Sept. 30, 1856
Elder O. Pratt
As the mail will soon leave, I improve a few moments to keep you advised of matters with us. It is a general time of health and peace throughout our Territory; all things are going right and prospering.
One of the most interesting scenes that was ever witnessed in our Territory, was the arrival of two of the hand-cart companies, on the 26th inst. Having heard the night previous that they were camped between the two mountains, Presidents Young and Kimball, and many citizens, with a detachment of the Lancers, and the brass bands, went out to meet and escort them into the City. They met the companies at the foot of the Little Mountain. Elder E. Ellsworth led the first company, and Elder Daniel D. McArthur the second; and after the meeting and salutations were over, amid feelings which no one can describe, the escort was formed, a party of Lancers leading the advance, followed by the bands, the Presidency, the Marshal, and citizens; then came the companies of hand-carts, another party of Lancers bringing up the rear. Bishop Hunter, Capt. L.W. Hardy and myself fell in with the escort as they entered the City. I must say my feelings were inexpressible to behold a company of men, women, and children, many of them aged and infirm, enter the City of the Great Salt Lake, drawing 100 hand-carts, (led by Brother Ellsworth, who assisted in drawing the first hand-cart), with which they had traveled some 1,400 miles in nine weeks, and to see them dance with joy as they traveled through the streets, complaining of nothing, only that they had been detained by the ox teams that carried some of their provisions, as they had to wait for them several hours each day, the oxen not being able to keep up with them. They say if it had not been for these teams they would have been in ten days sooner. This sight filled our hearts with joy and thanksgiving to God. Yes, our hearts swelled until we were speechless with joy, and not with sorrow. As I gazed upon the scene, meditating upon the future result, it looked to me like the first hoisting of the floodgates of deliverance to the oppressed millions. We can now say to the poor and honest in heart, come home to Zion, for the way is prepared. As the companies entered the City, and passed on to the public square, the streets were thronged with thousands of people gazing upon the scene, which looked more like the dream of a night vision that a reality. They pitched their tents upon the public square. President Young called upon the Bishops and people to carry them food while they remained there; in a short time we could see loads of provisions going to their encampment. There has never been a company enter these valleys that has had the honour and respect paid to them that the hand-cart companies have. Elders Ellsworth and McArthur have gained honour and glory in leading these brave companies: they have walked all the way, and assisted in drawing the hand-carts to Zion, healed the sick, and strengthened the weak, by night and by day. When those worthy Elders entered the City, they remained at the head of their companies covered with dust, drawing a hand-cart like the rest of the brethren. Elder Ellsworth, while his own home and seeing his wife and children standing in the door did not stop to speak to them, but only saluted them while passing and remained with….
There were….Ellsworth’s company…McArthur’s doing the whole journey though many were aged and…men and children have drawn…all the way. No oxen that could be put upon the road could keep up with them.
President Young has been sanguine from the beginning, that it was a safe and practical enterprise, and it has now been proven to be so; and I feel that we can say to the Saints in all the world, let your hearts be comforted; have faith and trust in God; call upon Him in mighty prayers; be faithful, and follow the counsel of His servants, and lay up all that you can tot help you over the sea, and your deliverance is nigh, even at the door.
The Presidency of the Church have commenced a great reformation among this people in the valleys of the mountains. I have never heard as strong sermons delivered to the people as have been preached unto them of late. The Presidency are weighing the people in the balances, and are calling upon them to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins.
President Grant has gone into the Northern Counties, and is preaching and baptizing whole Wards, and building up Churches. I presume the same course will be pursued in the Wards in this City. The people begin to feel more than ever that they are dealing with the Spirit and power of God, and the holy Priesthood. Yes, the Latter-day Saints begin to feel that they are dealing with a Spirit than can reach the hearts, know the thoughts and intents thereof, and try the souls of men. The people are called to sanctify themselves before the Lord, that we may be prepared for the work of our God.
Elder P.P. Pratt, in company with the eastern missionaries started on the 10th instant.
We are making great preparations for our home manufacturing and agricultural State fair, which is to be held in the Deseret store. The awarding committees occupy it tomorrow, to award premiums, after which it will be open to the public. It would do your soul good to walk through the building and see the products of Utah which are there gathered together; it is certainly far beyond my expectation. A full account will be published in the Deseret News.
The California mail arrived today. I received a letter from C.C. Rich, of San Bernardino—all well in that place.
We are having a favourable fall for all kinds of labour, except it is dry—we need rain.
Our early frosts damaged late corn very much. Some are sowing their fall wheat.
Wheat is again selling from $1 to $1.50 per bushel, notwithstanding we have just passed through a famine.
Your family, and the families of all our brethren in England are well, so far as I know.
Remember me to Elder Benson, and all our friends.
[Millennial Star, 18:794]
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sept. 30, 1856, 1]
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Aug. 2006]