Chapter XLV.


A Colonizing Mission to Mexico--I Prefer to be Relieved--My

Wish Not Granted--The Company Who Volunteered--Our Start From St. George--Parting With President Young

I ARRIVED home about the 1st of July, 1876, found my family all well; I settled down to work at once making saddle-trees, as they were in good demand, and my family needed the help they would bring.

I had been at home about one month when I received a note from President Young requesting me to come to the city as he wished to talk to me about the Mexican missions.

On meeting President Young in the city he said, "I would like to have you pick a few families and take charge of them and go into the far south and start a settlement. Would you like to do it?" I answered, "Yes, I will go."

"Whom would you like to go with you? I want the settling to stick, and not fail."

I replied, "Give me men with large families and small means, so that when we get there they will be too poor to come back, and we will have to stay."

He laughed and said it was a good idea.

While in Salt Lake receiving instructions from President Young and preparing to go on the colonizing mission, I heard for the first time of the hard stories told against me.

There is one thing I would like to say that I think should be considered by all Latter-day Saints, and that is, few men, possibly none, ever made an overland trip of four thousand miles over deserts and through the most dangerous country on the continent and got through without some little "family jars."

There had been attempts made to explore the southern country that had practically failed. President Young had expressed confidence in my ability to make the trip and so I felt determined to do my best.

I knew that our little mules and ponies were our dependence, for if we had lost them we might have perished, or at least suffered great hardships as well as losing time. And more still I realized the success or failure of our trip would have a great effect upon others who might follow after. All this made me extremely careful.

One fault I have always had, and with all my experience in life it still hangs to me, that is, anything that is clear to my understanding to be right I naturally think others ought to see the same. It was so on this trip. I naturally thought every man understood as well as I did the importance of taking care of our outfit.

I was so much discouraged at the effects of these reports that I felt as though I never wanted to take charge of another mission of any kind. I wrote a note to President Young, asking him to appoint someone else to take charge and I would go along as guide and interpreter.

President Young paid no attention to my suggestion. I went to Brother Woodruff and asked him to speak to Brother Brigham on the subject; instead of doing which he told me I was wrong to notice these reports, and that all men who were called to do a good work met opposition.

I told him that I really believed it would be a mistake to put me in charge of the colony; that I had been used to doing hard service so much that I had gotten in the habit of being arbitrary, and I was afraid I would not have patience to act as a presiding Elder should.

Brother Woodruff said he believed I was honest and sincere, and would speak to Brother Brigham on the subject.

On visiting Brother Young, he said he wanted me to go ahead; that an angel could not please everybody. And added: "You know how to travel, how to take care of teams. You are better acquainted with the roads, the country, the natives and their language, and are better prepared to take charge of a company than anyone I know of. Go ahead and do the best you can. When you get things started we can send some 'good' man to take your place, and you can go on and open up more new country. This is your mission."

With this understanding I went to work with a will to get ready for the trip. I still felt quite sore about the stories circulated for they were not just. But one thing I had to acknowledge that made me a little careful what I said to Brother Brigham. He had warned me against one of the company who had volunteered to go. He advised me not to take him, saying that he would try to take the mission away from me and would make me trouble. This I should have listened to; but the man seemed so earnest and desirous to go that I pled for him, and Brother Young finally consented. I was served just right. Brother Brigham spoke truly. Anyone doubting it can investigate for themselves; I have said all I wish to about the matter.

Brother Brigham said he wanted volunteers; that no one would be called unless he was perfectly willing, otherwise rather desired them not to go.

The following names, with their families, were soon enrolled for the mission: P. C. Merrills, Dudley J. Merrills, Thos. Merrills, Adelbert Merrills, Henry C. Rogers, George Steel, Thomas Biggs, Ross R. Rogers, Joseph McRae and Isaac Turley. Notice was given that we would meet at St. George about Christmas and there organize, President Young intending to winter there. I had to work hard and make many shifts and trades to get an outfit sufficient to move my family in comfort.

I was a little late in starting on the road. P. C. Merrills and his family overtook us at Sevier Bridge. We traveled together to St. George. On arriving there we found all the company in camp in a school-house yard, with the privilege of using the house when needed in case of storm. It was now about the first of January and the weather was quite disagreeable. Here a Brother Williams joined us.

On looking over the outfit I soon found that many of the wagons were overloaded and that much of the loading being taken could be dispensed with. I advised the selling off of such as old stoves, sewing machines and many other heavy articles; but no one seemed to think but what they could pull their load.

My loading consisted of bedding, clothing, provisions, horse feed and such articles as were absolutely necessary. We had not ten pounds of anything that could be dispensed with. I considered it my duty to set the example, knowing that we had a hard trip before us and could not afford to haul anything but the actual necessities with the outfit on hand. I spoke to Brother Brigham about the situation.

He said, "Get your company in the best shape you can and as soon as possible move out. There is a nice little settlement, Santa Clara, on your road. There is a beautiful piece of sandy road from here to there, just such as will help you get the brethren to see the importance of lightening up. When you get there you can set up an auction store. The people are pretty well off and will be able to buy what you have to sell."

When all was ready we started out, and as President Young said, when we got into the Santa Clara settlement many of the company were not only willing but anxious to lighten up.

The people of Santa Clara traded readily for the stuff, paying dried fruit, grain and some money. Sometimes the loading traded for was as heavy as that traded off. Brother Isaac Turley, who had traveled a portion of the road and who was an experienced traveler, was elected wagons-master. He advised the people not to be afraid to trade for corn, saying that he was willing to roll at a wheel to help get a sack of corn over a hard place, but did not like to strain his back to move an old stove along that was not worth hauling.

At this place we bade good-bye to President Young, we drove out to see us. He gave us his blessing and a few words of counsel. This was the last time I ever saw Brother Brigham--to me the best and greatest man I have ever known.

Our instructions were to go into the southern country and settle where we felt impressed to stop. The intention was to go on to Mexico eventually.

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