Chapter XXXVIII.


A Priest Warns His Congregation against Mormons--We Find

Some Friends--Our Plans for The Season--Letter from President Young--Threats of some Rowdies--The Peaceful Results

WE ARRIVED in the Republic of Mexico on Friday. It was not long before everyone in El Paso knew of the arrival of Mormons. We were stared at, but nothing occurred until Sunday that indicated anything unusual. On Sunday we concluded to go to the Catholic church, the only one in town. The building was crowded. We stood in a group near the entrance. There was quite a jam of people around us, and many furtive glances and dark, wicked looks were directed toward us.

About the worst element in Mexico can be found in Paso del Norte, or El Paso. Padre Borajo (pronounced, borah-ho) officiated. After the usual services of tingling bells, kneeling before the cross and various performances common in a Mexican Catholic church, services were over. The padre who was quite old and lean (something very unusual for a priest; most of them being rather corpulent) mounted the stand, and in a very impressive manner, commenced to warn the people against us.

These were his words in substance:

"The world's history gives an account of great plagues that have visited the world from time to time. Mankind has been subjected to great calamities, such as wars, storms, cholera, small pox, great drouth and floods. We of this land have been subjected to many plagues. The murderous Apaches have made war upon us for many years. We have had our ditches and dams destroyed by floods, so that some seasons we have had to suffer hunger.

"We have had many revolutions and thousands have been killed. Lately we have had the grasshoppers come and destroy every green herb and product. But all these things have made war only on the body of the man. None have had a tendency to destroy the soul.

"Now of all the plagues that ever visited the earth to curse and destroy mankind we have the worst just come to us and there stand the representatives of this plague. Look at them. Their faces show what they are.

"Thanks to God we have been warned in time by the Holy Pope that false prophets and teachers would come among us.

"These men," pointing to us, "represent all that is low and depraved. They have destroyed the morals of their own people, and have now come here to pollute the people of this place." (I thought if that was so we had a hard job on hand.) "They have no virtue. They all have from six to one dozen wives. Now they have come here to extend the practice into Mexico. I denounce them. Yes, here in the presence of the image of the Virgin Mary, I denounce them as barbarians. * * And I want you all to get their books and fetch them to me and I will burn them."

As Brother Tenney was not present, I was the only one of our party who perfectly understood his words. I began to feel as though it would be best for us to get out of the crowd before the spirit got too high, as some fanatic might be tempted to slip a sharp knife in among our ribs.

We managed to work ourselves gradually out of the crowd which filled the door yard for several feet. When clear we walked straight way to our quarters, where I translated all that had been said. It was taken down at the time and to the best of my memory was about as here given. We could not help but be amused at the old fellow's vehemence, and our first introduction to Mexico.

For some days after this when women in the streets would see any of us coming, they would jump into the first door and close it and then look out through what all Mexican houses have in their doors--a peep hole. Some of the women who ran from us were of the class that do not often scare at a man, yet they acted as though they dreaded us.

We managed to pass quietly along never seeming to notice these actions, but often had a hearty laugh when we got to our quarters.

On enquiry we learned that the laws of Mexico, under the new constitution, required all religious services to be performed in a structure recognized as a church building.

One liberal-minded gentleman, Esperidion Sanches, gave us much information. He said the law simply required the presiding officer of a town to recognize a house for the occasion, and put the police to protect it; but if the civil authority was under the influence of the priests, they could baffle us and forbid us preaching in any house except a regular church edifice, erected solely for religious worship.

Sanches told me the Jefe Politico of Paso del Norte, was an affable gentleman but a strong Catholic, and he doubted if we would be able to get the privilege of holding meetings. When we called upon the gentleman he told us that he understood the law forbade any religious services performed except in a house especially erected for religious purposes.

I tried to reason with him. He listened to me patiently, but said no difference how unreasonable the law might seem we would have to submit. I then asked him if the law defined any particular material to be used, or size, or shape the house should be built, that possibly we might take it in hand to build a church. This he could not answer.

I visited him several times but to no purpose. The laws forbade all street preaching. I felt determined not to be beaten. There were a number of the better class of citizens visited us and protested against the way the priest had talked about us, saying that none but ignorant fanatics would sustain such talk.

This gave us an opportunity to explain our mission and principles to many that would not have listened if it had not been for the padre's rabid talk. Finally an idea occurred to me. President Young had presented me with a good new set of saddler's tools before leaving Salt Lake City. He had said that they might help me out sometime when nothing else would. So I called once more on the Jefe Politico. He was always patient and polite.

After talking a while about the meeting house I told him I had given up the idea of holding meetings until I went to Chihuahua and saw the governor. This seemed to please him for he desired peace, and he was afraid for us to attempt holding meetings in Paso del Norte, as the people were much under the influence of priest-craft.

I asked him how he would like a saddle shop started. He said it would be a good thing; that many people needed saddles and had to pay a high price for them; that he thought I could do well making saddles; in fact much better than preaching, as no one would pay me for preaching, but would be glad to pay me a big price for a good saddle.

When I talked with my companions, showing my plans, all agreed with me. So we rented quite a large house for a saddler shop. I hired a bench and vise, put up my tools, bought some timber and went to work making saddle-trees. My son Wiley assisted me.

Soon the people began to call in to look at my work. As there was no law against conversation, especially in one's own house, we soon got to having quite respectable audiences and the spirit of friendship grew up toward us.

Some of the brethren went over on the Texas side, to Ysleta, to winter where the stock could be fed more cheaply than in El Paso.

Brothers Tenney and Smith, did not want to go on into Mexico, so we agreed that they should have the privilege of laboring in New Mexico among the Pueblos and Zunis, and then return home. As they never reported to me, all I know about them is what I have learned from others. Brother James Brown took charge of that field of labor.

About this time I received the following letter:


"January 22nd, 1876.

Elder D. W. Jones, El Paso, Texas,

"DEAR BROTHER:--I was more than pleased to receive your favor of the 10th inst., and was much interested in its contents, not to say amused at your account of the oration by the padre, as an introductory greeting into Mexico. Like you, I doubt not that that the opposition bodes good for you, and the success of your mission. I feel that it would be wise for you to visit the old original blood as much as possible. Let the Catholic church alone; if its members wish to hear the truth, expound it to them as to any other people, but do not debate with them. And as to the curses of the old priests, you need not regard them as much as you would a mosquito, in the season of the year when these insects trouble.

"Be cautious in your labors and movements; do not court opposition, but move steadily on, presenting the truths of the gospel to those who will hear you, and inviting all to become partakers of the gospel of the Son of God. You have the faith and prayers of all that you will be able to do a good work, and I have no doubt but that you will see me again in the flesh yet many times.

"Brother James S. Brown has returned from his visit to Arizona. He left the brethren of his party building a fort at Moencoppy, 20x40 feet. Whilst in that country he, with three others went a long distance up the Little Colorado River, from the Moencoppy, passing up beyond where you crossed. He fully substantiates the statements made by yourself and the brethren of your party with regard to the desirability of the upper valleys of the Little Colorado as settlements for the Saints. We have called about two hundred brethren, whom we think of dividing into companies of 50, to settle on the Little Colorado and adjacent country. These brethren will mostly be ready to start by the 1st of February. A most excellent spirit prevails with regard to this mission amongst the brethren, and numbers more would have been willing to have gone had they been wanted. We shall send down a grist and saw-mill during the summer. Among those called is Elder Lot Smith, who will have charge of one company of fifty.

"Since my letter to you of Nov. 8th, addressed to Tucson, we have had a very peaceable and quiet time. Judge White set me at liberty, soon after, from the unjust imprisonment of Judge Boreman for contempt. Brother Reynolds has again been tried, convicted for obeying the law of the Lord and sentenced to two years' hard labor in the U. S. House of Correction at Detroit and $500 fine. He appealed and was admitted to bail. The appeal will come up in June.

"Brother Canon has been seated in Congress; his contestant has not made much of a show yet. I notice by the telegrams that Mr. Christiancy, senator from Michigan, has introduced a bill to provide for challenges to jurors in trials for bigamy and polygamy; that it shall be sufficient cause, for the rejection of a juror, that he has more than one wife living, or that he believes it morally right for a man to live with more than one wife. Well, the faster it comes the sooner the end will be.

"Our legislature is now in session with plenty of work provided for it. If the members feel it consistent or necessary to attend to all that is suggested they will have to be very wary and prudent, or our ever watchful enemies will introduce some bills that, if enacted, will prove snares and pitfalls. They will have to work for nothing, for Congress has allowed the U.S. Marshal to spend the appropriations for the payment of the legislature and passed a law prohibiting the legislature from passing any act to pay themselves out of the Territorial Treasury.

The new building of the Z. C. M. I. is a great success. It is lighter than the most sanguine expected. It presents, now that the elegant front is on, a most handsome and imposing appearance. We expect to commence business in it about the 7th of March.

"My health is generally good; occasionally I catch cold and then I suffer from rheumatism. I hope the temple at St. George will be sufficiently near completion at the end of February to enable me to go down at that time and dedicate the lower portion.

"With love to yourself and all the brethren associated with you, and with constant prayers that you may enjoy all the blessings that in your heart you can righteously desired, and that abundant success may crown your labors, I remain

"Your brother in the Gospel,


I did very well with my saddle work, earning enough to assist some little in keeping up expenses. The brethren with me were all diligent and acted in a manner to create a respect for our people and religion.

We had meetings quite often on the American side of the river, that were generally well attended, and good order prevailed during the whole winter, with one exception.

We were informed one Saturday that there was a crowd of Irish Catholics that intended to rotten egg us the next day, Sunday, if we attempted to preach in Franklin. I told our informers that we expected to preach and hoped the Irishmen would change their minds.

There was an old acquaintance of mine, Tom Massey, who knew me in Santa Fe. Tom told these Irishmen that he did not know what religion had done for me, but unless it had done more than is common, they would not meet with much success, and advised them not to try it.

Massey was a saloon keeper and gambler, and was considered authority on all questions that had to be settled with the knife and pistol, and I think his advice had some effect.

However, next morning when meeting opened there was quite a large audience. About the time I commenced speaking the Irish gents came in, sat down near the door, and soon began groaning.

I walked down near them and told them that I was capable of making all the noise necessary, provided the audience wished to hear my noise, but if they preferred theirs to mine they could say so, and I would give them the floor.

Several in the audience called for me to go on and told the disturbers to keep quiet. They made no more disturbance. This gave me a good text and I explained plainly the gospel of repentance; referred a little to my experience in that country when a boy. I could talk plainly as there were persons present who had known me and knew that I was rather a hard case in a rough-and-tumble-go-as-you-please fight.

I told them our doctrine required us to forsake all of our evil ways and to be willing to bear all kinds of persecution meekly; that I had endeavored to school myself in these principles and hoped that I had succeeded; but that I was not quite certain yet; and that I hoped I would be spared the trial for a year or two longer before having to be thumped for my religious belief as I might not be prepared to take abuse with a submissive spirit.

In explaining Mormonism I said that the gospel did not debar a person from any pleasure he desired to enjoy. Brothers Pratt and Stewart followed and spoke on the first principles of the gospel.

After meeting was dismissed the leader of the disturbers met us at the door. He asked me to go and take a drink with him. I told him I did not drink liquor.

"Then you go back on your own words, do you?" he questioned.

I asked him what he meant. He said "While preaching you made the statement that your religion allowed you any pleasure you desired."

"Yes sir, but drinking whisky is no pleasure to me and I do not desire to drink any."

"Well, do you ever eat anything," he asked.

"Yes, we are all good eaters."

"Well then come with me to the hotel and I will pay for a good dinner for as many of you as will come."

Brother Pratt and some others went along. We had a good dinner and when we went to go our friends said, "If any body bothers you let me know and I will lick them for you. I like to fight but would rather fight for you boys than to fight you. Good bye."

To finish this,--some ten years after I was sitting at the dinner table at Pueblo, Colorado, I noticed a man looking across the table at me. I soon recognized him as my Irish friend.

I spoke and asked if he knew me. "Yes, I know you. How are you?" he asked, reaching across the table and shaking hands with me.

"Have you ever thought of me?" I enquired.

"Yes a thousand times."

I told him I had often thought of him, and with a few more words we parted. I feel an interest now in this man and would be glad to meet him again and know his name.

I can say that I have often observed, in the course of my experience, that every man, even the worst, has something good about him if properly treated.

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