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 33 of 62)
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and became, in the estimation of his people, indeed " The Lion of the
Lord." Without giving his son a day's rest, he started him at once
on the return, with authority to press all the wagons and available
bedding and provisions in the settlements he passed through. The
people contributed gladly, and in all the assemblies of the Saints pray-
ers were continually offered that God would stay the storms of win-
ter; but instead thereof, as though heaven would rebuke the pre-
sumptuous, the storms of 1856 (it is the testimony of all mountain-
eers) came on earlier and with more severity than for many years be-
fore or since. The poor emigrants were brought in only when one-
fifth of their number had died of cold and starvation, and as many
more been maimed in various degrees. Among the fortunate few were
Elwood Briarly and his little Marian, and their kinsman, young
Thomas James.

The arrival of the sufferers only added to the prevailing madness.
" Surely," said fanaticism, " God is angry with His people, or His
promise to temper the winds would have held good;" and in an
amazingly short space of time most of the new-comers were as insane
as the rest for, indeed, it did seem that at that time all Utah was per-
vaded by an epidemic madness. Jedediah Grant and Orson Hyde
ranged the Territory, breathing out threats ugainst dissenters, and
teaching bloody doctrines in figures of speech. The New Testament
was laid aside; Hebraic precedents only were cited: Phinehas, who
killed his brother and the Midianitish woman; Jael, who slew the
heathen ; the king who massacred idolaters, and the priest who
hewed the transgressor in pieces before the Lord. " The time is nigh
at hand," said Grant, " when we will walk up and down these streets
with the old broadsword and say, 'Are you for God?' and whoever
is not will be hewn down !" Marrying and giving in marriage went
on constantly, as fast as the ordained officials could put the Saints
through the Endowment House ceremonies proper to " plural mar-
riage." Every eligible woman in the Territory was appropriated, and
girls of twelve and fourteen years were "sealed " to old elders. In one
month after he entered the city, in six months after he was an honest
citizen of Christian and monogamous England, Elwood Briarly was
the "husband" of two girls who came with him in the hand-cart

Where now were the lofty ideals with which the English Saints had


left home? The old Radical who dared all for greater freedom, was
food for the wolves in the Rocky Mountains. The young Radical who
sought a land where men were free in Christ, was now the subject of
the worst despotism on earth. The maidens \vho " fled from Babylon
because of its corruptions," were prostitutes in the name of high
heaven; and the Saxon yeoman, who boasted that "the Briarlys
served no man and feared no officer," was now the slave of lust and of
Brigham, and a virtual criminal by the laws of his adopted country.
That brotherly communion of the Saints, which had so warmed their
hearts in old England, they were never to realize again in Utah ;
the British elders, who had labored long to build up the Church abroad,
soon found they had sold themselves for naught, but could not be re-
deemed even at a great price. Many of them mourned secretly for
years, and, when deliverance came, were too much broken in spirit to
avail themselves of it. To them Mormonism has proved the loss of all
honorable ambition for this world, and only the skeptic's hope for the

The madness of the "Reformation" wore itself out, and the plenti-
ful harvest of 1857 made Utah prosperous. On " Pioneers' Day,"
July 24th, thousands of Saints were joyously celebrating the settlement
of the country in Cottonwood Canon, when suddenly arrived two eld-
ers from the States > with the announcement that President Buchanan
had removed Brigham from the Governorship, and ordered the army
to Utah. Brigham's brow darkened as he said: "When we reached
here I said, if the devils would only give me ten years, I'd be ready for
them ; they've taken me at my word, and I am ready." The people
were called together, and a defensive war declared. All Utah was
soon in a buzz of warlike preparation. Briarly bid his wives good-
bye, shook their two right hands and kissed their four lips, and was
off for Echo Cafion with two thousand armed Saints, to drive the Gen-
tile army from the borders of Zion. They were wonderfully success-
ful. The little brigade, under command of Colonel Albert Sidney
Johnston, was scarcely a match for the wild riders of Utah, who
knew every caflon and gorge in the Wasatch. The Mormon boys
rode at full speed down hill-sides where a cavalryman dared not vent-
ure at a walk; and finding the army wagons parked, and their cattle
herded in the vegas on Ham's Fork, they set fire to the tall grass, and,
when the smoke had obscured the view, dashed across the burning
plain and drove off a thousand of Uncle Sam's cattle.

A few such exploits as this filled the Mormons with a vainglorious
pride, scarcely yet abated ; and many a Saint even now tells with a



joyful glow how " the hirelings of King Buchanan gave back before
the Mormon boys." Winter found the Gentile army on the bleak
plains of Bridger, unable to move, and nearly all the Mormon soldiers
went home to enjoy the gayest winter Utah has ever passed. Songs,
sermons and dances, varied by glowing prophecies, kept them in


splendid humor with themselves. No people in an equal space of
time ever produced so much bad poetry as the Mormons ; but a few /)f
their best songs have a ring in them that then made them popular,
especially if they breathed sarcasm and defiance of all the Gentile
world. While the elders prayed and prophesied, the boys in the
camps sang:

" Old Sam has sent, I understand,

Du dah!
A Missouri * ass to rule our land ;

Duhdah! Duh dah day!

* Referring to Gov. Alfred Gumming, who was, however, a Georgian, and was greatly
enraged when Brigham afterwards spoke of him as "from Missouri."


But if he comes, we'll have some fun,

Du dah!
To see him and his juries run,

Duh dah ! Du dah day !
CHOKUS: Then let us be on hand

By Brigham Young to stand;
And if our enemies do appear,
We'll sweep them from the land.

" Old squaw-killer Harney is on the way,

Duh dah!
The Mormon people for to slay,

Duh dah! Duh dah day!
Now if he comes, the truth I'll tell,

Duh dah!
Our boys will drive him down to hell!

Duh dah! Duh dah day!"

But again were faith and hope vain. When the spring sun had
dissolved the snow-packs from the passes of the Wasatch, the army
entered the valley, while 30,000 Mormons were on their flight south-
ward. Col. Thomas L. Kane had entered Utah from the south ; the
Peace Commissioners, Powell and McCulloch, had promised amnesty,
and Governor Cumming had entered Salt Lake City. But all in vain.
The people continued their mad flight southward, while Gov. Gum-
ming stood by the road-side, tears rolling down his cheeks at sight of
their misery, and implored them to remain. It was midsummer be-
fore any considerable number returned; with them Briarly and his
family. But the mad proceedings of two years had not been without
their influence on our friends. Thomas James began to ask himself,
in all seriousness, if what he had witnessed could be the result of Di-
vine guidance ; and in Utah it is emphatically true, that he who hesi-
tates is lost to Mormonism. And now began that terrible conflict in
the soul of the young man, through which more than one apostate has
passed with tears of agony, with doubts and tremblings, with days of
painful self-examination, and nights of restless tossing and vain de-
bate. Could it be that all was a delusion ? That his father had died
on the plains, that he and those near to him were laboring and suffer-
ing and all for a dismal lie? Losses of friends, property, honors, all
can be borne, and the strong man rise above them ; but who can tell
the heart-rending agony of the devotee who has lost his God f

He scarcely knew why, but in no long time he found himself in a
small circle of those who suffered in the same way. Not that they sought
each other, or confessed their secret doubts at once ; but little by little
they grew to understand each other. They labored to convince them-


Selves that there had only been slight errors ; that in the main the
faith was correct, and they would receive their reward. But such
self-deception was not long possible. Chief among these sorrowing and
doubting ones was Elder John Banks. He had early embraced the
faith in England. He, too, had been a Chartist leader, and thought he
"had found true liberty and brotherhood in Mormonism. And now a
strange friendship sprang up between the disappointed man and the
doubting lad. They walked and talked together; their Sundays and
leisure hours they spent in sad but pleasant communion over their
troubles, or in renewed study of the "evidences" they had once
thought so convincing as to the divine origin of Mormonism. As
might be expected, the younger was the first to free himself. Let what
might be true, he knew in. his heart that Brigham was not sent of
God. The Mormon faith he could not reject entirely, but compro-
mised on the idea that a true prophet was yet to arise ; that a terrible
mistake had in some way been made, and that in due time God would
remember His people. But the elder could not then begin a new
life; his heart was bound up in Mormonism, for which he had toiled
so long, and he urged his young friend to go with him and lay their
troubles before- President Young. Brigham received them with that
paternal kindness he exercises towards all who may yet be saved to
the church ; he doled out the usual commonplaces about " faithful-
ness," " obedience," " live your religion," and " pay your tithing."
But it brought no healing to these sore minds. Thomas James was
already " apostate in spirit," and there was more in the sad heart of
John Banks than he could put in words to Brigham Young.

The friends visited the Briarlys, and there saw the young Gentile,
now slowly convalescing. The younger looked on him and thought
of the great gulf that separated them. Here was a lad but few years
younger than himself, but with none of his heart-racking doubts and
fears. What was there in the nature of things which made him a
prey to conflicting emotions to which this one was a stranger? Some-
times he hoped Mormonism was all a delusion, but dreaded lest it
might be true ; again he labored to prove to himself that it was true,
and still feared that his hope was vain ; but whether he hoped or
feared, he somehow felt a strange envy of his new acquaintance, who,
though now an invalid, was at any rate neither a dupe nor a traitor to
his faith. The whole family soon took a strange interest in the young
Babylonian, whom fate had brought to their door. He could now sit
up and talk, and his talk was such a strange contrast to theirs. Secretly
they felt guilty for taking so much enjoyment in it, and yet his light-


est utterance seemed fresh and piquant. They did not know it, but
they were getting weary of " Tabernacle talk." The strain they had
lived under had worn great grooves in their natures, almost without
their knowledge. The "wives" were not the fresh and guileless
English girls of four years before. Little by little they had learned
to shut up their souls, to hide their inmost nature from others, even
from themselves. That extreme reticence which polygamy engenders
had become a habit; a habit carried into all the concerns of life, even
where it was unnecessary. They were transformed, without knowing it,
from individuals into parts of a great machine ; and though they some-
times felt a strange pain and longing, they scarce knew why, and
would have insisted with vehemence that they were happy in their
present relations. To them, this pale Gentile, who had seen life from
the other side, as it were, and now talked in such a pleasant, grateful
way of his past and hope for the future, brought a strange pleasure
that had in it a touch of pain. On Manson their kindness had a
great effect. Mormonism he knew only from the current talk at
Camp Floyd a view altogether presumed and one-sided ; but were
not these people humane and gentle ? were they not of his own race
and color? And could that be entirely bad which produced such
good results? And so, though not a word was said on either side
about religion, while the light utterances of the Gentile implanted
skepticism in the minds of the Saints, the simple kindness of the
Saints had almost converted the Gentile.

But none of these things touched Elwood Briarly. Four years in
polygamy had seared the delicate tendrils of his English heart; he
was, in his fanaticism, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; and to him this
stranger was only to be aided in his distress, because he bore the
human form, but quietly gotten rid of as soon as possible. And yet
there lingered one element of his best days ; he loved his little
Marian, though he had given her two step-mothers, and brief as had
been that meeting in Iowa, he still felt the kindness of the boy, and
as far as might be with a Gentile, wished him well. Convalescence in
the stimulating air of Utah was rapid, and in due time Willie Manson
was able to seek employment with a Gentile merchant in the city,
and there he remained two years. His little English friend still re-
tained his friendship, and in that desultory way, in which alone asso-
ciation between the two classes could then take place in Utah, he
occasionally visited and kept up his acquaintance with the Briarlys.
Thus matters went on till the spring of 1862.

But what strange transformation was this which the little English


maiden had undergone! Or was it really the same child he had
known, and whose prattle had so greatly amused him during his con-
valescence? It could not be, he thought, though the change had oc-
curred before his eyes. No, she was no longer English ; she had the
trim form, the delicate complexion, the arched instep, and the light
tripping step of the American girl. She was obeying the climatic
laws of sunny Utah, and not of foggy England. And thus have
thousands of British parents in that Territory lost their children.
For whether it be due more to climate, or to a change of fare, or to
exemption from the severe toil and hard life of the poor in Europe,
true it is that thousands of foreign-born female Saints, themselves
short and stocky, find their daughters growing up in the American
likeness ; and the young girls " coming on " in Utah are so much
more handsome than the young girls just from Europe, that the
Saints are bewildered, and the revelation for "celestial marriage" is
often set at naught. But what was this other change which annoyed
the young man so greatly, and puzzled more than it annoyed him ?
Was not this his friend, the same girl who had run to welcome him ?
Why should she now avoid him, or blush and shrink away when he
spoke? True, she was older; but what is a woman, he thought, but
a girl of larger growth? and why should the woman hate him when
the girl had felt so grateful to him ? In all his experience he had
seen nothing like it. To add to his troubles the poor fellow was
lonesome. He had within him the gentle blood of that tall, hand-
some, and loving man whom he could barely remember, and he could
not assimilate with the rude society which was all he could find in the
floating Gentile population. The brief period in which he had
yielded to dissipation at Camp Floyd, he now looked back upon with
disgust. He felt within himself a capacity for better things ; he
grew shy and uncommunicative, and spent his leisure hours in reading
or walking about the pleasant streets of the Mormon capital. Some-
times he wildly resolved on a return to the States, and again that he
would outfit with sonie of the parties going to the " new diggings,"
away up in the Blackfeet country. Then when another mood seized
him, he would venture on another visit to the Briarlys ; and though
he was sure there was nothing pleasant in the sour looks of the Mor-
mon, or the sad silence of his " wives," and least of all in the shy
avoidance of him by Marian, still he would go, because, as he thought,
there was nowhere else to go. He pondered, and pondered again,
upon the unpleasant change which seemed to have come over every
body in whom he felt an interest, and his musings always ended in


one unanswerable question : Why should his little friend, who had
once liked him, now dislike and shun him?

But if all this was a mystery to Manson, it was clear enough to the
Mormon father, who had twenty years more experience in the ways of
this wicked world; clearer still to the ward teachers, who visited and
catechised every family in their jurisdiction once a week, and clearest
of all to the wary bishop of the sixth ward, whose business it was to
know every thing that was going on in his bishoprick. They knew,
none better, the strange impulses that wake up in the transition period
of life ; they knew the various motives that influence men to think
they are serving the Creator, when they are only moved by the
creature. And now look out, young man, for move which way you
will, you are almost certain to make a mistake. A few months more,
and you will either be a bond-servant of Brigham Young bound to
theocracy by ties you can not sever, and by oaths you dare not break/
or an enemy to be harassed and in time expelled.
## #.$###,$,.$

A new prophet had arisen, and John Banks was wild with joy.
Joseph Morris, a simple Welshman, had seen the heavens opened, and
through long ranks of shining horsemen the three celestial messengers
had come from the throne of Eloheim and bestowed on him the keys
of this last ministry. Burning with zeal, he called on Brigham
Young to announce his mission, and was dismissed with a short, sharp,
and filthy response, which shocked but did not discourage him. Mor-
ris at once called upon the people to rally to the true standard, and
converts flocked to him from all over the Territory. They were no
longer without a living oracle. Brigham had no message to them from
the skies ; he was a dumb prophet. Joseph Morris abounded in visions
and revelations. He was "the messenger of God, and the true priestly
successor of Joseph Smith. To John Banks this was the fullness of
the gospel indeed ; he had grieved over the one-man power, and sighed
for the Brotherhood of the Saints, and in this mission he saw new
hope. For seventeen years there had been no vo*ice from heaven, but
now Joseph Morris had revelations so fast that four clerks two Eng-
lish and two Danish were required to write them down. The re-
proach of the Saints, that there had been no revelator since the death
of Joseph Smith, was now taken away ; and John Banks sought his
young friend Thomas James, with the glad tidings. He,- too, longed
for a living prophet, and in a month was as zealous a " Morrisite " as
he had once been a Brighamite, and, with five hundred others, gathered
to the camp on the Weber. There revelations, charms, visions, coun-


cils, and "speaking in tongues" followed in bewildering profusion. The
converts followed the (supposed) example of the early Christians, and
had all things in common. Christ was to come and reign in person in
a few months, and why trouble themselves about separate property?
At length Morris announced to his followers that they need plow and
sow no more ; they had enough of grain and cattle to last them till
Christ came. So all business was suspended except hearkening to in-
structions, singing hymns, 'marching in the sacred circle, and listening
to revelations. But the millennium failed to arrive, according to
promise. Then arose the inevitable quarrel, and secession of a few
members. These claimed a larger share of the common property than
the orthodox thought them entitled to, and, when refused, levied upon
the cattle and wheat of the community. Flour on its way from the
mill to the camp was seized by the dissenters ; the dissenters were
seized in turn and held in close custody by the " Morrisites." The
civil law was invoked, and the militia were ordered out. Once more
were the old Chartist and the young Radical to be disappointed ; once
more was fate to give the lie to a prophet, and teach man, by painful
experience, what he should have known by the commonest of common
sense. The devotees of Morris were soon to learn what the devotees
of Brigham are slowly learning that "who will not be ruled by the
rudder must be ruled by the rock."

One fine morning in June, 1862, appeared before the camp of the
" Morrisites " Robert Burton, sheriff' of Salt Lake County and Mor-
mon Bishop, with six hundred armed men and five pieces of artillery;
and sent in by the hand of the " Morrisite " cowherd a demand for the
surrender of Morris, Banks, and some others. At once the brethren
were called together in the bowery an open shed where they usually
worshiped. Morris put on his prophetic robe and crown, took his
divining rod, and proceeded to "inquire of the Lord about the matter;"
while the whole congregation of five hundred men, women, and
children broke into a loud song, an invocation to the God of Israel
to descend in a chariot of fire and make known His power upon His
enemies. By this time Morris had received the revelation. It
promised that God would show His power, and to that end had
brought the posse upon them ; that not a hair of the head of any of
His people should be injured; that not one of the faithful should be
destroyed. Scarcely had the last words died upon the air, when there
was a sharp whizz, followed by the boom of a cannon, then a scream
from the upper corner of the bowery. Two women fell dead from their
seats, fearfully mangled, and Elsie Nightingale had her under-jaw


carried away by the same cannon shot. Never was prediction of a
prophet more suddenly and terribly falsified. Ninety-three able-
bodied men were all the camp could boast, but they at once flew to
arms. The cannon and long-range rifles of the Brighamite militia
completely raked the interior of the camp, the people being hid in
holes and trenches, while the "Morrisites" had nothing but common
guns with which to reply. Nevertheless, they refused to surrender,
and for three days, fighting with the desperate energy of religious
fanaticism, maintained the unequal battle. The third evening some
one raised a white flag. Bishop Burton, after the prisoners were dis-
armed and under guard, rode in among them and emptied his revolver
right and left, killing Morris and two women, and mortally wounding
John Banks. Thus ended the " Morrisite " secession.

A second time was Thomas James disappointed; a second time was
he the victim of his own fervent and fooling faith. But this time not
without recompense. In the " Morrisite " camp he had met one to
whom his religious nature instinctively paid reverence. A Danish
girl, Christina Jahnsen, alone of her family had been a convert to the
new prophet; and through all the troubles of that troublous time
the young Briton had been cheered by her companionship and sym-
pathy. Now all was over. The last hope of man for a living prophet
was dispelled. He was a captive with the rest, and confessed in his
inmost soul that he no longer believed, or could believe, in any man
claiming a mission from God. For the rest of his life he was a skep-
tic. He saw that the woman he loved was safe, at least from personal
danger, then determined to escape. While the Brighamite posse were
busy rifling the houses and tearing down the tents of the captive
" Morrisites," he sprang into the bushes and ran swiftly up the Weber.
A shot from one of the guards cut a deep flesh-wound along his side,
but he escaped. To return to the settlements he knew would be certain
capture ; there was no chance for him but to continue eastward through
the mountains, till he could fall in with some Gentiles upon the Mon-
tana trail. Weak from loss of blood, his wound inflamed by exposure,
and with nothing but the wheat he could forage from the little patches
on the Weber, he still continued his flight. In Echo Cafion, at the
house of an old friend, he secretly received some aid and toiled on.
Passing the Wasatch, he entered on Bear River Valley, but there his

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 33 of 62)