CIVIL POLITY OF THE SAINTS—THE MORMON SETTLEMENTS BEYOND SALT LAKE CITY—FROM UTAH INTO IDAHO.
From Our Special Correspondent.
SNAKE RIVER, Idaho Territory, June 21, 1867.
We had a delightful journey from Salt Lake northward, to this point. The weather was pleasant, the roads were good, the teams spirited, and the country beautiful. The tourist never wearies of the study of the industrial system of the Mormons. I doubt whether any other association ever attained such a degree of perfection in the division, government, and success of labor. In the remotest parts of Utah the same system, industry, and thrift prevail, and whether scattered in settlements or crowded in cities, the Mormons are subject to the same peculiar laws, and they are enforced with scrupulous care. No Mormon is in any sense his own master, unless he is one of the very few who belong to the governing class. I heard Brigham Young say to 3,000 of his people, in a sermon, that without some one to "dictate" to them how to manage their affairs, both temporal and spiritual, they would soon be scattered to the four winds of Heaven, and he did not forget to add that "we, the chosen oracles of the Lord," must "dictate" to the faithful. This doctrine he enforces relentlessly. In Salt Lake City the Saints dare not sell their own houses without the consent of the President, and in the rural settlements the rule has no exception, save when the iron yoke becomes intolerable and apostasy is preferred to submission.
When emigrants are landed in Utah they are brought to Salt Lake, and an inventory taken of their cash, stock, and worldly goods in general taken, and the men examined as to the particular branch of industry for which they are best fitted. The church edifice has a record of the condition of every settlement, of the number of acres still uncultivated that can be irrigated, and of the wants of each community respecting all kinds of labor. The emigrants are then directed where to go and what to do. If they have means, they are instructed how and where to invest, and if they are destitute, they are directed to the proper Bishop for a start in the world. Each void, in every city, and each settlement, however small, has a Bishop, whose duty it is to "dictate" to the saints in all things, spiritual and temporal, and especially to see that no one withholds any part of his tithings from the church. When an emigrant reaches the place to which he is assigned, he reports to the Bishop, and obeys orders. If destitute the Bishop assigns him two, five or ten acres of Uncle Sam's land, sells him a yoke of cattle, wagon and seeds, takes his note, and puts him to ditching and planting. Each year the new settler reports his products to the Bishop and they are disposed of as he directs. First of all, one-tenth is taken for the church, a portion is allowed for the family, another portion for seed, and the residue is appropriated on account of the debt for the outfit until all is paid with interest. Over this fund, into which the tithing is gathered, the Bishops have immediate control, but report regularly to the President. They give to the poor when the necessity is imperative, but never fail to demand restitution if it can be recovered even years afterward. One of the first duties required when a new farm is opened, is the planting of all kinds of fruits, and the result is that in every settlement the houses are first recognized by the cluster of green foliage or fragrant blossoms which surround them.
As an industrial system the Mormon church is a positive success, and challenges the admiration of the most embittered foes of this peculiar religious faith. I did not see a single home of a Mormon where there were signs of dilapidation or decay. It is forbidden by their faith, and the Bishops see that no sluggards bring reproach upon their religion. In nearly 100 miles south of Salt Lake City there are numerous Mormon settlements nestling between the Great Lake and the Wasatch range, and they dot the earth with fruitfulnesss and beauty. The wild flowers are thick on every side, and climb over every home however humble. At one place I saw a beautiful hedge of the wild rose, carefully trimmed, and blooming in profusion. On the route there are several towns or cities of note. Ogden contains a population of over 2,000, and has excellent buildings, stores and gardens. Two of Bishop West's eight wives (the second and eighth) keep the hotel in the city in a most creditable manner. His other six live on his farms, at his mills, &c., while he rotates around generally among them. He supplies the faithful with litters by the small at his bar, manufactures their grain into flour and whisky, preaches on Sunday, and sees that every tenth egg the Ogden chickens lay is properly returned to his tithing-house. Brigham City is another Mormon village of over 1,000 inhabitants, and bears the many evidences of well-directed industry which characterize all the residences of the Saints. The strip of land between the Lake and the Wasatch prairies, from 5 to 20 miles in width, is one of the most beautiful sections of Utah. From every settlement the Lake is visible, and while the prairie and the fields are green with verdure, and variegated with every hue of the rose, the Wasatch and the Lake Mountains are capped with snow. Some of the mountain islands seem to be entirely bare of grass or timber, and the sun gives them a pale pink color, which is reflected in the shadows of the lake, and with the deep lines of blue which encircle the island, and the white crowns of the waves, represent the various colors of the rainbow. As we came near to Bear River, the land became more sterile, and the settlements were not so frequent. But even where the soil seemed to repel the settler, the prairie abounded in every variety of wild flowers. The cactus was in full bloom, presenting almost every shade in its flower, from its favorite pale yellow to the brightest pink; and mingled with it were countless varieties of Nature's offerings to beautify the plain, from the huge sunflower down to the modest little daisy that shelters its delicate tints among the sage and grass.
Bear River is the end of Mormon settlements. It cuts its way through the Wasatch range, leaving almost perpendicular walls hundreds of feet in height on either side, and has washed out a deep bed in the prairie. It is quite a large stream, and the most northern of the leading tributaries of Salt Lake. I found it most remarkable for the size, quantity, and vigor of its mosquitoes. We took a square meal down under its high banks, and the mosquitoes and gnats were so thick that we could scarcely see each other across the table. The gnats literally darkened the windows in their persistent efforts to get inside and devour us while we were taking tea. I need not say that we broke bread as briefly as possible with the hostess of Bear River, and rejoiced to get out on the prairie again. But north of the river I found that we had only escaped from several billions of the winged varmints to meet with a million or so, and there was but little in favor of the plains. Fortunately we were all provided with coarse veils an article that no traveler pretends to dispense with on the northern route—and we all veiled ourselves closely, including the driver. The poor horses suffered intensely, for the mosquitoes and gnats literally covered them, and they had to be driven at a gallop to keep them manageable. Twelve miles distant we reached Mound Springs, on high ground, and a stiff, chilling breeze settled, nature's blood-letters for the night.
Some 15 miles north of Bear River is the line between Utah and Idaho, and thenceforth there are no more seen orchards or cultivated fields. At Mallade City I saw the last field for 300 miles. It is a settlement of the Josephites (anti-polygamy or Smithite branch of the Mormon Church), They crossed the line to get away from the dominion of the Brighamites, and but for the higher attitude and colder climate would compare favorably with the Brighamites in the fruits of their industry. They have two settlements in Idaho, one at Mallade City, and another at Soda Springs. From Mallade north there is nothing that can ever invite the settler unless the precious metals should be discovered in the bluffs and gulches. "Devil's Creek," "Robber's Retreat," "Desert Wells," "Rattlesnake," and "Stinking Water" are the euphonious titles of as many stations, and no one who travels the route will deny their appropriateness. "Robbers' Retreat" is memorable as the place where the stage was robbed some two years ago, and seven passengers murdered. It is in Port Noeuf canyon, one of the most repulsive, dreary passes I found in a mountain trip of 1,000 miles. The weather in the region between the northern and southern lines of Idaho is universally described as consisting of nine months of hard Winter and three months of a very cold spell. In the entire 200 miles across Idaho I saw nothing but the most sterile prairies, wild mountain passes, and the bleakest of bluff's.
This evening we reached Snake River before sunset and had several hours to rest. It is a large river, and at this place known as Eagle Rock; the main channel is over sixty feet in depth, and the current very swift. It is unusually high, and great fears are entertained for the rude bridge that spans it, as the coaches could not be ferried over it at any point at this time. It is one of the main tributaries of the Columbia River, and heads at the base of the Rocky range, near the Montana line, and has many tributaries from the east, but none from the west. Some seventy miles north of this, the summit of the Rocky range is reached, and there the waters start for the Missouri—the two great rivers which drain the far north-west, and course their ways respectively to the Pacific and the Gulf, there have their sources within a stone's throw of each other.
But the coach is about to start, and I must make my second effort to climb the Rocky range tonight. I hope to find it at least more agreeable than was Brager's Pass, where I warmed myself by the fire of burning stations, with the fresh tracks of the Sioux thick around me in the snow. A. K. U.
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