Chapter XLI.


We Decide to Visit Guerero--Meeting at Concepcion--We

Prepare to Return Home--The Priest at Temosachic--His Kindness to us--Testimony of a Stranger

AFTER finishing up our work in the city of Chihuahua we decided to visit the western portion of the state.

We had received information that a great many natives lived in the Canton de Guerero. This district commences about one hundred and fifty miles west of the city of Chihuahua and expands into the Sierra Madre mountains. The greater portion of the inhabitants of Guerero are natives known as Tarumarie. Many villages of these people are located in the valleys near the mountains.

There are many towns and villages that retain the old Indian names. Towns that were there when the Spaniards first came into the country have come under Catholic rule. Cathedrals were built and a few Spaniards settled among the people, mixing with them. (In some settlements most of the mixed blood claim relationship to the padres.) In this way Spanish civilization somewhat modified the habits of the people, but did not do away with them entirely, for in most of these towns fewer Tarumaries inhabit districts, retaining all their ancient customs and language.

This race of people are much respected throughout the state of Chihuahua, and it is considered rather an honor to be related to them. We concluded to make their country our next stopping place.

Getting good-bye to our friends in Chihuahua, and particularly to our good old honest governor Antonio Ochoa, we started west. Our route led through a country that was very sparsely settled, owing to the lack of water for irrigation. The city of Chihuahua is located in a rough, barren country, which continues for some thirty-five miles going west.

For several days' travel there is nothing very inviting to the eye. But on reaching the higher country toward the head waters of the Aras river, a tributary of the Yaqui, the country became more inviting. We continued our journey, passing settlements and ranches daily, leaving with each a few books and talking a little with the people near where we camped.

Nothing of importance occurred on the road except the mending of one of our hors's hoofs with rawhide. The hoof had been badly cracked for some time. As we were descending a rough, rocky hill the horse tumbled and struck his foot against a boulder so hard that the hoof split clear open up to the hair. We had much difficulty in getting him into the settlement a few miles ahead. We offered to sell the horse but could get only one dollar offered for him. We could not well leave him neither had we money to spare to buy another.

Mexicans are great people to use rawhide, and I had learned from them to use it in many emergencies.

As we were going to bed Brother Pratt remarked: "Brother Jones why can't you use rawhide on John, (the horse) or does this case beat you?"

The question put me to thinking. So in the morning I obtained a suitable piece of rawhide from a Mexican, took the horse to a blacksmith who put some tallow and burnt horn into the opening of the hoof, then seared it with a hot iron. I then took the rawhide and fitted it nicely over the whole hoof, lacing it behind and underneath. The blacksmith fitted a shoe and nailed it on, driving the nails through the rawhide which now formed the outer crust of the hoof. We let the horse stand in a dry place until the next morning when the nails were tightly clinched.

We laid over one day to see how this would work, then continued our journey. The horse traveled as though nothing had happened, and finally, when the hide came off after we had traveled some six hundred miles, the hoof was entirely healed up. This may not be interesting, but might be profitable to some, and for that reason I relate the circumstance.

On arriving at the village of Concepcion, (the principal town of Guerero,) we enquired for a good place to stop, and were directed to Don Eselso Gonzalez, where we soon made arrangements for the necessary accommodations.

Don Eselso furnished us good quarters with a large hall and patched, had it seated with benches brought from the bull pen which he owned. We held several meetings that were well attended and much interest was manifested by some, while all treated us kindly.

One man, Francisco Rubio, really understood and believed the Book of Mormon; as once in meeting he took it in his hand and explained it in a more lucid manner, especially the part relating to the Savior's appearance on this continent, then I had ever heard before. Individually, I received new light from the native.

From what I have seen now and then among the natives I sometimes think that the people called Latter-day Saints are only half converted. I have seen and felt more warmth of spirit and faith manifested by natives then I ever saw by white Saints. Even the Apaches told me that they would not wait long for the winding-up scene, when they once had power and authority from God to act in His name. That faith, which will yet remove the powers of evil from around the Saints, will come largely from the remnants. I think we will need them in our work and should be looking after them some little and not altogether after money.

We deposited our money with Don Eselso. Many times getting articles from his store, and when we went to settle up for house rent and other things, he would not take a cent, but insisted on presenting us with some dried meat and other stuff, jokingly remarking that he could not sell it anyway.

While here we visited Arisiachic, the principal Tarumarie town. The trail was very difficult. We were well received. The chief called the people together and we had a long talk with them. They were very much pleased with our visit and hoped we would return some day.

We remained in Concepcion about three weeks. Held several meetings which were well attended. Many people visited us to learn of our doctrine. We were fully convinced that many believed in the truth of the Book of Mormon, yet we had no spirit to offer baptism.

By this time some of the brethren began to manifest a desire to return home. At first I felt a little disappointed, but I can look back now and see that our mission was properly a short one. We were united in one idea, and that was before any great work could be done in this country it would be necessary to colonize among the people.

As to the spirit of the people, we all agreed, also, that it was favorable, so it was deemed best that we work our way toward home, visiting the various settlements on our way.

We left many warm-hearted friends at Concepcion, some testifying to having a perfect faith in the Book of Mormon and expressing a strong desire that the Mormons would come and dwell among them.

On our way home we turned off from the road at Tejoloquechic west to visit the towns of Matachic and Temosachic, the last a place containing some five thousand inhabitants. The people of these towns received us not only kindly, but many of them manifested great faith in our teachings. They often insisted on giving us something for our books, saying we had a long way to travel and would need something to help us on our journey.

At Matachic Tomas Tribosa opened his house to us and we had a large congregation. We talked freely and plainly to the people. Many persons had told us that we would be all right so long as we let the subject of polygamy alone; but if that was ever taught the women would knife us.

This night, while speaking, I felt impressed to talk on the principal of plurality and explain plainly the doctrine. There were quite a number of women present. After meeting was dismissed I went to the end of the hall where the women were. Many of them came and shook hands with me and said they would rather their husbands would do as we taught then as many of them did. No one seemed offended in the least.

Wherever we held meetings permission had to be first obtained from the civil authorities. When we arrived at Temosachic, the proper officer for granting this license was out of town. A man was sent four miles for him, it not being certain whether he would be found or not.

While we were arranging to send a courier, the priest of the settlement came up. He expressed the hope that we would be able to find the officer. Said he desired very much to hear us and asked if the padre at Chihuahua had offered his church to us.

I told him he had not. He said he wished he had set the example, then he himself could invite us into his church, where a license would not be required; but he did not like to risk being the first to open a Catholic church building to us.

"But," said he, "you must come down tonight (it was now about noon), and I will have a good lot of my people together. There is no law against friends sitting down and talking on a decent subject. I want to ask some few questions if you will answer them."

I replied that we would come. We conversed for some time and the padre seemed quite interested.

We were camped some three miles away, at the edge of the town. About sundown Brother Pratt and I walked down to the public square where we had appointed to meet the priest. We felt as safe as if at home in Salt Lake City.

On arriving, the priest and quite an audience were awaiting us, but there was no word from the officer, so we concluded to sit and chat.

A great many pertinent questions were asked and answered. The best of order prevailed and a good feeling was manifested. The priest said he would study our book and if he could not understand it he was willing for his people to study, and if they could see good in our doctrine, he wanted them to have the privilege of receiving it. He said that he was now getting old; that he had always worked for the good of the people, and that he did not want to keep any good thing away from them.

Next morning we started back to take up our road for home. We had turned off at Tejoloquechic. On reaching there the people had gathered a donation of corn and beans, for us and insisted on our receiving it. We took some but told them we could not haul much.

The next place where anything of interest occurred was at Namaquipe, a town on the Upper Santa Maria river. We arrived at this place on Sunday about ten o'clock, intending to spend the day of rest there. We camped in the shade of some cottonwoods near a large ranch house, across the river from the main town.

I went to the house to buy some dried meat. I met an old lady who sold me the meat, giving quite a liberal quantity for twenty five cents. I made her a present of one of our books, and went back to camp.

Some time after noon this same lady with a very aged companion, came into camp. The old man looked over one hundred years old. We learned that he was a hundred and three years.

On being seated the old gentleman said, "You were up to my house this morning."

"Yes sir."

"You got some meat."

"Yes sir."

"You paid for it."

"Yes sir." I began to think of the lot I had gotten for my money.

"You left a little book."

"Yes sir."

"Did you get pay for it?"

"No sir. I did not want pay for the book. We do not sell these books."

"Yes, but you paid for the meat. That was not right."

Here the old man held the book up and said, "I have been reading this book. I understand it and know who you are. You are apostles of Jesus Christ, just the same as Peter, James and John, and I know it. And I also know this book is true." He then turned to his wife and said: "Wife have I not been telling our neighbors for two years past that apostles having the true gospel would come to this land, and that I would live to see them?"

We were astonished to hear this testimony, so direct and positive.

Don Francisco Vasquez continued and asked us if we intended to return to the country soon. We told him we did not know but we hoped to. He said he would like to be baptized and receive the benefit of the gospel before he died.

Next morning when we passed his home he made us take four sacks of corn; all we could haul.

The old man lived to be one hundred and five years old. I visited his family ten years afterwards. The old lady was still alive. She told me that Don Francisco, on his death-bed, called his family around him and told them all to be baptized when the Mormons came. Some forty persons agreed to do so. His oldest son told me the same. They were still hopeful, but how long their hopes will hold out I cannot say. Possibly until the "Liberals" drive us out of this land into Mexico, where the greater number of the remnants live. Then and not till than will we feel the obligation of carrying the words of the Book of Mormon to the Lamanites.

Many times, when thinking of this old man and others of the district, I have cried like a child, never having seen, from that day to the present, any disposition manifested to continue a mission in that part of the country. Of late years I have concluded that the people are better as they are then they would be, unless those going among them go with the spirit of true friends and as colonizing missionaries.

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