Latey, J. H., "Correspondence from the Camp at Florence," The Mormon, 30 Aug. 1856, 2.
FLORENCE, N. T., Aug. 14, 1856.
ELDER J. TAYLOR—Dear Bro : Knowing you, as well as the Saints generally, feel a lively interest in the gathering of Israel, prompts me to write a few lines to let you know a little of the emigration at this point. Bro. T. Woolley intended writing to you, but I believe he has not done so, and as he has left here for Atchison to cross with Bishop A. O. Smoot's train, I will endeavor to give you the information he intended. The first, second, and third companies of independent emigrants, with their ox teams, left this camp with, in all, about 175 wagons, 1050 head of cattle, and 800 souls; they rolled out in right good spirits, rejoicing in their emancipation from gentile bondage, and with the flattering prospect of speedily testing the sweets of liberty in the bee-hive State of Deseret. Good health has universally prevailed in our midst, and I am happy to be able to state that very few deaths have to be recorded. We feel to acknowledge the hand of our God in preserving us from sickness and death. Among the 800, above referred to, were two deaths, both Danish brethren; they died from disease contracted in the old county. Elders Grant and Kimball, whom you appointed to purchase cattle for the emigration this season, have brought up several hundred head, and as far as I know or can learn have given general satisfaction in the discharge of their laborious duties.
The first and second companies of emigrants by hand carts, under the care of Captains Edmund Elsworth [Ellsworth] and David D. McArthur, assisted by Elders J. Oakley, William Butler, Truman Leonard, and S. W. [Spicer Wells] Crandall, piloted by Elder Joseph France, who acted as agent and Commissary, arrived in Camp on the 17th of July, in fine health and spirits, (singing, as they came along, Elder J. D. S. [John Daniel Thompson] McAllister's noted hand cart song—"Some must push and some must pull," &c.) One would not think that they had come from Iowa City, a long and rough journey of from 275 to 300 miles, except by their dust—stained garments and sunburned faces. My heart is gladdened as I write this, for methinks I see their merry countenances and buoyant step, and the strains of the hand cart song seems ringing in my ears like sweet music heard at eventide or in a dream.
The first company had among its number the Birmingham Band, and though but young performers, they played really very well—far superior to anything to be found this far west. In giving you this discription of the feelings of the first companies, I give you in effect the feelings of the whole. This is the bright side of the pictures, and is of those who may really be called Latter Day Saints; who have in continual remembrance the covenants they have made; who obey counsel, and may really be called Saints of the Most High God. There are others—for I have seen both sides of the picture—who are apt to forget the God who has delivered them from their gentile chains and task masters, and are allured by fine promises and high wages; others there are whose faith is not of that nature to stand the trials they are called upon to undergo, and back out from five to fifty in a company of 300; but the mirth of the one kind does not interfere with the gloom of the other; or, vice versa, each one does what suits him best. Those weak in the faith soon find those who will make them weaker; those who have backed out before them come up with their long faces, smooth words, and melancholy tone, prating away their words of comfort (?), and if they will only go away with them there is no end of the money and comfort they are going to have, and a team, ONLY NEXT SPRING, to ride in and go to the Valley. I will say that these apostates, who give their time, and horses, and wagons, to pick up the wavering, are right zealous, and I thought if they were only as zealous in assisting the widow and the orphan, instead of those who are already cared for, they would be driving a good team; but it is all right, the sort that are led away from the line of their duty by such spurious promises and oily tongues—well never mind that—are not wanted in the Valley, and by staying here they save themselves two journeys—one to Utah and one back.
I am prolonging my letter longer than I had any idea of, and will shorten it as much as possible by just giving you dates of arrival and departure of companies; and as I have before said the companies are much alike; they do not need separate descriptions. The first hand cart company (Capt. Ellsworth's [Ellsworth's]) left the ground on Thursday, July 16th; went out three and a half miles and camped; on the 20th I went out to settle up with Capt. Elsworth [Ellsworth], and saw them start off in good earnest to the tune of "Some must push," &c., (cant move without that.)
The second company (Capt. D. [Daniel] D. McArthur's) started on July 24th, being the anniversary of the entry of the Pioneers into the Valley, and was rendered more memorable to that company from their exodus from winter quarters. The third company, under care of Capt. Edward Bunker, were nearly all Welshmen; they arrived on the 19th of July, and set out on their journey across the plains on the 30th. The fourth company, Capt. J. [James] G. Willie, President, assisted by Elders [Millen] Atwood, [Levi] Savage, Abinansen, [William] Woodward, and [John] Chislett, moved on the ground on the 11th August; part of the company moves out a mile or two to-day, and the remainder go on on Monday. The companies stay here longer than they otherwise would in consequence of their carts being unfit for their journey across the plains; some requiring new axles, and the whole of them having to have a piece of iron screwed on to prevent the wheel from wearing away the wood.
Another company—perhaps of hand carts—have yet to arrive from Iowa City, in addition to the wagon companies. I will, if I have time and opportunity, give you an account of these companies. I will now conclude by wishing you every good thing, and that you may be preserved in health and strength is the prayer of
J. H. LATEY.