Mormons, Migration In America

Migrations Of The Mormons

Author: Kane, Thomas L.

Migrations Of The Mormons

1848

Among the numerous religious bodies that have grown up in the United

States, the sect of Mormons, officially called "The Church of Jesus Christ of

Latter-day Saints," is perhaps the most unique in its origin and organization,

and the most singular in its history. The sect was founded in 1830 by Joseph

Smith, of Vermont. He declared that he had discovered one of its

authoritative writings, the Book of Mormon, at Cumorah, New York. This book,

he said, was found by him buried in the earth at a place revealed to him by an

angel. According to the Mormons, the book, written in mystic characters on

golden plates, is a record of certain ancient people - "the long-lost tribes

of Israel," Smith declared - inhabiting North America. This book is said to

have been abridged by the prophet Mormon, and translated by Smith. By

anti-Mormons it is supposed to be based on a manuscript romance written by

Solomon Spaulding.

The Mormon Church is governed by a hierarchy with two orders of

priesthood, a president, two counselors, twelve apostles, and elders and

other officers. Peculiar as their polity appears, it has proved remarkably

successful in the development of their church and community, notwithstanding

stern hostility and widespread disapproval. They present an impressive

example of shrewdness, thrift, and administrative skill, resulting in great

material prosperity. Besides their separate books, they accept the Bible as

authoritative, and many of their doctrines and rites resemble those common to

the Christian sects. More than anything else, their teaching and their

practice of polygamy have brought them into collision with "Gentiles" and with

the United States Government.

The first Mormon settlement was at Kirtland, Ohio, the next was in

Missouri. From those States they were expelled, and in 1840 they founded

Nauvoo in Illinois. Their later experience, up to their permanent

establishment in Utah, is recounted in the following narrative of the

hardships endured and surmounted by this extraordinary people. But it should

be added that the cause of the exodus was not, as is generally supposed,

religious persecution. The leaders of the sect at Nauvoo had set up a bank

without capital and passed thousands of its worthless notes upon the

unsuspecting farmers and traders; and it was this and other crimes that

exasperated the inhabitants of that region to the point of driving away the

whole community of Mormons.

Once, while ascending the upper Mississippi in the autumn, when its

waters were low, I was compelled to travel by land past the region of the

rapids. My road lay through the "Half-Breed Tract," a fine section of Iowa,

which the unsettled state of its land titles had appropriated as a sanctuary

for coiners, horse thieves, and other outlaws. I had left my steamer at

Keokuk, at the foot of the Lower Fall, to hire a carriage, and to contend for

some fragments of a dirty meal with the swarming flies, the only scavengers of

the locality. From this place to where the deep water of the river returns,

my eye wearied to see everywhere sordid, vagabond, and idle settlers, and a

country marred, without being improved, by their careless hands.

I was descending the last hillside upon my journey, when a landscape in

delightful contrast broke upon my view. Half encircled by a bend of the

river, a beautiful city lay glittering in the fresh morning sun; its bright

new dwellings set in cool green gardens ranging up around a stately

dome-shaped hill which was crowned by a noble marble edifice whose high

tapering spire was radiant with white and gold. The city appeared to cover

several miles; and beyond it, in the background, spread a fair rolling

country, checkered by symmetrical lines of fruitful husbandry. The

unmistakable evidences of industry, enterprise, and educated wealth,

everywhere, made the scene one of singular and most striking beauty.

It was a natural impulse to visit this inviting region. I procured a

skiff and rowing across the river landed at the principal wharf of the city.

No one met me there. I looked, and saw no one: I heard no movement; though

the stillness everywhere was such that I heard the flies buzz, and the ripples

break against the shallows of the beach. I walked through the solitary

streets. The town lay as in a dream, under some deadening spell of loneliness

from which I almost feared to wake it. Plainly it had not slept long. There

was no grass growing in the paved ways and rain had not washed away the prints

of footsteps in the dust.

Yet I went about unchecked. I went into empty ropewalks, workshops, and

smithies. The spinner's wheel was idle; the carpenter had gone from his

workbench and left his sash and casing unfinished. Fresh bark was in the

tanner's vat, and the fresh chopped lightwood stood piled against the baker's

oven. The blacksmith's shop was cold; but his coal-heap and ladling-pool and

crooked water-horn were all there, as if he had just gone off for a holiday.

No workpeople, anywhere, looked to know my errand. If I went into the

gardens, clinking the wicket latch loudly after me, to pull the marigolds,

heartsease, and lady's-slippers, and draw a drink with the water-sodden

well-bucket and its noisy chain; or, knocking off with my stick the tall,

heavy-headed dahlias and sunflowers, hunting among the beds for cucumbers and

love-apples - no one called out to me from any opened window; no dog sprang

forward to bark an alarm. I could have supposed the people hidden in the

houses, but the doors were unfastened; and when at last I timidly entered, I

found dead ashes cold upon the hearth, and had to tread on tiptoe, as if

walking down the aisle of a country church, to avoid rousing irreverent echoes

from the naked floors.

On the outskirts of the town was the city graveyard. But there was no

record of plague there, nor did it in any wise differ much from other

Protestant American cemeteries. Some of the mounds were not long sodded; some

of the stones were newly set, their dates recent, and their black inscriptions

glossy in the hardly dried lettering-ink. Beyond the graveyard, out in the

fields, I saw, in one spot hard by where the fruited boughs of a young orchard

had been torn down, the still smoldering embers of a barbecue fire that had

been constructed of rails from the fencing around it. It was the latest sign

of life there. Fields upon fields of heavy-headed grain lay rotting

ungathered upon the ground. No one was at hand to take in their rich harvest.

As far as the eye could reach, they stretched away - they, sleeping too in the

hazy air of autumn.

Only two portions of the city seemed to suggest the import of this

mysterious solitude. In the southern suburb the houses looking out upon the

country showed, by their splintered woodwork and walls battered to the

foundation, that they had lately been the mark of a destructive cannonade. And

in and around the splendid temple, which had been the chief object of my

admiration, armed men were barracked, surrounded by their stacks of musketry

and pieces of heavy ordnance. These challenged me to render an account of

myself, and to tell the reason why I had had the temerity to cross the water

without a written permit from a leader of their band.

Though these men were generally more or less under the influence of

ardent spirits, after I had explained myself as a passing stranger they seemed

anxious to gain my good opinion. They told me the story of the "dead city":

that it had been a notable manufacturing and commercial mart, sheltering over

twenty thousand persons; that they had waged war with its inhabitants for

several years, and had been finally successful only a few days before my

visit, in an action fought in the ruined suburb; after which, they had driven

them forth at the point of the sword. The defence, they said, had been

obstinate, but gave way on the third day's bombardment.

They also conducted me inside the massive sculptured walls of the curious

temple, in which they said the banished inhabitants were accustomed to

celebrate the mystic rites of an unhallowed worship. They particularly

pointed out to me certain features of the building, which, having been the

peculiar objects of a former superstitious regard, they had as matter of duty

sedulously defiled and defaced. The reputed sites of certain shrines they had

thus particularly noticed, and various sheltered chambers, in one of which was

a deep well constructed, they believed, with a dreadful design. Besides these,

they led me to see a large and deeply chiselled marble vase, or basin,

supported upon twelve oxen, also of marble and of life size, and of which they

told some romantic stories. They said the deluded persons, most of whom were

emigrants from a great distance, believed their deity countenanced their

reception here of a baptism of regeneration as proxies for whomsoever they

held in warm affection in the countries from which they had come: that here

parents "went into the water" for their lost children, children for their

parents, widows for their spouses, and young persons for their lovers: that

thus the great vase came to be associated with all their most cherished

memories, and was therefore the chief object of all others in the building,

upon which they bestowed the greatest degree of their idolatrous affection.

On this account, the victors had so diligently desecrated it as to render the

apartment in which it was contained too noisome to abide in.

They permitted me also to ascend into the steeple to see where it had

been struck by lightning on the Sabbath before; and to look out, east and

south, on wasted farms - like those I had seen near the city - extending till

they were lost in the distance. Close to the scar left by the thunderbolt

were fragments of food, cruses of liquor and broken drinking-vessels, with a

bass-drum and a steamboat signal-bell, of which, with pain, I learned the use.

It was after nightfall when I was ready to cross the river on my return.

The wind had freshened since sunset and, the water beating roughly into my

little boat, I headed higher up the stream than the point I had left in the

morning, and landed where a faint glimmering light invited me to steer. Among

the rushes - sheltered only by the darkness, without roof between them and the

sky - I came upon a crowd of several hundred human creatures whom my movements

roused from uneasy slumber.

Dreadful indeed was the suffering of these forsaken beings. Cowed and

cramped by cold and sunburn alternating as each weary day and night dragged

on, they were, almost all of them, the crippled victims of disease. They were

there because they had no homes, nor hospital, nor poorhouse, nor friends to

offer them any. They could not minister to the needs of their sick; they had

no bread to quiet the fractious, hungry cries of their children. Mothers and

babes, daughters and grandparents, all alike were clothed in tatters, lacking

even sufficient covering for the fever-stricken sufferers.

These were the Mormons, famishing, in Lee County, Iowa, in the fourth

week of the month of September, 1846. The deserted city was Nauvoo, Illinois.

The Mormons were the owners of that city and the smiling country around it.

And those who had stopped their ploughs, who had silenced their hammers, their

axes, their shuttles and the wheels of their workshops; those who had put out

their fires, who had eaten their food, spoiled their orchards, and trampled

under foot their thousands of acres of unharvested grain - these were the

keepers of their dwellings, the carousers in their temple, the noise of whose

drunken rioting insulted the ears of the dying.

They were, all told, not more than six hundred forty persons who were

thus lying on the river-flats. But the Mormons in Nauvoo and its environs had

been numbered the year before at over twenty thousand. Where were they? They

had last been seen, carrying in mournful trains their sick and wounded, halt

and blind, to disappear behind the western horizon, pursuing the phantom of

another home. Hardly anything else was known of them; and people asked with

curiosity, "What had been their fate - what their fortunes?"

The party encountered by me at the river shore were the last of the

Mormons that left the city. They had all of them engaged the year before that

they would vacate their homes and seek some other place of refuge. It had

been the condition of a truce between them and their assailants; and, as an

earnest of their good faith, the chief elders, and some others of obnoxious

standing, with their families, were to set out for the West in the spring of

1846. It had been stipulated in return that the rest of the Mormons might

remain behind, in the peaceful enjoyment of their Illinois abode, until their

leaders, with their exploring party, could, with all diligence, select for

them a new place of settlement beyond the Rocky Mountains, in California, or

elsewhere, and until they had opportunity to dispose to the best advantage of

the property which they were then to leave.

Some renewed symptoms of hostile feeling had however determined the

pioneer party to begin their work before the spring. It was of course

anticipated that this would be a perilous service; but it was regarded as a

matter of self-denying duty. The ardor and emulation of many, particularly

the devout and the young, were stimulated by the difficulties it involved; and

the ranks of the party were therefore filled up with volunteers from among the

most effective and responsible members of the sect. They began their march in

midwinter; and by the beginning of February nearly all of them were on the

road, many of their wagons having crossed the Mississippi on the ice.

Under the most favoring circumstances, an expedition of this sort,

undertaken at such a season of the year, could scarcely fail to be disastrous.

But the pioneer company had to set out in haste, and were very imperfectly

supplied with necessaries. The cold was intense. They moved in the teeth of

keen-edged northwest winds, such as sweep down the Iowa peninsula from the

icebound regions of the timber-shaded Slave Lake and Lake of the Woods. Along

the scattered watercourses, where they broke the thick ice to give their

cattle drink, the annual autumn fires had left but little firewood. To men,

insufficiently furnished with tents and other appliances of shelter, wood was

almost a necessary of life. After days of fatigue their nights were often

passed in restless efforts to prevent themselves from freezing. Their stock

of food also proved inadequate; and as their constitutions became more

debilitated their suffering from cold increased. Afflicted with catarrhal

affections, manacled by the fetters of dreadfully acute rheumatism, some

contrived for a while to get over the shortening day's march and drag along

some others. But the sign of an impaired circulation soon began to show

itself in the liability of all to be dreadfully frost-bitten. The hardiest

and strongest became helplessly crippled. About the same time the strength of

their draught animals began to fail. The small supply of provender they could

carry with them had given out. The winter-bleached prairie straw proved

devoid of nourishment; and they could only keep them from starving by seeking

for the "browse," as it is called, this being the green bark and tender buds

and branches of the cottonwood and other stunted growths in the hollows.

To return to Nauvoo was apparently the only escape; but this would have

been to give occasion for fresh mistrust and so to bring new trouble to those

they had left there behind them. They resolved at least to hold their ground,

and to advance as they might, were it only by limping through the deep snows a

few slow miles a day. They found a sort of comfort in comparing themselves to

the exiles of Siberia, and sought consolation in earnest prayers for the

spring.

The spring came at last. It overtook them in the Sac and Fox country,

still on the naked prairie, not yet half way over the trail they were

following between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. But it brought its own

share of troubles with it. The months with which it opened proved nearly as

trying as the worst of winter.

The snow and sleet and rain which fell, as it appeared to them, without

intermission, made the road over the rich prairie soil as impassable as one

vast bog of heavy black mud. Sometimes they would fasten the horses and oxen

of four or five wagons to one, and attempt to get ahead in this way, taking

turns; but at the close of a day of hard toil for themselves and their cattle,

they would find themselves a quarter or a half a mile from the place they left

in the morning. The heavy rains raised all the water-courses; the most

trifling streams were impassable. Wood, fit for bridging, was often not to be

had, and in such cases the only resource was to halt for the freshets to

subside - a matter in the case of the headwaters of the Chariton, for

instance, of over three weeks' delay.

These were dreary waitings upon Providence. The most spirited and sturdy

murmured most at their forced inactivity. And even the women, whose heroic

spirits had been proof against the severest cold, confessed their tempers

fluctuated with the ceaseless variations of the barometer. They complained

too that the health of their children suffered more. It was the fact that the

damp winds of March and April brought with them more mortal sickness than the

sharpest freezing weather.

The frequent burials discouraged and depressed the hardiest spirits; but

the general hopefulness of human nature was well illustrated by the fact that

even the most provident were found unfurnished with burial necessaries, and as

a result they were often driven to the most melancholy makeshifts.

The usual expedient adopted was to cut a log of some eight or nine feet

long, and slitting the bark longitudinally, strip it off in two

half-cylinders. These, placed around the body of the deceased and bound

firmly together with withs made of alburnum, formed a rough sort of tubular

coffin, which surviving relatives and friends, with a little show of black

crape, could follow to the hole or bit of ditch dug to receive it in the wet

ground of the prairie. The name of the deceased, his age, the date of his

death, and the surrounding landmarks were all registered with care. His party

was then ready to move on. Such graves mark all the line of the first years

of Mormon travel - dispiriting milestones to failing stragglers in the rear.

The hardships and trials which they had suffered developed a spirit of

self-sacrifice among these indomitable people. Hale young men gave up their

own food and shelter to the old and helpless, and worked their way back to

parts of the frontier States, chiefly Missouri and Iowa where they were not

recognized, and hired themselves out for wages, to purchase more. Others were

sent there to exchange for meal and flour, or wheat and corn, the table- and

bed-furniture and other remaining articles of personal property which a few

had still retained.

In a kindred spirit of fraternity, others laid out great farms in the

wilds and planted the grain saved for their own bread; that there might be

harvests for those who should follow them. Two of these, in the Sac and Fox

country and beyond it, Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah, included within their

fences about two miles of land each, carefully planted with grain, with a

hamlet of comfortable log cabins in the neighborhood of each.

Through all this the pioneers found comfort in the thought that their own

suffering was the price of immunity from similar hardships their friends at

home, in following their trail, would otherwise have had to pay. But the

arrival of spring proved this a delusion. Before the warm weather had made

the earth dry enough for easy travel, messengers came in from Nauvoo to

overtake the party with fear-exaggerated tales of outrage, and to urge the

chief men to hurry back to the city that they might give counsel and

assistance there. The enemy had only waited until the emigrants were supposed

to be gone on their road too far to return to interfere with them, and then

renewed their aggressions.

The Mormons outside Nauvoo were indeed hard pressed, but inside the city

they maintained themselves very well for two or three months longer. Strange

to say, the chief part of this respite was devoted to completing the structure

of their quaintly devised but beautiful temple. Since the dispersion of

Jewry, probably, history affords us no parallel to the attachment of the

Mormons for this edifice. Every architectural element, every most fantastic

emblem it embodied, was associated, for them, with some cherished feature of

their religion. Its erection had been enjoined upon them as a most sacred

duty: they were proud of the honor it conferred upon their city, when it grew

up in its splendor to become the chief object of the admiration of strangers

upon the upper Mississippi. Besides, they had built it as a labor of love;

they could count up to half a million the value of their tithings and freewill

offerings laid upon it. Hardly a Mormon woman had not given up to it some

trinket or pin-money; the poorest Mormon man had at least served the tenth

part of his year on its walls; and the coarsest artisan could turn to it with

something of the ennobling attachment an artist has for his own creation.

Therefore, though their enemies drove on them ruthlessly, they succeeded in

parrying the last sword-thrust, till they had completed even the gilding of

the angel and trumpet on the summit of its lofty spire. As a closing work,

they placed on the entablature of the front, like a baptismal mark on the

forehead, these words

[------------------------------------------------------------]

The House Of The Lord:

Built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day

Saints. Holiness to the Lord!

[------------------------------------------------------------]

Then, at high noon, under the bright sunshine of May, the next after its

completion, they consecrated it to divine service. There was a carefully

studied ceremonial for the occasion. It was said the high elders of the sect

travelled furtively from the camp of Israel in the wilderness, and, throwing

off ingenious disguises, appeared in their own robes of office to give it

splendor.

For that one day the temple stood resplendent in all its typical glories

of sun, moon and stars, and other abounding figured and lettered signs,

hieroglyphs, and symbols; but that day only. The sacred rites of consecration

ended, the work of removing the sacrosancta proceeded with the rapidity of

magic. It went on through the night, and when the morning of the next day

dawned all the ornaments and furniture, everything that could provoke a sneer,

had been carried off; and except some fixtures that would not bear removal,

the building was dismantled.

This day saw the departure of the last of the elders, and the largest

band that moved in one company together. The people of Iowa have told me that

from morning to night they passed westward like an endless procession. They

did not seem greatly out of heart, they said; but, at the top of every hill,

before they disappeared, they were to be seen looking back, like banished

Moors, on their abandoned homes and the distant temple and its glittering

spire.

After this consecration, which was construed to indicate an insincerity

on the part of the Mormons as to their stipulated departure, or at least a

hope of return, their foes set upon them with renewed bitterness. As many

fled as were at all prepared; but by the very fact of their so decreasing the

already diminished forces of the city's defenders, they encouraged the enemy

to greater boldness. It soon became apparent that nothing short of an

immediate emigration could save the remnant.

From this time onward the energies of those already on the road were

engrossed by the duty of providing for the fugitives who came crowding in

after them. At a last general meeting of the sect in Nauvoo, there had been

passed a unanimous resolution that they would sustain one another, whatever

their circumstances, upon the march; and this, though made in view of no such

appalling exigency, they now with one accord set themselves together to carry

out.

The host again moved on. The tents which had gathered on the hill

summits, like white birds hesitating to venture on the long flight over the

river, were struck one after another, and the dwellers in them and their

wagons and their cattle hastened down to cross it at a ferry in the valley,

which they made by night and day. A little beyond the landing they formed

their companies and made their preparations for the last and longest stage of

their journey.

Though the season was late, when they first crossed the Missouri, some of

them moved forward with great hopefulness, full of the notion of viewing and

choosing their new homes that year. But the van had only reached Grand Island

and the Pawnee villages, when they were overtaken by more ill news from

Nauvoo. Before the summer closed, their enemies set upon the last remnant of

those who were left behind in Illinois. They were a few lingerers, who could

not be persuaded but there might yet be time for them to gather up their

worldly goods before removing. Some weakly mothers and their infants, a few

delicate young girls, and many cripples and bereaved and sick people - these

had remained under shelter, according to the Mormon statement at least, by

virtue of an express covenant in their behalf. If there was such a covenant,

it was broken. A vindictive war was waged upon them, from which the weakest

fled in scattered parties, leaving the rest to make a reluctant and almost

ludicrously unavailing defense, till September 17th, when one thousand six

hundred twenty-five troops entered Nauvoo and drove all forth who had not

retreated before that time.

Like the wounded birds of a flock fired into toward nightfall, they came

straggling on with faltering steps, many of them without bag or baggage, beast

or barrow, all asking shelter or burial, and forcing a fresh repartition of

the already divided rations of their friends. It was plain now that every

energy must be taxed to prevent the entire expedition from perishing. Further

emigration for the time was out of the question, and the whole people prepared

themselves for encountering another winter on the prairie.

Happily for the main body, they found themselves at this juncture among

Indians who were amicably disposed. The lands on both sides of the Missouri

in particular were owned by the Pottawottomis and Omahas, two tribes whom

unjust treatment by our United States Government had the effect of rendering

most hospitable to strangers whom they regarded as persecuted like themselves.

They were pleased with the Mormons. They would have been pleased with

any whites who would not cheat them, nor sell them whiskey, nor whip them for

their poor gypsy habits, nor conduct themselves indecently toward their women,

many of whom among the Pottawottomis - especially those of nearly unmixed

French descent - are singularly comely, and some of them educated. But all

Indians have something like a sentiment of reverence for the insane, and

admire those who sacrifice, without apparent motive, their worldly welfare to

the triumph of an idea. They understand the meaning of what they call a great

vow, and think it the duty of the right-minded to lighten the votary's penance

under it. To this feeling they united the sympathy of fellow-sufferers for

those who could talk to them of their own Illinois, and tell the story of how

they also had been ruthlessly expelled from it.

Their hospitality was sincere, almost delicate. Fanny le Clerc, the

spoiled child of the great brave Pied Riche, interpreter of the nation, would

have the paleface Miss Devine learn duets with her on the guitar; and the

daughter of substantial Joseph la Framboise, the United States interpreter for

the tribe (she died of the fever that summer) welcomed all the nicest young

Mormon women to a party at her father's house, which was probably the best

cabin in that village. They made the Mormons at home, there and elsewhere.

Upon all their lands they formally gave them leave to remain as long as suited

their own good pleasure.

The affair, of course, furnished material for a solemn council. Under

the auspices of an officer of the United States their chiefs were summoned, in

the form befitting great occasions, to meet in the yard of a Mr. P. A. Sarpy's

log trading-house. They came in grand costume, moving in their fantastic

attire with so much aplomb and genteel measure that the stranger found it

difficult not to believe them high-born gentlemen, attending a fancy-dress

ball. Their aristocratically thin legs, of which they displayed fully the

usual Indian proportion, aided this illusion. There is something too at all

times very mock-Indian in the theatrical French millinery tie of the

Pottawottomi turban; while it is next to impossible for a sober white man, at

first sight, to believe that the red, green, black, blue, and yellow

cosmetics, with which he sees such grave personages so variously dotted,

diapered, cancelled, and arabesqued are worn by them in any mood but one of

the deepest and most desperate quizzing. From the time of their first squat

upon the ground to the final breaking up of the council circle they sustained

their characters with equal self-possession and address.

I will not take it upon myself to describe their order of ceremonies;

indeed, I ought not, since I have never been able to view the habits and

customs of our aborigines in any other light than that of a sorrowful subject

of jest. Besides, in this instance, the powwow and the expected flow of

turgid eloquence were both moderated probably by the conduct of the entire

transaction on temperance principles. I therefore content myself with

observing generally that the proceedings were such as in every way became the

dignity of the parties interested, and the magnitude of the interests

involved. When the red men had indulged to satiety in tobacco-smoke from

their peace-pipes, and in what they love still better - their peculiar

metaphoric rhodomontade, which, beginning with the celestial bodies, and

coursing downward over the grandest sublunary objects, always managed to

alight at last on their "Great Father," Polk, and the tenderness with which

his affectionate red children regarded him. All the solemn funny fellows

present, who played the part of chiefs, signed formal articles of convention

with their unpronounceable names.

The renowned chief Pied Riche - he was surnamed Le Clerc on account of

his remarkable scholarship - then rose and said: "My Mormon brethren, the

Pottawottomi came, sad and tired, into this unhealthy Missouri bottom, not

many years back, when he was taken from his beautiful country, beyond the

Mississippi, which had abundant game and timber and clear water everywhere.

Now you are driven away, the same, from your lodges and lands and the graves

of your people. So we have both suffered. We must help one another, and the

Great Spirit will help us both. You are now free to cut and use all the wood

you may wish. You can make all your improvements, and live on any part of our

actual land not occupied by us. Because one suffers, and does not deserve it,

is no reason he shall suffer always: I say, we may live to see all right yet.

However, if we do not, our children will. Bon jour!"

And thus ended the powwow. I give this speech as a morsel of real

Indian. It was recited to me after the treaty by the Pottawottomi orator in

French, which language he spoke with elegance. Bon jour ["good day"] is the

French, Indian, and English hail, and farewell of the Pottawottomis.

Upon the Pottawotomi lands, scattered through the border regions of

Missouri and Iowa, in the Sac and Fox country, a few among the Ioways, among

the Poncas, in a great company upon the banks of the l'Eau qui Coulee (or

Running Water) River, and at the Omaha winter quarters, the Mormons sustained

themselves through the heavy winter of 1846-1847. It was the severest of

their trials. This winter was the turning-point of the Mormon fortunes. Those

who lived through it were spared to witness the gradual return of better

times; and they now liken it to the passing of a dreary night, since which

they have watched the coming of a steadily brightening day.

In the spring of 1847, a body of one hundred forty-three picked men, with

seventy wagons, drawn by their best horses, left the Omaha quarters, under the

command of the members of the high council who had wintered there. They

carried with them little but seed and farming implements, their aim being to

plant spring crops at their ultimate destination. They relied on their rifles

to give them food, but rarely left their road in search of game. They made

long marches, and moved as rapidly as possible.

Against the season when ordinary emigration passes the Missouri, they

were already through the South Pass, and after a couple of short days' travel

beyond it entered upon the more arduous part of their journey, which now lay

through the Rocky Mountains. They passed Fremont's Peak, Long's Peak, The

Twins, and other summits, but had great difficulties to overcome in forcing

their way over other mountains of the rugged Utah range, sometimes following

the stony bed of torrents, the headwaters of some of the mightiest rivers of

our continent, and sometimes literally cutting their road through heavy and

ragged timber. They arrived at the grand basin of the Great Salt Lake, much

exhausted, but without losing a man, and in time to plant for a partial autumn

harvest. Another party started after these pioneers from the Omaha winter

quarters, in the summer. They had five hundred sixty-six wagons, and carried

large quantities of grain, which they were able to sow before it froze.

The same season these were joined by a part of the battalion and other

members of the Church who came eastward from California and the Sandwich

Islands. Together they fortified themselves strongly with sun-dried brick

walls and blockhouses, and, living safely through the winter, were able to

reap crops that yielded ample provision for the ensuing year.

In 1848, nearly all the remaining members of the Church left the Missouri

country in a succession of powerful bands, invigorated and enriched by their

abundant harvests there; and that year saw fully established their

commonwealth of the "New Covenant," the future State of "Deseret." ^1

[Footnote 1: The Mormons repeatedly tried to secure the admission of Deseret

into the Union as a State under that name - said to mean "virtue and

industry." When Utah was organized as a Territory (1850), the Mormon leader,

Brigham Young, was made governor. In 1857 President Buchanan appointed a

non-Mormon to succeed Young. This act led the Mormons to rebel, but after a

display of military force by the Government they acknowledged allegiance. In

1896, polygamy having been prohibited by Congress, Utah was admitted to the

Union. Since the settlement of the Mormons upon the Great Salt Lake there has

been a large immigration into Utah. The Mormons have spread beyond that State

into Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, and other parts of the West and Southwest. -

Ed.]


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