"The Mormons," New York Daily Times, 30 Sept. 1857.
- Related Companies
- Company Unknown (1857)
Interesting Letters from Mormon Elders.
Mormon Life on the Plains—On the Way to Utah—The "Saints" in Scandinavia.
President JOHN TAYLOR, formerly editor of the Mormon, now in Utah, sends back a letter descriptive of the life of the Mormons on the Plains, which we are permitted to publish. President Young is laboring with the "Saints" in Denmark, and gives an account of the progress of Mormonism there, in a communication which we also publish below:
CAMP, 11 MILES WEST OF ANCIENT BLUFF RUINS, BANK OF PLATTE RIVER.
As we are resting here for a short time, (a luxury we do not much enjoy on this route,) I embrace the opportunity of again addressing you a few lines, and, through you, my Mormon friends. Since the departure of our escort our company has been considerably diminished, and now consists of twelve souls all told; one of whom is a lady, and another a small boy,—rather weak, you will acknowledge, to pass through this country with; but the Cheyenne Indians, the only party we could now dread, are, we are informed, driven by the military to the head-waters of the Caw River. The Sioux, or whom we have seen nothing as yet, are peaceable. We are now in their country. We can meet with nothing, therefore, except some twenty men who are on a Government Surveying Expedition; some of whom, we are informed, are composed of McGRAW's ruffians, who attempted to murder Mr. JAMES GAMELL in Independence, Mo.,—and he owed his escape probably to the fact that they were too drunk to shoot straight, for he informs us that he had as many as fifty shots fired at him. We have been informed that this party have threatened what they will do if they meet us on the route; but as there are only twenty of them, and ten of us, we ask no odds, but feel ourselves perfectly safe. Ruffians are generally cowards.
The country through which we have passed for the last two hundred miles is generally well watered with streams issuing from the bluffs and would make a good farming country, provided there was timber and fuel. The first could be supplied by railroad, the second, perhaps, by coal; this of course is yet untried. Above Fort Kearney it will all have to be watered. If the above named streams were insufficient, the water in some places might be taken from the Platte. It may not be uninteresting to you to describe our traveling company. As I before said, we are twelve in number, and have four vehicles, which travel and camp in the following order. The first is a common, light two-horse wagon, drawn by four horses, or rather two mules and two horses, the body of which is used as chariot chamber, or upper sleeping apartment, storehouse saloon, sitting room, baggage-waggon, &c, &c There is a box in front, the lid of which is taken off at meal times, and is put on the ground and called a table-a dining table, of course for six of us eat off it, or at it, or beside it, according to circumstances. The box itself contains knives, forks, spoons, sugar, cheese, pepper, vinegar, crackers, coffee, tea, kettles, pans, and more fixings than DEAN SWIFT ever found in his cook's drawer. The under story of the wagon, or more properly the ground floor, is occupied by two horsemen, who spread a buffalo robe on the ground, and cover themselves sometimes with blankets, feeling as happy as sheep in clover. I room with the captain in the upper story. Next in order is a vehicle, [illegible] a barouche, to which I hold claim. This is fixed also for a sleeping apartment; the front seat is removable, and it is so arranged that the cushions form part of the bed. GEORGE and a boy sometimes occupy it; but in general they prefer sleeping on the ground. The hind part has a rack on which is strapped a provision-box, bedding, lariat, ropes, &c Inside and under the seats every variety of traveling concern is stowed away, and every crack and cranny filled; half of the front is occupied by two valises, the other half by GEORGE, who drives three long-eared hybrids, which in common parlance are called mules; ours is what is named a spike team, one in front and two behind. I occupy part of the hind part; a carpet-bag, umbrella, two Colt's revolvers, one Sharp's pistol, one Sharp's rifle, a spy-glass and bowie knife, and several other articles lay claim to the other. An India-rubber coat, double barrelled shot gun, revolver, powder and ball, flasks, and sundry other articles have a preemption in GEORGE's other half seat, and a cheese is stowed underneath.
Next comes ERASTUS SNOW's vehicle, a light iron-axled wagon, with springs under the seats inside, built expressly, and admirably adapted for the journey. It is light and roomy; made by Mr. ESPENCHILD, of St. Louis, and is drawn by two horses and two mules, and occupied by three persons, ERASTUS SNOW, ANDREW CUNNINGHAM and WILLIAM MARTINDALE. The fourth and last is a very light one-horse wagon, neatly fitted up and occupied by DUSTIN AMI and lady, who have been East on business; his wagon is drawn by two mules, and as he is a tinman by trade, he has a tin box fastened to the hind end of his wagon; his lady is very amiable and is the only female in the company. We have besides three horsemen, Brothers JAMES GAMELL, and NEPHI STEWARD, and a Mr. EDDIE, from Philadelphia.
Having got through with the first part of my subject, let me now pass on to the second, viz: to describe the parties. Firstly, then, our Captain, Colonel, Captain, or the Hon. HENRY W. MILLER, who has flourished as a Colonel in the Nauvoo Legion, member of a high Council, has led several companies across the plains, been a member of the Iowa and Utah Legislatures, and has lately been on a mission to the Cherokee Nation, from which he is now returning. Capt. MILLER is a tall, athletic man with a keen blue eye and an iron constitution, high forehead, with a bump of go-a-headativeness strongly developed, and he is a regular six-footer, hailing from Green County, N. Y. He lived in the Western country for some time, and embraced Mormonism in Illinois. He has been active in every principal movement since that time. He likes to tell a joke, but he must tell it in his own way, and at his own time. If I get time I will sketch out some camp scenes, and then I may relate some of them. Without entering into his phrenological or physiological details, I may simply remark, that his nasal organ is the most prominent member of his face, of which he sometimes complains as being very much in his way, as the sun takes too much liberty with it in crossing the plains. He starts us up at four o'clock in the morning, and then tells us "to let her rip and let her roll."
Next in order is Bishop ANDREW CUNNINGHAM. Brother CUNNINGHAM hails from Virginia, and has been a member of the church the last nineteen years. He has been through the various changes that the Church has passed through since that time, and has always proved himself faithful. He holds the office of captain in the Nauvoo Legion, and has for some time past presided with great efficiency in Nebraska and Western Iowa, and has assisted in making arrangements for the emigration in Florence, and in selecting the location for Genoa. In person he is about six feet two inches in height, and is very stout in proportion, inclining to corpulency. He is a regular jocose rubicund jolly fellow, and can perform antics in gymnastics that put some of our young men to the blush; he has a round full face, an intellectual forehead, and a merry twinkling mischievous eye; his nose is not quite aquiline, nor so prominent as Col. MILLER's but it possesses no small dimension, is a little round where the point ought to be, and at present is turned red at the extremity by the attacks of the sun. The boys say that he occupies more than his share of room on terra firma, and uses an unnecessary amount of shoe leather. Our opinion is the reverse, as men require larger understandings than pigmies.
WILLIAM MARTINDALE belongs to the same wagon; has been 17 years in the Church; is a member of the Seventies, and a lieutenant in the Nauvoo Legion, and is a regular Hoosier. Brother MARTINDALE is also a six-footer, athletic, well-built, and straight as a lath. He is every inch a man, has a strong Southern aspect, wears at present buff and brown jeans. He is courteous and gentlemanly in his manners, and is about 43 years of age. He has been an efficient laborer in the Church, has lately been on a mission to Texas, and has since presided in Genoa. He tells us that he has visited and preached in the following places in Texas: Empty-bucket, Rake-pocket, Doughblate, Bucksnort, Possam-trot, Buzzard-roost, Hardscrabble, Nippentuck and Lickskillet, most of which, however, he says, are simply one-horn towns. with a few houses, store and grocery. He now officiates as chaplain, assistant cook, outrider, gatherer of Buffalo chips, and professes to be able to throw any man in the crowd, which is not generally admitted.
We now come to the fourth and last wagon, which, as before stated, is occupied by DUSTIN AMI and lady, Brother AMI has been a member of the Church fifteen years, and has been principally engaged in his business of tin manufacturing, with the exception of a mission to Green River. Brother AMI is also a large man, about five feet eleven inches in height, and very stout in proportion. He is gentlemanly in his manners and respected by his brethren. His good lady seems to be very efficient in the culinary department. But we must here draw the veil, as it is not our province to intrude upon domestic relations, cookery, &c
We must now introduce JAMES GAMELL, by birth a Scotchman, who came very young to New-York; he has been in the Church about seven years, previous to which time, like his fellow countrymen, the notorious MACKENZIE, of Canada, and BENNETT, of the New-York Herald, he seems to have possessed a strong predilection to put the world right; he was a prominent character among the Canadian patriots, was sentenced to be hung with Col. JAMES MONROE , as a traitor, but was reprieved and had his sentence commuted to vanishment, among other patriot rebels; labored cheek-by-joal with FROST WILLIAMS and JONES, the celebrated Chartists. He made his escape from Van Dieman's Land—arrived in Connecticut—started to California after gold—joined the Mormons at Salt Lake—was there what is termed a Winter Mormon: but as he has wintered and summered seven years, he calls himself now a regular out-and-out Mormon. He is a pretty decent, thorough-going fellow; goes it strongly for equal rights, complains bitterly of MCGRAW taking his horses, and seems to think more of them than of being shot at by him and his ruffians in Independence.
My private opinion, from the twinkle of his eye, when speaking on the subject is, that it would not be very good for MCGRAW's health to meet him on equal grounds. He is now acting as outrider, hunter and assistant cook.
I must now introduce to your notice NEPHI STEWARD, a young man of twenty-four Summers. His name, NEPHI, will show that he was born in the Church, and is consequently a natural Mormon, For the last number of years he has been in most of the Indian battles—is active and energetic, and fit for anything that may turn up-can run one hundred yards inside of five seconds-steps eight feet on the level—can lasso wild horses and ride unbrok mustangs, and pick up half dollars from the ground on horseback at full gallop, and do most things that other men profess to do. He is all man, and ten thousand such would make a splendid army. He is on hand for anything at the drop of the hat. He has been on a visit to his friends in the States, and is now on his return home.
The next and last is a MR. E[?], from Philadelphia. He is a Spiritualist, and is associated with Mr. SHARPE, in the manufacture of pistols and rifles. He is a very companionable, gentlemanly, intelligent man, and rides a good horse; he was a merchant for some time in Chicago, Ill. He goes to Utah under the influence of the spirits, but does not know for what purpose. I believe he is very sincere in his professions.
I have now got through with my description of our company. We rise at 4 o'clock in the morning, have prayers, harness up, and travel ten or fifteen miles before breakfast; then [?]juene, harness up and drive eight or ten more, when we dine, and afterwards drive ten or twelve more. We average, generally, thirty miles per day. We generally have some kind of games. From Kearney, for one hundred and fifty miles, we traveled through numerous herds of buffalo—hundreds of thousands of them for that length—embracing fifteen miles wide, I should think there was sufficient to consume the grass—quite as many as a farmer would put, were they cattle, on the same ground. We shot a buffalo bull; it measured eight feet in the girth, and was only a moderate sized one. We cut a little from the hump, which was all we could use. We passed Capt. [William Holmes] WALKER's company, and the first hand-cart company, at Buffalo Creek, on the 9th. We are now looking out for the mail, which passes on the opposite side of the river. If we see it, we shall send a horseman across to deposit and obtain our mail. As ever, yours, respectfully.
MORMONISM IN DENMARK—A SPICY LETTER FROM PRESIDENT YOUNG.
I take it for granted that you like to have your correspondents in a good humor when they write to you, but such is not the case with me. I am cross enough to dine on ten-penny nails or to curd new milk without the aid of runnet, or, in fact, to do anything else spiteful. Now see what follows:
This morning I sat contemplating upon my situation: Six thousand miles from wife and babies; from home-friends, and all that makes this corrupt world dear to me. Among strangers, unable to speak, or understand a word, only through the aid of an interpreter, and many other inconvenient things, which can only be understood by passing through them.
Well, I was wondering when I should get a letter, or letters, from the "loved ones at home," and asking myself all sorts of questions about them, whether they were well, &c, &c, when up comes the postman, and hands in the "Mormon."
I involuntarily exclaimed "Welcome, thrice welcome, old friend." I seated myself again on the sofa, elevated my feet, and prepared for a good long read. My eye instinctively ran over the page to see if there were any news from "my own mountain home," when my eye caught the following words: "Overland Mail to Utah Discontinued!"
O! alligators and wild cats! Didn't my blood dance the Fisher's Hornpipe. For the last three or four months the mails have been regular, and in good time; a thing that has not occurred before in three years, and now discontinue it, because the present contractor happens to be a Mormon. Talk about an excuse—there is no excuse. It is right down meanness! Could'nt fight a thousand? Could'nt blow up a whole parliament of champagne suppers and gambling tables? Would'nt I rejoice to see the instigators of this beautiful piece of injustice tied to a wild bull's tail, and the animal turned loose on the largest prairie in Nebraska Territory? Don't I wish that the Postmaster-General had the gout, St. Anthony's dance and ticktoldereux, and could not get rid of it until he renewed his contract with Mr. KIMBALL, and paid all damages caused by taking the mails from his agents? Just think of it. Wife and babies at home, longing to hear from "papa;" don't know what part of the world he is in: don't know but what the treacherous sea may have swallowed him; some steamboat boiler bursted, and he blowed to the moon, or some crazy car run off the track, and he smashed to pieces.
Do not, you fond ones, think that I neglect to write to you, for there is, at this moment, some twelve or fifteen letters, from me, lying in some post-office in the United States, withheld from your longing eyes, to gratify the spleen of some Mormon-hater. And I, too, must wait, month after month, anxiously looking for some word from home.
What does the Postmaster-General say to all this? O, a letter was sent, last Fall, to a man in Great Salt Lake City, which he never received. Perhaps, Mr. Postmaster, you had better look among the piles of mail sacks, left by the agents of Mr. MCGRAW (who was at that time mail contractor for Utah,) at the various stations on the road. But then if those bags are not burned up, some other important letters, belonging to citizens of Utah might be found, which would look bad.
I have no patience to write or even think of this place of imposition and injustice. Do the heads of departments, and demagogues in general, think, they can impose on the Mormons whenever they like, without any opposition whatever. If they do they are sadly mistaken. I am a Mormon of the old stock, and I am bound to speak my mind freely from this time henceforth, if I can find an editor who is man enough to publish the truth.
If a letter belonging to a Washington Office-pauper happens to be lost, a whole community must be robbed of their mail privileges, though they be as innocent as the angels.
But it is a long lane that never turns. I expect to live to see the day when those who are now so ready to impose upon the Mormons will come fawning around them, like some little [illegible], imploring Mormon aid to help them out of the pits of their own digging.
But, as my wrath is somewhat abated, I will say a few words upon pleasing subjects, and quit. My health is good, and prospects first rate. I anticipate great joy in my labors among this people, when I shall have learned the language. I am studying with diligence, and anticipate being able to both speak and write the Danish language in a few months.
We have just had a three days' council meeting. About three hundred elders were present. We had a happy time, and I can bear testimony that the Lord has a good people in Scandinavia.
On Sunday last we held a meeting in one of the largest halls in this city. Some nine or ten hundred people were present, mostly saints. We had an excellent day. I never saw a more intelligent looking congregation.
The work is taking a strong hold in this country. Many are being baptized, and a general spirit of inquiry prevails among the people.
Brothers HAIGHT and GREEN are well, and busily engaged in the work. I know but little of what is going on in the rest of the world, for I cannot read the Danish papers, and I have not yet subscribed for an English paper; but I think of doing so. The Mormon is a welcome visitor at our office. I am thankful that Washington demagogues cannot prevent that coming to me.
I say God bless and prosper you. Pitch into the lying hypocrites who seek to defame the Mormons and incite the multitude to destroy them.
Expose their corruption, and so shall God strengthen thy days. My love to all the brethren.
P. S.—If this letter offends those for whom it is intended, please tell them that they have eternity to get plea[?] in.