Thomas, Preston "Correspondence of Judge Thomas," The Mormon, 21 June 1856, 2.
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- Preston Thomas Company (1856)
En route for Utah.
CHOCKTOW NATION, Southside
Canadian River, May 25, 1856.
To the Editor of the MORMON:—
DEAR SIR,—I take up my pen to inform you and (through the columns of your paper) our numerous friends, of our whereabouts, progress, &c. We left our encampment on Matagarda, on the 7th of April, and since that time have every day continued our travels except Sundays and three other days. We are six hundred and seventy-five miles from our starting place. We crossed the Colerado river at Lagrange, the Brazos at Waco, the Trinity at Dallas, and Red river at Preston. For three weeks we had very rainy weather, in the northern part of Texas, during which we were wallowing in the black Prairie mud, which greatly retarded our progress. We were hindered two days by high water, and one day in waiting for the Saints to join us from Washington County. We were joined by one family of Saints from the Guadaloupe valley on the 12th of April, and by the Saints from Washington Co. on the 21st. When we arrived near the place of rendezvous for the Saints on the St. Gabriel's river we found they were gone; on our arrival in Ellis Co. we found Bro. [Benjamin L.] Clapp with his party were gone about three weeks previous, and the Saints from the St. Gabriel had joined his party; when we crossed Red river we were informed they were just two weeks ahead, and when we arrived here, we were informed by the Indians they were about eight days ahead; so it seems we are gaining on them; what route they propose going I am not correctly informed. Sometimes I learn from travelers they design going up the Arkansas river, and then again that they are going up by Atchison, and the Platt [Platte] routes.
We have at present thirty-four persons and eight wagons in camp. Br. John Ostler travaled with us from the Southern coast as far as Dallos [Dallas] County, and then returned to join the Elders in Ellis Co. He is a good and wise man, and rendered us very great service whilst with us. The Saints became so attached to him that the whole camp deeply regretted his leaving us to go back, and he likewise desired to go home this year; but when he learned of his appointment by the Texas Conference to stay another year, he seemed reconciled to stay and labor another season in Texas.
Whilst we were passing through Ellis Co., Bro. Homer Duncan and Bro. Snedaker paid us a visit in camp, and spent a night with us; the hearts of the Saints were cheered up by a discourse from each; they had been laboring with considerable success in that part of Texas; about fifteen persons had been baptized, and a pretty fair prospect of others following their example. Bro. Duncan informed me that he had many calls for preaching. Bro. William Moody had gone to Eastern Texas; these seem to be all the Elders now in that State.
Our camp moves along very harmoniously; we have not had a jar since we started; almost no sickness. The hearts of the Saints rejoice from day to day, and the vast prairies and groves are made to reverberate with the songs of Zion as the Saints journey along through the Indian lands. No serious accident has befallen us, and truly the hand of the Lord has been with us for good.
The Canadian river is the boundary between the Chockton and Creek nations of Indians. This morning a notable Creek Indian came into camp, and I had a good deal of conversation with him; on his learning who we were he invited me to preach to his people this afternoon. I consented, and he has gone away to assemble his friends.
It is Sunday to-day, and the whole camp, animals and all, seem to enjoy the rest, after a hard week's travel. I always rest on Sundays, and dedicate the day to rest and worship of Almighty God, but never rest on other days, except some unavoidable circumstance interfere. We feel that we have a long journey before us, and it will take a long time, with a great deal of exertion and industry to accomplish it; but I hardly think my old friends with whom I have often crossed the plains, will charge me with not using sufficient diligence. We are now some 45 miles below Fort Gibson, and expect to pass that fort on the third day from this, where we hope to receive letters and papers from many of our friends. For some time we have had no news from any quarter, only what we could gather from the Indians and an occasional traveler whom we have met. The latest MORMON that I have seen bears date 22d March, and the latest dates from Utah, was some time in January. Judging from the clouds of grasshoppers we have seen for the last three hundred miles, our friends in Utah can have none this year; for they must have all emigrated to this country.
I ask your indulgence for drawing so largely upon your columns, in publishing so long a letter, and also the privilege to publish another, with a list of all the names of the Saints in camp when we leave the Frontier.
May Heaven's choicest blessings rest upon you, and crown your labors in New York with complete success; and may we be gathered to our mountain homes in safety, with all scattered Saints, and stand at last in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, is the prayer of your devoted Brother in the New and Everlasting Covenant.