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 32 of 62)
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nature and government. No text in the Bible said that prophets should
cease, while scores of texts implied that He would not leave the earth
without an infallible guide.

Elwood Briarly was powerfully impressed. He was in the Slough
of Despond, and the missionary brought hope ; he was disgusted with
all about him, and here was a chance for a new life. Next day he
was surprised by a visit from the Mormon preacher. The latter was
totally unlike the parish priest. He did not stand oif and preach down
at the poor outcast ; he took a farming tool and worked beside him ;
aye, did task for task with him, and talked only in the intervals of work.
He, too, had known poverty and disgrace ; he, too, had been an unfor-
tunate and an outcast ; he had not walked in silver slippers, and how
mightily did he affect these simple people. From house to house he
went, resolving doubts, urging proof texts, preaching and debating; and
sitting by their humble firesides of an evening, he sang with unction :

" The Spirit of God like a fire is burning,

The latter-day glory begins to come forth ;
The visions and blessings of old are returning ;

The angels are coming to visit the earth.

We'll sing and we'll shout with the armies of heaven,

Hosanna, hosanna, to God and the Lamb !
Let glory to them in the highest be given,

Henceforth and forever, amen and amen ! "


What wonder that he prevailed mightily among these simple people.
What wonder that the cold, barren, carefully prepared homilies of the
parish priest were swept aside ! The emotional faith of the speaker
went to the hearer's soul. It was no cold, intellectual reasoning; it
was warm, robust feeling, and as a natural consequence believers grew
and multiplied. In less than one month from that Sunday, Elwood
Briarly, his father-in-law James, and a dozen of their neighbors were
baptized into the Mormon Church, and eager to set out for " Zion."

But between them and Salt Lake City intervened many months of
work for the cause. And now the whole aim of their lives was
changed. Preaching and working, at home or abroad, all was for the
Church; their talk was of "visions and dreams," "the ministering of
angels," " tongues and the interpretation of tongues," " healings and
miracles." And so it was, that by the opening months of 1856, this
little band of Saints was ready for the long journey to " Zion."
Old Man James was beside himself with joy at thought that all his
dreams were soon to be realized; that Brotherhood of Man, that free-
dom he had vainly sought in Chartism, was to be realized in the Rocky
Mountains, where God's people were to live under the mild rule of
prophets and apostles. Such an idea captivated thousands of young
Englishmen. To them, Utah was a land where all legal hardships
were to be cured, and all men to be equal ; and the spirit of brotherhood
among the British saints at this time, to which all observers bear wit-
ness, they thought only a foretaste of the perfect oneness in Christ
which was to prevail in Utah. In this spirit our friends gathered to
Liverpool, where it was announced, through the columns of the Mil-
lennial Star, that God, by His servant Brigham, had devised a cheaper
and better way of reaching Utah ; the Saints were to travel from the
frontiers on foot, and take their necessary baggage on hand-carts.
But what can shake a fervent and fooling faith? Without a murmur
of dissent the waiting hundreds crowded on the vessel chartered by
the Mormon agents, and, grouped on the deck as the vessel started on
their way, they sang with a tone that resounded o'er the waves :

" Oh, my native land, I love thee ;
All thy scenes I love them well ;
Friends, connections, happy country,
Can I bid you all farewell?

Can I leave thee,
Far in distant lands to dwell?

" Home, thy joys are passing lovely,
Joys no stranger heart can tell ;


Happy home, 'tis sure I love thee,
Can I can I say ' Farewell? '

Can I leave thee,
Far in distant lands to dwell?

" Yes, I hasten from you gladly,
From the scenes I love so well ;
Far away, ye billows, bear me ;
Lovely native land, farewell!

Pleased I leave thee,
Far in distant lands to dwell.

" Bear me on, thou restless ocean,
Let the winds my canvas swell ;
Heaves my heart with warm emotion,
While I go far hence to dwell,

Glad I bid thee,
Native land, farewell, farewell."

On ship-board the discipline was perfect. The new converts were
distributed in quorums, over each an elder, and over all a trustee or
apostle, insuring mutual respect and cleanliness; and in this order the
emigrants traveled all the way to Iowa City, their outfitting point for
the plains. It was there learned that over two thousand of the poorer
and middle class of converts had that year left Europe, all of whom
were to continue the journey from this point with hand-carts. But
precious time was lost The Mormon agent had neglected to provide
the carts; they were now hastily constructed of imperfectly seasoned
wood, and the whole party set out joyfully late in July, and were soon
strung along the route thence to the Missouri River. The first
five hundred got an early start, and being largely composed of young
and strong men, entered Salt Lake Valley just as the first snow of the
season was falling. But our friends, with their companions, found
themselves the second week in August just prepared to start from the
Missouri. Fanatical as they were, some of them shrank from making
the attempt so late in the season. The division contained five hun-
dred persons : a hundred and twenty stout men, three hundred women,
and children old enough to walk, and seventy babies to be carried by
their mothers or hauled upon the carts this party starting to traverse
eleven hundred miles of mountain and desert in the closing months of
the season! Totally ignorant of the country and climate, the converts
were eager to go on to " Zion," but there were four of the leaders who
had been to the valley, and others at Florence attending to the emi-
gration. Incredible as it may appear, all these urged them on but one;
Levi Savage used his common sense and knowledge of the country,
but was rebuked by the elders, who prophesied, in the name of Israel's


God, that not a flake of snow should fall upon them. " You will hear
of storms to the right and to the left, but a way will be opened for
you," Each hundred was then put under charge of a captain ; to each
hundred there were nve round tents, twenty persons to a tent ; twenty
hand-carts, one to five persons, and one " prairie schooner " drawn by
three yoke of oxen, to haul the tents and provisions. All the clothing
and bedding, seventeen pounds to each person, and all the cooking
utensils, were upon the hand-carts, besides a hundred pound sack of flour
to each. Thus equipped, rested by the delay and " strong in the promise
of the Lord by the mouth of His elder," the second division set out
from the Missouri the 18th of August, singing in cheerful concert :

" A church without a prophet is not the church for me ;
It has no head to lead it, in it I would not be;

But I've a church not built by man,

Cut from the mountain without hand,

A church with gifts and blessings, oh, that's the church for me,
Oh, that's the church for me, oh, that's the church for me.

" The God that others worship is not the God for me;
He has no parts nor body, and can not hear nor see;
But I've a God that lives above,
A God of Power and of Love,
A God of Revelation, oh, that's the God for me.

" A church without apostles is not the church for me ;
It's like a ship dismasted afloat upon the sea;
But I've a church that's always led
By the twelve stars around its head,
A church with good foundations, oh, that's the church for me.

" The hope that Gentiles cherish is not the hope for me,
It has no hope for knowledge, far from it I would be ;

But I've a hope that will not fail,

That reaches safe within the vail,
Which hope is like an anchor, oh, that's the hope for me."

But neither hope nor faith changed the harsh climate of the high
plains and wind-swept plateaus ; and seven weeks of travel left our
friends still four hundred miles from " Zion," in the heart of the high
Rockies, almost out of provisions, worn down, sick, apparently for-
gotten of God and abandoned by man. It was then the inborn noble-
ness of the English race shone out. Men toiled on day after day,
hauling and even carrying women and children, wading ice-cold
streams with the feeble in their arms, in many cases carrying their
little children in the morning and themselves dying before night.
Fainting fathers took the scant rations from their lips and fed their
crying children; mothers carried their babes till they sank exhausted
in the snow, and young men nerved themselves to suffer every thing



for those they loved. Briarly had never known how much he loved
his little Marian till then. Daily the image of her mother grew in
her face, and hourly he felt the agony of death lest he should leave
her corpse in the wilderness. At times pushing his hand-cart with
her weight added to his regular load; at times wading the cold mount-
ain streams with her clasped to his bosom, and yet again assisting
others whose husbands or fathers had died on the way, he showed
that a false faith had not yet corrupted nature. Day after day the


train struggled on in silence and sorrow, and every morning saw from
one to ten of their number cold in death. Daily the survivors grew
weaker from exposure and insufficient food : old men died as easily as
a lamp goes out when the oil is exhausted ; women died as a child
goes to sleep ; young men died sitting by the camp-fire, with their
scant rations in their mouths. Still the survivors pressed on, though
every day more slowly: by day pierced by the keen winds, or happily
sheltered a little by the mountain pines; by night shivering and moan-
ing in a miserable sleep, cheered only by the long drawn and melan-
choly howl of the coyote.


The regular winter storms struck them at Rocky Ridge, but not
until the first relief company from Salt Lake City had reached them.
In their worst extremity some had even accepted charity from the
wretched Goshoots, whose existence from December till May is organ-
ized famine and misery. But help came too late for one of our
friends. Old Man James had borne up long and well. The day the first
storm of winter came he sank by the wayside with scores of others.
John Chislett, commander of this hundred, took off his own blanket
and wrapped it around his older and weaker brother; and a few
hours later the relief party brought him into camp. They warmed*
and chafed his cold limbs, and pressed food upon him ; but his
thoughts were far away. He babbled of green fields, and the hawthorn
along the English lanes; of the village ale-house and the Chartist's
Club, of his little Nixie, still a child, as he thought. This recalled his
later experience, and starting up, he cried: "My curse, my eternal
curse on those who brought us from our English home ;" then fell
back with glazing eye and stiffening jaw.

The Old Radical had found the Brotherhood of Man at last.

But Brigham's kingdom had lost a subject.
# * * * * <*

While fanaticism was corrupting fresh young English hearts, the
harsh attrition of rural life in the West was wearing another hero
into shape. But who would have chosen Willie Manson for a hero
that spring afternoon? his face covered with dust, through which
the tears were washing little tracks ; his feet bare, and his head half
covered with a dilapidated straw hat. He had but dim recollections
of a tall and kindly man who spoke to him as " my boy ; " since then his
"legal guardians" had made him more familiar with the phrase, "that
wretched young one," and the neighbors' children had nicknamed
him "Binder," in allusion to the legal tie which relegated him to the
authority of his master. How have they wasted their time those
poets who write of "innocent childhood?" Cruelty is bound up in
the heart of a child, and is manifested against the helpless of his own
age. If you do not believe it, watch a group of school children, when
a pauper child, or a " bound boy " or girl is first sent among them.

But to-day Willie Manson had received blows as well as harsh
words, and as he came across the fields on his errand, a glance west-
ward showed him a wide expanse of open country; and all at once
arose that vague longing which appears to have moved our race ever
since the first Aryan turned towards sunset. Obeying a wild im-
pulse half anger and half a formed desire to run away the boy fled


swiftly across the fields till he reached the high road; then he stopped,
and, boy-like, with the reaction came this thought: " Oh, won't I catch
it, though, when I get home?" Left to himself, the thirteen-year-old
child would, of course, have gone back, taken his punishment, and
perhaps sunk into a "white slave," perhaps taken a later occasion to
fly. But fate Avould have it otherwise. As he pondered, there came
down the road a high "prairie schooner," drawn by four horses;
within the neat white cover sat a cheery looking woman who held the
reins, while behind came two men driving loose cattle. They nodded
and smiled in a way that warmed the heart of the forlorn orphan ; but
the next minute turned in haste to head *off their cattle, who had
broken into a wood lot and were stampeding for wild freedom. With
a natural wish to please, and glad of some change, the barefooted boy
ran after the cattle, and, by his knowledge of the locality, assisted
greatly in getting them past the next open piece of timber. They
thanked him heartily, and pressed a silver dime upon him, then bade
him good-bye; but, to their surprise, when they camped that evening
on the banks of the Wabash, the boy was there. Reluctantly the
"movers" consented to his remaining -for the night, and in the morn-
ing, fearing the consequences to themselves of " harboring a runaway,"
they sent him back. But to their amazement, when the swing ferry
had landed them on the west bank, and they were toiling up the west-
ern bluff, the boy climbed out of the rear of the wagon-box and beg-
ged to go on with them. His readiness to help had pleased the men,
and now something in his pleading face touched the weary but still
cheerful woman.

"Isn't he like our Johnnie was? And at the age we lost him"
and she took him into her great motherly heart at once. So, with
many misgivings, the head of the family consented to his accompany-
ing them. But it might have been noticed that he made a very long
drive that day, and camped at a distance from any dwelling; that he
managed to keep Willie very busy if any settler halted to chat with
the " movers," and that he pressed upon him a hat very different in
appearance from that he had worn. And so it was that in a few days
Willie felt as if he had never known other friends than these ; that
the old life as a " bound boy " was a dream, and that he was to begin
a new life away in the West.

By this time they had emerged into what seemed a vast field with-
out a fence, where, for hours, they jogged on over the grand prairie
without sight of tree or house. They crossed the Embarras, the Okaw
and other streams, threaded their bordering groves, and were out again


upon the prairies, then but thinly settled, of central Illinois. Beyond,
they descended the gently rolling hills, crossed the great river, and in
the early summer entered upon the rolling plains and wooded vales of
Iowa and still on and on. To Willie each new day brought surprise
that the world was so big; but still at evening the man replied to
his wife's question : " I want to get out where I can have my pick.
Reckon a hundred miles or so west of Iowa City '11 suit me"

At last the pioneer announced that "this 'ere district looked new
enough, and about the right thing," and at noon of a scorching July
day they made camp for the last time. Willie had taken the bucket,
and was returning from the creek near by with water, when suddenly
there came in view the most amazing caravan he had ever looked
upon. For a mile along the dim wagon track there straggled in
strange array men, women, and children, all panting and sweating
under the hot sky of an Iowa July noon. Here and there were
heavy wagons drawn by oxen ; but most of the vehicles were rude
carts with shafts attached, and in those shafts how could the little
American believe his eyes? were actually women and men, not ex-
actly harnessed like brute beasts, but pushing or pulling at the heavy
loads. Dripping with sweat and begrimed with dust, all ages and
sexes still seemed eager to press on ; little children ran beside the
carts, while babies slumbered on the p'iles of bedding, or hung upon
the breasts of bronzed and weary mothers. Behind came the more
weary, and with them a man who appeared to be in command, urging
them on; and among the last came a man who pushed a cart before
him and pulled another from behind, while a little girl walked beside
him crying to ride.

"What's the matter, little girl?" said the boy, finding his tongue at
last. The child hushed on the instant, but still lingered as if wanting
to talk.

"Where are you going, little girl?"

"To Zion to build up the kingdom of God."

The boy was positively frightened. What could this strange little
creature mean. But before he could ask, she whimpered : " Oh, I am
so tired."

This was something Willie could understand very well ; and it was
not half so bad to his mind as the other, for, like most children who
have been under severe authority, he literally "feared God." To
him any other prospect was more pleasant than going to the " king-
dom," as he understood it. But while he gazed at the little one, and
in his boyish way wondered and speculated, the advance of the caval-


cade had halted for midday at the creek j and he followed with the
weary child, who seemed all at once to have acquired great confidence
in him. Meanwhile the pioneer had been down to talk with the party,
and Willie had to bid his little acquaintance good-bye and hurry back.

"And who are they, any how?" said the wife.

" Oh, a set of d d fool Mormons," replied the matter-of-fact
Hoosier " they say they're a goin' to Zion. More likely goin' to
the devil, startin' out the way they are."

But Willie had in mind his little friend of an hour, and, after much
pondering, concluded that she must be a " bound girl " as he had been
a " bound boy," and that some harsh master was taking her away from
home; so, with the good woman's permission, he gathered up some
delicacies left from their dinner, and ran down to offer them to the
little girl. He listened to the talk of the elders, but it was a strange
jargon to him; there was so much about "wicked Babylon," and
"God's wrath," and "the last days," that he was frightened again,
and could hardly say whether he was glad or sorry when the cool of
the day came on and the strange party set out again. But the vision
remained long in his memory; and months after he astonished his
patron by suddenly asking: "Who are Mormons, anyhow? and why
don't they use teams just like folks?"

A year passed, and the boy was again moving westward. A year
had done wonders in strengthening his body ; he was already known
as a skillful driver, and when a train set out to haul provisions to the
army in the mountains, he was promoted to the management of "one
span " and a " light outfit." " Three span outfits," on such a route as
that, were reserved for men. Need I recount the incidents of that dis-
astrous autumn and winter of suffering? Our army, marching care-
lessly and without a thought of resistance, allowed the Mormon troops
to run off their stock, and render them helpless on the inhospitable
plains of Bridger. There the train to which Willie was attached found
them in the dead of winter, and but for this timely arrival they must
have suffered for food. The winter dragged on in misery and ex-
posure; but fortune, which had denied our little hero almost every
thing else, had at least given him a rugged constitution, and he lived
through a season when strong men drooped and died. When spring
had dissolved the snow banks from the Wasatch passes, and "King
Buchanan had come to his senses," as Mormon history expresses it,
peace was made, and the army entered the Territory, traversed Salt
Lake City, and was located at Camp Floyd.

And now came the era that was to decide our young hero's future ;



for Camp Floyd presented extraordinary facilities for the ruin of char-
acter, and Willie was at that period which most often decides one's des-
tiny for time perhaps for eternity. With the army, or following close
after it, came an array of camp-followers outnumbering the soldiers
three to one. Government contracts were given out with a lavish

hand, and money
that was easily
got was lavishly
spent. Among
the superior s,
there was high-
toned robbery of
the Government
and the Indians ;
among the in-
feriors, gambling
and quarreling,
and every-where
rioting and fatal
"accidents." The
revolver was in
f r e q u e n t use ;
renegade young
Mormons crowd-
ed the camp, and
the scum of the
mountains made
it their rendez-
vous. For two
years o u r hero
was swept along
by the tide. He
was by turns
teamster, com-
missary clerk,
and merchant's

clerk; but still preserved enough of nature's nobility to make him,
in his quiet moments, loathe the life around him, and long for a
purer atmosphere. Gentile merchants had opened stores in the city,
and. with a sudden impulse he set out one morning to ride there
and seek a position. But the life he had lately led had not been



without effects. Exposure and over-exertion when at work, and dissi-
pation instead of relaxation when at leisure, can not long be borne even
in the stimulating air of Utah. He felt every hour of his progress a
growing lassitude ; and had barely entered the outskirts of the
city, when he fell from his horse in a paroxysm of that dread
disease, mountain fever. When he opened his eyes in his first
lucid moment, ten days after, he was amazed at what he thought
a familiar face near his pillow. He gazed long and earnestly, and at
last, despite all the changes of four years, recognized the little girl he
had last seen on the banks of the Boyer, in Iowa.



IT was in full Tabernacle, in the early autumn of 1856. The reign
of lust and fanaticism, known in Utah as the " Reformation," had not
ended ; and at every meeting fresh schemes were projected to bind the
Mormons more thoroughly into a pliable mass, which might be "even
as a tallowed rag in the hands of the priesthood." Every Saint
had been required to confess the minutest details of his past life ; all
these were written down, signed by the party, and thousands of them
filed away by Brigham Young. The ward teachers had reported ev-
ery case of real or supposed heresy ; the accused had been severely
catechised, and the incorrigible driven from the Territory or worse.
A grand "experience meeting" was now in progress. Brigham
had pronounced one of his fiercely denunciatory and sweeping ser-
mons, and three thousand Saints, wrought up to the highest pitch of
fanaticism, were singing the inspiring national hymn of the Mormon
theocracy :

" In thy mountain retreat
God shall strengthen thy feet,
On the necks of thy foes shalt thou tread ;
And their silver and gold,
As the prophets have told,
Shall be brought to adorn thy fair head.

Oh, Zion, dear Zion, home of the free.
Soon thy towers will shine with a splendor divine,
And eternal thy glories shall be.

" Here our voices we'll raise,
And we'll sing to thy praise,

Sacred home of the prophets of God !
Thy deliverance is nigh,
Thy oppressors shall die,

And the Gentiles shall bow 'neath thy rod.

" Oh, Zion, dear Zion, home of the free !

In thy temples we'll bend, all thy rights we'll defend,
And our homes shall be ever with thee."

Into this assembly came Joseph A. Young, second son of the



Prophet, just returned from a two years' mission in England, and an-
nounced that two divisions of the hand-cart emigrants were on the
plains, and in danger of starvation. Then Brigham roused himself,

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 32 of 62)