April 21, started on an exploring trip to the mountains to explore for lead. Took with me Sylvester Hulet, John Lowder and Beeson Lewis, Jr., taking Koonah-Kibals, an Indian, along for our guide. Traveled three miles from our fort to a little spring, then seven miles to another spring, from thence, 25 miles to another small spring in a canyon. All the way through a very rough road and very little grass. Arrived there about 12 p.m. being then 12 hours on the road. Tuesday 22nd, started and met several Indians and Squaws. Went on to the lead and arrived there about 10 o'clock, a distance of four miles. Found plenty of lead. Packed up 180 lbs. and started back and got to the spring in the desert at sundown, and I got home on Thursday the 24th.
All well for some time past. The weather has been very cold. Thermometer stood as low as 30, also high winds.
Nothing of any importance took place until Tuesday morning about 7 o'clock on the 6th May, 1856. Nathaniel Jones, P.K. Smith, and Ira Hatch came here from President Young with instructions from him to explore the lead region; whereupon I started again and took along with me some of the boys and piloted Brother Jones to the mines again. He said it was good ore but not in sufficient quantities to justify working. After returning to camp another Indian, by the name of Colorado, came to me and told me he knew where there was more lead on the California road about one day's ride from here. Accordingly, I got up a company for Brother Jones, found him horses and men and started about the 11th of May and found a very flattering prospect there. The company then returned and Jones called on an outfit of mules and men and provisions to go and explore the Silver Mountain. Accordingly, Albert Knapp, W. C. Mitchell, and afterwards John Turner and Beeson Lewis started also. The company found them 30 lbs. of flour and boarded them all the time they were here. I started them on their journey, but they returned unsuccessful on account of the hot season having begun. Afterwards Jones, P. K. Smith, and Ira Hatch started home, intending to return in September.
Things passed on very harmoniously until the 15th of June, 1856, when the company came in under command of Brother W. S. Covert. We had previously sent out all the teams we had with water to assist them in off the desert. I then gave up my presidency to him, he being the first counselor of President Bringhurst, stating that I had done my duty as far as was required of me and that I was glad to have the privilege of retiring from labour for a season. All was good feelings.
Things began to change. The same old-fashioned sermons were preached and "arses" threatened to be kicked if men did not do what was wanted of them. This is one of the reasons I did not wish to be annoyed with the bustle of compelling men on every occasion, thinking that more mild treatment would do just as well. Things rolled on until Courts began. Brother Edward Cuthbert was tried for some frivolous offense. William Burston was tried and cut from the Church for some other frivolous thing. A lead company was then organized, of which I was one, I then started on the 5th of August and went to the mines, worked one week and returned. Beturned Saturday 9th and found N. V. Jones had arrived. Brother Jacob Piart and three others stayed one week here. Jones presented his letter of instruction to President Bringhurst and there was a great storm between them calling each other anything but gentlemen. Jones said he had power to take about 20 men and work them in the mines, afterwards discharge them from the mission. Whereupon it was agreed that the thing should be laid over until advice could be got from President Young on the subject.
This day, 17th of August, the California mail arrived. I, having acted as Postmaster for the last five months, I opened this mail and found some letters and papers from this place. Among others, was one sent to President Bringburst from James Louis, one of my old friends in Parowan, but instead of being a friendly letter it was one that did not reflect much credit on my old friend James.
In April 1856, an Indian named Coonikibots brought word of a mineral lead about 40 miles north of the Vegas, so I took him along and went in search of the mine and found it to be lead. President Bringhurst was at this time at home at Springville and I had charge of the Mission. I therefore sent by the hand of a Brother Smith, who was on his way to Salt Lake, a lump of ore that I brought from the north mine, weighing about three and one-half pounds to President B. Young, who in answer sent me the report of his analysis. Difficulty soon began between Jones and Bringhurst of which I took no part. Soon I was released from the Mission and very soon the evil among the heads broke it up all together until nothing was left of it only the old walls that I have worked hard to help build.
Complete Journal is in D.U.P. History Files
Following is a letter written by John Steele to Geo. A. Smith:
Los Vegas, Territory of New Mexico July 25, 1855
There is a desert of 55 miles to cross, after you leave the Moapats (or Muddy) before arriving at this place; at the distance of 25 miles there is some bunch grass, and to all appearance there might be water found by digging wells, and we have been talking of doing that for the accomodation of travelers; but it will be attended with considerable expense, as the workmen would have to haul their water nearly 30 miles for their use while engaged in the operation.
Mr. Leech, the mail contractor from California, told me he would give one hundred dollars to help to open the well; Messrs. Congar & Hope offered twenty dollars for the same purpose; and no doubt there are many more who would gladly subscribe means to help to bring forth a spring of water on the desert. I would say that the road in many places is greatly improved since I was on it in 1858, but I assure you there is yet room for improvement.
I will now describe our location; we are situated about as near in the centre of a valley or basin as can be; valley 50 miles long by 30 wide, on a beautiful little stream which rises about three miles above our camp. The head springs are about 25 yards long, and about 10 wide, boiling up most beautifully; there are two forks, as you may see on the map, in latitude 36, longitude 116; the stream is about 3 feet wide, and 15 inches deep, having a tolerable swift current; the water is not heavy as the waters of Centre Creek in Iron county; but I can assure you that it is a refreshing beverage for those who may be traveling with slow ox trains for the space of thirty-six hours. There is none can realize how good a thing a blessing is except those who are deprived of it.
After arriving here we surveyed some gardens, and made survey of fifteen five-acre lots, thinking that it would be enough for us this year, as there is a great quantity of mesquite brush on it; this is a bush with as many prickles on it as the locust tree, and resembling the hawthorn.
We plowed and watered, made ditches, bridges, and fences about one-half of our field with this mesquite brush, cutting and hauling it to the lines, leaving the tops outward; and it makes a good fence. We herd our stock through the day, and guard them and the camp at night. We are very busy making a corral eight rods wide and 150 feet alongside the fort, which is laid out 150 feet square on a beautiful spot on the California road, on an eminence that overlooks the valley to the south, east, and north, but cannot be seen until you get within three hundred yards of it coming from the west. We received considerable assistance in our surveying from brother I. D. Brown, who was here at that time in company of Capt. Rufus C. Allen, Mr. Peter Shirts, Mr. Riddle, and Mr. Haskell, on an exploring trip on the Colorado. We have no instruments here for making surveys, and we have to do the best we can without them.
I will tell you about our exploring for timber. Eight of us started in company with Pres. Bringhurst and Mr. David Savage, the mail carrier, and his company on Tuesday, 17th of July, started at 8 o'clock, and arrived at the Cottonwood Springs about eleven o'clock at night, a distance of 25 miles; found good feed, but had traveled a little too far for water; there is cottonwood and ash here, and we found next morning plenty of the best of water. The country around here looks as if the Lord had forgotten it; the mountains are very high—some as high as one thousand feet of sandstone standing up edgeways; some clifts seem to lay in regular strata, but for the most part they seem as disjointed fragments, some standing out in bold defiance of the parent rock. Here we found some of the scattered remnants of Israel; they would stand upon the highest mountains and hollow; they sent us a present of pine nuts by a young Indian, that we had along for a guide.
Next day traveled along the base of the mountain, and found plenty of water in seeps that no doubt, descend from the top of the mountain rocks in the wet season, and spring up through the sand.
At length came to a kanyon some ten miles north of the California road, and found 80 or 90 trees, varying from six inches to two and a half feet through; some of them were good trees, but most of them were not first rate. Our guide informed us that was all the timber in the country; we told him that we wanted to go further, and see some more timber, but he said it was a great way off, and there was no water near at hand.
After looking at the shape of the mountains, and judging for ourselves, we found the nearest point for the next timber, was to start home, and at some convenient season start again, and make for the snow-capped mountains in the north and west of the valley, probably a distance of 50 miles. After arriving at the Los Vegas we found the distance to the timber to be over 20 miles, fifteen miles hard road—gravel and rook—and the rest sand. Good feed at the timber, and enough water to water teams.
As to the health of the camp it is tolerably good, with the exception of a general weakness, the brethren not being able to work half as hard as they used to. The reason of this is, in the first place, the brethren have worked very hard to raise corn etc., hearing the news that all the wheat crop is destroyed at home, and in the next place the weather is very hot; and not having light suitable clothing fit for the season; and the last and principal reason is, they have nothing (with very few exceptions) to eat but dry bread, and water for drink, and for a change they have water and bread, as the cows are mostly dry.
But still we are not discouraged; for we hope for better times ahead; and if we don't live to see it, maybe our children will. There is a first rate spirit manifested among the Lamanites; they have not stolen anything from us as yet; some of them come to the camp rather suspiciously as they have been shot at and drove away from the camps of the passing emigrants who have been on the road for years; they will show us the bullet holes and marks they have received from white men, and tell us that they will try and forget it, although their brothers have been killed etc.
I will now give you a description of our feelings in a National capacity. On the Fourth of July we made preparations to celebrate independance, and indeed we did it justice according to our situation. I was appointed to take the chief military command, which I did; and at the dawn of the day the blacksmith's anvil answered for a cannon, and many a volley of musketry gave the sleeping natives to know that something was up; next was to hoist the stars and stripes, which by the by we had to manufacture. I went to work, took a piece of cloth, tore it in stripes and got some red flannel and tore it in stripes—took some blue and made stars; and by the assistance of Brothers Foster and Hulet, I had a nice little flag ready to fly by two o'clook in the afternoon, while others were preparing a mast; and as we had no good timber we got a mesquite stump, a wagon tongue and a tall willow and made a pole 30 feet high, shook our flag at the sound of the guns, gave three cheers as led by Pres. Bringhurst and retired to the bowery; and after many spirited speeches, songs and toasts, dismissed by prayer. And as this is the day after the 24th of July, I will drop a word about it. It has been celebrated according to our situation. I had a team of oxen and worked very hard all day in fencing to keep the stock out of the field while others were busily engaged in locating our corral, and doing other public work necessary. —Deseret News