John Udell
Incidents of Travel...

(Jefferson, OH: Ashtabula Sentinel, 1856

  • Title   Preface   Diary   Utah in 1850
  • Udell's Life   Rigdon in 1822
  • Rigdon and Campbell in 1829
  • Baptists in 1832   Campbellites in 1833

  • Transcriber's Comments

  • Nelson Slater's 1851 Fruits of Mormomism   |   F. Langworthy's 1855 Scenery of the Plains
    A. G. Riddle's 1874 The Portrait   |   Hayden's 1875 History of Disciples   |   Rigdon in Ohio




    C A L I F O R N I A,




    Central  America  and  Jamaica;




    J E F F E R S O N,   O H I O;


    [ ii ]

    Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1855, by
    In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for
    the Northern District of Ohio.)


    [ vi ]

    P R E F A C E.

    I had, during many years of my life, and while visiting and sojourning in strange countries, kept a diary, wherein each day's experience and adventure were noted: yet I had no intention of offering these records, embodied in a book, to the public, until my friends and relatives persuaded me that there was in my chequered, though humble, career, which would instruct as well as amuse those into whose hands my own unpolished history of it might fall.

    Therefore, while deeply sensible of my inequality to its superior performance, I undertook the task, and now submit the result of my labors to the public, trusting that in the interest of the work, will be found excuse for its many imperfections of style and arrangement. I have spent the greater part of my life, as a pioneer, on the frontiers,

                                                  PREFACE.                                               vii

    and in the wilderness, and have seldom had access to the sources of literary and scientific information. Consequently, I merely give a simple statement of facts and incidents, and aim to please those who delight in variety founded upon real occurrences.

    My book is fraught with some religious matter, and I have dwelt carefully upon such events as serve to show the progress of improvement within the brief period of my recollection. I have given some description of the soil, climate and productions of the Western States and Territories, California, and Central America; and I have stated the formation, size and shape of those stupendous mountains over which I have passed in my travels.

    My Diary will be found an accurate guide for those taking the overland route to California; and should this little work prove in some degree useful and entertaining, it will accomplish the highest wishes of the author.
    JOHN UDELL.        

    I would here publicly express my gratitude to friends in those places where I have solicited subscribers, for their kindness and hospitality. So great has been the assistance rendered me wherever I have gone, and so universal the

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    benevolence shown, that I would seem to lack a proper pride in the virtues of my fellow-citizens, did I fail to make the warmest acknowledgments in my power.   J. U.

    NOTE: -- The reader will please be careful to correct two typographical errors on page 115, in the year of my father's marriage, and that of my birth. Instead of 1773, the one should read 1793; the other 1795 instead of 1775.


    [ 9 ]

    D I A R Y.

    January 1st, 1850. One half a century and nearly five years of my life have passed away, and but little that I desire to do in the service of the Lord is accomplished. I find that I am fast going down the declivity of life; O, that I may be enabled to double my diligence in the service of the Lord! I am still living with my son in Centreville, Iowa, and, when opportunity presents, publishing to my fellow mortals, the way to an Eternal life.

    I have to be busily engaged at hard labor, during week days to procure sustenance for my companion and myself.

    February. This month I was engaged, except on Lord's days, in preparing to go to California, having agreed to accompany two of my sons thither.

    March 1st. I am still engaged every day at hard labor in making and selling half bushel measures to procure clothing for my outfit to go to California; and to have plenty for my wife while I am absent. There are three very important reasons why I undertake so long a journey at my advanced age: first, the improvement of my health in journeying and change of climate; second, I hope to be more beneficial to my fellow beings there than I can be here, in correcting their morals by precept and example, and perhaps influencing some to obey

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    and grass. We encamped here a few days to recruit our horses. This is a very fertile valley, but rather gloomy on account of the stern gray mountains on its sides, -- from the foot of which proceed springs of many varieties -- salt, soda, and alkaline. Some were hot enough to cook eggs, others of blood heat, and others were clear cold water. The Salt Lake affords plenty of fine salt. On the margin it is dry and fit for use.

    [July] 14th. Sunday. This day I went to Salt Lake city and attended the Mormon meeting; heard some truth and some error. Took dinner with Lysander Gee, and returned to the camp at night.

    15th 16th and 17th. Staid at the camp.

    18th. Walked seventeen miles to the different encampments to find acquaintances. Met cousin Samuel Udell, from Portage County, Ohio.

    19th We put our goods on our horses, disposed of our wagons, and threw away part of our clothing. We then resumed our journey, taking an entirely new route. Passed west of the city one mile; crossed the Jordan and journeyed west to the Bluffs. Camped near a small lake and springs of brackish water. Plenty of grass, but no wood.

    20th. Traveled to the clear cold springs -- five miles. Mountains close to the left, Bluffs and Big Salt Lake to the right. The waters of this lake are so dense that a person cannot sink, and dry salt may be shoveled up on its beach. Seven miles and fifty yards of rocky road to a lone craggy rock on the left. This is a blind road, and we steer westwardly to the mountains on the opposite side of the valley. Large springs in a deep ravine, quarter of a mile from the town off the road on the right. All the water, so far, is brackish, but can be used. Good grass, but no wood; hard, rough gravelly road. Fifteen miles to Willow Creek, for eight miles of the way no wood except sage brush; the rest of the way good willow brush for wood, and fine campong ground. Thirty-three and a half miles' travel; camped on Willow Creek.

    21st. Sunday. Thirty-five miles' travel to the next fresh

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    frequent springs of good water. Twenty-one miles from the head of the Echo to Webber River. Plenty of wild currants, wild flax, and June, or service berries on it. Traveled one mile down Webber River, and encamped.

    [July] 24th. Descended the river three miles, and crossed it, when my son-in-law, J. R. Sale, who had been sick several days, was so much fatigued by riding, that we were obliged to encamp.

    25th. Crossed two Small Creeks at intervals of four miles. (Our company did not like to lie by any longer, and my son-in-law, not wishing to detain them, thought he would try to ride, though far from able.) These Small Creeks, so called in Heighter's Guide, are but one stream, which loses itself in places, and finally re-appears as soon as you leave Webber River. Plenty of grass and springs on it at this time. From this creek it is four miles to Canion Creek, which we ascended eight miles. Sixteen miles to-day -- 997 from the Bluffs.

    26th. Pass Brown's Spring, and descended the creek five miles, to a good place for encamping. We have traveled but twelve miles -- 1010 from the Bluffs.

    27th. Leaving Brown's Creek, we crossed the last ridge, steep of ascent descent; then traveled three miles down a Canion Creek of considerable size, which we were obliged to ford nineteen times, though the crossing was very bad; five miles to the valley, and another five to Great Salt Lake City. Thirteen miles, to-day -- 1023 miles from the Bluffs.

    28th, 29th, 30th, 31st and August 1st and 2d. Until noon of the 2d, we remained at Salt Lake City, our teams grazing and resting, twelve miles out of town. We boarded with Mr. Tyler, in the eastern corner of the city; we were very well treated, and the charges were reasonable. I think the Mormon people have been very much misrepresented, and that injustice has been done them by travelers. From all I have seen, I have no doubt that, if travelers would manifest towards them a spirit of kindness, they would receive kind treatment in return, at all times.

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    They have as good order in the management of their temporal and religious affairs, as I have ever seen elsewhere. They are polite in their manners, and very well informed on general matters. This afternoon (August 2d), we resumed our journey, traveling northward nine miles. It was dark before we encamped, and then we found no grass for our cattle. Campbell Drury had left us, in town, and my son-in-law and I were alone with our team; he had not yet fully recovered, and a heavy burthen was thrown upon me.

    3d. This morning we traveled two miles; found grass, and stopped to let our cattle eat. In the afternoon, we made thirteen miles, and encamped at a Mormon settlement near Two-Creeks.

    4th. Arrived at Ogden City, after nineteen miles' travel over sandy road. Crossed Weaver Creek, on which there is a good ford below the bridge. Grass, wood and water.

    5th. Ten miles to the large hot Salt Springs and Rocky Point. Passed several small creeks of good water, with excellent grass on them; four miles to Willow Creek, and seven to Box-Elder Creek. We encamped between them, near a spring, having made seventeen miles.

    6th. From Box-Elder Creek to Bear River, twenty-one miles. Good grass, frequent springs, and creeks of excellent water, all the way. Roads good from Salt Lake City to this point, a distance of twenty-five miles; and white settlememts on it at intervals. Here we have no difficulty in obraining abundance of fine vegetables, milk, butter, cheese, flour, beef, mutton -- fresh or dried -- groceries, etc. Encamped six miles below the crossing of Bear River, in the neighborhood of a hot spring and a cold brackish spring, and within a mile of a good one. Have traveled three miles to Milad Creek, and three to Small Creek and some springs, where we found good water and grass, but no

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    wood; have used sage brush to-day and yesterday, since we left Box-Elder Creek.

    From Small Creek to the point where we leave Salt Lake Valley, it is six miles; and here we encamped. This valley is very fertile, yielding abundant crops of everything that the climate produces. It is bounded on the right by mountains whose lofty peaks are crowned with snow, but on the left by hills that do not rise to a sufficient height, to wear perpetual winter on their brows.

    8th, Sunday. Four miles up a narrow ravine, between mountain bluffs, seven to large brackish springs, three over a hill of steep ascent, and four and a half to an abrupt rocky descent of half a mile. Good road and grass, thus far, with sage for fuel. Five miles to a spring of fine water -- road somewhat rough, and grass eaten off close, in the neighborhood of the spring; sage to burn. Here we encamped, after twenty-three miles' travel.

    9th. Six miles' of good road to Deep Creek; descended it six miles to the Sink, where we found good grass and good stock-water (though unpleasant to the taste). Encamped near the Sink. 10th. Twelve miles to Pilor Springs: water sulphurous and unpleasant, and no grass. Four miles from these Springs, we took the right-hand road, as it was better than the other, which leads off to some mountain springs. Our road was good, but we found neither grass nor water. One mile further, however, at the Upper Springs, is good water, and some grass and wood. Ten miles from them, we encamped near grass and wood, after twenty-six miles' travel -- are 1180 from the Bluffs.

    11th. From our camp to Stony Creek, excellent water, wood and greas, at a short distance from the road; nine miles to a small creek, with grass and sage, and three to De Carun Creek, and we encamped at two o'clock P.M. to rest until the following day. Fourteen miles' travel. Abundance of grass, and willow sage for fuel.

    12th. Six miles up the creek to the third and upper crossings; the banks of the first two are steep. Seven [miles to the junction of Fort Hall and Sublet roads...]

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    [volcano] had been previously discovered. Went six miles beyond it, and encamped in a grove of fine timber, where we found good water and grass. Traveled sixteen miles, today, and are 626 from Missouri.

    15th. We lie by, to-day, that our horses may rest.

    16th. Traveled sixteen miles, and are 642 from the Missouri.

    17th Traveled twenty miles, passing Medicine Springs, and encamping at Willow Springs. Found no grass.

    18th. Traveled sixteen miles, passing some very bad alkaline springs, and miry swamps. Travelers should be on the look-out for these -- they are found, at intervals, for six miles beyond Willow Springs. Are now 678 miles from Missouri River.

    19th. Passed Devil's Gate and Independence Rock. Eighteen miles' travel.

    20th. To-day, the boy who had been traveling with me, being persuaded he could get through a month sooner by walking, deserted me, and I was left alone with a train of four yoke of half-broken young cattle, one horse, and one milch cow. Traveled eighteen miles -- 714 from the Missouri.

    21st. I am in company with Mr. Curby's family. Seventeen miles' travel.

    22d. This day I enter upon my sixtieth year, and have seen three birth-days on these plains. Through all the sunshine and shadow of life, I have still seen the hand of my heavenly father. May I be faithful in the discharge of my duties.

    28th. One week has elapsed since I did any journalizing. To-day we passed the Pacific Springs.

    July 4th. Another week since I have made account of my journey. Celebrated Independence Day on the black fork of Green River. Had a sumptuous dinner of meats, rice puddings, pies, poundcake, etc., prepared by the ladies.

    18th. Passed through Salt Lake City.

    29th. Passed the junction of Salt Lake and Sublet Cut-off roads.

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    September 3d. A long time since I have written in my journal! We have already left the Sink of Humboldt River, to cross the great desert.

    17th. Arrived at Carson River, which takes its rise in the Sierra Revada mountains, and is formed by melting snow. It runs about 150 miles, and then sinks away like the Humboldt. There is some excellent land on it, highly susceptible of cultivation. Carson Valley, at the head of the river, is very pleasant, and has some good farms in it.

    26th. I left the Valley with Mr. L. Hilliard, and his train. We went into the Sierra Nevada mountains. I had parted from my son-in-law in Carson Valley.

    29th. Mr. Hilliard took the volcano road, and I the Placerville road. Traveled one mile, and camped, to rest a day or two.

    30th. Having lost five of my cattle, while crossing the plains, I was obliged to leave my excellent wagon in Carson Valley, for the want of a team to draw it over the mountains. I arrived in Placerville on the 3d of October.

    October 7th. I am stopping with my old friends, Adam and Peter Upp -- ten miles from Sacramento.

    9th. Went to Sacramento City, and found letters from my beloved wife and children, which was indeed a great joy to me, for I had been absent from home six months,

    12th. I started on a journey of forty miles with Peter Upp, to visit my children. Passed through Sacramento City, and crossed the river, and stopped to see my daughter Wood. I found the family well, for which I thank the Lord.

    13th. This day I spent with my children Oliver and Caroline. I rejoice that the gracious father has preserved me through so many dangers, and restored me to my friends.

    14th. Crossed the river for my cattle, and returned to my daughter's family.

    March 18th, 1855. Have remained with my son Oliver ever since October last, and am now making preparations to return home to the States.

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    April 16th. Have been at my daughter's, since my last entry preparing to return.

    17th. I had bought horses to go home across the plains, but my daughter's health being poor I concluded to accompany her by sea. I sold my horses, and we came to Sacramento, on the 22d.

    23d. Reached San Francisco, and were swindled out of $10 by an omnibus driver.

    May 17th -- San Juad del Sud. Left San Francisco on the steamship Sierra Nevada, April 24th, and arrived here to-day. The sea was smooth, and the weather fine, and nothing occurred to disturb the harmony of the trip, except an insane man's jumpong overboard; he was picked up and resuscitated.

    7th and 8th. On the Nicaragua Transit. Had to change conveyances seven times, which made it tiresome and disagreeable. In passing over the Castillian Rapids, we had twice to get out and walk. The scenery, however, was most delightful.

    Went on board the Atlantic steamer Northern Light, at Greytown, and put out to sea, at 10 o'clock, P.M., May 8th.

    15th. Arrived at New York, after a very pleasant trip of twenty-one days, in all, from San Francisco.

    The same day we reached New York, we took cars for Dunkirk, and at that place, the Buffalo train to Ashtabula. I soon found myself at my brother Frederick's, in Jefferson (a place seven miles south of Ashtabula.) Here in Jefferson, after an absence of nine years, I once more have the pleasure of visiting my brothers, sisters, and old acquaintances, and, what is sweeter, of partaking with them of the privileges mercifully granted to us in the kingdom of our blessed Redeemer. To be made the recipient of so many blessings, after having been deprived of them so long, is almost too much, and I cannot sufficiently thank my Heavenly Father for His goodness. Here, also, I can view the graves of my dear departed parents, and reflect upon their precept and example. Though they are gone


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    to that rest which remaineth unto the righteous, I have to grapple with the toils and disappointments of this world. But the will of the Lord be done.

    26th. Spent the day with brother Michael Webster, a firm member of the fraternity of Christ.

    27th, Sunday. Went with brother Webster to the Disciples' church in Eagleville, where I heard brother Mathew Clapp preach an excellent discourse upon regeneration....

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    [ 114 ]


    My ancestors were English. My great-grandfather, Lionel Udell, was an innkeeper and physician, in Exeter, England. During King James' Rebellion, a party of rebels called for lodging at his house, and he, not knowing their character received them: an act then considered treason to the crown, and punished with death, the same as rebellion itself. The rebels were pursued by the officers of the crown, and taken. My grandfather, ignorant of what might be his fate id he fell into the hands of the officers, gave his wife Anne some hasty directions to dispose of his property, and with their only child Lionel, to follow him, escaped through a back window, with his pill-bags on his arm, and went on board a ship owned by him, then lying in the harbor, and set sail for America. Overtaken by a storm, the ship and cargo were lost; but the passengers were saved by another vessel, and landed at Stonington, Connecticut, where my grandfather settled, and resumed the practice of medicine.

    After hearing of the death of his wife and child, in Exeter, he married Abigail Bills, of Stonington, and had by her eleven children, (six daughters and five sons,) as shown by his family record. My grandfather, John Udell, was the tenth child and youngest son. He married Anne Stephens, and lived in Stonington until my father, John Udell,

                                      LIFE  OF  JOHN  UDELL.                                   115

    was born, July 31st. A.D. 1768. He was the eldest of thirteen children, only six of whom lived to maturity....

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    From Cattaragus up Lake Erie, the roads were much better, the land being more sandy, and we made very good progress to Ohio; but passed no villages except Erie, in Pennsylvania, for one hundred and sixty miles. The country was very thinly settled, and there were no other buildings in it than log-cabins; whereas, it is now densely populated, dotted with thriving towns, and traversed by a railroad. We arrived safely in Ashtabula county, Ohio on the last of March [in 1816]. I was much pleased with the country, it was so level and befutifully-faced, and so different from the rough, mountainous, rocky region in which I had lived, that I thought it almost a Paradise. What rendered it more pleasant and agreeable was, that the few settlers then in the country were chiefly from the State of Connecticut, in New England, -- a well-informed, intelligent people -- the greater part of them professors of the Christian religion. This, I concluded, was the land wherein I would spend my earthly days. For I was not only delighted with the country, -- the material was there from which might be built a Christian Church congenial to my views and feeling. Elate with these pleasing hopes, my thoughts immediately reverted to the loved ones, my parents. I wrote them to come at once to this delightful country, if they possibly could; that I only needed their society to make me quite happy. I was indeed so enchanted with the flattering prospect, that I did not reflect how much hard labor it would require to fell the heavy forest, and fit the land for cultivation; did not reflect that one generation

    128                                   LIFE  OF  JOHN  UDELL.                                  

    would pass away before the full benefit of their labors could be realized -- before they could taste all the fruits of their toil. I have since learned, from personal observation and experience, that by the time these things are accomplished, they who accomplished them, are generally laid in dust. But it has ever been my motto that it is better to wear out than to rust. Besides, while we are thus making improvements in a new country for the benefit of the rising generation, we have some enjoyments which those who come after us will not. We see nature, in its primal beauty, unscathed by art. We are familiar with all the various peoples of the wild -- deer, elk, bears, wolves, wild turkeys, etc. We enjoy the pleasures of the chase -- the heathful pursuits of the hunter's life. But the chief attraction of a new country for me has been the fraternal and kindly spirit that prevails among pioneers. If any be sick, all are ready to visit and administer to them; if any lack bread or meat, all are ready to divide their store; if any have labor to perform which is too heavy for them, all are ready to assist. Why are these things so in a new country? Because everything that panders to aristocratic feeling is unknown. All alike live in log-cabins; their furniture is alike; their cloths [sic] are plain alike; they are all alike dependent on each other; there is no external show by any of superior wealth.

    Ashtabula county was very heavily timbered with beech, sugar-maple, poplar, or whitewood, chestnut, oak, cucumber, hickory, etc.; the soil a clayey loam. In some places were marshes, or swamps, which produced large quantities of cranberries. Blackberries and strawberries were also abundant. At the time of which I write, there were no canals, railroads, or steamboats in the West, and we had to bring our own merchandize and salt over the mountains in wagons from New York or Philadelphia, which made them very expensive.

    Having reached Lebanon, or, as it is now called, New Lyme, my uncle moved on a farm he had purchased, and I commenced work with Mr. Joseph Miller, from Connecticut, for eight months, at $12 a month. In the family of

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    this gentleman, I was treated with the tenderness of a son or brother. His wife's parents, quite aged people, lived with the family of their daughter -- an only child.

    I came to Mr. Miller clad in rags, having, as before related, had all my clothes stolen, and he lent me a suit to wear at meetings and abroad, until I had earned money enough to buy clothes. A single incident will serve to show the peculiar attention with which I was treated by the whole family. I had one day been walking a long distance through the deep mud of the new country, and came in late at night, so much fatigued that I hardly felt able to wash the mud from my feet before going to bed. The old lady brought me warm water, and began to strip my feet. "Mother," I said, I can wash my feet." "Yes," she replied, "but I perceive that you are very tired. Permit me to wash your feet, this time." She accordingly did so. The kindly deed brought to my mind the example of our Lord. We should always be ready to perform the most menial service for our fellow beings when it is necessary to their comfort and happiness.

    Neither Mr. Miller nor any of his family were at that time members of a church, though all professed to have met with a change, and were very moral people. Mr. Miller called the attention of his neighbors to the subject of holding religious meetings for the purpose of praying, singing, and reading sermons (then a very common practice, when a preacher could not be obtained). All agreed, and the meetings were well attended. My uncle prayed, and Mr. Miller and I sang, and read discourses. Mr. M. was a wealthy, intelligent, and very influential man; but he was not spared to us long. He was cut off, eight or nine years afterwards, in the prime of life, leaving a family of small children and a devoted wife to mourn his loss. His death, brought on by his attendance at the beds of his neighbors, sick and dying of a malignant disease, was also deeply felt by the Baptist Church, to which he had attached himself. I mourned in him one of the best friends I ever had.

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    We continued to hold these meetings every Lord's-day during the summer; and inquiry arose among the people, respecting their future state. Numbers came forth and confessed that they had been converted to the Lord, but had backslidden -- some had been members of a church. Prayer-meetings were held three times a week; many were rejoicing and exhorting, and a great excitement prevailed. No one could give an immediate cause for this excitement: it was in the absence of all preaching or exhortation: we concluded, therefore, it was the special work of the Lord. I found, to my great satisfaction, that nearly all inclined to Baptist principles; most of the heads of families had made the good confession, and were hopefully converted, as they believed. They rejoiced, prayed, and exhorted, wishing to be baptized, and become members of the household of faith. But we did not know, then, that there was a man ordained and competent to baptize, or a Baptist Church, in the State. We all prayed fervently that the Lord would send a preacher among us, who was qualified to administer ordinances, and organize a Church. In a few days our prayers were answered. Two strangers came to brother Miller's, one night, and inquired for Baptists. We informed them that there were several in the neighborhood, and others who wished to be baptized. The strangers proved to be a regularly ordained Baptist Elder and a Deacon. The Deacon, Michael Webster, was a member of the Baptist Church, in Jefferson, the county-seat, only sixteen or eighteen miles from us. He is still living, at the rope age of seventy-six, and has ever been a warm friend and brother to me, in adversity and prosperity. He was a man well read in the Scriptures, and ever ready to administer counsel to any member of the Body, or Church, of Christ. The name of the preacher was More; he was from a distance, but I do not remember his place of residence. Some of the brethren believe to this day it was through Divine Providence, that these men came to us in answer to our prayer. Be that as it may, we all rejoiced at their coming; a two or three days' meeting was

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    immediately held, and we had a happy time. The Word of the Lord was dispensed in its native beauty, unvarnished by the learning and affectation of the schools. It was suited to the understanding of Babes in Christ -- simple pioneers in the wilderness.

    At that day, we had no particular houses of Worship. All lived in log houses, made of rounded logs, as they grew in the forest; the roof was made of long boards split out with wedges, and a fro; and fastened on with poles or logs. Our manners or costume were equally plain. It was very common, in many parts of Ohio, for both sexes, to walk to the meeting bare-footed. Our clothing was made by the hands of our mother and sisters, in their own houses, and was very clean and neat; all according to the holy scriptures, wgich say: "In like manner, also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array:" 1 Tim. 2. 9. We might differ in regard to the definition of the terms, "modest apparel," but the words "gold, pearls, and costly array," admit of but one signification. We were well satisfied to worship and receive holy and Heavenly instruction, in those log dwelling houses, from our neighbors and brethren, in our plain costume; and perhaps, had greater enjoyment than the present generation in the same country, with their large elegant churches, and splendid mansions, decorated with as "costly array" as nature and art can afford. Suffice it to say, we had a joyous time during the stay of our brethren; a number were baptised, and certificates given them of their Baptism, with instructions where to send for a Council of Brethren, to organize us into a church, agreeable to Baptist usages. We accordingly sent, and in a few weeks a council came, consisting of preachers, and lay members; and we held a two days' meeting, and were organized into a church. Brother Joseph Miller and his wife were among the number, and he was appointed recorder, or clerk, and leader in our meetings, until we could obtain an ordained elder. I was taken in by letter, from Pennsylvania. Thus we continued to live in peace, harmony

    132                                   LIFE  OF  JOHN  UDELL.                                  

    and fellowship, until I removed my membership to Jefferson, fifteen or sixteen miles distant. Soon after our organization, Elder Joshua Woodsworth moved his family among us, and took pastoral charge of us.

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    I carried home all my provisions upon my shoulders, for two years [1818-19], not being able to buy a horse; and in the early spring-time, when the water from the melted snow, almost covered the whole face of the level country, I have waded to my knees through the standing pools, bearing home (often ten miles distant) twenty-five and forty pounds of provisions. Many a time, after my hard day's work was done, have I performed the journey alone by torchlight -- so anxious was I to be with my little family. Nor was my lot harder than that of many of my poor neighbors.

    Though I toiled unceasingly every day of the week, yet I seldom failed to meet with my christian friends for worship on Lord's day. I often had to walk from four to five miles, to the place of meeting, and frequently carried our child in my arms; my wife walking with me. In 1819, we moved into a house I had built on the road, near neighbors. Here I erected a barn, and among other improvements, planted a nursery of apple seeds. During this summer I worked much of the time in Trumbull county by the month and by the job. There I found a fine little Baptist church, quite intelligent in the Scriptures. Old brother Jesse Hall was deacon, and took lead in the church at this time. Brother John Applegate was quite a prominent member. He was afterwards ordained a preacher, and he with the principal part of the church, came over into the reformation, as it was called. I enjoyed myself very well in the society of these brethren, while I was at work in that region. This county (Trumbull) contained a great deal more rolling land than Ashtabula, and at this time was more improved. There were some framed buildings in it, and orchards, bearing plenty of fruit. It was more easily brought into a state of cultivation, and better adapted to raising grain; we frequently came from Ashtabula to this county for our bread stuffs. Early in the spring of this year, I came down thirty-five miles into Trumbull with a horse, and split rails for fencing at twenty cents per hundred, and paid seventy-five a bushel for Indian Corn,

    138                                   LIFE  OF  JOHN  UDELL.                                  

    paying for two bushels with two days' hard labor. I spent two days in coming down, and two in going back and getting my corn ground; so that it cost me one week's hard work, with my horse, to get two bushels of corn meal to my family. I was very thankful to the Lord to get it at that rate, for bread was scarce that season. I narrate this simple circumstance, to give my readers some faint idea of what trials and hardships the first white inhabitants had to undergo in this western country, to procure for their posterity -- the present generation -- those splendid mansions, comfortable and bounteous homes which they now enjoy.

    I worked very hard this season, at clearing land and harvesting, to save enough, exclusive of what went to support my family, to purchase another cow and horse.

    I had omitted one important item in my last years' journal, which I will here insert. In the winter of 1818, money was very scarce, and there were very few that could hire help. Wages were low, and many labirers could not find employment in this section of country. A rumor came to us from the State of New York, that wages were high there, and money plenty. I made arrangements with my wife's brother, who was indebted to me, to provide for my wife and child in my absence, and started to walk four or five hundred miles to New York. There were no stages or other conveyances, in which you could take passage, in those days; you must carry yourself, or remain at home. -- Having to walk, however, was not my greatest misfortune, for as I had no money, I was compelled to carry my provisions and clothing -- a pack of about forty pounds. With this, I averaged forty miles a day, the whole journey, on the muddy roads of February and March. I traveled down Lake Erie, through Erie, in Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, in New York, which places had improved much in two years. Thence I went to Niagara Falls; here I found my father's brother, Oliver Udell, with a large family of children grown to maturity. We had never seen each other before, and were all very much overjoyed, though we were strangers. Indeed it os a trait in the character of my father's family,

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    to be very affectionate to their kindred, were they [ever] so distantly related. I remained with my uncle two or three days, to rest and view that greatest of nature's curiosities -- the great cataract of Niagara. I shall not attempt to describe the sublime, and yet delightful scene. It beggars all description.

    I could hear of no prospect of employment, and pushed on through Lewiston, thence down Lake Ontario to the Genesee Falls, where the city of Rochester now stands; but at that time there was not even a village there. From that point, I traveled through Canandaigua, (every day asking for employment,) to the head of Canandaigua Lake. I had now walked four hundred miles from home; my means were all expended, and I had still no prospect of getting anything to do for the season. I then tried to get work for a few days, to raise a little money to pay my expenses home again. I could not, and became almost despondent, fearing I should be reduced to beggary. Still I had some confidence left that God's providence would open a way for me to return home. I offered my clothing for sale, and sold a vest worth $3.00 for $1.50. With this money I bought pickled pork and bread, and living on raw pork, and bread and water, I walked forty miles a day, until I reached home. I returned, foiled in my expectation, after losing about a month's time and expenses; and suffered much hardship and fatigue. But notwithstanding all, there is, in all our misfortunes, some thing to buoy up the spirit of a reflecting man. The Lord hath spared my health, and the health of my family; we rejoice to see each other again in health, and we believe that all things will work together for good to them that love and serve God.

    In the fall of 1819, I cleared twenty acres of land for Robert Love, and took rye for pay. His brother, who owned a distillery, advised me to go into his distillery and distil my grain: I could realize double the profits that I could by selling it; and I could distill for him half of the time for the use of the distillery. I consented to do so; which was a great error in me; though at that time, making and

    140                                   LIFE  OF  JOHN  UDELL.                                  

    using whisky, as a common drink, was very popular thro'out the Unoted States. But now I think that making and vending so much to intoxicate men was wrong, and especially reprehensible in a christian. I followed distilling that winter, and labored hard, night and day, only allowing myself four hours sleep out of 24; yet made but small wages, and was forty miles from my family during the time. In the summer of 1820, I purchased a set of stills, (principally on credit,) and was to pay for them in distilling, at six cents per gallon. I moved them up into Lenox, Ashtabula county, and built a house and apparatus for them. On June my wife presented me another heir. In the fall I had completed my distillery; my wife's brother took management of it for a share of the profits, and I moved down into Hubbard to work and pay for the distillery. I had sold the improvements, and signed a contract to part with my land on credit, to a certain man who ean off.

    I worked all the winter and spring of 1821, at the distilling business, and paid for my stills. We had a good christian society while living here, and much enjoyment. A number were added to the church during the winter. In the spring I moved my family ten miles up into Hartford, and worked distilling one year, for $20 a month, -- sometimes distilling grain, sometimes cider, and sometimes peaches. I found a small Baptist church under the pastoral care of Sidney Rigdon, quite a talented man, and at that time a very devoted preacher of the bible, and a great advocate for Baptist principles; but he has since apostatized and become a leader of the Mormons.

    In March, 1823, I cleared some small lots of land; bought a horse and wagon, and after distilling some herbs, traveled about, and sold the products, together with some goods. My distilling in Lenox, instead of yielding me any profit, was involving me in debt. I went up late in the fall and traded it for five acres of improved land, worth $50.00.

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    The distillery had cost me $200 in hard labor, besides much time taken in fitting it up. But this was all right: it was a business I should not have engaged in. Errors of judgment are the cause of a majority of our misfortunes, and though we are not aware of it, may be the loss of our immortal souls. I built a good log house on my land, that fall, and moved my family from Hartford up into it -- a distance of forty miles -- over very bad roads and in stormy weather. I now felt quite comfortable, living in a home of which, for the first time, I owned fee simple; situated near my parents, so that my wife and I could often visit them, and only five miles from my Baptist brethren in Jefferson, and ten from the brethren in New Lyme. I now had a horse and wagon, and the roads were so much improved that I could ride in dry weather; and seldom failed to meet with my brethren on Sunday.

    In April, 1824, our third son was born, and our responsibility again increased. This year I was very busily engaged in a variety of business: sometimes cultivating my little piece of land, sometimes traveling with my one horse wagon, and selling a variety of articles on commission, and sometimes working by day for my neighbors. I loved among a very kind, and quite intelligent people. They were good neighbors, and moral: but few were professors of religion. They met together, however, almost every Sunday, and the professors prayed and sung and read sermons. This had an influence in keeping the mind alive to holy things, and served to prevent the youth from engaging in immoral practices; therefore, I assisted and encouraged all things that were calculated to correct or improve the morals of the people. During the winter of 1825, there was a reformation in Jefferson, and they had social, or prayer meetings, two or three nights a week. I felt so much interested in them, that I would walk from four to five miles, through mud and snow, after performing a hard day's labor, to attend them: gathering faggots from the hickory trees to light myself home, through the woods, after meeting, and feeling very well paid for my labor. In

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    JUne, 1824, our house caught fire, at night, and was burned to ashes, while we barely escaped being consumed in the flames, with our little children. The house was almost wrapt in flames when we awoke, and fled forth naked with our children. I caught up the bed on which we slept, and took it with me; but all our other household goods that we had labored hard for several years to collect together, were lost. The LOrd gave, and he has a right to take away, and I was thnakful that our lives were spared. We were so far from neighbors that we could not give the alarm until morning. The next day the neighbors came, and brought us some clothes to hide our nakedness, and went to work and put up another log house for me; but we scarce had anything to put into it. I had to sell my land to procure clothing, and things for housekeeping, parting with it for $50.00.

    In the spring of 1825, I made a contract with Lawyer Robert Harper to labor for him one year at $11 a month. He was to furnish me a house to live in, and a garden, and pasture for my cow, and I moved my family into Harpersfield, with the hope that I should be able to save all my wages and purchase another piece of land. I took the management of his farm, and gave him full satisfaction in my manner of cultivating it. I worked until farming was done, in the fall, when Mr. Harper finding he could not pay me the money according to contract, told me I might quit if I chose, and that as I had all the crops and stock in my possession, I could take from the full amount of my wages. Accordingly, I reserved enough to purchase three acres of land in Jefferson, and provision to support my family during the ensuing summer. In March, 1826, I walked fifteen miles to Jefferson, bought my three acres of land, chopped house logs and rolled up my house, and went back in one week. The next, I moved my family to my new home, chopping a road to it one mile north of the Court House. There were then only three log houses between the Court House and Ashtabula. Now there is a plank road the whole distance; the country is densely populated,

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    the onhabitants live in splendid mansions, the land is all improved, and the wilderness has truly been made to blossom as the rose.

    I immediately commenced clearing and improving my land, and preparing a piece for a garden. During this year, I engaged much of the time in clearing the heavy timber from my land, and fencing and improving it. In harvest, however, I worked out to provide hay and grain for the winter; I also peddled medicines and goods on commission, in the fall and winter. In April of this year, our fourth son was born.

    About this time, there began to arise a very great excitement on the subject of Free Masonry, both in church and State, and from the expositions of Free Masons themselves, some of whom I was personally acquainted with, and knew to have always sustained a good character for truth and veracity, it was obvious to my mind, that it was a wicked and dangerous institution, calculated to paralize civil justice, and to have the same effect on the christian church. Perhaps I was too credulous in the matter, but I am possessed of a very sanguine and decided temperament, and am especially warm when from my convictions, I am opposing evil or error. I therefore took an active part as an anti-Mason, religiously and politically. In our part of the country, the anti-Masons were largely in the majority. The churches were broken up, and completely divided on the subject -- so great was the excitement; and our county offices were all filled by anti-Masons. As it had been the custom for years, (and the practice has never ceased to gain ground,) for the party in power to reap the spoils, through the influence of the Sheriff, I received an appointment from the county court to act as a kind of deputy -- a post which was worth a small sum to me. I continued in this office nearly four years, and until I left the place. I was then a member of the Baptist church, in Jefferson, as were, also, my parents; and I still lived under the immediate influence of their good counsel. We had little trouble in our church, on account of Free Masonry, for we had but one

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    of the order among us, and he came out and renounced it, and publicly exposed their secret, wicked oaths and usages. Some of our sister churches, however, were rent asunder by the excitement.

    In the fall of 1826, and the spring of the following year, I set out some fruit trees on my land -- apples, pears, peaches, plums, etc. -- enough to make a fine little orchard. This year, with hard and constant labor, and with the sale of a horse and cow, I purchased materials, and paid the building of a fine, comfortable framed house. Schools were now beginning to be established throughout the country, to which we had the privilege of sending our children. This was most gratifying to us, although tuition was very high, and we had no public funds to assist us. Through the efforts of Mr. Joshua R. Giddings, and a few others, a house was built at the county seat, one mile from us, for a small Seminary and Primary school, under the same roof. Mr. Giddings is a very efficient man in the promotion of education, and is also a very kind and liberal man to the poor, the sick and the afflicted. Although a Lawyer, and a Member of Congress, yet he enjoys more of the affection of his neighbors, than commonly falls to the lot of his profession.

    In the fall of this year, I received the appointment of collector of delinquent taxes, for a part of the county, which yielded me a profit of about $1.50 per diem, for thirty days. This appointment I held fpur years in succession. In 1828 I finished my house; and in April of that year, our second daughter was born. Still the Lord was adding immortal souls to out charge, to train up for enjoyment in an eternal state with Him, and to add to our felicity here and hereafter: provided, that we filled the injunction laid upon us in training them. What a solemn and impressive reflection! The happiness of an immortal soul, in this life and the life which is to come, made to depend upon us! This year I bought three more acres of land, and paid for it by making a short piece of turnpike road. I also made a few other improvements on my land, and did some harvesting for myself and my neighbors. I made

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    some money in the fall, by gathering and selling cranberries. During the winter, I sold some medicines and goods on commission. In the spring of 1829 I fell into a great error, in buying a patent wright [sic] for a machine to make cider, which proved to be of no value. I lost three or four months in traveling to sell it, and made nothing. I had paid about fifty dollars for the right of one county, and did not get enough to save myself.

    This year, a great excitement prevailed among the Baptists of this region, respecting a new system of Baptist, or Christian principles, which was reported to have been gotten up by Elder Alexander Campbell, a champion of the Baptist cause, living in Virginia, it was said; that it was being propagated within the bounds of our association, that it was working the dissolution of all the Baptist churches in its way, and exerting a powerful influence on the other denominations; that votaries for it were multiplying by hundreds. We could not learn anything very definite in regard to this new system. As there was to be a meeting of the association of which Mr. Campbell was a member, and which was adjacent to our own association, a number of our brethren were delegated, agreeable to Baptist usages, to meet with them for correspondence. All being anxious to hear what the new theory was, we turned out en masse and went to the association. When we reached the place of meeting, we found a large multitude collected; the majority having probably come from the same motive that brought us.

    The usual business of the Association was dispensed with, and two or three days were spent in preaching. There were present Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott, and Sidney Rigdon -- all very talented men, and said to be advocates of the new theory; and there were also present a number of gifted Baptist elders or preachers. We all listened eagerly and attentively during the whole meeting, to hear something new; but we only heard the same old Scriptures presented -- perhaps more forcibly than ever before, in so short a time. Some

    146                                   LIFE  OF  JOHN  UDELL.                                  

    new ideas were advanced, but they were all so well sustained by the Word of God, that none, though repeated challenges were given, attempted to refute them. I could see no reason why I should doubt the truth of what was presented. I could see no reason why a reception of the doctrines advanced should cause a separation from the Baptist Church. But I concluded I would search the Scriptures more thoroughly, before I came to any decision in regard to the matter; and returned well satisfied with having gone forty miles to listen to such arguments and eloquence.

    In the spring and summer of 1830, I cleared and fenced as much of my sixteen acres as I wished to improve, and harvested, and did other work for my neighbors. In September, our third daughter was born. This year there was a great excitement among the Presbyterians, in some portions of the country. Protracted meetings of two and three weeks' duration, were held in different places, and the church was split up into divisions respectively called the New and Old School Presbyterians. New names and new sects arose, rendering imperative a deeper study of the Sacred Scriptures, that it might be seen whether the Lord had required or enjoined his Disciples to assume so many names and organizations, to represent the one Body of Christ.

    In the spring of 1831, I contracted for sixty acres of land in Madison, Geauga county, at the same time selling my sixteen acres in Jefferson, with my house and improvements, for payments to fall due with those I myself was to make. I moved my family to the new property, which was twenty miles from my former home, and one mile from Lake Erie, built a small house, and cleared, fenced, and planted six acres of corn, before the middle of June. I then commenced digging iron ore, drawing it to a neighboring furnace with my team, and continued in that business for one year -- of course doing my farm-work, meantime. Late in the fall, the man who had bought my Jefferson property informed me that he could not pay for it, and desired

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    me to take it back. I did so, and of course, was disabled from paying for the land I was on. Sold the improvements and contract for about cost, and bought two acres and a small house, as a residence for that winter, and took a deed of the property. The next spring (1832), I sold it, and moved back to Jefferson, in the hope that I should spend my days there, near my parents and kindred, and the Church to which I was so much attached.

    The following summer I was engaged in taking charge of my crops and orchard, and laboring for hire. In the fall a great reformation took place in Jefferson, under the influence of the Baptist Church. Many, bith old and young, came forward and related their experience, in accordance with Baptist custom, were received and baprized -- the Church nearly doubling its numbers. So great was the influence on the people, that our house of worship -- a large, framed school-building -- would not contain near all who thronged to it. Our meetings continued day and night, and deep interest and zeal was manifested by every one. W thought it advisable, under the present fervor and excitement, to build a House of Worship to the Lord, that all might be accomodated.

    The brethren agreed to send abroad, and solicit aid from their brethren in the older States, and as no one would go but the preacher, who could not be spared, so great was the work to be performed in the conversion of sinners, I offered to go, provided that the brethren would administer to the temporal wants of my family. Herein, I think, I committed the greatest error of my whole life -- leaving my wife and seven almost helpless children, (who were entirely dependent upon my daily labor,) for an indefinite time, to walk nearly two thousand miles, in the winter of a cold northern clime, through frost, and snow four feet deep, often breaking my own road, and begging door to door! I went to New York city and to Philadelphia by steamboat and stage to Albany. I perambulated these cities on foot, spending eleven days in New-York, and five in [Philadelphia]

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    (pages 148-167 not copied)

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    ... All this took place in the short space of eight months. But I thank and bless the Lord that a church was very soon raised up through the influence of seven brethren and sisters of the aggrieved number, (or, as they were called by a minority of the old church, schismatics,) with the Bible alone for their rule of faith and practice. I was among this number; and ere long, nearly half of those in the old church who still professed Christianity, joined us. Many young members, however, had become skeptical, probably from witnessing so much discord in the church. Meetings for trial were held, at which half the members were excluded from the privileges if fellowship, while others withdrew, and left the old professors in a very small minority. Among those who composed the new church, were some of the most talented, and what was still better, most pious, devout, and prayerful members of the old society; though a few were still left among them, who were an honor to the Christian cause. They, however, must have sorely repented the rash measures taken in our exclusion.

    We appointed brother Eben A. Mills elder and teacher of our little flock. He was a man of much greater talent and piety, and stood higher in the esteem of all who knew him, than Elder Silas Barnes, the pastor of the old church. He was also a great deal better Biblical scholar. The new church improved in knowledge of Bible truths, and has increased in numbers from that time to this, (a lapse of

                                      LIFE  OF  JOHN  UDELL.                                   169

    twenty-two years,) receiving accessions from the Presbyterians and Methodists, till they now stand powerful among the denominations around them. Meantime, the old church steadily decreased. I visited all the members who were alove a few months ago, but many had been laid low. I trust their immortal souls have gone where peace and tranquillity reign.

    But perhaps my readers are anxious to know the reason why so much difficulty arose in the old church, and why so many of its members were excluded. The records of that body, which are to be handed dpwn to all posterity, show the causes of these troubles, and may, I suppose, be inspected by any one. This work, however, may be read by hundreds whom distance denies access to the records; it becomes my duty toward myself and brethren and sisters excluded with me, to give the proceedings of those who excluded us, that the world may be enabled to judge whether, according to the law of God, our exclusion was just or unjust. For we appealed ro the law of God for our justification; and by that law it will plainly be seen hath no man condemned us, unless it forbids the reading of Alexander Campbell's "Millennial Harbinger." I have already given the proceedings of the first meetings on this subject, setting forth the origin of the difficulties; and I think it would be useless to give the doings of the many contentious meetings held -- some of them previous to my return. They were all so repugnant to good feeling and Christian forbearance, that my mind was affected, and I had spells of mental derangement for several months, -- rising in my sleep, and lecturing upon the great inconsistency of such strife and animosity among Christians, -- to the great annoyance of my family, and all unknown to myself.

    Below I copy the record of the exclusion of brother E. A. Mills -- one of the first victims of the proscription, and the most prominent member of the church:

    ( Copy. )

    "March 2d, 1833. It was then motioned and seconded

    170                                   LIFE  OF  JOHN  UDELL.                                  

    that as brother E. A. Mills will not consent to abandon the reading of Mr. Campbell's 'Millennial Harbinger,' which we think is leading him from the Gospel and the faith of the Regular Baptists, we withdraw from him the hand of fellowship. The vote was then tried, and carried by a considerable majority....

    (remainder not copied)

    Transcriber's Comments

    Elder John Udell (1795-1874)

    (under construction)

    An unemployed Iowa Baptist minister, Udell has the distinction of being one of the few gold seekers to make several trips to California, in 1850, 1852, 1854, and 1858, staying in the area after his last trip. His practice was to travel overland going out, stay a while and mine for gold, and then generally to return by sea. The book contains Udell's diary for January 1, 1850, through July 5, 1855, along with an account of his early activities and further comments on his trips to California and observations on Central America and Salt Lake City.

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