"Fourteenth General Epistle," Deseret News, 10 December 1856, 313-14.
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FOURTEENTH GENERAL EPISTLE
OF THE PRESIDENCY OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS, TO THE SAINTS IN THE VALLEYS OF THE MOUNTAINS, AND THOSE SCATTERED ABROAD THROUGHOUT THE EARTH—GREETING:—
This season's operations have demonstrated that the Saints, being filled with faith and the Holy Ghost, can walk across the plains, drawing their provisions and clothing on hand carts. The experience of this season will of course help us to improve in future operations; but the plan has been fairly tested and proved entirely successful. The entire trip from Iowa city, a distance of over thirteen hundred miles, to this city has been thus accomplished in less traveling days than it has ever been by an ox train of wagons and with far greater ease to the travelers. These companies, with the exception of the two last, which started too late in the season, have made the trip from the Missouri river in a little over two months, and could have made it in less time, had they not been hindered by the few ox teams which accompanied them. Herein have our expectations been realized, and the usual vast expense and trouble attending this branch of business been in a good degree avoided.
The accounts of this year's operations not yet being completed, we are at present unable to state the precise amount of expenditure incurred per passenger; but we know that it must be far less than heretofore, and may still be lessened in future.
The Saints who have come in this way have been healthier, more contented and happier, and have encountered less trouble and vexation that those with teams; and have, moreover, manifested to the world their faith, perseverance and good works.
They have showed a willingness to have others as well as themselves assisted, by using as little as possible of the Company's means for their own emigration. They have manifested a disposition to accede to any terms, so that their emigration might be accomplished without impeding that of anxious thousands looking to the same source for relief.
Although, in the first instance, drawing laden hand carts so long a distance appeared to some difficult to be accomplished by the brethren and especially by the sisters, yet the result has proved that it is [?]ull as easy as and indeed easier than that method hitherto practiced; and the women endured the trip quite as well, in comparison, as the men.
We have taken pains to collect the facts upon this subject, as it was an experiment this season.—The enterprise, having proved so eminently successful, will in future enter largely into all our emigrating operations.
Let the Saints take courage and avail themselves of the privilege of gathering to this place while the way is open before them, for the time will come when whoso would gather to Zion must needs flee with his budget upon his shoulder, or under his arm. Verily, they will come like flocks of doves to the windows, comparatively bare and naked, without food or clothing, escaping, as it were by the skin of their teeth, from the righteous indignation of an offended Deity poured out upon and passing over a wicked and adulterous generation.
While we, therefore, feel to congratulate ourselves and our brethren and sisters upon the happy issue of this experiment, we wish to direct our agents and others concerned to a few suggestions, drawn from this season's experience, by way of improvement.
In the first place our emigration must start earlier in the season, and the necessary arrangements must be made and completed by the time they arrive on the western frontier, and no company must be permitted to leave the Missouri river later than the first day of July.
They must be provided with stronger hand carts, and endeavor so to arrange as to have the burden upon each cart vary as little as possible during the journey. Than starting with such heavy loads and lightening them up so soon, it would be better to start with lighter loads and gradually increase them, as the brethren become more accustomed to the labor. This might be accomplished by sending out a few teams with provisions, a few days in advance of the companies, to be taken on the hand carts as they come up, when the teams could return.
All emigrants should provide themselves with an extra supply of good shoes.
The hub or nave of the cart wheels should be 8 inches long and 7 inches through in the center. The boxes at the shoulder should be 2 1/4 inches and the point boxes 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
If it should be considered best to have cast iron arms, they should be 1 1/4 inches thick at the shoulder and 3/4 inch at the point. The wooden axles should have iron or steel skeins, and the wheels should be bound with band iron 1/4 or 3/8 inch in thickness, with a dish of 2 inches and track 4 feet apart. The timber must be of the best quality for toughness, and be well seasoned in other respects they may be constructed as heretofore.
The very aged and infirm should be brought in wagons, in a separate train.
On account of their greater experience, let good, faithful Elders from this Territory have charge of the companies. By observing these suggestions it is believed that, with one four or six mule team to each two hundred persons, the emigration will be much facilitated at a still lessened expense.
We had the pleasure, at our October Conference, of meeting with our brethren Franklin D. Richards, Daniel Spencer, John Van Cott, George D. Grant and others of the returned missionaries who had been long absent, from whom we learned the condition and situation of our immigrating companies still upon the plains.
We immediately took effective measures for sending them such aid and assistance as, owing to the lateness of the season, they should require to enable them to reach these valleys, before the snow of winter should block their way and render their progress impossible. This was the first business which engrossed the attention of the Conference, and has since absorbed almost the entire attention of many of our citizens. But little has been done except to forward teams and assistance to their relief, and yet they have not all arrived, though the remainder are expected in a few days.
To companies immigrating to this place we wish to say a word, by way of counsel. Move every day, even if it is but a few miles; that is far better than tarrying in one camping place—On the Sabbath, after meeting and resting during a portion of the day, it will generally be better to make a short march. Move on every day, if you wish to accomplish your journey in due season.
Absolute necessity may justify stopping a few days in a place, but that will but rarely occur and should be avoided so far as possible. It is far better, for both the teams and people, to keep traveling, until the journey is fully accomplished. The through emigration will be conducted by our traveling agents under the general direction of the agent presiding in Liverpool, from which place it starts, but will receive that aid and co-operation of our agents presiding in New York and St. Louis. All other emigration will be received and disposed of by our agent in the United States.It is desirable to make a few locations along the line of travel, and our agents at Florence and St. Louis have been instructed in relation thereto.We trust, therefore, that the brethren and sisters will be sufficiently mindful of the general interests of the cause of Zion to readily respond to our wishes and the requirements of our agents who are entrusted with these matters. Any material departure from the spirit of these instructions will be considered cause for disfellowship from the church or suspension from office.