[Ezra T. Benson to Geo. A. Smith, Kanesville, Iowa, 12 Mar. 1852, in Journal History, 12 Mar. 1852, 1–2]
Kanesville, Iowa, March 12, 1852.
Brother Geo. A. Smith: I now embrace the opportunity of writing to you. . . . . I arrived here safe on the 5th day of November last, all well and found the brethren generally in good faith an many of them just recovering from fall sickness, which to me looked different from those rosy cheeks and healthful appearance to which I had been accustomed while in the Valley. I am happy to say to you that I found the Saints in a better situation for gathering to the Valley that I could have anticipated. It seemed that the Spirit ran before the word, but when the word came, the people were ready to receive it. I commenced immediately to organize them into companies, a reparatory work to crossing the plains, to march en masse, and taking their poor with them by appointing the best financeer according to my opinion as Captain over them with his two counselors, and I lost no time night or day until I had ridden all over this section of country and organized forty companies. Some were prepared and some were not, and the latter class I instructed them to get out their timber and make all necessary preparations for the journey. By the time this was accomplished the holiday season commenced accompanied with feasting, music and dancing, which lasted thirty days, and the rejoicing and festivities was enjoyed by the poor as well as the rich to their entire satisfaction, and I think I can safely say, that there is no place on this lower world, except G. S. L. City, where I could have enjoyed myself to any greater satisfaction. Last Saturday and Sunday we held a meeting for the purpose of hearing reports concerning emigration. Many gave in their verbal reports which gave the saints much satisfaction and I was pleased to see how they took hold of the word of the Lord from the mountains. Suffice it to say, we had a first rate meeting. Elder Orson Hyde was present and delivered a good discourse and all seemed determined to gather to the mountains this coming spring. A report was filled from every company and when footed up amounted to five thousand souls and upward with property enough, if properly applied, to carry them all over the mountains, and they have promised faithfully to apply it, and from all appearances there will be about ten thousand of our people cross the plains this season. Elder Eli B. Kelsey arrived here on the 20th of February from England and his report is cheering from the old country. There are about seven hundred on their way and all bound for the alley the coming season. I just received a letter from Bishop A. O. Smoot appointed as agent of the fund for emigrating the poor and has in his possession about six thousand dollars to fit them for their journey to Salt Lake, he will probably be here about the middle of May, when I am passing down by Carbunka and my old place. It reminds me of old times when you and I were here together. Those seasons of rejoicing that we have had together, both here and elsewhere, I hope will be cherished in this world and the world to come. The brethren often speak of the potatoe saint, and since you left there has not been as good potatoes raised and often enquire if good potatoes are raised in the valleys and where the potatoe saint is going to locate etc. [Note: Might read “The brethren often speak of the potatoes saints and since you left there has not been as good potatoes raised and often enquire if good potatoes are raised in the valleys and when the saints is going to locate etc.” I often see Brother Jacob Bigler and wife and they are as good saints as ever. Elder Hyde has sold his press, building and fixtures for two thousand dollars to James Dawson and Co., of Fremont County, Iowa. The Hon. Almon W. Babbitt is on his way from Washington with his press to publish a democratic paper, called the “Western Bugle” to be established in this place. The emigration to the land of gold will be greater this season by land as well as by sea, than ever before known and it is supposed that about ten thousand gold hunters will start from this po9int during this spring. Corn is worth from 30 to 35 cents and is on the rise, flour $7 per barrel and pork ten cents per pound and all other things in proportion. Good cattle from $60 to $75 per yoke and prices still advancing.”
[End of JH excerpt]