The John Taylor Papers, by Samuel W. & Raymond W. Taylor Volume I, The Apostle

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Parley reported, "a few small potatoes, from the size of a pea to that of

half an inch in diameter." This was the entire harvest of 84 acres


The PrattTaylor Company, starting in anticipation of harvesting a

crop at the destination, faced a winter of living on the cereal grains in

the wagons. There was no turning back, with weak teams and heavy loads.

At South Pass they were 799 miles from Winter Quarters, but only

231downhillfrom the Salt Lake Valley.

In writing the British Saints from the Valley, Taylor wasted no time

on complaints:

I might talk of trials, afflictions, and so forth, but what avails it?

They are the common lot of manthey are momentary and pass away, and are not

to be compared to the glory that is and shall be revealed; and I have not time

to think, speak, or write about such things . . . .

God bless the British elders, priests, teachers, deacons and members,

even all that are honest in heart, in time and all eternity, worlds without

end, amen, is the prayer of your friend in Jesus.John Taylor (9)

[132] (1) JH.

(2) Life In Utah, Philadelphia, 1870.

(3) The Mormons, Philadelphia, 1850.

(4) Life, p. 188.

(5) MS, 1 Nov. 1848.

(6) 18 Aug. 1847.

(7) MS, 1 Nov. 1848.

(8) CHC 3:295. See also Reva Stanley, who says, "Parley had married

two women without first asking Brigham's consent, and this was the act

which infuriated Brigham most." (The Archer of Paradise, Caldwell, 1937)

(9) MS, 1 Nov. 1848.

[133] Chapter 9


On 7 December 1847, John Taylor reported conditions at Great Salt

Lake City, Great Basin, North America:

Beloved Brethren, . . . The valley in which we reside lies between the

Great Salt and the Utah lakes, in latitude 41 degree and longitude 112 degree.

It is from 60 to 70 miles long and from 20 to 30 wide; there is a range of

mountains running on each side of the valley north and south, the tops of

which are perpetually covered with snow; at the south end is Utah Lake, and at

the north end about twenty miles from here is the Great Salt Lake. Besides

this there are many small limpid streams flowing out of the mountains, and

emptying into the Jordan, which will prove very valuable for the watering of

stock, for water power, and the irrigation of land if necessary.

There are also an abundance of springs; among those we have close to the

city a warm spring, which is impregnated with sulphur and other minerals

possessing great medicinal properties, and flowing in sufficient quantities to

turn a mill. A saw mill is now being erected near its mouth, leaving the

spring for bathing purposes; besides this there is a hot spring about three

miles north, which throws out a great volume of boiling water.

The land is generally rich and fertile, perhaps as much so as any in the

world, and our best agriculturists believe that it will yield an abundant

increase of every kind of grain, not excepting rice; there are various

opinions as to its adaption to the culture of cotton and some other southern

products, the validity of which can only be tested by time.

[134] We have ploughed and sown, since our arrival here, about 2,000 acres of

wheat, and great numbers of ploughs are incessantly going, and are only

prevented by the inclemency of the weather, which occasionally is too severe .

. . . The climate, so far as we have become acquainted with it, is beautiful.

Timber in the immediate vicinity is not very abundant, but we have found

sufficient for building and fuel for some time to come; we also anticipate

finding coal . . . . Salt can be procured in great abundance at the Salt Lake;

and there is a kind of clay equal to the best.... We expect to put in, in the

spring, about 3,000 acres of corn and other grain, and we have with us almost

every variety of seeds of vegetables, as well as of shrubs, fruits, and

flowers. There is sufficient feed for our cattle, sheep and horses, without

cutting any hay, during the winter; our cattle are fattening all the time,

living alone on the grass they get, which is highly nutritious, and equal if

not superior to most of our tame grasses. The fresh grass is now beginning to

grow, and is in some places from 4 to 6 inches high; we anticipate a very

early spring.

We have built our houses for the present in the shape of a large fort;

but expect as soon as practicable to build our houses on our lots in the city;

the houses now erected and in progress amount to about 700, and are built some

of logs, some of sawed timber, and some of a des bois, or sundried brick.

The city plot is about two miles square; it is laid out in blocks of ten

acres, and the streets are eight rods wide, and cross each other at right

angles. The lots for each individual are an acre and a quarter, and those that

are worthy receive them freely as their inheritance together with what land

they can till. We have no land to sell, neither can any, other person

speculate on their inheritance, for it is the Lord's, and while the Lord gives

us free possession like the gifts of air, light, water, and life, it is free.

[135] There is a lot set apart for the erection of the temple, containing ten

acres, laid out on the bank of a beautiful creek that runs through the centre

of the city. When the pioneers arrived here, they went forward and were

baptized near the temple lot, and thus renewed their covenant before the Lord;

since then we have followed their example . . . .

And now, beloved brethren, although I have been writing in a great

measure on temporal things, yet my mind dwells not so much on hills, vales,

brooks, lakes, houses and land, as it does on the things pertaining to the

kingdom of Godthe building up of Zionthe gathering together of God's

electthe fulfilment of the propheciesthe blessing, glory, and exaltation

of His Saints . . . . And as when I was with you, so now when absent, I pray

God the eternal Father so to influence the hearts of men in authority, that

your way may be opened to gather with the Saints of the Most High, that you

may partake of the ordinances of the Lord's house, and finally be counted

worthy to possess thrones, principalities, powers, and dominions in the

Eternal World. (1)

A code of laws was needed for the new community. Patriarch John

Smith wrote of the problem:

. . . We found it somewhat difficult to establish order, peace and

harmony among the Saints after so much mobbing, robbing and traveling through

such a dreary country. The minds of many became restless; not having much

faith, the fear of starving, etc., came upon them. And in addition to this,

there was a company of soldiers arrived here destitute of sustenance; they,

together with those who were here before in like circumstances, created

uneasiness. (2)

On 27 December 1847 the High Council of Great Salt Lake City enacted

the first laws of the region, "for the peace, welfare, and good order of

the community."

[136] Ordinance 1st, Concerning Vagrants.

Whereas it is of the utmost importance that every man in our community

use the utmost exertion to cultivate the earth in order to sustain himself or

family in a new location. . . . therefore should any person or persons be

convicted . . . of idling away his or their time, . . two or more trustees

. . . take charge of all the property of . . . thus convicted

. . . .

Ordinance 2nd, Concerning disorderly or dangerous persons and disturbers

of the peace.

Any person convicted of violence on person or property, threatening or

riot, shall be sentenced to receive a certain number of lashes on the bare

back, not exceeding 39, or be fined in any sum not less than five dollars, nor

exceeding five hundred dollars . . . .

Ordinance 3rd, Concerning Adultery and Fornication.

Any person or persons convicted of the crime of Adultery or Fornication

shall be sentenced to receive a certain number of lashes on the bare back, not

exceeding 39, and be fined in a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars . . . .

Ordinance 4th, Concerning Stealing, Robbing, Housebreaking, or

maliciously causing the destruction by fire of any property.

Any person or persons convicted of any of said crimes shall be sentenced

to receive a number of lashes on the bare back, not exceeding 39, and to

restore fourfold . . . .

Ordinance 5th, Concerning Drunkenness, and etc.

Any person or persons convicted of Drunkenness, Cursing, Swearing, foul

or indecent language, unnecessary firing of guns, or in any other way

disturbing the quiet or peace of the community, shall be fined any sum not

less than 25 dollars. (3)


The settlers supplemented the cereals they had brought in their

wagons with thistle roots, sego bulbs, wild horseradish and other things.

In experimenting with wild roots, some took sick; one man died. By

December, the Missouri Republican reported,

Seed potatoes were selling at ten dollars per bushel, peas at fifty cents

per pound, and other things at about the same rates . . . . (4)

A charge was preferred against David Lewis by Charles Shumway for taking

his seed corn and beans and eating some without his leave . . . . David Lewis

sentenced to five lashes on the bare back at the bell post. (5)

On New Year's Day, 1848, Parley Pratt reported:

Here life was as sweet and the holidays as merry as in the Christian

palaces and mansions of those who had driven us to the mountains. (6)

However, before the month was over an event transpired that was to

shatter the isolation of the Saints and radically alter the course of

history in the Great Basin.

Monday, Jan. 24. On this date gold was discovered on the South Fork of

the American River, California, by Mr. James W. Marshall and six Mormon boys,

formerly members of the Mormon Battalion, but now employees of Capt. John A.

Sutter and James Marshall, who were building a saw mill on the south fork of

the American River. (7)

In anticipation of an early spring, the settlers put in crops. Then,

on April 1st, Isaac C. Haight reported:

During the week snow fell to the depth of a foot, and some of our houses,

which were flatroofed, leaked [138] very badly and made it very unpleasant

for the occupants. The wheat which was sown last fall looks very discouraging

for a crop, but we trust that the Lord who has brought us here will sustain us

and not permit us to perish.

It turned bitterly cold two days later; then the following week more

snow fell. It melted, and on May 1st the grass was green, settlers

planting again. On May 6th came a killing frost. John Taylor reported to

Brigham Young and the Twelve on May 22:

Beloved Brethren: After a long absence and separation, I take my pen to

address you, and I say peace be unto you, to the Camp of Israel and to the

whole of the household of God . . . .

We have been busy since our arrival in building, plowing, planting and

sowing, and we expect e'er you arrive to be engaged in the most pleasant work

of reaping. I never saw the Saints more diligent than they have been in this

valley. Enterprise and industry seems to be written on every man's forehead.

We do not expect to reap an abundant harvest but if we get from ten to fifteen

bushel of wheat to the acre on an average, we will not complain. If we do

anywhere in the neighborhood of this, we shall have sufficient to supply our

own wants and lend a helping hand to our brethren who are coming out . . . .

Crickets and other insects in some isolated districts have been very

destructive to the rising vegetation, but their ranges are limited and their

operations not such as to create any general alarm.

We have had a great quantity of rain this spring.... Indeed, some people

began to pray for rain before they ascertained that their houses were not

waterproof, and almost wished that they had deferred their supplications a

little longer . . . .

[139] I need not tell you that the Saints are anxiously looking for your

arrival, and none will be more pleased to see, to shake hands, and to

associate with his brethren than your humble servant. We have been separated

for some time and I long once more to meet in your councils. God bless you,

brethren, forever and ever, in time and all eternity, worlds without end,


Brigham Young replied from Chimney Rock, where the Camp of Israel

was enroute to the valley. Dated 17 July 1848, the letter was addressed

to "Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Presidency of the Stake of Zion, and

the High Council of the Great Salt Lake City, Great Basin, North


Dearly beloved Brethren: . . . On 11th December, sixteen of the Battalion

from California arrived , bringing us news from your city

. . . .

On the 24th of December conference convened . . . and continued four days

in the building which was called the Log Tabernacle . . . . At this conference

a First Presidency was agitated and agreed upon, when Brigham Young was

unanimously voted and received as the First President of the Church; when he

nominated Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as his counselors, which

nominations were seconded and carried by unanimous vote . . . .

On the 16th of January commenced a Jubilee at the Log Tabernacle, which

continued five days and was spent in preaching, exhorting and comforting the

Saints in the forepart of the day accompanied with music. In the after part of

the day dancing and other recreations. The brethren enjoyed themselves first

rate, a good spirit prevailing . . . .

Several bands of the Pawnee Indians visited Winter Quarters during the

winter, being starved out of their [140] villages; they returned home with

their animals loaded with corn . . . .

You must not be disappointed in not seeing the printing presses, type,

paper, mill iron, mill stones, carding machine, etc. . . . We have the poor

with us; their cry was urgent to go to the mountains, and I could neither

close my ears nor harden my heart against their earnest appeals . . . . I

cannot forsake the poor in the hour of need, and when they stand most in need

of comfort. I am disappointed in not bringing the presses, etc., but I cannot

avoid it . . . .

Great peace, love and union prevails in our midst. We have been blessed

on this journey; not a soul, nor an animal in my corral having died nor been

lost since leaving the Elkhorn, and I can truly say all is well with us.

I earnestly desire to say to the Saints in the Valley, they who want to

serve the Lord, that they are in a good place; and it is my advice that they

get cured of their California fever as quick as they possibly can. . . . for I

am well assured that if you do, the Lord will bless you and prosper you; and

may His choicest blessings rest upon you; may you be blessed by night and by

day, in your outgoings and incomings, in your basket and in your store, and

may the still whisperings of the Spirit be your constant companions . . . .

Parley Pratt and John Taylor, having supervised the settlement in

the valley during the first year of settlement, relinquished authority to

the First Presidency when Brigham Young's company of the Camp of Israel

arrived 20 September 1848.

The following summer, John Taylor clipped a dispatch from the New

York Tribune, written by a traveler who arrived in the valley enroute to

the gold fields:

[141] Judge our feelings when, after some one thousand two hundred miles of

travel through an uncultivated desert, and the last hundred miles of the

distance among lofty mountains and narrow and difficult ravines, we found

ourselves suddenly and almost unexpectedly in a comparative paradise . . . .

Houses of wood and sundried bricks were thickly clustered in the vale

before us, some thousands in number, and occupying a spot as large as the city

of New York. They were mostly small, one story high, and perhaps not more than

one occupying an acre of land. The whole space for miles, excepting the

streets and houses, was in a high state of cultivation. Fields of yellow wheat

stood waiting for the harvest and Indian corn, potatoes, oats, flax and all

kinds of garden vegetables were growing in profusion . . . . At first sight of

all these signs of cultivation in the wilderness, we were transported with

wonder and pleasure. Some wept, some gave three cheers, some laughed, and some

ran and fairly danced with joy, while all felt inexpressibly happy to find

themselves once more amid scenes which mark the progress of advancing


However, members of the goldseeking company were puzzled to find no

business district in the mountain metropolis.

No hotel, signpost, cake and beer shop, barber's pole, markethouse,

grocery, provision, dry goods, or hardware store distinguished one part of the

town from another; not even a bakery or a mechanic's sign was anywhere

discernable. . . . However, on inquiry I found that a combination of seemingly

unavoidable circumstances had produced this singular state of affairs. There

were no hotels because there had been no travel; no barber's shop because

everyone chose to shave himself; . . . no centre of business because all were

too busy to make a centre. There was an abundance of mechanic's shops, of

dressmakers, milliners, tailors, etc., but they needed no sign, nor had they

time to paint or erect one, for they were [142] 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 a thousand miles. Everyone had

his lot and built upon it, everyone cultivated it, and perhaps a small farm in

the distance. . . .

The country settlements extended nearly a hundred miles up and down the

valley. This territory, state, or as some term it, "Mormon Empire," may justly

be considered as one of the greatest prodigies of the age; and, in comparison

with its age, the most gigantic of all republics in existence, being only its

second year since the first seed of cultivation was planted, or the first

civilized habitation commenced.

"If these people were such thieves and robbers as their enemies

represented them in the States," the correspondent said, "I must think

they have greatly reformed in point of industry since coming to the

mountains." On Sunday, "Mr. Brigham Young, president of the society,"

exhorted his people to "stay home and pursue a persevering industry,

although a mountain of gold were near them." He "boldly predicted" the

overthrow of the nation which had killed the prophets and persecuted the


He said, God had a reckoning with that people, and gold would be the

instrument of their overthrow. The Constitution and laws were good, in fact

the best in the world, but the administrators were corrupt, and the laws and

Constitution were not carried out, therefore they must fall . . . .

Such, in part, was the discourse that we listened to in the stronghold of

the mountains. The Mormons are not dead nor is their spirit broken. And if I

mistake not there is a noble, daring, stern, and democratic spirit dwelling in

their bosoms, which will people these mountains with a [143] race of

independent men, and influence the destiny of our country and the world for a

hundred generations.

The Saints had settled the valley when it was Mexican territory; but

by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, it became part of the United States.

On 5 September 1849 John Taylor applied for American citizenship.

A week later, he received a missionary call.

To all persons to whom this letter shall come, Greetings:

Know ye that the bearer, John Taylor, true and faithful brother and Elder

in Israel, and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the last days,

has been appointed and delegated, by the Authorities of the Church of Jesus

Christ of Latterday Saints, in General Conference . . . on a mission to

France. To open the door of life and salvation to the people of that Kingdom.

To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and administer in all the ordinances

thereof pertaining to his mission, and in connection with the brethren of his

Quorum to preside over all the affairs of the Church in all the world, to open

the door of life to the inhabitants thereof. And he is authorized to collect

tithing, and to receive donations for the perpetual fund for the gathering of

the poor Saints. And we call upon all Saints and upon the inhabitants of the

earth, to receive our beloved Bro. Taylor, as a messenger of the living God,

offering life and salvation to men; and inasmuch as you shall . . . assist him

on his journey and mission, you shall in no wise lose your reward . . . .

(1) MS, 1 Nov. 1848.

(2) JH, Letter to George A. Smith, 5 March 1848.

(3) JH.

[144] (4) JH, 10 May 1848.

(5) JH, 14 May 1848.

(6) Autobiography

(7) Unless otherwise noted, this and other quotations of this

chapter are from the JH.

[145] Chapter 10


John Taylor left the valley 19 October 1849, with a party of 35,

which included missionaries called to England, France, Denmark and


We left on six days notice, wound up our business affairs, bid farewell

to our wives and families, and started without purse or scrip in an inclement

season of the year to cross a howling wilderness, having to cope with the

mountain storms, the wintry blasts and the savage Indian . . . .

However, he minimized the rigors of the trip, saying, "Our journey

on the whole, considering the season, has been a pleasant one," and that

"Nothing very remarkable occurred on our journey out, except what is

common in Indian country."

Not so, his missionary companion, Curtis E. Bolton, whose journal is

a veritable catalogue of hardship and misfortune:

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