Overland Journey—Mormons—Emigration—Farming in California.
Correspondence of The N. Y. Tribune.
SAN FRANCISCO, Monday, Sept. 13, 1832.
Presuming that among your California cor-respondence you would gladly read some of the first impressions of a real live Emigrant from across the Plains, I take the liberty of addressing you. It is now about 15 days since my arrival in this golden land, but before attempting to say anything respecting it I must tell you something about the overland journey. Leav-ing the Missouri River, at St. Joseph, on the 5th May, we arrived at Volcano, the first California town we saw, on the 28th August, being one hundred and sixteen days on the road. The journey was performed with oxen, and is about as soon as it can be accomplished with that kind of team. We came by way of Great Salt Lake City, and as we spent a week among the Mormons, had a very fair opportunity of forming an opinion of them and their (peculiar) institutions. The city is said to contain a population of about 10,000, is beautifully laid out, upon a plan of an acre and a quarter to the lot, and is most splendidly watered by the mountain streams, which are conducted to run along the skies of all the principal streets. There are several large stores, which are well supplied with general assortments of merchandise, all of which are hauled from Kanesville, a distance of ever a thousand miles. The Government buildings here, con-sisting of the State House and Governor's House, are very creditable, and tasty in appearance. On the Cali-fornia trail the Mormon settlements extend some sixty miles up the valley. The farms are generally small and the soil has proved highly productive, ordinarily yielding from forty to fifty bushels of wheat to the acre. I saw a great many fields of Indian corn, which looked well, and garden vegetables of all kinds were very abundant. The people appear quite industrious, and, aside from their theory and practice of bigamy, would give promise of here building up a State of their own. I frequently con-versed with" men and women of all classes upon this subject, and all defend the doctrine of plurality of wives, strictly upon Scripture grounds.
It is no uncommon tiling among the farmers to find them with two or three wives—indeed, a man with only one is looked upon as in rather poor circumstances, and not at all well to do in the world. Whatever may have been the former conduct of the Mormons, the emigrants who have visited them this year, so far as I can hear, have no ill-usage to complain of. Supplies have been furnished them at quite low prices, and no outrages com-mitted either against their persons or property. I am confident that all emigrants to California ought to go by way of Salt Lake. It is perhaps forty or fifty miles farther than by the Subtlett Cut-off, but as more than offset to this, good grass is found all the way, and fresh provis-ions and vegetables can be had, which is no small item to the emigrant who has been two mouths upon salt food. Besides this, the emigrant escapes the Green River desert, (50 miles) the most formidable upon the whole route. The overland journey has many pleasures, and many privations. The travel is necessarily slow and tedious—the roads sometimes almost impassable, grass and water frequently scarce—but to the patient and per- severing no obstacles are insuperable. The number of persons who have passed over this route in this year's emigration will probably reach between fifty and sixty thousand, with over a hundred thousand head of cattle, horses and mules.
One great source of suffering to the emigration is the frequent scarcity of grass and water—abundance of which, however, may exist within a mile or two off the road, unknown, however, to him. What the Govern-ment owes to our citizens, and what should be done without delay, is a regular survey and chart, embracing the entire country for two miles on each side the trail, in which should be laid down the grass, water and tim-ber embraced within that distance. Put this in the hands of emigrants, and a much greater service will be done than by the erection of much-talked of stockade forts. Emigrants will willingly, and with pleasure, drive a mile or two off the road to find good feed for their stock and teams. The "guides" now placed in their hands are some of' them quite correct and useful, but they are all confined to the single trail, not attempting to describe anything beyond the immediate line of the road. Emigrants may, and as has often happened do, frequently encamp where there is very scanty feed, or none at all, when, if known a plentiful supply could be had at a short distance off. I am extremely doubtful whether the line of stockade forts, once in fifty miles, would not prove a great and se-rious obstacle to emigration. Such establishments would necessarily be located at the best points for grass arid water, and from finch points the emigrants and their stock would necessarily be excluded, (as they now are for a mile in every direction about Forts Kearney and Lara-mie,) and by the time 30 or 40 such stations have been erected, nearly all the desirable, certainly all the best feeding places will have been absorbed, and the emigra-tion excluded from them.
If our gallant army are to be employed at all for any useful purpose upon the Plains, let it be in making the survey and chart herein suggested. But I am saying so much of the overland route that no room will be left for California. Well, of this great and singu-lar country I hardly know what to say. Gold continues to be found as plentifully as ever, as the shipments fully prove. The extent to which farming is here carried on is truly surprising, and the quantities of grain and vege-tables raised upon a given quantity of land almost sur-passes belief. I saw a day or two since a barley-field of 300 acres, which, from the actual harvesting and thresh-ing of a portion of it, exhibited a yield of 90 bushels to the acre. Wheat commonly yields from 40 to 50 bushels. Farm products and vegetables of all kinds are now quite low here, and will probably continue so. The article of flour has (speculatively) advanced to a very high figure, but the shipments from Chili and Oregon will soon bring it down again.
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