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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is ever pushed to the depth of a hundred feet ; of those so pushed not
more than one in ten proves a valuable mine, and even of tolerably
valuable mines not one in twenty proves a Caribou, Pelican, Dives
or a Comstock. But if every location were as valuable as the owner
thinks it to be when he first starts down on it, silver would soon
cease to be a precious metal. We might manufacture it into door-

As a rule only the developed and proved mines are bought by East-
ern companies, but in the great speculative era of 1864-66, Colorado
was literally sold out to New York capitalists, who took stock in the
future with amazing readiness. Thirty-eight companies were organ-
ized, with an aggregate capital of $24,000,000 ! And this when all
the mines in the Territory were not worth the half of that sum.
Hundreds of mere "prospect holes" were purchased at high figures,
and mills were erected to work the ore before the buyers knew of
what kind it was, or whether there was one ton or a million. The
era of mad speculation has given place to that of practical mining,
and Colorado has advanced to an annual yield in ore and bullion of
from $12,000,000 to $15,000,000.

Colorado is divided nearly down the center by the main chain of
the Rocky Mountains or, in miner's phrase, " saddle-backed across
the range." West of the summit not one acre in a thousand is fit for
any thing but grazing. As depressions in the summit appear the great
parks, a curious and attractive feature of Colorado. As summer re-
treats and grazing grounds, they will ultimately be of great value.
The slope eastward from the mountains is the pasture land of the new
State. The whole section is being rapidly dotted with ranches, and
all kinds of stock thrive on the nutritious grasses. But it is only on
the low land along the streams that farming can be carried on.

At the heads of the Fontaine Que Bouille and other tributaries of
the Arkansas, bounteous nature seems to have exhausted her powers
in the way of scenery and climate. There the sheltered valleys open-
ing to the south are green early in the year; there reluctant summer
lingers longest, and glad spring hastens to return. The hot pools, the
vast reservoirs and bubbling fountains of soda, the medicinal springs,
the wooded parks, the gateway to the mountains and the Garden of
the Gods afford unfailing delight. Over all rises Pike's Peak, out-
lined against a sky of dazzling blue, landmark for a hundred miles
in every direction. Around the heads of all the streams that feed the


Arkansas are the finest bunch-grass pastures, on which feed vast herds
of sheep and cattle.

The valley of the Arkansas is fertile some distance eastward. But
a little south the scene changes suddenly, and the extreme south-east-
ern part of the Territory lies in that great desert which includes all
the neighboring portions of Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and the In-
dian Territory. There the water-holes are few and far between; the.
thorny mezquit alone can be said to adorn the landscape, and the region
can only be crossed at the risk of death from thirst. On the south-
ern edge of this desert my friend, Thad. Buckman, took refuge in a
mezquit thicket from the Arapahoes, and, though previously noted for
his modesty, when he got out of there, with his skin hanging in
ribands, he was the worst stuck-up man in the Rocky Mountains.
Every bush has a thorn and every insect a sting ; all the Indians are
hostile, and if one should meet a white man, the chances are even that
he is an involuntary exile and a cattle thief. The principal pro-
ductions are mezquit, tarantulas and centipedes.

The Arkansas was formerly the northern boundary of Mexico, and
across this desert marched, in 1843, from their rendezvous on that
stream, one of the many Texan expeditions against Santa Fe. Its mem-
bers are now glorified on annual San Jacinto days as noble and devoted
patriots to whom dishonor were worse than death ; but I am afraid they
would not know themselves in that character. They arrived almost
dead from starvation at the Mexican settlements, and, having supplied
themselves, found that Governor Armijo had warning of their ap-
proach; accordingly they marched back and disbanded. After a
brief rest a new party was organized, numbering a hundred and eighty,
which found a little better route over the desert, and came up with
the Mexican forces while in fighting condition. Texan histories, in
florid, South-western rhetoric, describe the daring charge and furious
onslaught of the little army, the fierce conflict and bloody victory, add-
ing in confirmation that the Texans lost two men wounded ! 1 heard
while in Texas that one of the two cut his fingers accidentally with a
bowie-knife. Pity those historians had not taken a lesson from Ccesar's
Commentaries that to praise the enemy's bravery is to exalt the victor.

Turning back from the South-eastern desert to the foot of the mount-
ains, fertility increases with every mile, until we are again among the rich
pastures and mountain meadows along the heads of the streams. Thus
it will be seen that Colorado is naturally divisible into four great sec-
tions; twenty thousand square miles of complete barrenness, whether
of mountain or desert; fifty thousand square miles of plain and valley,


fit only for grazing ; an unknown area rich in mines, and perhaps two
thousand square miles of agricultural land. On the grazing lands
cattle and sheep are multiplying by hundreds of thousands yearly. It
is estimated that Eastern Colorado will aflbrd abundant pasturage for
two million sheep and cattle. Facilities for manufacturing exist on
every mountain stream, and great attention is being paid to the pro-
duction of fine wools.

Farther up in the mountains the few cultivable plats require no ir-
rigation. From a summer's residence at Georgetown I am convinced
that three times as much rain falls there as at Denver. But elevation
is a great hindrance to crops. Wheat can be produced at an altitude
of 6,000 feet, oats at 7,000, rye at 7,500, and near Central City I have
seen potatoes yielding bounteously at 9,000 feet. Colorado flour has
attained a world-wide celebrity. Enthusiastic prophets speak of re-
claiming all the barren plains, but I respectfully submit that it is im-
possible, unless the climate changes. All the streams in Eastern Col-
orado would not supply irrigation for a strip across the Territory ten
miles wide. The high plains are irreclaimable by any process which
would be remunerative, and must continue for many centuries to be
the herd-grounds of the West.

What, then, are the possibilities of Colorado? If the pressure of
population is to be no greater than in the Ohio Valley, I estimate it
as follows : 200,000 engaged in agriculture and mining, and as many
in stock-ranching, manufacturing and commerce. But the floating,
or rather visiting, population will always be large. Colorado's beau-
ties are of a kind that art can not mar. No amount of "improve-
ment" can lessen the grandeur of her peaks, the romance of her se-
cluded canons, the reviving air and inspiring scenery of her wonder-
ful parks; time will only more fully demonstrate the value of her
mineral springs, and in her Western Wilds many successive genera-
tions of sportsmen will find health and relaxation.

In general intelligence Colorado is not surpassed by any com-
munity in the world. Dullards and desperadoes do not build up such
a commonwealth as this. A hundred thousand people Avho have cre-
ated in eighteen years a wealth of fifty millions, and now add fifteen
millions annually to the national treasure; who support a score of
daily and weekly papers ; who organized civil government out of
social chaos, and have grown to Statehood with so little trouble to
the nation, may be trusted to govern themselves wisely in the future.
Whether in material or moral greatness, we may be justly proud of
our Centennial State.



IN September, 1874, I resumed my residence in Salt Lake City, and
there remained one year part of the time as Clerk of the Supreme
Court of Utah, the remainder as assistant editor of the Daily Tribune.
The sensation of that autumn was the capture and imprisonment of
John D. Lee; of the next summer, his arraignment and trial. In the
two years after I left him at his stronghold on the Colorado, he had
grown bolder and visited the nearest settlements without disguise,
fully persuaded that all the Mormons were as devoted to his safety as
they had shown themselves to be fifteen years before. But he was
mistaken. While he enjoyed the society of some of his younger
wives at Panguitch, on the Sevier River, some one conveyed a hint to
the United States Marshal at Beaver, and a scheme was at once con-
certed for the capture of the murderer.

Marshal Owens, with a posse of five men, set out from Beaver just
after dark, and by night marches, lying concealed in the timber by
day, came upon Panguitch just after daylight. But cautious as he had
been, before he got into town word was conveyed to Lee, and the lat-
ter had time to hide. Once in the town the Marshal and posse found
a dense ignorance prevailing. Nobody knew whether John D. Lee
had a wife there, or where she lived, or what name she went by.
Enraged at this general collusion with the criminal, the posse seized a
small boy, who afterwards proved to be Lee's son, and threatened him
with death unless he directed them to the house. The little Mormon
gazed calmly at his captor, then at the pistol in the latter's hand, and
said, " Shoot away, d n ye ; I don't know nothin' about it." Had
not all the roads been guarded, the murderer could even then have
escaped. Meanwhile the sun rose and the citizens went about their
daily tasks ; but it was evident that a few were all the time within
easy reach of the posse, and that a word from the bishop or ruling
elder of the place would have precipitated a bloody fight. Fortu-
nately the right house was found before there was time for consultation
among the criminals. The nest was warm, but the bird had flown.
In the cow-yard was an old shed; the under logs had been pulled out,




and the roof was now only four or five feet from the ground and cov-
ered with straw. It looked like a shapeless heap of straw, but was a
hog-pen and chicken-coop. As long as the posse searched the house
the women were passive enough ; but when Marshal Owens com-
menced examining this straw pile, the older one hastily grabbed a
gun. That settled it.

" He's here," said the Marshal, quietly, and the pen was surrounded.


The woman had been disarmed, but Lee's retainers were flocking in
from all sides. A cordon of Mormons already surrounded the house
and cow-yard. The women seemed to be urging them on, and a few
of them came forward to the pen. It was discovered that Lee had
thirty sons, sons-in-law and grandsons in Panguitch, besides some
wives and more distant relations. The posse numbered but five.

Marshal Owens gazed long and earnestly into the little dark hole,
the only entrance to the pen ; and when his eyes grew accustomed to
the darkness, he saw a greenish, glaring pair confronting him from
the black corner. Here was his man but how to get him? Deter-
mined not to risk his men's lives, the Marshal directed them to cut
into the straw pile at the rear, while he would keep watch, and if the
man made a motion, would shoot. At these words the inside man
exclaimed :

" Don't shoot, boys. I'll come out." And he did.

Once secured, Lee grew unnaturally social and even merry. He
urged the posse to come into the house, and ordered his wives to cook
breakfast for all parties immediately. But the Gentiles did not feel so


merry. The whole town appeared to be concentrating in that vicinity.
It was evident the place contained at least seventy-five fighting men,
and that they only waited a signal from Lee, or some one else, to
begin. Directing his men to keep their weapons in constant readi-
ness, and placing two of them as a special guard over Lee, the Mar-
shal informed that worthy that the first move towards a rescue would
be the signal for his instant death. The signal was not given. The
posse ate breakfast, silently and in haste, and departed for the hills,
the whole population waiting" and watching. By forced marches the
Gentiles reached Beaver next morning, and John D. Lee soon reposed
in the strong room at Camp Cameron with fifty pounds of iron on his

Before entering on the details of his trial it is necessary to give
some particulars of the crime, a thousand times told, for which he
finally suffered. It was the result of three motives, prominent in the
order named: revenge, lust for plunder and fanaticism. When the
Latter-day Saints left Illinois, 20,000 strong, they hurled back apos-
tolic curses at the whole Gentile nation. That nation, they said, had
rejected the gospel by the murder of the Prophet and Patriarch, and
should perish in its sins. In the Rocky Mountains the Saints would
establish a kingdom, and in due time take vengeance on their enemies.
In the endowment oaths, every true Mormon was sw r orn to avenge the
death of Joseph Smith. A peculiar system of diplomacy and attempt
to establish a theocracy in the States, had brought the Saints into con-
flict with the Americans, and now that conflict was made the means
of uniting them more solidly against the Gentile world. With the
doctrine of a temporal kingdom came in the long train of Hebraic
similes: the Church was in bondage in Egypt; it was in the wilder-
ness of Zin; it was to overthrow the Amalekites (Missourians), and
repeat all the wonderful achievements in the fruitful annals of Israel.
And as the Amalekites resisted, and many Mormons grew disaffected,
all the bloody devices of the ancient Hebrews were legalized, and thus
Mormonism became the terrible thing it was in 1856 and '57.

When they first settled in Utah they determined their government
should be a pure theocracy, but it was necessary to have some form
which the United States would recognize, to give jurisdiction over
Gentiles who might pass through or tarry in Zion. A State govern-
ment was agreed upon. Its boundaries were declared to be from
the summit of the Sierras to that of the Rocky Mountains, and from
latitude 42 down to the Mohave Desert and divide of the Colorado
plateau ; it contained all the present Utah and Nevada, with consider-


able portions of Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona. The prop-
osition carried by a unanimous vote (all propositions do in the Mor-
mon Church), and the heads of the theocracy were in like manner
elected chiefs in the " State of Deseret : " Brigham Young, Governor ;
Daniel H. Wells, Chief Justice and Lieutenant-General; the Twelve
Apostles divided the Judgeships and State officers among them; the
State Senate was made up of Presiding Bishops, the House of inferior
Bishops and Elders, and the local officers in counties were appointed
according to priestly rank. This queer institution ran a year. The
Legislature immediately assembled and divided the whole adjacent
territory into grants; the timber, streams, pasture lands, and valleys
were given to the heads of the Church ; they in turn parceled them
out, each to his laity, and thus color of title was established to all the
land in Utah of any value. As Brigham pithily said, " If there's
nothing for the d d Gentiles to settle on, they can't settle." And
they didn't.

Congress, in the long and memorable session of 1850, cut up our
new possessions into various governments, and, among others, estab-
lished the Territory of Utah about two and a half times as large as
it is now ; of which Territory President Fillmore, with his customary
sense of propriety, appointed Brigham Young Governor ! Immedi-
ately the whole State machinery of Deseret was floated on to the new
government. As far as the Organic Act of Utah gave power, all the
old officials were chosen in the new system; the Legislature re-assern-
bled, sat six months (its expenses were now paid from Washington),
confirmed in bulk most of the legislation of "Deseret," and divided
up all the valleys which had since been discovered. Thus began that
remarkable interlock of church and state, the most perfect despotism
of modern times, which lasted unbroken for twenty years until Judge
McKean and his colleagues made the first breach, in 1870.

The average citizen can have no conception of the empire obtained
by this theocracy over the minds and fortunes of its subjects. Three
concurrent governments took charge of every detail of common life :
the territorial or civil of all aifairs concerning Gentiles, or cases be-
tween Gentile and Mormon; the ecclesiastical of all religious ques-
tions; and the Church civil system of all the industries and commerce
of the people. Brigham was Prophet and Seer in the ecclesiastical ;
First President in the industrial and civil ; for seven years Governor
in the territorial government, and long afterwards virtual dictator of
the policy of his successors. The same man in an outer settlement was
Judge under the Territory, Bishop under the Church, and "President


of the Stake" in the civil and industrial organization. John D. Lee
was Bishop of one settlement, President of a "stake" or commune,
Major of the county militia, Representative of the same county in the
Legislature, official Indian interpreter, the husband of eighteen wives,
and father, from first to last, of sixty-four children. Isaac Haight, his
colleague in murder, was likewise a Bishop, a Captain in the militia,
member of the council (upper house of the Territorial Legislature),
husband of four wives, and father of numerous children. Wm. H.
Dame was Colonel of the regiment ordered out to commit the mas-
sacre, and Bishop of Parowan, and held numerous minor offices. Higby,
probably the most blood-thirsty of the lot, was an inferior Elder, a
Captain in the militia, and generally held some executive office under
the Territory. Bill Stewart, who boasted for years after the massacre
that he " took the d d Gentile babies by the heels and cracked their
skulls over the wagon tires," was only a private in the ranks, but for
years before and after the massacre a member of the Church in good
standing, as were all the other murderers down to the very day the
United States officers chased them into the mountains. And yet there
are good souls who maintain that the Mormon Church bears no moral
responsibility for this massacre.

Had an inferior officer of our army, when camped before Washing-
ton, gone into the country and massacred the people of a Virginia
village without regard to age or sex, and had General Grant not only
overlooked the offense, but promoted the offender, the world would
have resounded with denunciations. Yet the control General Grant
had over his army was laxity itself compared with that Brigham
Young had over Mormondom. To say that these men, of their own
motion, and without a hint from head-quarters, did such a deed, is to
say what every old resident of Utah knows to be a transparent false-
hood. For fifteen years these men had never once followed their own
minds in any matter of importance. One must take " counsel of the
priesthood" on all occasions, whether he would go abroad or remain
at home, open a farm, or go into trade, buy a cow or take an extra
wife. There was no corner of the mountains so remote but some
theocratic arm reached it. There were no walls high enough or thick
enough to shut out church spies; there was no domestic confidence
that was safe, for the ward teachers were expressly instructed to visit
weekly every family in their jurisdiction, and "examine the man apart
from his wife and the wife apart from the man, to the end that heresy
may be rooted out." To say that this was the first crime of these men
is to say what every lawyer knows to be folly. Criminals arc not


made in a day. Men do not become utter and conscienceless villains
just for one occasion. Whole communities do not suddenly turn to
assassins. Starkie and Greenleaf teach a sounder philosophy of crime.
The whole previous life-time of the Mormon Church was no more than
enough to educate men to such action.

Perhaps all these causes would not have been sufficient, but the year
1856 was full of disaster and incitements to fanaticism. The Church
leaders had determined that immigrants from Europe should walk
from the Missouri to Salt Lake City, and trundle hand-carts loaded
with their baggage ; and the first attempt resulted in frightful suffering
and three hundred deaths. This dire calamity appeared to excite an
epidemic madness in Utah.

The "Reformation" which had already set in, now became a verita-
ble reign of terror. The doctrine of " blood atonement," or killing
men to save their souls, was taught by Brigham Young, Orson Hyde,
and others. In all the sermons of that period one will not find
twenty quotations from the New Testament, but every page is red
with the bloody maxims of the Mosaic code.

Meanwhile, Parley P. Pratt, "Isaiah of the Latter-day Church,"
was killed in Arkansas by Hector McLean, whose wife Pratt had
taken away some time before. To the Gentiles this Avoukl seem but
the rash act of an outraged husband ; to the Mormons it appeared the
murder of an able apostle, who had obeyed the "celestial laws/' iu
taking another man's wife. The spring of 1857 found the Mormon
community in a mixed state of fanatic enthusiasm, grief for the lost,
zeal for the cause, and fierce anger against the whole American race.
While in this state the news arrived that President Buchanan had re-
moved Brigham Young from the Governorship, and determined to
station a part of the army in Utah. The immediate consequences
were frightful.

A yell of rage and defiance sounded from one end of the Territory
to the other. The few American officials who remained slipped out at
once. Dr. Hurt, Indian agent, did not trust the roads, but was
piloted through the mountains by the Utes. All the apostates who
could do so fled at once. The rest held their peace, or outdid the
orthodox in their zeal. Several frightful murders and still more
frightful mutilations took place. To deprive a dangerous man of
virility was regarded almost as a joke. Dozens of cases are known to
have occurred between 1856 and 1863 those being the years in
which the "blood atonement" doctrine was preached. All opposition
silenced, and the people were hot for war. Wheat was dried and


cached in the mountains preparatory to a guerrilla war; and every
able-bodied male was under arms. Brigham issued a proclamation
warning all emigrants out of the Territory, and announced in a ser-
mon that if they came, he "would turn the Indians loose on them."
"While things were in this state, the doomed train arrived in Salt Lake

It was, perhaps, the richest train that ever crossed the plains.
There were half a dozen or more wealthy old gentlemen from Mis-
souri and Arkansas, with their sons, sons-in-law and their several
families, including a large number of young ladies; also a few young
men from Vermont, a German doctor and man of science, two lads from
some Eastern city, and a son of Dr. Aden, of Kentucky. All the
Missouri and Arkansas people were related by blood, and when they
were killed a whole clan, so to speak, was cut off. The. recovered
children, in many instances, could find no relations. There were forty
wagons, several hundred horses and cattle, a piano, some elegant car-
riages, several riding horses for the young ladies, and an immense
amount of jewelry, clothing, and minor articles. The value of
the booty taken has been estimated all the way from $150,000 to

Seeing that they were in a hostile country they hastened on ; but as
they advanced southward from Salt Lake (they were going to Los
Angeles), they found the people steadily more hostile. They were
denied passage through some of the towns, and had to make a detour
on the desert; they could purchase no provisions, and found that in
spite of themselves they were constantly violating municipal ordi-
nances, and liable to arrest. At Beaver they were joined by a Mis-
sourian who had been in custody among the Mormons; he urged them
to hurry on as they valued their lives. Passing through Cedar City it
is believed they saw signs of their coming danger and redoubled their
exertions to get beyond the Utah limits. At last they reached the

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 48 of 62)