"Letter from G. A. Smith," Frontier Guardian, 26 December 1849, 2-3.
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Letter from G[eorge]. A. Smith—Account of travel—tremendous snow storm—60 head of Cattle Perished—Chickens and Pigs froze to death—no person died on the journey—Companies not to start after the Middle of June.
CAMP OF ISRAEL, Muddy Fork, 930 mlies [miles] from Winter Quarters, Oct. 18, '49.
BR. HYDE—Dear Sir: As we expect to meet the Fall express from the Valley to the States in a day or two, we thought it advisable to drop a hasty note to you, for publication in the Guardian, for the benefit of all concerned. You have been informed of our progress and prosperity on our Journey from time to time as opportunities offered. The last we wrote you was at Fort Laramie, since then no opportunity of sending letters to the States has presented itself. After leaving Laramie, we continued our journey slowly as heretofore, but marking progress every day, keeping a vigilant eye to the welfare of our cattle, as the first three hundred miles, nearly, of our journey was through mud and mire, after that heavy sand for considerable distance: but pasture was first rate, and our cattle withstood the journey well, and up to our arrival at Laramie, we believe, neither our camp or Br. Benson's had lost a single head, with the exception of one or two cows that got killed in the yoke. After we passed Laramie, the feed became inferior but we found a sufficient supply for our cattle, and indeed, we have found a plenty all the while, with the exception of two or three days in the neighborhood of the Willow Springs, where the alkali or poisonous springs abound. Through these wild plains, lies the bones of hundreds of cattle, that have died the past summer, (no less than the bones of nine head we counted in one heap,) belonging to the gold diggers, bound for California. Through this desolate part of our journey we lost but a few head of our cattle, and those that died, were chiefly worn down by the journey. When we arrived at the Sweet Water river, about 6 miles below Independence Rock, a recruit of some 60 yoke or cattle, together with several wagons and teamsters from the Valley met us, that had been sent by the President to our relief, under the charge of Br, David Fullmer and Joseph Young which was a welcome meeting to us, as our cattle were much fatigued and needed respite. The cattle thus sent were divided, between the three camps, viz: E[zra]. T. Bensons, Capt. [Silas] Richards and ours, which relieved us much, and we rolled along with ease and weather pleasant. Although at Independence Rock, some 25 or 30 head strayed away, but we recovered them all, except one cow, after following some thirteen head about one hundred miles. We crossed over Rocky Ridge on the 2nd of this month, near the summit of the South Pass, with the Wind River chain of mountains on the north; toward night it began to snow and blow quite hard and fast from the North-east, weather increasing in over these boundless plains of sage, and mountains of rock, where the buffalo, elk, antelope, bear, ravenous wolf, &c., ranges undisturbed, except by the red man, or the journeying emigrant.
Many has been the grave of the gold seeker we have seen, whose bodies have been disinterred by the wolves, and the bones, pantaloons, hose, and other things lying strewed around, with the head board lying near, informing the traveler, who had been buried where from, the day they died, age, disease, &c. But we have not seen a solitary instance where one of the Saint's tombs have been disturbed by the wolves. Among the graves of those whose bones lies around their graves, bleaching in the sun, their flesh been consumed by the ravenous wolf, we recognize the names of several noted mobocrats from the States of Missouri and Illinois, who took an active and prominent part in persecuting, mobbing, and driving the Saints from these States. Among others, we noticed at the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains the grave of one E. Dodd, of Galatin, Mo., died on the 19th of July last, of typhus fever. The wolves had completely disinterred him. The clothes in which he had been buried lied strewed around. His under jaw bone lied in the grave, with the teeth complete, the only remains discernable of him. It is believed he was the same Dodd, that took an active part, and a prominent mobocrat in the murder of the Saints at Hawns Mills [Haun's Mill], Mo. If so, it is a righteous retribution. Our God will surely inflict punishment upon the heads of our oppressors, in his own due time and way.
We would earnestly recommend to all emigrating companies hereafter, coming to the Valley, not to attempt to leave the Missouri river after the middle of June, for if they start later, they will almost be certain to encounter severe snow storms as we have, in crossing these everlasting snow capped, and rock bound mountains. By starting early they will be apt to miss the snows, and have time and opportunity for recruiting a few days. When their cattle are worn down, or any one sick and not able to travel and not have to encounter the cold weather, &c. The weather at present is quite pleasant, although freezing quite hard every night. The camps are healthy, in good spirits and feel to rejoice in the God of their fathers, and in his goodness and protecting mercies. We hope in a few days to meet our brethren whom we love in the Valley of the Mountains of Joseph, and mingle and rejoice with them, where no doubt you will hear from us again. E. T. Bensons and Capt. Richards companies have broke up into tens, and gone ahead in order to pass through the Kanyons of the mountains, one ten of our camp has rolled out also. We have a company of upwards of 40 wagons at present, including the Welch, we expect to continues so, until we reach the Valley, as pasture here is rich and quite plenty. Farewell, may the Lord bless you forever, and all the Saints. Amen.
Brethren in Christ.
GEO. A. SMITH,
W. I. APPLEBY.