New York, Oct. 16, 1856
Dear President Pratt—
Preparations for the election of the future President, alone command attention in the United States. State elections are going on, and when contested, create considerable excitement.
Kansas is quiet again—no murders within the last two weeks. California is likewise tending to peace. The Vigilance Committee have resigned their reign; the rooms in which their business was done were opened for public inspection, and satisfied for many days the curious, but even they are now closed, and the doors locked. Persons as well as times are changing there.
You have, before the arrival of this, undoubtedly learned of the appointment of President P.P. Pratt and others to the States, likewise of some missionaries to Europe; we expect them here shortly. Col. G.A. Smith left for St. Louis about a fortnight ago, and on the way had a narrow escape from being hurt by the collision of the train he was in with another from Chicago. The engines and some carriages were smashed, and a few persons injured. We publish his letter this week in the Mormon. There is a report that Col. A.W. Babbitt has been killed by the Cheyenne Indians between Fort Kearney and Fort Laramie. He left Elder Smoot’s train, accompanied by a brother, Thomas Sutherland, and his driver, on the 3rd September, thirty miles beyond Kearney, in order to pass on the north side of the Platte, and proceed to Laramie, which he expected to reach in six days. He had not reached there by the 14th, and was supposed to have been killed, as two other small companies from the west had been attacked, and with one exception all killed. I have just seen a piece in the Washington Union, that states on the authority of Magraw, the mail conductor, that an Indian had followed the track of Babbitt’s mules, nearly to Ash Hollow, where he found evidences that his wagon had been destroyed; and found a man’s shirt and other marks to satisfy him that the Colonel and his companions had been murdered. The Indian, fearful for his own safety, crossed the North Fork of Platte river, proceeded to Laramie, and gave this information, which is credited.
The two companies from the west were composed of Californians and others, among whom were Thomas Margette, wife and children.
I was about to close but I forgot that I might say a little more. Judge Appleby is appointed to travel through the Churches in the eastern States; at present he is on Long Island. The Sunday before last I accompanied President Taylor and the Judge to the Philadelphia Conference, and there saw many faces from the old country. The proceedings of the Conference are published at length in the Mormon. My time being limited, I had little or no opportunity of visiting them at home, though overwhelmed with invitations, but all I spoke with seemed pleased with their present sojourn in the States, and are preparing to go west. The New York Saints are nearly all from old England, with a sprinkling from Scotland and Ireland, and, I should suppose, in general better off here than they were in those countries, that is, they make more money, which is the sine quo non for going west. In Church matters they are doing well.
With kindest regards to your Counsellers and the brethren in the Office, I am respectfully yours,
[Millennial Star, 18:750]
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Oct. 16, 1856, 1]
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Aug. 2006]