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Jews in the Wild West

Chapter 29.

Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West

Join Governor Young and Parley Pratt—Hospitality of the Mormons—Apostle Benson—Petetnit—Nephi—Wakara (Indian Chief)—Wakara's Camp Ground—Brigham Young's Wife—Long Caravan—Arrival at Wakara's Camp—His Refusal to meet the Governor—Treaty of Peace not Concluded—Presents of Cattle, etc., to Wakara—Grand Council of Indians and Mormons—Speech of an Old Chief—Address of a "San Pete Chief"—Wakara Refuses to Speak—He Dissolves the Council—Reassembling of the Council—Brigham Young's Address—Speech of "Wakara"—Peace Proclaimed—Calumet Smoked—Indian Capture of Children—Brigham Young's Residence.

GOVERNOR YOUNG and party were encamped at the edge of the town of Petetnit; when I rode up, I saw the commanding person of the Governor, towering above the crowd of men by whom he was encircled. As soon as he saw me, he approached; I alighted to greet him; he received me as he always did, in a most cordial manner. After selecting a person to take my mule, he gave me in charge to Mr. Ezra Parrish, with a request to take the best care of me until we were ready to start in the morning. I supped, and then went to the meeting, where I heard an eloquent and feeling exhortation to the people, to practise virtue, and morality. Apostle Benson also preached a sermon on the restoration of Israel to Jerusalem, which would have done honor to a speaker of the Hebrew persuasion; they call themselves "Ancient Israelites of the order of the Melchizedek priesthood.''

These Mormons are certainly the most earnest religionists I have ever been among. It seems to be a constant self-sacrifice with them, which makes me believe the masses of the people honest and sincere.

9th.—This morning I was invited to breakfast with Governor Young and lady. On leaving the hospitable house where I had slept, the host refused to take payment for my supper and lodgings, or for the care of my mule.

I made arrangements with Parley Pratt's company, to take my provisions and bag of clothes to San Bernandino in a wagon, for "thirty dollars." The day was fine, and we started with an accession of five wagons, and several horsemen to the party. The town of Payson, or Petetnit, contains one thousand inhabitants, five thousand head of cattle, one hundred and fifty horses, five hundred and fifty sheep, two saw-mills, flour-mill, etc. It is organized as a city, enclosed with a high wall; the houses are generally built of logs and "adobes," one story high. We left Payson at nine o'clock, on the 10th May, and camped at noon, on a creek twelve miles S. S. W. from town.

The country around looks beautifully verdant, brilliant colored flowers cover the plain, and the grass is excellent. At five o'clock P. M. we camped before Nephi, which is a large town, containing six hundred men, women and children; one hundred and fifty men bearing arms, six hundred head of cattle, and six hundred sheep, flour-mills, saw-mills, etc. Jos. L. Heywood, president, Josiah Miller mayor.

The Governor and party, were met by the authorities of the city, I was introduced to the old Patriarch Wm. Cazier, who invited me to the hospitalities of his house. Nephi is twenty-six miles from Payson. I attended meeting this morning, and Governor Young addressed the people, exhorting them to be kind and friendly to the Indians, etc. To-morrow we are to have an interview with Walker, the Utah Chief. A portion of the cattle intended for him was obtained at this place. The massacre of Captain Gunnison, by the Parvain Indians, caused great excitement among the inhabitants of the villages. The various tribes of Indians, who had, at different times, been wantonly and cruelly shot down, like so many wild beasts, by the American emigrants to California, were now incited to revenge. The first principle inculcated among them was life for life; it made no difference whether, in their wrath they massacred an innocent, or an unoffending man; "a white man slew my brother, my duty is to avenge his death, by killing a white man." Their first open demonstration, was the massacre of Gunnison; and the allied troops of Utahs, Pahutes, Parvains, and Payedes determined to continue in open hostility, both to the Mormons, and Americans. The inhabitants of the different settlements withdrew within the walls of their towns, and vigilant watchers, well armed, patrolled them all night. Major Biddell, the sub Indian agent, was sent to parley with the chief of the tribes, and succeeded in obtaining a truce, until the Governor could personally make arrangements for a treaty of peace. Preliminaries being settled, the chiefs of the tribes were to meet Governor Brigham Young, at the camp of the Wakara. We left Nephi, and arrived at noon, on the road opposite to Wakara's camp, twelve miles from town.


The camp-ground or village where Wakara permanently resides, when not travelling, is situated about one mile off the main road, from the city of Nephi, to the Seveir River. Gov. Young made extensive preparations for this treaty. A large cavalcade accompanied him from Great Salt Lake City, composed of Heber, C. Kimball , Woodruff, John Taylor, Ezra T. Benson, Lorenzo Young, Erasmus Snow, Parley Pratt, (his apostles and advisers), together with about fifty mounted men, and one hundred wagons and teams filled with gentlemen, with their wives and families. This was an imposing travelling party, all following in regular succession; taking the word of command from the leading wagon, in which rode Gov. Brigham Young. One of his wives, an accomplished and beautiful lady, who made her husband's coffee, and cooked his meals for him at every camp, thus making herself a most useful appendage to the camp equipage, as well as an affectionate and loving companion to her spiritual lord while travelling. I sometimes formed a third party on the road, and frequently had my seat at their primitive table, which was, in fine weather, a clean white cloth, spread over the grass; or, in rainy weather, a movable table was arranged in the wagon. Venison, beef, coffee, eggs, pies, etc., were served at every meal.

I have often stopped at the top of some commanding eminence, to see this immense cavalcade, lengthened out over a mile, winding leisurely along the side of a mountain, or trotting blithely in the hollow of some of the beautiful valleys through which we passed, to the sound of musical choruses from the whole party, sometimes ending with

"I never knew what joy was
Till I became a Mormon,"

to the tune of "bonny breastknots." Certainly, a more joyous, happy, free-from-care, and good-hearted people, I never sojourned among. When the cavalcade arrived on the road, opposite to Walker's camp, Gov. Young sent a deputation to inform Wakara that he had arrived, and would be ready to give him an audience at a certain hour, that day.

Wakara sent word back to say, "If Gov. Young wanted to see him, he must come to him at his camp, as he did not intend to leave it to see any body."

When this message was delivered to Gov. Young, he gave orders for the whole cavalcade to proceed to Wakara's camp--"If the mountain will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet must go to the mountain."

The Governor was under the impression that Walker had changed his mind, and intended to continue the war, and for that reason declined to meet him. But old Wakara was a king, and a great chief. He stood upon the dignity of his position, and feeling himself the representative of an aggrieved and much injured people, acted as though a cessation of hostilities by the Indians was to be solicited on the part of the whites, and he felt great indifference about the result.

Gov. Young, at the expense of the people of Utah, brought with him sixteen head of cattle, blankets and clothing, trinkets, arms and ammunition. I expressed much astonishment, that arms and ammunition should be furnished the Indians. His excellency told me that from their contiguity to the immigrant road, they possessed themselves of arms in exchange and trade, from American travellers. And as it was the object of the Mormons to protect, as much as possible, their people from the aggressions of the Indians, and also from the continual descent upon their towns-begging for food, and stealing when it was not given, he thought it more advisable to furnish them with the means of shooting their own game. The Utah Indians possess rifles of the first quality. All the chiefs are provided with them, and many of the Indians are most expert in their use.

When we approached Wakara Camp, we found a number of chiefs, mounted as a guard of honor around his own lodge, which was in the centre of the camp, among whom were Wakara and about fifteen old chiefs, including Ammon, Squash-Head, Grosepine, Petetnit, Kanoshe, (the chief of the Parvains), a San Pete chief, and other celebrated Indians. The Governor and council were invited into Wakara's lodge, and at the request of his excellency, I accompanied them. Wakara sat on his buffalo-robe, wrapped in his blanket, with the old chiefs around him; he did not rise, but held out his hand to Gov. Young, and made room for him by his side.

After the ceremony of shaking hands all round was concluded, our interpreter, Mr. Huntington, made known the object of the Governor's visit, and hoped that the calumet of peace would be smoked, and no more cause be given on either side, for a continuation of illfeeling, etc.

For five minutes intense silence prevailed, when an old grey headed Utah chief got up, and in the effort, his blanket slipped from his body, displaying innumerable marks of wounds and scars. Stretching aloft his almost fleshless arm, he spoke as follows:

"I am for war, I never will lay down my rifle, and tomahawk, Americats have no truth-Americats kill Indian plenty—Americats see Indian woman, he shoot her like deer—Americats no meet Indian to fight, he have no mercy—one year gone, Mormon say, they no kill more Indian—Mormon no tell truth, plenty Utahs gone to Great Spirit, Mormon kill them—no friend to Americats more."

The chief of the San Pete Indians arose, and the tears rolled down his furrowed cheeks as he gave utterance to his grievances:

"My son," he said, "was a brave chief, he was so good to his old father and mother—one day Wa-yo-sha was hunting rabbits as food for his old parents—the rifle of the white man killed him. When the night came, and he was still absent, his old mother went to look for her son; she walked a long way through the thick bushes; at the dawn of day, the mother and the son were both away, and the infirm and aged warrior was lonely: he followed the trail of his wife in the bush, and there he found the mother of his child, lying over the body of Wa-yo-sha, both dead from the same bullet. The old woman met her son, and while they were returning home, a bullet from the rifle of Americats shot them both down." He added, "old San Pete no can fight more, his hand trembles, his eyes are dim, the murderer of his wife, and brave Wa-yo-sha, is still living. San Pete no make peace with Americats."

The old warrior sank down exhausted on his blanket.

Wakara remained perfectly silent.

Gov. Young asked him to talk, he shook his head. "No," after the rest had spoken, some of whom were for peace, Wakara said, "I got no heart to speak-no can talk to-day—to-night Wakara talk with great spirit, to-morrow Wakara talk with Governor."

Gov. Young then handed him a pipe. Wakara took it and gave one or two whiffs, and told the Governor to smoke, which he did, and passed it around to all the party; this ended the first interview.

An ox was slaughtered by the orders of Gov. Young, and the whole camp were regaled with fresh beef that evening. I made a sketch of Wakara during the time that he sat in council. I also made a likeness of Kanoshe, the chief of the Parvain Indians.

The next morning the council again assembled, and the Governor commenced by telling the chiefs, that he wanted to be friends with all the Indians; he loved them like a father, and would always give them plenty of clothes, and good food, provided they did not fight, and slay any more white men. He brought as presents to them, sixteen head of oxen, besides a large lot of clothing and considerable ammunition. The oxen were all driven into Wakara's camp, and the sight of them made the chiefs feel more friendly.

Wakara, who is a man of imposing appearance, was, on this occasion, attired with only a deer-skin hunting shirt, although it was very cold; his blue blanket lay at his side; he looked care-worn and haggard, and spoke as follows:

"Wakara has heard all the talk of the good Mormon chief. Wakara no like to go to war with him. Sometimes Wakara take his young men, and go far away, to sell horses. When he is absent, then Americats come and kill his wife and children. Why not come and fight when Wakara is at home? Wakara is accused of killing Capt. Gunnison. Wakara did not; Wakara was three hundred miles away when the Merecat chief was slain. Merecats soldier hunt Wakara, to kill him, but no find him. Wakara hear it; Wakara come home. Why not Merecats take Wakara? he is not armed. Wakara heart very sore. Merecats kill Parvain Indian chief, and Parvain woman. Parvain young men watch for Merecats and kill them, because Great Spirit say—'Merecats kill Indian'; 'Indian kill Merecats.' Wakara no want to fight more. Wakara talk with Great Spirit; Great Spirit say-'Make peace.' Wakara love Mormon chief; he is good man. When Mormon first come to live on Wakara's land, Wakara give him welcome. He give Wakara plenty bread, and clothes to cover his wife and children. Wakara no want to fight Mormon; Mormon chief very good man; he bring plenty oxen to Wakara. Wakara talk last night to Payede, to Kahutah, San Pete, Parvain—Indian say, 'No fight Mormon or Merecats more.' If Indian kill white man again, Wakara make Indian howl."

The calumet of peace was again handed around, and all the party took a smoke. The council was then dissolved.

Gov. Young intended to visit all the settlements south, to Harmony City. Wakara told his excellency, that "he and his chiefs would accompany him all the way and back, as a body-guard." Grosepine, Ammon, Squashhead, Wakara and his wife, Canoshe and his wife, and about thirty Indian young men, all mounted on splendid horses, got ready to accompany the Governor's party. During the day, a great many presents were distributed among the tribe.

When I returned to our camp, I saw a crowd around the Governor's wagon. I approached, and found that his excellency had just concluded a purchase from the Utahs of two children, about two to three years of age. They were prisoners, and infants of the Snake Indians, with whom the Utahs were at war. When the Governor first saw these deplorable objects, they were on the open snow, digging with their little fingers for grassnuts, or any roots to afford sustenance. They were almost living skeletons. They are usually treated in this way—that is, literally starved to death by their captors. Gov. Young intended to send them to Salt Lake City, and have them cared for and educated like his own children. I never saw a more piteous sight than those two naked infants, in bitter cold weather, on the open snow, reduced by starvation to the verge of the grave—no, not the grave; for if they had died, they would have been thrown on the common for the wolves to devour!

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