Progress Of The Settlement

With the arrival of the later companies from Winter Quarters the

population of the city was increased by the winter of 1848 to

about five thousand, or more than one-quarter of those who went

out from Nauvoo. The settlers then had three sawmills, one

flouring mill, and a threshing machine run by water, another

sawmill and flour mill nearly completed, and several mills under

way for the manufacture of sugar from corn stalks.

Brigham Young, again on the ground, took the lead at once in

pushing on the work. To save fencing, material for which was hard

to obtain, a tract of eight thousand acres was set apart and

fenced for the common use, within which farmhouses could be

built. The plan adopted for fencing in the city itself was to

enclose each ward separately, every lot owner building his share.

A stone council house, forty-five feet square, was begun, the

labor counting as a part of the tithe; unappropriated city lots

were distributed among the new-comers by a system of drawing, and

the building of houses went briskly on, the officers of the

church sharing in the labor. A number of bridges were also

provided, a tax of one per cent being levied to pay for them.

Among the incidents of the winter mentioned in an epistle of the

First Presidency was the establishment of schools in the

different wards, in which, it was stated, "the Hebrew, Greek,

Latin, French, German, Tahitian and English languages have been

taught successfully"; and the organization of a temporary local

government, and of a Stake of Zion, with Daniel Spencer as

president. It was early the policy of the church to carry on an

extended system of public works, including manufacturing

enterprises. The assisted immigrants were expected to repay by

work on these buildings the advance made to them to cover their

travelling expenses. Young saw at once the advantage of starting

branches of manufacture, both to make his people independent of a

distant supply and to give employment to the population. Writing

to Orson Pratt on October 14, 1849, when Pratt was in England, he

said that they would have the material for cotton and woollen

factories ready by the time men and machinery were prepared to

handle it, and urged him to send on cotton operatives and "all

the necessary fixtures." The third General Epistle spoke of the

need of furnaces and forges, and Orson Pratt, in an address to

the Saints in Great Britain, dated July 2, I850, urged the

officers of companies "to seek diligently in every branch for

wise, skilful and ingenious mechanics, manufacturers, potters,


* The General Epistle of April, 1852, announced two potteries in

operation, a small woollen factory begun, a nail factory, wooden

bowl factory, and many grist and saw mills. The General Epistle

of October, 1855, enumerated, as among the established

industries, a foundery, a cutlery shop, and manufactories of

locks, cloth, leather, hats, cordage, brushes, soap, paper,

combs, and cutlery.

The General Conference of October, 1849, ordered one man to build

a glass factory in the valley, and voted to organize a company to

transport passengers and freight between the Missouri River and

California, directing that settlements be established along the

route. This company was called the Great Salt Lake Valley

Carrying Company. Its prospectus in the Frontier Guardian in

December, 1849, stated that the fare from Kanesville to Sutter's

Fort, California, would be $300, and the freight rate to Great

Salt Lake City $12.50 per hundredweight, the passenger wagons to

be drawn by four horses or mules, and the freight wagons by oxen.

But the work of making the new Mormon home a business and

manufacturing success did not meet with rapid encouragement.

Where settlements were made outside of Salt Lake City, the people

were not scattered in farmhouses over the country, but lived in

what they called "forts," squalid looking settlements, laid out

in a square and defended by a dirt or adobe wall. The inhabitants

of these settlements had to depend on the soil for their

subsistence, and such necessary workmen as carpenters and

shoemakers plied their trade as they could find leisure after

working in the fields. When Johnston's army entered the valley in

1858, the largest attempt at manufacturing that had been

undertaken there--a beet sugar factory, toward which English

capitalists had contributed more than $100,000--had already

proved a failure. There were tanneries, distilleries, and

breweries in operation, a few rifles and revolvers were made from

iron supplied by wagon tires, and in the larger settlements a few

good mechanics were kept busy. But if no outside influences had

contributed to the prosperity of the valley, and hastened the day

when it secured railroad communication, the future of the people

whom Young gathered in Utah would have been very different.

A correspondent of the New York Tribune, on his way to

California, writing on July 8, 1849, thus described Salt Lake

City as it presented itself to him at that time:-- "There are no

hotels, because there had been no travel; no barber shops,

because every one chose to shave himself and no one had time to

shave his neighbor; no stores, because they had no goods to sell

nor time to traffic; no center of business, because all were too

busy to make a center. There was abundance of mechanics' shops,

of dressmakers, milliners and tailors, etc., but they needed no

sign, nor had they any time to paint or erect one, for they were

crowded with business. Besides their several trades, all must

cultivate the land or die; for the country was new, and no

cultivation but their own within 1000 miles. Everyone had his lot

and built on it; every one cultivated it, and perhaps a small

farm in the distance. And the strangest of all was that this

great city, extending over several square miles, had been

erected, and every house and fence made, within nine or ten

months of our arrival; while at the same time good bridges were

erected over the principal streams, and the country settlements

extended nearly 100 miles up and down the valley."*

* New York Tribune, October 9, 1849.

The winter of 1848 set in early and severe, with frequent

snowstorms from December 1 until late in February, and the

temperature dropping one degree below zero as late as February 5.

The deep snow in the canons, the only outlets through the

mountains, rendered it difficult to bring in fuel, and the

suffering from the cold was terrible, as many families had

arrived too late to provide themselves with any shelter but their

prairie wagons. The apprehended scarcity of food, too, was

realized. Early in February an inventory of the breadstuffs in

the valley, taken by the Bishops, showed only three-quarters of a

pound a day per head until July 5, although it was believed that

many had concealed stores on hand. When the first General Epistle

of the First Presidency was sent out from Salt Lake City in the

spring of 1849,* corn, which had sold for $2 and $3 a bushel, was

not to be had, wheat had ranged from $4 to $5 a bushel, and

potatoes from $6 to $20, with none then in market.

* Millennial Star, Vol. XI, p. 227.

The people generally exerted themselves to obtain food for those

whose supplies had been exhausted, but the situation became

desperate before the snow melted. Three attempts to reach Fort

Bridger failed because of the depth of snow in the canons. There

is a record of a winter hunt of two rival parties of 100 men

each, but they killed "varmints" rather than game, the list

including 700 wolves and foxes, 20 minks and skunks, 500 hawks,

owls and magpies, and 1000 ravens.* Some of the Mormons, with the

aid of Indian guides, dug roots that the savages had learned to

eat, and some removed the hide roofs from their cabins and stewed

them for food. The lack of breadstuffs continued until well into

the summer, and the celebration of the anniversary of the arrival

of the pioneers in the valley, which had been planned for July 4,

was postponed until the 24th, as Young explained in his address,

"that we might have a little bread to set on our tables."

* General Epistle, Millennial Star, Vol. XI, p. 227.

Word was now sent to the states and to Europe that no more of the

brethren should make the trip to the valley at that time unless

they had means to get through without assistance, and could bring

breadstuffs to last them several months after their arrival.

But something now occurred which turned the eyes of a large part

of the world to that new acquisition of the United States on the

Pacific coast which was called California, which made the Mormon

settlement in Utah a way station for thousands of travellers

where a dozen would not have passed it without the new incentive,

and which brought to the Mormon settlers, almost at their own

prices, supplies of which they were desperately in need, and

which they could not otherwise have obtained. This something was

the discovery of gold in California.

When the news of this discovery reached the Atlantic states and

those farther west, men simply calculated by what route they

could most quickly reach the new El Dorado, and the first

companies of miners who travelled across the plains sacrificed

everything for speed. The first rush passed through Salt Lake

Valley in August, 1849. Some of the Mormons who had reached

California with Brannan's company had by that time arrived in the

valley, bringing with them a few bags of gold dust. When the

would-be miners from the East saw this proof of the existence of

gold in the country ahead of them, their enthusiasm knew no

limits, and their one wish was to lighten themselves so that they

could reach the gold-fields in the shortest time possible. Then

the harvest of the Mormons began. Pack mules and horses that had

been worth only $25 or $30 would now bring $200 in exchange for

other articles at a low price, and the travellers were auctioning

off their surplus supplies every day. For a light wagon they did

not hesitate to offer three or four heavy ones, with a yoke of

oxen sometimes thrown in. Such needed supplies as domestic

sheetings could be had at from five to ten cents a yard, spades

and shovels, with which the miners were overstocked, at fifty

cents each, and nearly everything in their outfit, except sugar

and coffee, at half the price that would have been charged at

wholesale in the Eastern states.*

* Salt Lake City letter to the Frontier Guardian.

The commercial profit to the Mormons from this emigration was

greater still in 1850, when the rush had increased. Before the

grain of that summer was cut, the gold seekers paid $1 a pound

for flour in Salt Lake City. After the new grain was harvested

they eagerly bought the flour as fast as five mills could grind

it, at $25 per hundredweight. Unground wheat sold for $8 a

bushel, wood for $10 a cord, adobe bricks for more than seven

shillings a hundred, and skilled mechanics were getting twelve

shillings and sixpence a day.* At the same time that the

emigrants were paying so well for what they absolutely required,

they were sacrificing large supplies of what they did not need on

almost any terms. Some of them had started across the plains with

heavy loads of machinery and miscellaneous goods, on which they

expected to reap a big profit in California. Learning, however,

when they reached Salt Lake City, that ship-loads of such

merchandise were on their way around the Horn, the owners

sacrificed their stock where it was, and hurried on to get their

share of the gold.

* Millennial Star, Vol. XII, p. 350.

This is not the place in which to tell the story of that rush of

the gold seekers. The clerk at Fort Laramie reported, "The total

number of emigrants who passed this post up to June 10, 1850,

included 16,915 men, 235 women, 242 children, 4672 wagons, 14,974

horses, 4641 mules, 7475 oxen, and 1653 cows." A letter from

Sacramento dated September 10, 1850, gave this picture of the

trail left by these travellers: "Many believed there are dead

animals enough on the desert (of 45 miles) between Humboldt Lake

and Carson River to pave a road the whole distance. We will make

a moderate estimate and say there is a dead animal to every five

feet, left on the desert this season. I counted 153 wagons within

a mile and a half. Not half of those left were to be seen, many

having been burned to make lights in the night. The desert is

strewn with all kinds of property--tools, clothes, crockery,

harnesses, etc."

Naturally, in this rush for sudden riches, many a Mormon had a

desire to join. A dozen families left Utah for California early

in 1849, and in March, 1851, a company of more than five hundred

assembled in Payson, preparatory to making the trip. Here was an

unexpected danger to the growth of the Mormon population, and one

which the head of the church did not delay in checking. The

second General Epistle, dated October 12, 1849,* stated that the

valley of the Sacramento was unhealthy, and that the Saints could

do better raising grain in Utah, adding, "The true use of gold is

for paving streets, covering houses, and making culinary dishes,

and when the Saints shall have preached the Gospel, raised grain,

and built up cities enough, the Lord will open up the way for a

supply of gold, to the perfect satisfaction of his people."

* Millennial Star, Vol. XII, p. 119.

Notwithstanding this advice, a good many Mormons acted on the

idea that the Lord would help those who helped themselves, and

that if they were to have golden culinary dishes they must go and

dig the gold. Accordingly, we find the third General Epistle,

dated April 12, 1850, acknowledging that many brethren had gone

to the gold mines, but declaring that they were counselled only

"by their own wills and covetous feelings," and that they would

have done more good by staying in the valley. Young did not,

however, stop with a mere rebuke. He proposed to check the

exodus. "Let such men," the Epistle added, "remember that they

are not wanted in our midst. Let such leave their carcasses where

they do their work; we want not our burial grounds polluted with

such hypocrites." Young was quite as plain spoken in his remarks

to the General Conference that spring, naming as those who "will

go down to hell, poverty-stricken and naked," the Mormons who

felt that they were so poor that they would have to go to the

gold mines.* Such talk had its effect, and Salt Lake Valley

retained most of its population.

* Millennial Star, Vol. XII, p. 274,

The progress of the settlement received a serious check some

years later in the failure of the crops in 1855, followed by a

near approach to a famine in the ensuing winter. Very little

reference to this was made in the official church correspondence,

but a picture of the situation in Salt Lake City that winter was

drawn in two letters from Heber C. Kimball to his sons in

England.* In the first, written in February, he said that his

family and Brigham Young's were then on a ration of half a pound

of bread each per day, and that thousands had scarcely any

breadstuff at all. Kimball's family of one hundred persons then

had on hand about seventy bushels of potatoes and a few beets and

carrots, "so you can judge," he says, "whether we can get through

until harvest without digging roots." There were then not more

than five hundred bushels of grain in the tithing office, and all

public work was stopped until the next harvest, and all mechanics

were advised to drop their tools and to set about raising grain.

"There is not a settlement in the territory," said the writer,

"but is also in the same fix as we are. Dollars and cents do not

count in these times, for they are the tightest I have ever seen

in the territory of Utah." In April he wrote: "I suppose one-half

the church stock is dead. There are not more than one-half the

people that have bread, and they have not more than one-half or

one quarter of a pound a day to a person. A great portion of the

people are digging roots, and hundreds and thousands, their teams

being dead, are under the necessity of spading their ground to

put in their grain." The harvest of 1856 also suffered from

drought and insects, and the Deseret News that summer declared

that "the most rigid economy and untiring, well-directed industry

may enable us to escape starvation until a harvest in 1857, and

until the lapse of another year emigrants and others will run

great risks of starving unless they bring their supplies with

them." The first load of barley brought into Salt Lake City that

summer sold for $2 a bushel.

* Ibid., Vol. XVIII, pp. 395-476.

The first building erected in Salt Lake City in which to hold

church services was called a tabernacle. It was begun in 1851,

and was consecrated on April 6, 1852. It stood in Temple block,

where the Assembly Hall now stands, measuring about 60 by 120

feet, and providing accommodation for 2500 people. The present

Tabernacle, in which the public church services are held, was

completed in 1870. It stands just west of the Temple, is

elliptical in shape, and, with its broad gallery running around

the entire interior, except the end occupied by the organ loft

and pulpit, it can seat about 9000 persons. Its acoustic

properties are remarkable, and one of the duties of any guide who

exhibits the auditorium to visitors is to station them at the end

of the gallery opposite the pulpit, and to drop a pin on the

floor to show them how distinctly that sound can be heard.

The Temple in Salt Lake City was begun in April, 1853, and was

not dedicated until April, 1893. This building is devoted to the

secret ceremonies of the church, and no Gentile is ever admitted

to it. The building, of granite taken from the near-by mountains,

is architecturally imposing, measuring 200 by 100 feet. Its cost

is admitted to have been about $4,000,000. The building could

probably be duplicated to-day for one-half that sum. The excuse

given by church authorities for the excessive cost is that,

during the early years of the work upon it, the granite had to be

hauled from the mountains by ox teams, and that everything in the

way of building material was expensive in Utah when the church

there was young. The interior is divided into different rooms, in

which such ceremonies as the baptism for the dead are performed;

the baptismal font is copied after the one that was in the Temple

at Nauvoo.

There are three other temples in Utah, all of which were

completed before the one in Salt Lake City, namely, at St.

George, at Logan, and at Manti.

Preparations For The Long March Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail