Chapter IX.


My Marriage--Peaceful Life Among the Savages--Dr. Bowman

Seeks Trouble--He is Killed by the Indians--The "Walker War"--Its Cause--A Thrilling Situation

ON THE 29th of January, 1852, Miss Harriet Emily Colton was united to me in marriage. All I will say at present is, that her life and labors are as much a part of mine as is possible for a wife's to be. She was my heart's choice from first sight, and so continued till the day of her death. We lived on a farm quite a dis-[54]tance from the settlement for some time after our marriage. My wife's father, Philander Colton, went to California the spring we were married, leaving me in charge of his farm and affairs. The farm was near the Indian camping ground; hundreds of them were often around us. Sometimes they were more or less saucy, but we treated them kindly. My wife seemed to have the same spirit as myself in regard to the Indians, feeling friendly towards them and wishing to see them taught and helped out of their degraded condition.

Nothing occurred in my experience during the remainder of the year worth recording. All of the Indians around were friendly toward us, but frequently spoke of being dissatisfied with the treatment received from some others. Many will say, and with some truthfulness, that Indians visit their revenge upon whites indiscriminately. Yet if one treats them so as to get their real friendship, they are not apt to harm him.

I went as interpreter for President Young in the spring of 1853, to Sanpete county, where some disturbance was threatened by Mexicans under the leadership of a certain Dr. Bowman from New Mexico who seemed inclined to make himself a name by committing some violent act in defiance of law. There seemed to be a determination on his part and those with him to revive the slave trade. He threatened anyone that might interfere with him, saying he could bring all the Indians in the mountains to help him. I was acquainted with this man while in New Mexico. I met him while on a trip to Sanpete valley a few days before I went with President Young's party. The moment Bowman saw me he began to curse me for being a Mormon, saying he had power at his back to use all the Mormons up. I felt some little friendship for him as is natural for me to feel for [55] anyone I have formerly known, and advised him to act more careful, or he would get into trouble. I tried to reason with him, but to no purpose, he went on down to Utah valley, and there acted in an insulting and threatening manner. Bowman's Mexicans were encamped on the west side of the Sanpete valley. It was deemed prudent to bring them in and keep an eye on them, until it could be decided what their intentions were, for at this time it was seen that a growing spirit of war was upon the Indians, and almost anything would stir them up.

Several little fusses of a private nature had lately occurred.

At this time many of the settlers, contrary to the counsel of President Young, had settled on farms and were much exposed. This had a tendency to make the Indians aggressive. Many times the settlers were sorely annoying by the Indians' horses getting into the fields. When remonstrated with they would ask, "Whose lands are these you are on." The continual advise of President Young was to build in towns, fence their lands and be kind to the Indians; that it was cheaper to feed than to fight them, etc. Some heeded this counsel, while many did not.

I was one of a party of four or five who went out and brought in the Mexicans. They were a little suspicious, asking a great many questions about Bowman, where he was, etc. But I finally persuaded them to go with us. We had no authority to arrest them, neither was it the intention to do so, if it could be avoided. In the meantime Bowman got into some trouble with the Indians by deceiving them in some of their promised trades, and he was ambushed and killed by some of them. Owing to his manner and threats, it was rumored the Mormons had killed him. I was actively engaged as [56] interpreter and was continually around during this time. I never had the least suspicion or proof that Bowman was killed by any Mormon agency, and I believe I would have heard something of it, if such had been the case. I know in those days it was no uncommon thing for a man to be killed whether a Mormon or not by the Indians, either for revenge or plunder. The Mexicans soon left in peace.

In the summer of 1853, about harvest time, the war broke out. The immediate cause of the Indian war was the striking of an Indian with a gun by a white man at Springville. This Indian was whipping his squaw, when the party interfered to stop him. The Indian drew his gun to shoot, it was wrenched from him. The man using the gun as a club, broke both stock and Indian's head. I believe the Indian died from the effects of the blow; he was one of Walker's band, and the latter at once painted for war.

The same day A. J. Stewart and I were returning from Payson. When about a mile from there some twenty-five warriors painted black, came from a ravine, approaching us in flank with guns and bows ready. Mr. Stewart remarked, "We are in for it; that means war." We had no time to turn and run as they were within one hundred yards of us. I knew I had never wronged them, but had always been a friend, and I believed if we went straight along they would not hurt us. Brother Stewart agreed with me. We never halted or gave the road, but drove along as though nothing was in the way. As we went they parted and allowed us the road, never speaking or making any sign of recognition. This same party went on up to the Payson mill and in less than an hour commenced killing our people.

[57] This was the commencement of what is known as the Walker War. It caused a general moving in of those who had settled out on farms, making towns and villages spring up like magic. I remember President Young remarking in public that the people seemed readier to obey Brother Walker's invitation to live together in towns, than they did his counsel. Brother Brigham lways gave Walker great credit for helping to build up Utah. There was plenty to do as soon as the war commenced. An attempt was made to follow and chastise the Indians, but nothing that resulted in much good was ever done by fighting them. The counsel was for all to move in, gather the stock together, and in every way possible guard against attacks or surprises. There was a general move in this direction; cattle were gathered and herded under strong guards. Guards were also placed at the different trails leading into the valley. This had a much better effect than following the Indians, getting shot at and having to retreat in good order.

There was quite a band of Provo Indians who took no part in the fight; they were camped on the bench near the river bottom. I had not yet moved into town; the Indians were around me daily and I believed them to be friendly. An order was issued by some one in Provo to have them taken prisoners and brought in. Accordingly a company of militia was called at for the purpose. Happening along just as they were starting on the expedition, I was asked to go and help take the Indians, but declined, and protested against the move, well knowing that they would not be taken, as they had done nothing to justify any harsh measures against them. My remonstrance was in vain, the Indians had to be taken, and I was ordered to go as interpreter. So we marched over in good militia style, every man keeping step with [58] himself. I felt much amused at our turnout going to war. The flower of our army was then out after Walker. As we neared the camp of Indians I asked permission to go ahead and tell them what was wanted. I was on horseback and unarmed; they Indians were up at once and ready for fight. They said that taking them prisoners meant to kill them, and they would not go. The company numbering some twenty-five men--about the same number as the Indians--had now come up and stood about fifty yards off, facing the camp. I went and told the captain what the Indians said. He replied, "Then we have got to take them by force." At the same time ordering his company to load their guns. I now became frightened, for I knew if they commenced loading, they Indians having their guns ready, would fire the minute they saw the whites making such a movement; but as long as they did not know that the guns were not loaded we were safe. I asked the captain to hold a minute and let me ask a few questions. He agreed.

"How many of you have loads in your guns?" I asked.

No one had. Several spoke and said they had nothing to load with, while some of the guns were out of repair. I never before or since saw anything so ridiculous. Some of the members of the company are still living in Provo, and will remember the incident. I asked the captain what he thought best to do; he said he would take my advice under the circumstances. I told him I would say to the Indians that it was all right; that they were friends; and we did not think it right to take them but would go back.

This made them suspicious. They moved off up Provo Canyon and committed various petty thefts from time to time, annoying the people for several months.

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