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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


  1. [1]For the most complete discussion of Bigler’s writings see Erwin G. Gudde, Bigler’s Chronicle of the West: The Conquest of California, Discovery of Gold, and Mormon Settlement as Reflected in Henry William Bigler’s Diaries (Berkley: University of California Press, 1962), 1–7.

  2. [2]William Farrer’s original journal is located in Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. A published version appears in LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, eds., Journals of Forty-Niners: Salt Lake to Los Angeles, The Far West and the Rockies Historical Series, 1820–1875, vol. 2 (Glendale, Calif.: The Arthur H. Clark Co., 1954), 193–218.

  3. [3]See S. George Ellsworth, ed., The Journals of Addison Pratt: Being a Narrative of Yankee Whaling in the Eighteen Twenties, a Mormon Mission to the Society Islands, and of Early California and Utah in the Eighteen Forties and Fifties (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990).

  4. [4][George Q. Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago: A Trip to California,” [chap. II] Juvenile Instructor 4, no. 2 (16 Jan. 1869): 13. Nearly twenty years after his great packing adventure, Cannon used his journals to prepare a series of articles about the trip that he published in the Juvenile Instructor between 2 January and 5 June 1869.

  5. [5]Works on the Mormon Battalion include Norma Baldwin Ricketts, The Mormon Battalion: U.S. Army of the West, 1846–1848 (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1996); John Yurtinus, “A Ram in the Thicket: The Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War” (Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1975); and Daniel Tyler, A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War, 1846–1847 (1881; reprint, Glorieta, N. Mex.: Rio Grande Press, 1969). On the voyage of the Brooklyn from New York to Yerba Buena, present-day San Francisco, California, see Lorin K. Hansen, “Voyage of the Brooklyn,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 21, no. 3 (autumn 1988): 46–72.

  6. [6]Sutter hired former Mormon Battalion members to work in his many enterprises. For accounts of Mormon participation in the gold discovery at Sutter’s sawmill on the South Fork of the American River at Coloma, see Rodman W. Paul, The California Gold Discovery: Sources, Documents, Accounts and Memoirs Relating to the Discovery of Gold at Sutter’s Mill (Georgetown, Calif.: Talisman Press, 1967); Norma B. Ricketts, Mormons and the Discovery of Gold (Placerville, Calif.: Pioneer Press, 1967; reprint, Mesa, Ariz.: Odyssey Press, 1998); J. Kenneth Davies, Mormon Gold: The Story of California’s Mormon Argonauts (Salt Lake City: Olympus Publishing, 1984); Kenneth N. Owens, ed., John Sutter and a Wider West (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994); David L. Bigler, ed., The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990); and Richard Dillon, Fool’s Gold: The Decline and Fall of Captain John Sutter of California (Santa Cruz, Calif.: Western Tanager Press, 1967).

  7. [7]See, for example, “Prospects of California” and “The Great Sacramento Valley” in The California Star, 1 Apr. 1848.

  8. [8]Literature describing the discovery of gold in California, the subsequent gold rush, and its impact on the nation is voluminous. Much of the literature describes the journey to California and the development of the California trail and its variants. Fewer works detail life in the mines. Rodman Paul’s classic California Gold: The Beginning of Mining in the Far West (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1947; reprint, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1975) and J. S. Holliday, The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981), provide excellent descriptions of life on the trail and in the goldfields. Malcolm J. Rohrbough, Days of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the American Nation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997) is a detailed social history of the gold rush describing its impact not only on the miners, but also on their families and others left behind in the East. Another classic work on the trip to California is Dale Morgan, ed., The Overland Diary of James A. Pritchard from Kentucky to California in 1849 (Denver: Old West Publishing Co., 1959). One of the few accounts by women of life in the goldfields is [Louise Clappe], The Shirley Letters: Being Letters Written in 1851–1852 from the California Mines (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, 1970). For an overview of Latter-day Saints in the goldfields, see Davies, Mormon Gold.

  9. [9]Brigham Madsen, Gold Rush Sojourners in Great Salt Lake City, 1849 and 1850 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1983), 33, 116, and Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958; reprint, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1993), 64–71.

  10. [10]See Second General Epistle of the Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from the Great Salt Lake Valley to the Saints Scattered Throughout the Earth (Great Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1849), 2. This epistle was reprinted in The Frontier Guardian (Kanesville, Iowa) 1, no. 24 (26 December 1849): [1].

  11. [11]After Cannon and his companions left for California, Brigham Young and his counselors answered a letter from Amasa Lyman, to whom Cannon and others had been told to report. Lyman was already in the goldfields at the time. The First Presidency wrote, “Let all the brethren when they return, or send, bring or send their Gold Dust instead of foreign coin, as our mint is in good condition, and in active operation, and pure Gold is the most popular at home. . . .We anticipate that nearly, or quite every man who has gone from here to the diggings has gone in good faith and feelings and will come direct to you for Council and instruction.” (Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Willard Richards to Amasa Lyman, 2 Nov. 1849, Amasa Lyman Collection, Historical Department, Archives Division, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [hereinafter cited as LDS Church Archives].) On the minting of gold coins in Great Salt Lake City, see Alvin E. Rust, Mormon and Utah Coin and Currency (Salt Lake City: Rust Rare Coin, 1984), 37–47; Donald H. Kagin, Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States (New York: Arco Publishing, 1981), 176–91; Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, 55–56, 71–72; Leonard J. Arrington, “Coin and Currency in Early Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 20, no. 1 (Jan. 1952): 56–76.

  12. [12]See Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, 72–73.

  13. [13]Smith and Benson to Rich, 11 Nov. 1849, Charles C. Rich Collection, LDS Church Archives.

  14. [14]See Second General Epistle, 1–2.

  15. [15]See Smith and Benson to Lyman, 11 Nov. 1849, Amasa M. Lyman Collection, LDS Church Archives.

  16. [16]In a few cases men were “counselled to so do” to provide a safety net for individuals who arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley in destitute condition. Henry Bigler found himself called to serve such a mission. He wrote, “Sunday 7th. October 1849. This afternoon I was informed that President Young had told Father John Smith that as he had been kicked and cuffed about and driven out of the United States because of his religion and had become poor, it was His counsil that Father Smith fit out Some person and send him to California or to the gold mines and get Some of the treasures of the earth to make himself comfortable in his old age, and the old gentleman has called me to go. . . . He wishes me to go with Brother Charles C. Rich who will leave with a company in a few days for the Gold mines. This intelligence was unexpectedly received by me. I was not looking for any Such mission. Indeed it had been the Presidents counsil not to go to the gold mines and those who went after such counsil had been given was looked upon as ‘jack Mormons’ as they were called.

    “Brother Rich and company was ligitmaly sent by the Church on Church business and to have an eye to the movement of things in California etc. When word came to me that Father Smith wished me to go, I hesitated, however as he had sent for me I went and seen him so when he explained to me what the President had Said and the counsil president Young had given to him in relation to sending a man to the mines etc. After I had consented to go I could not help feeling sorrowful and a reluctance to go for I feel attached to this place and to this people for they are my brethren and dear friends and it was with Some Strugle with my feelings that I consented to go. . . .

    “Thursday 11th. Last evening Father Smith sent for me. I went. He told me he wanted to bless me. He then laid his hands upon my head and blessed me in the name of the Lord; He also blessed brother james Keeler who is being fitted up to go to the mines for Thomas Calister, father Smith’s son in law. We shall go together in the same wagon. The bargain between me and Father Smith is this. He is to be to all the expense of fitting me out for the gold mines, and after arriving there I am to be saving and prudent and after all the expenses was paid I am to have half the gold.” Henry W. Bigler, “Journal A,” 7–11 Oct. 1849, HM57034, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California (cited hereafter as Hungton Library).

  17. [17]Second General Epistle, 3. For an overview of the gold missionaries, see Eugene E. Campbell, “The Mormon Gold Mining Mission of 1849,” BYU Studies 1, no. 2, and 2, no. 1 [Double issue] (Autumn 1959/Winter 1960): 19–31.

  18. [18][Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago” [chap. II] 13.

  19. [19]Portions of the Spanish Trail were blazed by trader Antonio Armijo in late 1829 and early 1830. William Wolfskill and George C. Yount established additional sections, particularly along the Green and upper portions of the Colorado River in 1830 and 1831. By 1840 it was a well-known trading route. Because of the aridity and topography of the region the trail traversed, it was anything but straight. The western portion was feasible only because of two critically important water sources, the Vegas at present-day Las Vegas, Nevada, and the Mojave River. Between those two water sources, the trail took a winding route that followed a series of less-than-reliable springs. The jornada or journey from the California Crossing at the Muddy River to the Vegas and from the Vegas to the Mojave River proved difficult for all Spanish Trail travelers and often resulted in heavy losses of stock and draft animals. Although not as much has been written about the Spanish Trail as its northern counterparts, the Oregon, California, and Mormon trails, several useful works are available, including LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, Old Spanish Trail, Santa Fe to Los Angeles: With Extracts from Contemporary Records and Including Diaries of Antonio Armijo and Orville Pratt, The Far West and Rockies Historical Series, 1820–1875, vol. 1 (Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1954) and C. Gregory Crampton and Steven Madsen, In Search of the Spanish Trail: Santa Fe to Los Angeles, 1829–1848 (Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, Publisher,1994).

  20. [20]Although he made the trip several times, Jefferson Hunt apparently left no documentary record of his travels between the Great Salt Lake Valley and southern California. For fuller treatment of Hunt’s 1847–1848 travels, see Pauline Udall Smith, Captain Jefferson Hunt of the Mormon Battalion (Salt Lake City: Nicholas G. Morgan Sr. Foundation, 1958), 131–40.

  21. [21]See Vincent A. Hoover diary, 27 Sept. 1849, HM 27628, Huntington Library; William B. Lorton diary, 27 Sept. 1849, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (hereafter cited as Bancroft Library); Gustavus C. Pearson, “Recollections of Gustavus C. Pearson a California 49er,” Bancroft Library; and Charles V. Stuart, “A Trip to California,” Bancroft Library.

  22. [22]See Hoover diary, 26 Sept. 1849; Lorton diary, 23 Oct. 1849; and Arthur Shearer journal, as transcribed in Benjamin I. Hayes, “Notes on Overland Journeys of the Gruwell family, H. Stickney and Mr. Shearer,” 2, 14 Oct. 1849, Bancroft Library.

  23. [23]See Lorton diary, 2 October 1849.

  24. [24]The best sources that describe in detail the various parties that traveled south from Great Salt Lake City to its intersection with the Spanish Trail and then on to California in 1849 are LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, Journals of Forty-Niners, Salt Lake to Los Angeles: With Diaries and Contemporary Records of Sheldon Young, James S. Brown, Jacob Y. Stover, Charles C. Rich, Addison Pratt, Howard Egan, Henry W. Bigler and Others, The Far West and Rockies Historical Series, 1820–1875, vol. 2 (Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1954); LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, The Far West and Rockies: General Analytical Index to the Fifteen Volume Series and Supplement to the Journals of Forty-Niners, Salt Lake to Los Angeles, The Far West and the Rockies Historical Series, 1820–1875, vol 15 (Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1961), and the Papers of Dale L. Morgan, Bancroft Library.

  25. [25]Cannon originally wrote Sunday but later crossed it out and wrote in Saturday above the line.

  26. [26]At the time Cannon began this journal, the Church was holding its general conference. The gathering mentioned here was a meeting for officers held at early candlelight after the general sessions of 6 October. Minutes of the meeting kept by clerk Thomas Bullock are in the General Church Minutes Collection, LDS Church Archives.

  27. [27]Not to be confused with other structures similarly named, the Bowery, situated on the southeast corner of the temple block in Great Salt Lake City, was constructed in early 1849 and used as the major meetinghouse for the Saints until succeeded by the Old Tabernacle erected on the southwest corner of the same block. With walls of adobe brick and a shingled roof, the Bowery was a more substantial structure than its name might suggest. See “Old Bowery Where Conference Was Held April 6, 1850,” Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 7 April 1900; Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Publishing Co., 1941), 82–83; M. E. D. Trowbridge, Pioneer Days: The Life-Story of Gershom and Elizabeth Day (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1895), 117; David Bigler, Donald Buck, and Merrill J. Mattes, “‘O Wickedness, Where is Thy Boundary?’: The 1850 California Gold Rush Diary of George Shepard,” Overland Journal 10, no. 4 (winter 1992): 17; Nicholas Groesbeck Morgan, Sr., The Old Fort (Salt Lake City: Nicholas Groesbeck, Sr., 1964), 37–40.

  28. [28]From the minutes of the general conference, it appears Cannon was not named as a missionary at the conference and so was not blessed at this meeting. Cannon’s attendance can be explained by the fact that at the end of the afternoon session of general conference that day, Brigham Young had not only invited those called on missions to attend but also “gave an invitation to all the El[ders] of Is[rael] to meet here with us this evening.” Thomas Bullock’s manuscript minutes of the conference session and the missionary meeting are in the General Church Minutes Collection, LDS Church Archives. For a published summary of the missionary meeting, see “Minutes of the General Conference held at Great Salt Lake City, Deseret, Oct. 6, 1849,” Frontier Guardian (Kanesville, Iowa) 1, no. 24 (26 Dec. 1849): [1].

  29. [29]The minutes show that the number was actually twenty-two.

  30. [30]Cannon lists five names but writes that four were present. The minutes establish that five members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles attended.

  31. [31]The energetic Brannan had been in California since the July1846 arrival of the ship Brooklyn in California. In the spring of 1847 he traveled east and intercepted Brigham Young’s Pioneer Company at the Green River in present-day Wyoming on 30 June, hoping to convince the Church leader that California should be their final destination. Young’s decision to settle in the Great Salt Lake Valley disappointed Brannan, who soon returned to California. Once the gold rush began, Brannan skillfully used it to his advantage and became one of California’s wealthiest citizens. Unfortunately, a costly divorce and ill-advised speculation depleted much of his fortune. For a survey of the literature regarding Brannan, consult “A Short Brannan Bibliography,” in Will Bagley, “‘Every Thing is Favourable! And God is On Our Side’: Samuel Brannan and the Conquest of California,” Journal of Mormon History 23, no. 2 (Fall 1997): 208–9.

  32. [32]Charles C. Rich, James S. Brown, and Francis M. Pomeroy left the city on this date to join Jefferson Hunt’s large and growing emigrant train. At least two of the Mormon missionaries, Addison Pratt and Hiram Blackwell, were already numbered in Hunt’s company (see Charles C. Rich journal, 9, 12 Oct. 1849, LDS Church Archives; Addison Pratt autobiography and journals, 6–7 Oct. 1849, LDS Church Archives).

  33. [33]Probably Charles Lambert.

  34. [34]Cannon’s feelings about leaving are not recorded in his journal but are reflected in his reminiscences: “Thursday, October 11th, was the day selected for starting. The excitement of getting ready prevented me from feeling any sorrow at the prospect of leaving, though I dreaded it. I had never been absent from home more than a night or two in my life, and when I had been under the necessity of staying away a night in the kanyon to get a load of logs or timber of any kind, I had hastened home the next day with great delight. But when the hour of parting came I could not control my feelings. For upwards of a year after this I could not think of home without being homesick. Our grand mountains and beautiful valleys, with the sweet and peaceful spirit that prevailed here, had such an attraction for me that I could never think of them without wishing that the time had come for me to return to them.” ([Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago” [chap. II], 13.)

  35. [35]John Taylor had been called to go on a mission to France at the October 1849 Church conference. He left for his mission on 19 October. Joseph Harker was among those who organized the party for John Taylor. He wrote, “we fenced a farm on the river botom oppersid to big cottonwood creek and raised a little corn and Wheat and some Wheat on the Church Farm over the river and fenced in our Field togather and in the fall we made a feast for the first Preasadency and some of the missoners that was going to England and France we made a large Tent with waggon cover and eat our Dinners and had a dance in it. George Q Cannon and party going to Californy stopd [to]night.” (Joseph Harker reminiscences and journal, 1855–1895, p. 44, LDS Church Archives; B. H. Roberts, The Life of John Taylor, Third President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons, 1892], 203.)

  36. [36]Vincent Hoover, who passed the American Fork about a month before Cannon, wrote that it was “a bold running stream about 30 feet wide & one foot deep with clear cold water. there is plenty of grass & wood.” (Hoover diary, 11 Sept. 1849.)

  37. [37]Hobble Creek, near present-day Springville, Utah, did not figure prominently in Cannon’s journey. It was an important place for earlier 1849 groups on the trail and served as a staging area for Jefferson Hunt’s emigrant train. On 26 September the emigrants at Hobble Creek divided into two groups. Vincent Hoover wrote, “There has been a great de[a]l of contention betwe[e]n the emigrants as to who they should go with & this evening they had a meeting to that effect. Mr Hunts a mormon who offers to take the emigration through for ten dollars a wagon[.] the other who is compelled to go through any how as he is Mexican and brought a train of pack mules from Santa Fe. He offers his services for carrying his bagga[g]e[.] it put me in mind of the campaigns of 40 & 44. their was a great deal of excitement.” (Hoover diary, 26 Sept. 1849.)

    Still camped at Hobble Creek, the emigrants in Jefferson Hunt’s group established an elaborate company organization on 30 September. The party was called the San Joaquin Company and was led by a committee consisting of a colonel, adjutant, guide, and seven captains to decide on all matters of importance on the route. (Lordon diary, 30 Sept.–1 Oct. 1849.)

  38. [38]Cannon did not know the name of the creek and left it blank in his journal. It was Peteetneet. See Geographical Register.

  39. [39]Cannon’s retrospective writing describes his feelings, and undoubtedly those of his fellow travelers, as they left this last outpost of civilization. “I felt somewhat as I would if I were pushing out to sea. Before us lay a country through which we intended to travel of which we knew but very little. At that time very few of the Saints had traveled south of Provo. Bro. Peter Fife, who was with us, was the only man in our company who had ever been over the ground. He had been in the ‘Mormon Battalion,’ and after it had been discharged had traveled by this route from California to Salt Lake City. On many occasions we found his knowledge of the country of very great use to us, though sometimes his memory would fail him,” ([Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago” [chap. II], 14.)

  40. [40]Illegible text here could be Sick or Sook Creek.

  41. [41]Cannon’s account of Bigler’s gold discovery story essentially mirrors Bigler’s own journal entries describing the events of January 1848. On 24 January Bigler wrote, “This day some kind of metal that looks like gold was found in the tail race.” Through the balance of January and well into February, his journal reflects his efforts to hunt gold while working on the construction of Sutter’s Coloma sawmill. On 27 February he recorded, “I took the boys to my gold mine, but the water had raised so high that the spot where I had found it so plentiful on the 22nd. was all under water; however, we five found $33. This evening three of the boys from below arrived at our shanty, they having heard through a letter I had written to my messmates while in the battalion that we had found gold here at the sawmill; this letter had been written in a confidential way and to say nothing about it, these men had been told of the discovery in a secret way and had come up to see for themselves and it happened that Mr. Marshall was in and sat till a late hour talking, being in fine humor, as he most always was, and very entertaining. When about to leave for his own quarters on the hill a quarter of a mile away, one of the men, Mr. Hudson, asked the privilege of prospecting in the tail race, which was readily granted, and the next morning the 3 men, Sidney Willis, Wilford Hudson, and Levi Fifield went into the race. In a little while Hudson with his butcher knife picked out a nugget worth about six dollars.”

    At some point Bigler made a later addendum to his 27 February entry. He wrote, “They tarried with us a day or two and as they returned, they prospected all along the creek and at one place they found a few particles at a place afterwards called Mormon Island, which eventually did prove to be one of the richest finds in California.”

    On 2 April 1848 Bigler wrote a detailed account of Marshall’s discovery of gold in the tail race expanding on his brief entry of 24 January and included a list of those working on the mill’s construction. He then wrote that “Three or four days afterward we began to be in want of provisions, for Sutter had neglected to send up supplies. Marshall said he would go down to the fort and see what was the matter, and take the gold and have it tested.” On 28 January Sutter recorded in his journal that, “Marshall arrived in the evening, it was raining very heavy, but he told me he came on important business. After we was alone in a private Room he showed me the first Specimens of Gold, that is he was not certain if it was Gold or not, but he thought it might be; immediately I made the proof and found that it was Gold. I told him even that most of all is 23 Carat Gold; he wished that I should come up with him immediately, but I told him that I have to give first my orders to the people in all my factories and shops.” (“Extracts from the Journal of Henry W. Bigler,” Utah Historical Quarterly 5, no. 3 (July 1932): 95–99; Kenneth N. Owens, ed., John Sutter and a Wider West [Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994], 20–21.)

  42. [42]That is, Utah Valley or Fort Utah.

  43. [43]In his reminiscent account Cannon wrote, “There was a company of packers who had traveled with us from Provo to this point. They were principally outsiders, though some few of them had joined the Church in the Valley as they were passing through. They numbered about as many as we did, and were going to California in search of gold. The captain of the company was named Smith.” ([George Q. Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago: A Trip to California” [chap. IV], Juvenile Instructor 4, no. 4 (13 Feb. 1869): 28.) Future events would temper Cannon’s generous opinion of Smith and his party

  44. [44]Bigler also noted that “the Camp got divided or rather separated,” and that the captain, James M. Flake, was in the group ahead. (Henry W. Bigler diary, “Book B,” 19 Oct. 1849, HM57022, Huntington Library.)

  45. [45]This “beautiful stream” was Beaver River, and the packers were now very close to Hunt’s train. In his reminiscent account Cannon wrote, “When we reached what is now known as Beaver Creek, and on which the settlement of Beaver is now built, we found a stake with Brother Charles C. Rich’s name upon it, and marked, ‘208 miles from Great Salt Lake City.’ Our trail lay across the creek; but Brother Rich had written on the stake for us to keep down the creek.” ([George Q. Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago: A Trip to California” [chap. III], Juvenile Instructor 4, no. 3 (30 Jan. 1869): 22.

  46. [46]The Pomeroy mentioned here later became a founder of Mesa, Arizona. See the Biographical Register for a sketch of his life. He is often confused with another Pomeroy, a merchant who arrived in Great Salt Lake City in the summer of 1849 with ox teams carrying goods for sale. (See Lorton diary, 12 Aug. 1849.)

  47. [47]Cannon later wrote, “Brother Rich was traveling with three Elders who had been appointed on missions to the Society Islands. Their names were Addison Pratt, James S. Brown and Hiram H. Blackwell; Francis M. Pomeroy was also with Brother Rich. They were going through with wagons, and they had traveled in the company of a large number of gold-seekers. These latter had reached Great Salt Lake Valley too late in the season to go through to California in safety by the northern route. But they could not content themselves to spend the winter in this valley, when there was so much gold in California, waiting to be dug by them. So they resolved to hire a guide, and go through the southern route, or as it was then called, the Spanish Trail.

    “Captain Jefferson Hunt was the most suitable man they could get to be their guide. He was recommended to them by President Young, and they employed him. . . .This company started from the city several days ahead of us. Before leaving the city an odometer had been put in the wagon in which Brother A. Pratt and the other brethren traveled. This is an instrument fastened to the wheel of a carriage or wagon by which the distance traveled can be measured by counting the number of times the wheel turns. Every ten miles they had placed stakes, on which the distance was marked. It was on one of these stakes that we found Brother Rich’s name written at Beaver with directions to keep down the creek.” ([Cannon], “Twenty Years Ago” [chap. III], 22.) For an overview of the role of odometers in western emigration, see Norman E. Wright, “Odometers: Distance Measurements on Western Emigrant Trails,” Overland Journal 13, no. 3 (fall 1995): 14–24.

  48. [48]The T is triple underlined.

  49. [49]An undecipherable three-letter word has been crossed out at this point.

  50. [50]The route is believed to be based on the Sierra crossing of mountaineer Joseph R. Walker. Some period maps note a “Walker’s Pass” in the southern Sierra. To reach the Sierra Nevada using nineteenth-century modes of travel would take much longer than the twenty days claimed by Walker Cutoff proponents.

  51. [51]According to historian Charles S. Peterson, Barney Ward, “squaw man and mountaineer, decided to join the Mormons when it became apparent the traders around Fort Bridger were being crowded out and put his intimate knowledge of Indians to work for the church.” (Charles S. Peterson, “Jacob Hamblin, Apostle to the Lamanites, and the Indian Mission,” Journal of Mormon History 2 (1975): 31.)

    Lorenzo Dow Stephens’s account indicates that Barney Ward was on the route and drew at least one map of the cutoff for emigrants other than Smith’s party. In his recollection of the events he may have confused Orson K. Smith with Barney. In his account he wrote, “About the latter part of September we started the organization of a company, and by the first of October we had gathered one hundred and five wagons, and a guide, a Mormon, who claimed to know the road well, and he did prove to be competent. Our contract with the guide, Captain Hunt, called for a thousand dollars to Los Angeles, or ten dollars a wagon. As soon as the wagons were in readiness, the start was made on the first day of October, from a place called Provo [actually Hobble Creek, near present-day Springville], where we congregated, fifty miles from Salt Lake.

    “We were divided into seven divisions, each division had a captain, and a name coined to suit the fancy of the division. Some of them were ‘Bug Smashers’, ‘Buck Skins’, ‘Wolverine’, ‘Hawk Eye’, etc. The one to which I belonged was styled the ‘Jay Hawkers of Forty Nine’, the party that plays the prominent part in this narrative.

    “Every day we took turns leading the train as it was styled. That is, the division that led the train one day fell into the rear next day, for the leader always had the hardest work, for the road had to be broken. The first part of the journey was through the sage brush, and proved difficult traveling, and with such a large company we made but a few miles a day. The trail was over low rolling hills covered with scrub cedars, and somewhat sandy soil in places. The grass and water became scarcer every day, but we managed fairly well until we passed Little Salt Lake, where three Mormons made their appearance on horseback. The leader and spokesman said his name was Barney Ward, and that he was an old mountaineer and plainsman and knew the country well, and by following his proposed route we could cut from four to five hundred miles off our journey.

    “He had the road all mapped out and a diagram showing the camping places, about fifteen miles between. Naturally we fell into a discussion, for the road would terminate at the mines, instead of Los Angeles. Meeting after meeting was held, and all the advantages of the cut-off were discussed.” (L. Dow Stephens, Life Sketches of a Jayhawker of ‘49 [San Jose, Calif.: Nolta Brothers, 1916], 16–17.)

  52. [52]The word lives is written over lived or vice versa.

  53. [53]Addison Pratt adds significant details to the dissension created by the growing impatience of company members and the allure of this first attempt at a cutoff: “Went 12 miles into the dry plain & camped without water. as the ground was verry dusty & weather warm, the cattle began to suffer with thirst, & many waggons had not taken with them water for their own use, & when they began to [suffer] a little & their cattle also a great dissatisfaction prevailed & they tried many of them to blame Capt Hunt, who was not in the least the instigator of that moove. The waggons stoped here & the cattle were drove back to the creek, where they found one Capt Smith, with a company of packers & had maps & charts describing a cutoff called Walkers Pass. it was reported to be a much nearer rout than that, we were going & no dry deserts to pass through, but grass & water all the way. Many of our company were panic struck with the idea of going that rout, & broke away from us & left without consulting the officers in the least & a general commotion was visible, or rather a rebellion. Slurs were frequently thrown out about the mormons & Some even went so far as to threaten the life of Capt Hunt, if they did not get through safely. The greatest unreasonableness was exhibited by them. Br Hunt began to feel that his case was a verry uncertain one as they expressed themselves determined to blame him for every mishap, even when it was [a] matter that he was completely unconcerned with.” (Addison Pratt autobiography and journal, 22 Oct. 1849.)

  54. [54]Regarding Hunt’s “used up” condition, James S. Brown wrote, “Sometime in the night Captain Hunt came into camp, so near choked from the lack of water that his tongue was swollen till it protruded from his mouth; his eyes were so sunken in his head that he could scarcely be recognized. His horse, too, for the need of water, was blind, and staggered as he was urged on. Their stay had been thirty-six hours, on the sands, without water.” (James S. Brown, Life of a Pioneer : Being the Autobiography of James S. Brown [Salt Lake City: Geo. Q. Cannon & Sons Co., 1900], 134.)

  55. [55]Deseret is a Book of Mormon term for honeybee. The honeybee and hive were often employed by Latter-day Saints as symbols of industry. When the Saints created their provisional state of Deseret, they fully expected its borders to encompass much of the western United States, including part of southern California between Los Angeles and San Diego. It is unknown whether Rich or some other ecclesiastical leader directed Cannon to copy the constitution for Hunt. For an excellent account of the Mormon state of Deseret in context with other boundary issues in Texas and California, see Glen M. Leonard, “The Mormon Boundary Question in the 1849–50 Statehood Debates,” Journal of Mormon History 18, no. I (spring 1992): 114–36.

  56. [56]Probably Coal Creek near today’s Cedar City, Utah. This “Muddy Creek” should not be confused with the Muddy River, an important stop on the Spanish Trail. (See the Geographic Register at the end of this volume.)

  57. [57]James Henry Rollins did write reminiscences and Joseph Cain later produced a waybill to the mines that was advertised for sale in the Deseret News. A table of distances kept by Joseph Cain and Hiram Blackwell was included in a letter from Charles C. Rich to Brigham Young. However, no company journal authored by either Cain or Rollins is known to exist. (See Rich to Young, 13 Aug. 1850, Brigham Young Collection, LDS Church Archives.)

  58. [58]The word or is written over of.

  59. [59]In reference to Cannon’s statement that they were “now in the vicinity of the place of turning,” Bigler recorded the ill-fated decision to turn away from the Spanish Trail and try the cutoff: “Cloudy. last night it was agreed on to take a Cut off, after leaveing camp about 5 miles it Commenced Raining made about 12 m and Campted. Continues Raining. here we expect to leave the Spanish trail and take the Cutoff and travil a more direct [route] west without a gide or trail and be in the mines in a bout 20 days.” (Bigler diary, “Book B,” 31 Oct. 1849.)

    Rich did not comment on leaving the Spanish Trail but noted, “we traveled 6 miles and camped up in the Mouth of the kenyon where the Spanish trail crosses the rim of the Basin. camped on the acount of rain.” (Rich journal, 31 Oct. 1849.)

    Most of those in Hunt’s wagon train, two days behind Cannon and the packers, would also make the decision to try the cutoff. James S. Brown recalled, “When we reached what is called the Rim of the Basin, where the waters divide, part running into the Colorado River and on to the Pacific Ocean, and part into the Salt Lake Valley, the company called meetings, and several made speeches, saying there must be a nearer and better route than that on which the Mormon guide was leading them. One Methodist and one Campellite preacher in the company said that they had started to California, and not hellwards, as the Mormon guide had stated at the outset, quoting what Captain Hunt had said just before starting. Others claimed that they had been on the mountains, and upon looking west had seen something green, which they asserted was an indication of water. Some of them celebrated the proposed separation from us by boring holes in trees then filling these with powder and firing them, exploding the trees in symbol of the break-up of the company.” (Brown, Life of a Pioneer, 135–136.)