Wife number 19
by Ann Eliza Young
"DIVINE EMIGRATION." - THE PROPHET AND THE HAND- CART SCHEME.
Early Emigration to Utah. - The Prophet Meditates Economy. - The "Divine Plan"
Invented. - How it was Revealed to the Saints. - They Prepare to "Gather to Zion."
- How the Hand-Carts were Built. - The Sufferings of the Emigrants. - On Board
Ship. - An Apostolic Quarrel. - Base Conduct of the Apostle Taylor. -The Saints
arrive in Iowa City. - How the Summer-time was Wasted. - Beginning a Terrible
Journey. - Suffering by the Way. - "Going Cheap." - They reach Council Bluffs. -
Levi Savage Behaves Bravely. - Lying Prophecy of the Apostle Richards. - How the
Emigrants were Deceived. - Brigham Young sends Help to Them. - Two Apostles
are Denounced. - The Prophet in a Fix. - He lays His own Sins on the Backs of
Others. - Preparing to Receive the Emigrants.
In the history of any people there has never been recorded a case of such gross
mismanagement as that of gathering the foreign Saints to Zion in the year 1856.
Until this disastrous year the emigrants had always made the journey across the
plains with ox-teams, under the charge of some of the returning elders, who were
triumphantly bringing the fruits of their labors in foreign vineyards to garner them in
Zion. The able bodied walked, and those who were too young, too old, or too
feeble to perform the journey on foot, went in the wagons with the baggage. It
was in the same war that the Saints themselves made their first journey across
the plains, and in the proper season of the rear was a safe and a pleasant journey.
Tedious and wearisome, to be sure, but in no way perilous, as plenty of provisions,
bedding, and clothing could be carried, not only for the journey, but sufficient to
last some time after the arrival.
The cost of emigration in this way was from £10 to £12, English money, or
nominally $50 to $60 in gold - not very expensive, surely, for a journey from
Liverpool to Salt Lake City; but to Brigham, in one of his fits of economy, it
seemed altogether too costly, and he set to work to devise some means for
retrenchment. During the entire winter of 1855-56, he and his chief supporters
were in almost constant consultation on the subject of reducing the expenses of
emigration, and they finally hit upon the expedient of having them cross the plains
with hand-carts, wheeling their own provisions and baggage, and so saving the
expense of teams. The more Brigham thought of his plan, the more in love he
grew with it, and he sent detailed instructions concerning it to the Apostle Franklin
D. Richards, the Mormon agent at Liverpool, who published it in the "Millennial
Star," as the new "divine plan" revealed to Brother Brigham by the Lord, whose will
it was that the journey should be made in this manner.
My father was in England when the "command of the Lord concerning them" was
given to the gathering Saints, and their enthusiastic devotion and instant
acceptance of the revelation showed how entirely they entrusted themselves to
the leadership of their superiors in the church, implicitly believing them to be
inspired of God. They were told by Richards, in the magazine, and by their
missionaries in their addresses, that they should meet many difficulties, - that trials
would be strewn along their path, and occasional dangers meet them, - but that
the Lord's chosen people were to be a tried people, and that they should come out
unscathed, and enter Zion with great triumph and rejoicing, coming out from the
world as by great tribulation ; that the Lord would hold them in special charge, and
they need not fear terror by night nor pestilence that walketh at noonday, for they
should not so much as hurt a foot against a stone.
It was represented to them that they were specially privileged and honored in thus
being called by the Lord to be the means of showing His power and revealing glory
to a world lying in darkness and overwhelmed with guilt, deserted by God and
given over to destruction. Considering the class of people from whom most of the
converts were made, it is not at all strange that all this talk should impress their
imaginations and arouse their enthusiasm. Emotion, instead of reason, guided
them almost entirely, and they grew almost ecstatic over the new way in which
they were called to Zion.
The United States government was beginning to trouble itself a little about Utah;
and in order to make the church as strong as possible, in case of an invasion,
Brigham was anxious to increase the number of emigrants, and requested Apostle
Richards to send as many as he possibly could. To do this, the elders counselled all
the emigrants, who had more money than they needed, to deposit it with the
Apostle Richards for the purpose of assisting the poor to Zion. The call was
instantly and gladly obeyed, and the number of Saints bound Zion-ward was
thereby nearly doubled. In the face of the disaster which attended it, it has been
the boast of some of the missionaries and elders that this was the largest number
that ever was sent over at one time. So much greater, then, is the weight of
responsibility which rests upon the souls of those who originated and carried out
this selfish design, made more selfish, more cruel, and more terribly culpable for
the hypocrisy and deceit which attended it from its conception to its disastrous
Great, however, as was the number of emigrants who that year crossed the plains
to Utah, as many, if not more, have, during various seasons since then, traversed
the same route; although, of course, for obvious reasons, it is difficult to give
approximate statistics. During the summer of 1862 - the same year in which Eliza
Snow and Geo. A. Smith, the fattest of all fat apostles, together with a select
company of Saints, wandered off to the Holy Land in order to bring it within the
dominions of Brigham - it was said that more Mormons were landed at Castle
Gardens than during any other previous year. I cannot say whether this is true but
it is a fact that only a few weeks ago seven or eight hundred were landed in New
York, and every few weeks, all through the summer, other ship-loads will arrive.
On the 14th of March, 1856, my father, who was at Sheffield, England, engaged in
missionary work, received a telegram from Richards, telling him to come at once
to Liverpool for the purpose of taking passage for America in the mail-packet
Canada, which was to sail for Boston on the 15th. He had no time to say good-bye to his friends, but made his preparations hurriedly, and left Sheffield as soon as
possible. On arriving at Liverpool and consulting with Richards, he learned that he
had been sent for to assist in the proposed hand-cart expedition, and that his part
of the work was to he performed in the United States. He, being a practical wagon-maker, was to oversee the building of the carts. In twenty-four hours after the
receipt of the telegram - his first intimation that he was to be called home - he was
on his way. The passage was unusually rough, and he was glad enough to see the
shores of America after tossing about on the ocean for fifteen days. He landed in
Boston the 30th of March, and went immediately to Iowa City, the gathering-place
of the Saints prior to their departure for Utah, arriving there the 10th of April.
He expected, of course, to go to work at once, and was very impatient to do so,
as it was very nearly the season when the emigrants should start to cross the
plains, and the first vessel filled with them was already due in New York. He knew
that it would be a waste both of time and money to keep them in Iowa City any
longer than as absolutely necessary; besides which, after a certain date, every day
would increase the perils of crossing the plains. But when he arrived, Daniel
Spencer, the principal agent, was east on a visit, and did not make his appearance
until an entire month had expired; and there was all that valuable time wasted in
order that one man might indulge in a little pleasure. What were a thousand or
more human lives in comparison to his enjoyment? Less than nothing, it would
seem, in his estimation.
Not only were there no materials provided to work with, but no provision had been
made for sheltering the poor Saints, who had already commenced to arrive by
ship-loads. Their condition was pitiable in the extreme; they had met nothing but
privation from the time they left England. The trials that had been promised them
they had already encountered, but so great was their faith, that they bore it all
without a word of complaint, and some even rejoicing that it was their lot to suffer
for the cause of their religion; they were sure they should all be brought to Zion in
safety, for had not God promised that through the mouth of His holy Prophet?
Their faith was sublime in its exaltation; and in contrast to it, the cold-blooded,
scheming, blasphemous policy of Young and his followers shows out false, and
blacker than ever. To have deceived a credulous people by wanton
misrepresentation is wicked enough, but to do it " in the name of the Lord" is a sin
that can never be atoned for to God or man. It is the height of blasphemy, and I
fairly shudder as I endeavor to comprehend, in some slight degree, the magnitude
of such an offence.
They had been crowded and huddled together on shipboard more like animals than
like human beings; their food had been insufficient and of bad quality; the sleeping
accommodations were limited, and there was not the proper amount of bedding
for those who were compelled to sleep in the more exposed places. Some of the
persons who saw the emigrants, say that it was like nothing so much as an African
slave-ship, filled with its unlawful and ill-gotten freight. The air in the steerage,
where most of the emigrants were, was noxious, and yet these people were
compelled to breathe it through all the days of the voyage. Many were too ill to
leave their beds, and a change of clothing was out of the question. The entire floor
was covered with mattresses, and it was impossible to walk about without
stepping over some one. Men, women, and children were huddled in together in
the most shameless fashion.
Affairs were not much bettered when they arrived at New York; the Apostle John
Taylor, whose duty it was to provide for them there, was too deeply engaged in a
quarrel with Apostle Franklin D. Richards, as to which of the two who were thrown
on his protection, penniless and helpless, was higher in authority, to attend to
these poor creatures, in a strange country. But everyone must understand that his
personal dignity must be attended to and his position maintained, if all the poor
Saints that were emigrated, or dreamed of emigrating, should die of starvation and
exposure. I think the great body of Saints must have learned before this time that
it is by no means safe to trust to the tender mercies of a Mormon Apostle. When,
after a while, the Apostle Taylor's imperative personal business allowed him a
moment in which to think of the unhappy emigrants, he started them for Iowa
City, where they arrived only to experience a repetition of their New York
sufferings, and see another illustration of apostolic neglect. Nothing had been
prepared for them either in the way of shanties or tents, and they were compelled
to camp in the open air, their only roof a sky that was not always blue. While in
camp, there were several very severe rain-storms, from which, as they had no
shelter, there was no escape; they got completely drenched, and this caused a
great deal of severe illness among them. They were unprotected alike from burning
sun and pitiless, chilling rain, and it is no wonder that fevers and dysentery
prevailed, and that hundreds of longing eyes closed in death before they beheld the
Zion of their hopes.
It would have been strange if the faith of some had not wavered then; yet none
dared complain. There was nothing to do but to go on to the end. They were
thousands of miles from home, with no means of returning, and they were taught,
too, that it would be a curse upon them to turn their backs on Zion. So there they
remained through the long summer days, waiting helplessly until they should be
ordered to move onward.
At length my father saw his way clear to commence his work, and he went to
work with a will, pressing everyone who could be of actual assistance into his
service. But here the trouble commenced again. He was instructed to make the
wagons on as economical a plan as possible, and every step that he took he found
himself hedged about by impossibilities. The agents all talked economy, and when
one did not raise an objection to a proposal, another did, and difficulties were
placed in his way constantly.
They did not wish to furnish iron for the tires, as it was too expensive; raw hide,
they were sure, would do just as well. My father argued this point with them until
at last the agents decided to give up raw hides, and they furnished him with hoop
iron. He was annoyed and angry, all the while he was making the carts, at the
extreme parsimony displayed. A thorough workman himself, he wanted good
materials to work with; but every time he asked for anything, no matter how
absolutely necessary it was to make the work sufficiently durable to stand the
strain of so long a journey. the reply invariably was, "0, Brother Webb, the carts
must be made cheap. We can't afford this expenditure; you are too extravagant in
your outlay;" forgetting, in their zeal to follow their Prophet's instructions, what the
consequences would be to the poor Saints, if delayed on their way to the Valley, by
having to stop to repair their Carts.
As soon as was possible they started companies on the way. My father strongly
objected to any of them starting after the last of June; but he was overruled, and
the last company left Iowa City the middle of August, for a journey across arid
plains and over snow-clad mountains, which it took twelve weeks of the quickest
travelling at that time to accomplish; and in the manner in which these emigrants
were going it would take much longer. He also opposed their being started with
such a scanty allowance of provisions. He insisted they should have at least double
the amount; but in this attempt, also, he was unsuccessful, and one of the
survivors of the expedition afterwards said that the rations which were given out to
each person for a day could easily be eaten at breakfast. They consisted of ten
ounces of flour for each adult, and half that amount for each child under eight years
of age. At rare intervals, a little rice, coffee, sugar, and bacon were doled out to the
hungry travellers, but this was not often done. Many of the people begged of the
farmers in Iowa, so famished were they, and so inadequate was their food which
was supplied them by the agents. They were limited, too, in the matter of
baggage, and again my father tried to use his influence, but all to no purpose; so
much might go, but not a pound more.
Almost discouraged, and altogether disgusted with the meanness and heartless
carelessness which were exhibited throughout the whole affair, as far, at least, as
he had experience with it, he yet made one more attempt to aid the unfortunate
travellers, whose trials, great as they had been, had really not fairly begun. His last
proposition was, that more teams should be provided, so that the feeble, who
were not likely to endure the fatigues of the long march, should have an
opportunity of riding; but he was met again with the inevitable reply, "Can't do it,
Brother Webb. We tell you we can't afford it; they must go cheap." It was dear
enough in the end, if human lives count for anything.
My father never speaks of those days of preparation in Iowa City that he does not
grow indignant. It might have been averted had not Brigham Young been so
parsimonious, and his followers so eager to curry favor with him, by carrying out
his instructions more implicitly than there was any need of doing. They were only
quarrelled and found fault with, and reprimanded publicly in the Tabernacle for their
faithfulness to him, when it became necessary to shield himself from odium in the
matter. Nothing more would have happened if they had obeyed the instincts of
humanity, and deferred a little to their consciences, and they certainly would have
been better off, as they would at least have retained their own self-respect, and
the regard of their unfortunate charges, which, it is needless to say, they lost most
When some of the last companies reached Council Bluffs, - better known to most
Mormons as "Winter-Quarters," - there was considerable controversy whether it
was best to try and go any farther before spring. Most of the emigrants knew
nothing of the climate and the perils of the undertaking, and were eager to press
on to Zion. Four men only in the company had crossed the plains; those were
captains of the trains - Willie, Atwood, Savage, and Woodward; but there were
several elders at this place superintending emigration. Of these, Levi Savage was
the only one to remonstrate against attempting to reach Salt Lake Valley so late in
the season. He declared that it would be utterly- impossible to cross the mountains
without great suffering, and even death.
His remonstrances availed about as much my father's had done in regard to their
starting. He was defeated and reprimanded very sharply for his want of faith. He
replied that there were cases where "common sense" was the best guide. and he
considered this to be one. "However," said he, "seeing you are to go forward, I will
go with you, will help you all I can, will work with you, suffer with you, and, if
necessary, die with you."
Very soon after the departure of the last company of the emigrants from Iowa
City, my father, with the other elders, started for the Valley in mule-teams,
intending to return, if they found it necessary, to bring succor to the poor
wandering people. In the company with my father were Apostle Franklin D.
Richards, and Elders W. H. Kimball, G. D. Grant, Joseph A. Young, Brigham's oldest
son, and several others, all of whom were returning to Utah from foreign missions,
and all of whom had been engaged in the expedition.
They overtook the emigrants at their camp on the North Fork of the Platte River,
and camped with them over night. Richards was told of the opposition which
Savage had made, and he openly rebuked him in the morning. He then informed
the Saints that "though it might storm on the right hand and on the left, yet the
storms should not reach them. The Lord would keep the way open before them,
and they should reach Zion in safety." It may be that he believed all this nonsense
himself. It is to be hoped, for charity's sake, that he did. If that were the case,
however, it is a pity that he had not been endowed with a little of Levi Savage's
common sense. It would have been much better for the Saints than all his vaunted
"spirit of prophecy."
It is a significant fact, that in the very face of his prophecy, delivered to the victims
of his zeal in the cause of Brigham Young, he was anxious to hasten his arrival in
Salt Lake in order to send assistance back to the patient Hand-Cart emigrants,
who, he must have seen, would soon be in sore straits for food and clothing. The
rations were scanty, and would soon have to be lessened; the nights were chilly,
and fast growing cold; and already the seventeen pounds of bedding and clothing
allowed to each one were scarcely sufficient protection; and as the season
advanced, and they approached the mountains, it would be totally inadequate. It
was fortunate that they did not know the climate of the country, and the terrible
hardships to which they were to be exposed, else their hearts would have failed
them, and they would have had no courage to have recommenced the journey.
My father realized it, and so did most of the party with him; yet they had no idea
how horrible it was to be, else they would have insisted upon their remaining in
camp until spring. Even the usually indifferent heart of Joseph A. was touched, and
he hurried on to impress upon his father the urgent need for immediate assistance
for those poor, forlorn creatures whom he left preparing to cross the mountains,
where they would of a surety meet the late autumn and early winter storms, and
where so many of them must of a certainty perish of exposure and hunger. He had
no faith in the apostolic prophecy, which seemed a mockery to all those who knew
the hardships of the journey which lay before these faithful souls before they could
reach the Zion of their hopes.
My father had been four years absent from us, yet such was his concern for the
poor people whom he so recently left, and who had been his care for so long, that
he could only stay to give us the most hurried greetings. His gladness at his return,
and our responsive joy, were marred by the thought of the sufferings and
privations of those earnest, simple-hearted Saints, who had literally left all to follow
the beck of one whom they supposed to be the Prophet of the Lord. After all these
years of absence, he only staid two days with us, - as short a time as it could
possibly take to get the relief-train ready with the supplies.
I think Brigham Young's heart and conscience must have been touched. for he
really seemed for a while to forget himself in the earnestness with which he pushed
forward the preparations for relief. He fairly arose to the occasion, and held back
nothing which could contribute to the comfort and welfare of his poor, forlorn
followers. Yet he was only acting as both justice and decency commanded that he
should act. He was the cause of all this terrible suffering, and he felt that he should
be made answerable. Such a transaction as this could by no means remain
unknown. It would be spread over America and Europe, and used as a strong
weapon against Mormonism and its leader, already unpopular enough. He realized
the mistake he had made when too late to rectify it, and, with his usual moral
cowardice, he set about hunting for somebody on whose shoulders to shift the
blame from his own. Richards and Spencer were the unfortunate victims, and he
turned his wrath against them, in private conversation and in public assemblies,
until they were nearly crushed by the weight of opprobrium which he heaped upon
them. He was nearly beside himself with fear of the consequences which would
follow, when this crowning act of selfish cupidity and egotistical vanity and
presumption should be known. Love of approbation is a striking characteristic of
this Latter-Day Prophet, and he puffs and swells with self-importance at every
word he receives, even of the baldest, most insincere flattery, and he cringes and
crouches in as servile a manner as a whipped cur, when any adverse criticism is
passed upon either his personnel or his actions. A moral as well as a physical
coward, he dares not face a just opinion of himself and his deeds, and he sneaks,
and skulks, and hides behind any one he can find who is broad enough to shield
My father's disgust at a religion which submitted to such chicanery, and his distrust
of Brigham Young, were so great, that he was very near apostatizing; but my
mother again held him to the church. She argued and explained; she wept and she
entreated, until he said no more about it. But though, for her sake, he took no
steps towards leaving the church and renouncing the faith, he felt daily his disgust
and distrust increasing, and he never again believed so strongly in the Mormon
religion, and ever after regarded Brigham with much less awe and respect than
BRIGHAM'S HAND-CART SCHEME, CONTINUED. - FAILURE OF THE "DIVINE PLAN."
Arrival of the First Train. - Fearful Sufferings of the Emigrants. - Women and Girls
toiling at the Carts. - The Prophet's "Experiment." - Burying the Dead. - Greater
Mortality among the Men. - Arrival of Assistance. - Hand-Cart Songs. - scenes in
the Camp of the Emigrants. - How every Prophecy of the Elders was Falsified. -
How the Tennant Family were Shamelessly Robbed. - One of the Vilest Swindles of
the Prophet. - Mr. Tennant's Unhappy Death. - His Wife Views the "Splendid
Property." Bought from Brigham. - Brigham Cheats her out of her Last Dollar. -
She is reduced to Abject Poverty. - The Apostle Taylor Hastens to Zion. - Richards
and Spencer are made Scape-goats. - Brigham evades all responsibility. - Utter
Failure of the "Divine Plan."
The first Hand-Cart Companies, which had left Iowa City early in the season,
arrived in the Salt Lake Valley the last of September. They were very much
fatigued, and were greatly rejoiced when their journey was ended.
The entire company had waded every river on the route to Salt Lake, and, as a
consequence, the health of almost every man and woman was completely broken.
The married women suffered the least, as they only had to assist their husbands in
pulling the hand-carts. The young girls had to pull theirs unassisted, and they were
literally worn out with the exertion. The children were placed on the carts when
they became tired, and so added weight to already overburdened wagons. It was
when the second of these companies came in that Brigham Young was heard to
say, as he rubbed his hands and smiled with overflowing complacency, "This
experiment is a success."
Alas for Brother Brigham, this remark was overheard by some of the emigrants,
and it is needless to say that their faith in "inspiration," and "revelation," was very
much weakened; and the subsequent adventures of their friends and companions,
whose arrival had been delayed, by no means tended to reassure them, or restore
their waning belief. It was enough to be the victims of a heartless and mercenary
experiment; but to be deluded into the belief that it was by the direct revelation of
the will of the Lord made it harder to bear, and there was much bitterness of spirit
expressed when the people who had endured so much, and gloried in the
endurance, because in so doing they were obeying the commands of God, learned
that their sufferings were borne merely to help fill the purses of a false prophet and
his corrupt followers.
When the relief train reached Captain Willie's company, they were camped on the
Sweetwater, near the Rocky Ridges. They had eaten their last provisions, and
death was staring them pitilessly in the face. The camp was filled with dead and
dying. There was no help for the latter, and the poor souls had lost all desire to live.
They were waiting, with almost apathetic indifference, for release, while those
dearest to them were doubly agonized because they must see the loved ones
perish, and they were helpless - even to bring comforts to them, or make life
easier while it lasted. Those who were strong enough, dug one large grave in which
all the dead were laid together. - It was the best they could do; but their hands
were no less tender and loving, their hearts no less sore, than if the last rites had
been as imposing as those of royalty itself. The only thing they could do to prepare
their dear ones for the grave was to close the eyes, the loving eyes that, to the
very last, had turned longingly Zion-ward; to fold the pulseless hands over the
silent hearts that, through all the hardships and toil, had kept their trust firm and
their faith bright; to straighten out the tired feet that, bleeding and sore, had yet
toiled joyfully along the rugged path that led to the fair Canaan of their dreams; to
smooth the tangled hair away from haggard faces, where the lines of care lay
heavily, and yet through which the light of peace divine shone serene and pure; to
arrange as decently as possible the tattered garments, which were their only
clothing for the tomb, and to lay them, coffinless, in their cold bed in the Rocky
Mountains, in their last, long sleep; then to go away and leave them there, with the
relentless winter storms beating upon them, and no stone to mark their resting-place. The road from Winter-Quarters to Salt Lake was a via dolorosa indeed.
Thirteen had died in Willie's camp the day that succor reached them; two more
died the next day; and all were buried in one grave. The men succumbed to death
before the women. The cause, no doubt, was the greater weariness on account of
their more arduous exertions, and their wonderful self-denial for the sake of their
wives and children. They would work just so long as they could, then fall dead in
front of their carts, their hands still holding them tight in the tenacious grasp of
death. There was no time for mourning or delay. Hurried graves were dug, and the
bodies placed therein, hastily covered, - then the survivors must press on again.
Wives left their husbands, husbands their wives, parents their children, and children
their parents, under the frozen earth of the desert and mountain ridges.
When the poor Saints knew that assistance had really reached them, that
starvation was beaten away and death held at bay, their joy knew no bounds.
They cried like children, men as well as women, and burst forth into prayer and
songs of praise. They attacked the food like famished animals, and ate it with a
wolfish greed. The scene is one that can never be adequately described. It was full
of a terrible pathos. It told of a suffering that never can be comprehended except
by those who endured it. The clothing and bedding were then divided between
them, and they were made comfortable as they could be under the circumstances.
That night, for the first time for many weeks, the sounds of rejoicing were heard
through the camp. They were not forgotten of the Lord, nor deserted by his
people; and again they found heart to sing their hand-cart hymns which had been
written for them by some enthusiastic members of the train.
Contrast one of their songs, if you please, with the situation when relief from Salt
Lake reached them: -
"We're going to Zion with our carts,
And the Spirit of God within our hearts;
The old, decrepit, feeble dame
Will lend a hand to pull the same;
For some must push and some must pull,
As we go marching up the hill,
Until we reach the Valley, 0!
"Our maidens, they will dance and sing,
Our young men happier be than kings,
Our strength increasing every day,
As we go travelling up the way.
Yes, some must push and some must pull,
As we go marching up the hill,
Until we reach the Valley, 0!"
Rough in phraseology, and rude in structure, it yet shows the spirit which animated
the converts when they first started on their pilgrimage to the promised land.
Another favorite song had a stirring chorus, as follows : -
"Hurrah for the camp of Israel!
Hurrah for the Hand-Cart scheme!
Hurrah! hurrah! tis better far
Than the wagon and ox-team."
In this song the "divine plan" was extolled with all the enthusiastic fervor with which
it was first expounded to them by the elders in England. It is needless to say that
these songs were written in the first glow of the furor, before any of the hardships
even of the sea-voyage had been encountered. They were not sung after the first
encounter with a mountain storm; that took the heart out of them. Even in the
rejoicing at their deliverance, they sang only the hymns, making no attempt even
to revive the spirit of the hand-cart songs.
After seeing Captain Willie's company made comfortable, the relief train started
east again in search of Captain Martin's company. This they found in camp at
Grease Wood Creek, twenty miles from Willie's camp. The suffering in this
company was quite equal to that of the company just relieved, and precisely the
same scenes were enacted. They were wild with joy, and men and women fell on
the necks of their deliverers with sobs and kisses, calling them their saviours, and
invoking blessings of all kinds on their heads.
The camp was filled with dead and dying, and many had been left behind that day,
having fallen exhausted in the way. The storm had been blinding, and their
companions could not stop for them; they could only hasten on while daylight
lasted, making their slow, painful progress towards the haven of their rest. My
father and his comrades spent the night in searching for those that were left
behind, and bringing them into camp. where they were tenderly cared for. Many of
them died very soon after being brought in others lived, but they were maimed for
life, feet and hands, in many cases. having been literally frozen off. This was the
people, "the chosen people of God, for whose benefit the Indians, the seasons.
nay, the very elements themselves, should be controlled." Their belief in
"prophecy" must have been severely tried by this shock.
Everything had happened to them to make their journey hard. Their carts had
broken down repeatedly, as my father had prophesied they would, and a great deal
of delay had been caused by the frequent stopping for repairs; their cattle had
stampeded, so that their supply of milk and fresh beef was cut off, and only oxen
enough left to allow one yoke to a team; some of the men who dropped behind
the others, wearied with the journey, were eaten by wolves; very many had died,
and others were hopelessly crippled; the winter had set in earlier, and with severer
Storms than have ever been known in all the Utah experience. It seemed as if the
Lord were punishing priest and people, the one for the audacious assumption of
power, the other for blind belief in, and dependence on, earthly promises, even
when purporting to come from Him. Blasphemous presumption and foolish
ignorance were alike hateful in His sight.
Richards had promised the people that they should find supplies at Laramie, but he
was unable to reach there with them, and on their arrival the Saints found only a
message telling them that the supplies would be at South Pass. It was with heavy
hearts that they went on their toilsome way, more discouraged than ever they had
been before. The swift-falling winter storms made matters worse, and it is only a
wonder that so many survived as did, - that every one did not perish before aid
could reach them.
The day after reaching Martin's camp. the party from Salt Lake pushed on about
thirty miles farther east, walking most of the way, through a blinding snow, to
meet Captain Hunt's wagon train. They found the people connected with this but
very little better off than the Hand-Cart companies; they were suffering severely
from the intense cold, and many had their limbs frozen. Captain Hunt might have
hastened and reached Salt Lake City earlier, but he had been expressly forbidden to
pass the hand-carts, which shows conclusively enough that those very persons
who sent the emigrants off at that unfavorable season feared for the results. This
was the last company that was to be relieved, and so my father and his
companions remained with the train until it overtook the hand-carts at Devil's
At this point the train was unloaded, and all the goods which were going to Salt
Lake City, that could actually be spared, were left there for the winter, and the
wagons were filled with the sick and feeble emigrants, who could never have
reached the Valley but for this aid. The progress was necessarily slow, but the
people were so much more comfortable that the time did not drag so heavily.
There were very few deaths after the mountains were well crossed, and a milder
climate reached, and those who were ill grew better, although the majority of them
have never been well since.
At Fort Bridger, one hundred and thirty miles from Salt Lake City, the emigrants
were met by an order from Brigham Young to winter there and at Fort Supply. A
general feeling of dismay spread over the camp, in spite of the joy with which the
Saints received the added supplies of food and clothing. To be so near their
destination, and yet to be kept from it, seemed doubly hard, after all the sorrow
and hardships they had met and endured on their way. It did indeed seem as
though the way to the land of promise was closed, instead of being opened to
them. Were they, like Moses of old, to die in sight of their Canaan? Had they been
brought all this way only to perish just outside the walls of their Zion?
The places designated by Brigham were totally unfit to winter in. Should the poor
Saints, in their feeble and emaciated condition, attempt it, it was more than likely
that they would perish before spring. Seeing the utter impracticability of the plan,
and touched by the distress of the poor people, who were again to be made the
victims of a prophetic blunder, two or three of the relieving party, among them my
father, came at once to the city, travelling day and night, to have arrangements
made to bring them to the Valley.
They were successful in their mission, and an express was at once despatched to
bring the waiting Saints home. When at length they arrived, they were met with
gladness, and given the warmest welcome. The people in Salt Lake City opened
their houses to them, and took them gladly in, giving them the best and the
kindest care. Those of the Hand-Cart companies, who had come in first, crowded
round them, and met them with tears of rejoicing, in which sorrow mingled. It was
then that they began to realize their loss. As one after another of their old
companions came up. and missing some familiar face, inquired for the friend so
dearly beloved, always the same sad answer came - "Died on the Plains." Sixty-seven were left on the way from the Missouri River to the Valley, which was about
one sixth of the number which started.
I remember distinctly when these companies came in; their wretched condition
impressed me at the time, and I have seen many of them since, poor crippled
creatures, stumping about the city, trying to do enough work to keep soul and
body together; more than that, they were not able to do I have heard, too, from
some of them, the most harrowing stories of their journey, that terrible, fatal
journey; which was one of the very worst blunders that the Prince of Blunderers,
Brigham Young, ever made.
The recollection is made more vivid because my youngest brother, Edward, who
went out with a team to assist the emigrants, got lost in the snow, and for a week
we supposed him to be dead. After wandering for some days in the mountains,
with both feet badly frozen, he was found by a mountaineer named Battiste, who
kept him, and cared for him most kindly, until the arrival of my father, who had
heard, while with the train, that he was missing, and had gone at once in search of
him. It was a narrow escape, and the terrible expedition came near proving a
tragedy to us as well as to so many others.
Among the emigrants was a very wealthy gentleman of the name of Tennant. He
and his wife were among the early converts, and were very earnest Mormons.
They had for a long time been resolved to come to Zion. and when the Hand-Cart
scheme was introduced they decided to join that company. Humble followers of
Christ, they thought they could in no better way show their love for Him and their
devotion to their religion, than by such an act of self- sacrifice as this. Possessed of
ample means to have crossed the ocean and travelled in the most comfortable and
even luxurious manner, they nevertheless chose to go in this way, with the
poorest of the Saints, and share with them all the hardships and dangers which
should attend this toilsome, perilous journey.
Mr. Tennant gave liberally to the emigration fund, in order that as many poor Saints
as possible might make the long-anticipated pilgrimage to Zion, and both himself
and his wife provided liberally for the comfort of their poor fellow-travellers. A short
time before the emigrant company left England, the Apostle Richards, in one of his
eloquent dissertations on the "plan" and its divine origin, said that in order to assist
the poor to emigrate, President Young had given to the Emigration Fund Society an
estate in Salt Lake City, to be sold for its benefit. He dilated largely upon the
disinterested generosity' of the Prophet, and his desire that as many' as possible of
his faithful followers should be gathered to Zion during that season. Fired by this
act of extreme kindness on the part of his revered leader in the church, Mr.
Tennant at once bought the property, and paid, it is said, thirty thousand dollars
down for it. There is little need, perhaps, of saying that that was immensely more
than its real value; but that fact its purchaser was not aware of, as it was glorified
by all the apostolic eloquence bestowed upon it, quite beyond recognition.
On the voyage, and during the journey across the States, and the tiresome waiting
time at Iowa City, no one was more beloved than Mr. Tennant and his gentle,
estimable wife. Sharing alike with the poorer Saints, no word of complaint ever
passed their lips. They never for a moment seemed to regret their decision to
emigrate at this particular time, but accepted every fresh hardship as a trial to their
faith, sent by God Himself to test them, and prove their worthiness to enter His
glorious kingdom on earth. They moved among their companions with kindly laces
and words of cheer and comfort. They encouraged endurance by their example
and made the forced discomforts of some of the party seem easier to bear by
their voluntary assumption of them. As far as they could they alleviated the
distress which prevailed, and were always ready to perform any deeds of kindness.
The journey with the hand-carts was doubly hard for them, unused as they were
to exertion; and day after day the wife saw the husband slowly succumbing to
fatigue and disease, and she powerless to assist him. But, though his strength
waned and his health failed him, yet his courage and his faith remained steadfast
and fixed. Whatever came he believed would surely be right, and though he
struggled manfully to keep up until he should reach Zion, yet he was overcome,
and died at O'FaIlon's Bluffs, literally of exhaustion. His last thought was for his
sorrowing wife, and his last word was of comfort and consolation to her. He had
one thought to make the parting easier - he had provided a home for her in Zion;
Brother Brigham held it in trust for her, and she would find the comforts to which
she was used, and rest and peace in the Valley with the chosen people.
The bereaved wife clung wildly to her husband's remains, with the most heart-broken lamentations. To have him die was a misery in itself; but to see the slow,
cruel torture which he underwent, and to watch him slowly dying such a horrible
death, was almost unbearable. For a time it seemed almost as though she must be
left there with him that her soul would follow his. Happier would it have been for
her had that fate been hers. The cold earth and pitiless winter storms would not be
so cold and so pitiless as the world was to her, after this loving protecting arm was
taken from her. A woman, unused to toil and hardship, nurtured in luxury, reared in
tenderness and love, she was left alone to battle single-handed with the world. And
such a world whose ruling passion was avarice, and whose delight was another's
torture; the world of Mormon Sainthood - ruled over by a grasping, lecherous,
heartless tyrant, who laughed at a woman's sorrows and flouted at her wrongs. I
think if she had known all that was to follow, she would have lain down on the plain
by the side of her dead husband, and endured the torture of a horrible, slow death,
rather than have gone on to the years of suffering which lay before her.
It is fortunate, indeed, that the future is so closely veiled to us; else we should all
lose heart and courage in this unequal struggle called life, and lay down our
weapons, convinced that it is of no use to struggle longer. Providence deals wisely
with us, after all, and we are forced to admit it at every step of our lives.
The hurried funeral rites were over, and the man who had been so great a
benefactor to the people among whom he had cast his lot, was left sleeping his last
sleep in a strange land, and the sorrowing party resumed their weary way,
saddened by this affliction. On the arrival at Salt Lake Mrs. Tennant at once
proceeded to look after her property. The "magnificent estate" for which her