[George A. Smith and Ezra T. Benson to O. Pratt, Great Salt Lake City, 29 Sep. 1850, in Millennial Star, vol. 13 no 2 (15 Jan. 1851), pp. 23–24; or Journal History, 29 Sep. 1850, pp. 1–2; this transcript from Millennial Star.]
Elders Smith and Benson’s Letter
Death of Bishops Whitney and Lott.—Extensive Harvest at Deseret.—The Perpetual Emigrating Fund.—The Markets at Great Salt Lake City.—Another Indian Alarm.
Great Salt Lake City, State of Deseret, Sept. 29th, 1850.
Dear Brethren,—As Brother Orson Hyde will leave to-morrow for the east, we feel that a few lines touching upon the affairs and prospects of this place would be acceptable to you.
Health, prosperity, and peace continue to wait upon the Saints in this place, with but few exceptions: among the exceptions we are sorry to include the death of Bishop Newel K. Whitney, which occurred here on the noon of the 23rd inst., after a sickness of forty-eight hours. It was an unlooked-for and sad blow; but he fell as fall the righteous, with a sure hope of an immortal crown! Also the wife of Elder Lorenzo Snow, who died on the morning of the 25th inst., after a few hours’ sickness.
Our harvest, which commenced in the later part of June, is yet in continuance; and the ploughman has in fact overtaken the reaper, for almost side by side you will see the one gathering and the other sowing the wheat. Sowing will continue till the beginning of June, and there is but little choice in the grain: that sown in the fall, or late spring, provided it is properly attended. There are now in progress of erection seven saw and six grist-mills, besides a large merchant flouring mill, that will soon be finished, by President Young. Several fine stores have been erected here this summer, and are filled with the choicest productions of the best eastern markets; and the doleful howl of the desert wolf has given way to the hum of business and the sound of merry voices.
Our settlements are most astonishingly strengthened and extended. Where but a few days since a solitary farm was enclosed, an extensive city is springing up; and where was the untenanted and scarcely-explored valley, the ploughs of a hundred farmers are making way for vegetation.
Brother Amasa Lyman has just returned from California, and brings a most unfavourable account from the gold region. Trouble has begun there, and from present prospects will increase, till the country is swamped in blood, or depopulated by the ravages of the cholera, which is close on the track of the emigrant diggers: two of Brother Amasa’s company died of it on the road here. Brother Charles C. Rich is expected to leave there on the 1st of October, and the most of the brethren with him. Those who anticipated entering into a harvest field of gold on their arrival here, must meet with disappointment. Gold is not the god of the Saints. They, seek to build up the Kingdom of God by industry, by building cities, raising grain, gathering the Saints, and in fact, by devoting their time, means, and talents, whether in preaching or labouring of their hands, in the service of their God. The exaggerated accounts of gold-mines in the Valley, and an overplus of the metal imported from California, are entirely unfounded. A coal-mine would be a welcome sight to us here, but a gold-mine we neither have found nor seek to find.
The Perpetual Emigrating Fund has been replenished this year by about six thousand dollars in money, and about twelve thousand dollers in property. The Company has been incorporated by an act of the ‘State Letislature,’ and ‘Antelope’ and ‘Stansbury’s’ islands of the Salt Lake, are appropriated as herd-grounds for the Stock of the Company, which already ammounts to a goodly number of cattle, horses, &c. The Company is now organized with a president and nineteen assistants, and Brothers Orson Hyde and John Brown are travelling agents for the Company this season.
A plot of ground containing 560 acres has been surveyed, and is being enclosed, for a University site, and the Regency have taken measures for the establishment of schools in the several wards of the place: some are already in progress. A parent school for the education of teachers will be opened as soon as a room is prepared for the purpose, which will be in a few weeks. It would rejoice us much to see Brother Pratt here, taking a leading part in these matters. It would also, we think, be an advantage to the Institution, did you establish a [p.24] correspondence with Albert Carrington, at Washington, (D. C.) on the subject of books, instruments, &c., &c., for the benefit of the University.
Accept of our thanks for your kindness in sending us your papers. Carriage by mail is so uncertain that we think it much better for you to discontinue sending that way, as not more than one out of twelve reaches us; but would be pleased to have you embrace any private conveyance by which you could send us a full file.
We received five pounds from our friends in England by Elder Hyde, and feel to tender you, in connexion with the kind donors thereof, our heart-felt thanks for we were in much need of it.
Brother Hyde has enjoyed himself in the Valley like a man in his father’s house, and feels now as though he were leaving home, though in a hurry to get home. He has waited ten days for the arrival of Brother Amasa.
Elder Woodruff, with his company, is within a hundred miles of the place, and Brother Joseph Young arrived here today. The last company of our emigration from the east will be here within ten days.
Corn and wheat are selling for 12s. 6d. per bushel, potatoes 4s. 2d. per bushel. hay [Pounds]3 2s. 6d. per ton, sugar and coffee from 1s. 8d. to 2s. per pound. Labour is worht 8. 4d. per day, or [Pounds]5 4s. 2d. per month and board. Board is [Pounds]1 0s. 10d. per week. Lumber is worth [Pounds]12 10s. per thousand; shingles [Pounds]2 10s. per thousand. Beef sells for 5d. per pound; pork cannot be bought. Butter is worth 1s. 7d. per pound; cheese 1s 1/2 p. Good milch cow are worth from [Pounds]6 5s. to [Pounds]8 6s. 8d. each. Good work-oxen are worth from [Pounds]15 to [Pounds]20 yoke; wagons from [Pounds]2 to [Pounds]4 2s. 6d. each. From the quantity of dry goods brought in there this season, they must undoubtedly be cheap this winter.
We are trying to locate our families and make them comfortable. In consequence of the scarcity of lumber we are disappointed in building this season, and a portion of our families will have to live intents or wagons the coming winter.
You will, we presume, have heard of the deaths of Bishop C. P. Lott and Father Sessions in the Valley, and Capt. James Flake in California, during the last summer.
We have had another Indian alarm in the vicinity of Ogdon [sic] City, forty miles north of this. Eighteen hours after the express started from the city, our troops from here were on the field. The Indians, however, became alarmed and fled, nor have they since been heard of.
We remain your brethren and friends in the Everlasting Covenant,
Ezra T. Benson.
To Elders O. Pratt and F. D. Richards.