Chapter LII.


Accidental Shooting of My Son-in-law--My Opinion of Early

Colonization by the Saints--I go on an Exploring Trip--I Find The Land Described by President Young--I Endeavor to Make a Purchase but Fail

WHILE doing the assessment work one of my sons and a son-in-law came from Salt River to help me. My son-in-law, John Brady, shot himself accidentally by dropping a pistol. He died of the wound and was buried near the camp of Saints and Ascencion. Brother Jesse Steele was at the camp at the time and helped to nurse him. He lived eight days after being wounded. Death was caused by the bursting of an artery that had been slightly wounded. This occurred in the night time. We were watching as usual but no suspicion of the bleeding existed until he was too far gone to recruit when the bleeding was stopped. This was hard on me as I felt toward him as a real son he having always shown me much kindness.

During these four months I often visited the camp of the Saints at Ascencion.

The first time I met one of the brethren of the committee he asked me what I thought of their proposed land purchase. I said that I believed that it would be a failure. When I was asked why, I related all about our first investigations and our report to Brother Brigham, saying that I believed we reported the truth, and that if the present efforts succeeded it would prove our reports false. This was looked on more as an insult than as information.

I was told that conditions had changed since the time of our visit to Mexico; that our reports might have been all right at the time, but would not apply to the present. My answer to this was that I recognized the face of the country as being just the same as formerly; that mountains and valleys were all in place; that I saw no signs of earthquakes having changed the conditions, therefore I could not see why our reports if true then were not true now. I soon learned that any information that I might offer would simply be looked on as worthless.

I was told that Mr. Campos, who was the agent now offering them lands, was one like Hiram of old raised up for the salvation of the people. I answered that he was a fraud raised up to swindle them out of their money. I was severely rebuked for this remark, and told that Mr. Campos had been introduced and vouched for in a letter of introduction, as the man who opened the first door to the Elders in Mexico, in the City of Chihuahua, and that anything I might think or say would avail nothing. This was at first a surprise to me, for I was in charge of Chihuahua at the time and never heard of Mr. Campos, but I learned afterwards that he was a police officer at the time and possibly was on duty the evening we held meeting in the public Cock Pit.

As soon as I was thoroughly convinced that I could do no good here I made up my mind to continue on my first effort to get to the country I had started for.

During the winter and spring of 1885, while attending to the mining business, I made several trips to El Paso. Once, while in El Paso, I met Brothers Erastus Snow and Samuel H. Hill who were on their way to the city of Mexico on business of importance. They not wishing to be delayed accepted my assistance in getting their luggage checked, their money changed and other services that helped them along, as I was acquainted with the officers and business. This occurred February 19th, 1885.

At that time I explained to Brother Snow my desire regarding this land. He said for me to go ahead, hoping I would succeed. I knew that it would take considerable money to visit and thoroughly explore the country I desired to visit.

The products of the mine although rich, as before stated, were wasted and probably would continue to be as I could not control my partner without going into law, and this would be ruinous under the laws of Mexico.

I happened to meet a gentleman who had money and was desirous of going on the same business, he agreeing to bear the expenses for my services as interpreter, etc. And that any lands found that might be wanted by the Mormons was to be entirely under my control.

I now went home to Salt river to visit my children and prepare for the trip to Mexico. We went direct to the city of Chihuahua. Soon we were visited by different land speculators offering lands.

We visited and examined various branches, some as far down as the southern part of the state. We found some excellent properties at reasonable prices, but paid no attention to the worthless lands; simply examining titled properties of good reputation.

We were in the city of Chihuahua, after having done considerable exploring, when we were approached by a man who described a piece of property that he had bonded, I soon became convinced that from the description and locality that it was the land I desired to find. When we were alone I informed my friend of this and we agreed to go and see the place.

We visited the parties holding the lands and agreed to go with them, it being some two hundred and fifty miles from Chihuahua, and in the district approved of by President Young for a gathering place.

On arriving at the spot I felt sure that I had now found the place wanted. Without further description I will say that it is the most beautiful valley that I ever saw; fertile soil, water plentiful, and timber more than would ever be used; the whole face of the country covered with the best of grass. Climate mild; crops are raised in the vicinity without irrigation. The land held by the parties was for sixty days only. The question now was for me to try and get this secured before the bond ran out as there were others wanting to buy this piece in connection with a large tract adjoining it from another party.

The owner of this piece I wanted was a friend to the owner of the large tract and had agreed that in case the present bond ran out that he should have the property to join onto his larger tract. The owner of the large tract had already entered into negotiations with a third party to sell the whole provided he got the small property.

I had not as yet learned all these particulars, but I had learned enough to convince me that if the property was not secured within the sixty days that the price would be raised at least. From what I had learned I expected that Brother Snow would be at the new Colony station at Piedras Verdes, as the purchase had been made from Mr. Campos, and the people were now moving on lands they supposed belonged to the purchase, but afterwards proved to be a portion of an old and well-known ranch known as Sandiago.

The question was how to get to Brother Snow's place the quickest way. It was at least two hundred miles distant across a country not much traveled, and some of the way considered dangerous because of Apaches.

The fear that the Mexicans entertain for the Apaches puts me in mind of something that I saw when I was a small boy. Some rude boys had tied a tin can to a dog's tail and he ran by yelping, soon the can came off. I could see the dog running with all his might for a long ways. I wondered what made him keep running when nothing now was to his tail. I was too small at the time to understand that he was still scared at his first experience.

The Mexicans are somewhat the same; to this day they are slow to forget past experiences, and seem to think the Apaches are still after them even in the localities where none have been seen for years.

After thoroughly examining the land we went to the county seat and my friend procured a bond for the sixty days. We then started back east toward the city of Chihuahua. My desired route lay north and would turn off at Temosechic, about twenty miles from where we were.

On arriving at Temosechic about noon I got out of our traveling carriage with my blankets and saddle bags, and without having made arrangements whatever for the trip bade good-bye to my traveling companion.

This was the same place where we had been so well treated ten years before while on our mission. I had perfect faith in the goodness of the people. For I wished to take the same route that we had come out on before and remembered many friends formerly met, and I believed they would remember me.

I went directly to the house of Tomas Triboso, in whose house we had held meeting. I had his autograph in my old memorandum book. On showing him this he grasped my hand and called his wife saying: "Here is our old friend the Mormon who preached in our house ten years ago."

The old lady came in smiling, shook hands and embraced me, saying that all the women in town remembered my preaching. A good dinner was ordered at once.

Don Tomas asked how he could serve me. I explained my desire to reach the Mormon settlements as quick as possible, giving him my reasons. He replied:

"All right; I have two good saddle horses. I would like to have you stay and visit us; all the people would be delighted to see and hear you talk. We often speak about your people and are glad to hear that they are coming into Mexico. We hope that they will get here into our district in time."

After dinner my kind host saddled up and took me to Providencia; there introduced me to the manager, who next morning sent me to Namaquipe, where I met the family of the good old patriarch, Francisco Vasques, formerly spoken of.

In this way I was forwarded from place to place with dispatch, making through in good time with little expense.

I met Brother Snow at Coralitos, and showed him the following letter:

Messrs. Snow, Burton, Preston and others:

"DEAR SIRS:--At the request of Mr. Jones I write this letter. I have bonded the ranch, W_____, for the period of sixty days, for $30,000 in good and lawful money of the United States. I have agreed with Mr. Jones to sell the same to his people if he can take up the bond within the time I have given him. Mr. Jones and I have been traveling together, looking at lands--Mr. Jones in the interest of his people and I for myself, looking for grazing. Mr. Jones has been a great benefit to me as an interpreter, and is well posted in Mexican lands, and I do this in appreciation of his friendship and services. This land is mostly farming, with plenty of good timber. After the payment of $15,000 the property can be delivered to purchasers. This property cannot be held long without much expense, which I cannot conveniently do at present; besides, delays are dangerous. I have given Mr. Jones my price on the land, which contains 31,000 acres, all told.

"This is good country, which Mr. Jones is thoroughly competent to detail to you.

"Hoping to hear from some of you gentlemen soon, I am

"Very respectfully yours,

"F. G. South.


"May 25th, 1886."

This was written on the back of the letter:

"I had considered the foregoing and can say that while I regard the tract favorably located along the Sierra Madre, some eighty to one hundred miles south of Corralis Basin, and, according to Mr. Jones' representation, is a desirable place, I am not in any condition, at present, to entertain the proposition; but hope in the future to see our people stretching out in that direction.

"E. Snow."

Brother Snow said, in substance, that the money that had been appropriated, for the purchase of lands in Mexico, was about all exhausted and no very good results obtained; that there had been so much time and means wasted that he doubted if the authorities would pay any more attention to land purchases in Mexico, and that if anything more was done that he believed it would be through private enterprise; also said that, if he had the money, he would help me out in the matter, but hoped that I could go and enlist help from some of the brethren who were able to buy on their own responsibility.

On receiving this word, I started immediately for Utah, came direct to Salt Lake City and offered this land. The first answer I received was that my land was to dear; that I should not expect such a price when good lands could be obtained for one-fourth this amount.

I was surprised at this ignorance of land matters in Mexico, for I knew all the lands offered for such low figures were almost worthless, and I supposed this was now understood. The land I was offering would have been cheap at ten times the price, in comparison to any yet procured--even as a gift. Poor land means poor people, and expensive water added to cheap land means dear homes.

I have often been puzzled to see how eager some people are to purchase acreage because the land was cheap, when the preparing of this land for homes would cost much more than good lands that could be obtained, where homes could be made easily and cheaply, and much better when made.

I work hard to get this land secured. Finally, I met with a party, at Ogden, who agreed to meet me in Chihuahua within the time and, if the land was as represented, secure it. A day was set to meet. I hurried back to Chihuahua and got an outfit all ready for the trip, feeling safe, for I knew that the land would show for itself.

The party never came. I received a letter, giving some excuse, but saying they would come in a few days. Before the time proposed the bond was up, and the persons wanting the chance bought the land the day it was on the market.

I then telegraphed to the parties that they need not come, as it was too late.

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