James Swisher.

How I know, or Sixteen years' eventful experience online

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formed acquaintance into a lengthy argument, merely
for the sake of betrayal before the community. Often-
times they run across one that comprehends well what
these demonstrations mean, far better than if he had
been told in so many words. These much-married


saints generally appeal to their versions of the divine
law. The saints, therefore, berate and oppose the
Gentiles in their undertakings. They denounce the
'colonization of their Territory. There is, consequently,
always a very bitter feeling existing between the two
parties. Such was the state of affairs in the Territory
when the Green boys drove their cattle over into the
bottom lands of Grand River.

There had been a fort built there years previous to
this time by the Mormons, who thought to colonize and
settle up the valley. But to this the Indians were
adverse. They attacked the Mormons in their strong-
hold, and routed them after a severe fight in which
several from both parties were killed. The old fort
had stood vacant until the Greens moved into it as
a protection against the storms, and a place where they
could store away such goods as they had with them.
This is a beautiful little valley, with plenty of wood and
water, and an abundant supply of grass, where stock
by hundreds may graze. Game, of various kinds, is here
found in vast quantities, and the waters afford abund-
ance of fish. If this valley were not so far from civili-
zation, it would be one of the most desirable places in
all the country for a few families to settle in.

Here the Greens had been for over a year, witnessing
the rapid increase and prosperity of their herd. Here
they were massacred. The first that was known
about the horrible butchering was when young Taylor
brought back the report. He was not an eye-witness,
but had gone to see Cyrus Green on some business.



He found their dog, but no person at the fort, and he
went in search of the boys, and soon found every
evidence of foul play. He stated that he could readily
follow the trail by which the stock had been driven off,
as numbers of them had been killed and left along the
route. Some had been left crippled, but were not yet
dead. He could find no trace of the boys, but from the
looks of everything around he was sure they were dead,
or had been hardly
dealt with. Who-
ever had done the
deed must have been
in somewhat of a
hurry, as nearly six-
ty head of the cattle
were yet left on the
range. Their dog
was in the fort, but
could not be per-
suaded or coaxed to
leave. Everything
about the place was


had arranged it. Nothing had been meddled with.
Even one of their coats still hung on the corner of the
the fort, just as they had left it.

The news was carried to the settlements as soon
as a horse could travel the distance. A large party
was immediately organized, which made a forced
march on horseback to the place. After considerable


search, they found the body of the eldest brother, six
or seven miles from the fort, lying near the trail in a
a thicket of bushes, with a bullet hole in the back of
his head. No trace of the younger brother was dis-
covered. He had, doubtless, shared the same fate with
his brother.

This, then, gave us some clue to the mysterious
tracks and maneuvers around our own camp, about the
same time. It was a warning to us to hasten on, or
we might meet a fate similar to the Greens. We pulled
out for Grand River, not wishing to encounter the
danger of following up the trail of the murderers. We
found travel between Green and Grand Rivers almost
unendurable. There was neither feed, wood nor water,
and these things are most essential, especially w T here
the stock has to hunt for a living, and the teamsters do
their own cooking. Without these, you will have to
go to bed in a thirsty, fireless, supperless, ill-humored,
cheerless condition, that will utterly take the romance
out of your journey. It makes no difference what the
weather is, a camp without a fire is lonely and desolate.
The country was one continual plain of sand beds and
knolls the whole distance. Sand is by all odds worse
to travel through than mud. I resigned myself to my
fate, and made the best of it. As some writer has said:

" Let Fate do her worst, there are relics of joy,
Bright dreams of the past earth cannot destroy."

No sign of a habitation is to be seen in this region.

We were now nearing Grand River, and, what
a contrast is to be seen! And the nearer we approach,


the more beautiful the place appears. As yet, Grand
River, and the rare beauty and majesty of the scenery
developed by the passage of the river through the
great Rocky Mountain range of Colorado are but
little known. The river is hemmed in on either side
of the valley with mighty walls of rock, the lower parts
of which are fringed with scattered, scrubby pine and
cedar, which present a peculiar-looking appearance.
But the grassy pastures of the river bottom lands are
a thousand times better and prettier than - the sterile
plains we have been traveling over, which was certainly
the most dreary and desolate-looking place I ever saw.
After our wearisome journey across burning sands
and alkali bottoms, it was with a glorious feeling of
pleasure that we set foot in this paradise of Colorado.
Here are objects of interest to every lover of Na-
ture's wonders, without number on every side. For
who is so base as not to be moved by the beautiful
handiwork of Nature. Here a sense of enchantment
sends the blood coursing swiftly through the veins.
Thousands of little birds are flitting about, amid the
berry bushes, warbling their merry notes of praise to an
ever-bountiful Providence. The river is thickly dotted
with ducks and geese that go swimming over its
surface. Deer and antelope are feeding and frisking
about, unconscious of the danger that hovers over them
with the approach of civilization. Thousands of bears
inhabit these regions. Wild cats and wolves scream
and howl continually. The higher gravel knolls of the
valley, and those near the bench land are all burrowed



out by badgers. Beaver and otter are numerous in the
river, and the timber lands of the bottom bear evidence
of their industrious gnawing, for they have most of the
smaller trees either entirely cut oif or badly scarred.
^ ^. x -^ -~ ,, - : ^ Along the

river banks
the scene
is a strik-
ing one .
The cot-
with their
leaves of



the endless
varieties of
from out of
the thick-
ets that en-
close us on
every side
make a

robe of beauty for the hillsides. The swift, dashing
water, rushing on in its mighty course, makes a noise
that is audible for three miles. On either side of the
canon are numberless caverns, holes, cracks and crev-



ices, which are safe and snug retreats for all such
insects and animals as make these places their retreat.
But what we appreciated just now the most was the
berries. We all set to eating these, and as might have
been expected, some ate so many that they made them-
selves sick.

Here, as in many other places in the West, ruins of
ancient cities are found. When viewing these, one
cannot help wondering what w r ere the history and for-
tunes, the virtues and vices of the long since departed
inhabitants of these places; those who at some remote
time have here passed their day, and acted their brief
part in the great drama of the life of the human race,
w r hose unknown dust now mingles with the virgin soil.
They have long since passed away; but the same hills,
knolls and ridges still stand; the same river flows along
through the same channel; the same skies look down
upon this green valley, now uninhabited by white men.
From the abundance of game that abounds here,
and all the beautiful objects of Nature that break upon
the view, we associate all that is poetic, romantic and
heroic with the history of this bygone people, that once
lived between these mighty hills and on the shores of
this swift and beautiful river. All these lofty mountains,
these beautiful streams of snow water, that have grown
into mighty rivers; all those rough, craggy cliffs that
continue to crumble, wash, and topple over, to form
mighty slides of broken rock, these all remain as objects
sacred to the memory of the past. Who is there that
can tell of the deeds, mighty and valorous, that have


been here performed? No one can do this. Nothing is
left to record the history of this once powerful race, but
desolated ruins and thousands of tons of broken earthen-
ware. A mighty race has become extinct. No doubt,
they loved their wild home, and were as happy and
prosperous among themselves, at that remote day, as
are the present inhabitants of the Mississippi Valley.
For the love of country does not always keep pace
with the country's growth, but often diminishes when
not urgently aroused. For this reason, those who are
constantly warring against other nations, keep alive a
patriotic sentiment which links each individual more
closely to home and friends, which they are ready to
defend, even with their lives. The nature of man seems
adapted to this. In all his wanderings, there is no place
like home, no country like his own native land. It may
be barren and rugged, swept by storms or earthquakes,
or overshadowed by frozen hills, or poor in resources,
where life is but one continued struggle for existence,
with a sickly, sultry, or inhospitable climate, unpropitious
seasons, and an unwilling soil. But it is his birthplace; it
is where he roamed in his infantile rambles; it is his
fatherland, and, sooner than he \vill see its name dishon-
ored, or its soil invaded, he will shed his blood in its
defense. And I have every reason to suppose that the
inhabitants of wild, mountainous regions, and of sterile
plains, manifest as strong a love of home and country,
as any people in the world. With them, like our-
selves, whatever deprives of liberty, trenches upon our


But here we are, where there are no other white
people nearer than the settlements of Utah, two hundred
and fifty miles behind. And we have been, since the 8th
of March, coming this distance and this is the 2ist
day of July. So that it will be seen that we have not
made an average of two miles a day since we started.
I have not seen a woman, either white or Indian, since


I left the settlements, over four months ago. I have
been once before, for a much longer period of time than
this, without seeing women; but if the Lord spares me
to outlive this miserable trip, never again will I spoil all
peace, comfort and happiness, merely for the sake of
gratifying an idle curiosity and small gain. I love
scenery as well as any mortal on earth; but to gain a


knowledge of this place is to sacrifice all earthly enjoy-
ment, and to run a risk of falling a victim to the dusky
warriors, who claim possession of an enormous tract of
country of which this is a part. I find that the Indians
are all dangerous, when permitted any liberty by the
whites; consequently, they require to be kept within
careful bounds. They will often abuse you, and that
without provocation, other than trespassing by traveling
across their country.

Yet variety and novelty are usually pleasing. Our
natures demand something, once in awhile, to break
the monotony of our every-day existence, for we find
but little amusement in working hard every day, over
the work-bench of life. Oftentimes we get disgusted
with our daily routine of business; then Nature stretches
out her ready hand and bids us come and behold her
beauties, and forget our cares and anxieties as we feast
upon her charms. I know that all men are eager to
see new things, and are greedy of gain. The great gold
excitement of California, in 1849, or, the White Pine
excitement in Nevada, a little later, or, a little later still,
the Black Hills' excitement, or, at the present writing,
the Leadville excitement, are all good illustrations.
People go wild to get there, and two-thirds that reach
there go wild to get away.




THE climate of Colorado has proved a great bless-
ing to persons of weak constitutions. Many who
have gone into the State confirmed invalids, have soon
grown strong. The shattered system becomes restored
again to early strength and vigor, and the pale and
sallow cheek soon assumes a bright and healthy glow.

It is not that here there is as much or more to eat,
than can be found in other places; but, then, even on
such a trip as we are now making, we have good living
for those roughing the wilds. We have plenty of flour,
meat, both salt and fresh, all the fresh fish we want,
and berries for the picking. These may not always be
served in the most pretentious style, but then the reader
understands that we have not all the modern conven-
iences at command. Remember, also, that neither among
our cooks nor boarders are there any of the fair sex,
and our white neighbors being a little remote, we sel-
dom invite any of them to sit down with us.

We have no persons to dinner but those who are
privileged, always welcomed, and generally wanted.
We are here free from the necessity of paying visits.
In these parts, the natives follow the usual custom of
society and make the first call, but, unfortunately, this
is generally done in a very rude and noisy manner, one
not altogether sanctioned by the better usages of society.



But, then, what Lord Chesterfield says, is here to
the purpose: "The nature of things," he remarks, "is
always and everywhere the same; but the modes of
them vary, more or less, in every country." It may
be said that man derives knowledge from travel. I
grant that he does; but that the knowledge obtained
from travel over deserts of sand and alkali, yelling one's
self hoarse, in driving stubborn cattle, is better than

the knowledge that
would naturally be
gained from a resi-
dence in a polite, so-
cial community, is
hardly reasonable to
suppose. No ra-
tional-minded man
loves entire solitude;
neither do six or
eight individuals en-
joy staying out by
themselves on these

piaittS, IOT <\


whole year at a time. Place a man in such solitude,
and, although he may have all the books of the world
at his command, in a few years time, the world will
have marched on, and left him far in the rear.

I speak from two years' experience, when six of us
had no companions, except ourselves, and the insects
and brutes of the field. We had plenty to eat. We
worked nearly every day on the Webster Mine, when


it was first located, for nearly the whole two years.
Some of the boys went to Salt Lake City after provis-
ions ; but I staid out the whole time, and kept up my
part of the work. These were the longest two years
of my life. I often look back to those days when I
was wishing to be a rich man, so that I would not
have to stay and toil my life away in solitude. But, as
Mr. Haven remarks, " The man who has no higher
principle than a regard for the opinions of others, is
not likely to accomplish anything great or noble."
He further says, that "the true theater for virtue is
conscience. There is none greater. The praise of
man confers no solid happiness, unless it is felt to
be deserved ; and if it be so, that very conscious-
ness is sufficient."

This, therefore, is the best country in which to
find men out, in regard to manliness and integrity,
and also perseverance and energy. There is none
better. We find this a splendid opportunity for the
study of human nature, both of others and of ourselves.
A man, here, soon shows just what he is. If he is dis-
posed to evil, it is soon apparent. If he is a moral
man, he shows it. If rough, noisy, and uncouth in
manners, it is soon discovered. If industrious, he finds
plenty to do, and does it. If lazy, he walks around
camp, and watches his comrades carry the wood and
water, build fires, and prepare something to eat. But
" dead beats " are very common everywhere, and are
easily recognized.

Of all the nuisances that the world is afflicted with,

256 HO W I KNO W.

the big, stout, lazy individual is the worst. He
is worthless to himself, and a detriment and an
aggravation to all those around him. There is no
occasion for a man to be large and stout, unless it is
that he may work. I esteem highly all that endeavor
to do anything. Go to work with a will, and, if you do
not succeed in doing much, do a little. Show a will-
ingness to try, and I will insure you sympathizing
friends, providing your pursuits are legitimate. If we
get into adverse circumstances, we cannot do better
than to study contentment. There is nothing to be
gained by brooding and lamenting over the past, for
time lost is gone forever. But with the full powder of
our strength and willingness of mind, we can use dili-
gence and exercise patience, for these virtues offer a
relief that the sluggard never gains. Let us try to
elevate those around us. It is as easy to say a good
word for a neighbor as to be eternally railing at and
abusing him. An evil word does no good.

Give me the man that has a good word of cheer to
all. How pleasantly time speeds along while in his
company. Such an one does not live for himself alone,
but for the good of the world. Such as these extend
to their friends a cordial welcome. They have not
learned to despise the world nor to hate the human race,
and are never cut off from the society of their fellow-
man. Aught of evil to mortal man, I cherish not; but
fain would bless every living creature, and make happy
all this wretched, suffering world. If we have any-
thing to do, let us pluck up courage and do it, or we


can rest assured that it will never be done. It costs
labor on our part if we win anything, but when once
won, it will appear to us the more glorious. Nor need
any man fear the imputation of cowardice if he curbs his
anger at direct abuse of himself. "A soft answer turn-
eth away wrath." The approval of the company will
always go with the man who keeps his temper, for not
only does society feel that to vent wrath is a breach
of its laws, but it knows that to conquer one's self is a
far more difficult task than to overcome an enemy, and
that, therefore, the man who keeps his temper is really
strong, and truly courageous. Some people are foolish
enough to think that everything depends on birth.
What does it matter, for, if a man is fit for good soci-
ety, it can make very little difference whether his
father was a miner or chancellor, at least it should not
with sensible people.

But wealth without breeding, generally draws the
attention of others to the want of taste in its pos-
sessor, and gives envy an object to sneer at. I cannot
think that rank is necessarily a recommendation to a
man. For look around you. Not every officer of
trust is by any means a gentleman.

Another feature of western life is the immense
amount of tobacco used. I am a smoker myself, and
in solitude with my pipe, I contemplate many things
that will never be in print. The mind of the smoker
is contemplative, rather than active. I know full well
that I have now got my pen started on the subject,
and will have to pen my way out. I will not take up


the question in its medical aspects, and speak of the
destroying qualities of the weed. I do believe, that
used in moderation it diminishes the violence of the
passions, more particularly, of the temper. But what
is moderate and what is not, must be determined in
each individual case. I believe that the use of tobacco
induces a habit of calm reflectiveness. It is the solace
of the weary laborer, the support of the ill-fed, the
refresher of over-wrought brains, the soother of an-
gered feelings, the boast of the exquisite, the pastime
of the idle, the companion of the philosopher.

The ladies claim and protest that it is the dirtiest
and most unsociable habit a man can indulge in. Some
of the fair ones say they love the smell of tobacco,
while others declare that they will never marry one
who uses it, which by the way, they in the end gener-
ally do, however. Tobacco has won a fame over a
wider feld, and among better men, than Noah's grape
has ever done. I think that smoking has conduced to
make the society of men, when freed from the whole-
some restraints of female companions, less riotous, less
quarrelsome, and less vicious than what it would be,
were they to have nothing with which to drown dull
care. In this way the idle man can pass hours away,
which he would not have given to work, but, perhaps,
to deviltry. With this solace he is no longer restless
and impatient for excitement of some kind.

But it is no wonder that the ladies hate the habit.
For the pipe is the worst rival a woman can have,
and it is one whose eyes she cannot scratch out ; one


which improves with age as she herself declines; which
is silent, yet a companion which costs little, and gives
much pleasure. One can smoke, if he will, without
making himself disgusting to his lady friends, or run-
ning them from their drawing-rooms. I do not think
a gentleman would offer to smoke where the company
was mixed, unless it were a cigar, and that with the
consent of all present. But here in the West there are
very few but what smoke, and many do worse, for they
drink up all the money they make.

Again, one misses all entertainments of social life
by being in such a place as we are now in. There are
neither churches, Sunday-schools, theaters, balls, nor
anything of that character, either good, bad, or indiffer-
ent. We are the sole inhabitants of the valley, at this
present time. I, for one, am not at all satisfied here,
nor would I be should Uncle Sam give me a clear title
to this whole valley, if it were on the condition that I
should spend the remainder of my days here. I do not
want to be so rich, if it shall deprive me of all society in
order to obtain such vast possessions. This valley will,
of course, be settled up some day, but at the present
time no white man lives near. The entire valley is in
possession of the Ute Indians.

Take a person and put him in the most beautiful
place on our continent, and doom to a solitary life, and
you surround him f with misery, to be continually tor-
mented by a longing for companions. To live in such
isolation is to sacrifice all self-esteem. Aristotle says,
" Emulation is a good thing, and belongs to good men;



envy is a bad thing, and belongs to bad men, and what
a man is emulous of he strives to attain, that he may


really possess the desired object; the envious are satis-
fied if nobody has it."


Money making is the great consideration of all our
scheming. Money enables persons to secure and pay
for homes, which they cannot otherwise obtain. As a
matter of course people generally congregate where
the greatest inducements are held out. This has been
well illustrated in the mining industries of the West.
These began to develop with the discovery of the
precious metals, and increased with a rapidity rarely
witnessed in any country. These mining enterprises
have proven highly remunerative in many instances,
and through various channels of business, in addition to
mining. All branches of industry, in fact, have profited
enormously through mining. The farmer, the mer-
chant, the machinist, the mechanic, and the laborer in
every department, both East and West.

Mining is dependent largely upon the transportation
of various kinds of stuff. With some of this our wagons


are loaded at present, for the benefit of the miners at
Ouray. Everything has moved so slowly, and gone so
contrary to all expectations, that of patience and perse-
verance I have but little left. I thought when w r e left
Manti that we would see Ouray inside of sixty days, at
most. But now I have but little better idea of where
Ouray is than one of the " Kanackers " of Central Amer-
ica. Some one has said that when a man is in the
right path he must persevere. I am free to confess
that I am thoroughly tired of persevering on this trip,

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Online LibraryJames SwisherHow I know, or Sixteen years' eventful experience → online text (page 14 of 21)