Something about the Mormons, the Salt Valley,
While I was is Schleswig I made acquaintances with the Mormons and their missionaries, most of whom stayed with me whenever they came to Schleswig. Many of these people had now returned and knew I was coming. I thought they would at least be grateful, receive me, and in return seek to serve me as a newcomer from a foreign country. But not one of all the acquaintances put in an appearance. Furthermore, nobody concerned himself about me. There were only a few Germans here, and I could not speak with the rest. In a certain way I was also in trouble. My money was gone and had not been spent, had been stolen, as I had just found out. My entire fortune consisted of 10 cents. Provisions were not given us any longer, and if I and my family were not to starve, I was obliged to sell some of my clothes or other articles of that kind. There was no dearth of buyers. They came running here by the dozen, and asked if there was anything to buy. They would like to have seen me give than all the things I had brought with me for a bushel of potatoes or maize. Nobody offered me as much as a single potato as a gift. Also, it was not only I who fared thus, but many who had come with us were treated likewise. Others who came without money, family or friends to take care of them, will suffer the same fate as I. This I have later found out from new arrivals. It is untrue when the missionaries say that the church will take care of poor emigrants and those without means, and that they will obtain food and lodging. Here they say: God help you or help yourself, and when both fail, starve. Likewise I could not obtain lodgings either. Most of the landlords wanted payment in advance and I did not have it. For this reason I had to sleep 3 nights in a wagon with my family, and do our cooking on the road. Besides, my wife caused me a great deal of trouble every day, and I lived in a desperate condition.
On the 4th day came a German unknown to me, named Darger, who obtained living quarters for me, and they were taken possession of at once. Now my wife tried in every possible manner to pick a quarrel, and thought that she would have better success. This made me disgusted, and after talking it over with my children, of whom she had already driven one daughter out of the house the previous day, I left her on November 6th and took lodgings with a friend named, August Enrich from Reinfeld in Holstein, who had traveled with us from Glukstadt to St. Louis, and had arrived here 3 weeks ahead of us. For some days Enrich and I went out together and worked for wages. He became ill on November 12, and on the 23rd died in my arms. I stayed with his widow until December 6, and then took lodgings with my son-in-law August Kalthoff. I now lived quietly and in peace, was healthy, had steady work and was loved by my children. My son-in-law and I were paid for our work in potatoes. He was often sick during the winter. Work became scarcer, and during the winter we had practically nothing to eat except potatoes. Many a day we had no bread. We drank coffee with our food, when we had any, otherwise we drank water. A German, named Ed Kuhl, began to build a puppet show for the church. I worked on this for 6 weeks, and was then cheated out of my wages of 54 Dollars. I do not know if Kuhl, or the church, was responsible for this. It was not only I who fared thus, but 6 other workers, who were also Germans, suffered the same fate. During this time my wife sent in her complaint about me to the church. In it she said that I had no faith, that she could not live with me in peace, and that she wanted to be divorced from me for this reason. She was taken sick immediately afterwards, and the matter had to be postponed. On January 17, 1855, I received a letter from the authorities, or the High Council, in which I was requested to come before the court on the 26th inst. This was not possible for me, however, for although I had had to suffer a great deal on account of her lately, I loved her nevertheless, and it was impossible for me to tell the court about her behavior towards me, and her transgressions. I thought all the time that she would realize her injustice towards me, and become reconciled with me again. But I would not say the good word, and make a bid for reconciliation, as I had no reason for it. Thus I did not go before the council. In spite of my absence, we were nevertheless divorced on January 20th, and her complaint accepted as just. She had with her as a witness a German, named Daniel Grunck, in whose house she lived and who was unacquainted with our quarrel. Later on when he became angry on her account of me, and learned to know her, he told me, that it was really the missionary, Daniel Carn, who had brought about the divorce. I never saw a bill of divorce. The divorce was confirmed by the court, and the decree of divorce which i later refused to sign, was signed by the court. Of the things I had taken along with me, I received nothing except my clothes and 3 items of torn bedding. For driving the lose oxen both of my sons obtained free board on the journey. Besides this I was to have 15 Dollars a month, 61 Dollars altogether. My wife and both daughters were each to pay 75 Dollars for board and travel expenses. My daughters paid their own expenses, and the 61 Dollars I had earned was withheld and applied on my wife's account. I only discovered this after we had already been divorced, and found out at the same time, that it had been decided on and settled some time beforehand. I was sick for several weeks as a result of this unjust treatment, and suffered a great deal. I went about in a melancholy and depressed state of mind, and did not let myself be seen by anybody. But, nevertheless, in spite of everything, nothing could be done about it, for here the women have many rights, and these rights are often misused. Divorces are certainly nothing new here. There are some every week, but I felt very much ashamed of myself.
Up until now, July 10th, I still worked for wages, and often had to do difficult dirty work, I had not been used to before. Withal, I am healthy and live contentedly, or in peace. It is true that I am not always entirely satisfied with my situation. When I think back on earlier times, when I lived at home, strange thoughts often come into my head. But what shall I, and what can I do? It is the best to give oneself up to one's fate. When I feel very sad, I often sing: "These were for me happy, blissful days." Try to bear each hardship with patience, hope for better times and know that I live among a people, that is going to be tested in every way.
Up until now I have had no money with which to begin a permanent business, and here great expense is connected with everything. On July 20th I gave up working for wages. I had saved some money, and other things for which I had been working, and I bought hair and some joiner's tools. From now on I would work at the joiner's trade and make curled hair until something better opened up for me. My wife's hope of marrying a man of high standing in the church, missionary Carn, or the before mentioned tailor Lau, had not been realized up until August 24, 1856. Carn had a wife and had taken 2 young women as wives also. The tailor Lau had stolen several things from Elise Ahrens from Meblemburg, and Caroline Megner from Hamburg, and is not here any longer. Things are going well with me, and the bachelors life pleases me well. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!
The Salt Valley extends from the North to the South, and borders in the South on the Uta Valley and Uta Lake, in the North on Oregon and in the Northwest on California. But it is only settled in the Northwest as far as to the Barenriffer (Bear River) and inhabited by Mormons. On the other side of this river, however, the soil is bad and the water scarce. The entire length of the valley from the Bear River as far as the Uta Valley is about 100 miles wide. There are settlements practically all along the river, except near the Western mountains, as water is scarce at many places in this locality. The entire valley, and all the valleys where Mormons live, are closed in by high mountains, whose summits are covered with snow practically the whole year. The snow usually melts at the end of August, and often the new snow comes already at the beginning of September. The climate is very healthful both in the Salt Valley, as well as in the entire territory. The soil is fertile and has abundant water. During the winter months a great deal of snow falls in the valleys. As a rule it only rains in the months of March, April, October and November. During the entire summer the air is continually clear, and frequently one does not see a rain cloud for 2 weeks at a time.
Thunderstorms regularly break out in the mountains, but the valleys rarely get any rain from them. The thunderstorms are often very violent and last from 2 to 3 days. During this time thunder and lightening are incessant. All land has to be watered during the summer, for which purpose ingenious arrangements have been made. The water comes out of the mountains at many different places, mostly to the North and East, and is caught in large dams from which it is led into the valley and over the land. In every town, village and hamlet the greatest care is taken that every landowner gets the water at the proper time. This irrigation is not only in operation in the Salt Valley, but in all the valleys of the territory. Wheat, maize and potatoes are the main crops raised. There are potatoes here that weigh from 5 to 7 pounds. Rye, buck-wheat and oats are rarely seen here. All crops are sown or placed in strips so they can be properly watered. There are only small amounts of fruit, and in many places nothing at all, as the trees are still too young. In the last few years vineyards have also been laid out, but grapes will not ripen, as no rain is falling. Cattle raising is carried on on a great scale throughout the territory. Cattle are also the only article that is being sold to other states, and for which ready cash comes into the territory. The best land is being cultivated in all the valleys, and where this is not the case, the land at least has an owner, and this is some satisfaction. The first Mormons, or those who came here in the first 2 years, have all acquired good land, and those who now want to have some of it, must buy it from the former for a higher price. For a farm of 200 square yards from 150 to 200 Dollars is paid. A higher price even than that is asked for land that lies in or near a town or village. I know people who ask 2000 Dollars for an acre of land in the city. Most of the land in Salt Lake City has belonged from the beginning to those who were at the head of the church, and all of them are now wealthy gentlemen who get richer and richer all the time.
The greatest nuisances are the ruling board of the church, the locusts, the bugs and the lack of money. There is not a single house in the entire territory that is free from bugs, and they are found in all the lumber that is made into houses. Thus there are bugs in a house even before it is finished. For this reason many people sleep under the open sky all summer long, either on the ground or on some roof. The locusts, which are also called grasshoppers by Mormons, come from the mountains into the valleys during the hot and quite dry summer season. During the summer of 1855, however. I saw the first locusts on May 2nd. All the streets in town, and all the fields and gardens were suddenly as full of them as if it had been raining locusts. At that time they were not larger that a large flea, and they hopped around on the ground. The old ones laid their eggs on the ground in the fall, and these hatched as soon as it is good and warm in the spring. They develop quickly and become as large as the usual cockcafer (cockroach). Last summer there were so many of them, that not even the oldest Indians could remember ever having seen such hordes. They look very much like grasshoppers, but they are grey and fly as well as birds. The air was often so full of them that the sun darkened. Already by the beginning of June most of the grain, potatoes and fruit had been devoured by them. Now the farmers again planted maize on the cornfields, and of this also the greater part was destroyed. The harvest from all that was sown and planted was only a small one, and one heard nothing but lamentations as to the immediate future. The fall and winter went rather well, but in the spring of 1856 the distress began to increase, especially in the Salt Valley, as the least had grown there, and the least had been harvested. There were only a few farmers who had a sufficient supply of fruit and grain for planting and sowing, if they and their families did not want to starve. Some provisions were brought in from other valleys, but not in sufficient quantities to prevent a famine. Every day a great many entire families went out to dig up roots and gather wild plants in order to satisfy their hunger. Among these roots and plants were often some that were harmful, and many people died from eating them. Fishing was organized and hunting carried on in the mountains. What was caught was sold or given to the sufferers. The distress continually increased, however, and during the summer stark famine was rampant until it was possible to pick something green in the fields and gardens. For this reason the harvest in the fall was not particularly good, although there had been but few locusts during the summer. This was not the only misfortune caused by the locusts, however. When they had consumed the corn and fruit in the gardens, they ate the grass and other remaining fodder for the cattle. One could go for miles and see nothing green.
As the farmers therefore had no fodder with which to feed their cattle during the winter, they were obliged to drive them into small valleys in the mountains and look for them there. Late in the fall there was a heavy snow that lasted several days, and no one could go into the mountains to look after his cattle. In addition to this, there came a heavy frost, that lasted until thee middle of March. When the cattle were driven home in the spring, thousands of horses, oxen and cows had died from hunger and cold. From the Salt Valley alone, it was estimated that 7000 head of cattle had succumbed. Of these 500 head belonged to one man. This loss contributed greatly to bringing about the famine.
In the spring I was with the hunting parties in the mountains most of the time, but without weapons. The party I was with had decided to stay away for 3 days, and was supplied with provisions for that length of time. We had gone about 4 miles up into the mountains, when we heard a loud scream for help. Some young people in our party rushed forward in the direction of the cries. We soon saw a bear standing under a tree in which a man was sitting. The young men had just shot the bear, as the rest of us came along. The man now climbed down from the tree. The bear had pursued him, and he had retreated into the tree. There were, unfortunately, a large number of bees in the tree. The man, more dead than alive from the stinging of the bees and from his fear of the bear, was carried into town by 4 men, of whom I was one. It was still very cold in the mountains, and I was glad that the hunting came to an end. I and my family have not suffered from hunger, and we have fed many that were hungry. During all this time we had good friends, who, it is true, were not Mormons. They possessed more love for their fellowman than many of the former, however, and always helped us when we needed help.
Lying and cheating are common among the Mormons. During this gloomy time use was made of the third part of the clover leaf: stealing. Food in particular was stolen, and it was usually filched from people, who needed it themselves, but who did not guard it with sufficient care. There were many among the rich and leading men in the church who had an abundance. This became known later on; but these pious people were wiser. They kept things under lock and key, and wailed quite like the others, when they should and could have helped them instead. Many people stole from sheer want, and many in the spirit of bravado. When the latter were discovered, they received punishment. Many went out to steal and let themselves be caught on purpose, so that they not only obtained bread for themselves, but also for their families. But as food was not very abundant in the jails either, the prisoners were often released at once. Many of them were not satisfied with this arrangement, however, and began to steal all over again. Finally, punishment ceased altogether, and stealing became as common as lying and cheating.
The greatest thieves were found among the wealthy Mormons. Since they did not commit out and out burglary, but stole in secret, the poor and the suffering publicly, and precisely for that reason, sought refuge with them and asked them for help. They pawned and sold for food their beds and clothes, signed themselves up for work, and also hired themselves out for a certain time to work for food as wages, but it was only seldom they received as much as a fourth of the value of their work, or a fourth of the wages due them. Among these heartless people were many who were among the leaders of the church. As the distress became less severe, and the poor people wanted to redeem their pawned and previously sold articles (the return of everything having been promised beforehand), unsurer demanded payment of the full value of the articles held. This is nothing new in these parts, however. It is always being preached that one must be wise in every respect, and it is no sin to enrich oneself, in any way. That is what was preached in the midst of the greatest distress.
Hyber [Heber] Kimbal, Brigam Young's chief advisor, bought as many shoes as were to be had, and paid 14 pounds of flour for each pair. When the shoemaker wanted to redeem the shoes later on, Kimbal demanded 75 pounds of flour or 4 Dollars per pair. No one could give that much. He had sold all the shoes for this price to his workers however, or figured them out as payment for work done. A worker who would otherwise receive 1 1/2 Dollars a day obtained 10 pounds of flour from him during this period. Hundreds of instances like this could be given as acts on the part of the wealthy. Money is not in circulation, although there is probably much of it here. The rich and those in easy circumstances keep it locked up, solely in order that the working classes must work for what wages and payment, the rich people will give, so that the poor will always be slaves of the rich. The former were compelled to be such for here the saying from the Bible: "He who will not work shall not eat!", is indeed adopted by the Mormons. Money is demanded in the stores, and those who have none must endure a great deal. Many a valuable business deal is transacted through barter, however. An artisan sometimes receives some money for his work. This rarely happens, however, and still more rarely does he receive the full value of his work in ready cash. Artisans and other workers receive their payment in provisions, clothing, exchange labor, cattle, land and buildings, or in grocery orders. All these transactions are continually tainted with fraud. Before undertaking a piece of work, each artisan or worker has to ask in what way the work is to be repaid, and one cheats the other as best he can. I know people who have been working from 8 to 12 days, without beforehand speaking about their payment, who received as remuneration outworn clothing, old shoes, and old hat, onions, turnips and carrots, in short everything the other was unable to use, or of which he had an abundance.
Many artisans and laborers were continually working for the church. The church had a store of its own, and the workers were paid from the profits of this business, and from the tithe that flowed in. All that they received in payment was figured at a higher price, that when one was buying the same things from somebody else. I know people who have worked for the church, and who did not have one dollar in cash in the house during this time. In this fashion do the Latter Day Saints have things organized! It is in this way they want the Kingdom of God built up!
One might think that when somebody receives food, clothing, housing, land and cattle for his work, money would be superfluous and that he would have no use for it. There are certain necessities, however, especially at this place, that one cannot obtain except for ready cash, and those who do not possess this, must often put up with a great deal. Cash is often necessary for the maintenance of one's health, and for keeping house and is also required for running a business properly and advantageously.
I cannot say much about the doctrine and faith, for I have been here too short a time, and one does not come to know everything at once. This takes place by degrees. Many a man can have been a Mormon from 25 to 30 years, and yet not know or understand his own faith. The teaching contains, as I have heard it, great secrets, which the church does not dare tell everybody at once. All are being tested and tried out in the beginning, and if a person is faithful in the initial test, he comes to know more. Much of what I have heard of the teaching and belief, seems all right. I at least look upon it in this way, and I believe that this knowledge and this belief may be good and useful, if one lives according to its precepts, and makes his acts agree with the faith. Most of what I have heard, experienced and seen, however, even among the leaders of the church, makes Mormonism a sham when compared with its teachings. I am quite convinced that thousands of people who have lived, or who still live among the Mormons in the Salt Valley, are of exactly the same opinion. The guiding principle is, in my opinion, to make money or to gather other earthly treasures that will enable one to carry on a lustfull and gluttonous existence.
The faithful and good (stupid) Mormons, are all punctual in observing what is preached and taught, and particularly what is said by the president. He is also being called a prophet. I have often heard people say: "When Brigam Young tells me to murder this one or that one, I do it, for I know that what he says is right." In this way people let themselves be lulled to sleep. As far as I know a particular man whom I and many others know has been chosen for this position. If others apply for the post, they will not be accepted.
People frequently disappear and usually the Indians are reported as their abductors or murderers. Those who disappear are usually such as acquainted with secrets, who reveal them to the uninitiated, and who cannot keep silent. For this reason I was never over inquisitive. I know that I cannot very well keep silent either, and I was still fond of living. I could write a great deal about these disappearances, but -----.
The president, Brigham Young is a man, 53 years old. He has an enlightened mind and is a distinguished orator. He is also well built. Of all the speeches I have heard, I like his the best. These are the advantages he has in comparison with others. No one must imagine, however, that he possesses supernatural or divine qualities. He is a human being, like the rest of us. He is neither a prophet nor a saintly man, and does not himself pretend to be either. It is only stupid people who honor him as such, and who proclaim him as such to the world. If he perhaps does prophesy some, it is done in a natural way. Before I came to the Salt Valley, I also heard many stories of the miracles he performed. I heard a great deal of the power to heal he possessed by him, his advisers--the 12 apostles--and still others, who healed by placing their hands on the sick. Here in Salt Valley, however, I have not heard nor had experience of anything extraordinary in this direction. I know this much, however, that a doctor is sent for when a wife, a child, a servant or the head of the house himself, is taken ill in one of the homes of these great men. The president I say, is a human being like the rest of us. He participates in all worldly pleasures. He is a great lover of money and also of women. His fortune is said to be 1 1/2 million Dollars. I cannot definitely say how many wives he has. ( I have heard the figure 85 mentioned). If someone should ask him this question, he would perhaps not know it himself, and would first have to look in up in the book, where the list is entered.
The contents of the sermons and speeches delivered in the churches and school buildings, tend more to advance things that are earthly than things that are spiritual. Most of the requests consist in taking more wives and duly paying tithes, so that the Kingdom of God can be built up. The former is unfortunately followed only too well, while the latter is not always taken to heart. Boys of 18 often have 2 wives, and not sufficient food in the house with which to feed a child. Girls of 12 to 14 are married, and often to men who are 60 and even older. The old men, who had several wives, of the same age as they themselves, be it said, always sought to get 1 or 2 young women caught in the trap. If a young women refused, the old man would say that he had had a revelation from God, to take her for his wife. If she was still unwilling, then he would call her an unbeliever. I have had several experiences along those lines, also in my own family.
Many wives, and even those of the rich and leading men of the church, that is 2nd, 3rd, 10th, and so forth, have to support themselves and their children. it is not uncommon to see the wife or wives of a rich man, as well as their children come to church barefoot. All the same, it is nothing for the wives to fight among themselves, beat each other up, tear hair from each others heads, and clothes from each others bodies, until the man steps in.
Every day wives ran away from their husbands. They usually have another in mind, however, who takes them up, and the man is particularly fond of taking them up, when they are young and pretty, and when they bring children along with them. The more children a man has, the greater in his kingdom in eternity, even if he has nothing for them to eat on earth.
There are often from 20-30 divorces in a week. They have to come here from all other towns in order to get a divorce. The President, Brigham Young, is said to have 230 wives and children whom he must support.
Besides these there are some children who have already been married. The family of his first advisor, Hyber Kimbal, is said to be even larger. In the year 1855, this man had 36 children all under 2 years. Thus it goes among the great and rich brothers.
Who gives them bread with which to support their families, however? Many are asking this question aloud. They have many large farms, however, that cost them nothing and give them a large income. The work poor people do on these farms, is written down as installments on their titles. If this is perhaps not sufficient to support their family, there is a sufficient number of people who pay the tithes which are at the disposal of these gentlemen.
It is not just the wealthy who have many or several wives, however. There are plenty among the poor, and people without means who have several wives. Many of these may perhaps also take wives to themselves out of sheer lust. Others believe they sin when they do not follow this command, and thus help to build up the Kingdom of God.
The poor people do not realize, that through polygamy they continually increase their misery, and that they not only become poorer and lose their liberty, but that they must also always remain slaves of the rich.
Every year a larger number of people leave the Salt Valley, than arrive here from Europe and the United States; but on account of polygamy the population increases from year to year. There are thousands, however, who would gladly emigrate, but they must remain for the following reasons:
Many come on money advanced by the church, or on other money, and they have to pay back this outlay or work it off. Once they have come here, however, the church does not help them to get away again, and it is difficult to find a friend who is willing to do that. Those who do not themselves have sufficient means with which to get away, especially families, are compelled to remain here. The expense connected with getting from here to the United States or to California is considerably higher than the cost of getting from there to this place. The second reason, which completely prevents departure from here, is polygamy. Whoever has the means of getting away, but who has more than one wife, is compelled to remain here, at all events, as he can go nowhere in the world with several wives and live with them openly.
It is for this reason the Mormons have been received by the Turks. These are the only 2 reasons why thousands of unhappy people are chained to this place, and held back from departing. The President or the board of directors of the church are well aware of this, and for this reason it is being strongly stressed, that everyone who comes here on money advanced by the church or money furnished by others, immediately upon arrival begins to work off his debt or to pay it off in other ways, which will take years. As long as such an individual has not paid his debt, he is under strict observation, and hardly dares to get the necessities for himself and his family.
On Sundays and week days sermons are delivered in which requests are made to take more wives, so that people will be prevented from leaving on account of polygamy. Boys from 16 to 18 are often compelled to marry. It frequently happens that a man who has only one wife and may be able to support 2 or more, if only inadequately, is being talked to by the bishop for this reason, and requested to take more wives. If he refuses, he is taken for an unbeliever, loses esteem, and attempts are made to hurt him in every way possible.
It is true that if five people have become happier, than they were before by joining the Mormons, a hundred have been made less happy.
The first wife calls her husband, man, while others call him lord or governor. These are also, as a rule, only treated as maid servants by the first wife. All they use or get from the man's purse or kitchen, is handed them by the first wife.
I have seen a 64 year old man marry 3 young women in one day, and of these the oldest was 19. Two of them ran away the next day. There are men who take as their wives a mother, a widow, or a wife, who has run away from her husband and her 3 or 4 daughters, all at once.
A man may marry his stepmother and step-sister, and a father may marry his step-daughter. Is that not a beastly life? And what proof do the Mormons have that polygamy is pleasing to God? None at all!! With them the Bible is in contempt, and in the Mormon book, whose contents is accepted by them in its entirety, it says: "Cursed is he who has more than one wife." This command they completely disregard, however, and say that Joseph Schmit [Smith] has had the revelation, that we should take more wives, and thus help quickly to build up the Kingdom of God.
When they take more wives, however, because God permits it or demands it, they do not do it, out of lust. On the average, they are driven by sheer lust, however, and there is not one in a hundred who thinks of God in this connection. If they only did it to please God, they would not be running after the pretty girls, as tom-cats after the cats; there would not be so many wives running away from their husbands, there would not be so many divorces, and there would not be so many people made unhappy by polygamy.
I have heard an old Mormon say as follows: "When we were still on the Missouri, in Navo, many young women came over to us within a short period of time. As they could rarely make a living, however, and as they did not like the work in many ways, even it it could be had, they usually left again before very long.
For that reason polygamy had not yet been introduced. In order to have the most beautiful girls stay with us, however, Joseph Schmitt [Smith] stepped forward, and said he had had a revelation, telling him that the Mormons should take more wives, so that the Kingdom of God could be built up. He was the first to take more wives, since his wife likewise came forward to say, she had had the same revelation from God.
Many men and women believed in this, and polygamy was introduced. After Joseph Schmit's [Smith's] death, his widow denied this, however, and said her husband had compelled her to speak. She is still living, and is firmly opposed to polygamy. I know a hundred persons, and could give the names of them, who now sincerely regret, and bemoan, that they were frivolous enough to enter into polygamy. All imaginable amusements are open to the Mormons. On their missionary journeys the missionaries preach that no whiskey, in being drunk in Zion, (that is what they usually call the Salt Valley), no tobacco smoked, and that many other similar vices are not permitted there. This is not true, however. Every day one may see drunken people and drinking would be carried on in a still worse fashion if there was more available with which to buy whiskey. Tobacco and cigars are not only smoked by the men, but every day one may also see many women walking on the streets with a pipe or a cigar in their mouths. Card playing is likewise an entertainment for men and women alike.
Just as the old Mormons differ in their discussion of the revelation about polygamy, they also differ in their talk about finding the brass plates from which the Mormon book is said to be taken. I have often discussed this topic with old Mormons, who associated with Joseph Schmit [Smith] at the very time the plates were said to have been found, but none of these had as yet seen the plates.
One of them told me, that if it is true, J. Schmit [Smith] found the plates in the earth, and that those who saw them gave testimony to this effect in the Mormon book, 2 of them must have seen the plates after their death, for at the time they were found, these 2 were already dead.
Others told me J.S. had been fond of old writings, and that he had compiled the Mormon book from such. Others said that in former times old Indians, when they went to war, carried around themselves brass and copper plates with various figures and undecipherable letters engraved on them, and that they honored these or prayed to them, as if they were their patron saint. J.S. once came upon a battlefield, found several dead bodies, and took the plates from them, and afterwards got still more from a farmer near New York, who found them in a similar manner. It is said that later on he made an angel out of this farmer. Still others, and they were also old Mormons who knew J.S. well, told me he neither found nor had anything. He was a wise man, however, and knew very well that people would believe him at the outset, and follow him blindly, when he told them about such supernatural matters.
If one now asks one of the highly placed men in the church, what has become of the plates, his answer will be as follows: "I cannot say definitely where they are; I only know that J.S. has buried them again, and that we shall see them on Judgment Day if we remain faithful."
It is said that J. Schmit [Smith] never taught nor approved of the showing of love towards enemies, nor towards those who were not Mormons. For this reason, the Mormons still call all people who are not Mormons, their enemies. One never hears it being preached, that one should love one's enemies. I talked about this with an elderly high priest, and asked him why revenge was always being preached, and not love towards enemies, such as Christ had shown and commanded. He said Christ is dead. J. Schmitt [Smith] was his successor, and now Brigham Young is. What they tell us is right, and that we must do. We should not do all Christ told us to do. Then I asked: Why do you then call Mormons "The Holy in the church of Jesus Christ?" To this question I received no answer. The leadership of the church is divided as follows:
The apostles were also sent out to do missionary work, but only in certain cases, or to such places where no other missionaries had yet come.
The Seventies are those who must at any time be ready to go out as missionaries, and they are divided into classes or quorums of which there are now 41. Each class has 70 members. They dare no[t] refuse, when they are called upon to do missionary work, and do not do it too willingly, unless they are forced to for very good reasons.
As it is said in the Bible, they usually leave without staff or purse, without bread and money, and most of them return wealthy and opulent. They know how to acquire bounties in various ways. I quite believe that many missionaries receive large donations, and that they bring back their riches in an honest manner.
When the missionaries on their mission ask for help or support in money, it is better, in any case, immediately to donate it to them, than to lend it to them or trust them with it on the promise that they will pay it back, as soon as the creditor arrives in the Salt Valley.
There are many people here, who regret they have entrusted the pious missionaries with their money, or other valuables, in the belief that they would get these back at this place. There are many here who suffer want, who are poor and who will remain poor on account of this gullibility. Instead of that, they could have lived a better life and been in a position to get away again. When the missionaries borrow money, they usually give a note to the church, and say the money is for helping the poor to come out here. If it should happen that the creditors arrive here, show the note, and demand their money back, they are told: "We have no money to give you, and you cannot eat it anyway. You can get a piece of land, however, or secure your provisions and other necessities from the tithe house. If you do not want to do this, try to start something, and we will send for the poor who came out here on your money, so that they may work for you, and in this may pay off their debts."
I have known many to leave the church immediately, on account of this injustice, forsake everything, and travel at once. Among these were also Germans.
I know other missionaries, with the same advantages of borrowing money abroad, who have returned and spent the money themselves. They bought merchandise for the money, and came here as great businessmen with heavily loaded wagons, or they bought cattle, drove it to California, and cheated the creditors out of everything. Many also arrive here with ready cash, build themselves a beautiful house for the money, and buy land and cattle, or they go to California with the money. One of them came here with merchandise, built a store and began to do business. That was the apostle, Stinow. He had borrowed the money from Danes, had promised to use it for transportation of the poor, and given each of his creditors a not [note?] on the church. As these arrived here, found out about the untruths and brought action against him, because he would not pay, his sentence was as follows: On account of his lying and injustices, all the goods were to be taken away from him as punishment, and placed in the church's store. The creditors, however, should secure each week from 1 1/2 to 2 Dollars worth of provisions from the tithe house, until the debt had been refunded. Many injustices of this kind could be mentioned. It is no use to file complaint. No one gets his money back, and the less money a man has, the more he is compelled to stay here. As punishment for such tricks, many missionaries are again sent out on missionary work, and they are not any better, when they return. There are many others besides who are sent out on missionary journeys as punishment, after having made a mistake in the Salt Valley. Thus I have known 2 young men, sons of the man who was at the head of the church. They had stolen 7 oxen, branded them with a false mark, and then sold them. When the theft later became known and publicized, their punishment was that for four years each of them should go out on missionary journeys. Thus thieves were sent out as missionaries to build up the Kingdom of God! According to the census taken in 1855, 72,000 Mormons lived in the Uta Territory, of whom 9,000 were children under 9.
The education of the children is altogether bad. Here are no decent
schools in the entire territory. Everyone who has the inclination, and
who only possesses some knowledge, can play at the teachers profession.
The children do not get a much better upbringing, than do those of the
Indians. When a child knows that J. Schmit [Smith] was a prophet, and
B. Young his successor, then he is wise enough.
Through trials and experiences, I have become convinced that I can say to everybody: "Do not believe that anyone is a better human being, or that he will become a better man among the Mormons in the Salt Valley, or among any other people, or at any other place. Whoever wants to serve God, will find an opportunity to do so everywhere. Every sensible human being carries within himself the best and truest religion. Whoever strives to follow that in truth, and do whatever common sense, hi[s] heart or the spirit tells him to do, will always be loved by a good spirit, and will prove by his words and deeds, that he loves God above everything else, and his neighbor as himself, thus fulfilling the commandment which Christ said is the greatest and most important of the entire law. It makes me glad to see that most, and practically all of the Germans who come here, soon learn to know the Mormon swindle, and again proceed farther on.
I commend the Mormons for their activity in regard to bodily work. When one considers, that 9 years ago (the first people came here in 1847) all the valleys where cities, villages and hamlets have now been built, and all the land now cultivated, which houses many thousands of people, at that time was still a desert, only inhabited by savages and wild animals, everyone who now sees these beautiful valleys must admit, that much has been accomplished in the past 9 years, especially when one realizes that most people are poor when they come here, and that the whole people is on the average, still a poor people.
In the spring and summer of 1856 a larger number of people than usual emigrated from Salt Valley on account of the famine. Whole villages were left empty, and hundreds of families also went away from towns and villages. My own children too had for a long time since decided to do so, but still lacked the means with which to get away. This hindrance was now removed through unexpected good earnings by my son-in-law and myself, and we decided to leave the Salt Valley this fall. At the end of August we began to make ourselves ready for the journey. Shortly before us several German families went away along the northern trail to Sacramento. Shortly after we learned, that the trail was unsafe for travel, as there were so many Indians camping there, having been driven away from a war in Oregon, and for this reason we decided to choose the southern trail to San Bernadino. There were 14 persons in our party. Of these 3 were Americans, one a Dane, and 10 Germans. One of these Germans, a butcher, Henrich Graff from Gotha, had 6 oxen and a wagon. Each of us was to pay him a small sum for transportation, provisions and such things. Both of my daughters, besides 2 children and an American women, were to ride, while the rest of us were to walk.
When it became known, that we German too, and especially I and my family wanted to leave, it caused quite a sensation, as we were practically the only ones who had preserved so long, whose credit was good, and who enjoyed general respect. During the time we were in Salt Valley, 200 Germans arrived there, and of these there are now only 23 who have remained behind. All the rest have left.
Now we were having visits every day from apostles and bishops who tried to persuade us to remain. One of them even said that the church must feel ashamed, when such good Mormons and such good persons as we were, went away. It did not help any, however. The decision was made, and it had to be carried out.
Even in the church there was discussion in regard to out going, and as all was of no avail, B. Young said he wished he had a thousand Germans here, as they were the best people he knew, but when we did not want to stay, after all, and when we had paid our debts, we could go to the devil. Therefore they sought to place many a hindrance in our path. None of us, except the Dane, had any debts, but he and his wife and child had come here on money advanced by the church. He still owed 125 Dollars, and wanted his wife and child to follow after him later on. His house and an acre of land in the city was worth 800 Dollars. This he offered the church as payment for his debt, but it was not accepted. He was to stay and pay his debt, or work it off. Nobody else dared to buy his property, as long as he wanted to get away. If he wanted to go with us, he must go secretly. I was not permitted to take my son Friedrick along, as he was not yet of age; minor children going to the mother, when the father goes away. I was therefore obliged to use a trick.
September 12th was chosen as the day of departure. Some days previously I had said to several of my acquaintances, that I was not going away, rented a house from a bishop, and brought several of my things over there. This caused much rejoicing. I even placed a sign outside the house and began to work. My clothes, and those of my son Friedrick, and other necessary things, I left behind to be packed, the 12th of September came, and all, except the Dane, I and Friedrich, drove off. By arrangement they were to wait for us, 20 miles from there.
I had bought a piece of land on which I planted potatoes and corn. On Sunday morning, September 14th, I wrote a letter to my daughter, Oline, who had recently been married to a young Swiss, gave her the crops from my land and the furniture, etc., and told her that I and Friedrich were going away in secret. I likewise wrote to my son Carl, gave him the land, my supply of wood, my tools and many other things. The letters were not to be given them until the following day, however. This taking leave of my children in writing cost me many tears. I had to do it this way, however, in order to take along my Friedrich, who knew about everything. My daughter Oline who had no idea, that I too was going to leave her, said some days previously that she and her husband would not stay longer than till spring, in any case, and then follow after her sisters. This assurance gave me some joy. I have spent many happy, but also many sad hours and days at this place, had many experiences, about which thousands of people never have heard anything, and of which I dare neither speak nor write for fear of losing my life. It was impossible for me to leave this place, where I had now lived for 2 years, without shedding tears, and with an uneasy and fearful, and yet a courageous heart, I began my journey.
Gr. Salt Lake City
Is the Capital of the Uta Territory, and the residence of the President and board of directors of the Mormons. The town has about 12,000 inhabitants, and is located in a beautiful and pleasant region. The northern part of the town is somewhat elevated, and to the north and east it is about 4 miles from the mountains, from which comes a great deal of water that flows through the city. The streets are 3 and even 4 miles long, and 12 yards wide. They run east and west, and north and south. Water flows constantly on both sides of every street, and is being used for people and cattle, as well as for watering gardens. At the southern end of the city, all this water flows into a stream, and from there into a river called Jordan.
The city is divided into 19 Wards, or districts. Each district has 9 blocks or quandragles covering 8 acres of land. In each district lives a bishop, who exercises control over ecclesiastical and domestic affairs in his ward. There is no brickyard in the entire territory. The houses are built of wood; but now most of them are being built of clay bricks, called adobe. The city is not yet fully built up, and many years will still be required before this is accomplished. In many a block there are only 4 to 6 houses. The reason for this is the high price of the land. In the center of the city there is still a walled square called the old fort. This fort was built as a protection against Indians by the first Mormons who came here. The residences were behind this wall. The most beautiful house in the city is occupied by B. Young. Close to this stands a large building that looks like a monastery. This was first completed in 1856, at a cost of 34,000 Dollars. Here live 38 of his wives with their children. Both houses are built on a hillock, and may be seen from a distance of 30 miles in a southerly direction. Religious service is being held in a large building surrounded by a beautiful and high wall. Meetings are also held each evening in individual school buildings. A temple is under construction. Work has been carried on upon it for 5 years, and more than 5 years may pass before it is completed. If the Mormons are not being driven out during this period, and finish the temple, it will undoubtedly become one of the finest buildings in all America. The main postal route from the United States goes through the city, and in the months of July and August this brings much business activity, as all travelers are obliged to buy provisions at this place. North of here lie the towns of Ogdom [Ogden], Faminfdon [Farmington], and Euxelder [Box Elder]. The last mentioned lies close to the Bear River. Besides these there are also several small villages and farmsteads to the north.
The great Salt Lake is 20 miles north of here, and extends into the mountains in a southwesterly direction. It is 1400 miles in circumference.
Although the lake has no outlet, and 2 other rivers flow into it, it nevertheless becomes small every year. These two Rivers are the Wiber [Weber] and the Jordan. Near the lake is a salt refinery from which the entire territory gets salt. Old Indians maintain the whole Salt Valley was formerly a lake, and they have much to tell about it. They say that up until 14 years ago, the lake reached to the northern mountains, which are now 15 miles distant from the lake. Ten miles from the city, also in a northerly direction and close the the California trail, is a warm spring. The water gushes out of this boiling hot, and one can sees the steam 3 miles away.
A quarter of an hour's walk from the city to the north is a warm spring, the water of which is led into the city and into a bath house. In the mountains to the north and to the west, and quite close to the valley are many bears, elks, wild horses and many other wild animals, that often pay a visit to the valley during the winter months to obtain food. In the mountains towards the west are also many small valleys which are occupied by Spaniards. They raise many cattle, most of which wander around in the mountains, like other wild animals. Each herd always stays by itself. Every spring and fall the owners bring it home and let is stay for some length of time. The fat cattle are than driven to California while the young animals are branded and again driven into the mountains. If there is a heavy snowfall during the winter, they come home of their own accord, and each herd knows how to find its owner.
In the summer of 1856 I made a pleasure trip into these mountains with 3 friends, and many times I have seen one of these cows which was a grand mother, give milk just as well as her daughter, that was a mother. All 3 stood close to each other, the calf sucking from the mother and the mother sucking from the grandmother. There is nothing new in encountering a sight like this.
I am now leaving the beautiful Salt Valley to set out on my long journey.