The Church Historian's Press

May 1855

Events in George Q. Cannon’s journal for 1855

5 May

Marriage of George Q. Cannon and Elizabeth Hoagland

20 May

Blessings to Cannons given by Brigham Young

31 May

Lacking water on the trail

6 June

Reached San Bernardino, California

13 June–3 July

Reached San Francisco; set apart on 25 June as president of “the affairs of the church in Northern California, Oregon & Washington Territories, and the British and Russian American possessions in the north”

4–8 July

“Getting the press in operation”

30 September

Sustained as president of the church interests in northern California

6–7 October

Semiannual conference in California

5 May 1855 • Saturday

On Saturday, the 5th of May, I having been notified by Pres. Kimball, I took Elizabeth up to the endowment house, a new building just erected, to get her endowment. After the house had been dedicated by the brethren, they proceeded to give them, five men and three women, their endowment, they being the first to pass thro’ the house. Bro. Kimball afterwards gave them, with others who came in, a lecture which refreshed and strengthened me much. <We were then sealed by Pres. K. for time & all eternity> Before starting this morning my father-in-law, Bishop Hoagland, took Elizabeth and me into a room by ourselves and talked to us and gave us inst some items of instruction in regard to our duty to each other. He charged me to take <care> of Elizabeth and treat her kindly as she was going forth among strangers with no one to look to but me. He also charged Elizabeth to be obedient to me and to listen to my counsel in all things and she should be blessed. He said that he did not think that we would <neglect to> not do these things but it was necessary to give counsel. He then blessed us and promised us great blessings inasmuch as we would do right. We were all very much affected during this interview and felt melted down. It was a trying time parting with the folks, but they all bore it better than I expected, especially Elizabeth; I had thought it would be a sore trial to her and wished the parting over. Emily accompanied us, intending to go with us to the American fork and then stop with Bro. Robinson’s folks until she got a chance to return. We reached Willow Creek, twenty miles, about sun-down, and put up at Bro. Geo. Bankhead’s; he furnished us with supper and breakfast and his wench cooked a lot of biscuits for us to take along. for us to take along.

10 May 1855 • Thursday

Thursday, May 10th, 1855. According to the appointment made at conference on the 6th ult. I started <to day,> for California to take charge of the press in that country, publish a paper in the American language, and the Book of Mormon, and any other works that might be needed, in the Hawaiian. <(See letter of instructions)> Elders Jos. Bull and Matthew F. Wilkie accompanied me, having been appointed by the conference to labor under my direction. Bro. Brigham having heard in the month of Feb. that I was making calculations on building, sent Bro. Horne down to tell me not to build as it was the intention to send me back again and I would have to take my wife with me. And although my destination was afterwards altered, in consequence of the press having been removed from the islands to California, yet I received no instructions revoking the counsel which I had received been given in regard to taking Elizabeth along with me. We started with Bro. Rich. On Saturday, the 28th of April I was set apart for my mission under the hands of Bros. O. Hyde & Geo. A. Smith, Bro. Geo. A. being mouth. <(See copy of blessing)>

11 May 1855 • Friday

Friday, May 11th, 1855. We started after breakfast & passed thro’ Lehi City, on Dry Creek, where Bro. Karren lives and bade him good bye; then to American Fork, where we parted with Emily – this was a bitter parting for us all and I felt worse, if possible, at parting with her than I did at leaving the folks in the city as the bustle of leaving attracted my thoughts; in leaving her the last tie seemed to be severed and the full extent of the separation burst upon me. We came next to Battle Creek, or Pleasant Grove city, & found Bro. Rich & son Joseph; they had crossed the divide between the two vallies, Utah & Great Salt Lake. He concluded to go on as he wanted to reach Payson by night. We stopped to wait for Bro. Wilkie who had been thrown from his horse and had stopped behind to try and catch him. We eat dinner at Father &Wm. Seeley’s. About four o’clock Bro. Wilkie came up with his horse, and we started and camped on the bench between Battle creek and Provo. The feed was excellent.

12 May 1855 • Saturday

Saturday, May 12th, 1855. Started pretty early, passed thro’ Provo and called on Sis. Silas Smith; they were all well. After six miles travel reached Springville and called on Bro. Jas. Oakley. In six miles more came to Spanish Fork & stopped at Bro. Berry’s & eat dinner; we also called on Esther Ann, my father-in-law’s wife, who was down here on a visit. Started about five o’clock & reached Payson after six miles travel, & found Bro. Rich there. We stopped at Bro. B. F. Johnson’s. In evening we hel attended meeting & Bro. Rich, myself and Bro. Johnson were called on to speak. The meeting was pretty well attended.

13 May 1855 • Sunday

Sunday, May 13th, 1855. We started, and reached Nephi city, Salt creek, about three o’clock. It was about the time of afternoon meeting and Bro. Rich and myself were called upon to speak, which we did. We eat supper at Bro. Ed. Ockey’s & then visited Bro. Love and Sis. Bentley; she wished to help us to what she could and proffered to bake some biscuits for us.

14 May 1855 • Monday

Monday, May 14th, 1855. We eat breakfast at Bro. Pitchforth’s who had returned last evening from a visit to San Pete where he had gone with the President to visit a coal bed, which proved to be ten feet deep, of enormous extent, and of excellent quality. After starting and travelling about eighteen miles we came to Chicken creek, where we watered our animals; the crossing is very bad. From there we went nine miles to the Sevier river, where we stopped until the President and his company came up from San Pete valley, when we started again and went about three miles to good feed, taking our water with us, and camped for the night. It rained somewhat in the evening. We had a guard round the animals.

15 May 1855 • Tuesday

Tuesday, May 15th, 1855. Started pretty early, passed thro’ Round Valley, where we found water; ascended an open kanyon to the summit of the ridge dividing <of> the Pauvan valley; good road descending to the Cedar Springs, where we stopped and nooned. About nine miles from these springs to Fillmore, the capital of the Territory; before reaching there we were met by <a> good many of the brethren who came out to meet Bro. Brigham and company. At Fillmore <we> I eat at Bro. Hiram Bennet’s; Sis. Bennet is a sister of Bro. Elias Smith’s. Meeting was convened at five o’clock and Bros. Brigham, Heber & Jedediah preached. We had an excellent meeting. They have one wing of the State House up; it is a fine building.

16 May 1855 • Wednesday

Wednesday, May 16th, 1855. Bro. Bennet let us have some flour to take with us. We passed Corn creek & camped at the point of the mountain to noon. Passed up the kanyon into Dog valley; up the hill and over into Pine valley and camped up the creek; it is called Cove creek. We had to go up a long distance for water for ourselves and animals.

17 May 1855 • Thursday

Thursday, May 17th, 1855. Left early this morning, before breakfast, and travelled five miles to the next creek in the valley, where we turned out our animals and breakfasted. We met a company of several wagons, sixteen men in all, from San Bernardino. Bros. Hy Rollins, and Thos. Bingham, Starling Driggs, & others were along. Leaving this, we soon came to the divide, which was quite steep ascending; from this the road descended gradually for several miles & passed thro’ a kanyon into another valley, down which we traveled until we came to a small creek; from thence up a hill and over a bench four miles to Beaver creek, where we camped; making twenty-eight miles in to-day’s travel; in seven days 208 miles.

18 May 1855 • Friday

Friday, May 18th, 1855. We were on the move by seven o’clock, and had hilly road for about ten miles; the road has, however, been greatly improved under the government contract for a military road through the Territory to San Diego. <the boundary lines of Utah.>1 We then descended into the valley of the Little Salt Lake, and, after a few miles travel, came to some marshy springs; from thence, about seven or eight miles to water, where we nooned. The roads are very dusty; it has been a very dry spring. After leaving this place we reached Parowan in five or six miles travel. The mail from California had arrived here yesterday; the post master opened it, and all the letters and papers that belonged to any one in the company, were taken out. I got three letters: one from Bro. Kapahi, which Bro. J. T. Caine had finished in English; one from Bro. Rice, and one from Bro. Kaleohano. I also received three no’s of “the Mormon” from Uncle, in New York. By the invitation of the President, I was present when his letters were read which he had received per mail; among the rest he had one from Bro. Parley, containing a prospectus for a monthly periodical, octavo form, to be called “the Mormon Herald.” He requests Bro. Brigham, if according to the will of the Lord, to send me to take charge of the press; he had written the last mail to the same effect, but was afraid it might have miscarried. Visited a splendid mill belonging to Bro. Geo. A. Smith & J. C. L. Smith. Attended meeting in the evening, Bro. Brigham preached on consecration; it was an excellent discourse. We eat supper at Bro. Wm. C. Mitchell’s.

19 May 1855 • Saturday

Saturday, May 19th, 1855. Eat breakfast at Bro. Nelson Hollinshead’s. A dreadful windy, disagreeable morning; the wind blew the dust in clouds. We left Parowan, and reached Cedar City about 1 o’clock; twenty miles. Elizabeth & self busily engaged arranging wagon &c. Rode up with the Presidency, by their invitation, to visit the Iron Works. It was a cheering sight to see them running out the metal, moulding various articles. They have at last produced the iron, and the prospect is good for manufacturing all kinds of articles and supplying the whole of the Territory with all their iron ware. If we are permitted to remain here in peace, and the Works are prosecuted with vigor, this county is bound to be the richest of any in the Territory, as it abounds in natural wealth. It is the richest ore in the world, producing 92 per cent. Eat at Bro. Jonathan Pugmire’s.

20 May 1855 • Sunday

Sunday, May 20th, 1855. Eat breakfast at Bro. John M. Higbees. Attended meeting, Bros. J. M. Grant and H. C. Kimball preached. The choir at in this place is excellent and there is a good spirit prevalent; this people have been very industrious in building and walling in a city with comfortable dwelling houses, meeting house, &c. There were a good many of the missionaries here from Fort Harmony, a station about 30 miles south. Bro. Rufus Allen is their president. They are doing much good among the Piedes and other Indians around. Bro. Brigham Young preached in the afternoon; he, <on motion,> organized the meeting into a special conference for the purpose of choosing a president and high council. Bro. Isaac C. Haight was chosen president. I spoke to Bro. Brigham about having him bless myself and Elizabeth before we parted; he told me he would, and to come down to Bro. Haight’s in the evening. We went down, and listened with great pleasure to his remarks elicited during an evenings visit. He blessed us, <Bro. Grant & himself laying on hands,> and said, they thanked the Lord for the wisdom the Lord <He> had given me already even in my youth, and that he would still continue to give me wisdom and I should be blessed in writing and publishing, and <when I should take up the pen to write I should be blessed with wisdom and the Lord would inspire me with thoughts and ideas> that what I should write and publish should be acceptable to the people of God. <To open my mouth and lift up my voice and not fear for I should be borne off victorious.> I should be prospered greatly and have all the desires of my heart; should accomplish a mighty work, and return again to enjoy the society of my friends in the midst of the mountains. Elizabeth also received an excellent blessing. He said she should be sustained and delivered, and furnished with every <thing> necessary to make her comfortable. She should be blessed and accomplish a good work in conjunction with her husband inasmuch as she would be a helpmeet to him; and as she had gone forth, when counselled, with her husband and left her parents and the valley, she should be a comfort to him and should be spared to return and meet with her parents and friends in the valley. He sealed her up to eternal lives. And blessed us both with all the blessings that had been promised us, and said we should receive all that were in reserve for the most faithful. Inasmuch as she would hearken to the counsel of her husband and seek it under all circumstances she should be delivered and prospered and come off victorious. We bade them all farewell and the brethren and sisters manifested quite an interest in our welfare. Bro. Brigham told me to practice writing as much as I possibly could. Bro. Jedediah told me to let them know I was a Cannon & to roar.

21 May 1855 • Monday

Monday, May 21, 1855. Eat breakfast at Bro. White’s. Started and passed Iron Springs and travelled very fast intending to stop at Mountain Meadows <a distance of about 50 ms.> for the night. Just before reaching the meadows we had some ridges to pass over which were very hard for our animals to pull up; one of them, a mule I had <traded>2 with Bro. Covington for, acted very strangely and seemed to have strained herself in pulling. Soon after we took the harness off her, she lay down and when we started her up she could scarcely hobble a step or two, or stand on her hind feet; she seemed crippled in the loins. I prayed over <her> and [three illegible words] on her, twice; for if she failed, being the best animal in the team, I did not know scarcely how we would get along. We arrived here about sundown. The feed is excellent. The boys caught a mule that had broke away from the U. S. troops. They rode him.

22 May 1855 • Tuesday

Tuesday, May 22, 1855. The mule is somewhat better this morning. <Bro. Rich let me have a spare mule of his to put in the place of mine.> We started about 8 o’clock; road tolerably good at first, but got more hilly after passing the summit of the Basin, especially in passing over on to the head of the Santa Clara, where we nooned. Passed down the Santa Clara; quite a pretty stream, tolerably timbered; crossed several streams times; road, in places, very heavy. Indians plentiful; passed several streams fields that had been cultivated. Camped in the bottom, about 8 miles from where we leave it. Feed good on the bench. My mule had improved very much.

23 May 1855 • Wednesday

Wednesday, May 23, 1855. Started a little after 6 a.m. Crossed the stream several times; sand heavy. Where we left the Santa Clara, the missionary brethren had built a house; they were absent. About a mile further passed a spring. From this had a few miles <of> tolerable road & then had it very heavy for 8 or 10 miles till we got up to the summit when we travelled down hill for some 18 miles; road stony. Camped on a small creek – Cottonwood – feed poor.

24 May 1855 · Thursday

Thursday, May 24, 1855. Started before breakfast; very heavy pulling thro’ sand on the bench for 2 or 3 miles until we descended a hill on to the Rio Virgin. Stopped and breakfasted. <One of the boys put rode my mule that I had turned out & I put the U. S. mule in his place.> Crossed the stream nine times. Sandy road, very heavy pulling for animals. Travelled about 35 or 36 miles. <Bro. Rich, with his usual kindness & generosity, proffered Elizabeth a seat in his carriage to save her walking & to lighten my load.>

25 May 1855 • Friday

Friday, May 25, 1855. Started before breakfast crossed five times & camped at the last crossing for breakfast. Climbed a very heavy hill of nearly ½ a mile in length to leave the Virgin for the Muddy, very trying on our animals; we ascended from the bottom to the top of the bench in forty minutes. Tolerably good road on the bench, some 16 miles, then down a steep hill and passed thro’ heavy sand for about three miles to the Muddy. Indians plentiful; some stopped with us all night. Water of creek very warm; I took a bathe.

26 May 1855 • Saturday

Saturday, May 26th, 1855. Started tolerably early; crossed the creek; travelled about ten miles up a sandy kanyon; very warm & hard on the animals. Stopped about 3 p.m. at some feed about half way across - 27 miles. No water. Started again and travelled to <the> summit, road level – then down hill about 16 miles & came to the Los Vegas where we found a detachment of about 60 <men> under Lieut. Mowry, camped; they are on their way to Cal[ifornia]. Passed up to the upper crossing – 4 miles – and camped, about break of day, making about 60 miles from where we started.

27 May 1855 • Sunday

Sunday, May 27, 1855. Laid by to-day. There was a company of men camped by us who were en route for the valley with 15 wagons and a carriage loaded with goods for Alexander & Banning of San Pedro. They have been on the road since the 24th ult. I think from all appearances it will prove a losing speculation.

28 May 1855 • Monday

Monday, May 28th, 1855. After breakfast started; road tolerably good; passed the <first> Cottonwood Springs, 10 miles and camped two miles beyond on the upper springs. Rather dangerous in consequence of the Indians.

29 May 1855 • Tuesday

Tuesday, May 29, 1855. Started at daylight and traveled over very rough, rocky road about 9 miles to the Mountain Springs, where we breakfasted and stopped until noon; we then started for the Kingston Springs. Road tolerably rocky the first part of the way but descending; we stopped at 11 p.m. for two hours, on a little grass[.] We were all very weary.

30 May 1855 • Wednesday

Wednesday, May 30, 1855. Started at the expiration of the two hours; the moon shone with brilliancy. Crossed over the divide to the head of the <a> dry creek down which we traveled about 12 miles and camped at a short distance from the feed; water two miles distance, at the springs, to which place we had to take our animals. A man by the name of Thompson had been murdered by the Indians close to the springs, a short time previous. His body was found by Alexander & Banning’s train and had been by them covered with a slight coating of dirt. He had started to go through alone. We kept strict guard here. Bro. Wilkie was bitten by a scorpion while on guard in the night. Bro. Rich laid hands on him and he experienced instantaneous relief.

31 May 1855 • Thursday

Thursday, May 31, 1855. We started early and stopped at the springs, without unharnessing, and eat breakfast. From the camp ground to the springs it was a little up hill and rather hard pulling. After leaving the springs we travelled down a kind of kanyon in what seemed to be the dry bed of a creek; heavy road, being a gravelly sand; we were favored in having it down hill; it lasted from two to three miles. We then passed on to hard, rocky road, <which lasted> with little exception, for about eighteen miles or over, when we struck the old road. Before striking the old road, however, one of my wagon tire[s] ran off, which took us some little time to fix; Bros Rich & Fairbanks gave me their assistance. While we were engaged in fixing this, Bro. Alfred Bennet, one of our company, concluded to leave his wagon here and some of his things and pack the remainder of the way, in order to save his animals, one of whom was about give out. Travelling on we came to the point of a mountain jutting out towards the road, said to be about eighteen miles from the Bitter Springs, where we stopped and rested about an hour without unharnessing. When we stopped here we were about give out, both men and animals; the heat had been so intense that all had suffered in consequence; the very air seemed almost suffocating; the rocks, surrounding mountains and the sand reflected the heat with such intensity that if the air had been blown from heated ovens it seemed as if it could not <have> been more oppressive. The men belonging to the other wagon, which they had left, drank up all their water before noon, and I was convinced in my own mind that, unless we were very sparing indeed with what Bro. Rich and myself had, we must suffer as the water was yet a long distance off and we, as well as our animals, were tired. These were Bro. Rich’s feelings also, and he accordingly rationed out what he had, which was only sufficient to satisfy for the time being; it was drank greedily as all were excessively thirsty. The water in our keg was afterwards distributed, my share of which I saved, for I did not wish to be entirely without. When we started in the morning I felt feverish, having been unwell for several days, this with the fatigue of walking which had caused me to perspire <considerably,> freely made me drink more freely than is customary with me, especially in starting on a desert, and in the after part of the day I needed it more than I would have done had I used it more sparingly; we had made no calculations whatever on any body else using out of our supply but ourselves. The majority of the men, <after the water was used up,> went ahead, and we toiled slowly along with the teams over several miles of rocky road and thro’ a kanyon which was quite gravelly and all of which was a little up hill. Our animals were all very weak and one of mine – a mule Bro. Bull & myself had bought of the church thro’ Bro. D. H. Wells and which had been of but little account for some time back – gave out, and instead of him being an assistance to the others he was a drawback. When we stopped, which we did every little while to let the mules rest a little, I would throw myself at full length on the ground, feeling, in consequence of fatigue and being unwell, almost exhausted; my tongue was dry and parched, and it felt as though it was as large as my hand, and if it I had not saved my allowance of water, with which I kept moistening my mouth at intervals, it seems to me it would have cracked. Our sufferings were intense, and from what I saw, I judged that my sufferings were not near as excruciating as some of the others. Elizabeth appeared to suffer less than any one of the company for which I felt thankful. There were several young men along who had never crossed a desert before and who had never known the want of water, who, by their remarks, amused us extremely; they thought if they were only back in Payson along side of the creek, with their present experience, they would never leave there unless they were sent off. After ascending the kanyon we came up on to the table land, where the road was good and over which we travelled easily; we called it seven or eight miles from the head of the kanyon <to> the Bitter Springs, which place we reached a short time before day break. Men and animals drank immoderately – my feelings were and all felt that the Lord had preserved and delivered us.

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May 1855, The Journal of George Q. Cannon, accessed July 18, 2024