Chapter XXXI.


Whisky Sold to the Indians--I Forbid the Traffic--Douglas and

his Band Demand an Order for Fire-Water--They Threaten to Kill me--My Trick on them for Threatening me--Mr. Dodge Orders the Indians Back to the Reservation--They Refuse to go--Trouble Brewing--Peaceable Settlement

DURING the time the Indians were in Thistle valley, there were a number of persons mean enough to sell them whisky. This was a dangerous business, and I did all in my power to stop it.

After returning from Grass valley, I camped near the Indians in Thistle. I also visited the Sanpete settlements and watched the moves and did what I could to keep peace. There were quite a number opposed to the Indians being around and expressed themselves quite freely; but the greater portion of the people were desirous of peace. The whisky selling was the great evil, likely to bring on trouble at any time. Finally, through threatening the whisky sellers with prosecution, I succeeded in frightening them off, all except one man at Moroni, who still had not given up the business. The Douglas and some fifteen others obtain whisky from this rascal, sufficient to get well started on a drunk, then came on to Fairview, went to where they had been in the habit of getting whisky and wanted more. Here they were told by D. S. that Jones had stopped him selling whisky and that none could be had without a written order from him.

The Indians had just enough to fire them up for more, so they struck for my camp, twelve miles distant, in full charge. No one was with me but my son Wiley, then about thirteen years of age. Soon I was charged upon by three or four drunken Indians, demanding of me that I should give them an order for whisky. I told them I would not. One Indian had a pencil and paper. He offered it to me, saying: "You must now write, or we will kill you." Still I refused. Others were now arriving. Soon the whole crowd was upon me; all were excited and just drunk enough to be mean.

I told my son to sit still; not to move or say a word. This he did, not seeming to notice what was going on. Many times it looked as though my time had come, for numerous guns were aimed at me at different times, seemingly with the full intention of pulling the trigger. When one Indian would fail to shoot, another would crowd in with his gun aimed at me, saying, "I will shoot if you don't write." Many of them took hold of my hand and tried to make me write, but I was determined that I would not.

Finally, I became so overcome and weary with the excitement and effort to resist their demand, that I almost became indifferent to life. It really looked as though I might get shot. So I begged them to be still a minute and hear me; then, if they wanted to, they could kill me. All became quiet. I told them that I had always been their friend and was now working for their good; referred to the hard trips across the snow mountains to do them good, and that I would still like to live, as I had not finished the work I was doing for them. And it was as their friend that I had forbidden anyone selling them whisky, because it made them fools and bad men--so much so that they were now abusing me, the best friend they had; that I had agreed with God to be their friend and never shed any of their blood; and that I would die before I would sign the papers, and if they killed me God would not be their friend.

I was now so exhausted and sleepy that I could scarcely keep awake, although it was mid-day. So I told the Indians I was tired and would lie down and go to sleep, and if they were determined to kill me to wait till I was asleep, then put their guns close to my head, so I would not suffer much, telling them I asked this as their friend. I spread my blankets on the ground, laid down and I am sure it was not more than two minutes till I was sound asleep. My little son still sat silent. After sleeping quite a while I felt someone pulling at my foot. On looking up I discovered that most of the Indians were lying around me asleep. My son was also sound asleep. The Indian pulling at me asked me to get up and sell him something he wanted. I told him I was too sick to get up. He insisted, but I was determined to be sick. Soon others tried to rouse me, but I knew as long as I lay in bed I was all right. Finally all the Indians left. I now wakened Wiley and asked him about how the Indians acted when I went to sleep. He said that one after another came near and looked at me without saying a word. Then they all laid down around me and went to sleep; that finally he got sleepy and also laid down.

I concluded to play them a little game for this, for I knew when sober the Indians were faithful to me, and I did not want another experience of this kind. Widely watched, and whenever an Indian approached I would cover up--sick. We had a lot of trade, but I was too sick to do anything. When they wanted to know what ailed me I told them my heart was sick; that it felt so bad I could do nothing. This continued day after day till the Indians became really uneasy, for fear I would die. Finally, Tabby and others came and made presents of buckskins and beavers and begged me to forgive the Indians who had threatened me, saying that if I would live and be their friend they never would say whisky to me again. And if they ever got drunk they would go away to the mountains and not come near me. I finally got well, much to their joy. To show the danger I was in, a few days after this affair two Indians were killed in a drunken row among themselves.

Soon after returning to the city Mr. Dodge seemed to change his tactics. He informed me that it was his intention to order the Indians back to the reservation at once; and that he would make me no promises whatever. I told him the Indians expected something as there was nothing at the reservation when they left except a little flour. The most of the Indians from Uintah were now camped near Nephi. Mr. Dodge went out there and preemptorily ordered them back to the agency.

Tabby told him they would not go back until there was something sent with them as they would as soon die fighting as to starve. The Indians had agreed with me that they would not fight but would hold out as long as they could, but would give up and go back if pressed. I had been forbidden to go among the Indians any more under penalty of arrest for inducing the Indians to leave the reservation. I began to feel a little uneasy when I heard now Tabby had talked, that he had forgotten his promise to me. I tried to get permission to go and see the Indians, offering to guarantee that they would go back peaceably if I could have a talk with them, but was still refused the privilege.

The condition of affairs was telegraphed to Washington. Much excitement prevailed. Many persons blamed me for getting the Indians into the settlements, and some favored their being whipped back. A good many sensational stories came from Sanpete, the Indians being accused of many things they did not do. The telegraph operator of one of the settlements was knocked in the head by some one. This was laid to the Indians. It afterwards proved to be a white man that committed the deed.

I was working continually to counteract the stories for I had faith in the Indians. The only thing I dreaded was the selling of whisky to the Indians by some of the settlers. A drunken Indian is dangerous under any circumstances. Finally a commission arrived from Washington to inquire into the affair. I had already offered some affidavits I had, to Mr. Dodge, to prove some things against the management of the agent at Uintah, but he had not taken them from me. Mr. Dodge fully expected that I would offer these in evidence before the commission, but I had become convinced that the agent was a better man than the one who had been appointed to superintend affairs; so I told Mr. Dodge that I had concluded to say nothing more about the agent.

He flew into a terrible rage, and said I would have to go ahead; that I could not back out as he had made a contract, with a Mr. Popper for several hundred beef cattle that were then being sent to the agency for the Indians; and that unless the agent was prosecuted and turned out, the government would not sustain him in what he had done, and that if I did not go ahead, I would be prosecuted for libel. I asked him what he would make out of it, and told him if I had said anything against the agent I would apologize for it, and that I did not intend to interfere in the agent's business any more.

I had learned enough to know that the Indians would get the cattle, but Charles Popper had quite a time getting his pay for them, but finally did.

The superintendent was now down on me fully and completely. So when the commission met in his office, General Morrow being present (I was watching all the moves continually), I walked in. Mr. Dodge ordered me out. I replied that I was an interested party; that I represented the Indians and did not intend to go out: that there was a sign outside the door which allowed me, as an American citizen, to walk in, and that my business was such as warranted my coming in. General Morrow said he would like to have me stay, so permission was given me to remain.

The question being considered was whether the Indians should be induced to return to the reservation by telling them they were to have plenty of provisions or whether an order should be given the military commander to force them back with arms without any promise being made them. I made the best fight I could in behalf of the Indians, but I said nothing against the agent at the reservation. Dodge could not, as he had no evidence in his possession, so the agent was not brought into question.

Mr. Dodge was very angry and desired war, and worked until he won, getting an order issued to General Morrow to take his troops and drive the Indians back. Now, some might think I had done all I could, but I was determined not to give up. So on going out into the street I asked General Morrow if I could talk to him. He said, "No, I have no time. I have to go and whip these d----d Indians back to the reservation." Still I did not give up. I felt almost desperate, for if the Indians had resisted, it would have reflected on me for getting them away from the agency. My intention was, if necessary, to go and see them and take the consequences.

General Morrow and some other officers mounted their horses and started for camp. He was hardly in his quarters before I was there. I had been to his house before and been introduced to his wife. When I called, the General treated me pleasantly and asked what he could do for me. I told him I had called to see his wife; that I had wanted to get her to help me to try and persuade him not to make war on the Indians if it could possibly be avoided. I believe General Morrow thought me a little crazy. Finally he promised me that he would not fire a gun until I had the privilege of going and talking to the Indians. I now felt satisfied for I knew that they would listen to me, as they had pledged themselves to take my advice. It was not the intention of Mr. Dodge to let the Indians know that anything would be sent immediately to the agency; but as I had learned about the beef cattle I intended informing them.

I went and talked with D. B. Huntington. He was pretty well posted on what I was doing and was in sympathy with me. He was a good interpreter and was not known by Mr. Dodge. Dimick went out and explained my situation to the Indians, that I had been forbidden by Mr. Dodge to visit them; that I did not want them to resist but to listen to General Morrow and go back to the agency peaceably. The Indians met at Springville, where General Morrow listened to them. I was not present but kept track of all the moves. The Indians were perfectly willing now to return and made no offer of resistance. Several hundred sacks of flour as well as the beef cattle mentioned, were sent out. The Indians were now happy. So far my aims were accomplished. Peace had been made and confirmed between the white people and hostile Utes. Government had taken notice of their condition, and provisions had been sent. All this had been done on the stir I had been the means of making.

The agent at Uintah was not consulted and nothing had been done in his name or by his authority; neither was he in any way implicated, as not one word of testimony stood against him. So he ignored the cattle purchased, came in and bought supplies, and went on as usual with his agency business. Mr. Dodge was censured and dismissed from office for getting up all the trouble.

There were several attempts made to get some papers I had in my possession, but I kept them for future use, if needed. I never have heard of any material trouble between the Mormons and Utes since that time. The agent took hold in good shape and the Indians afterward spoke well of him. During this whole business I worked without counsel or advice from any one, except the advice first given by G. A. Smith. I acted as a trader most of the time, but my main business was to establish peace. It cost considerable time and money, and when I got through there was a debt of some $1200.00 against me at Z. C. M. I. Brother Brigham ordered the account sent to him for settlement.

Several years after this, whilst living in Arizona, I received a letter from a former friend of the agent, asking me for the papers I had, saying that with them and what they had, they thought they could make a case against this same agent. I replied to them that if they had to go back so far for evidence it was clear to me that the agent was doing pretty well; that I had not heard of the Indians complaining of late years and that I had no papers for them. So long as the Indians were satisfied I cared nothing for disappointed speculators.

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