Food Supply and Shelter — Building Lots — Currency Issue — Bank Notes and Coinage — Private and Public Buildings — Wide Area of the City — Second Anniversary of the Pioneers — Festivals and Amusements — Labor a Duty Among the Saints — Effect of the California Gold Discovery — Immigration — Carrying Company — California-Bound Emigrants — Their Traffic With the Mormons — Products and Prices — Gold-Hunting Frowned Upon By the Church.
Throughout the winter of 1848-9 food was scarce among the settlers. Many still subsisted mainly on roots, thistles, and even on rawhides.1 Milk, flesh, and the small quantity of breadstuffs that remained were, however, distributed among the poor in such quantities as to prevent actual starvation. On April 1, 1849, each household was required to state the smallest allowance of breadstuffs that would suffice until the forth-coming harvest. Some received half a pound a day, and others four ounces.2
1'Many were necessitated to eat rawhides, and to dig sago and thistle roots for mouths to subsist upon.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 95.
2The committee on breadstuffs reported on the 8th of Feb. that there was 78/100 lb. per capita for the next five months. Utah Early Records, MS., 45. 'In the former part of Feb. the bishops took an inventory of the breadstuff in the valley, when was reported a little moro than 3/4 lb. per day for each soul, until the 9th of July; and considerable was known to exist which was not reported. Hence while some were nearly destitute others had abundance. The price of corn since harvest has been $2; some has sold for $3; at present there is none in the market at any price. Wheat has ranged from $4 to $5, and potatoes from $6 to $20, a bushel; and though not to be bought at present, it is expected that there will be a good supply for seed by another year.' General Epistle of the Twelve, in Frontier Guardian, May 30, 1849. 'Those persons who had imparted measurably to these who had not, so that all extremity of suffering from hunger was avoided.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 95.
|p. 289|| Until
the first fruits were reaped the famine continued, but the harvest of 1849
was a bountiful one,3 and for six
years thereafter none wanted for bread in the city of Salt Lake.4
During part of this season many women and children were without shelter or fuel. To each family as it arrived was given a city lot, until the site was exhausted, as we have seen; but for most a wagon served for dwelling during the coldest months, and later an adobe hut, roofed with unseasoned lumber, and thatched with hay or frozen mud.5 Before summer all were housed in log or adobe dwellings,6 the fort
3It was not injured by crickets. Kane's The Mormons, 67. 'Our prophet predicted that if we would exercise patience under our difficulties during the immediate future, our necessities would be supplied as cheaply as they could be in the city of St Louis; and this proved to be true, for in 1849 we raised fair crops.' Smoot's Mormon Wife, MS., 5-6.
4The peculiar chemical formations in earth and water proved of great practical value when once understood. 'For two years all the salerufus used was obtained from Saleratus Lake, near Independence Rock; the salt from the lake became an article of value in local use and among their exports. The alkali swept down from the mountains, and composed of a great variety of ingredients, such as magnesia, soda, salt, etc., when once subdued, makes the most durable of soils, which needs no enriching.' Richards, in Utah Notes, MS., 8.
5'Now as regards my beginning at Salt Lake. Soon after my arrival a city lot was assigned to me for a home and residence, on which I placed my wagon box or wagon bed, which contained our provisions, bedding, and all our earthly goods, placed them upon the ground, turned away our stock upon the winter range, and looked about us. I soon disposed of some of my clothing for some adobes, and put the walls up of a small room, which we covered with a tent-cloth, that answered us during the winter, until lumber could be procured next spring.' Richards' Narr., MS., 38; Early Records, MS., 36-8.
6On Feb. 18th the people began to move out of the fort to their city lots. Id., 47. A number of temporary farm buildings had been completed before this date. Pratt's Autobiography, 406; Millennial Star, x. 370. A correspondent of the New York Tribune, writing from Salt Lake City, July 8, 1849, gives an exaggerated account of the place, which has been copied by several writers on Mormonism. 'There were no hotels, because there was no travel; no barbers' shops, because every one chose to shave his neighbor; no stores, because they had no goods to sell nor time to traffic; no centre of business, because all were too busy to make a centre. There was abundance of mechanics' shops, of dressmakers, milliners, and tailors, etc.; but they needed no sign, nor had they time to paint or erect one, for they were crowded with business. I this day attended worship with them in the open air. Some thousands of well-dressed, intelligent-looking people assembled, some on foot, some in carriages, and on horseback. Many were neatly and even fashionably clad. The beauty and neatness of the ladies reminded me of some of our congregations in New York.' The letter is in Mackay's The Mormons, 282. It is unnecessary to expose the absurdity of this description, as the reader is well aware that hundreds of California-bound emigrants passed through the valley this year. Harvesting began July 9th, and until that date the Mormons were (cont.)
|p. 290||being rapidly
broken up by the removal of the houses on to the city lots. The city was
divided into nineteen bishops' wards;7
the ten-acre blocks were divided into allotments of an acre and a quarter,
the five-acre lots in similar proportion, each building facing the garden
of the one adjoining, the space of twenty feet left between the houses and
the surrounding fence being afterward planted with trees and shrubbery.8
The need of a circulating medium had been felt ever since the valley had been settled.9 Their currency was blankets, grain, and seeds; and even after gold-dust was brought in by the miners great inconvenience was experienced in its use, and many refused to take it, as there was a waste in weighing it. To meet this emergency, bank bills for one dollar
(6cont.) often without their daily bread, as we have seen. The following is probably much nearer the truth: 'The houses are small, principally of brick (adobe), built up only as temporary abodes, until the more urgent and important matters of enclosure and cultivation are attended to; but I never saw anything to surpass the ingenuity of arrangement with which they are fitted up, and the scrupulous cleanliness with which they are kept. There were tradesmen and artisans of all descriptions, but no regular stores or workshops, except forges. Still, from the shoeing of a horse to the mending of a watch there was no difficulty in getting it done, as cheap and as well put out of hand as m any other city in America.' Kelly's Excursion to California, 226.
7The bishops were David Fairbanks, John Lowry, Christopher Williams, William Hickenlooper, William J. Perkins, Addison Everett, Seth Taft, David Pettigrew, Benjamin Covey, Edward Hunter, John Murdock, Abraham O. Smoot, Isaac Higbee, Joseph L. Heywood, James Hendrix, Benjamin Brown, Orville S. Cox, and Joel H. Johnson. Utah Early Records, MS., 47-8, 69. The valley is settled for 20 miles south and 40 miles north, and divided into 19 wards. Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 57.
8At a council held Feb. 17, 1849, the committee on fencing reported that the enclosure termed the big field would include 291 ten-acre lots, 460 five-acre lots, the church farm of 800 acres, and 17 acres of fractional lots, the whole requiring 5,240 rods of fencing, of which it was recommended that 3,216 should be of adobes, 663 of adobes or stone, and 1,361 of ditch, posts, and rails. 'When the Mormons first arrived they did not quarrel for best lands, but cultivated a whole district in common, dividing the harvest according to work done, seed supplied, and need of family. On dividing the town into lots, each received his plat, and so with fields, for south of the town lay a field of 6 square miles, cultivated in common; this was divided into 5-acre square lots and given to heads of families, by lot or distribution, in tracts of one to eight lots each. After the distribution some began to speculate with their lots, but to this the church objected, saying that none should sell his land for more than first cost and improvements, for it belonged to God, and was merely held in use by the holder. Still, secret speculations occurred.' Olshausen's Mormonen, 166-7.
9'Owing to the absence of small change, the tax collector was instructed give due-bills for sums less than a dollar, and redeem them when presented in sufficient amount.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 23.
|p. 291||were issued on the
1st of January, 1849, signed by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and
Thomas Bullock, clerk. In September, Brigham had brought eighty-four
dollars in small change into the valley, which had been distributed, but
was no longer in circulation. On the 6th of January, resolutions were
passed by the council to the effect that "the Kirtland bank bills be
put into circulation for the accommodation of the people, thus fulfilling
the prophecy of Joseph, that the Kirtland notes would one day be as good
as gold." The first printing was in connection with the manufacture
of paper money.10
Previous to the issue of this currency an attempt was made by John Kay to coin gold-dust, but the crucibles broke in the attempt. All the dies and everything connected with the coining were made in Salt Lake City.11 Subsequent attempts were more successful. The coin was made of pure gold, without alloy, which made it deficient in weight; it was therefore sold as bullion. Brigham then proposed the issue of paper currency until gold could be coined.12 There was also a paper currency issued some years later by a company in Salt Lake City known as the Deseret Currency Association, its capital being in cattle, but this was merely a temporary convenience.13 Currency,
10Fifty-cent and one-dollar paper currency was issued. Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 3. On the 22d, type was set for 50-cent bills—the first typesetting in the city. Id., 42-3; S. L. C. Contributor, ii. 209.
11'Robert Campbell engraved the stamps for the coin.' Wells' Narr., MS., 42. Brigham says, 'I offered the gold-dust back to the people, but they did not want it.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 1. 'Thos L. Smith, a mountaineer, wrote me from Bear River Valley, offering to sell me $200 or $300 in small coin…and take our currency for the same, and he would trade his skins, furs, robes, etc., with us.' Id., 79.
12'John Kay coined $2.50, $5, and $20 pieces.' Nebeker's Early Justice, MS., 3. A description is given in Juv. Inst. of coins with beehive and spread eagle on one side, with inscription 'Deseret Assay Office, Pure Gold,' and at the base '5 D.' On the reverse is a lion, surrounded by 'Holiness to the Lord,' in characters known as the Deseret alphabet. Vol. ix. no. 4, p. 39. In 1849 and 1850, coins of the value of $20, $10, $5, and $2.50 were struck off. Their fineness was 899-1000, and no alloy was used except a little silver. S. L. C. Contributor, ii. 209. 'The gold-dust was sufficient in quantity for all ordinary purposes…In the exchange the brethren deposited the gold-dust with the presidency, who issued bills or a paper currency; and the Kirtland safety fund resigned it on a par with gold.' Id., 56.
13See Taylor's Reminiscences, MS., 23.
|p. 292||in either gold or
paper, was afterward designated as valley tan, a name synonymous with
home-made or of Utah manufacture, the origin of which will be explained
Of the houses built early in 1849, few had more than two rooms, many had only board windows, and some were without doors. Several of the adobe houses in the fort had fallen down from the effects of the thaw. When at last they had learned how to make adobes, they were of the best kind. Alkali at first was mixed with the clay, which, when exposed to rain, would expand and burst the bricks. After this year more commodious structures were erected for public and private use, the means being supplied in part by traffic with emigrants for California. Conspicuous among them was the council-house on East Temple street, a two-story stone edifice, forty-five feet square,15 used originally for church purposes, and afterward occupied by the state and territorial legislatures. In front of the council-house was temple block, on the south-west corner of which stood the tabernacle, built in 1851-2, on the ground now occupied by the assembly hall, with accommodation for 2,500 persons,16 and consecrated on April 6th of the latter year.17 During
14See chap. xix., note 44, this vol.
15'I was appointed superintendent of public works in the fall of 1848. The first house that was built was a little adobe place that was used for the church office…The little office that was the first place built was one story, about 18 by 12 feet, slanting roof covered with boards and dirt. This remained the church office for about two years…The foundation of the council-house was laid in the spring of 1849, and then the first story put up.' Wells' Narr., MS., 41-2. Built by tithing. Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 55. At a meeting held Oct. 1, 1848, it was resolved to build a council-house, and on the 7th of November masons commenced laying the foundation. Utah Early Records, MS., 36, 38.
16Linforth gives its dimensions at 126 ft by 64, and states that the roof was arched, without being supported by pillars. Route from Liverpool, 109. In Utah Early Records, MS., 125, 127, it is stated that the dimensions were 120 by 60 ft, and that work was begun May 21st. See also Deseret News, May 17, 1851; The Mormons at Home, 112-13, 147-9; Burton's City of the Saints, 270.
17At a general conference, the proceedings of which are related in the Contributor, ii. 333. The conference lasted several days, and at its conclusion a collection was made to provide funds for a sacramental service, $149 being given in coin, together with several pounds' weight of silver watch-cases, spoons, rings, and ornaments. From the silver, cups were made, which are still in use at the tabernacle.
|p. 293||its construction,
the saints in every part of the world were urged to self-denial, and it
was voted to dispense with the use of tea, coffee, snuff, and tobacco, the
sums thus saved to be also used for the building of the temple, which was
to stand on the same block. The latter was to be built of stone quarried
in the mountains, and a railroad from temple block to the quarry was
chartered for the conveyance of building material.
Adjoining the tabernacle was the bowery, 100 by 60 feet, made of posts and boarding, completed three or four years later, and large enough to contain 8,000 people, a temporary structure having been erected in 1848. Among other buildings may be mentioned the tithing office, the social hall, and the seventies' hall of science. Several bridges were also built, which were paid for by the one per centum property tax.18
Thus at the western base of the Wasatch Mountains was laid out the city of Great Salt Lake, its buildings being distributed over a greater area than that on which stood, in 1850, the commercial metropolis of the United States.19 Its site was on a slope, barely perceptible except toward the north, where it was enclosed by the Wasatch Range and a spur trending to the westward. Resting on the eastern bank of the Jordan, it was watered by several creeks; a canal, twelve miles long, crossing three streams, being proposed to convey the waters of the Big Cottonwood to the farm-lands south of the city; and through each street flowed a rivulet of pure water, which was thence diverted into the garden plats.
On the 24th of July, 1849, was held the second anniversary of the arrival of the pioneers.20 At day-break
18Resolved that a tax of one per ct per annum be assessed on property to repair public highways. Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 5.
19Kane's The Mormons, 74; New York Tribune, Oct. 7, 1849.
20The 4th and 24th of July were at first celebrated together, but on the latter date because bread and vegetables were more plentiful at the end of month than at the beginning. Utah Early Records, MS., 91.
|p. 294||cannon were fired
and bands of music passed through the city, arousing the citizens for the
great events of the day. A flag brought from Nauvoo was prominently
displayed, and a larger flag was hoisted from the liberty-pole. A
procession was formed of young men and maidens, who in appropriate
costumes, bearing banners and singing, escorted Brigham to the bowery.
They were received with shouts of "Hosanna to God and the Lamb!"
While the governor and the church dignitaries were passing down the aisle
cheers and shouts of "Hail to the governor of Deseret!" greeted
them on every side. The declaration of independence and the constitution
were then read, followed by patriotic addresses. The procession was then
reformed and marched to the feast served on tables fourteen hundred feet
in length. "The tables were heavily loaded," says Brigham,
"with all the luxuries of field and garden, and with nearly all the
vegetables of the world; the seats were filled and refilled by a people
who had been deprived of those luxuries for years, and they welcomed to
their table every stranger within their border."21
A greater variety was provided, as the saints had exchanged for many
luxuries their flour, butter, potatoes, and other produce, with passing
Not only on the pioneer anniversary but on the 4th of July,22 at christmas week, and on other occasions
21'The hospitalities of the occasion were not confined to the saints alone, but included several hundreds of California emigrants who had stopped to recruit, as well as threescore Indians,' says Eliza Snow. See Snow's Biography, 95-107, for description of the celebration; also Kane's The Mormons, 80-1; Hist. B. Young, MS., 108-116, 143; Mrs Horne's Migrations, MS., 30; Frontier Guardian, Sept. 19, 1849. After dinner four and twenty toasts were drunk, followed by volunteer toasts. President Young declared that he never saw such a dinner in his life. One of the elders remarked that it was almost a marvellous thing that everybody was satisfied, and…not an oath was uttered, not a man intoxicated, not a jar or disturbance occurred to mar the union, peace, and harmony of the day.' Frontier Guardian, Sept. 19, 1849. Among the guests was the Indian chief Walker, who, accompanied by Soweite, chief of the Utahs, and several hundred Indians, men, women, and children, had visited the city in Sept. 1848. Utah Early Records, MS., 33.
22For a description of 4th of July festivities, see Frontier Guardian, July 10, 1850, Oct. 3, 1851; Deseret News, July 12, 1851, July 10, 1852; S. L. C. Contributor, ii. 271.
|p. 295||festivities were
held.23 Sometimes the guests
contributed toward the expense of the entertainment, the amount that each
one was expected to pay being stated on the card of invitation.24
In winter, theatrical performances were given by the Deseret Dramatic Association at the social hall, and in summer at the bowery, the parts being well sustained and the orchestra and decorations well appointed.25 At the former, private parties were given when the gathering was too large for the residence of the host; in the basement were appliances for cooking, and adjoining was a dining-room with seats and tables sufficient for three hundred persons. All entertainments were opened with prayer; then came dancing, songs, and music, followed by supper, the guests being dismissed with a benediction at an early hour.
The public festivities of the Mormons were always conducted under the auspices of the church, and none were allowed to join in them who were not in good standing. To sing, dance, and rejoice before the Lord was regarded almost as a religious duty, but only those must rejoice whose hearts were pure and whose hands were clean. Thus, toward christmas of this year, 1849, regulations were issued by the high council for the observance of the approaching holidays. They were to commence on the 20th of December and last until the council should declare them at an end, officers being appointed to preside over the dances. No person who had been disfellowshipped
23The christmas festival of 1851 is described in the Deseret News, Jan. 24, 1852. 'On the 24th,' writes Brigham in regard to another occasion, 'I invited the wives of the twelve apostles, and other elders who were on missions, with a number of my relatives, to dine at my house. Seventy ladies sat down at the first table. I employed five sleighs to collect the company; the day was stormy: near my house the snow drifted three feet deep.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1850, 2.
24Contributions were often made in the shape of eatables, and an in-door picnic extemporized. Ferris' Utah and the Mormons, 306.
25In May 1851, the second act of 'Robert Macaire' was performed at the bowery, the performance concluding with the farce of 'The Dead Shot.' Contributor, ii. 271.
|p. 296||or excommunicated
was allowed to go forth to the dance. Those who had sold liquor for gain,
thereby corrupting the morals of society, were also disqualified. All
friends and well-wishers to society, all who remembered the poor and
needy,26 were invited to
participate, though not members of the church. But declares the council:
"Woe unto them that dance with guile and malice in their hearts
toward their neighbor! Woe unto them that have secretly injured their
neighbor or his or her property! Woe unto them that are ministers of
disorder and of evil! If these shall go forth in the dance without
confessing and forsaking their guilt, the faith of the council is that
they seal their doom by it."
After their festivities the people returned, each to his calling, with renewed zest. It was an article of faith among them that labor was honorable, and all who were not missionaries were expected to do their part. By revelation, Joseph Smith was released from this obligation, but Brigham Young worked as a carpenter in his own mills. Labor was regarded as a duty no less than prayer or temple service, each one working with his hands at whatsoever he found to do, and cheerfully contributing his tithes toward the church revenues, which were expended for public improvements, for the support of missions, and the relief of the sick and destitute.27
26Bring all your tithes and offerings to the proper place for the poor, that there be none hungry among us, and let the poor rejoice; and then you may rejoice in the dance to your heart's content.' Regulations of the High Council, in Frontier Guardian, Nov. 28, 1849. Brigham, in an address at the state-house in 1852, at a party given to the legislature, said: 'I want it distinctly understood that fiddling and dancing are no part of our worship. My mind labors like a man logging. This is the reason why I am fond of these pastimes; they give me a privilege to throw everything off and shake myself, that my body may exercise and my mind rest.' And again: 'This company is controlled like the ship by the rudder in a gentle breeze, that can be turned hither and thither at the will and pleasure of him who commands.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1852, 22.
27Olshausen's Mormonen, 164-5. On July 28, 1850, the president writes to Orson Hyde, then at Kanesville. 'Our celebration was well attended. It is a general time of health with the saints, and peace and plenty of hard work, as every one has been so busy that they can hardly get time to eat or sleep. You speak about hurry and bustle at Kanesville; but if you were here, to see, feel, and realize the burdens, labors, and responsibilities, which are daily, (cont.)
|p. 297|| Among
the causes that led to the prosperity of the people of Utah at this period
was the migration of gold-seekers to California. Hundreds of emigrants,
turning aside to Salt Lake City, wearied and dispirited, their cattle worn
out and their wagons broken, were glad to exchange them, together with
their tools, household furniture, and spare clothing, for provisions and
pack animals at very low rates.28
Many were glad to remain during winter, and work for their livelihood.
Though reports were freely circulated to the contrary, there is sufficient
evidence that as a rule they were kindly treated, and not a few abandoned
their search for gold to cast in their lot with the saints.29
The arrival in November of the first pack-mule train from California, laden with many luxuries and necessities, was an important event. The people formed in line, waiting hours for their turn to buy the limited amount allowed.30 When a sack of potatoes was
(27cont.) hourly, momentarily, rolling, piling, tumbling, and thundering upon us, you would at least conclude that there was no danger of our getting the gout from idleness or too much jollity.' Frontier Guardian, Sept. 18, 1850. Mention of cholera on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in the spring of 1849 is made by Brigham. 'Many Mormon brethren and sisters emigrating on those rivers died; 60 died going from St Louis to Kanesville, mostly from England and Wales, under Capt. Dan. Jones.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 85.
28Horses, harnesses, carriages, wagons, etc., were bought of eager emigrantsat one fifth of their cost in the states. Utah Early Records, MS., 113.
29In the autumn of 1849 many emigrants, while resting in Salt Lake City, wrote letters to their friends, in which they acknowledged the kindness and hospitality shown them by the saints. Extracts from these letters were published in newspapers throughout the states. Gunnison, The Mormons, 65, says: 'Their many deeds of charity to the sick and broken-down gold-seekers all speak loudly in their favor, and must eventually redound to their praise.' See also Kane's The Mormons, 76-7; Stansbury's Expedition to G. S. Lake, i. 134. In March 1851, numbers of emigrants were baptized, and most of them remained in Utah. Id., 123. D.J. Staples, who remained at S. L. City for two or three weeks with a Boston party bound for California in 1849, says: 'The Mormons showed their kindness in every possible way, supplying all wants and taking care of the sick.' Incidents and Inform., in Cal., MS., D. 1-3. See also Van Dyke's Statement, in Id., 1. Among later instances may be mentioned that of John C. Frémont, who with nine white men and twelve Indians arrived at Parowan Jan. 7, 1854, in a starving condition. He was supplied with provisions and fresh animals, setting forth eastward on the 20th.
30Brown sugar was $1 a lb.; and everything else in proportion. No one was allowed more than one pound of anything. Mrs Horne's Migrations, MS., 30.
|p. 298||brought into the
valley in the spring, they were eagerly bought at any price. From four
small ones, costing fifty cents, was obtained a bushel of good-sized
potatoes which were saved for seed.
The immigration during the season numbered some 1,400 souls, who were added to the settlers in the valley,31 and who, with the number remaining of those originally bound for California, made a large population to clothe, feed, and shelter.
A carrying company was also established32 in December for the purpose of conveying passengers and goods from the Missouri River to the gold regions of California. In their prospectus, the proprietors set forth that, residing as they did in the valley, and being acquainted with the route, they could provide fresh animals as they were needed and save the loss of hundreds and thousands of dollars that had been incurred by former parties through inexperience. For passengers to Sutter's Fort, the rate was $300, of which $200 must be paid in advance, and the remainder on reaching Salt Lake City. For freight, the terms were $250 per ton, of which two thirds must also be paid in advance.
A small company under Captain Lamoreaux left the valley for Green River, and there established a ferry and trading post; among them were wagon-makers and blacksmiths, whose services would be invaluable.
When the immigrants of this year arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, many of them were
31'Our cattle stampeded, and at the south pass of the Platte we were overtaken by a heavy storm, in which 70 animals were frozen. We made our journey to Salt Lake City, 1,034 miles, in 145 days, arriving Oct. 27th.' Geo. A. Smith's Autobiog., in Tullidge's Mag., July 1884. The cattle of the California Enterprise Company, under Judge Thos K. Owen of Ill., stampeded near the forks of the Platte and ran back 130 miles in about 26 hours; they were bronght alon g by Capt. Allen Taylor's company, which received from their owners a series of resolutions expressive of their gratitude. Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 157-8.
32Termed the Great Salt Lake Valley Carrying Company. The proprietors were Shadrach Roundy, Jedediah M. Grant, John S. Fullmer, George D. Grant, and Russell Homer. Utah Early Records, MS., 101; Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 168.
almost destitute of clothing,33 bedding, and household furniture, such articles as they possessed having been exchanged for food during their journey. In 1848 it had been prophesied by Heber C. Kimball that the commodities, known among the brethren as 'states goods,' would be as cheap in Salt Lake City as in New York; while Brigham Young, soon after setting forth froth Nauvoo, had made a similar prediction, declaring that within five years his people would be more prosperous than they had ever been. Both prophecies were fulfilled,34 when, during the first years of the gold fever, company after company came pouring into Utah, which might now be termed the half-way house of the nation. Several hundred California-bound emigrants arrived in the valley in 1849, too late to continue their journey on the northern route, and proposed to spend the winter in the valley. There was scarcely provision enough for those already there, and as Jefferson Hunt of the battalion offered to pilot the company over the southern route, they decided to undertake the trip, and started on the 8th of October, arriving in California on the 22d of December.35 On the 1st of December nineteen men came into the city on foot, nearly famished, having been two days making their way over Big Mountain. Their wagons had been left on Echo Creek, and their animals at Willow Springs, where the snow, they said, was six feet deep on a level. Though many of these adventurers were poor, some of the trains were loaded with valuable merchandise, for which their owners
33Parley relates that during 1848 he and his family were compelled to go barefooted for several months, reserving their Indian moccasins for extra occasions. Autobiog., 405.
34In the summer of 1849, almost every article except tea and coffee sold at 50 per cent below the prices ruling in eastern cities. Frontier Guardian, Sept. 5, 1849.
35'The company became dissatisfied at the continued southern direction. At Beaver Creek, one Capt. Smith came up with a company of packers, saying that he had maps and charts of a new route, called Walker's cut-off. All the packers and most of Capt. Hunter's co. joined Smith. After wandering about the mountains for a time many turned back and took the southern route, while Capt. Smith and a few others struggled through and arrived in California on foot.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 167.
|p. 300||expected to find a
ready market on reaching their destination. But while sojourning in the
valley, news arrived that vessels laden with similar merchandise had
arrived in San Francisco, or were far on their way, and that already the
market was greatly overstocked.36
The emigrants were therefore glad to exchange their costly outfits and
their trading goods for whatever they could get in exchange, a single
horse or a mule, with a small stock of provisions, being sometimes
accepted as an equivalent for property that had cost the owner thousands
of dollars. The cattle thus obtained by the settlers, in barter, after
being fattened on the nutritious grasses of the valley, were driven to
California, where a sure and profitable market was found.
As a result of the California-bound migration, there followed an enormous advance in the price of provisions, flour selling before the harvest of 1850 at one dollar per pound, and after harvest at twenty-five dollars per cental.37 Throughout the autumn of this year the grist-mills were run to their utmost capacity, grinding wheat for the passing emigrants, who at any cost must procure sufficient to carry them to the gold mines. Some other articles of food were for a time equally scarce, sugar selling at the rate of three pounds for two dollars;38 though beef was plentiful, and could be had for ten cents per pound.39 It is probable,
36'Thousands of emigrants…have passed through Salt Lake City this season, exchanging domestic clothing, wagons, etc., for horses and mules.' Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 143.
37Utah Early Records, MS., 112; Contributor, ii. 240. See also Frontier Guardian, Sept. 18, 1850, where is a copy of an address delivered by Brigham Young at the bowery, S. L. City. 'I say unto you, farmers, keep your wheat, for I foresee if you are not careful starvation will be on our heels.' It was not intended, however, that food should be withheld from the destitute; in another address from Brigham, published in the same paper, we read: 'I say to you, latter-day saints let no man go hungry from your doors; divide with them and trust in God for more.' 'Emigrants, don't let your spirits be worn down; and shame be to the door where a man has to go hungry away.'
38On Nov. 21, 1849, Mr Vasquez opened a store in Salt Lake City, and met with ready sale for his sugar at this rate. Utah Early Records, MS., 100.
39Fuel and building material were costly, firewood being worth, in 1850, ten dollars per cord, adobe bricks a dollar a hundred, and lumber five dollars the hundred feet. Two years later, 'states goods' had also become scarce throughout the territory, linen selling for 20 to 30 cents per yard, flannel for (cont.)
|p. 301||however, that these
rates represent the prices charged to passing emigrants, for at this
period the wages of laborers did not exceed $2 per day, and of skilled
mechanics $3. The saints prided themselves upon their honorable dealings
with these strangers, and the moderate prices demanded, though frequently
charged with swindling.40 They
could afford to part with their produce, because they had learned to
dispense with many articles which among other communities were considered
necessaries. For men who had fed during their first winter in the valley
on hides and roots, it was no great hardship to dispense for a season with
a portion of their provisions, their grain, beef, and butter, their coffee
and sugar, in return for which they received such value.
It was not of course to be expected that while thousands of California-bound emigrants were passing each year through the Mormon settlements, the saints should themselves entirely escape the gold fever. In November 1848, several small parties of the battalion found their way to Salt Lake City,41 some of them bringing considerable quantities of gold-dust, which, as they relate, had come into their possession in this wise.
In September 1847 about forty of the battalion men arrived at Sutter's Fort in search of employment and were hired by Sutter to dig the races for a flour mill about six miles from the fort and for a saw-mill some forty-five miles distant.42 The latter work being completed in January 1848, and the frame of the
(39cont.) 30 to 40 cents, prints for 25 to 50 cents, and jeans for 75 cents to $1.25; while a bottle of ink cost $2, and a ream of writing-paper $10 to $12. Deseret News, Nov. 6, 1852, where it is stated that on some classes of goods traders realized from 200 to 10,000 per cent profit.
40'I saved straw that spring and braided forty hats…I made one to order and sold to an emigrant at the usual price, $1. He was surprised at its cheapness, but in all our dealings with emigrants we took no advantage of them. I took boarders at five or six dollars a week.' Mrs Richards' Rem., MS., 36.
41Others had already arrived in June and Sept. of this year. Utah Early Records, MS., 30-1.
42Their pay was to be 12 1/2 cents per cubic yard, with rations and free pasture for their stock. Tyler's Hist. Mormon Battalion, 332.
|p. 302||building erected,
water was turned into the flume on the 24th, and the fall being
considerable, washed out a hole near the base of the mill on reaching the
tail-race, whereupon Marshall, Sutter's partner, and superintendent of the
party, examined the spot, fearing that the water would undermine the
foundations. While thus engaged, he observed there pieces of yellow
glistening metal, and picking up a handful put them in his pocket, not
knowing what they were, and supposing probably that he had found nothing
more valuable than iron pyrites.
They were no iron pyrites, however, that Marshall had found, but, as it proved, nuggets of gold, the largest of them being worth about five dollars. The discovery was revealed in confidence to three of the saints, who unearthed a few more specimens, and soon afterward removed to a sand-bar in the Sacramento river, since known as Mormon Island. Here was gold in paying quantities, the average earnings of each man being twenty to thirty dollars per day. But though dust and nuggets were freely shown to the brethren, there were few who would believe their senses, and for weeks the matter caused no excitement. At length, however, the secret was disclosed, which soon transformed the peaceful valleys of California into busy mining camps, changing as if by magic the entire face of the country. How throughout the settlements on seaboard and on river the merchant abandoned his wares, the lawyer his clients, the parson his flock, the doctor his patients, the farmer his standing grain—all making one mad rush for the gold-fields, some on horseback, some with pack-mules, some with wheelbarrows, some with costly outfits, and some with no outfit save the clothes on their backs—is fully set forth in my History of California.
When the disbanded soldiers arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake and displayed their treasures, a cry was raised among the saints, "To California; to the land of Ophir that our brethren have discovered!"
|p. 303||But from the twelve
came a stern rebuke. "The true use of gold is for paving streets,
covering houses, and making culinary dishes; and when the saints shall
have preached the gospel, raised grain, and built up cities enough, the
Lord will open the way for a supply of gold to the perfect satisfaction of
his people. Until then, let them not be over-anxious, for the treasures of
the earth are in the Lord's storehouse, and he will open the doors thereof
when and where he pleases."43
President John Smith wrote to the saints in California in March 1848, urging them to gather at the Great Salt Lake, "that they might share in the blessings to be conferred on the faithful; and warned them against settling down at ease in California with an eye and a half upon this world and its goods, and half an eye dimly set towards Zion on account of the high mountains and the privations to be endured by the saints."
"If we were to go to San Francisco and dig up chunks of gold," said Brigham to the returned battalion on the 1st of October, 1848, "or find it in the valley, it would ruin us." In an address on the sabbath he said: "I hope the gold mines will be no nearer than eight hundred miles…There is more delusion and the people are more perfectly crazy on this continent than ever before…If you elders of Israel want to go to the gold mines, go and be damned. If you go, I would not give a picayune to keep you from damnation."44 "I advise the corrupt, and all who want, to go to California and not come back, for I will not fellowship them…Prosperity and riches blunt the feelings of man. If the people were united, I would send men to get the gold who would care no more about it than the dust under their feet, and then we would gather millions into the church…Some
43Second General Epistle of the Twelve, dated Salt Lake City, Oct. 12, 1849, in Frontier Guardian, Dec. 26, 1849.
44Hist. B. Young, MS., 1849, 100-2, 123.
|p. 304||men don't want to
go after gold, but they are the very men to go."45
Thus the threatened migration was stayed; a few companies departed,46 and were asked in all kindness never to return. "If they have a golden god in their hearts," said Brigham, "they had better stay were they are." But the majority of the settlers were well content to abide in the valley, building up towns, planting farms, and tending stock in their land of promise.
45On the 7th of December, 1848, Brigham writes in his journal: 'Some few have caught the gold fever; I counselled such, and all the saints, to remain in the valleys of the mountains, make improvements, build comfortable houses, and raise grain against the days of famine and pestilence with which the earth would be visited.'
46The gold fever first broke out in June 1848, news of the discovery being brought by a party of battalion men that arrived from California in that month. In March 1849, about a dozen families departed or were preparing to depart for the mines. In March 1851, about 520 of the saints were gathered at Payson, Utah county, most of them for the purpose of moving to California. Utah Early Records, MS., 31, 69, 122.
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