shall call "Concord mongrels," for they were neither carriages, coaches, nor wagons. One was named 'Brigham Young,' and the other 'Jack Jemison,' each drawn by 6 mules.—Besides the driver, was one side rider with each team, to whip up.They were heavily laden, but by feeding on buckskin, profusely mixed with oaths and curses, dealt out with damnation, they succeeded in reaching Big Blue at the usual time; at which station they found part enough animals for a change, and those in poor condition.
Pushed on to Kearney; arrived on afternoon of 9th.—Met the Salt Lake mail for July on Little Blue Aug. 8.—They had waited 12 days at Devil's Gate for an escort of soldiery from Laramie, and then went forward and met the escort about Deer creek. This mail would reach Independence about the middle of August.
Our mail party exchanged some broken down mules with them, and on reaching Kearney took the balance of the mules which they had driven down, and turned them again towards Laramie, which place they reached through increased whipping and cursing on the 17th. Left one mule on the way and with great difficulty raised a dog-trot.
I would say that we did not have any escort from Kearney, which accounts for the good time made by the party. The former practice has been to detain the mail at Kearney until about the 16th, and then send an escort so as to meet near Ash Hollow the down—coming mail with a like escort from Laramie.
This time we met Capt. Ketchum with the down coming ESCORT near Chimney Rock on the morning of the 16th; and on the NEXT DAY, some 20 miles below Laramie, we met the down going mail, whipping up to overtake the escort, which had started two days ahead of them.
On reaching Laramie, Mr. Gilky, conductor of our party, was informed that he would have to wait for the return of Capt. Ketchum's escort.
I therefore struck out to overtake a train of emigrants a little ahead, and advised the conductor to follow, which he promised to do, next day.
But I traveled with the ox train until the night of the 24th, and no mail party yet, so I left the train this side the upper ford on Platte, and arrived here during the night of the 31st ult.
Whether Capt. Ketchum has yet returned with his escort, I have not learned.
Our emigration from Europe has been unusually large during the last season, many of whom are obliged to tarry in St. Louis and along the frontiers, and others in New York, Philadelphia and Cincinnati.
The number crossing the plains may perhaps be less than that of some previous years.
The place selected for rendezvous and outfitting for the plains we christened "Mormon Grove." It is well supplied with springs and rivulets for family use; situated in the middle of a high, undulating prairie, 5 miles west of the Great Bend of the Missouri river, half way between Western and St. Joseph, 30 miles north west of Fort Leavenworth, and 1 1-2 miles east of the Salt Lake mail road. The place selected for landing nearest the 'Grove' is excellent and a good prairie road from the Levee direct to the Grove.
A new and thriving little town called Atchison is springing up at that point, the rise and growth of which is mainly attributed to our emigration. Later in the season our Utah merchants have been attracted to, and made that an outfitting point for all their late trains.
I commenced shipping emigrants from St. Louis to that point early in April, and continued to ship them as they arrived until July. Eight companies have been organized an fitted out under my superintendence, and are now on their way from 'Mormon Grove' to this place. Lists of all but the 8th company I handed to Thos. Bullock; they number all according to the reports of the several companies, two thousand and forty-six persons; three hundred and forty-four wagons and carriages; nineteen hundred and sixty-seven oxen; three hundred and forty-one cows all young stock; ninety-five horses and mules, twenty-four dogs; four hundred and thirty guns and pistols, and fourteen hundred and sixty pounds of ammunition.
This however does not embrace those families and teamsters who are with merchant trains, most of which have in part or in whole been supplied from our emigrants.
The 9th and last company of P. E. F. passengers, under the charge of Elder Milo Andrus, assisted by John S. Fullmer, and Israel Barlow, left the Grove Aug. 3rd, and Elder Bassett and myself passed them same evening 12 miles out.v The 7th company, Church train, Capt. Isaac Allred, left 31st July, and we left them 20 miles out on the morning of the 4th.
The 6th company, P. E. Fund passengers, Captain Charles A. Harper, left July 28th, and we breakfasted with them on the 5th, about 75 miles out.
The 5th company, Capt. Moses Thurston, left the Grove July 4th, and we left them at the upper Ford of the North Platte, on the evening of the 24th Aug.
The 4th company, P. E. Fund company, Capt. Richard Ballanyne, assisted by Elders [William] Glover, [William] Pitt, and Gardiner [Gardner], left the Grove July 3rd, and we overtook them this side of Laramie, and Journeyed with them to Deer Creek, where we left them on the morning of the 24th.
The 3rd company, Capt. S. [Seth] M. Blair, left June 16th; 30 out of 89 died of cholera before they were a hundred miles out, and others but included or numbered on the list, were sent from the Grove for their relief; and this company we passed on Green river, Aug. 29.
The 2nd company organized under Elder Jacob Secrist, who subsequently died of cholera on Little Blue, leaving N. T. Guyman in charge of company, left the Grove June 11th, and we passed them at Fort Bridger, on the 20th of Aug.
The 1st company, Capt John Hindley, left June 7th, and we passed them on the Weber Aug. 31st.
I am happy to be able to say that all the companies were in general good health, and moving prosperously and harmoniously, and their stock doing well. We met most of the relief teams with provisions at Bridger.
Hooper & Williams 3d train of Merchandize was about starting from Atchison when we left; their 2d we passed on Big Blue; their 1st on Bear river during the night of the 30th.
Messrs. Livingston, Kinkead & Co.'s 3d train we passed on Muddy creek, 45 miles out on the 4th Aug. Their 2d beyond Big Blue on the 6th.
We passed and met a great number of government trains going to and from Forts Laramie and Kearney.
The Sioux were all off the road except a few of the Ogalallahs bout Ward & Guerrier's. Saw a few Pawnees on Little Blue. The Cheyennes were at Laramie receiving their annuities. Saw a few Arrappahoes' at Platte Bridge. Traders all along the road were badly frightened, and all from below were moving to Laramie or to the States, and those above; as far as Devil's Gate, were preparing to move down when the next escort came up.
Mr. Kerr and others recently from this city, were stopping at Seminoe's Fort waiting for the escort.
Seven companies of regulars, 5 of infantry, and 2 of Dragoons were at Kearney preparing for a sixty days campaign, and about the same number at and about Laramie. It was understood that the expedition would be directed towards the Missouri where the Sioux warriors were supposed to be gathering.
The Agent from Laramie had sent for them to come in and settle, and have a talk and receive their annuities, but they had not come and it was thought they would not. The troops awaited the arrival of General Harney who was soon expected from Leavenworth.
Beyond Laramie we had plenty of rain, but this side of the country was dry, water scarce, and feed but indifferent.