Wm. T. L. Travers
From New Zealand...
(Wellington: Edwards & Co., 1889)
FROM NEW ZEALAND.
L A K E M I C H I G A N.
W. T. LOCKE TRAVERS, F.L.S.
"PICTURESQUE NEW ZEALAND," "THE LIFE AND TIMES OF
TE RAUPARAHA, CHIEF OF THE NGATITOA," ETC., ETC.
WITH A MAP
Wellington, N. Z.:
EDWARDS & CO., PUBLISHERS, BRANDON STREET
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given to it by the Americans, in compliment to the Nestor of scientific travellers. It has two branches, which have their sources in a range of mountains to the west of the Great Salt Lake, and which unite after a course of about sixty miles. The river after running nearly parallel to and along the whole extent of the northern boundary of the desert, ends in a muddy lake, the borders of which are flat and whitened by saline incrustation. As it advances it loses much of its volume by evaporation, and during the summer season it rarely exceeds six feet in depth, but along its banks are deposits of alluvium, formed during floods, and which are cultivated by the settlers established along the line of the railway. There is no obstacle to its course for three hundred miles from the junction to the lake, and the construction of the Central Pacific Railway, therefore, involved but little work beyond the bridges necessary for crossing the river at Oreana, Peko, Deeth and Wells. Until this work was undertaken the line of the river served as the route for emigrants from the Eastern States to Upper California, and before the systematic settlement of that part of the country had been commenced, its valley was the rendezvous of the trappers, voyagears and agents of the great fur companies, who used to spend part of the winter there. Now, these "hardy children of the desert" pitch their tents in the valleys to the northward,
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whose streams go to swell the waters of the Columbia. We struck the river between Granite Point and Oreana, and it was more or less constantly in sight from thence until we left it at Wells. The weather during the journey was almost calm and extremely hot, the thermometer inside the cars ranging between 80 deg. and 85 deg. Fahrenheit. It was indeed fortunate that there was but little wind, as we were able to keep the windows of the cars open. The draught of air, however, was minimized by perforated screens, placed in the open spaces in order to prevent particles of the saline efflorescence which covers the surface of the ground, from finding its way into the eyes of the passengers. When this happens it is attended with acute pain, and there is even danger of the sight being permanently injured.
Nothing can exceed the generally barren character of the country we passed through, even at a very small distance from the actual river course, the only vegetation consisting of the sagebush and stunted shrubs, which are found all over the desert.
Early on the morning of the 14th we came in sight of the Great Salt Lake, which we skirted from Kelton to Ogden, arriving at the latter place at half-past eleven. Ogden owes much of its importance to the circumstance that it is the chief centre of the great railway system between the Atlantic and Pacific. It is the scene of one
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of Bret Harte's stirring poems, written in commemoration of the fact that here, in 1869, the junction was formed of the first line of rails connecting these two oceans --
"Pilots touching head to head,
Facing on a single track,
Half a continent at each back."
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one, the heat being excessive. A large extent of the country between Ogden and Salt Lake City is cultivated, the houses and farm buildings lying to the left, at the foot of the mountains, whose slopes are not far distant from the borders of the lake. The land is rich and the number of streams which flow from the mountains have enabled the cultivators to carry out a system of irrigation which materially adds to its productiveness. Nearing Salt Lake City we come upon a patch of sage bush, a remnant of the original desert, but this is soon passed, and the line enters upon one of the suburban streets of the city, in which each of the houses is situated in a garden densely filled with fruit trees and vegetables. Salt Lake City was founded in 1847, by Brigham Young, who with a party of pioneers had left Nauvoo in the previous year, and made their way across the Rocky mountains and through the passes of the Wahsatch to the banks of the Utah River, to which the name of the Jordan has since been given. Having selected a site for the future city they commenced at once to break up the ground for sowing and planting, for they were even then short of provisions, and their very lives depended upon their obtaining a supply before the winter set in. In order to overcome the extreme dryness and hardness of the ground, parched by the long summer's heat, the waters of City Creek Canon were led in channels to the community farm, and thus
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began a work which has converted a desert, yielding no food for man, into a district now distinguished by its wealth, beauty and productiveness. Without civilization Utah would still be the barren desert so graphically inscribed by Fremont, and it is not at all improbable that, but for the Mormon settlements, the completion of the great railway system, which now connects the two sides of the continent, would have been long delayed. It must be remembered, too, that at the date of the foundation of the city the territory of Utah was still under the government of Mexico, for it was not until the following year that it, in common with the rest of the country to the north of the present Mexican boundary, was ceded to the United States.
Within a few weeks after their arrival the colonists had built substantial log buildings and forts, and had planted upwards of a hundred acres with wheat, potatoes, etc. Owing to the lateness of the season, however, much of the produce was damaged by frosts, and their difficulties were aggravated by the arrival, in the fall, of some seven hundred waggons laden with people, who had but little left of the provisions with which they had started upon their journey. It was these difficulties which the energy of Brigham Young had to contend against, and which, through that energy, were successfully dealt with. In the following spring a large extent of ground was placed under crop, but a new danger
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threatened them, for the young crops were attacked by myriads of the black cricket and the people were almost in despair, when relief came in the shape of immense flocks of seagulls by which the ravages of the crickets were speedily checked, and the crops partly saved. This was not unnaturally pointed to by Brigham Young as a special interposition of Providence in favour of a people who had suffered much misery and persecution on account of their faith. Even as it was, provisions fell short during the winter, and the people were compelled to subsist for some time on roots and boiled hide.
Within a few years after the foundation of Salt Lake City, Brigham Young became anxious to establish a connection with the Pacific Sea Board, and in order to carry this into effect formed settlements along the western side of the Great Basin. These were established at Paysan, to the south of Utah Lake; at Manti, in the San Pete Valley; at Cedar city, sixty miles from Manti, and at various other places on the route towards the Mexican trail from Santa Fe to Los Angeles. His object was to place a line of settlements, in echelon, in this direction, and so by degrees to join the capital by a continuous chain of occupied stations with Los Angeles and San Diego. From Cedar city a well formed track was made through the Escalente desert, and from thence to the Rio Virgin, a feeder of the Colorado. There is now a railway from Springville to Frisco, a
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small town about fifty miles south of Sevier Lake, with a branch from Nephi to Manti, and several settlements have, within the last few years, been established between Frisco and the line of the Atlantic and Pacific railway. It is probable, therefore, that the line from Frisco to Springville will, in course of time, be extended through the Escalente desert, and along the western side of the valley of the Rio Virgin, so as to bring Salt Lake City into direct railway communication with Los Angeles.
The Mormon superstition presents so much that is curious, looking to the condition of society at the time when it was promulgated, that I make no apology for giving some account of it, and of the difficulties which its founders had to overcome before it became established on an apparently solid basis. Many years ago a person named Solomon Spalding -- a relation of the man who invented wooden nutmegs -- wrote a work to which he gave the name of "The Manuscript Found." This work purported to be an historical romance, founded upon supposed evidence that the North American Indians were the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. It professes to give a detailed account of their journey by land and sea from Jerusalem to America, under the leadership of leaders named Nephi and Lehi. These are said to have engaged in quarrels and contentions after their arrival in America, and to have separated, in consequence, into
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two distinct nations, one of which was denominated the Nephites, and the other the Lamanites.
Cruel and bloody wars between them are described, in which great multitudes were slain, the dead being buried in large heaps, which are said to constitute the mounds now so commonly found in North America, and their civilization and knowledge of the arts and sciences are dwelt upon, in order to account for the remarkable ruins and other curious antiquities found in various parts of the continent.
The book is written in the Biblical style, and commences almost every sentence with "And it came to pass," "Now, it came to pass," but although it exhibits some power of imagination, as well as a fair degree of scientific information, it was not considered likely to take with the public and remained for several years unnoticed, in the possession of Messrs. Patterson and Lambdin, printers, in Pittsburg.
Lambdin, one of the firm, having become bankrupt, determined to raise the wind by some book speculation, and on looking over the various manuscripts then in his possession, "The Manuscript Found," venerable in its dust, was, upon examination, looked upon as likely to prove a gold mine which would restore him to affluence. But his death put an end to the speculation, as far as his interests were concerned.
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Lambdin had intrusted the manuscript to a friend of his, one Sidney Rigdon, to embellish and alter, so as to render it more attractive to the general reader, but Lambdin's death having interfered with the original design, the manuscript remained unused, until, acting upon a sudden impulse, Rigdon who knew his countrymen's avidity for the marvellous, resolved to give to the world "The Manuscript Found," not as a mere work of imagination as its writer had intended it to be, but as a new code of revealed religion.
For some time Rigdon worked very hard, studying the Bible, and altering his book so as to homologate it in some degree with the former, and preaching sermons based upon the doctrines contained in the supposed revelation, by which means he excited a considerable amount of expectation and curiosity. The novelty and startling nature of the doctrines which he propounded prepared his hearers for that which was coming, but Rigdon soon perceiving the evils which his wild imposture was calculated to generate, recoiled from his task, not because of any sentiment of honesty, but because he was lacking in courage. He was a scoundrel, but a timorous one, and always in dread of the penitentiary. With him the propounding of Mormonism was intended as a mere money speculation, but foreseeing the further probable results of the intended imposture, he resolved to shelter
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himself behind some fool who might bear the whole odium of the imposture when unmasked, whilst he would reap the golden harvest and quietly retire before the coming of the storm. He selected one, the now celebrated Joseph Smith, for this purpose, but, as frequently happens, the tool he supposed he had found, though a perfectly unlettered man and quite as great a rogue as himself, became his master. Smith was a man of bold conception, full of courage and mental energy, one of those unprincipled, yet lofty, aspiring beings who, centuries past, would have succeeded as well as Mahomet, and who, even in this enlightened age, succeeded in bringing about one of the most remarkable events which has characterized the present century.
When it was too late to retract, Rigdon discovered that instead of securing the services of a mere bondsman, he had subjected himself to a superior will, to which he had himself become a slave bound by fear and interest, his two great guides through life. Smith, therefore, instead of Rigdon became the great religious and political leader, "the elect of God," followed and almost worshipped by thousands of enthusiastic disciples. The father of Joe Smith, as he was familiarly called, was one of a somewhat numerous class of persons then termed, in the west, "money diggers," living a vagrant life, imposing upon the credulous by pretending
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to the power of discovering concealed treasure, but who subsisted chiefly by stealing horses and cattle Joseph was the second son and a great favorite of his father, who stated everywhere that he possessed a species of second sight, which enabled him readily to discover where treasure had been hidden. His reputation in this respect was increased by the possession of a sacred stone, alleged to have been "the gift of God," on looking into which he pretended to learn whatever he wished to know. As this stone did much towards raising him to his high position, I here insert an affidavit made by one Nahum Howard [sic, Willard Chase?] relative to the manner in which it came into Smith's possession.
"Manchester, Ontario County,
"New York. 1833.
"I became acquainted with the Smith family, known as the authors of the Mormon Bible, in the Year 1820. At that time they were engaged in the money-digging business, which they followed until the latter part of the season of 1827.
"In the year 1822 I was engaged in digging a well; I employed Joe Smith to assist me. After digging about twenty feet below the surface of the earth, we discovered a singular looking stone, which excited my curiosity. I brought it to the top of the well, and as we were examining it, Joseph laid it in the crown of
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his hat, and then put his face into the top of his hat. It had been said by Smith that he got the stone from God, but this is false. The next morning Joe came to me and wished to obtain the stone, alleging that he could see in it; but I told him I did not wish to part with it, on account of its being a curiosity, but would lend it. After obtaining the stone he began to publish abroad what wonders he could discover by looking into it, and made so much disturbance among the credulous part of the community, that I ordered the stone to be returned to me again. He had it in his possession about two years. I believe, sometime in 1825, Hiram Smith (Joe's brother) came to me, and wished to borrow the same stone, alleging that they wanted to accomplish some business of importance, which could not very well be done without the aid of the stone. I told him it was no particular worth to me, but I merely wished to keep it as a curiosity, and if he would pledge me his word and honor that I should have it when called for, he might have it, which he did, and took the stone. I thought I could rely on his word at this time, as he had made a profession of religion, but in this I was disappointed, for he disregarded both his word and honor.
"In the fall of 1826 a friend called upon me and wished to see that stone about which so much had been said, and I told him if he would go with me to Smith's
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(a distance of about half a mile) he might see it. To my surprise, however, on asking Smith for the stone, he said, 'You cannot have it.' I told him it belonged to me; repeated to him the promise made to me at the time of obtaining the stone; upon which he faced me with a malignant look and said, 'I don't care who the devil it belongs to; you stall not have it."
"Signed, NAHUM HOWARD.
It will thus appear that Joe certainly had become -- to use a Yankee phrase -- "a smart man," and it was prophesied by the " old ones" that, provided he escaped hanging, he would certainly become a General at least, if he did not eventually reach the office of President of the States. But Joe's smartness soon became so great, that Palmyra, where his father usually resided, became too small for his talents and he determined to set off on his travels, and End a wider field for their exercise. In the fall of 1826, being then at Philadelphia, he resolved to get married to a young woman whom he had met in Pennsylvania, but being destitute of means, he set his wits to work to raise the necessary funds for the purpose, and at the same time to obtain such a recommendation to her parents -- who had exhibited some disinclination towards the intended union -- as would secure his success in his suit. He went to a respectable man named Lawrence, well-known to the girl's parents, and stated that he had discovered a very rich silver
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mine on the left bank of the Susquehanna River, and promised that if Lawrence would go there with him, and pay the expense of the journey, he should have a share in the undertaking; that the mine was near high water mark, and that they could put the silver into boats and take it down the river to Philadelphia and there dispose of it. Deceive'd by Smith's representations and promises, Lawrence gave credence to the story and agreed to advance the money necessary for the expedition. On reaching Harmony, Joseph was so strongly recommended by Lawrence that the parents of the young woman ultimately gave her to him in marriage, but of course nothing ever came of the supposed silver mine, and Lawrence had his trouble for his pains. Whilst following this mode of life Smith found his way to Pittsburg in the beginning of 1827, and there became acquainted with Rigdon. A great intimacy sprung up between them, the result of their intercourse being that Smith assumed a new character, which first revealed itself under the following circumstances. In the month of June of that year he went to a wealthy but credulous farmer, and told him the following story: --
"That some years before a spirit had appeared to him in a vision, and informed him that in a certain place there was a record on plates of gold, and that he was the person who must obtain them, which was to be
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done in the following manner: -- On the 22nd of September, he must repair to the place where these plates of gold, were deposited, dressed in black clothes, and riding a black horse with a switch tail, and demand the plates in a certain name; and that after obtaining them, he must immediately go away, and neither lay them down or look behind him."
The farmer, singularly enough, gave credit to this remarkable communication, fitted Smith out with a new suit of black clothes, and borrowed a black horse for his use. Joe (by his own account) repaired to the place of deposit and demanded the plates, which were said to be in a stone box unsealed, and so near the surface of the ground that he could see one end of it. Uncovering and raising up the lid, he took out the plates of gold, but fearing that some one might discover where he had got them, he laid them down in order that he might replace the lid as he had found it, when, moving round, to his surprise, the plates were nowhere to be seen. He again opened the box, and saw the plates in it; he attempted to take them out again but was unable to do so, and observed in the box something like a toad, which gradually assumed the appearance of a man and struck him on the side of the head. Not being discouraged at trifles, Joe stooped down and attempted to take the plates, when the spirit struck him again, knocking him backwards three or
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four rods, and hurting him very much. Recovering from his fright, he inquired of the spirit, why he could not take the plates; to which the spirit replied, "Because you have not obeyed your orders." He then inquired when he could have them, and was answered: "Came one year from this day, and bring with you your eldest brother; then you shall have them."
"This spirit," said Joseph, "was that of the prophet Moroni, who had engraved the plates, and had been sent to make known those things to me." Before the expiration of the year his eldest brother died; but notwithstanding his death, Smith returned to the place of deposit, and again demanded the plates. The spirit reappeared, and after having inquired for his brother and been informed that he was dead, commanded him to come again in another year from that day, and bring a certain man with him. On Smith's asking who might be the man, he was answered that he would know him when he saw him.
Thus, while Rigdon was connecting his new Bible and preaching his new doctrines, Smith was preparing the minds of the people for the appearance of something wonderful; and although he was known to be a drunken vagabond, he nevertheless succeeded in inspiring in hundreds of uneducated farmers a feeling of awe which they could not account for. I must pass over many details, interesting in themselves, but too long for
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insertion in this work. It is sufficient to say that after a time Smith gave out that he had obtained possession of the golden plates, and had received from Heaven a pair of spectacles, by means of which the unknown characters engraved upon them could be deciphered and their meaning translated into the vulgar tongue.
It may indeed seem strange that such absurd statements should have been credited, but the history of many minor superstitions which have arisen during the present century, even in an enlightened country like England, such as those of Johanna Southcote and Sir William Courtenay, shows to what an extent infatuation may be displayed under similar influences.
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unto them for a little season, until I, the Lord, provide for them a home." In the spring of 1831, Smith, Rigdon and others declared themselves directed by revelation to go on a journey to Missouri, where the Lord was to point out to them the place of the New Jerusalem. This journey was accordingly taken, and when they arrived a further revelation was announced, pointing out the town of Independence, in Jackson county, as the central spot of the land of promise, where they were directed to build a temple, etc., etc. After their return to Kirkland a number of revelations were received commanding the saints throughout the country to purchase and settle in the land of promise. Accordingly many went, and began to build up "Zion," as they called it. In 1831 a consecration law was established in the church by revelation. It was first published in the Book of Covenants, in the following words: -- "If thou lovest me, thou shalt keep my commandments, and thou shalt consecrate all thy properties unto me, with a covenant and deed which cannot be broken." This law, however, has been altered since that time. As modified, it reads thus: -- "If thou lovest me, thou shalt serve and keep all of my commandments, and, behold, thou shalt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken."
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In April, 1832, a firm was established by revelation, ostensibly for the benefit of the church, consisting of the principal members in Kirkland and Independence. They were bound together by an oath and covenant to manage the affairs of the poor and all things pertaining to the church, both in Zion and Shinakar, the name then given to Kirkland. In June, 1833, another revelation was received to lay off Kirkland in lots, and the proceeds of the sale were to go to this firm.
In 1834 or 1830 the firm was divided, under directions given in a revelation, so that those in Kirkland continued as one firm, and those in Missouri as another. In the same revelation they were commanded to divide the consecrated property between the individuals of the firm, which each separately was to manage as a steward.
Previous to this, a revelation had been received commanding the faithful to build a temple, which was to be done out of the consecrated funds, under the control of the two firms. In erecting this building the firm involved itself in debt to a large amount, to meet which, in the revelation last mentioned, the following appears: -- "Inasmuch as ye are humble and faithful, and call on my name, behold, I will give you the victory. I give unto you a promise that you shall be delivered this once out of your bondage, inasmuch as you obtain a chance to loan money by hundreds and
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thousands, even till you have obtained enough to deliver yourselves out of bondage."
This implied a command to borrow money in order to free themselves from the debt that oppressed them. The attempt to do so, however, failed, and this failure led to another expedient. In 1835, Smith, Rigdon, and others formed a mercantile house, and purchased goods in Cleveland and Buffalo to a very large amount on six months credit. In the fall other houses were formed, and goods purchased in the eastern cities to a still greater amount. A great part of the goods of these houses went to pay the workmen on the temple, and many were sold on credit, so that when the notes given for the goods became due they were dishonoured. Smith and Rigdon then attempted to borrow money by issuing their own notes payable at different periods after date. This expedient not being effectual, the idea of a bank suggested itself, and in l837 the "Kirkland Bank" was established, but without any charter.
This institution, by which so many were swindled, was formed after the following manner: -- Subscribers for stock were allowed to pay the amount of their subscriptions in town lots, at five or six times their real value; others paid in personal property at a high valuation, and some paid in cash. When the notes were first issued, they were current in the vicinity, and Smith took advantage of their credit to pay off with
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them the debts he and the brethren had contracted in the neighbourhood for land and other purchases. The eastern creditors, however, refused to take their notes.
This led to the expedient of exchanging them for the notes of other banks. Accordingly the elders were sent all over the country to barter Kirkland notes, which they did with great zeal, for those of other banks and succeeded in putting off a large amount, but this scheme exploded within a few months after its adoption, involving Smith and his brethren in very great difficulties. The consequence was that he and most of the members of the church set off, in the spring of 1838, for Missouri, pursued by their creditors, but to no effect. In the meantime the Mormons who had settled in and about Independence in 1831, having become very arrogant, claiming the whole country as their own, saying that the Lord had given it to them, had so exasperated the older citizens that a mob was raised and expelled the whole body. They fled to Clay County, where they were permitted to live in peace until 1836, when a spirit of antagonism towards them began to manifest itself, and they retired to a district then very thinly peopled, which the Missouri Legislature, in 1837, created into a county, by the name of Caldwell, with Far-West for its capital Here the Mormons remained in quiet until after the bank explosion in Kirkland, when they were joined by Smith,
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Rigdon and others of the heads of the sect. Shortly after this, the Danite Society was organised, the object of which was to drive the dissenters out of the country. The members of this society were bound by an oath and covenant, under penalty of death, to defend the presidency and each other unto death, right or wrong. After this body had been formed, notice was given to many of the dissenters to leave the county, and they were threatened severely in case of disobedience.
The effect of this was that many of the dissenters left; among these were David Whitmer, John Whitmer, Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery, all original witnesses to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and Lyman Johnson, one of the twelve apostles.
In the early part of the fall of the year 1838, the last disturbance between the Mormons and the Missourians commenced. It had its origin at an election in Davies county, where some of the Mormons were located. A citizen of Davies, in a conversation with a Mormon, remarked that the Mormons all voted one way; this was denied with warmth; a violent contest ensued, when, at last, the Mormon called the Missourian a liar. They came to blows, and the quarrel was followed by a tremendous row between the Mormons and the other Missourians.
A day or two after this, Smith, with a company of men from Far West, went into Davies County for the
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purpose, as he said, of quelling the mob; but when they arrived, the mob had dispersed. The citizens of Davies gathered in their turn; however, the Mormons soon collected a force to the amount of five hundred men, and compelled the citizens/to retire; they fled, leaving the country deserted for many miles around. At this time, the Mormons killed between two and three hundred hogs, and a number of cattle; took at least forty or fifty stands of honey, and at the same time destroyed several fields of corn. The word was given out that the Lord had consecrated the spoils unto his host.
All this was done when they had plenty of their own, and before the citizens in that section of the country had taken anything from them. They continued these depredations for near a week, when the Clay County Militia was ordered out. The contest was a bloody one, but finally Smith, Rigdon and many others were taken prisoners, and, at a Court of inquiry, were committed for trial. Rigdon was afterwards discharged on habeas corpus, and Smith and his comrades, after lying in prison for several months, escaped from their guards and reached Quincy in Illinois, where he joined the main body of his people, who, under orders from the Governor of Missouri, had evacuated that State in a body and arrived in a condition of great destitution and wretchedness. Their condition, with their tales of
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persecutions and privations, wrought powerfully upon the sympathies of the citizens, and caused them to be received with the greatest of hospitality and kindness. After the arrival of Smith, the greater part of the immigrants settled at Commerce on the Mississippi river, a site of great beauty. There they began to build, and in the short time of four years they had created a considerable city, to which Smith gave the name of Nauvoo.
For some years they were treated by the citizens of Illinois with respect and kindness, but their conduct at length became so unsatisfactory as to turn the tide of feeling against them. In the winter of 1840, they had applied to the state Legislature for several charters one for their "new city" of Nauvoo; one for the Nauvoo legion; one for manufacturing purposes, and one for the Nauvoo University.
The privileges which they asked for were very extensive, but such was the desire to secure their political support, that all were granted for the mere asking; indeed, the leaders of the Legislature seemed to have vied with each other in sycophancy towards this body of fanatical strangers, so anxious was each party to do them some favour which would secure their gratitude. Nauvoo, as already mentioned, was built on the bank of the Mississippi, in latitude 40 deg. 35 min. north, and was bounded on the north, south, and west by the river,
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which there forms a large curve, and is nearly two miles wide.
The surface of the ground was very uneven, though there were no great elevations. A few feet below the soil is a vast bed of limestone, from which excellent building material could be quarried to almost any extent. A number of tumuli, or ancient mounds, were found within the city limits, proving the site to have been a place of importance with the former inhabitants of the country.
The space comprised was about four miles in its extreme length, and three in breadth; but the city itself was very irregular in outline, and did not cover so much ground as the above measurement would seem to indicate. It was regularly laid out, the streets crossing each other at right angles, and generally of considerable length and convenient width. The majority of the houses were nothing more than log cabins, but there were, nevertheless, a great number of plank and brick buildings. The chief edifices were the temple, and an hotel called the Nauvoo House, the latter being of brick on a stone foundation, presenting a front of one hundred and twenty feet, by sixty feet deep, and being three stories high, exclusive of the basement.
The temple was a splendid structure of stone, quarried within the bounds of the city; its breadth was eighty feet, and its length one hundred and forty,
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independent of an outer court of thirty feet, making the length of the whole structure one hundred and seventy feet. In the basement of the temple was the baptismal font, constructed in imitation of the famous brazen sea of Solomon; it was supported by twelve oxen, well modeled and overlaid with gold. Upon the sides of the font, in panels, were represented various scriptural subjects, well painted. The upper story of the temple was used as a lodge room for the Order Lodge and other secret societies. In the body of the temple, where the congregation assembled, were two sets of pulpits, one for the priesthood and the other for the grandees of the church. The cost of this edifice was defrayed by tithing the whole Mormon denomination. Those who resided at Nauvoo, and were able to labour, were obliged to work every tenth day in quarrying stone, or upon the building of the temple itself.
Nauvoo is a Hebrew word, and signifies a beautiful habitation for a man, carrying with it the idea of rest. It was not, however, considered by the Mormons as their final home, but as a resting place, and they only intended to remain there until they had gathered force sufficient to enable them to conquer Independence in Missouri, which they looked upon as one of the most fertile, pleasant, and desirable countries on the face of the earth, possessing a soil and climate unsurpassed by any other region. Independence they looked upon as
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their Zion, where they desired ultimately to rear their great temple, the corner stone of which had been already laid. There was to be the great ultimate gathering place for the saints; and, in that delightful and healthy country, they expected to find their Eden and build their New Jerusalem. In the present aspect of their affairs, however, it is somewhat more than doubtful whether their anticipations will ever be realised.
The design of Rigdon at the time of the first publication of the Book of Mormon had, as already mentioned, nothing more than pecuniary advantage in view, and, indeed, it can scarcely be supposed that he and those who were associated with him could have anticipated the ultimate result of the venture. When, however, the delusion began to spread, he and his coadjutors saw the door opened not only for wealth but also for extensive power, and the following letter written from Nauvoo, in 1842, by an officer in the United States artillery, shows how rapidly they had succeeded in their design to acquire both: --
"Yesterday (July the 10th) was a great day among the Mormons; their legion, to the number of three thousand men, was reviewed by Generals Smith, Bennet and others, and certainly made a very noble and imposing appearance; the evolutions of the troops commanded by Joe would do honor to any body of regular soldiers in England, France or Russia. What
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does this mean? Why this exact discipline of the Mormon corps? Do they intend to conquer Missouri, Illinois, Mexico? It is true they are part of the militia of the state of Illinois by the charter of their legion, but then there are no troops in the State like them in point of discipline and enthusiasm; and, led on by ambitious and talented officers, what may not be effected by them? Perhaps the subversion of the constitution of the United States, and, if this should be considered too great a task, foreign conquest will most certainly be attempted.
"The northern provinces of Mexico will fall into their hands, even if Texas should first take possession of them. These Mormons are accumulating like a snowball rolling down an inclined plane. They are also enrolling among their officers some of the first talent in the country, by titles which they give and by money which they can command.
"They have appointed Captain Henry [sic] Bennet, late of the United States army, Inspector-General of their legion, and he is commissioned as such by Governor Carlin. This gentlemen is known to be well skilled in fortification, gunnery and military engineering generally; and I am assured that he is receiving regular pay, derived from the tithing of this warlike people. I have seen his plans for fortifying Nauvoo, which are equal to any of Vaughan's. General John C. Bennet (a
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New Englandman) is the prophet's great gun. They call him, though a man of diminutive stature, the "forty-two pounder." He might have applied his talents in a more honorable cause; but I am assured that he is well paid for the important services he is rendering this people, or, I should rather say, rendering the prophet. This gentleman exhibits the highest degree of field military talent (field tactics) united with extensive learning. He may yet become dangerous to the states. He was Quarter-Master General of the State of Illinois, and, at another time, a professor in the Erie University. It will, therefore, be seen that nothing but a high price could have secured him to these fanatics. Only a part of their officers and professors are Mormons; but then they are united by a common interest, and will act together on main points to a man. Those who are not Mormons when they come here very soon become so, either from interest or conviction.
"The Smiths are not without talent; Joe, the chief, is a noble-looking fellow, a Mahomet, every inch of him; the postmaster, Sidney Rigdon, is a lawyer, a philosopher and a saint. The other generals are also men of talent, and some of them men of learning. I have no doubt they are all brave, as they are most unquestionably ambitious, and the tendency of their religious creed is to annihilate all other sects. We
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may, therefore, see the time when this gathering host of religious fanatics will make this country shake to its centre. A western empire is certain. Ecclesiastical history presents no parallel to this people, inasmuch as they are establishing their religion on a learned basis. In their college, they teach all the sciences, with Latin Greek, Hebrew, French, Italian and Spanish; the mathematical department is under an extremely able professor, under the name of Pratt, and a professor of Trinity College, Dublin, is president of their University. I arrived here, incog., on the 1st inst., and, from the great preparations for the military parade, was induced to stay and see the turn-out, which, I confess, has astonished and filled me with fears for the future consequences. The Mormons, it is true, are now peaceable, but the lion is asleep. Take care, and don't rouse him. The city of Nauvoo contains about fifteen thousand souls, and is rapidly increasing. It is well laid out, and the municipal affairs appear to be well conducted. The adjoining country is a beautiful prairie. Who will say that the Mormon prophet is not among the great spirits of the age?
"The Mormons number, in Europe and America, about one hundred and fifty thousand, and are constantly pouring into Nauvoo and the neighbouring country. There are probably in and about this city, at a short distance from the river, not far from thirty thousand of
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these warlike fanatics, and it is but a year since they have settled in Illinois."
In 1845 [sic] Smith promulgated an alleged revelation, under which the practice of polygamy was established by divine authority as part of the Mormon doctrine. This excited great indignation, and was severely attacked by one Foster, in a newspaper published at Nauvoo. In consequence of strong articles in this paper denouncing the immorality of the new doctrines, Smith and his people attacked and destroyed Foster's printing office, for which act of violence he and his brother Hyram and several others were lodged in jail, under warrant, but so incensed were the inhabitants of the State, that they attacked the jail and shot the two Smiths. Brigham Young was then elected President, but the State Legislature having immediately afterwards revoked all their charters, the Mormons made preparations for leaving. Before these were completed they were forcibly expelled and their temple destroyed, and they at once determined to settle in the Far West. Brigham Young, as already mentioned, led the pioneer party, which underwent very serious hardships before they found rest at Utah.
In 1849 they constituted their new settlement at Utah into a territory, to which they gave the name of Deseret, meaning "the land of the honey bee." The Government of the United States, however, refused to
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recognise their act, though ultimately they formally created the territory of Utah, with Brigham Young as Governor. After this there were many contests between the general Government and the Mormon leaders, which culminated in the brutal murder of a large band of emigrants at Mountain Meadows, by a party of Mormons and Indians under the leadership of John D. Lee, one of the bishops of the new church. For this act he was afterwards tried and executed, and ultimately submission to the general laws of the republic was enforced by the army which entered the Territory in 1858.
In 1882 the general Legislature declared polygamy to be criminal and subjected those who practiced it to a variety of disabilities; but the provisions of the act then passed were evaded and disregarded. In 1887, however, the legislation was more drastic, for it abolished all the state laws giving protection to polygamy, made the wife a competent witness on trials for that offence, required all marriages to be entered in a public record, disinherited all illegitimate children, cancelled the charters of the Mormon church, confiscated all real property of the church except places of worship and parsonages, and devoted the proceeds which arose from its sale to ordinary educational purposes. In order that these laws might not be evaded, the higher judicial officers are appointed by the general Government, and,
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above all, a strong force of troops is permanently stationed at Fort Douglas, the guns of which command the whole city.
These stringent measures have already brought about very wholesome results, and the day is not distant, when practices so repulsive to civilized ideas as those in which the higher dignitaries of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" thought fit to indulge, will become things of the past, and "the faithful" (as they call themselves,) will live lives more in accordance with the ordinary ideas of a civilised people.
In the matter of hotels there is but little choice in Salt Lake City, the chief ones being the Walker House and the Continental. The former is pretentious and noisy, and the latter quiet, but not particularly nice or well managed. We chose the Continental, which had the merit of having a spacious upper verandah, shaded by lime trees, affording a pleasant retreat from the glare and heat of the sun.
The city is well laid out on the gently sloping ground between the mountains and the river Jordan, and has an area of several thousand acres. The streets are all two chains wide, including the side walks, which are twenty feet in width. They are nearly all bordered with lime or other deciduous trees, which afford a grateful shade, and give the city a pleasing appearance during the summer season, whilst the constant flow of
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water in the side channels, adds, apparently, if not really, to the sense of coolness which pervades it. The city stands at an elevation of about 4500 feet above sea level, which is some 250 feet above the general level of the plains of the Great Basin. The climate is good, the mean summer heat not exceeding 74 deg. to 76 deg., which, owing to the general dryness of the air is found not to be oppressive. Indeed, sunstroke is rare, although in July and August the thermometer occasionally reaches above 90 deg. As in all elevated districts the nights are cool and pleasant, affording a marked contrast in this respect to the climate of the cities to the east of the Mississippi.
Amongst the public buildings which all strangers visit are those within the Temple Block, namely, the Temple itself, which is yet unfinished, the Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall and the Endowment House. The Temple is in all respects a remarkable structure. It is being built entirely of beautiful highly polished gray granite, and, when finished, will be a massive and handsome building. The Tabernacle is a very peculiar structure, but, like all the buildings designed by Brigham Young, is especially well adapted for the purpose for which it was designed. It is elliptical in shape, 250 feet long by 150 feet wide, and 80 feet in height from floor to ceiling at its highest part. The roof is an oval arch, without any centre support, and
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is said to be the largest of the kind constructed of wood. It rests upon 44 sandstone pillars, each 3 ft. by 9 ft. in size, and from 14 ft. to 20 ft. in height. A gallery extends round the building, except at the west end, and has an aggregate length of 480 ft. by 30 ft. in width. The whole building affords seating capacity for 12,000 persons. It has twenty doors, most of which; are nine feet wide, and all opening outwards, so that an audience of from 9,000 to 10,000 persons can gain egress in a few minutes. The organ is very large and handsome, and is said to be exceeded by none in the United States in sweetness and volume of tone. It was constructed in the City, under the direction of Mr. Joseph Ridges. Its front towers are 58 ft. high, and it measures on the base 33 ft. by 30 ft. But the most peculiar feature in the building is its remarkable acoustic properties. A person speaking at ordinary conversation pitch can be heard, with the utmost distinctness, all over it even when filled with people. When there is perfect stillness, the fall of a pin into a hat at one end of it is clearly heard at the other. The Assembly Hall is a handsome building, having the appearance of an ordinary church. The Museum contains a highly interesting collection, illustrating the varied productions of the Territory, including fine specimens of native minerals and ores, collections illustrative of the natural history of the country, Indian
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curiosities, specimens of manufactures and art -- shewing their gradual development amongst the Mormon settlers -- besides large miscellaneous collections made by missionaries in their proselyting travels. As already mentioned, it also contains the boat in which Fremont and Kit Carson made their adventurous voyage on the Lake. The Hospitals, Churches, City Hall, Walker's Opera House, Salt Lake Theatre, and many of the other public buildings are large and substantial. The most remarkable institution, however, from an economic point of view, is the Zion Co-operative Mercantile Institution, familiarly known as the "Big Co-op." It was organized by Brigham Young in 1868, and commenced business in the following year. It has branches in Ogden, Logan, and Soda Springs; and its business is enormous, and is said, indeed, to have amounted to £1,250,000 in 1887. The main building has a depth of 319 ft., and a frontage of 98 ft. It has four stories including cellars, and the stock of goods at last stock-taking amounted in value to £375,000. Connected with it are a large tannery and boot, shirt, overall and jumper manufactories, the whole employing upwards of three hundred hands. There are many other manufacturing establishments carrying on extensive business in almost every branch of civilized industry, including glass and chemical works, silk and woollen mills, sash, door and moulding works, brass and iron foundries,
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and engine and boiler works, all of which appeared to be in full swing. The water works are extensive and admirably arranged. The supply from City Creek Canyon alone reaches 1,000,000 gallons per hour, and that portion which is intended for domestic supply is taken from the creek by a flume, to three distributing and filtering tanks having a combined capacity of 300,000 gallons. These tanks stand at an elevation of 185 ft. above the city, and give an effective pressure of 86 lbs. to the inch. The average daily water supply by pipes is in summer 8,000,000, and in winter 2,400,000 gallons. The total cost of the works has been £106,000; the annual expenditure is £1200, and the revenue £7500.
There are two large bathing establishments within reach of the city, namely, Garfield Beach about 20 miles away on the line of the Utah and Nevada Railway, and Lake Park on the edge of the Great Salt Lake, which has also beautifully laid out pleasure grounds connected with it, and is reached by the Denver and Rio Grande Railway. Ample accommodation for visitors is to be found at both places, but care must be exercised, whilst bathing, not to allow the water to enter either the mouth or nostrils, for, owing to its extreme salinity, it is apt to produce serious effects.
One of the most beautiful and interesting points in the vicinity of the city is Fort Douglas, the site of the
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military barracks, built on part of the old lake margin, which lies on the slopes of the Wahsatch at an elevation of 500 feet above the general level of the city. The fort and grounds are tastefully laid out and planted, the waters of a small stream, which here cuts through the old lake margin, facilitating the culture of all kinds of trees, shrubs and flowers. From this spot a magnificent view is obtained. To the right and left stretch the great mountain chain of the Wahsatch, its higher peaks covered with snow; below lies the city, apparently embowered in groves of trees; beyond it, on the left, is the valley of the Jordan, looking rich and green and dotted all over with the residences of the farming population, whilst the river itself looks like a narrow blue band running through the broad extent of cultivated ground. Still further away rises the Oquirrh Mountain, snow-capped, and with its summit often veiled by fleecy clouds; towards the right lies the Great Dead Sea of America, with its many mountain islands rising from the broad expanse of deep blue water, the whole scene closed in by the more distant ranges of the Great Basin. The air at that additional elevation was cool and pleasant, and it was with regret that I was compelled to return, even to the shaded walks of the streets of Utah.
There is much to interest the traveller both in the city and in the districts immediately around it, but the
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time at my disposal was quite insufficient to permit of my seeing more than I have actually described. Moreover, all the most remarkable physical features of the country between the Missouri and Sierra Nevada are within easy reach from it: the gorges of the Timpanogos, Wahsatch, and Uintah Mountains; the beautiful valley of the Bear River, with its remarkable volcano phenomena; the line of lakes from the Great Salt Lake to the former bed of the Sevier; the stupendous chain of the Rocky Mountains, with its wonderful parks and its extensive mining establishments; the extraordinary Canyons of the Gunnison and Arkansas, and, above all, those of the Colorado -- all of which, and many other remarkable scenes, are connected with Salt Lake City by rail. Not less interesting are the changes effected by the industry of the Mormons in the aspect of the country to the north and south of their principal city, -- changes which are forcibly brought to notice by the portions of still unredeemed desert through which the lines of railway occasionally pass. Were I, indeed, asked to select a point from which the greatest extent of interesting country in America might best be visited, I should unhesitatingly name Salt Lake City.