Oregon City, O. T. April 10 '51.
MR. S. HALE, Esq., Sir—Agreeably to prom-ise, made to you a little more than one year since, I now write you, giving a short account of my journey here, and the state and character of things as having been, and now existing.—After a long and toilsome journey, stopped some two weeks at Council Bluffs, I reached the Great Salt Lake City, the gathering place of the Mor-mons. Finding here a relation, I tarried with them some four weeks, from June 24th to July 24th, the day of their Independence, as they did on that day, three years previous, enter the valley, the anticipated rest from their oppressors in Ill-inois I found them an industrious and an en-terprising people very tenacious of their peculi-arities, and indulging morose and hostile feelings towards thoir enemies individually, and towards the states collectively. To witness what I did, could but induce an observing person to believe that ere long the states would have trouble with them. Their anathemas and denunciations against the states, ill comported with the efforts they at the same time were making to be received and acknowledged as a State in common with the others. The reason they assigned justifying such measures, was, that they might send among the counsellors of the nation, some of God's counsellors or Prophets, so that the nation by virtue of their counsels, might be saved from the destruction to which they were now hasten-ing. But others aside from myself after wit-nessing some of their deliberations, would not consider the deficiency great, if it should even remain a deficiency. Their Eclesiastico-Polit-ical character savors too much of that Aristoc-racy sustained by arrogance and superstition which so indelibly marks the past. Like all oth-er sectarians, they feel powerful and fully able to conduct the interests of individuals and of na-tions very much like the Roman Catholic; no one aside from them can dispense benefits to the human kind, and to effect this they are looking, like the Catholic, to the time when they shall have the privilege and the honor of controlling the land. Fearing what may arise in the order of events, they are placing trust and protection in carnal weapons, in case their spiritual ones do not succeed. Munitions of war, unknown to the populace, are secreted from the observa-tion and knowledge of their minions, being va-riously deposited in their dry sandy soil, in diff-erent parts of the city. As a specimen of the united zeal and spirit among them, one man, for-merly a Methodist Preacher in the states, told me that he clandestinely took there from New Orleans three cannon, not knowing what need there might be for them. A large share of sa-gacity is exhibited by them, intermixed with be-nevolence and intrigue. Much complaint was made against them in the policy manifested to get the emigration, on starting from the Bluffs to take the south side of the Platte River, leaving the north, which was by far the best, for their own emigration, which was soon to start con-sisting of some thousands. Also in getting all the travel they could to pass ferries which they had established. Two years since they were known to keep in motion a ferry a long time when in three-fourths of a mile below them the stream was fordable for nearly one month. But sir, they are a singular people. A bewitching influence holds them together. Intestinal broils are however pent in among them. Their Poly-gamy system is working out its own corruption. Dissatisfaction among the females is becoming prevalent. Their jealousy is excited. Their indignation is arroused. Their credulity is cir-cumscribed in believeing that the Lord's Major Prophet should be absorbed in association with, and attachment to someten or twelve wives.—In this respect they go behind the Catholics.—To me it seems that the evil will regulate itself eventually by a revolution.
Their City is located in the valley of the Salt Lake, which valley is about 20 miles wide and 40 long. Running through the centre of the valley is the Utah, or Jordon River, from the Utah lake south of them. Their location is on the most elevated portion of the valley so situa-ted as to take water from a kangon near by and cause it to run through every part of the city.—Their buildings are mostly of dubies, dried bricks, covered inmost cases with dirt for shingles.—They are making large preparations for buillding another Temple, Solomon like to the Lord.—Workshops and machinery of all necessary kinds are being put in operation for the purpose.—Their timber is confined in and among the moun-tains, and amid eleven months snow at least, pretty poor at that. Firewood scarce. The soil is of a gravelly and loose character, and for want of showers, has to be irrigated, which is done by turning the streams as they come out of the kangons or gulches from the mountains and lead-ing them as they need. A church field 4 miles wide and 8 long is managed in this manner.—Their crops last season, were very good, being principally wheat and oats. They are getting mills so as to be very well supplied, Saw and Grist for the most part. One threshing machine only, which I helped to build. Their salt is ea-sily obtained, such is the strength of the Lake water that 3bbls. make one of salt. No fish or living thing in it. Somewhat sportive to bathe and swim in it. No danger of sinking or being drowned, requiring much effort to keep ones feet under him. With a pillow to sustain my head I could have lain in perfect quiet all the day on its unruffled bosom. On coming out, the salt was deposited all over the body, causing the head to appear as white as snow.
One word more as to the city. It is laid out on rising ground, near the base of the mountains, and exhibits the characteristic of a farming or agricultural city, each lot being in amount one and one-fourth acre. This appears to be a wise provision for the sake of health and good morals. All share in the church farm according to the amount they wish to cultivate. Mechanical farmers nearest, others fartherest off.
From the Salt Lake City I started July 26, with a family team, to go through to California. We, with many others, took a south route, called a "cut off." No mud, but the reverse, very dry and dusty. The fifth day we crossed a desert, being a portion of the Salt Lake in a high time. We entered it at night and traveled through the night, the next day and the next night, all with-out stopping save to feed a little grass and give a little water, which we took with us. This was the first time I met with any suffering wor-thy of notice. Such entreaties for a little water, such rewards offered though not taken, and such effects from thirst, I never before witnessed.—Lying by the way with swollen tongues, black from extreme fever, with cattle and horses suff-ering in like manner, was an exhibition of suffer-ing to which all were unaccustomed. Large and noble springs were at the other side of this desert from which kegs and barrels of water were taken back 15, 20 and 25 miles, at a con-tributed expense of those who had gone through, and thus many a life of man and beast were saved while the strewed carcasses of beasts by the way, reminded us of previous suffering. It seemed some like a general training, the crowds coming and going. After a days recruiting, we started on our course. Portions of desert, with naught but the sage bush, sometimes good and then poor water, over some branches of moun-tains, and crossing no streams of any account, made up our course till we came on to a branch of the Humbolt or Mary's river. This branch on our last days travel on it, led us through a kangon, or ravine for 15 or 20 miles which was made sometime in the world's history, by the ir-ritation and breaking through of the waters above evidently covering a large surface of country, and leaving but little more room than what itself the water, required to pass through. The stream first, nearly equal to Fox River, Wis. the road next, in the stream, and then the bluffs on either side with overhanging cliffs 2 and 300 feet high, and almost within arms reach, formed the only passage for us, and where thousands before us had gone through reaching the long anticipated Humbolt or Mary's river. Here it was that we fell in with those who took the more northward course by way of Ft. Hall. At once after com-mencing our course on this river to its sink (in the sands of the desert, east of the Sierra Neva-da Mountains) we began to pass graves, nearly all of which were fresh, newly made, and one thing which much surprised us, was to read on nine out of every ten, Mo., Missouri, the state from which the deceased emigrated. My own hands had to inscribe one as a memento of one which composedour family company number.—I often thought of J. D. Benedict's opposing re-mark as to going to California, that there was no difficulty in finding the way there, as there were plenty of graves by the way, such I found to be the fact across the desert portion of the way.—Such an amount of travel on one road proving to be such by the cutting down in the track, tho' entirely dry, could not be again found in any portion of the U. S. if it could be in the world.
But one shower from Salt Lake to and across the Nevada mountains. Much more than this wonld have shut us up entirely and located us in trouble. The earlier emigrants had a hard one, before the snow water from the mountains had passed out of the way. To give a descrip-tion of the loss of property by the way, and through to California, would be a task. The thought is sickening, the sight more so. Cat-tle, horses, wagons, harnesses, chains, clothing, (none of provisions this season) tools and al-most everything lined the way, filling the sight, and creating the thought recoilng reflection, of the waste and destruction caused by the un-bounded influence of gold, all of which thus far obtained, has not in the judgment of any one witnessing these things, formed an equivalent.—It would seem that a species of insanity sway-ed the minds of the whole emigration. Some aged men, many youths and lads, and by far the the greater part of the middle aged class, made up the traveling community. All characters, good, bad, indifferent, indulging anxiety, cau-tion, jealously and suspicion, mingled in the train, contentions, animosities and divisions were at-tendant on most of the route.
Who would ever wish to go it again ? Not I. Who would like to efface it from the mind, and consign the exhibition to oblivion ? I would for one. But enough of this. After reaching the sink of Mary's river, we crosscd in the night the most of the desert before us, being 45 miles. The curtain of the night screened our eyes from beholding by far a greater exhibition of death and destruction than hitherto had been presented to us. What we saw on the balance of the desert during the next day was sufficient indication of what we had passed through the night. I hap-pened to see one man grappling with death, by an attack of the cholera. He fell a victim. Ac-cording to report to us, by far the most of the sickness was back of us. Many suffered for sustenance. Supplies had been but moderately secured. On reaching the other side of the de-sert we found a trading post, on Carson River, of flour, liquors, &c. Flour from $1 50 to $2 per lb. Hard case for those who were destitute of means. Large quantities were packed from Cal. across the Nevada mountains on mules, supplying stations from 8 to 12 miles. Before we reached the mountains, we obtained flour at 16 cts. per lb., every fort had its liquors.We passed on and following up the Carson river, we at length came to the foot of the mountains. From 4 to 6 miles we passed up through a kan-gon, where, but for the influence of gold, no at-tempt would ever have been made to pass with teams. Stones and rocks from the size of a barrel to a hay cock, composed our road, and how so much travel has ever been through there with so little destruction of life and property, is not for me to explain. Good water with but little grass was the best fare we had for our teams.—After getting over, and in among the mountains, we had one more pull to gain the chief ascent, the back bone of the Elephant. On its sum-mit we found snow to a considerable amount, about Sept. 15, some of which probably did lie over another winter. From this highest land of rocks we could survey a great extent of ridgy, broken and mountainous country, but no view of the Pacific Ocean, being precluded by the coast range of mountains. From the many smokes arising in different directions, we began to think we were getting into the gold conntry. About Sept. 25th, we began to fall down, down--into the region of the gold, and on entering it in full, we found ourselves in what was called Hangtown, from the circumstance of some 2 or 3 in time past, who being indisposed to dig like others, and having no good cause to beg for a share of the good, saw fit to pilfer the earnings of others, and meeting with a very good principle in life by the way, were hung up out of the way. This Hangton was a hollow somewhat long, say 4 or 5 miles, and narrow. The earth appar-ently had all been dug up, in depth from 2 to 3 feet, presenting an irruption of its surface like the digging of so many old fashioned potato holes, around, in, and among which were a much less number working than had been here-tofore. But the novel sight of one man picking, shovelling, carrying and emptying into the wash-ing cradle common gravelly earth, and an oth-er dipping constantly water with one hand, and thus working all day chucket, chucket, and at night testing the amount of his thus far unseen gain, not positively knowing that he had any of the yellow stuff, was indeed to me a novelty, and like a lottery. However out of this place a large amount had been gained. Many piles ob-tained, while from the report of hundreds this past season, but little more than their board had been paid, and some not so much as that. The place promises to be the grave of many. Phy-sicians in number sufficient to keep the evil on the march, while they were digging their once per visit, thus making their piles faster than the rest. Being 50 miles from Sacramento, we passed onward to reach the city which we did on the eve of the 30th day of Sept. Having sent some letters in advance from Salt Lake, I hastened early in the morning of Oct. 1st to find what might there be to my address, and after waiting my turn which was early, shortly after 8 o'clock,I happily found a letter from my wife and household, and from J. D. Benedict and wife, all which proved like water to a thirsty soul.
But as I have made, though at a late date, a somewhat heavy demand on your patience in conformity to your suggestion to "write you a letter" as from all thus premising you had re-ceived none at all, please accept this as interest annual, while in suitable time to come I will give you the principle, in detail, embracing an account of Oregon.
ALBERT H. OTIS.
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