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 f