THE NEW STATE OF UTAH.
One of the First to Be Settled, One of the Last to Be Admitted.
A HISTORY FULL OF INTEREST.
Great Developments Under the Guid-ance of the Mormon Leader.
"What do we want with this vast, worth-less area, this region of savages and wild beasts, of deserts, of shifting sands and whirlwinds of dust, of cactus and prairie dogs? To what use could we ever hope to put these great deserts, or these endless mountain ranges, inpenetrable, and covered to their very base with eternal snows?"—Daniel Webster.
Right in the midst of this “vast, worth-
A STRIKING COMPARISON.
less area" lies Utah, one of the first of the Western Territories to be settled, and one of the last to be admitted into the Union. For forty-four years she has been knocking at the door of Uncle Sam's domicile for the privilege of joining the family circle; but not until now has he considered her worthy of admittance.
Utah brings with her a history as unique and full of interest as that of any of her elder sisters. A brief resume of her story should prove interesting to the family of States. Let us see whether even Webster could correctly judge of America's great possibilities.
On the 24th of July, 1847, a band of wan-derers paused on the mountainside east of where Salt Lake City now stands. In the company were 143 men, three women and two children. They had been traveling for three months and seventeen days over the then trackless mountains, deserts and plains east of them, seeking for a place where they could live in peace and wor-ship God in their own way. In the clear, light air of the mountains lay the valley before them, and a lake glistened in the distance. Save along the watercourses not a green thing grew, yet, "Here is the place where Israel shall pitch her tents," said their leader. They descended into the valley and camped by a stream. The next day was Sunday and religious ser-vices were held. They thanked God for their deliverance.
Ancient prophets had said: "O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountains." Also God was to "hide his people in the chambers of the mountains," and further, in the last days he was to "establish his house on the tops of the mountains, and exalt it above the hills." They were fulfilling those predic-tions. They had reached another Canaan. Bancroft says of these pioneers: "In the heart of America they are now upon the borders of a new Holy Land, with its Dead Sea, its River Jordan, Mount of Olives and Galilee Lake and a hundred other features of its prototype of Asia." An examination of the two maps will reveal this striking comparison.
On Monday planting was attempted, but the ground was baked and hard. The plow would not penetrate it. Was it not useless to try to raise crops in such soil? An old trapper had declared that he would give them $1000 for the first bushel of grain they could raise, so sure was he of the utter worthlessness of the country. No rain had fallen for months, none could be expected. What was to be done? A thought—no, an inspiration came to them. "We will turn the water from the creek and make it flow over the land." They did so. The plow now turned over a beau-tiful black soil. Potatoes and corn were planted. They sprouted and grew for a time, but no rain came to water the dying fields. Would it all be useless? Again an inspiration—“Let us use the stream again." It was done; and that was the beginning of that grand system of irrigation which has opened up the vast regions of Western America, and is making an empire out of Webster's "deserts and shifting sands."
The settlers were active. The surround-ing region was explored, and four days after their arrival a spot for a temple was located, and Salt Lake City was planned. Emigrant trains from the main body of the Mormon people in Iowa followed year after year. A full account of their suffer-ings and hardships is in possession of the recording angel only.
In the fall of 1847 there were in the set-tlement 423 houses. 5133 acres of cultivated land and 875 acres sown to winter wheat. Prospects were bright for next year's har-vest, but in the following May vast legions of crickets appeared and invested the gar-dens and fields, sweeping the earth clean wherever they passed. All efforts to check them were in vain. Many that spring had subsisted on roots and thistles, and now starvation stared them in the face. But see! flocks of white seagulls come from the lake and begin feasting on the crick-ets. All day they eat, vomit, and eat again, returning each day, until the dreaded insect is destroyed. The settlers look on in wonder and praise God for their deliverance.
Let the gull be emblazoned on the armorial ensign of our new State.
Under the guidance of their leader, Brigham Young, the pioneers made settlements north and south and towns were laid out. The communities were advised not to scatter, but to build on townsites and have their farms sur-rounding. Thus they were protected from the Indians and enjoyed many social ad-vantages. They were also told not to take up more land than they could use, but to leave some for those who should come after. Thus small holdings were encour-aged, and the wisdom of this course is now plainly seen.
For the first few years the settlers en-dured all the hardships incident to the developing of a new country. They were 1000 miles in any direction from civiliza-tion. Still they prospered. In 1849, when the discovery of gold in California stirred the Nation, the Mormons stuck to their farms. Soon Salt Lake City became the "half-way house" for travelers to the mines. The would-be gold-diggers got pro-visions and fresh horses, while the settlers received in exchange wagons, implements and "store goods." As a medium of ex-change paper bills of 50 cents and $1 were printed and gold dust from California was coined.
For two years the people were governed by their ecclesiastical organizations, but in 1849 a convention was called to meet in Salt Lake City on the 4th of March "to take into consideration the propo-sition of organizing a Territorial or State Government." A memorial to Con-gress asking for a temporary organization was framed and signed by Brigham Young and 2270 others. This convention also formed a constitution under which the people might govern themselves until Congress should take action. This pro-vincial State was called "Deseret" and ex-isted until Congress organized the Terri-tory of Utah on the 9th of September, 1850. President Millard Fillmore appointed its officers, as follows; Governor, Brigham Young; Secretary, E. D. Harris; Chief Justice, Joseph Buffington; Associate Jus-tices, P. C. Brocchus and Z. Snow; Attor-ney, S. M. Blair; Marshal, J. L. Haywood.
For a number of years there were con-flicts between the people and some of the Government officials. In 1857 Judge Drum-mond tendered his resignation. The paper set forth that the records, documents, etc., of the court had been destroyed by the Mormons, and that the judiciary was treated as a farce and themselves insulted. Drummond recommended the appointing of a new Governor, "supported by a suffi-cient military aid." President Buchanan appointed Alfred Cummings as Governor of Utah to supersede Brigham Young, and sent an army of 2500 men with him.
The Mormons were alarmed, remember-ing the scenes of Missouri and Illinois. The advancing troops were harassed and some of their supply trains were destroyed by skirmishing bands of Mormons until the army had to go into winter quarters in the mountains of Wyoming. Knowing that the troops would enter Utah the next spring the whole people decided to vacate their dearly earned homes, and, in case the invaders came with hostile intentions, to burn to the ground every stack, barn and habitation in the region; in fact, to treat them as the Russians treated Napo-leon at Moscow. The new Governor pleaded with them not to move and gave them his pledge that they would not be molested, but Brigham Young replied: "We know all about it, Governor. We have on just such occasions seen our dis-armed men hewn down in cold blood, our daughters violated, our wives ravished. We know all about it, Governor Cum-mings." At the advance of the soldiers 30,000 settlers moved southward. Their deserted villages contained only the few guards who were to apply the torch.
The new Governor had been welcomed in advance of the army, and was peace-ably installed. The records were found intact. The troops marched through the forsaken settlement and camped thirty-six miles from Salt Lake City, where they remained until they were called to bloodier fields in the Civil War. The people re-turned to their homes.
From that day to this there has been a steady growth. Utah is in the direct over-land route between the two oceans. In 1869 the Union Pacific from the east and the Central Pacific from the west joined their lines at Ogden, thus opening the first iron road from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
To-day Utah has a population of 248,000. Her resources are vast and varied. She has 19,816 farms, averaging twenty-four acres each. Of these 17,684 are unincum-bered. It is estimated that there are 3,500,000 acres that can be brought under cultivation. In 1894 Utah produced 5,000,-000 bushels of grain and 300,000 bushels of fruit. The value of the gold and silver output for the same year was $6,000,000.
Within the boundaries of the new State are mountains whose tops bear eternal snow; valleys, green and warm, where tropical fruits grow; deserts as barren as those of Sahara; rivers both clear and sparkling and sluggish; springs hot and cold; lakes fresh and salt—the great Salt Lake is the Dead Sea of America.
Happily the religious strifes of the past are no longer remembered, but all creeds and parties are united in building up the new commonwealth. The forty-fifth star in the azure field will shine with no less brilliancy because she has passed through the fiery furnaces of trial to her present position. NEPHI ANDERSON.
Box Elder, Utah.
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