MORMONS AT THE UTAH LAKE.
The following belong to a series of letters re- ceived from the young man whose name has aheady been mentioned, Franklin K. Shedd, of Charlestown, now deceased— one of whose let- ters has been given. We shall give one more.
Indian Territory, Platte River, near J Fort Laramie, July 25t/ i, 1847. j
A few of the pioneers who left Council Bluffs to search a location for the main body early this spring, we met yesterday on their re- turn. They will continue their journey to the States to- morrow. I suppose you think I am in the heart of the wilderness, but i have not seen any yet I am in the largest mowing field and the greatest farm for live stock I have ever seen or imagined. For the last fortnight, 1 have seen continually herds of buffalo, from 25,000 to 100,
000 in each herd. Their meat is better than ihe Boston Market beef. They are so plenty that there is danger of their running among our cat- tle and causing them to stray away with them. There aie cattle and horses among them, which are supposed to have strayed from other compa- nies at different times. 1 had a chase once with about 1000 or 1500, ( on foot,) and shot one bull. It is grand fun, for they are clumsy things to run.
There are no rocks or ledges, or trees here. We burn buffalo chips," ( dry ) it makes good fire, and is abundant.
A hunting party of about five hundred Sioux Indians is encamped in sight of us to- day. They are the finest looking Indians I have seen, and have beautiful ponies. We smoked with them, and in the mean time, their daughters were rid- ing their wild colts about at a great rate.
We are formed in six companies of about 100 wagons each, having captains appointed to hundreds, fifties, and tens. Each hundred travels in double file, breaking their tracks, or following the tracks of the foremost as they choose. We generally break from four to six tracks or roads, and when we encamp, each hundred forms a circle, with gaps at each end, • thus, the area in the middle is used for a cattle yard in the night. There are about six hundred wagons and three thousand indi- viduals.
I have a wagon by myself to sleep in, that is dry and convenient. I drive two and three yoke of ox° n. 1 wear nothing but overalls and shirt, and shoes in bad places.
Our location will probably be on a lake called " Utaw," about thirty miles from the great Salt Lake. We have in our company every thing good for a'settlement,— the best of cattle and mules, two grist mills, two six- pound cannon, a boat, and a bell. The health of the camp is re- markable— no deaths, and but six cases of sick- ness.
Sixty miles east of the Pass of the ) Rocky Mountains, Sept. 6, 1847. $
Mr. J. C. L. in whose care I send this letter, stayed in this camp last night on his return from the great valley of the Salt Lake. He came from Peterborough, N. H., last spring, and accompanied the pioneers to select a loca- tion. He gives a good account of the valley in regard to the soil, climate, wood, stone, and mineral productions.
The pioneers have planted about ten acres of potatoes, and other stuff to correspond. They have laid out a city of 8 or 10 miles square, and built log cabins on one side, and turf cabins on the other, for the emigrants this season, and also as a breastwork for security against the Indians.
The city is about thirty- five miles south- east of the Salt Lake, on Utah Lake. The water of the former is to salt that it will bear a shin bone on its surface, and no living thing lives either in ° r about it. The latter lake ( Utah) is fresh water, and abounds with many kinds of fish.
In this country there are places where lakes have dried up and a large amount of stuff called saleratus, lays on the bottom. It is pure and white to the depth of four or six inches, and will make good bread and soap ; a great many of the folks use it altogether; the U. S. Army, also used it.
We have not seen timber for some hundred miles, and do not expect to for one hundred or less to come.
I will not forget to tell you that I am as heaity as a buck, and I wish you all were as contented and happy as myself. The snuffing of this mountain breeze is fine. We fare sumptuously on bear, buffalo, deer and antelope meat. The other day I shot two fowls called mountain- sage birds, as large as turkies, and the meat is as good ; they were very tame, and probably would be easily domesticated ; they look like the Eastern partridge. Wolves are very numerous, and some panthers have been seen. We have lost about 60 head of cattle ; 20 have died from poison and 40 have strayed away among the buffalo herds. When we travel we go from 10 to 20 miles per day. We have stopped Sun- days, and when a wagon breaks down, we stop and repair— set tires, & c. & c., and the women bake and wash. Everything I took from Charles- town 1 have preserved.
Our foremost division— the van of the army— is by this time in the valley.
There is much travel on this route now, and probably will be for the future. We met Gen. Kearney and escort with about one or two hun- dred mules, about six weeks ago, on his return to the States. This morning it is chilly— I can hardly hold my pen, and we are about to start.
Salt Lake Valley, Great Basin, ) October 14 th, 1847. $
We arrived at this place the 5th of this month. My health is and has been as good as I could wish ever since I left home, and even remarkable while on the road from Council Bluffs to this place, considering the great change in my mode of living— such as being deprived of vegetables and fruits in their season, ( with the exception of a few berries I gathered on the way) and sleep- ing exposed to the weather— sometimes in wag- ons, and at others in the open prairie or on the mountains, when my turn came to guard the camp or herd the cattle, a duty from which no one vvas exempt, not even the captains
Since my last I have gone through places and over such mountains as would make the heart of a Bostonian quake were he to come upon them unawares and unexperienced— such as canons, where the water has gullied away the mountains for ages, leaving the banks on either side nearly perpendicular, to the height of 400 feet for 50 miles in extent, and only a space at the bottom wide enough to admit our wagons in single file, and a small brook which we had to cross fre- quently with great difficulty and danger. The place called » the South Pass is simply a place where two ranges of mountains seem to termi- nate or change their course. The wind river mountains can be seen on the northwest about 95 miles off, with snow on their tops at all sea- sons of the year, and another range at the south- east, about 100 miles off; the same range, I think, forms the eastern boundary of this valley.
If you were to enter this place with no more experience than you now have of the Western country, you would think at first it was about five miles long and three broad— with no timber or water sufficient ( unless you should spy the Salt Lake on the north- western boundary) but by examining and measuring you would find it to be about 26 miles broad, and from 70 to 100 miles in length ; and the ' canons' in the moun- tains on the east side supply abundance of tim- ber— the principal is fir, which is the same as you use for ornamentals in Massachusetts, but they grow to a great height here, and the tim- ber is the most suitable for building ; there are also some sugar maple and oak, the young sap- lings of which are to he preserved to set out for shades and ornament, and the others are to be sparingly used for purposes that the fir will not answer. There are many small trees of the lat- ter kind springing up, and if it had hot been for the fires that sweep the valleys and mountains yearly, this would have been undoubtedly a thick timbered valley. There is quite a large stream of water running from the Utah Lake from the south, northward, directly through the centre of the Valley, and emptying itself into the Salt Lake at the northwest— we call it the Jordan.— Emptying into it there are very many brooks which are formed by the melting of the snow and ice in the mountains, and also from the springs which abound in the valley as well as in the ' canons.'
Their is no wild fruit here save mountain cur- rants, ' service berries' and elder berries. There is no rain here at all, and the land is watered by a simple process of irrigation, by turning the course of the creeks or brooks as you desire the waler to flow, which is very easily done with a hoe or shovel. The soil is a rich mellow loam resembling ashes, and can be as easily worked. We shall need no ice houses, for we are settled on the east side, about four miles from the mountains, and the snow- water does not get warm before we get at our doors ; and also by digging a foot or two you can form a spring in some places near the main springs. Among the curiosities is the Salt Lake, 25 miles off, even Bo salt that, it is impossible for a man to sink himself above his arm- pits, and after bathing there awhile and drying himself, one may rattle the salt out of his hair quite fast— his head will be white with it. Also the hot springs and the warm springs ; the former are boiling hot all ihe time. The spring or hole it issues from in the mountain is as big as a barrel, and the water pours out horizontally. The latter are not so large quite, but they resemble the former both in color ( blue) and smell of the water which is like brimstone, but very clear ; they are about two miles from this location, and the people re- sort thither to bathe in the warm springs, which are blood warm.
There is red and white clay, also lime stone, and many other kinds of stone in the maun- tains.
For our safety from the Indians, we are build- ing an enclosure or fort, 138 rods long, and 40 broad, to live in this winter, and are also enclos- ing a portion ef land sufficient t. o put in the fall wheat. Our out buildings, & c., are to be built of unbaked brick— the old California name is ' aclobie ' They are mixed like mortar and form- ed in boxes about the size of 4 common bricks, and dried in the sun, which makes them very du- rable. They say in South California the peo- ple build chiefly in this way, and they last com- monly 100 years. All the houses in Santa Fe are of. this kind.
I am well pleased with the place. 1 can hard- ly tell you how I spend my time, for I am enga- ged in so many different ways. I live with one
W S , a Vermonter. and shall continue
with him this winter. Sometimes I mend wag- ons, make ' adobies,' and clerk a little for the business meetings. Evenings we young folks ha- ve a sing or dance, as we please. It is amus- ing'to pass through the fort and hear the fiddles going, and children playing. I attended a hall given to the Indians and Mountaineers at Mr. Bridge's fort on Green River ; it was attended by the young men and girls of our ' hundred,' and I very readily went through their forms of dancing.
I wish to tell you before I close, of the decep- tion in distances, or of judging of distances out. here, and as I am a bit of a mountaineer myself,
1 will tell you a story of our pioneers. At a camp on the Platte river, near the Sweetwater, a man proposed to go to the mountains in the north— apparently but a short distance— and bring down a snow ball. He sat out at noon and was gone all day till dark, when the camp was alarmed for his safety, and many sallied out on their horsesiii search of him. lie was found about midnight in the moutains, quite ' tuckered out.' The distance was found to be 15 miles.
There is no large game here in the Yalley.— In the mountains are grizzly bears and wild sheep. Buffaloes have been here in former times. It is very healthy here indeed. The dis- tance I have come does not seem far to me ; I can go if on a horse in two months, and I have so good a recollection of the road that I could pilot a company through.
The soldiers from the ' Battalion' are coming in every day, and they have horses and mules in abundance. They are going to Council Bluffs this fall, and by them I send you this lettes.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.