Thursday, June 17, 2010

Most overland 1850s era California settlers came past the Mormons. Revised, with addendum.

The history of the Mormons is something that I’ve tried to delve into many times. I know that the history of the Mormons, and the history of early California, is inextricably intertwined. The Mormons are as important to California history as the Franciscans, the settlers, or the Indians, but I’ve been unable to approach the subject from a position of delicacy and understanding. The following is an abreviated version of my orriginal post. I've removed much of MY opinion on the subject. My words are in red.

With my understanding about early California history comes the understanding that we all have the same opportunity to Judge the Mormon people of the past by our standards today. I know that won’t work, nor is it fair to judge the Mormons of today by the actions of those in the past. Hopefully we can rise above judgment and simply enjoy the history.

Most of the things that I write about here, are things that drop into my lap, and I post about it. As many of you know, I love the early history of California and the pioneers that settled here. None of the early history of California would be complete without the story of how the early “Californians” got here, whether by sea-going schooner or “prairie schooner”. It has often occurred to me that most of the people that came overland to California had some kind of a contact with the Mormons.

 The Mormons are somewhat puzzling, because they believe in everything. If a person is going to adopt a religion, it would seem that becoming a Mormon would make the most sense. They not only have The Old Testament, they have The New Testament, plus they have The Book of Mormon. They even have modern day prophets. Some fundamentalist branches of the church believe in multiple wives. Nowadays, the main church has moved away from multiple wives, but it was once a very important part of the Church.

The Mormons are a very important part of the history of this country. Indeed, the Mormon religion was born right here in the United states of America. A true red white and blue religion, so I feel it's an important part of history, that is offen left out. I have included some links below that give a lot of Mormon history, so if you enjoy reading, knock yourself out.

Joseph Smith Jr.

Joseph Smith Jr. was the founder of the Mormon Church. Smith was born December 23, 1805. In the late 1820s, probably 1827, Smith made an amazing announcement. He claimed that an Angel Moroni had led him to a spot in the woods of Manchester New York, where he found buried, a book filled with golden pages, upon which was written the religious history of the native American people. The mormons believe that the American Indian is one of the 10 tribes of Isreal.

"The Book of Mormon, one of the religious texts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), claims that early residents of the Americas included descendents from the tribe of Joseph, and particularly through Manasseh. Some sources such as Howshua Amariel and various researchers assert that DNA evidence, linguistic research, and other research indicates links between the Cherokee Nation and the Jewish people."(Wikipedia)

The book was written in a language that Smith had never seen before. Smith said that the Angel Moroni had also given him a pair of “Seer Stones”, that he called “Urim and Thummin”. The stones were able to help him understand the religious history of the ancient Americans. He would place the stones in a hat and place his face in the hat so all light was blocked out. then the stones would reveal to him what the Golden Tablets said. The tablets didn't even need to be near. Indeed they were buried away from other people most of the time. (According to Joeseph Smith). He transcribed the translation, and a fellow by the name of Martin Harris wrote it down, the book became “The Book of Mormon”.

The Book of Mormon was published March 26th 1830 in Palmyra New York. Joseph Smith started preaching from The Book of Mormon, and he baptized several people. He called his new church “The Church of Christ”. In late 1830 Smith moved his Church of Christ to Kirkland Ohio, were he joined up with other faithful people of common beliefs.

From here, I think that I'm just going to quote from Wikipedia, because the story just gets to bizarre for my simple brain to grasp. The Mormon story is filled with revelations, exorcisms, visitations by holy spirits and so forth.

From Wikipedia:
"Moving the church in 1831 to Kirtland, Ohio, Smith attracted hundreds of converts, who came to be called Latter Day Saints. Some of these he sent to establish a holy city of "Zion" in Jackson County, Missouri. In 1833, Missouri settlers expelled the Saints from Zion, and a paramilitary expedition Smith led to recover the land was unsuccessful. Fleeing an arrest warrant in the aftermath of a Kirtland financial crisis, Smith joined the remaining Saints in Far West, Missouri. However, tensions escalated into a violent conflict in 1838 with the old Missouri settlers. Believing the Saints to be in insurrection, the governor ordered their expulsion from Missouri, and Smith was imprisoned on capital charges."

After escaping state custody in 1839, Smith led the Saints to build the city of Nauvoo, Illinois on Mississippi River swampland, where he became mayor and commanded a large militia. In early 1844, he announced his candidacy for President of the United States. That summer, after the Nauvoo Expositor criticized his power and new doctrines, such as plural marriage, Smith and the Nauvoo city council ordered the destruction of the newspaper as a nuisance. In a futile attempt to check public outrage, Smith first declared martial law, then surrendered to the governor of Illinois. He was killed by a mob while awaiting trial in Carthage, Illinois.

Smith's followers believe he was a great prophet who saw God and angels, and they regard his revelations as scripture. His teachings include unique views on the nature of godhood, cosmology, family structures, political organization, and religious collectivism. His legacy includes several religious denominations, which collectively claim a growing membership of nearly 14 million worldwide.

With the death of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young became the most important person in the Church of Christ.

Brigham Young

From wikipedia: "Young was drawn to Mormonism after reading the Book of Mormon shortly after its publication in 1830. He officially joined the new church in 1832 and traveled to Upper Canada as a missionary. After his first wife died in 1832, Young joined many Mormons in establishing a community in Kirtland, Ohio. Young was ordained a member of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1835, and he assumed a leadership role within that organization in taking Mormonism to the United Kingdom and organizing the exodus of Latter Day Saints from Missouri in 1838."

"After three years of leading the church as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, in 1847 Young reorganized a new First Presidency and was declared president of the church on December 27, 1847. Repeated conflict led Young to relocate his group of Latter-day Saints to a territory in what is now Utah, then part of Mexico. Young organized the journey that would take the faithful to Winter Quarters, Nebraska, in 1846 , then to the Salt Lake Valley. Young arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, a date now recognized as Pioneer Day in Utah."

Conflict with U.S. government:
"Shortly after the arrival of Young's pioneers, the new Mormon colonies were incorporated into the United States through Mexican Cession, Young petitioned the U.S. Congress to create the State of Deseret. The Compromise of 1850 instead carved out Utah Territory, and Young was installed as governor. As governor and church president, Young directed both religious and economic matters. He encouraged independence and self-sufficiency. Many cities and towns in Utah, and some in neighboring states, were founded under Young's direction. Young's leadership style has been viewed as autocratic.
When federal officials received reports of widespread and systematic obstruction of federal officials in Utah (most notably judges), U.S. President James Buchanan decided to install a non-Mormon governor. Buchanan accepted the reports of the judges without any further investigation, and the new non-sectarian governor was accompanied by troops sent to garrison forts in the new territory. The troops passed by the bloody Kansas–Missouri war without intervening in it, as it was not open warfare and only isolated sporadic incidents. When Young received word that federal troops were headed to Utah with his replacement, he called out his militia to ambush the federal column. During the defense of Deseret, now called the Utah War, Young held the U.S. Army at bay for a winter by taking their cattle and burning supply wagons. The Mormon forces were largely successful thanks to Lot Smith. Young made plans to burn Salt Lake City and move his followers to Mexico, but at the last minute he relented and agreed to step down as governor. He later received a pardon from Buchanan. Relations between Young and future governors and U.S. Presidents were mixed."

"Mountain Meadows massacre, which took place in Washington County in 1857. Leonard J. Arrington reports that Brigham Young received a rider at his office on the same day. When he learned what was contemplated by the members of the Mormon Church in Parowan and Cedar City, he sent back a letter that the Fancher party be allowed to pass through the territory unmolested. Young's letter supposedly arrived two days too late, on September 13, 1857. As governor, Young had promised the federal government he would protect immigrants passing through Utah Territory. But he had also allegedly told local Native American leaders that they had his permission to steal cattle from these wagon trains. Over 120 men, women and children were killed by the Mormons and their Native American allies. It is clear that local Mormons were the principal perpetrators. United States Army officer James Henry Carleton was sent to investigate the massacre and was convinced that the Mormons were the perpetrators. Only children survived, the murdered members of the wagon train (known as the Fancher Party) were left unburied, and the surviving children were cared for by local Mormon families. The remains of about forty people were found and buried and Carleton had a large cross made from local trees, the transverse beam bearing the engraving, "Vengeance Is Mine, Saith The Lord: I Will Repay" and erected a cairn of rocks at the site. A large slab of granite was put up on which he had the following words engraved: "HERE 120 MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN WERE MASSACRED IN COLD BLOOD EARLY IN SEPTEMBER, 1857. THEY WERE FROM ARKANSAS." For two years the monument stood as a warning to those travelling the Spanish Trail through Mountain Meadow. Some claim that, In 1861, Young brought an entourage to Mountain Meadows and had the cairn and cross destroyed, while exclaiming, "Vengeance is mine and I have taken a little". However, others claim it was torn down and then re-built in 1864 by the U.S. military."

Brigham Young and the Mormon church apparently had much control over the Indian people. They told the Indian people that the “Mormon Garment” would protect them. Many of the Indian people became fearless thinking that the garment would stop bullets. Many found out that was a false thought. The Mormons decided who would get “safe passage” and who wouldn’t. Getting past the Mormons must have been a challenge for the new west bound settlers.

Addendum: I added this story below because Jared Farmer told the story much better than I could have.
Displaced from Zion:

Mormons and Indians in the 19th Century
By Jared Farmer

Typical and exceptional at the same time, Utah's frontier past offers an illuminating perspective on U.S. history. The story of Utah's formation—settlers colonizing Indian land, organizing a territory, dispossessing natives, and achieving statehood—could not be more American. This typicality requires explanation. How is it that Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) managed to replicate a colonial pattern of Indian displacement when their ideas about Indians, not to mention their ideas about place, were so different from those of other American Protestants? Early Mormons saw Indians as spiritual kin with whom they would build a new Zion. But prophecies, dreams, and intentions did not become realities. Before they submitted to American conventions of marriage and the family, Latter-day Saints had freely absorbed the racist ideology of the nation.

The Mormon-Indian connection goes back to Joseph Smith's teenage imagination. "In the course of our [family's] evening conversations," his mother recalled, "Joseph would give us some of the most amusing recitals which could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent—their dress, their manner of traveling, the animals which they rode, the cities that were built by them, the structures of their buildings, with every particular of their mode of warfare, their religious worship as particularly as though he had spent his life with them." In 1830, as a serious adult, Smith produced the Book of Mormon. This 584-page scripture purports to be a record of North America's ancient inhabitants.
Among other things, the Book of Mormon narrates the emigration of an Israelite family out of Jerusalem around 600 B.C.E. With God's assistance, these Hebrews traveled by boat to America. Here in the (other) Promised Land, they fragmented into antagonistic groups—the Nephites and the Lamanites. The Lamanites lived as nomads and were cursed with dark skin, whereas the Nephites built great cities. Something like the two kingdoms of ancient Judaism, the groups repeatedly switched roles as the wicked and the righteous. Only for a brief period did harmony reign across the land. The righteousness came from Christ. The Redeemer himself appeared in the [End Page 40] New World during his absence from the tomb. The resurrected Savior repeated the Sermon on the Mount, performed the sacrament, and appointed twelve disciples. Ultimately, however, the Lamanites reverted to wickedness and idolatry. They eliminated all the fair-skinned Nephites and with them all the vestiges Christianity.

Moroni, the last of the Nephite scribes, buried the scriptural record in the Hill Cumorah before his death around 421 C.E. Much later, in angelic form, Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith and showed him the location of the hill, which was not far from Smith's home in Palmyra, New York. After finding and translating the Book of Mormon, the new prophet published it.

On the original title page, Smith announced one of the main purposes of the Book of Mormon: "to shew unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever." Even in their degenerate state, the descendents of the Lamanites remained part of the covenant. In the Last Days, the "seed of Israel" would be redeemed. Many 19th-century Christians tried to convert the Indians, but only the Mormons had such lofty expectations. Once redeemed, the "remnant of Jacob" would take the lead in building the New Jerusalem, the site of the Second Coming. Repentant "Gentiles"—Mormon converts—would work with the Lamanites as assistants. The remaining Gentiles—the unconverted—would be annihilated in the apocalypse. Earthquakes and floods would wipe out the wicked. In addition, Mormons anticipated an army of Lamanites—the "strong arm of Jehovah," the "battle-ax of the Lord"—crushing their enemies like a lion among sheep. In the midst of this creative destruction, the Lamanites would reclaim their former glory, including fair skin.

In short, the religion of Joseph Smith reserved a paradoxical place for Indians. Knowing nothing of their lineage, these future Christian Israelites were destined to save the world, though they couldn't save themselves. Early Mormons saw themselves as "grafts" of Israel. Through conversion, Latter-day Saints acquired "believing blood." Later, influenced by British Israelism, the Saints would claim to possess literal Hebraic bloodlines. Either way, they had reason to regard Indians as extended family. Early church members sometimes referred to native peoples as "Cousin Laman" or "Cousin Lemuel" (after figures in the Book of Mormon).

Joseph Smith wasted no time trying to fulfill prophecy. In 1830, shortly after the publication of his scripture and the organization of his church, Smith announced the doctrine of the gathering. Nineteenth-century Mormons were essentially Christian Zionists. Their "center place"was supposed to be "on the borders of the Lamanites." Missouri fitted the description. It was located at the center of the continent and at the edge of the United States—right next to newly created Indian Territory. Before moving to Missouri himself, Smith dispatched four missionaries to Indian Territory. Although the Shawnees and the Delawares seemed receptive at first, the Mormons couldn't get beyond first impressions because the responsible U.S. Indian agent evicted the missionaries for not having a license. Reporting to his superintendent, the agent noted that the "the Men act very strange."

After the failure of the Indian mission, Joseph Smith turned his attention to other aspects of building his kingdom. Yet he did not lose faith in the destiny of Indians. In 1835, traveling from Ohio to Missouri with an ad hoc army meant to assist persecuted Mormon settlers, Smith rekindled the Lamanite enthusiasm. When some of his followers exhumed a skeleton from a burial mound, Smith received a vision. He identified the bones as the remains of Zelph, an uncursed "white Lamanite" warrior who had fallen in battle. Impressed by the vision, one of Smith's apostles carried Zelph's thighbone to Missouri to bury the relic at the envisaged temple site. Before the temple could be built, Missourians forcibly evicted Latter-day Saints from the state. Allegations of misconduct included "Indian tampering." Rumors of nefarious alliances with Indians would dog the Latter-day Saints for decades.

Displaced from Zion, Smith recognized that the day of prophecy—for Indians and Mormons—had been deferred. Hewent on to build the theocratic city of Nauvoo, Illinois, before running afoul of his neighbors again. In 1844, days before his martyrdom in a county jail in Carthage, Illinois, Smith looked forward to finding refuge in the Rocky Mountains, where the Lamanites would serve as a shield. In the tumult following the lynching of the Prophet, the Latter-day Saint movement splintered. As anti-Mormon violence spread in Illinois, various would-be prophets vied for control of the Saints. The majority faction, 12,000-15,000 strong, lined up behind the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Its president, Brigham Young, approved the idea that Zion could be relocated to the Rocky Mountains or beyond.

Planning the exodus took priority over everything else, but true believers did not forget that someday they would have to turn their attention to the Lamanites. In July 1847, immediately after arriving in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake with the vanguard emigrants, President Young reminded his flock of its moral duties. In a sermon on the roles of men and women, he exhorted wives to obey their husbands, and husbands to obey the will of the Lord—including the principle of plural marriage. This principle would be extended in time to Indians. Young envisioned that "the Elders would marry Wives of every tribe of Indians, and showed how the Lamanites would become a White&delight some people &how our descendants may live to the age of a tree & be visited & hold communion with the Angels; & bring in the Millennium."

One congregant pondered Young's words, especially his prophecy about Lamanites. "A part of [our] duty in this world is to bring the Indians from their benighted situation," wrote Levi Jackman. "In this place we finde a place and a people to commence with." Still, Jackman wondered how this could be achieved given the "brute" intelligence and "mean" existence of these "filthy, degrade[d] and miserable beings":

When I reflect and co[n]sider that thay are of the haus of Isreal, or the stick of Jacob, and the children of the covenent seed, unto who me belongs the priesthood and the oricals of God … I say to myself O Lord who is able to do all this—But the decree has gon foarth and it must be accomplished, and it will be marvilous, not onley to us but to generations yet to come.

This quote beautifully illustrates the tension in Mormon thought between Indian-as-brother and Indian as other; between sympathy and contempt, belief and doubt. Mormon Indian policy never transcended these contradictions. The first testing ground was the Ute stronghold in Utah Valley to the south of the new Mormon capital. Utah Valley centered on Utah Lake, a freshwater fishery with prodigious runs of cutthroat trout. Local bands of "Utahs" (Ute Indians) went by place- and food-specific names like Lake People and Fish Eaters. Utah Lake hosted large semi-permanent villages and larger seasonal gatherings.

In 1849 Mormons boldly established a lakeside settlement—today's Provo—next to the largest Indian village. The settlement's first year was disorderly. Mormons built a fort to keep out the Indians, yet invited Indians in anyhow. They traded and gambled and fished with Utes. But in autumn, after a few aggressive Mormons killed a native man and failed to make amends, certain Fish Eaters retaliated by killing Mormon cattle and threatening worse. By winter, local leaders convinced Brigham Young to send a military force to exterminate all of the hostile Indians. The "Indian war" was shockingly sanguinary, including the massacre of at least eleven unarmed male Ute prisoners in front of their families on the ice of Utah Lake. Strangely enough, by the time of the trout spawn in spring 1850, Mormons and Utes were once [End Page 41] again trading and gambling together.

Over the ensuing decade, as Mormons gradually displaced the Lake People from their fishing grounds, interethnic relations vacillated between segregation and neighborliness, disdain and respect, war and peace. This fluctuation puzzled U.S. Army Lieutenant John Gunnison, one of the earliest and best outside commentators on the Utah Saints. Gunnison's own view, one shared by most whites at mid-century, was harsh but simple: the "red devils" were part of a "doomed race" that deserved to be extinguished. By comparison, Mormons struggled to understand their relationship to natives. Concerning the "Indian war," Gunnison wrote:

It is a curious matter of reflection, that those whose mission it is to convert these aborigines by the sword of the spirit, should thus be obliged to destroy them—but they stoutly affirm that these people will yet, under their instruction, fulfil the prophecy that "a nation shall be born in a day"; and when they have completed the destined time, will listen to the truth and become "a fair and delight some people."

In actuality this belief varied from Saint to Saint and from year to year. The church laity generally cared less about the redemption of the Lamanites than did the hierarchy. As the lay population absorbed larger numbers of English and Scandinavian converts—people with no connection to Joseph Smith and no experience with Native Americans—this divide widened.

Even the authorities were neither united nor consistent. Brigham Young can be described as a skeptical or fair-weather believer. In 1849 he expressed his doubts that the "old Indians now alive" would enter "the new and ever lasting covenant." It would be "many years" before the Lamanites would be redeemed, he suggested. The current generation of Indians "will not do it, but they will die and be damned." A few days later he said that "this presant race of Indians will never be converted." If they were all killed off, "it mattereth not." In 1850 he argued for the removal of all Indians from Utah Territory. At other times he expressed faith that the Lamanites would soon "blossom as the rose." The "Mormon Chief " got to know many Ute leaders personally, even intimately: he baptized them; gave blessings to them; wrote letters to them; smoked with them; sang hymns to them; spoke in tongues to them; and ransomed slaves from them.

Ute chiefs were just as conflicted. They fought with each other as well as with Mormons. When it suited them, they made overtures to New Mexicans, Mormons, federal officials, and other natives. To Brigham Young's exasperation, they acted like neither true friends nor true enemies.

Young's faith in Indian solidarity increased during the "Mormon Reformation" of 1855-57. In the heat of this millenarian moment many Mormons anticipated the rise of an independent Latter-day Saint nation from the ashes of the United States. As foreseen by Joseph Smith, the apocalypse included a prominent role for the "remnant of Jacob." In preparation, Young established several Indian missions.

In 1857, adding fuel to a roaring fire, President James Buchanan ordered a large armed force—2,500 men—to install a non-Mormon appointee to the territorial governorship. Buchanan acted rashly on the exaggerated complaints of runaway officials—federal appointees who had left the territory frustrated by the LDS shadow government. Having been driven from their homes in Missouri and Illinois, the Mormons responded with defiance to the perceived federal invasion. Young bragged in public about his influence over the Indians and worked to shut down overland mail routes. His chief liaison to the Indians, Dimick Huntington, conducted negotiations with Shoshones, Utes, and Paiutes. Huntington hoped to get them to ally with the Mormons instead of "the Americans."

The cold war between the LDS Church and the federal government relaxed in 1858, but the episode had long-lasting consequences for Indians. The "Utah War" diverted attention and personnel away from the Utah Superintendency of Indian Affairs. In Utah Valley, a newly established Indian Farm—a quasi-reservation meant to compensate for the appropriated fishing grounds at Utah Lake—fell into disrepair. And so 1858 became another year of hunger and sickness for the Fish Eaters. Since the founding of Provo, the native population had been hit by measles, cholera, consumption, scarlet fever, whooping cough, and mumps. When Dimick Huntington went to the barren Indian Farm to give away food, a Ute leader asked "what it ment they was all sick & [asserted that] Brigham & I had talked to the Great Spirit to make them all sick & die. I told him it was not so for when B & all the good mormons prayed, they prayed for them. he sayed o shit you Lie."

Huntington actually spoke from his heart. Not long afterward he concluded his journal with a prayer: "may God turn away our enemies from us & all that are not of us & Gather Israel. wake up the sons of Laman[;] make them a defence to Zion&Let Zion be redeemd, the Jews be gatherd to Jerusalem&it be rebuilt [and] the tribes come from the North. Amen." In retrospect, this prayer was a coda to the reformation rather than a prelude to the millennium. After the détente of 1858, the U.S. government played a greater role in the prosecution of Indian affairs in Utah Territory. In 1865 Ute leaders met federal officials near Utah Lake to sign a reservation treaty. Brigham Young attended the treaty session and urged the Utes to sign. Lacking options, the starving remnants of the Fish Eaters agreed to relocate from Utah Valley to a distant, lakeless region. Banished from their Center Place, the displaced Utes lost their identity as Lake People.

In the 1860s Mormon millenarianism waned and Lamanite missions faded. Like successful colonizers throughout the nation, Mormons began to think of themselves as victimized survivors. "The early history of Provo, if written,would be devoted in the main to a recital of extreme hardships, resulting from bitter and almost incessant Indian wars," editorialized the Provo Chamber of Commerce in 1888. After overtures of peace, the "Indians soon began a characteristic and most violent warfare upon the hardy settlers." By the early 20th century, as the last of the pioneer generation passed away, Utah Mormons told pseudo-historical Indian stories indistinguishable from the fakelore told by post-frontier Americans everywhere. In collective memory, Lamanites and Lake People became generic "squaws," "bucks," "savages," and "princesses."

There are three main ways to interpret the 19th-century history of Mormon-Native interaction. The first, offered by sectarian apologists, highlights examples of magnanimity by individual Mormon pioneers. Not all Latter-day Saints carried out the teachings of Joseph Smith, but many tried, and generally Mormons practiced more charity than other American settlers in comparable frontier settings. The second interpretive viewpoint—common among historians of the U.S. West—asserts that Mormons were actually worse than other settler groups because they failed so miserably to live up to their exalted beliefs. Judged by their own standards, Mormons come across as hypocrites or transgressors—or both.

A third, less judgmental position argues that Mormon culture and theology existed in creative tension with American culture and politics. By studying the fringe we can better understand the core. While Latter-day Saints inherited from Joseph Smith an unusual racialist perspective on Native Americans, they also inherited a normative racist perspective from Euro-American culture. Interpreted as American history, Utah offers a sobering case study in Indian dispossession. Only here did a colonial U.S. population conceive of having a "homeland" in the Native American sense—an endemic spiritual geography. Mormonism, a religion indigenous to the United States, initially embraced American Indians as spiritual kin. Metaphysically and geographically, this religion reserved a privileged place for natives. What does it say about the limits of the racial imagination in 19th-century America that even Christian Israelites couldn't coexist for more than one generation with Hebraic Indians?

the ten lost tribes of Isreal
Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon. (Wikipedia)
Joseph Smith Jr. Wikipedia
Brigham Young Biography
Brigham Young Wikipedia
Mormons and Indians in the 19th century



Washington Carrasco said...

Joseph Smith was a PT Barnum-like huckster -- a colorful salsesman who founded a carnavalesque religion.

Perhaps Mormons do "believe in everything," but I'd say they'll believe in anything.

Jon said...

Amazes me that people seem to forget that when Alta California declared Independence from Mexico, that the new Republic of California was a whole lot larger than when the Republic was admitted as a Several State of the United States of America on September 9, 1850.

After June 14th 1846 when the Mormons crossed the Colorado Rockies they were in the New Republic of California. When the first Mormon Scouts busted through the Unita Mountains, they were In the New Republic of California. When the Mormons Settled up and down the mighty Colorado, they did so in the Republic of California (formerly known as Territorio de Alta California by the Republic of Mexico).

Yah, someone out there is going to yak about the Treaty of Guadalupe de Hidalgo and how I'am so vary wrong.

Well go ahead, someone out there might prove me wrong as to the size of the New Republic of
California on June 14th 1846. I will even shoot the crow, dress it, cook it and relish every bite. When I'am wrong I own up to it. (Word if Caution, My Nez Perce friends still refer to me as Raven Killer and if you eat at my fire you just might end up eating one of those Ravens,I mean crows.)

Ernie, the history of our Great Republic (California) is larger than we think.

Jon Huettl, a naive of California.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Jon, You are right. Thank you for writing. I hope that you don’t have to eat crow. The “Bran” in Branscomb is Welsh for “crow”. and I can assure you that I’m NOT tasty.

Anonymous said...

You are what I call "Old Crow" Ernie.


Ernie Branscomb said...

More required reading
The treaty of guadalupe de hidalgo


Ernie Branscomb said...


The cession that the treaty facilitated included parts of the modern-day U.S. states of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming, as well as the whole of California, Nevada, Utah, and, depending on one's point of view, Texas. The remaining parts of what are today the states of Arizona and New Mexico were later peacefully ceded under the 1853 Gadsden Purchase, in which the U.S. paid an additional US$10 million (equivalent to $260 million today).

Jon said...

Back when we getting ready to become a State, them folks back in the East made it a point that California would not have a say in how the Territory ceded to the United States of America by California would be divided and administered. Yet there are those that say the Treaty of Hidalgo shows that California was a Territory negotiated and paid for by the United States.

Wait a minute, if California was required to give the United States her land that would no longer be California but a Territory of the United States, then you can nix the old TREATY OF HIDALGO right in the rear.

The thing to remember is Fremont and Montgomery blew it when Fremont offers to help the Bear Flag Revolt on his own, never giving notice to the Founders of the New Republic that he was there at the order of the President of the United States to secure the lands of Alta California from the Mexicans. Had Fremont instructed the Founders that He (Fremont) would command his men in the name of the United States then Alta California would have been liberated by the United States, ergo Alta California would have been a Territory of the United States and recognized such in the Treaty of Gudalupe Hidalgo. Fremont's error lies in this fact, in the real world of law it is a fatal error that denied the United States Government from just dividingj up California at its will.

Had not Montgomery accepted the Standard of the New Republic (think: BEAR FLAG) and not placed it aboard the Portsmouth, then the United States would have denied the existence of the Republic. Two fatal errors on the part of the United States secret mission to Alta California.

Ernie, I did not mean to hijack your post and will tell you why. WHY? Because I was raised by a man who had been born and raised in Salt Lake City when Utah was still a Territory. I can remember back in '58 when Alaska became a State and one of his friends asked him if he could remember the day Utah became a State. He did remember and told of of how his father took him to the Territorial Capital Building on that day and watched them lower the Flag of the United States of America and hoist the new Flag of the State of Utah, he could not remember all of the speeches but did remember with glee all of the festivities going on around the Temple on Temple Street and how he raced his friends around Temple Street in joy and celebration. He could remember his father telling him that he was no longer a Citizen of the United States but a Citizen of the State of Utah one of the Several States of the United States of America. He related on how this did not make any sense to him at 7 years of age but as he grew older he understood what his father had said that day in 1896 of his Citizenship.. I had a hard time with it also at the age of 8, but in time I also began to understand why it was so important to him to explain to us that day what was in his heart as a Citizen.. No his family was not Mormon, but all through his life his Mormon Friends were many and true as are mine.. So your investigation to California history of the Mormons and their contributions to settlement of the West is REALLY BIG. That man would often refer to his native Utah as one of Californias' Daughter States.

Thank you for letting me chew your ear off..Best regards from Jon Huettl a son of California.

ps..That wonderful mans name was Roger W. Jessup and at one time he owned a Cattle Ranch on the Eel.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Jon, please don't apologize, but please continue with you Alta California and Mormon comments. They fit right in with this post and with where I'm heading with the next few posts. You’ve got my mind whirling when you mentioned Fremont. I think that he was taken as a willing prisoner of the "Bear Flag Republic" and the Kelseys, and they had to sacrifice California to the republic. (Like I think that you said) I have some history on that, but I’m not near it right now. I’ll look it up tonight. Meanwhile, if anybody else knows how California became a state, chime in.

Anonymous said...

your Blog is getting too complicated for me again. Need to talk about Leo Etter sometime.

Ernie Branscomb said...

It was not Fremont that was taken as a willing prisoner, but Vallejo.

From Wikipedia: "The same day, the rebels captured the Commandant of Northern California, General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, who openly endorsed the inevitability of the annexation of California by the United States. Vallejo was sent to Sutter's Fort, where he was kept a prisoner until August 1, 1846.[1] The Republic's first and only president was William B. Ide[2], whose rule lasted twenty-five days. On June 23, 1846, Frémont arrived with sixty soldiers and took command in the name of the United States. The Bear Flag was replaced by the Stars and Stripes. The "republic" vanished and Ide enlisted in the U.S. forces as a private. The Mexican governor sent 55 men to attempt to crush the rebellion, but General José Castro's forces were defeated at the Battle of Olompali.

Unknown to Frémont and the Bear Flag supporters, war had already been formally declared on May 13, 1846, but the news did not reach California until early July, when the frigate USS Savannah and the two sloops, USS Cyane and USS Levant, of the United States Navy captured Monterey, California."

J2Bad said...

The remaining parts of what are today the states of Arizona and New Mexico were later peacefully ceded under the 1853 Gadsden Purchase, in which the U.S. paid an additional US$10 million (equivalent to $260 million today).

You can call it peaceful, and you're right that the territory was ceded for money, but Santa Anna was feeling the pressure from Californian filibusters - primarily William Walker - who kept threatening to take all of Sonora and Baja California by force. He needed the cash and suspected that he wouldn't be able to hold the territory much longer, but he didn't exactly want to give it up.

Anonymous said...

In 1853, John and Suzanna Middleton of Kentucky, traveled westward with the wagon train led by an experienced Indian guide, to Salt Lake City, Utah. They wintered in Salt Lake, where their 2nd daughter, Mary was born in the spring. Mary was the 1st non-Morman white child born in the city of Salt Lake, which was founded 6 years prior by Brigham Young. (Family records)


Robin Shelley said...

I, too, have a Mormon family history although it has been watered down some during the last three generations of my immediate family. I have extended family still deeply entrenched. Keep going, Ernie. I have a feeling OMaR knows quite a lot about this, too. The LDS history is some of the most fascinating to me.

olmanriver said...

I find this stuff fascinating, but I don't have much to contribute.
I do know that there were a few participants of the Mountain Meadow massacre to settle in Normendo/Sohum.
Not sure if Ernie mentioned it, but those Mormons who slaughtered the whites were disguised as Indians to place the blame on them. This must be one of the examples that Hollywood used to base their whites in Indian garb movie plotlines.

What is clear is that fast switching alliances, betrayals, and treachery were common on the frontier.

I just finished reading an Indian History of the Modoc war by Jeff Riddle, whose parents served as interpreters between the whites and Indians. It is a great read by one who was there. He shows that the same Modocs who taunted and shamed Captain Jack to provoke him to attack General Canby, were the first to switch sides and take gov't money to bring in the Indians who had dispersed after the last big battle in the lava beds.

Very few people know of the Ben Wright massacre where Modocs and other Indians were lured to a peaceful gathering and killed en masse, that preceded the Modoc war by about twenty years. Wright boasted of sending a thousand Indians to their graves.

In this same early 1850's period the whites lured a large body of Indians to a meeting near Ft. Jones and poisoned the beef killing at least 500.

When I read earlier of Spyrock's ancestors journey across the plains where the riled whites contemplated strychnining the Indians made me wonder why they would have strychnine on the wagon train. Can anyone think of what use it would have?

spyrock said...

they used it as rat poison and it was also used on gophers, prairie dogs, moles, and coyotes. the cia used it in the acid they gave to the hippies back in the 60's. the germans gave it to the jews during world war 2. it causes a very painful and violent death. but the painful truth is that a lot of indians were killed by poison meat. so give that wagon master credit because he didn't let that happen. there were a lot of men like wright who were full of hate back in those days and their descendents still live up in your area and some live down here by me. what surprizes me is that the dude can even read or spell. someone who acted that disrespectful in the pioneer days wouldn't have lasted a new york minute in the last of the west.
i read that modoc book four years ago and a lot of other versions. i'm sure there's a chapter somewhere in one of those books saying that they raided as far south as clear lake.

olmanriver said...

Thanks spyrock for that recommendation on the Life Amongst the Modoc you gave me...some have suggested that modern city folk wouldn't make it too long in the old days because we aren't as tough and ornery as the people of that day on the frontier.
Joaquim Miller was an effeminate long blonde haired young man in the first part of his book. Interestingly, he seemed to have aroused more protective instincts, than predatory impulses, amongst his hard-drinkin', hard-livin' contemporaries.
Eventually he toughens up, but this book starts out sort of like a version of James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man... in the Wild West.

I need to reread it after reading the Indian History of the Modoc Wars, since they are both accounts of the same time in history.

What I love about the latter book is that it shows the full spectrum of attitudes towards the Indians, including the minority who were trying to "save" them, or at least, not leave them to the genocidal wolves amongst the whites.

Yesterday at a yard sale I spoke with a Kiowa man who really knew his tribes history...fascinating. One of the stories he told concerned the war chief saving the life of a white boy who was the last survivor of an attack on a wagon train. The chief, having a few daughters, wanted a son. The son grew up to be a fierce war chief of his tribe, wearing the red sash taken from Mexican soldiers as his signature cape.

I have read numerous accounts of whites passing through Indian held areas and many made it through fine, many had trouble. The forethinking wagon train master in your storyline showed how the behavior of the Indians sometimes depended on how the previous immigrants passing through treated the Indians. He was wise to perceive that his actions could make it worse for those who followed.

Strychnine for prairie dogs, that one makes sense.

spyrock said...

what i meant by modern city folks or country folks for that matter is their lack of respect for others would have got them killed in the old days. there was no courtroom, no judge, no lawyer. justice was right there on everyones hip. so people were more likely to tip their hat, show some respect and be on their way in the old days no matter who the other person was.