J. H. (John Hanson) Beadle.

Western wilds and the men who redeem them : an authentic narrative embracing an account of seven years travel and adventure in the far West ... online

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Online LibraryJ. H. (John Hanson) BeadleWestern wilds and the men who redeem them : an authentic narrative embracing an account of seven years travel and adventure in the far West ... → online text (page 18 of 62)
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early morning. Then the mountains fifty miles away seem as dis-
tinct as if within a mile, and all the peaks shine through the clear
air with great beauty.

It is often said that there is no living thing in Great Salt Lake.
There is a minute animalculse on the bottom, resembling a fine shaving
of the skin from one's finger, more than any thing else I can compare
it to. As it grows in size it beats in towards the land by the action
of the waves, and finally swells up into the likeness of a worm, and
floats upon the water. The boatmen think that the flies, which are so
numerous around the edge of the lake, breed from this worm, and this
idea is strengthened by the fact that the empty hulls of the worm,
like abandoned shells of chrysalis, float on the water in large sections
extending in long dark lines for hundreds of feet. At first I % supposed
these collections were merely the bodies of drowned flies, but on ex-
amination they proved to be the husks, so to speak, of what had been
worms. All sorts of attempts have been made to propagate life in
the lake, or mouths of the affluent streams, but one and all have failed.
Oysters have been planted at the mouths of the rivers, but when the
wind was up stream, the dense brine setting in from the lake killed
them. Jordan was stocked with eels a few years ago, but they floated
down into the lake and died. One was picked up long afterwards on
the eastern shore, completely pickled. The finder cooked and ate it,


and found it very palatable. Gulls and pelicans abound in places
around the lake, feeding on the flies and worms. Captain Stansbury
reports finding a blind pelican which had been fed by its companions
and kept fat. At points where grassy marshes border the lake the
buffalo gnats are numerous and troublesome. There are indications
that buffalo were abundant in this basin a hundred years ago. The
Indians say the Great Spirit changed them all to crickets! The latter
were very destructive to the first crops of the Mormons, until the
gulls came in immense flocks and devoured them. The Mormon his-
torian in pious gratitude says: "There were no gulls in the country
before the Mormons came." In the slang meaning of that word, this
is on a par for facetiousness with that statement in the Book of Mor-
mon : " Great darkness overspread the land : yea, darkness wherein a
fire could not be kindled with the dryest wood."

We next try a sail on the yacht. Several sail-boats are now run on
the lake by various clubs ; ours only held ten persons besides the four
sailors. A strong wind from the north-east enabled us to make eight
miles an hour, the neat craft riding the waves like a sea-bird. But
when we turned towards the point, and had to take the side waves, four
of the passengers suddenly turned pale behind the gills. By heroic
efforts and frequent recourse to a black bottle, we kept down our
dinners, but at the end of two hours " chopping " were glad to get on
solid ground again. At 6 P. M. dancing began, and the latest comers
put through the night in that amusement. Almost every public occa-
sion in the Far West begins or ends with a dance.

Space fails me to describe in detail the rich mineral districts of
southern Utah. Beaver County alone has a dozen districts and
several hundred miners. The county contains almost every mineral
useful to man silver, iron, copper, coal, kaolin, and fire-clay of most
excellent quality. Withal, the climate is singularly mild and equable.
The summers at Beaver City I found a little cooler than at Salt Lake :
the winter much like that of middle Tennessee, only dryer. The fer-
tile valleys there would yield provisions for 50,000 people ; and with
the extension of the railroad to that point it will doubtless be the
richest region of the South, the metropolis of southern Utah and
northern Arizona. Utah now contains ninety mining districts; the
mines and improvements are valued all the way from fifteen to thirty
million dollars, and the annual yield of lead, silver, and gold has
reached five millions. All this interest has been built up since 1869,
by the work of those whom the Saints stigmatize as <( d d Gentiles,''
and whom apologists for Brighamcall "ad venturers and carpet-baggers,''


Copper is found in vast quantities in Tintic and some other districts,
but the reduction thereof has not made much progress. Bismuth ore
is found in the southern counties in abundance. Graphite, black-lead,
native sulphur, alum, borax, carbonate of soda, and gypsum are widely
disseminated. Beds of the latter have been discovered that will richly
pay for working. Salt is so plentiful as scarcely to be an article of
commerce. Near the lake, and in many other localities, it can be had
for shoveling into a wagon and hauling home. Fire-clay and sand-
stone are abundant, as is building stone of every description, including
marble and granite. Kaolin of the finest quality abounds. All the
ochres used for polishing, pigments, and lapidary works are in inex-
haustible supplies. The Territory will not average one acre in forty
fit for agriculture, but nearly all the rest is valuable for some kind of
mineral. This growing interest has created a party in favor of an-
nexing Utah to Nevada. The new State would be about as large as
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois combined, but it takes some-
thing more than area to make a State. The population would be, per-
haps, 150,000 just about enough for one member of. Congress. The
advantages would be immense. It would bring them under the min-
ing laws of Nevada, which are probably the best in the world ; it
would give the non-Mormons a free ballot, and some chance for repre-
sentation, and balance the crushing power of the priesthood by a large
population of miners and Americans. Perhaps it would be well to
annex only the two northern degrees first containing the most mines
and when Nevada shall have assimulated them, add the rest. With
some such consummation as this, I have no doubt the American pub-
lic would be only too happy to bid farewell to Utah Territory.

To many Americans Utah is even yet a land of mystery the home
of strange rites and unhallowed religion ; but to me, in its physical
features, it is already as the home of the soul. As more and more I
become familiar with it, I see how little Mormonism has to do with its
real greatness, how small a space it will occupy in its future history,
and what countless other matters there are of wonder and interest.
Long residence and frequent travel have made the Territory as an
entirety far better known to me than any other part of our country.
On the instant a mental picture, colossal in outline and interesting in
details, rises to my vision: its snow-clad peaks glowing in the clear
air of June, and dazzling white beneath the burning sun of August;
its 30,000 square miles of rugged mountains, seamed from side to side
with mineral wealth ; its cafions and cool retreats ; its shadowed trails
and dashing mountain streams swarming with trout. Not less roman-


tic, though mingling the useful and waste, and filling the tourist with
delight, are its lake of pure brine covering 4,000 square miles, and its
25,000 square miles of white deserts and sand plains ; its narrow,
fertile valleys with irrigating streams and water tanks, with an orient-
alized population, half pastoral, half agricultural, and wholly peculiar
and heterogeneous; its long, long wastes, crossed only by winding
trails ; the sand storms on the deserts, and the mild air of the val-
leys all combining in one's imagination to invest the picture with' a
charm which has all the delight of romance, and all the permanence
of reality. It does not seem possible that a region of such interest
should long remain under the blighting domination of an incestuous
priesthood. When the present depression in business is past, and the
mining development continues, this Territory must, ere many years,
reach an annual yield of twenty-five millions in minerals. The result
will be wealth and cultivation, progress and a fixed Gentile population.
Every year there are more permanent settlers, and fewer hasten away
as soon as they have made a fortune. With its favorable climate, and
the physical and intellectual culture to follow this season of moral
storms; with a more homogeneous population and a republican gov-
ernment, the result must eventually be a state of society in Utah which
will cause Mormonism to be forgotten, or remembered only as the
"Stone Age in Art" is remembered by archaeologists.



It was a horrid night. I had never known the severe winter
weather to come on so early in Utah; for "late fall and late spring"
is the weather formula for the mountains. But now the fierce wind
from the great desert was sweeping eastward, bringing with it inky
snow-clouds, and sending down into the canons a fierce sleet, which
rendered walking on the mountain trails almost impossible. From
our cabin on the hill the saloon lights in Ophir City burned bluely,
while every hour increased the storm that gathered strength in Rush
Valley and drove fiercely up the canon.

There should have been comfort in shelter and warmth ; but that
night there was little satisfaction in Teeter's cabin, where a half dozen
of us crouched over the fire and grumbled at our luck. We had just
come down from a day's picking and blasting on Lion Hill. The Ida
Elmore Lode, which one month ago we thought good for a cool mill-
ion, was now worth about $5 in a flush market; and, as for the Ad
Valorem well, Teeter said the last time he saw any ore the vein was
about the thickness of a knife-blade, and pitching into the hill nearly
on a level, and as crooked as a worm fence. That meant " no regular
vein no continuation no depth," and, consequently, no selling value.
So, as aforesaid, we bewailed our hard luck.

Suddenly out spoke Joe Allkire: "Behold me; I am the Jonah."

He was given to odd figures of speech, but this did not lessen our
surprise ; for he was the quietest, steadiest man of the lot just the
partner one would have picked out for luck. But he persisted : " Why
the very town I was "born in was wiped out nothing left of it but a
tater patch."

"Tell us about it," was the universal request. It was something,
any thing to rid us of unwelcome thought. Joe slowly filled his glass,
seeing that the quart bottle of valley-tan already looked pretty sick ;


"All were attentive to the warlike man,
When, stretching on his chair, he thus began :"

" Yes, I reckon I started on the worst streak o' luck in the State of
Illinoy. I took my first shot at daylight in the town o' Union Flats,



and in cloin' that I made the big mistake o' my life. The town was
settled by a lot from Botetour, Virginia folks that said ' bin gone
done it,' and made their women do the milking ; and then come some
caow-paling Yanks from C'neticutt, and Quakers from Pennsylvania,
and natives from Indiana, and so they named it Union Flats. It's
flat enough now, but as to the Union you'll hear my gentle

" Lemme see; there was first Whig and Democrats -just about an
even divide, and stiffer'n a liberty pole on both sides; but when it
come to 'lectin' a constable, I reckon the fightinest man stood in with
the boys, and as for whisky, wh-e-u-w ! It was sod-corn barefooted.
The valley-tan these Mormons make ain't nowhere. I^mind old Mike
Gardner drunk a pint of it, and went home and stole one of his own
plows and hid it in the woods, and didn't know where it was when he
was sober, and had to git drunk agin to find it.

" These was only the common fellers. The good folks was awful re-
ligious. The Old School Baptisses never went nigh the Methodis'
meetin' house, and tothers was jist as stiff on thar side; but there was
a sprinkle o' Quakers to soften things, and a little blue spot o' Presby-
tarans, but not enough for a meetin' house, bein' there was no
more'n six or seven hundred people in the whole place. So they
was only two meetin' houses, and three or four groceries for whisky and
such, besides Chew's store, which was the only place that sold bour-
bon tothers only ' sod-corn.' Then they was Masons and a lot of
Batavy New Yorkers that was agin the Masons, and some agin all se-
cret societies; and along in 1843 come some Millerites, crazier'n loons
about the eend of all things on the llth o' August,
and pretty soon after come some Washingtonians and
dug in agin Chew and the others that sold whisky, so
if a feller wasn't tuck on one side he was on tother.
But the boys soon busted them up, and, no matter what
the prophecies said, the eend didn't come on the llth,
and things was sort o' dull till these new-fangled no-
tions come in and the Methodis's they set up a choir.
But they was nigh half agin it, and that set up another
meetin' at tother eend o' town, and split folks all up agin. DEACON CHEW -
Then come this nigger business, for it was only forty miles to the Ohio,
and the new meetin' folks got a real cranky little chap from some'eres
East for preacher, and took the abolition shoot, and so all the others
preached on Onesimus, and Hagur, and ' Cussed be Canaan,' and things
got real lively agin.



"Next thing Misses Chew she split the choir about leadin' in the
singin' ; and when a fuss gits among a lot o' singin' folks, you jest bet
it spreads. She was dognation purty, and slung more style than a
speckled show-horse, and I mind more'n one young fellar that felt like
he'd like to put a spider in old Chew's biscuit. He was purty well
off, and jist doted on her, and brought her shawls and all sorts o'
things from New York ; but his face was sort o' weazened up, and the
top of his head gittin' above the timber line, and not so young and
gay as his woman might have wanted him, and that give the other
women in the choir a hold. But I sha'n't dwell ; you know what they
said. Then the young fellers that was invited to the Chewses got out
with them that wasn't, and all the folks took sides and there we was

agin. You see folks in
these little towns is so
neighborly. They stand
by their friends in a
fuss you hear my

" Well, one day Joe
Tucker, a long, gaunt-
lin' mud-mummy, was
slungin' along the street
with a long, lean yaller
dog that allers follered
him every-where, and
come by where a farmer was imloadin' some wood, an' quicker'n wink
the farmer's big bull-dog pitched into Joe's, and knocked him four
rod, and so scared Bob Stevenses', the blacksmith's, wife, that was a
takin' her man his dinner, that she yelled for all that was out, and
keeled over agin the wagon, and her old sun-bonnet a floppin' off and
her a yellin' scared the horses so they broke loose and lit out down
the street, like the devil a beatin' tan-bark, and run agin a ladder
where was John Baker a paintin' the up front of Abraham Miller's
store, and knocked down the ladder, crippled poor John for life, and up-
set the wood into Burnstein's oyster cellar, killin' one of Btirnstein's
children stone dead, and so scared Misses Burnstein that she dropped a
pan o' hot oysters into the lap of a customer, and set him to swearin'
and dancin' like all possessed.

" Well, I reckon if there was any one thing Joe Tucker did love, it
was that same long, lean, yaller and spotted dog ; they was more like
twins than Christians, and folks did say they slept together in that lit-



tie den back of Joe's gun-shop. So as soon as he conceited what was
up, he gathered a dornick, and was just drawin' back to send the
strange dog where they's no fleas, when the stranger saw him and
went one better. He had a fist like the hand o' Providence, and when
it landed behind Joe's ear some folks thought it was a fresh blast down
at the quarry ; even old Chew heard it, an' folks say Joe doubled on
himself twice as he went through Abraham Miller's big winder.
Well, Miller run out and first tried to stop the dogs, when the stranger
yells out :

"' Let 'em fight ! My dog can whip any dog in town, an' I can
whip the owner.'

"He'd better not a said that last, for just then Bob Stevens run up,
rarin' mad about his wife's scar, and just in time to hear them words,
and "the next minute he let out that blacksmith's right o' his'n,
and cut a calf s nose on that stranger's jaw. So they went at it, fist
and skull, and in about four minutes you
couldn't a told that stranger's face from a
map o' this territory, it was so full of red
buttes and black deserts.

"' Friend, perhaps thee is equally mis-
taken as to thy dog,' was all that Abraham
Miller said, for he was a real quiet man, but
he did have some pride about his town, so <<AND THEY CLINCHEI) .
he went into the back-yard and onloosed a

regular old English bull that he kept in the store nights, and it was
just beautiful to see that dog go to the relief of Tucker's, an' between
'em they soon put the strange dog to his trumps. As Abraham stood
over 'em to see fair play, the Methodis' preacher come up, and sez he,
' Fie on you, men, citizens of Union Flats, to get up a dog-fight right
in the face of day,' and was raisin' his cane when Abraham gave him
a gentle shove, and he yelled out that he was struck them Boston
chaps is so tender.

"'I struck thee not, friend,' said Abraham.

" ( You did, sir.'

" ' But thee draws wrong conclusions.'

" f Sir, you mistake facts.'

" ( Thee utters a mendacious assertion.'

" ' You tell an infernal lie,' bawled the preacher, and they clinched.
Well, of course a thin Boston bran-bread chap had no show agin one
o' our corn-fed men, and Abraham was about to mash him, when
most o' the men in town bein' there by this time, the preacher's con-



gregation turned in to help, when Abraham's clerks run in to back
their boss, and in less time'n I tell it in they was six or eight on a
side, fightin' across toward the Court-house, and leavin' a red trail as
they went. It was jist beautiful to see 'em peel ; we don't have any
such fun in Utah.

" But it happened the stranger with the wood was a Mason, and he
had some friends down at Chew's, an' in three minutes after he got
away from Bob he had 'em out in line, and along with 'em old Chew
drunk on his own whisky for a wonder brandishin' a green ax helve,
and swearin' by the great horn spoon of the Ancient Scottish Rites

that he could whip any Morgan man in
Union Flats or sixty miles round.
He'd jest got the words outen his
mouth when one of the Batavy New
Yorkers sez he, ( I don't take that from
no Morgan killer/ and fetched ole
Chew one that drapped him. Then
they did have it beautiful. I reckon
they was about twenty-five Masons in
town, and they lit on the Yorker and

"HAI.FTHETOWNTOOKASHYATHIM." ^ frfc^ and druy -^ fa^ -^ j^

ler's store, when they forted and held their own, and they daresn't an
anti-mason show hisself.

"But 'twant for long. In jist no time they come up heavy, and
with 'em the folks that was down on the Chewses, and the women
egged on the men, and in fourteen minutes they went through the
Chewses and their party like alkali water through a Johnny raw from
the States. They might a got it stopped then, but old Colonel Darby
galloped into town (his wife was one of the Virginny Mason family),
and he yells out, 'It's all on account of the infernal abolishnists;
they'd out to be druv outer the town,' and that gave the thing a new
turn. The new meetin' folks joined in with their preacher, and all
the Darbys yelled to go for the abolishnists, and the last man in town
was in it in three minutes. Old 'Squire Hooker, the head abolition
man, run outen his house like mad, yellin' for freedom or death, and
it looked like half the town took a shy at him. The dornicks and
brick flew like distraction, and one as big as my fist went through the
winder and into the parlor, where it hit Maria Hooker square in the
bosom, and broke two of Bob Carter's fingers, that was payin' his at-
tentions to her. The constable rushed in and was jammed through
the jeweler's window, the preacher was knocked clear out o' all like-


ness, and 'Squire Hooker and a dozen other abolishnists shamefully

" By this time the Irish at work on the grade got wind of a free
fight, and they double-quicked into town and lit in generally, and
Miss June Davis's man thought it was a good time to get even with
the Wrights, and about forty fellers concluded to pay oif old scores ;
and the grand jury that was in session up stairs in the Court-house
come runnin' down, and upset the stove, and in less'n four minutes the
old shell was all ablaze, and the fighters set two or three more houses
afire, and in an hour all the heart of the town was burned out, an' all
the little men badly whipped that hadn't run away;
for the fightin' kept up more or less for three hours,
and never stopped till every body was satisfied. I
mind well the last man out was little Si Duvall, a
splintery feller with no legs to speak of, and every
body said no account, and that you couldn't make any
thing outen him, 'less it was a preacher or a school-
teacher. But they wan't no exemptions in that war,
and Si had to go in along with the rest. You see it
don't take much to start a fuss when they's blood in THE SEAT OF WAK>
the air; and an independent people will have their little differences in
the glorious air of the free and boundless West. An' I reckon they
was fusses settled there that had been runnin' for twenty years
neighbors that had quarreled about jinin fences, and relatives that had
lawed about settlin* estates, and men that got cheated in hoss trades
every man got full satisfaction, and the books was squared."

"Is that all?" I asked, seeing that he made a long pause.

" It's all the liquor," said Joe, gazing regretfully at the black bottle
which had held our last supply ; " but of the history they's a few more
pints, and at your service."

" Well, the town was half burned up, and its character ruined, and
all the whisky spilt, and the constable and sheriff and 'Squire Hooker
and about fifty more, badly whipped, and the dog that started it all so
chawed up a Chinaman couldn't 'a made him over into chow-chow^
and the row only stopped when a big thunder shower separated the
forces and then they was peace. But Misses Chew declared she
wouldn't live in no such a heathen country, and they moved back
East, and so the neighborhood lost tone ; an' the new preacher, what
was left of him, had a call to go further north, for he 'lowed a man
with one ear chawed off might be ornamental, but couldn't shine in a
pulpit in Southern Illinois; and Abraham Miller was so disgusted


with himself about breakin' the rules and fightin' that he took to his
bed, and his new store went all to shacks; an' all the abolishnists left,
too, and the Virginny people swore the place had no style about it
anyhow, and they moved, and some o' the houses was hauled off into
the country, and the rest was took by a big fresh, and you won't find
any thing there now but a corn-crib or two. And all that from one

"But so 'twas nobody from that town ever had any luck, 'cept that
same little splintery Si Duvall. He went off to Oregon and got to be
a lawyer, and went to the legislator, an' was in the big land commis-
sion, and jest coined money; but, after all, the luck o' Union Flats
overtook him at last. He up an' married one o' them school-marms
sent out from Boston, and when they took their tower down to Frisco,
she got sea-sick and th rowed up all her teeth, that Si thought was so
pretty an' regular ; and Si tried for a divorce, and said it was failure
o' consideration an' fraud in the contract, an' not the goods he bar-
gained for at all, but the judga differed with him, an' he had to sup-
port her. So you see, boys, my luck's bound to foller me, and until I
leave the outfit you'll strike no horn silver on this hill."

The whisky being exhausted, the conversation now took a more
serious turn. There were accounts of the great "Frazer River Ex-
citement," when the miners rushed off to British Columbia, and most
of them came back minus ; of the stampede into Sun River Gulch ;
of the Calaveras frauds, and the mob that hanged the perpetrators
for our miners were men who had tempted fortune in many fields.
There were blood-curdling tales of Indian massacres ; sad narrations of
toil and exposure on the cold mountain-side or the wind-swept desert;

Online LibraryJ. H. (John Hanson) BeadleWestern wilds and the men who redeem them : an authentic narrative embracing an account of seven years travel and adventure in the far West ... → online text (page 18 of 62)