Chapter XXXIX.


Justice in Early Days--We Prepare to go Further--Our Letter of

Introduction--Loss of our Animals--We Trail and Find Them

I WILL gives you a short account of the actions of the first authorities of Franklin as given to me by the main actor, that the "tenderfeet" of the present day may know a little of the experiences of early days.

When Franklin first established itself as a town, Judge Jones was elected mayor and Ben Dowel marshal. Soon after organizing a number of roughs came in and started to run the town, defying the officers. This would have been all right and possibly admired a few days before the organization, but now order must be kept and the laws vindicated.

A warrant was issued and the marshal and posse approached the rioters. A man was killed, but the outlaws kept possession of the street and defied the officers. Something had to be done.

The dockets show that these men were arrested, brought to trial and found guilty of murder in the first degree; that the court sentenced them to be shot; that Ben Dowel and others were ordered by the court to execute the orders.

Accordingly the orders were duly executed, and Dowel and his assistants, the judge being one of the party, proceeded to shoot four of these condemned men on the street in front of the main saloon of the town. They were buried, as the records show, and the costs of court and all proceedings duly recorded.

Judge Jones showed me the record and explained how it was done. I never heard any complaint about the proceedings but, on the other hand, Judge Jones and Ben Dowel were very much respected by the average citizens of the country.

During the winter Brothers Pratt and Stewart remained most of the time at Ysleta. Brother Ivins helped me make saddle-trees, took care of the stock, and made himself generally useful. I worked most of the time in the shop, my son Wiley helping me. We boarded with a Mexican family, Santiago Vega, who treated us very kindly, often posting us on what was said of us.

The Mexican people are great riders and fond of a good saddle. This gave me a chance to talk to the people. All seemed friendly. Even the priest who had given us such a setting up came and patronized us. We also distributed a few books. We tried quite hard to get a hearing from the natives that lived in and around El Paso, but the priest kept such a watch upon our moves that we had but little chance.

These natives are known as Pueblos. Never having mixed with the Spanish blood they are still pure blooded Indians. They are generally poor, occupying lands owned by the rich. They desired to hear us and appointed meetings, but were warned that if they listened to us their rents would be raised or they would be driven from their lands. So we had to let them alone, seeing their situation.

The brethren held meetings often at Ysleta and adjacent towns. One family, by the name of Campbell, who resided at San Elesario, opened their doors to the Elders, treating them with great kindness. This family afterwards joined the Church.

After recruiting our animals and feeling that we had done about all the good in our power in El Paso, we determined to make a move into the interior and go to the city of Chihuahua. We were told that the governor, SeƱor Ochoa, was a very liberal-minded man and not under priestly control, and that he would be very likely to allow us the privilege of preaching.

I wrote to President Young regularly. We received letters from him in return, giving us kind encouragement and instructions.

I reported to him our finances, which were getting short, stating that we intended going on and working our way through the best we could. We received a postal card directing us to wait till we heard from him. When we did hear it was in the shape of postal orders for money sufficient to bear our expenses for some time.

Before leaving El Paso I called on the Jefe Politico. I had hoped that I could get some kind of a letter from him that would assist us in getting introduced into Chihuahua.

The Jefe had the reputation of being a very kind and affectionate father, extremely fond of his wife and children, so I called on him at his residence. He received me kindly and expressed regret that we were going away. Said that he had had his opinion changed about the Mormons. "From the way in which your company have acted I think the Mormons would make good citizens, and I would like to have you remain."

I told him our duty was to travel through the country and visit with and explain to the people our principles and make friends with them, in anticipation that some of our people would, in time, come into his country and make homes; that they were now coming this way; that we had, on our trip found country and reported back the same, and that we had received word that several hundred were getting ready to follow upon our tracks to colonize the places already reported.

"Well," said he, "all you will have to do will be to do as you have done here. When you first came we all thought you bad men. You have stayed here and behaved yourselves in a manner that we now look on you as good men and respect you. You can do the same wherever you go."

I replied "Yes, you are right, but it will take a long time. We desire to visit a great many places. I have a good kind wife at home whom I love dearly. I have a number of little children near the ages of yours here. I love them; they are fond of me."

He looked at me for a moment and then said: "That is so. I understand your feelings and will give you a letter that will introduce you to the Governor, or wherever you go, and you do not need to wait three months to introduce yourselves."

He gave us the letter, stating that we were gentlemen of good behavior, etc., etc.

We bade good-by to our numerous friends and started to Chihuahua in the latter part of March.

By this time it was known throughout the state of Chihuahua that Mormon missionaries were in the country. The reception given us by the padre had also been heralded abroad. This caused the more liberal minded to sympathize with us. Wherever we stayed we were kindly treated. We managed to keep posted where to apply and who to avoid. The liberal people notifying us against the rabid Catholics.

The first day's travel from the Rio Grande brought us to a station where water was supplied in a large tank. A few soldiers were stationed here as a guard against the Apaches that sometimes raided the ranch. This was an important camping place, being the only water found on a 75 mile drive. Grass was plentiful and travelers often camped here for their teams to rest.

We were now in a country where our stock would have to be carefully watched every night. Our custom was to feed grain, hopple the horses and take turns guarding them through the night. It was my turn to go on guard. The animals were eating their corn. Grass was good all around the camp. The night was very dark, the brethren were singing. I got interested in listening and delayed a few minutes attending to the stock. When I went to take charge of them, they were all gone. I gave the alarm.

One man remained in the camp to keep up the fire and the rest of us spent until midnight hunting, but nothing of our stock could be seen.

I went to bed feeling about as miserable as any one ever did. The fault was my own. I had been very strict; so much so that some of the brethren had felt hurt at times. I had been so careful of all our outfit. Now I felt, after all my strictness I had been the one to lose the stock.

Next morning we could see bunches of stock in every direction, but ours could not be found.

At length Brother Ivins and my son found their trail and followed it some ten miles. They were afoot and the trails showed that the animals were being driven off, so the boys returned and reported. I went to the station to see if I could get help. The commander said it was his business to lend assistance and that he would do all he could for me. I told him I wanted a good horse as I was a trailer.

The commander, myself and two others were ready in a short time. Orders were given for five others to follow our trail, bringing water and provisions. We went to our camp. I told the brethren that I would not return without the stock.

The commander wanted to know of me how long I wished to follow the trail. I told him until I got the animals or died trying. He said he never left a trail as long as one man stayed with him.

The agreement was if I did not return, the brethren were to hire a team, return to El Paso, and report to Brother Brigham.

As soon as we struck the trail the Mexicans decided that the animals had been stolen by Apaches, as we could see plainly that there were barefooted tracks along with ours. The trail was quite plain until we reached a low mountain range. Here the formation was rocky and no trail could be seen.

I had taken the lay of the country in the distance and picked out the point where I was satisfied the animals would have to go. So, while the Mexicans were looking for tracks, I made for this pass.

On reaching the summit of the rise the country opened out somewhat level. I made a circuit and soon struck the trail. I was now alone, but on calling the others heard me and soon came in sight. I started on a gallop. One of the party, riding up, overtook and complimented me on my ability to trail.

As we rode I looked back and saw a signal fire. I asked what it was for. My companion said, "The captain is now satisfied that the Apaches have your stock, and that is a signal fire for some more men to come on and follow our trail, bringing water, as there is none for three days in this direction."

He proposed riding a little slower till the captain came up. I felt more like going faster.

There was a clump of cedars in sight in the direction we were going. As we neared it the Mexicans said, "There are your animals; the thieves have gone in there and we have got to fight." We looked back, but no one was now in sight.

The Mexican asked, "What shall we do? Will you fight?"

I told him I would, if necessary, and for him to take out on one side, keeping out of gun shot, I would go on the other and we would get beyond the cedars and keep the thieves from running the stock off.

We were in a wide flat, with mountains on each side. We rode clear round on the run and met. We saw no sign of thieves. Soon five men, with the Mexican captain, came up.

We approached the cedars cautiously and found all the animals bunched, but no thieves. We made a careful survey of the country and found the tracks of the thieves, where they had gone off in another direction. The captain asked if I wished to follow them. I was too thankful to get the stock, so I told him to let them go; that they had had their trouble for nothing.

We arrived at our camp about sundown, having ridden nearly forty miles. The commander charged us nothing, but we made the soldiers a present of a few dollars, which they accepted very thankfully, as a Mexican soldier serves for almost nothing and boards himself.

Our animals were never molested afterward. There was quite a number of teams camped around at the time, and there was considerable interest shown, as most all thought it was the Apaches that had stolen our animals, but it was doubtless thieves who had taken them expecting to get a reward for fetching them back.

When we returned, the captain told them it was no use for any one to steal my animals, unless they rolled up the tracks as they went along, for if they did not I would find them. And added that "the Mormon" was the best trailer he had ever seen.

Months after this when hundreds of miles from this place, Mexicans would speak of the circumstance and quote the words of the captain. We were something strange in the country and all our movements and actions were watched and talked about so that wherever we went we found the people seemed to know all about us.

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