Chapter IV.


My Baptism--Walker, the "Napoleon of the Desert"--Raids in

Lower California--He Tricks the Mexicans--Extinction of the Tribe

DURING the winter I made several trips to Salt Lake City in company with Patrick, one of the firm in whose employ I was. The winter was very cold, we were glad to get under shelter, no matter how poor it was. At that time there were few settlements from Salt Lake City to Manti.The first was at Willow Creek, Ebenezer Brown's farm, then Provo. The first house in American Fork was built in mid-winter, 1850-51, by Matt Caldwell. A bitter cold night brought four of us to this humble abode, made of unhewn cottonwood logs, where we were kindly greeted and housed for the night. Beyond Provo A. J. Stewart erected the first cabin at Peteteneet Creek, which place is now known as Payson. From there on there were no settlements until Manti was reached.

About this time, mid-winter, I commenced to consider whether it would not be best for me to go on to [41] California, make a lot of money, then return and join the Latter-day Saints. Arguing that they would have more confidence in me then than if I should join now. As I knew that "winter Mormons" were looked upon with suspicion, my mind was much occupied in trying to determine what was best. After considering well the prejudices I would have to meet, I finally spoke to Father Morley, who baptized me January 27, 1851. There was over a foot of ice on the water at the time.

When I spoke to Brother Morley about baptizing me, he was just starting out after a load of wood with his ax under his arm. He replied, "I am ready; here is my ax to cut the ice. I have been expecting this for some time." I wondered why he expected it, as I had said nothing about my intentions.

After baptism I felt more at ease, although I knew many doubted my sincerity. This made no difference as long as I knew I was sincere. I made quite an acquaintance with the Indians during the winter. Walker and portions of his band came around occasionally to trade. They were a fine race of people. Walker's life and exploits with his band would fill a volume; he was sometimes called the "Napoleon of the desert," being a great strategist, often out-generaling those he had to meet in war or whom he designed to plunder. He often made raids into lower California, robbing the people and bringing away large herds of their best horses, always laying his plans with great skill so as to not lose his men.

One of these tapes made by him in 1852, I think, shows his ability. With about twenty-five of his most venturesome braves he went down. As usual, the Mexicans were expecting them and their best horses were corraled nightly, their picked saddle horses, valued so highly by every Mexican gentlemen, were kept in [42] stables under guard. Walker and party succeeded in cutting an opening in the rear of the corral, turning out the stock and getting away with them. This time the Mexicans were determined to follow them into the desert, make a good killing and recover their stock. They had not expected such a bold move as cutting into the corral, but as soon as it was discovered the Mexicans started in hot pursuit. Walker pushed on with all speed, passing a spring where he calculated the Mexicans would make a short halt. Here he left fifteen of his men afoot secreted near the spring. Soon the Mexicans arrived, having ridden hard for some distance. As Walker expected, they were soon unsaddled, their horses tied out to grass and all hands asleep, expecting to take an hour's rest and then go on. The Indians waited till all were settled, then quietly loosened the horses, each one mounted, some taking the lead while others drove the loose animals. After reaching a safe distance from gunshot they gave a loud whoop and started to run. I have seen them in mimicry go through the whole performance, showing how the Mexicans looked when they realized the situation.

The Indians always claimed that there was nothing hostile in this, as they killed no one. At the present time I do not know of one representative of this once powerful band. Walker could meet and out-general his Indian foes and outwit the Mexicans; in fact, hold his own with almost anyone whom he met; but neither he nor his band could stand fine flour and good living. This finally, more than anything else, conquered them. I sometimes wonder if the Latter-day Saints have done their duty toward these Indians, professing, as we do, that they are of the seed of Israel.

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