Robbins, Alex, Jr., [Letter to the editor], Deseret News [Weekly], 28 May 1856, 92.
Dear Sir:—You will see by the above that I am at Burlington, terminus of the railroad by which a portion (one hundred and nineteen adults, and a number of "bairns," of the Mormon immigrant passengers, per ship J. J. Boyd, have, with one exception arrived in safety.
I left New York on Saturday, the 23d ult, one week ago to-day, for the West, two days after the J. J. Boyd's company had left for the same destination, by the New York and Erie Railroad. By traveling on the express train, I overtook the company at White Pigeon. After settling up some arrearages, according to your instructions, and making arrangements with Capt. Peterson as to the course to be pursued in Chicago in separating the company, &c., I again took the express train, arriving in Chicago the same evening (26th.) Owing to a heavy gale that came on from the north that evening, the snow was banked up along the track to the depth of one or two feet, preventing the immigrant train and two others from coming in until they had fought through snow for about thirty-six hours, within eleven miles of Chicago. During the detention of the train one man Jens Johnson, somewhat aged and infirm, died, and was buried near the place.
On the 28th, the emigration train having arrived in the morning, we separated the passengers and baggage, some two hundred adults taking the cars for St. Louis, with Bro. Peterson, and one hundred and eighteen for Burlington, which I have placed in charge of Bro. Christian Christianson.
Bro. Christiansen has been very efficient and assiduous in getting places to make his countrymen and brethren comfortable, and has succeeded well, and I think those who have come here will soon do well. Work is going to be abundant here this Spring, and these are just the kind of men that can do it. They seem to have a natural aversion to idleness, a constant desire to be actively engaged at something. They are hale and robust, and if they continue so, are bound to make their mark along these Western prairies somewhere, if not all the way, between the Mississippi river and Nevada Mountains of California.
I wish to refer briefly to the manner of treatment our people have received along the road. On the whole, it has been pretty good, and in some instances better than could have been expected, taking into consideration the prejudices of people generally with regard to Mormons and Mormonism. I think my experience for the last year or two in the States, will warrant my saying that there is nothing like the amount of prejudice now existing in the public mind towards that people that existed a few years ago, notwithstanding their advocacy of that "horrible old primitive doctrine of plurality of wives." When the train containing our people arrived at Dunkirk, (I was afterwards informed) a circumstance occurred rather to disturb the equanimity of the Danes just at the time, but their anxiety soon subsided. I learned of Mr. Cornell, Mr. Weed's railroad agent who was there present, that the Captain of a ship, now living at New York (a Dane) hearing that his sister whom he had not seen for eighteen years, had passed on to the West in this company from Denmark, proceeded immediately to overtake her, by taking the express train to Dunkirk. He got there before his sister and made arrangements to take her forcibly from the train so soon as it should arrive. This he did. I am informed by those on the train, very much against her will; by others, however, I have been told that so soon as she was sure it was her brother, she was willing to return with him to New York.
If the latter is correct, and it was her free will and choice to go with her brother, it is perfectly right that she should; if, however she was forced to that alternative against her own will by an infatuated person, though he may have been her brother, (and I believe he was) her friends in the company had good reason to be indignant. With the girl was taken also an adopted child of the girl's parents. The mother of the girl died on the ship while crossing the sea.
I called at Mr. Burr's office in Buffalo and received many attentions from him and all connected with the agency of the South Shore Railroad. Mr. B. was courteous and kind, rendering me every information and assistance in the prosecution of my business. I am likewise under obligation to Mr. Ritchie of the Erie Railroad, for his interest and attention while journeying from New York to Buffalo. Mr. Darling, superintendent of the St. Louis Railroad at Chicago, and Col. Hammond, Superintendent of the Burlington Railroad, were equally attentive, and I am happy to inform you, did everything to facilitate and render comfortable this emigration.
I shall leave for St. Louis via Chicago on the 3d instant, from which place I hope to communicate with you.
ALEX ROBBINS, JR.