Snow, Erastus, "Correspondence of President Erastus Snow," The Mormon, 27 Sep. 1856, 2-3.
STEMER POLAR STAR, Missouri River,
Sept. 15, 1856.
PREST. JOHN TAYLOR—Dear Bro:—I am now returning to St. Louis from Florence, N. T., whither I have been to take a farewell of Prest. F. D. Richards, and the other returning missionaries, and to assist in closing the emigration business of this season.
The last company of emigrants with handcarts left Florence on the 26th ultimo, under the charge of Elder [Edward] Martin, and the last ox train of emigrants left same place Sept. 2d, under Capt. [John A.] Hunt. Elder William Walker's freight train of extra baggage was yet at Council Bluffs when I left on the 11th. I fear the emigrants who enter Salt Lake Valley this fall will not see their extra baggage before another year, although Bro. Walker is intending to push forward as far as he can. I accompanied the brethren of the "Swiftsure Train" beyond the Elkhorn River, where I parted from them on the 5th inst. It consisted of four carriages and three light wagons, hauled by four mules each.
Notwithstanding the hurry and bustle of starting off the last companies and closing up the complicated business of the season, it was a joyful termination of the laborious summer work, and a happy meeting with those faithful men of God who after long years of separation from home and kindred dear, and faithful toil and labor in foreign lands, are now about to be released from their labors, and rest themselves while they journey across the plains.
May the choice blessings of Israel's God whom they serve abide upon them, and speed them on their way to the embrace of their anxious and loving families and friends. May they ever live in the affections of the Saints of God, and the memory of their noble deeds never perish.
So far as is yet known the experiment with hand-carts is likely to succeed quite as well as the most ardent advocate of the measure could have anticipated.
At our latest advices the advance companies were in the region of Fort Laramie, and all were in excellent health and spirits moving on finely and far outstripping the ox train.
A most melancholy and distressing affair was reported in my hearing at Florence on the 8th inst., by a party of Californians just arrived from the plains.
[President Snow relates what we have written elsewhere of the massacre on the plains.]
The men who brought this information said they met Col. Babbitt (who left Florence with a mule team a week behind his train), on Wood River, a few days after the massacre.
Florence is a flourishing town, alive with business, and houses rising all around as if by magic. 'Tis a beautiful place, and is withal an excellent outfitting point.
I left Elder Andrew Cunningham to preside over the Saints there and in western Iowa. I organized a Branch at Florence, and near fifty had already renewed their covenants by baptism before I left them. He will start soon with a party of men to make claims on the western limits of the Omaha Purchase in the region of the Loup Fork.
It is to be hoped that sufficient number of faithful energetic brethren will report themselves to him early in April, or before, to form companies for settlements between there and the mountains.
Our Conference will come off on the 6th proximo in St. Louis. We should be happy to enjoy the benefit of your presence and wise counsel in our midst, if consistent with your other duties.
I remain your brother in Christ,