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Jews in the Wild West

Chapter 27.

Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West

Arrival of the California Mail—Murder of Mr. Lamphere by Indians on Santa Clara—Hot Springs—Singular Phenomenon—Hot and Cold Springs—Mica—Sulphur—Plumbago—Rock Salt—Death of Willard B. Richards—Heber C. Kemball—Welsh Colony—Lieut. Beckwith's Departure for California.

April 16th.—This morning, Messrs. Atwood and Murray arrived with the California mail. They report that one of their party, a Mr. George Lamphere of Chicago, was hot by the Indians, between the Santa Clara and Rio Virgin (Virgin River). It seems that Atwood and Murray saddled their horses and prepared for their day's journey, before Mr. Lamphere had finished his breakfast. They mounted and started, intending to ride slowly long. About an hour after leaving camp, they saw Lamphere's horse galloping, riderless, towards them; as he approached, they perceived three arrows sticking in his side. They immediately suspected that their companion had been ruthlessly murdered by the Indians. hey succeeded in catching the frightened horse, and secured him to a tree; afterwards they galloped at full speed towards their late camp. They were well armed, and although they were ignorant of the force of the enemy which might be in ambush waiting for them, nothing daunted, they dashed forward, and found the dead body of their friend and companion on the road, pierced with a dozen arrows, completely stripped of all his clothing. Mr. Lamphere had a large amount of money with him, besides valuable specimens of gold, which he had obtained in California—a gold watch, etc. Everything had been stolen by the Indians of the Santa Clara.

The situation of Murray and Atwood was most critical, as evidently a large force of Indians were in the neighborhood. They recommenced their journey, and travelled at full speed until noon; encamped, and rested their animals until dark. They made a large fire, so as to show the Indians where their camp was, and, at a killing pace, journeyed all night. The Indians followed them at a distance, with a view to massacre them during the night. When they saw the smoke of the camp fire, they also encamped; and as their usual hour of surrounding a camp was just before day, when men are supposed to sleep soundest, they also rested from their fatiguing ride; but the next morning the birds bad flown, and were forty miles distant from them. These gentlemen arrived at Parowan, with their animals perfectly lame, and useless for continuing their journey to Great Salt Lake City. They there procured fresh ones, and arrived safely. From their own lips, I heard the recital of the above melancholy catastrophe.

I was about to travel over this same road, and was fully alive to the dangers which might beset me; but I had to get to the sea-board, and as the party with whom I intended to travel were well armed, and composed of twenty-three able-bodied men, I felt just as secure as I would have felt on any other line of road.


About ten miles north of Salt Lake City, there are two springs close together, one salt and cold, the other fresh and hot; these springs unite at some distance, and form a lake of 400 feet in diameter—one portion of the water is hot, and the other cold, and is so all the year round.

It was said by the gentleman who described them to me, that he bathed in this lake, and that one part of his body was in the cold water, while the other was in water quite hot.

In the mountains around Salt Lake City, mica is found in large masses. I saw one block in the city, several feet square, which was perfectly transparent. It is used as a substitute for window-glass, in some of the houses of the Mormons.

Plumbago of superior quality is found on Coal Creek; and saleratus is procured in quantities from Juab Valley. Alum and sulphur abound in the different valleys of Utah.

The death of Willard B. Richards, one of the chief members of the presidency, and editor of the Deseret News, threw a gloom over the whole community. I attended his funeral. His excellency the Governor, was too unwell to officiate, but several funeral sermons were preached at the house. He was one of the earliest, and most valuable members of the church of the latter day saints.

Mr. Richards left quite a number of widows, I could not ascertain exactly how many, but I was credibly in formed by a Mormon lady, that she knew six.

Heber C. Kimball, the next in rank to Brigham Young in the church, is a noble looking man, over six feet, and well proportioned, he speaks fluently, his language is inornate, and indicates an original mind, without cultivation. He is said to have more wives than any man in Utah—the Governor not excepted.

I learned from a niece of the Governor's, that she knew personally nineteen of his wives, although he had many more.

The Governor had at the time I was in the city, thirty-three children, including several grown men and women, by his first wife, who is still living with him. I was introduced by his excellency, to eleven of his wives, at the different times I visited his residence—all of them are beautiful women. Parley Pratt introduced me to his household, I numbered five or six females, I think he has but six wives.

Ezra T. Benson, one of the apostles with whom I boarded, has four wives, three are living in the same house with him, and one in a small house, a couple of rods away. He has children by all of them, and they all seemed to live very harmoniously together. I had several conversations with these ladies on the spiritual wife system, they submit to it because they implicitly believe it to be necessary to their salvation. They argue, "Cannot a father love six children? why can he not love six wives?" I must say, that during a sojourn of near three months in Salt Lake City, I never observed the slightest indications of improper conduct or lightness, amongst them—neither by conversation or otherwise. Their young ladies are modest, and unassuming, while their matrons are sedate and stately. Polygamy is by no means general, there are hundreds of Mormons who have only one wife.


Indian Walker, an Utah chief, relates, that on two low mountains, situated between the Red and Grand Rivers, there is a colony of white people, who live in rough stone houses, two stories high, with no windows in the lower story, and accessible only by a ladder.

These people have an abundance of sheep, and some cattle; they raise grain on the base of the mountain this statement is corroborated by other Indian testimony.

Brigham Young says, in reference to the above, that he believes them to have been originally Welsh families, who emigrated many years ago, before the settlement of this country. He told me that he intended to send a company of Mormons to search for the colony.

May 6th.—The exploring expedition of the late Capt. Gunnison, now under the command of Lieut. Beckwith, with an escort of twenty-four mounted dragoons, under the command of Capt. Morris with orders from the government, left this morning, to explore for a pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, on a parallel with Great Salt Lake City.

My old compagnon de voyage, Egloffstien, accompanied them as engineer.

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