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October 1849


Events in George Q. Cannon’s journal for 1849

6 October

Heard instruction by Brigham Young in the Bowery in Great Salt Lake City on missionary work

8 October

Received a blessing from Erastus Snow, Franklin D. Richards, and John Taylor

11 October

Left Great Salt Lake City for California with blessing of Brigham Young

14 October

Arrived at Provo, Utah

17 October

Learned from Henry Bigler about the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, California

23 October

Counseled together as to what route to take in order to find water

26 October

Wrote a copy of the constitution of the State of Deseret for Captain Jefferson Hunt to take to Lower California and then be sent to Washington

29 October

Conversation with Henry Bigler “upon philosophy & the planetary system”

1 November ff.

Most in the wagon train left the Spanish Trail and took an ill-advised shortcut.

5 November

Death of Cannon’s pack horse, “Croppy”

13 November

“Hand of the Lord” seen in a life-saving rain

18 November

Rejoined with Captain Hunt on the Spanish Trail

20 November ff.

Travel from the Muddy River, Nevada, to Cajon Pass, California

2 December

“We caught the first glimpse of the Sierra Nevada.”

9 December

Cannon’s last journal entry regarding travel to California

6 October 1849 • Saturday

25Meeting26 appointed at the Bowery,27 I accordingly met. Bro. Brigham [Young] spoke at some length on the necessity of men keeping the commandments of God and walking uprightly. Said that a man that thought when he came back from a Mission that he would live at ease was not in the path of his duty; or that lusted for farms, horses, Cattle, Gold or anything else were not doing what was right. A Man must always live with the love of the priesthood in his heart, and not the love of the things of this world, & whatever he has let it go freely & put it out to usury; for the Lord loves not the niggard & the man that closes up his heart.

7 October 1849 • Sunday

Busy all day preparing for starting. In Evening attended meeting28 in Bowery; those going on missions were blest numbering in all 21;29 four30 of the Twelve viz: John Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, Chas. [Charles] C. Rich, Erastus Snow, Franklin Richards. & the remainder High Priests & Seventies. The Spirit of the Lord was apparent & I felt it very sensibly; Bro. P. [Parley] P. Pratt while blessing Bro. Peter Hansen a Dane who was going with Bro. E [Erastus] Snow to Denmark, spoke in tongues & continued blessing him.

8 October 1849 • Monday

Writing for Uncle [John Taylor] & Twelve to Bro. [Samuel] Brannan31 occupied variously during day. I received a blessing Tuesday, Oct. 9th/49. from the hands of Brother E. Snow Bro. [Franklin D.] Richards & Uncle; the[y] told me that I should be blessed & prospered in my undertaking & be a pattern to my brethren for sobriety &c. & that the Angels of the Lord should watch over me & that I should return in safety.

9 October 1849 • Tuesday

Engaged in preparations for journey.32

10 October 1849 • Wednesday

do. do. do. Sat up greater part of night fixing saddles &c. & writing a letter to Charles.33

11 October 1849 • Thursday

34There was a party got up by Uncle on account of his going away;35 there were pretty near one hundred invited <to eat over Jordan>. we thought five or six of us that we would go over and eat our parting dinner, a universal spirit of hilarity & good feeling prevailing; we did not get there until the second table. there was a profusion of every thing eatable. I met Bro. Brigham returning from the feast, he stopped his carriage to speak to me. I got off my horse & Shook hands with him; he blessed me & told me that I should be blessed & he would remember me & pray for me; this was a gratification to me having met him & received his blessing. Stopped here all night.

12 October 1849 • Friday

Detained in morning rather late waiting for Bro. [Joseph] Cain who had been taken sick last night on the road & had stopped when he arrived we started on & travelled South about four miles & crossed Jordan, and camped upon Willow Creek where we met Bro. Chauncy West who stayed with us all night rained hard nearly all night but we slept comfortable considering the weather.

13 October 1849 • Saturday

In morning started from Willow Creek after travelling five miles came on to the ridge <or mountain> between the two vallies Salt Lake & Utah we could not see much of the valley from the ridge; but after travelling a few miles we came in sight more into the valley & we could see the Lake in the distance; we crossed the dry bed of a creek in our day’s travel & after travelling about 16 miles from Willow Creek we came to the American fork where we camped for the night; the creek was about a rod wide a very pretty stream & very good water36; it rained during the night.

14 October 1849 • Sunday

Arose before day we intended to reach the settlement as soon as we could & remain the rest of the day. The mountains on the East side of the valley are higher than they are in the Upper Valley but not so much snow on; there had a light snow fell the previous night, and we could see them in the morning in the looming through the fog; after the a few hours travel we could see their summits they rose very precipitous; about noon we crossed a small spring branch and then in a few rods arrived at the Provo river it was a large rapid stream about 3 rods wide; the settlement was on the banks of this stream they had a fort built, it was a very pretty situation there was <is> a good deal of timber on this stream & scattered thro’ the bottom in the valley principally cedar & Cottonwood; they have a City laid out East of the Fort. a very pretty situation. Bros. [John] Park & [Thomas] Orr live here. Sister [Louisa] Park cooked for us supper & breakfast; we slept in Bro. Orr’s.

15 October 1849 • Monday

We started pretty early we were 20 in all & had chosen Bro. J. [James] M. Flake for Captain; after travelling 8 miles we reached Hobble Creek37 & 8 miles further crossed Spanish Fork; 6 miles farther [blank] Creek,38 3½ miles Came to Clear Creek a creek in the Prairie without timber or brush of any consequence where we Camped; the feed was excellent.39

16 October 1849 • Tuesday

Started about 8 o’clock & reached Summit Creek after 3½ miles; we soon entered Yohab [Juab] Valley. we passed some springs on the prairie five miles from the last creek & reached Slick40 Creek after 5 miles travel; we travelled 10 miles & Camped on Salt Creek.

17 October 1849 • Wednesday

Started very early in morning left the Yohab Valley by crossing a low ridge & entered into a pleasant valley no water though & very little timber the hills were covered with scrub cedar; we stopped at noon <about 2 hours & unpacked> upon a creek very clear called Chicken Creek; we travelled until after Sundown & camped upon the Severe [Sevier] River; the road in the afternoon was hilly & dusty. Had some conversation during afternoon with Bro. H’y. Bigelow [Henry Bigler] who told me about the discovery of the Gold Mines [at Coloma]; that Bros. [W. Sidney] Willis [Willes] & [Wilford] Hudson were not the original discoverers, of but that a Mr. [James W.] Marshall first found it; they (Bros. Willis & Hudson) discovered a very rich placer [Mormon Island] where our boys enriched themselves; they had heard that there had been Gold found up at Marshall’s Mill & had been up to see it; & in going down had been prospecting & had found this lead [Mormon Island]. Bros. Biglow [James Stephens] Brown, [Alexander] Stevens [Stephens] &c had been were working at Marshall’s Mill & letting down the gate in the morning & stopping he noticed that (ie Marshall) something glittering he brought up a handful & told them that he believed it was gold; they tested it with a five dollar piece that one of them had & found that it was a heavy in proportion they concluded that it was gold; they gathered a little occasionally; but still did not pay much attention to it <thinking there was but little>; until one morning after stopping the water in the race, Marshall looked & told the boys that he believed he good <could> gather a peck out of the race & enjoined secrecy upon them & he would go down to Capt. [John] Sutter’s & have it tested. Sutter was his partner in the Mill; he accordingly went & found that it stood the test & was actually gold; they then kept gathering on but still they did not quit working at the Mill, still thinking there was not much; they heard reports occasionally from people coming from below that they were making $50 & $100 a day below but still did not believe it, until they had to go below & seen it. This threw a new light on the subject as I had always thought that Willis was the discoverer.41

18 October 1849 • Thursday

Crossed the Severe it was pretty deep but we crossed without any great difficulty, it was a very rough barren country during the morning & pretty hilly the road was very dusty; after about 8 miles travel we came to a small valley after 2 miles travel we crossed the dry bed of a creek & then ascended a hill & then up a Cañon about 1½ miles no water in the it. after crossing the ridge descending we came into a large wide pretty Cañon feed growing very luxuriantly we came into an <extensive> valley little water Sage Brush plentiful feed pretty good; about 25 miles from the Severe we came to a Mountain Spring which we called Cedar Springs.

19 October 1849 • Friday

Capt. [Orson K.] Smith’s Company started with us this morning they had travelled with us since we left Utah,42 good feeling exists between the two companys; there are many gentlemanly men in the company, Capt. Smith has taken a very good part & has as f is a far as I know & have seen a perfect gentleman.43 After starting passed several springs under bluffs close by our camp ground, crossed a small creek after 1½ miles travel, 4 miles farther crossed another wider creek a little timber growing on it, travelled thro’ a good deal of sage after 12 miles travel we <came to a creek spread on the bottom & soon came to another branch of the same where we concluded to stop, eleven of us being together the Capt. & 8 others having gone ahead Bro. [Peter Muir] Fife who was in our mess had been this road before & told us there was no water for 25 miles ahead this caused us to stop>44

20 October 1849 • Saturday

Travelled up this Valley 8 or 10 miles & then crossed ridges & travelled thro’ vallies for several miles & came to a very steep hill to descend we then struck a valley about 2 miles wide, we travelled several miles thro’ a rough country & came in sight of some willows growing in a valley from which we judged there would be water upon closer observation we discovered some camps they proved to be Smith’s & ours, we were pleased to arrive at Camp as we had travelled 27 miles without water & drank heartily both us & our animals.

21 October 1849 • Sunday

Started in morning & travelled about 3½ miles and came to a small creek in the same valley it proved to be longer than it seemed to be when we first entered it. passed thro’ a fine patch of Rye Grass; crossed the ridge & went down a Cañon (pronounced Kanyon in English) & crossed several ridges & thro’ a barren country & struck a creek with some little timber upon it but very little grass; we unpacked & cooked & eat supper. Packed & started calculating to travel until we reached grass. Capt. Smith remained at the creek & drove his animals some distance to some feed there was under the bluffs, We travelled up a ravine & camped on the bluffs about 1½ miles from the Creek; feed rather thin, but <a> good kind of grass called bunch mountain grass.

22 October 1849 • Monday

Started this morning early had a little trouble with my riding mare I wanted to pack her as my pack horse was lame, I had to walk & lead her. she jumped & flounced round considerably. Came to a small pretty creek about a mile from where <we> camped; about a ¼ [mile] a further to another where we found an upright stick with Bro. Rich’s name on marked 208 miles from Gt Salt Lake City also telling us to keep down the creek it was a beautiful stream tolerably wide & rapid;45 we travelled down the Creek thro’ the Cañon & crossed it four times came out into a valley, we could see the wagons we ahead some distance; we stopped at some feed to bait awhile; but afterwards concluded to stop for the night first rate feed having been found upon the Creek we were about 1½ miles from it upon the bench.

23 October 1849 • Tuesday

Did not start very early on account of our animals being in first rate feed the best we have had; travelled about two miles from our camping ground & met some men returning from the wagons saying there was no water ahead & the wagons were returning; Capt. [Jefferson] Hunt had started the previous evening on his horse & had been out all night & found on the search for water & returned completely exhausted without having found any. Upon receiving this information we thought it best to turn down to the right to the creek where we unpacked & concluded to remain that day until we could hear some news; we expected to see Gen. Rich, Bro. [James Henry] Rollins & another of the boys having gone on to see him. Feed tolerably good. In a short after Camping Bros. Rich, [Francis M.] Pomeroy46 & Brown rode up they were very glad to see us; they did not like the society they had to mix with the whole company being Gentiles with the exception of Bros. [Addison] Pratt & [Hiram] Blackwell & Capt. Hunt who was Pilot of the company.47 Bro. Rich explained to us the cause of stoppage. Capt. Hunt had been told that by keeping down Beaver Creek & then striking across <to the left>, it would save travel & be a better route; he had told this to the officers of the Camp, who were formed into Council at the start under the title of a Grand Council & said that if they chose to take the responsibility of going this route they might; but he knew nothing about it himself only what he had been told. They resolved to go the route and exonerate him from all blame that might be attached to the officers in case of failure; this we were glad to hear as we were afraid that the old Capt. might be brought under censure for taking this route. I could not help comparing the proceedings of this Grand Council & <the proceedings> of ours in the Valley & the difference in obedience & subordination in our people & theirs the comparison was not very favorable to them; we could see plainly that they had the elements of discord in their midst there was considerable feeling existing in the minds of a good many that we spoke to against the Council for bringing them on this route, The48 principal part of the wagons had camped upon the ridge where <the> Capt. had left them on his search for water; the stragglers kept coming on to the creek all day. Capt. Smith camped up the creek.49 Gen. Rich & Capt. Flake went up to see Capt. Smith about going Walker’s Cut off (as it was called) a route that struck West thro’ the unexplored region laid down by Fremont on his map, & south of an imaginary range of mountains described by him as running East & West having seen <them> from the Northern from the northern line of exploration.50 This route was said to be practicable, Capt. Smith & some of his men having seen [Elijah] Barn[e]y Ward,51 (a Mountaineer who lives52 among our people & I believe is numbered with us, in the valley,) who told them he had been thro’ to C on the route three times & had got a diagram of it from him. Upon examining the subject as laid before them by him they thought they would go it, but still did not bring themselves to a positive determination on the subject until hereafter when we came to the place of turning off. <the[y] could have the brethren’s minds on the subject> calculating to call the brethren together & lay it before them & <let them> choose for themselves expecting that the spirit would direct us on the right course to pursue; if we concluded to go Walker’s Cut off Capt. Smith’s Company & ours would travel in Consort & Camp close together so that in case of an attack we would be ready to unite & we were not to leave one another; he (Capt. S.) was resolved to go that route.53

24 October 1849 • Wednesday

Started this morning with the expectation of having to travel 35 miles to get to water it having been thought that it was that distance; we travelled about 10 miles & met Capt. Smith’s company returning, (they having started in the morning before us) who told us that Capt. Hunt had been out again & had travelled 40 miles & found no water & had returned used up having travelled on foot; upon hearing this we thought best to return to the Creek until there should be some route found.54 Camped on Creek close by Capt. Smith above where we started from; feed very good. Bro. Rich spoke to the brethren about going this new route & it was unanimously voted that we go that way. He was busy trying to get animals go with us, Bro. Pomeroy had two.

25 October 1849 • Thursday

There were two wagons along with three horses to each & three men to one & two to another & it had been thought <best> to leave the wagons & pack from here; they were very busy getting ready fixing pack saddles &c. Bro. [Thomas L.] Whittle Joseph [Augustine] Peck & Peter Hoagland were with one team, Bro. Bigelow [Bigler] & Bro. [James] Keeler with the other. Started in afternoon with the intention of going up to where we crossed the creek the first time; & <& camp for the night from there> strike off to the left on the Spanish Trail for the Little Salt Lake; reached the camping ground after dark, good feed.

26 October 1849 • Friday

Busy writing a copy of constitution of State of Deseret for Capt. Hunt to take with him on the Southern <route> & have a petition signed <by the inhabitants of Lower California> & sent with it to Washington.55 Others busy <helping> getting ready for packing. Started in afternoon & travelled 7 miles & camped in a cañon without water, but feed excellent.

27 October 1849 • Saturday

Travelled up the Cañon & crossed some ridges & down a steep hill thro’ a Cedar Grove & came on to a bottom travelled thro’ the sage for several miles crossed one or two spurs of the Mountains & came into the Little Salt Lake Valley it was very barren for several miles after entering, came to several springs in the bottom after 15 miles travel from our camp in the morning; we travelled 5¾ miles further & struck a Creek up which we went ½ a mile & camped feed tolerably good. This day one of the horses belonging to Hy. [Henry Enon] Phelps gave out, it had been failing a good while, he traded it for another with a man by giving considerable to boot. Our day’s travel 20¾ <21¼> miles.

28 October 1849 • Sunday

Took leave of Bros. Pratt & Brown who remained with the train of wagons. travelled six miles & came to a pretty creek banks steeper than usual with these streams. Kept on & reached another after about four miles travel making in all 10 miles we found Capt. Smith camped here he had crossed the Mountains from Beaver Valley & came on the North side of the Lake (the Lake is about 7 miles long & 1 wide) we came down the South side, of the L we remained <camped> here all <the remainder of the> day.

29 October 1849 • Monday

Travelled down Muddy Creek Valley befor upon entering the Valley we struck crossed a spring on the side of the ridge as we descended this was 6 miles from morning camp, thence 8 miles to Muddy Creek56 abundance of Timber on creek banks more than I have seen in a Valley since I came in the mountains. After 9 miles travel <to the west> we came to a pretty strong springs, banks perpendicular. We had good dry cedar convenient for our fires. We have beautiful evenings & nights for standing guard & fireside conversations, moon shining with brilliancy. I had a conversation this evening until a late hour with Bro. Hy. Bigelow [Bigler] upon philosophy & the planetary system until we lost ourselves. I could not help thinking while viewing the heavens how insignificant creature in the midst of the creations he sees around him; peopled no doubt with spirits equally if not superior in intelligence to himself & yet how important & of what consequence he thinks himself; reflections like these make me feel <sensible of> my nothingness & of the vast amount of knowledge I have to learn in regard to God & his works.

Plenty of Scrub Cedar on surrounding heights no other kind to be seen. On Sunday Oct 28 In the evening Bro. Rich called the Coy. together to know who should be Capt. of the company, it was his mind that Bro. Flake remain as Capt. of the Co’y. It was motioned and unanimously carried. Some of the Emigrants from the wagons had resolved to pack with us they had poor horses 4 to 3 men, but thought they would be able to stand it; they were able, they said, to walk themselves; they wanted to join our company; there was a committee appointed to examine their animals, we did not want to have any more men in the Co’y without they had good animals. They committee reported that they were not suitable; but they resolved to travel along with us.

30 October 1849 • Tuesday

This morning we started expecting to travel 28 miles having to go that distance before coming to water of <any> consequence; there was a spring 14 miles from where we started it was in the mountains on our left, I did not observe it myself. Capt. Hunt called it the Willow Spring. 14 miles further came to a creek called Lost Creek by Capt. H. it was a small creek & did not run any distance in the bottom before it sank, very little feed, none on creek bank, but we went about half miles further & found a little feed. This evening had a meeting of the Company to know their feelings regarding the new route, & whether they were to be governed by all <of the> men <of the Co.>, by half, or by one; he had found out already that there were different opinions about our treatment of the Indians, & he wanted that there should be no room for feelings upon any subject hereafter. The feelings of the brethren were that we should go the cut off & that we would be controlled by him in all things. I was glad to see the unanimity of feeling existing among us. Bro. Rich said that he wanted to have two journalists appointed to keep a record of our proceedings, that he might have a Record of the route, & the proceedings, to hand when he returned to the Recorder of the Church. Bro’s. Rollins & Cain were appointed one to write and the other to assist & take notice of every thing worth noting on the road.57 Bro. Fife went over to the creek, to get water; about dusk & saw about six Indians on the creek; they did not see him they were going up the creek, he got his water & when he returned reported to the Capt.; four or58 five men went on the bluffs adjacent to the camp taking with them several guns & pistols apiece, adopting the Indian custom of terrifying their enemies & showing them they are ready for them, by firing guns, they sounded well reverberating thro’ the surrounding hills.

31 October 1849 • Wednesday

Looked very like rain; we passed over a good many ridges it commenced raining while travelling, camped at by a creek about 15 miles from place of starting raining very heavily; we were now in the vicinity of the place of turning. Continued raining all afternoon very disagreeable; & kept on very all night; rain during night running under our beds; we arose this morning completely saturated; we began to experience the pleasures of packing.59