Hart, James H., "From Our St. Louis Correspondent," The Mormon, 22 Mar. 1856, 2.
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ST. LOUIS, March 12, 1856.
PRESIDENT TAYLOR—Dear Sir : I have been waiting some time to get something new or novel to communicate, but finding so very little new under the winter sun, I must necessarily content myself with writing a few common-place matters, which, in absence of the brilliant and marvellous, may find a place in your interesting MORMON. The good people of St. Louis have been frozen up for two or three months, as you are already aware. The weather has been more severe during the past winter than for many years previous; very many have been thrown out of work through the inclement season, but the more favored citizens have liberally donated of their means to the poor, and upon the whole I think there has been as little suffering in the city of St. Louis as in any city in the country with the same amount of population, with the exception of Utah; and I presume the Saints have had less suffering in the whole Territory than what has been experienced in the most favored hamlet in the nation. There was a great deal said and written last fall about a famine in Utah, and some of our editorial philanthropists prophesied that the "Mormons in Utah" would be reduced to the condition of the "digger Indians," and saw them in prospective living upon roots and grasshoppers. These writers evidently thought so, for when the mails arrive, and they hear that none are yet starved to death, nor reduced to the condition of "Digger Indians," they send disconsolately to each other the doleful tidings—"No news of importance from Utah." It would appear from the dispatches of His Excellency Governor Young that they have not only enough to supply the demand in the Territory, but to supply the P. E. Fund Emigration with all they may need next season from Fort Laramie to the Valley. The last dispatches from Salt Lake quote flour at $6.00 per hundred pounds; wheat at $2.00 per bushel; corn at $1.50 per bushel; which are certainly not to be considered as starving prices.
During the winter the Eastern mails have been very irregular, and the Western mails have been entirely out of the question. THE MORMON has come to hand pretty regular, and has been a welcome visitor; but the Star, of England, has not dawned upon us since the dark and dreary days of December. About two weeks ago Elder Preston Thomas, by a desperate effort, effected an entrance into our city from sunny Texas by way of Orleans, since which time the elements have become less frigid, the Mississippi, as though impatient of restraint, has burst its icy fetters; and after a few days' dashing and crashing, raging and foaming, has opened our port for navigation, which has caused our capitalists, merchants, steamboat men, and laborers in general, to smile again with hope and satisfaction. This breaking up of the ice was caused by the sudden rising of the Missouri River, which, emptying itself into the Mississippi, heaved up the consolidated mass, and bore it forward in its resistless current, dashing its huge icebergs against boats, barges, and steamers, sinking some, shattering others, and spreading general devastation around. Our levee presented a most melancholy and impressing scene; the entire line of steamers were either badly injured or borne down the river. Eleven were sunk, and a great number were destroyed. But a few days have elapsed, and we have a fleet of steamboats at our levee from various places, and all is again bustle and activity.
The Danish and Italian Saints, in charge of Elder Peterson, arrived here on Saturday, the 1st inst. They were soon scattered in various parts of the city, and are generally healthy and strong, and rejoicing in the ministrations of their brethren.
Elder [Preston] Thomas left us on the 4th inst., after a very agreeable visit of sixteen days. He took with him a small company of brethren and sisters to assist the Texas emigration in the capacity of teamsters, herdsmen, cooks, dairywomen, &c. The Judge's bland and agreeable manners so won upon the people here that he might easily have gathered as large a company from St. Louis as he has got in Texas.
We have a general time of health among the brethren throughout this Stake. I expect there will be a general moving of the waters about the time of emigration by the St. Louis Saints. The spirit of gathering is dominant with all the faithful, who are willing to adopt any means of transit that may be prescribed for their translation. But there are some who have prayed a thousand times for the wings of a dove, to flee to Zion and be at rest; who elevate their nasal organ with disdain at the idea of engaging in the "Hand-cart Locomotive." There are others, however, who regard it in prospective as the most eligible and independent mode of travelling, and aspire to an association with this company as the most honorable undertaking. And some of the sisters, too, have volunteered as operatives in this new order, which must necessarily make this means of travelling both desirable and popular. It may be presumed from this that the peculiar institution of the people of Utah is not so particularly objectionable to the ladies as might be imagined. If they will thus undertake a journey across the plains, risk themselves among wolves and hostile Indians, with this modest means of transit, and on arriving at their place of destination be ready to say—even seven to one man—"We will eat our own bread, wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach," it certainly speaks in favor of the Deseretians and the patriarchal order of marriage, and correspondingly deprecates the monogamic and adulterous systems of the Gentiles, from whose blighting and pestiferous association they are thus emancipated.
The weather is still extremely cold. Frost and snow are the order of the day, with but very little variation. We hope to have your company at the St. Louis Conference on the 6th of April.
Hoping you are well, I remain yours, truly,