Chapter XXXIII.


The Salt Lake City Election in 1874--Deputy Marshalls Attempt

to Run Things--Mayor Wells' Order--The Mob Dispersed-- Captain Burt and his Men Make Some Sore Heads

ONE item of home history that I took a small part in I will mention. At the August election of city officers of 1874 there was an attempt made by the U.S. marshal to control the polls. This was disputed by the municipal officers. Maxwell, the U.S. marshal, had a large number of deputies sworn in. Milton Orr was at that time the regular deputy and took the active control of the special deputies this election occurred soon after the passage of the Poland Bill.

The liberals were on their "high heels" and believed that they had now the right and power to put down Mormon rule in Salt Lake City. During the day there was continued contention who should act as police or protectors of the polls. The marshals interfered continually, and when the police attempted to do their duty they were arrested by the deputies and taken before the U.S. Commissioner and put under bonds. Several times during the day the spirit of lawlessness ran so high that a collision seemed inevitable. The police acted with great coolness and forbearance, only working to keep the polls unobstructed, but making no resistance when insulted or arrested, neither acting against the rioters so long as they kept clear of the polls. Many times during the day men would yell out that the Mormons had run this country as long as they could, that their day was done, boasting, swearing and defying the police to help themselves. This was immediately in front of the City Hall, some of the mob even crowding into the hallway.

Late in the afternoon the mob became so aggressive and the polls so obstructed that people wishing to vote could not get in. The marshals headed this obstruction. The police seemingly had no power to keep order. Captain Burt sent word to Mayor Wells asking for instructions. Mayor Wells soon appeared on the ground and managed to work his way through the crowd and get into the door of the polling room. The regular police were mostly on the inside of the city hall at that time. The mayor commanded the crowd to disperse and leave the entrance clear. This he uttered by authority of his office. They were possibly two hundred persons in the crowd. The room was full and the doors completely blocked and the sidewalk crowded. Many were in the street and more coming, cursing and yelling. Some of the leaders, now more or less intoxicated, when the order was given to disperse, instead of obeying, made an attack on the mayor. They were led by Milton Orr, who seized hold of Mr. Wells and attempted to drag him from his position. Mayor Wells resisted this move. Several others now caught hold of him, tearing his clothes.

I was just at the outer side of the sidewalk in company with George Crismon. As we saw this violent move against the mayor we started through the crowd, George taking the lead. And I always remembered his expertness in opening a way, for we were soon on hand. The noise was so terrific that I had to put my mouth close to Mr. Wells's ear. I asked him which way he wished to go. The jam was on both sides of him. I naturally supposed he wanted to get away, for the mob seemed to want to rend him in pieces and were doing their best to accomplish it.

Brother Wells answered, "I do not want to go either way. I shall stay here if I can; you help me to keep my place."

Brother Crismon did all he could to keep the mob off. I caught Brother Wells around the waist and held him against those pulling at him. His clothes were badly torn in the scuffle.

While this was going on, Brother Andrew Smith, of the police force, managed to get near us from the inside. He called to me to push Brother Wells to him.

I said, "He don't want to come in."

Brother Smith said, "Never mind." At the same time reaching and getting hold of Brother Wells, telling me to shove him in. This we did. I always believed that Mayor Wells would have died before he would have given way to the mob of his own free will.

As the mayor went in the door was shut and I was crowded outside with the mob. I now felt quite small, jammed into the doorway, all alone with the mob. I could see no friend near me, so I kept very quiet. Soon Mayor Wells appeared on the balcony of the court house. He looked rather dilapidated, but in a clear, steady voice commanded the rioters to disperse. At this they only shouted the louder, cursing and defying his authority. He then turned to Captain Burt and said, in substance: "Captain Burt, disperse this mob and clear the side-walk of obstruction." The mob had given way from just in front of the hall door, as the balcony was immediately over it and those under the balcony had crowded out so as to get a view of the mayor.

In a moment after the order was given Captain Burt stepped out onto the side-walk in front of the hall door, followed by a few regular police. Addressing the crowd immediately in front of the polling room, he commanded them to disperse.

Instead of obeying the order, the mob, with a howl of defiance, rushed at the captain, who stood with his arms folded. I was looking from a slight elevation, being on the doorstep, and powerless to do anything but watch, so that what I am writing is just as I saw it. As the mob rushed at Captain Burt he let drive with his police club; instantly others of the police pitched in. I have seen a good many knock-downs, but men felt as fast for a short time as I ever saw them. Most of them were U.S. marshals. The police were making a clearing toward the door where I was jammed in. The mob almost instantly gave way. They were so taken by surprise at seeing their leaders falling that many who were seemingly brave as lions a minute before took to their heels and ran away. During all this not a shot was fired. So rapid and thorough was the work of the police that I was a little afraid of getting hit myself and called out to Capt. Burt to set 'em up. One fellow that was knocked down fell against me as I was getting out.

All the police were arrested and brought to trial before the commissioners, but were cleared. There were many sore heads but no one killed. The man's name who did the hardest hitting that day never came up, and without his permission I will not mention it.

Sometimes when I see the Latter-day Saints insulted, accused and put upon by their enemies as they now are in the year 1889, I think of the good old days when we did not bear as we do today. Especially when it is put forth as though we are cowed and dare not say our souls are our own. Often when noticing some of the young Mormons of today who are toadying to the Gentiles and listening to their flattery, I cannot help but contrast their spindle-legged, dudish build, their supercilious looks, their effort to ape the infidelity of the day, etc., with the sturdy, faithful boys who went forth in the defence of their fathers in the days of Echo Canyon, and many other duties of the early days. Now why is this? There is too much luxury, indolence and false education. Many suppose that education consists in conjugating verbs. My grammar says, "Man is a verb--that is, man is made to do, and grammar says a verb is a word to do." Hence, man should be a verb and not a worthless, do-nothing noun--a name of a thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment