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Jews in the Wild West

Chapter 25.

Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West

"Golightly"—His Occupation and Character—Author Patronizes Him—Mrs. Golightly—She thinks Shakespeare did not understand the Passions of Men—"Oh! Frailty, thy Name is Man!"—Affecting Incident.

The Old Lady's Tale.

THERE resided in Great Salt Lake City, in the year 1854, a jolly old Scotchman, who rejoiced in the cognomen of "Golightly," he was a baker by trade, a musician by nature, and a good Mormon by practice. He made first-rate bread, biscuit, and cakes, and cooked to order splendid beefsteaks and mutton chops, as my fellow traveller Egloffstien and myself can fully testify, for we patronized him daily in all the branches of gastronomy, for which he was famous.

His bakehouse was attached to his shop; a small house about a rod on one side, was his dwelling, and immediately back of the oven, in the open yard, was a covered wagon, which was used as the parlor and bedchamber of his old wife, and three daughters, aged respectively thirteen, fifteen, and seventeen, and a son of eleven years.

This old lady I frequently met in my visits to Golightly's shop, sitting carefully wrapped up, on an old travelling chest near the fireplace; she appeared to be in very bad health, and seldom spoke, yet she often gave expression to deep drawn sighs. The three daughters assisted the father in making biscuit, cakes, etc.

Golightly was a well informed man, he had been a deist, a methodist, and was now a Mormon from conviction. I think I may say, that he firmly believed in the tenets of Mormonism, and in the many conversations I had with him, I inferred that his conduct was actuated by principle. He was an active member of a musical association, and performed well on the Kent bugle.

It was on an occasion when his professional services were required to attend the funeral procession of Brother Willard Richards, editor of the "Deseret News," that I happening in to partake of my usual lunch, I found the old lady sitting in her accustomed place, alone, and she appeared very much depressed; I asked her the cause of her sighs, etc., when she related to me the following incidents in her life. She was a native of Scotland, and had been married to her husband for a quarter of a century-had borne him twelve children, four of whom were still living. Her husband followed the trade of baker, in Edinburgh, where they lived very happily. She possessed in her own right the snug little house in which they carried on business; they owed no one, and were well to do in the world. One night her old man went to hear some strange Mormon missionaries preach; from that hour her troubles commenced, and they had steadily increased up to the present time.

Golightly becoming indoctrinated with the principles of Joseph Smith, had been baptized. In vain he tried to make his wife change her faith, presbyterian, in which she had been brought up. Finding that she would not consent, Golightly determined to emigrate to the valleys of Ephraim, the "land flowing with milk and honey." To this step also his wife refused to accede, whereupon he sold out his bakery and accumulating all the ready money he wanted for his purpose, left his family (not in want, for they had an income sufficient to live on), but without a protector, and took passage, along with many others, in a vessel from Liverpool, bound direct to New York.

After his arrival in New York, the company proceeded to St. Louis, up the Missouri to Independence, and thence, overland to Salt Lake City, where he arrived in good condition, and with the small means at his command, he built the shop and house in which I found him. He liked his new residence, and made arrangements for his family. He wrote to his wife, requesting her to sell off the property, and come over to the Valley, among the mountains, and join him, as he intended to spend the remainder of his days there.

When the old lady received this letter, she determined to brave all the dangers of a long voyage across the Atlantic, the perils of the mountains and prairies, and rejoin her beloved old man, with whom she had spent so many hours of happiness, and with whom she determined to end her life. With the assistance of kind friends, all her effects were converted into money, and she had just £200 with which to commence the journey.

Her three daughters and a young son accompanied her. Passing over her terrible sea-sickness and difficulties which attended her sea-voyage, she arrived in due time at New York, where she purchased "through" tickets for herself and children from one who styled himself an agent of the Railroad Company. After paying her money and taking seats in the cars, she found she had been cheated by the counterfeit agent, her tickets were perfectly worthless; the kind-hearted conductor, in consequence, gave her free passage to St. Louis, at which place she embarked on board the steamboat for Independence, to join a caravan of immigrants, who were also on the way to the "Valley."

At Independence she purchased two good horses and the wagon which was then at the door, together with all the necessary provisions and clothing for a five-months" journey. Her outfit cost her nearly all the money she had left; but not requiring to spend more before she got to the Valley, she made herself easy on that score. The continual state of excitement which she had been in from the time she sold out at Edinburgh, with her illness on board ship, superinduced by old age, etc., gave her the dropsy. Her daughters took it by turns to drive the team, and her kind fellow-travellers harnessed up the horses, and attended to the arduous duties of camp-travelling.

Suffering in mind and body, the caravan arrived at "Fort Laramie," where they met some teamsters who were on their return to the States. Our old lady, whose anxiety to embrace her husband increased, the nearer she approached the place he was in, was induced to inquire of one of these teamsters if he knew Mr. Golightly, in Salt Lake City? He answered, that he did, he had purchased his bread and crackers from him only a month ago. "Golightly and his wife were both well, and living very comfortably!"

"Surely, mon, ye mak a mistake; 'Golightly' has nae ither wife but me."

The man insisted that he had taken a spiritual wife.

"A 'spiritual wife'—I dinna ken the kind."

Our old lady had of course never heard, that polygamy was practised as a part of the religion of the Mormons. She treated the report of the teamster as a mistake, and supposed he meant that Golightly had hired a servant girl, to do the work of the house. Under this impression, she resumed her journey. But, poor woman, what was her sorrow and agony, to find on her arrival at Salt Lake that the husband of her youth, he for whom she had just submitted to such an unheard-of sacrifice of personal comfort, at her age; the father of her children, should have broken faith, and repudiated her! Heart-broken, and prostrated with disease she fell back in her wagon—in a swoon. Our old Trojan quickly applied restoratives, and endeavored to lift her into the house. "Na, na, my foot shall never cross the threshold of the house that contains anither wife; this wagon shall be my house, and my children's house; in that, during the howlings of the winter's blast, or the scorching heat of the summer, will I abide, until death takes me away." All the affection and love of Golightly, returned on again seeing his old wife, he fondled her, and prepared all the nourishment for her with his own hand, and succeeded in pacifying the old lady to submit to circumstances, which, when she found it was a part of the religion, she became more reconciled to.

But the old lady asked me, "Who do you think he married? Surely naebodie but our auld cook from Edinburgh; a dirty wench that I turned out of my house for impertinence; she followed the old man, and induced him to marry her, telling him that I never intended to come out to him. I have never set my eyes upon her, for she takes good care not to come where I am. It is now more than two years since I arrived, and the preachers have told me that if I would be baptized, I would feel perfectly contented." To please the old man, whom she still loved, she consented, and was immersed in water over her head, on a bitter cold day—but she resumed: "I canna see ony different now, I am only the worse in the body."

Her daughters are kind and affable girls, they are the sole companions of the mother, who never goes any where out of her wagon, but into the shop.

I saw Golightly several times after the revelation of his wife, he said it was an "o'er true tale," but his wife ought to know that he did not desert her, he sent for her, and loved her now more than ever, that he only took a spiritual wife, to ensure her eternal salvation; and also in accordance with his firm convictions, that he was doing right. I took the physician who was attached to the Gunnison expedition to see her, but he pronounced her case hopeless; and I would not be surprised, if ere this she is in that happy country, "where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest."

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