Chapter XX.


My Trading Trip--President Young Asks me to Meet some False

Charges--Wicked Reports Concerning me--Their Unjustness made Manifest--The President's Stern Reproof to my Accusers--An Excellent Recommend

MY WIFE remained in the city with me during the time we were delivering the goods, some three weeks. After getting through, I, in company with W. Roberts of Provo, fitted up a team and went back to trade.

Roberts remained at the South Pass while I went down with two yoke of oxen to Devil's Gate. It may be interesting to some to give the brief description of my trip going down, some ninety miles. Stephen Markham was in charge of the Y. X. station at the South Pass. He had nine head of good milk cows in charge which he had orders to send to Devil's Gate for the use of men station there. He offered to furnish me a horse if I would drive them down. This was agreeable, as I would have had to foot it otherwise.

As I could not carry provisions very well, and having money, it was supposed that I could buy bread at least, as there were trains of California emigrants continually on the road. Cups were scarce, so when I started out I had nothing but my blankets and gun. I happened to have a new clay pipe in my pocket. After asking several persons to sell me a cup and some bread and being refused, concluded to see if I could not get through with what I had. The cows all gave plenty of milk and were gentle. I necessarily had to milk them to keep their udders from spoiling. So when I would get a cow all milked but the strippings I would put the stem of the pipe into my mouth and milk into the bowl and draw the [116] milk through. This was about the time as sucking "mint julep" with a straw. I enjoyed it immensely, being fond of new milk.

I found it so much better than eating rawhide that I ceased asking the emigrants I met for either a cup or bread. I made the trip through in less than four days; probably felt a little "calfish" but never lost my flesh or strength.

While at Devil's Gate on this trip some parties arrived from the states bringing news of the army being ordered to Utah; and that the mail contract which had been let to Brigham Young and company was canceled, and that in consequence of this the Y. X. (Young's Express) companies were all called home. This was startling news, as all had been at peace and nothing to justify the move could be surmised. The cause of this whole raid and the results are matters of history, so I will not mention the subject at present.

After getting my stuff together two of the brethren who had stayed there during the winter accompanied me and we started back towards South Pass, making the trip in good time. My partner, Mr. Roberts, having traded to good advantage, we were soon ready to start home.

On arriving in Salt Lake City I went to the Tithing Office as I had some articles belonging there. I was informed that Brother Brigham wished to see me. I went at once to his office, not even taking time to wash my face. As I got to the outside door of Brother Young's office I met him coming out alone. After shaking hands, inquiring after my health, etc., he said, "Come, let us take a little walk. I want to talk to you." We started and went toward his barn in the rear of his dwelling. He informed me that there had been a formal [117] complaint made against me for robbing the people of their goods while at Devil's Gate; said these complaints were made by some of the Elders in behalf of themselves and others. He gave the names of some of my accusers. He then asked, "Are you willing to meet these accusations and answer them?"

I replied, "Yes, sir, I am both willing and glad of the opportunity." At the same time I gave the names of some I wished as witnesses.

He then said, "Be here in ten days from today and we will hear these complaints."

I felt quite sore and would like to have had a little consolation from Brother Brigham, but he commenced moving about, showing me his horses and cattle and chatting till we returned to his office. His manner was kind and pleasant. He asked me about my trip and success. Also made some remarks about the army; saying that we would have a busy time soon. Said the boys were going out to meet the army and see about getting the road clear so that there would be no obstructions in the way until they got near enough to us that we could see what was best to do with them without having to go too far; that he had sent word to have everything belonging to the mail company on the road, all goods and everything "Mormon" started west as soon as possible.

It was harvest time when I got home to Provo. I felt almost sick. I had never taken to the amount of a cent anything except such as we were compelled to use, and these were always kept in account by the clerk. As I had many opportunities to take goods and hide them and no one be the wiser, and as goods had been misplaced, people were not entirely to blame for accusing me after the stories had once got in circulation. The originators of these accusations were the more responsible parties. [118] Many of the stories originated with the man who left his keys with me. To please his family and other relatives he collected for presents considerable stuff while on his mission. Some of these things he had given away to the brethren, as heretofore mentioned. I believe he left his trunks and keys with me in perfect good faith at the time. After getting home he naturally supposed we would use much of his stuff and that this would justify him in accounting not only for what he had given away but for all that his good-heartedness would have caused him to do for his family. So there was nothing mentioned scarcely but what he was fetching them, provided it was not taken from his trunks. When his goods arrived and many of these fine things were missing, (one bill of fifty pairs of silk stockings among the rest) of course "Jones stole them." I carried his keys all winter in my pocket, and trusting them to no one, so of course I knew whether anything was stolen or not.

It was this same man's wife that came to search for stolen goods during the winter. There was so much rascality brought to light that winter that it was no wonder that nearly everyone except my wife and family thought I was guilty.

The emigrants, taking their cue from this brother, passed my name far and wide as a great robber. So much so that I was refused admittance into a quorum of Seventies at Provo that I had formerly been invited to join.

I returned home and worked a few days in the harvest field. I said but little to anyone about my coming trial. I was tempted at times to leave the country, for it seemed to me that I had no friends. The devil tempted me continually to believe that President Young would believe my accusers, they being men of influence. Then [119] there was another spirit whispering to me, saying, "You are innocent; he is a prophet and will understand the truth." This spirit prevailed.

On arriving at President Young's office Aug. 25th, 1857, I found quite a number present. I was asked if I was ready for the hearing. I replied that I did not see my witnesses. President Young answered: "When we need them we will send for them." I was then called upon to give my report and show how we had lived, what the cost of living was, etc. I had an account of all our expenditures, which amounted to about 75 cts. a week for each man. Some one remarked that we could not live so cheaply. Then began quite a discussion over our cheap living. Some were inclined to question my statement. Brother Young said to me, "Brother Jones, get up and tell the brethren just how you lived, and explain to them why your accounts only amount to 75 cts. a week.

I then made the statement that we had killed and eaten forty head of cattle that were so poor they were dying; we had lived on the meat and hides some two months; that we had not credited the owners anything for them, as we thought it was worth the cattle to eat them. That we had killed some game at various times. That was ours, no credit allowed; had lived two weeks on thistles dug from the frozen ground, no credit; one week on native garlic; three days on minnows caught with a dip-net, fish too small to clean, rather bitter in taste, no credit; several meals on prickly pear leaves roasted, no credit; several days without anything much but water to drink, no credit; some five months mostly on short rations without bread or salt. These were about all the reasons for the price being so low. The seventy-five cents per week covered all the meats bought [120] of Indians or anyone else. All groceries, soap, candles, in fact everything used belonging to the companies, including some leather owned by F. D. Richards, who remarked to me that he was glad it was there for us to use. Brothers Jas. Ferguson and W. C. Dunbar also made the same remark about some groceries used of theirs. Not so with some others. They grieved very much over what stuff had been used of theirs.

After I got through making my statements, Brother Young asked each of my accusers what they had to say. No one answered. Then he spoke each man's name, asking them one at a time if they believed what I had said. All replied in the affirmative. He asked each one if they believed I had been honest, and taken good care of their goods. All answered "Yes."

Brother Young then stood up and said to the brethren, "You have accused Bro. Jones of stealing from you and others whom you represent, some five thousand dollars worth of goods. These accusations commenced in the winter when Brother Jones and companions were eating raw hide and poor meat, suffering every privation possible to take care of your stuff. How such stories started when there was no communication can only be accounted for by the known power of Satan to deceive and lie. These accusations continued until I, hearing of them, wrote a letter to the Bishops and Presidents, expressing my confidence in Brother Jones' labors; knowing at that time, as well as I do now, that he was innocent. I knew what Brother Jones' feelings were the other day when I notified him of this trial." Turning to me he said, "You wanted to ask me if I thought you guilty, but I gave you no chance to ask the question. I wanted you to learn that when I decide anything, as I had in your case, I do not change my mind. You were [121] not brought here for a trial for being guilty, but to give you a chance to stop these accusations." Then turning to my accusers again, "How does this look? After charging Brother Jones as you have, he makes a simple statement, affirming nothing, neither witnessing anything, and each of you say you believe he has told the truth. You have nothing to answer save that he is an honest man. Well, now, what have you brought him for?"

One of the complainers then asked if some of the company with me might not have stolen the goods. I answered "No; I am here to answer for all. Besides it would have been almost impossible for anyone besides myself to have taken anything unbeknown to others."

Bro. ______ asked, "If neither Bro. Jones nor the brethren with him have taken anything, how is it that I have lost so much?"

Brother Brigham replied, "It is because you lie. You have not lost as you say you have." This I knew to be correct as before stated, I had this brother's keys and knew that nothing had been taken.

Brother Brigham continued talking, chastising some of the Elders present for their ingratitude. Brother Kimball also felt indignant toward them. Finally Brother Brigham commenced to pronounce a curse upon those who had spoken falsely about me. I asked him to stop before he had finished the words, and told him I could bear their accusations better than they could bear his curse. He then blessed me, saying they would be cursed if they did not cease their talk; saying that we had seen the hardest time that any Elders ever had. Well the "Mormon" Battalion suffered, they were free to travel, looking forward with hope to something better; but that we were much longer under suffering conditions, [122] as we were tied up and had no hope only to stay and take our chances.

When done speaking he asked me what would satisfy me and what demands I had to make. I told him of the refusal to admit me into the quorum at Provo, saying that if I was considered worthy, I would like a recommend so as to have fellowship there.

The following letter was given me:


"Aug. 25th, 1857.

"This is to certify to all whom it may concern, that we, the undersigned, have investigated the matters between Daniel W. Jones and the brethren who stayed with him at Devil's Gate, last winter, and those who left goods at that place, and we are satisfied that Brother Jones and those with him did the best they possibly could, were perfectly honest, and that Brother Jones has satisfactorily accounted for all the things which were taken; and they were necessarily taken to save the lives of himself and company.

"We consider that Brother Jones is entitled to the praise, confidence and respect of all good men for the wise, self-denying and efficient course he pursued. And we recommend him to all as a faithful brother in good standing and full fellowship in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Signed)



[123] Brother Brigham said if we had set fire to the whole outfit and run off by the light of it he would never have found fault. So the trial ended and I went home feeling pretty well.

I was asked many years after this trial by a son-in-law of one of my accusers if Brother Brigham did not favor me in the trial because we had been partial and used others' goods, leaving Brother Brigham's alone.

I replied, "No, sir; Brother Brigham had no goods whatever at Devil's Gate. Neither had his name ever showed on on box or bale, therefore he could not have favored us on that account. He decided as he did simply because he was just and right. Whether we were all naturally honest or not, we were honest this trip, at least; for there was hardly a day but what starvation stared us in the face, and we were not much inclined to pilfer dry goods anyway."

I presented my recommend to the quorum which now received me into their fellowship. After this some few came to me asking about goods in rather an accusing manner. I referred them to Brother Brigham. So far and wide had the stories gone, that many took advantage of them. One old lady, and emigrant, who went to live in Provo, played a sharp game, but was found out. She had three daughters who were all married soon after getting in. These young ladies, as is usual with English girls, had a nice lot of linen. So when the luggage arrived, in the spring, the old lady came from Provo for the family goods. She, considering her daughters provided for, and being thrifty in her nature and liking to appear well, took her daughters' linen and traded it for furniture.

The reader must know that in those days anything from a pumpkin to a petticoat was a legal tender for [124] some amount, so the old lady had no trouble in making the exchange. She went back feeling indignant at "Jones" for robbing her daughters. She was a great tea-party woman and never missed the chance to tell of my cruel conduct, sometimes shedding tears over it.

One man who had married a daughter became a little suspicious, so he went to the city and visited the furniture dealer, and soon found the linen. He told me of the circumstance and asked me what I wished done, as he considered it an outrage. I told him it was not worth noticing, as there were so many similar things; to let the old woman and her daughters settle their own affairs, that would be punishment enough. I could tell of many more but this will suffice. Some of these stories were related during the investigation.

1 comment:

  1. A more honest man could not be found, me thinks.