The Project Gutenberg EBook of Trail Tales, by James David Gillilan

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Title: Trail Tales

Author: James David Gillilan

Release Date: October 24, 2009 [EBook #30320]

Language: English

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Preface 9
God’s Minister 11
The Western Trail 13
The Long Trail 19
The Desert 31
Sagebrush 39
The Iron Trail 47
    A Railroad Saint in Idaho 49
    An Unusual Kindness 59
Indians of the Trail 63
    Introductory Words 65
    Pocatello, the Chief 67
    The Babyless Mother 72
    Mary Muskrat 76
    Bad Ben 79
    A Three-Cornered Sermon 82
    Three Years After 87
    Chief Joseph and His Lost Wallowa 92
    The White Man’s Book 96
Lights and Sidelights 99
The Stagecoach 107
Among the Hills 117
    The Mother Deer 119
    The Shepherd 121
    The Feathered Drummer 122
Mormondom 123
    The Trail of the Mormon 125
    Some Mormon Beliefs 131
    Weber Tom, Ute Polygamist 138
    Polygamy of To-Day 145
Great Salt Lake 149
Argonaut Sam’s Tale 157
The Wraith of the Blizzard 167
The Great Northwest 175


J. D. Gillilan Frontispiece
Chief Joseph, Nez Perce Indian 64
Wallowa Lake 94
End of the Trail 183


In his young manhood the writer of these sketches came up into this realm of widest vision, clearest skies, sweetest waters, and happiest people to engraft the green twig of his life upon the activities of the mountaineers of the thrilling West.

At that time the vast plains and the barren valleys were silvered over with the ubiquitous sage through which crept lazily and aimlessly the many unharnessed arroyo-making streams waiting only the appearance of their master, man. Under his scientific, skilled, and economic guidance these wild waters, lassoed, tamed, and set to work, taking the place of clouds where there are none, were soon to cause the gray garden of nature to become goldened by the well-nigh illimitable acres of grain and other home-making products.

The West has an abundant variety of life of a sort most intensely human. Life, 10 always so earnest in Anglo-Saxon lands, seems to have accentuated individuality here in a wondrous and contagious degree.

These few stories, culled from the répertoire of an active life of more than thirty years, are samples of personal experiences, and are taken almost at random from mining camp, frontier town and settlement, public and private life.

As a minister the writer has had wide and varied opportunities in all the Northwest, but more especially in Utah, Oregon, and Idaho. Many a man much more modest has far excelled him in life experiences, but some of them have never told.

This little handful of goldenrod is affectionately dedicated to them of the Trails.




Dedicated to the Mountain Ministers

As terrace upon terrace
Rise the mountains o’er the humbler hills
And stretch away to dizzy heights
To meet heaven’s own pure blue;
From thence to steal those soft and filmy clouds
With which to wrap their heads and shoulders––
 Bare of other cloak––
Transforming them to rains and snows
To bless this elsewise desert world:

So, he who stands God’s minister ’mong men,
High reaches out above all earthly things
And comes in contact with the thoughts of God;
Conveys them down in blessings to mankind––
 Richest of blessings,
 Holiest fruit of heaven––
Plucked fresh from off the Tree of Life
That springs hard by the Lamb’s white throne,
And bears the plenteous leaves which grow
 To heal the wounded nations.




And step by step since time began
I see the steady gain of man.




“An overland highway to the Western sea” was the thought variously expressed by many men in both public and private life among the French, English, and Americans from very early times. In 1659 Pierre Radisson and a companion, by way of the Great Lakes, Fox, and “Ouisconsing” Rivers, discovered the “east fork” of the “Great River” and crossed to the “west fork,” up which they went into what is now the Dakotas, only to find it going still “interminably westward.”

In 1766 Carver, an Englishman, went by the same route up the “east fork” to Saint Anthony Falls; thence he traveled to Canada, to learn from the Assiniboin Indians the existence of the “Shining Mountains” and that beyond them was the “Oregan,” which went to the salt sea.

As early as 1783 Thomas Jefferson wrote to George Rogers Clark to tell him he understood the English had subscribed a very 16 large sum of money for exploration of the country west of the Mississippi, and as far as California. He even expressed himself as being desirous of forming a party of Americans to make the trip.

Twenty years later, under the direction of President Thomas Jefferson, General Clark was made a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which went up the “great river” and ultimately crossed through Montana and Idaho to the Columbia (Oregan?) and the “salt sea.”

Zebulon Pike was turned back by the imperious Rocky Mountains in 1806. A few years later Captain Bonneville braved the plains, the plateaus, the mountain passes, and the deserts, and saw the Columbia. Then continuous migrations finally fixed the overland highway known from ocean to ocean as the Oregon Trail.

The Mormons followed this national road when they trekked to the valley of Salt Lake in 1847––a dolorous path to many.

Because the Oregon Trail was nature’s way, man and commerce made it their way. Road sites are not like city sites––made to order; they are discovered. For 17 that reason the pioneer railway transcontinental also followed this trail. The Union Pacific marks with iron what so many of the emigrants marked with their tears and their graves. From the mouth of the Platte to the heart of the Rocky Mountains and beyond is a continuous cemetery of nameless tombs.

The next few pages will give some sketches of fact depicting scenes of sunlight and shadow that fell on this highway in days not so very long agone.




Those mighty pyramids of stone
 That wedge-like pierce the desert airs,
When nearer seen and better known
 Are but gigantic flights of stairs.




The Old Overland Trail from the Missouri River to the Willamette is a distance of nearly two thousand miles. Before Jason Lee and Marcus Whitman sanctioned its use for the migrating myriads of Americans seeking the shores of the sunset sea, trappers and adventurers, good and bad, had mapped out a general route over the wind-whipped passes, where the storm stands sentinel and guards the granite ways among the rough Rocky Mountains. They had followed the falls-filled Snake and the calmer Columbia, which plow for a thousand miles or more among basaltic bastions buttressing the mountain sides, or through the lava lands where cavernous chasms yawn and abysmal depths echo back the sullen roar of the raging rapids.

In the early forties of the nineteenth century restless spirits from Missouri and eastward began to filter through the fingertips of the beckoning mountains of the 22 West and locate in the land where storms seldom come and where the extremes of heat and cold are unknown––Willamette Valley, Oregon.

In these early days, a farmer, whom we shall name Johnson, with wife and son, hoping to better conditions and prolong life, thus sought the goal toward the setting sun. Starting when the sturdy spring was enlivening all nature, they left the malarial marshes of the Mississippi Valley, where quinine and whisky for “fevernagur” were to be had at every crossroads store, and in a couple of weeks found themselves west of the muddy Missouri, where the herds of humped bison grazed as yet unafraid among the rolling, well-wooded hills of eastern Kansas.

Barring a few common hindrances, they went well and reached the higher and hotter plains in midsummer; they were out of the sight of hills and trees––just one weary, eternal, unchangeable vista day after day. Mrs. Johnson had not been well, and after a few weeks that promised more for the future than they fulfilled, she began gradually to lose strength.


But she was made of the uncomplaining material pioneers are wrought of, the ones who so lived, loved, and labored that the hard-earned sweets of civilization grew to highest perfection about their graves, and proved the most enduring monument to their memory. She never murmured other than to ask occasionally: “Father, how much farther? Isn’t it a wonderfully long way to Oregon?”

“Just over that next range of hills, I think, from what the trappers told me,” was the reply, after they had come to the toes of the foothills that terminate the long-lying limbs of the giant Rockies. But he did not know the stealth of the mountains nor the fantastic pranks the cañony ranges can play upon the stranger. A snowy-haired peak, brother to Father Time, wearing a fringe of evergreens for his neckruff, would play hide-and-seek with them for days, dodging behind this eminence and hiding away back of that hill, only to reappear apparently as far off as ever, and sometimes in a different direction from where he last seemed to be.


After a few more days: “Father, how many more miles do you think?”

“O, not many now, I am sure!” cheerily and optimistically would come the answer.

As they climbed, and climbed, and climbed, the ripening service-berry, blackened by weeks of attention by the unclouded sun, and the pine-hen and the speckled beauties from the noisy trout-streams, added to their comforts, and for a little while appeared to enliven the tired and fading woman. A frosty night or two, a peak newly whitened with early snow, put an invigorating thrill and pulse into the blood of the man and the boy, but she crept just a little nearer to the camp fire of evenings and found herself more and more languid in responding to the call of the day that returned all too soon for her. At last, rolling out on the Wahsatch side of the continental backbone, they encountered very warm but shortening days, while the nights grew chillier. Having passed to the north of Salt Lake by the trail so well and faithfully marked by Mr. Ezra Meeker in recent years, they began to realize that they were with the waters that flow to the west.


One evening, after the tin plates, iron forks and knives, and the pewter spoons had been washed and returned to their box, and as they were getting ready for their nightly rest, Mrs. Johnson said, wearily: “Father, it just seems to me I would be glad if I never would waken again. It seems I would enjoy never again hearing the everlasting squeech, squeech of the wheels in the sand, and see the sun go down day after day so red and so far away over those new mountains. O, I am so tired!”

“Never mind, mother, we are not far from our new home now;” and moving over to her side as she sat leaning against the wagon-tongue, the man slipped his own tired arm about her shoulders and let her rest against him, for he was indeed weary, and the trail was wonderfully long.

The following morning he purposely lay still just a little longer than was his custom, although he was most prudently desirous of making as much speed as he could while the weather continued so good; he knew the rains might soon set in and make travel over unmade roads much worse than it already was.


When he arose he noiselessly crept away from her side and quietly called the boy to go and bring up the horses and the cow, cautioning him to take off the horse-bell and carry it so as not to arouse the mother when he came to camp. Quietly as possible he made the fire and prepared their breakfast of fare that was daily becoming scantier. Then, when all was ready, he tiptoed through the sand to where she lay under the spreading arms of a little desert juniper, such as are occasionally found in the deserts, and where she had said the night before she wished she could sleep forever. She looked so calm and restful he hesitated to wake her; it seemed like robbery to take from her one moment of the longed-for and hard-earned rest. Yet it was time they were on their road, and the day was fine; so after a few minutes he called, gently, “Mother, you’re getting a nice rest, aren’t you?”

She did not stir. He then stooped to kiss the languid lips––they were cold. She was dead. They had been seeking a home by the shores of the sunset sea; she had found the sunrise land.


It is a sad, solemn, and sacred thing to be with our dead, but to be alone, hundreds of miles from the face of any friend, in such an hour, is an experience few ever have to meet. Pioneer-like, the father scans the horizon, locating all the prominent features of the landscape. He makes a rude map, not forgetting the juniper. As best he can he prepares the body for the burying. And such a burying! No lumber with which to make even a rough box; nothing but their daily clothing and nightly bedding was to be had. The unlined grave was more than usually forbidding. The desert demon had trailed that brave body and was now swallowing it up. They made the grave by the juniper where she last slept, and, sorrowing, the father and the son went on, firm in the resolve that the loved one should not always lie in a desert grave.

Forty years later a man past middle-age, riding a horse and leading another, to whose packsaddle was fastened a box, went slowly along that old trail in Southern Idaho, now almost obliterated by many-footed Progress. He was scanning the hills and consulting a piece of age-yellowed 28 paper, broken at all its ancient creases. It was the son obeying the dying request of the old father––going to find, if possible, the spot where the tired mother went to sleep so long ago, and bring all that remained to rest by his side.

It was no easy task. Fertile fields, whose irrigated areas now presented billowy breasts of ripening grain; mighty ditches like younger and better-behaved rivers; a railway following the general direction of the old trail; ranch-houses and fat haystacks indenting the sky-line once so bare of all except clumps of sagebrush––these all conspired to make the task next to impossible.

Man may scratch the hillsides, but cannot mar the majesty of the mountains; they were unchanged. The map he carried was the one his father made on the spot more than a generation before. It had been well made and the specifications were minute. After a long while, carefully measuring and comparing, he found the spot to him so sacred. The juniper tree, so rare in that section, had not been disturbed by the new owner of the land, and 29 as the precious burden, secured at last, was borne away, it still stood on guard––as if lonely now. Like father, like son. Both were faithfully bound by the strongest tie in the universe––love!




Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.


As geographers, Sosius, crowd into the edges of
their maps parts of the world which they do not
know about, adding notes in the margin to the
effect that beyond this lies nothing but sandy
deserts full of wild beasts, and unapproachable




Much of the Old Overland Trail lay across the “Great American Desert,” as it was named in the earlier geographies. Irrigation and progressive energy have made these wastes in many instances literally to “blossom as the rose”; but until that was done these stretches were weary enough.

He who knows only the desert of the geography naturally conceives it an absolutely forsaken and empty region where nothing but dust-storms are born unattended and die “without benefit of the clergy.” But the desert has character and is as variable as many another creature.


An experience in an actual sand storm is food upon which the reminiscent may ruminate many a day, being much more pleasant in memory than in the making. First come the scurrying outriders, lithe and limber whisking gusts, dancing and whirling like 34 Moslem dervishes, coyly brushing the traveler or boldly flinging fierce fistfuls of dirt into his eyes; then off with a swish of invisible skirts––vanishing possibly in the same direction whence they came. They go leaving him wiping his astonished eyes disgustedly, for the act was so sudden and tragic as to excite tears. Before he is aware of it other and stronger gusts duplicate the dastardly deed of the first wingless wizard of the plains, and the hapless voyager is left gasping. Almost immediately there are to be seen the regular “desert devils,” as they are called, bringing a dozen or more whirling columns of yellow silt rapidly through the air, each pirouetting on one foot, assuming meanwhile all sorts of fantastic shapes.

Now for the fierce onset. Like blasts of a blizzard, the shrapnel of the desert is hurled into eyes, face, ears, and nostrils; little rivers pour down the back and fill every discoverable wrinkle and cranny of the clothing with their gritty load.

If in summer, buttoning the clothing is suffocation, and the perspiration soon makes one a mass of grime; if in winter, it is 35 not so unbearable, for a comfortable fencing can be made against the sand and the cold.

The whole landscape is obliterated by and by, and the trails are so often drift-filled that unless one is himself accustomed to such methods of travel or has an experienced plainsman as his driver and guide, there is danger of becoming lost, or so out of the way that night may overtake him and compel a waterless camp for himself and team.


But to see the morning slip off its night clothes and step out into daylight, or watch day don her night-wraps and snuggle down into twilight on the quiet sand-ocean! In summer it is a scene of splendor, often coming after a day or an evening of sandy wrath.

At early dawn, lining the eastern horizon, are the soft pencils of bashful day over-topping the jagged sawteeth of the yet sleeping mountains, fifty or more miles away. A faint hinting of the lightening of the sky only deepens the blackness of the 36 snow-streaked peaks. The cowardly coyote’s yelp comes more and more faintly, the burrowing owl’s “to-whit, to-whoo” falls dying on the moveless air, and the white sparrow of the sagebrush starts up as if to catch the early worm he is almost sure not to find. The loping jack rabbit slips softly to his greasewood shelter and the prairie dog bounces barking from his snake-infested haunt, noisily preparing for his day’s digging and foraging.

The stubborn mountains begin to let the sun’s forerunning rays glide between them; the sky, now old gold, is fast transforming into kaleidoscopic crimsons and other reds, while the swift arms of the day-painter are reaching from between the peaks of the precipitous crags and dyeing the scales of the mackerel sky with hues and tints the rainbow would covet.

In the opposite direction a morning mirage inverts an image of a stretch of trees along the far-away river and blends them top to top till they seem greenish-black columns supporting the dun clouds of the west, while the belated moon peers through the half-unreal corridors. 37


The sunset is far more gorgeous; it often reaches grandeur. Let it be a winter evening. A suggestion of storm has been playing threats. The western hills have reached up their time-toughened arms and carried the burnt-out lantern of day to bed, tucking him away in gold-lace tapestry and rose-tinted down. Then the blue, black, and brown clouds change quickly to purple, pink, and red by turns, and the opaline sky itself forms a background for the dissolving community of interlacing filaments of priceless filigree, till in time too full of interest to compute by measure, the whole heavens are aflame with a riotous orgy of color, a prodigality of shifting scene, making one think of the descriptions essayed by the writer of the Apocalypse.

We think of Moses who wished to see God “face to face,” but was told he would be permitted to behold only the “dying away of his glory.” No wonder the man who was forty years in the wilderness before that grand exode, and forty more through the unsurveyed deserts, was enabled to write the majestic prose-poems 38 that have lived unaltered through all these thousands of critical years! He was in the region where inspiration is dispensed with hands of infinite wealth. God is the dispenser. 39



This is the forest primeval.––Longfellow.

The continuous woods where rolls the Oregon.––Bryant.



Frequently within these pages mention has been made of the commonest of all our native plants on the Trail––sagebrush. Botanically, it is, Artemisia tridentata. The new Standard Dictionary defines sagebrush as “any one of the various shrubby species of Artemisia, of the aster family, growing on the elevated plains of the Western United States, especially Artemisia tridentata, very abundant from Montana to Colorado and westward.” The leaf ends in three points; hence the adjective tridentata––the three-toothed artemisia.

There are several varieties of sagebrush, and a person not well acquainted with the desert might easily mistake one for the other. There are the white sage, a good forage plant for sheep, and the yellow sage, which, when properly taken, can be made useful for cattle. Then there is the common variety, the sort named above. This is not to be mistaken for the prickly greasewood 42 which infests the more alkaline regions; nor the rabbit-brush with its blossom so like the goldenrod, but with a very disagreeable odor. No man who knows will ever buy land where the greasewood grows thickly; it is unproductive because of the large percentage of alkali. But the ancient-looking sage is a pretty sure indication of fertility of soil. Mother Nature is sometimes hard pushed to find dresses for all her poorer areas; of course the better portions of the land east or west, north or south, care for their clothes better than do these arid stretches and the clothing is a richer vegetation.

This ever-gray, little hunger-pinched pygmy among trees looks about as much like an oak as does a diminutive monkey like a grown man.

A peculiarity of this individual in treedom is that it keeps its ash-colored leaf until it has a new set to put on in the spring, so that all winter long it presents the same color as it does in the summertime. Its bark is loose and shaggy, being shed rapidly, and gives one the thought of the old grape vine; hanging in bunches, the 43 bole has always a ragged appearance. It is truly the dry-land plant, always found where the alkali or water is not too abundant; but in favored spots where there is only a little dampness and not too much fierceness of the summer heat it grows eight or ten feet high, making a body large enough for fence posts. This is extraordinary, for usually these Liliputian forests do not attain a height of more than four feet, and often much less. So diminutive are these solemn woods that the ordinary gang-plow can walk right through them, turning the shrubbery under like tall grass, although every tree is perfect, just like the dwarf creations produced by the resourceful Japanese.

The seed of this tiny tree grows on stiff, upright filaments like the broom-corn straws. These stems are very bitter and are often used by the range-riders on long rides or roundups to excite the flow of saliva when thirst overtakes them too far from water. Because of its bitterness it is often called wormwood.

Not many uses have been found for the wood of these primeval forests. In many 44 sections the people have nothing but sagebrush for firewood. The whole tree is used, special stoves, or heaters, being made to accommodate the whole plant. It is gathered in the following manner: Two immense T-rails of railroad iron are laid side by side, one inverted, and securely fastened together; to the ends of these are hitched two teams of horses or mules, which pulling parallel to each other, are driven into the standing fairy forests and the swaths of fallen timber show the track of this unnatural storm. Its roots have such slight hold on the soil that it easily falls. Wagons and pitchforks follow, and the whole of the felling is hauled untrimmed to the home for hand-axing if too large; and it is all burned, top and root. There is so much vegetable oil in this queer plant that it makes a fine and very quick fire, green or dry.

After a summer rain there is no aromatic perfume surpassing that of the odor of sagebrush filling the newly washed air. The mountaineer who has had to make a trip East gladly opens his window, as his train pushes back into the habitat of these 45 aromatic shrubs, to get an early whiff of the health-laden, sage-sweetened atmosphere of the beloved Westland and homeland.




There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
 In their houses of self-content;
There are souls like stars that dwell apart
 In their fellowless firmament.
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
 Where highways never ran.
But, let me live by the side of the road
 And be a friend to man.

––Sam Walter Foss.



The “railroad saint” was a locomotive engineer. His life was ever an open book, yet while careful and almost severe in his personal religious habits, he did not criticize the manners of his associates. He simply let his well kept searchlight shine.

Though born in Ohio, his boy life was spent mainly in Nebraska, when it was just emerging from the ragged swaddlings of rough frontierdom; and during his young manhood he lived in Wyoming, at the time when men “carried the law in their hip-pockets,” as he graphically expressed it.

Early becoming an employee of the Union Pacific, he was a permanent portion of its westward intermountain extension, and he did his life’s work among the scenic cliffs and clefts of the picturesque crags and corrugated cañons of the wrinkled ridges in the Rocky and the Wahsatch ranges. Opportunities for literary education were very limited to one so engaged, 50 and little more than what was absolutely necessary to the railmen did he receive. But he was not ignorant by any means. In later years he read extendedly and with careful discrimination. He had a poet’s soul, but was not visionary.

His mother had been a careful and sensible Christian. The indelible impress she left upon him was like to that given by Jochebed to her son Moses. He never wholly escaped from her hallowed influence, although he descended into vicious living and became a notorious and blatant blasphemer, sceptic, and drunkard.

Once when attending a national convention of railway engineers in an Eastern city he noticed a little flower boy vainly attempting to dispose of his roses. Our engineer (who always had a feeling for the “other fellow”) paid the lad for all he had left and directed him to carry them to the hotel where the delegates were stopping, and give them to the ladies in the parlor. This act was repeated on successive days. It attracted attention finally, and one of the delegates asked him if he were a Christian. Characteristically he blurted out: 51 “Do you see anything about me that indicates it? If so, I will take it off at once. Why do you ask such a question?”

“Because,” said the questioner, “your kindness to that pale-faced little flower boy makes people think you are.”

“Nothing at all queer about that,” was the quick reply. “Common humanity should dictate such deeds. If I myself wanted a favor, I’d not go to any Christian for it; I’d rather tackle a bartender or a gambler.”

“Well, Dr. T–––, of the Methodist Church, has heard of you,” remarked his questioner, “and he says he would like to meet you for an hour or so before you leave the city.”

“But I’ve no desire to meet any preacher, though if it will afford the gentleman any pleasure, I will gladly do it for that reason and no other. What do you suppose he wants?”

The intermediary arranged a time of meeting, and after introducing the men, left the “eagle eye” in the pleasant study of the minister, a pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. After a few 52 minutes of easy conversation, the minister abruptly cut all Gordian knots and said: “Mr.–––, are you a Christian?”

“No, sir, not so you can notice it.”

“Why are you not?”

“Why should I be?”

“It gives to every one who embraces true religion a better, broader, worthier view and conception of life.”

“Wherein, mister?”

“It puts purpose into his life and interprets the end to which he is tending.”

Then came up from the keen intellect-quiver of our Rocky Mountain engineman all the stock phrases, replies, and arguments of Voltaire, Rousseau, Ingersoll, and others whose writings he knew perfectly.

With Christian and cultivated patience the minister listened and then said with captivating and sympathetic tenderness: “But, my dear sir, that is all speculation on the part of those scholarly and eloquent men whom you quote so accurately. They know no better. The religion of Jesus is not speculation; it is practical knowledge. Would not you, sir, like to know personally as to its truth?”


“Yes, but how can I?”

His foot had been taken in the snare of the wise trapper.

Said the preacher: “You can; and this is the way. As you leave this city for your return to the West, get a cheap New Testament; indeed, here is a copy; please accept it. Tear it in two in the middle, retaining only the four Gospels––Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Read them; you will by yourself and by this means find the way to perfect knowledge.”

He of the throttle, hungry for the deepest knowledge, did as directed and advised.

Back to his cab and engine he went, under the deepest conviction. Yet he declared that he needed no extraneous assistance to be as good as any Christian; Jesus he considered a superfluity, and said so. The negative influences of the atheistic authors yet warped him. He said: “I dare any of you to watch me. I can and will be as upright as any Christian on earth.” But after a short time of exemplary conduct, he would wake up some morning only to discover to his hearty disgust that he had been on an extended period of dissipation. 54 Later he would attempt another straightening-up and try to “be good” without the necessary becoming so, only to fall again and harder than before.

Once, after such humiliating debauch, he entered a saloon which contained the only barber shop in the village, the railway division point where he had his “layovers” for regular rest. He sat down for his daily shave. It was the morning after pay-day among the employees, and, as he stated it to the writer, “everybody, even the barber, had been drunk.” Cigar stumps, empty bottles, cards, and other plentiful signs of the previous night’s carousals covered the floor with bacchanalian litter. Lying there, eyes shut, an Armageddon was taking place on the stage of his perturbed soul. His story is this:

“While lying there that morning a voice said to me, ‘You are not a square-dealer.’ I opened my eyes on the barber, only to see a bloated face with impassive and mute lips; he had said nothing, I could easily see. I closed my eyes again, only to hear, ‘You do not treat me as you would a gentleman.’ I now knew that the voice was that of an 55 unseen person, and I replied mentally but really. ‘Who are you, and what do you want?’ ‘I am Jesus, whom you deny without having known, and condemn without having attempted to prove. You have been saying all the while you can succeed without my assistance, and you know you have failed every time. All I want is a chance in your life that I may prove myself to you.’ Then I replied, ‘If this is what you want, just come in and we will talk it over.’ He then came in never to go out again. I went to my little shack-room and, locking the door, took out of a little old hair-covered trunk a Bible my mother had given me; it had lain there for thirty long years untouched. I opened it and read a while and then got down on my knees to pray. What I said was about like this: ‘Lord, if it is really the Lord who was talking to me (I have my doubts), you know I am a man of my word, and you can trust me. I want to make you a proposition: I’ll do the square thing by you if you’ll do the same by me. Amen!’”

“This,” said he, “was the beginning of 56 the struggle for rest to my soul; and I found it.”

An incident leading to his immediate, possibly ultimate safety, was a conversation in a saloon. It does not always transpire that we are benefited by the act of the talebearer, but in this case it was highly salutary. One of his engineer friends, drinking at the bar, said: “Never fear about H–––. He will soon get over all this and be along with us as usual.”

Hearing it, he became very righteously indignant and said: “By the grace of God, never! I’ll go up to the church my wife attends and join with her, and when they know I am a church member they’ll let me alone.” He did so at once. He was saved. He lived for many years, always happy, always helpful, and without fear he ascended the snowy hills of old age, with their enveloping mists.

Afflicted with a creeping paralysis, he lingered long, ever cheerful, and interested in his friends, to whom he sent many messages. To his brothers of the Odd Fellows he sent this message: “Boys, I’ll not see you any more. I am just like a boy at 57 Christmas Eve, who with stocking hung up, is anxious for daylight. The shadows have come over me. My stocking is hung up by the Father’s fireplace and I am almost impatient for the morning. I haven’t the remotest idea what I will get, but I am sure it will be something good.” A few days before his translation he was visited by one of his old-time railway associates, who said to him: “H–––, you are now up against the real thing, according to your belief; and it looks to us the same, just as if you would have to go some one of these days. How does it seem? What is it like?”

Looking at the questioner lovingly, the dying man said, “Charley, you’ve worked for the railway company a long time, and never had many promotions, have you?”

“Yes, about twenty years––and no promotions.”

“Well, Charley, suppose there’d come to you to-day a wire from headquarters saying there’s a big promotion waiting for you on your arrival, and at the same time a pass for your free transportation. How do you think that would seem to you?”


“My soul, but that’d be fine,” said he.

“Well, Charley, that’s just my case exactly,” said the radiant man. “I’ve been working for God and his company for about that same length of time and never had much promotion so far as I could see, and now I have a summons direct from the glory land telling me there’s a big advancement for me, and it sounds mighty good.”

He was dressed for the wedding, the Christmas morning, or whatever awaited him, and was anxious that the couriers of the King should come. When the moment came the old engineer’s headlight was undimmed, the switch signals showed green, and when he called for the last board at the home station the signal came back: “All’s well; come on in.”

He had received his coveted promotion.



That best portion of a good man’s life––
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love.


The Methodist locomotive engineer had died joyful. “I am so glad to go,” he said. “I am like a boy when there’s a circus in town; I’ve got the price, and my baggage is checked clear through.”

I was holding a memorial service for him in his old home town, and at the close a big, broad-shouldered man came forward to the altar rail and quietly said, “You did not know that man.”

The remark startled me a little, for I had been acquainted with him for many years; in fact, had once been his pastor.

“I thought I did,” replied I.

“No, you never really knew him,” was the insistent rejoinder; “let me tell you something about him. Years ago I was not living as I ought, and I had all sorts of 60 trouble. My wife was very sick, and we were living in a bit of a shack back here a little way where she finally died. I was down and out. The fellows wanted to be good to me, and they were––in their way of thinking––but it did me no good. They would say, ‘Come, brace up, old fellow, have a drink and forget your troubles.’ But there are some troubles drink will not drown; mine was one of them.

“One night our friend came up to my shack, and having visited a while he said: ‘Old man, you’re up against it hard, ain’t you?’ I replied, ‘Yes, I am, just up to the limit.’ ‘Well, let’s pray about it.’ I told him I didn’t believe in prayer. ‘All right,’ said he, ‘I do, and I’ll pray any way.’ You should have heard the prayer he made. It was about like this: ‘God, here’s my friend, Charley; he’s in an awful fix. We’ll have to do something for him. I’ve done all I can; now, it’s up to you to see him through. Amen.’

“Then he arose from his knees and, handing me his check book, he said, ‘My wife and I ain’t got much, only a couple o’ thousand in the bank; but here’s this 61 check book all signed up; take it and use it all if you need it, and God bless you!’

“But,” added the narrator of the story, “I couldn’t use money like that.”

The tears were fast falling over his bronzed cheeks as he told with tenderness the story, and as I looked into his eyes I knew that through knowledge of the dead engineer’s kingly kindness had come to him the knowledge of the new life.




Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn.




Indian character is human character because the Indian is human. Being human he is susceptible to all human teaching and experiences. None yields more readily to love and kindness.

Few can speak of the Indian with absolute propriety, for very few know him. To the mind of most Americans, I venture to say, the very name “Indian” suggests scalpings, massacres, outrages of all kinds and an interminable list of kindred horrors; all too true. But it must be remembered that the Indian presented to his first discoverers a race most tractable, tenderhearted, and responsive to kindness. He was indeed the child of the plain, but a loving child.

The chevaliers both of Spanish and English blood taught him in the most practical manner the varied refinements of deceit, treachery, and cruelty. He was an apt scholar, and the devotee of social heredity, 66 which has here so striking an example, cannot curse the redman if the sins of the fathers are meted out to succeeding generations.

Under definite heads I am giving some very brief sketches of living, down-to-date aborigines, such as have come under my own observation in Utah and Idaho.



The nodding horror of whose shady brows
Threats the forlorn and wandering passenger.


Fort Hall Reservation, until 1902, embraced a large territory of which Pocatello was the center. These Idaho red people are the remnants of the once powerful tribes of the Bannocks and Shoshones, which ranged from the Blue Mountains in Oregon to the backbone of the Rocky Mountains. The compressing processes used by the aggressive white people have encircled, curtailed, and squeezed their borders so that now they are centered at Fort Hall, half way between Pocatello and Blackfoot. Here the government has a school for them, and the Protestant Episcopal Church a mission.

Pocatello is named for a wily old chief of that name, who became an outlaw to be reckoned with. He once led a cavalcade of his sanguinary followers against the 68 newly made non-Mormon town of Corinne, Utah; but a Mormon who had been notified of the proposed massacre, by a coreligionist, likewise told a friend among the Gentiles, and a precautionary counter plan was formulated. Nothing more came of it than an evening visit from Brigham Young and his staff, who, as reported, pronounced and prophesied an awful and exterminating curse upon the town and people. However, because of the warning, his curses went elsewhere.

Until recently there lived in the region of the city of Pocatello an old squaw-man (white man with an Indian wife). His home was within the borders of the reservation, and he had been there since before the time when the boundary line between the United States and England (Canada) was settled. The old man was called “Doc,” and once when visiting him I said, “Tell me about old Pocatello, Doc, and what became of him.”

The old man, half reclining on the pile of household debris in one corner of his shanty, permitted me to sit by the door––for there were no chairs in the place. The 69 four corners were occupied as follows: in one were his saddle and accouterments for range work; in another the accumulation of rags and blankets on which he slept (for he lived alone now, the wife being dead); in another was his little stove, and the last held the door where I sat. The air was fresher there, I thought. The veteran of eighty or more years, bronzed by the winds and roughened by the sweeping sands of the desert, lighted his pipe and said: “It war in the days o’ them freighters who operated ’tween Corinne an’ Virginny City when Alder Gulch was a-goin’ chock full o’ business. The Forwardin’ Company hed a mighty big lot o’ rollin’ stock an’ hosses to keep the traffic up. The hull kentry was Injun from put-ni’ Corinne to that there Montanny town. The Bear Rivers an’ the Fort Hall tribes, the Bannocks an’ the Blackfeet uste to make life anything but a Fourth-o’-July picnic fer them fellers an’ their drivers. Right h’yur was the natterelest campin’ place fer the Company, or, ruther, a natterel spot fer the stage-station, where they could git the stock fresh an’ new an’ go on, as they hed 70 to do, night an’ day, so’s to keep business a-movin’, ye see. Fer ’twas a mighty long rout fer passengers.

“Now, Pocatello an’ his bunch o’ red devils got into the habit o’ runnin’ off the stock, an’ sometimes the Company’d haf to wait half a day to git enough teams to go on north; or to wait till the fagged ones’d git a little rest an’ then push on wi’ the same ones. Mr. Salisbury, of Salt Lake, was the head o’ the Forwardin’ Company, an’ he an’ his people got mighty all-fired tired o’ that sort o’ business. Hosses was dear them days, but Injuns was cheap; so he told a lot o’ us’ns he’d like tarnation well if this sort o’ thing’d stop kind o’ sudden like; an’ we planned it might be done jist that way too.

“We kind o’ laid low, an’ nothin’ happened fer quite a while; but one night a fine bunch o’ hosses was run off jist when they’s a big lot o’ treasure goin’ over the line, an’ the management was sure mad. They told us ’uns agin somethin’ had to be done, an’ despert quick this time. So we got busy. We begun to round ol’ Pocatello up, an’ he seemed to smell a rat or somethin’ 71 wuss, an’ started up Pocatello Crick yander, that there cañon, see? He went almighty fast too when he got started; so did we, now I tell you, an’ we jist kep’ a-foller’n’, an’ foller’n’, an’ foller’n’, we did––a hull lot ov us––an’––an’––an’ Pocatello never come back.”

Then the old squaw-man tapped the ashes from his pipe, and rising said, “Well, I guess I’ll cinch up the cayuse an’ ride some this a’ternoon.”



Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.––Saint Matthew.

One of the many signs that the Indian is human is his slowness to learn. Ever since 1492 the whiter man has been trying to force some supposedly useful things into the mind of him of the darker skin. One of these is that he of the blanket has no rights that he of the dress coat is bound to respect. The Indian rises in practical debate to this question. His arguments are not words, but the rifle and the scalping-knife. The whiter man demurs when he receives his justice dished up to him in redskin style.

It is unreasonable to the Indian that the white man should take from him his hunting grounds and limit his access to the very streams whence his people for ages uncountable filled their pantries for the winter. 73 He has learned to his disgust (without place for repentance) that equivalents are equivocations, and that the little baubles the fathers of the tribes had for their broad acres were mostly worthless. The civilized trick of procuring the mystic sign manual known as signature had fastened on them the gyves of perpetual poverty.

In addition to this, the nation demanded they should send their children to the white man’s school in the far, far away Eastern land, where they could not see them and from which so many of the red-faced lads and lassies returned with that dread disease, pulmonary tuberculosis. But they were only Indians, and what rights had they? When boys and girls were not promptly surrendered, the soldiers were sent to chase them down. It would not seem good to us to have big, brawny Indians on horseback give chase to our children, and catch and tie them like so many hogs, to be carted off to a land unknown to us; but then these are only Indians. That makes all the difference imaginable.

Some years ago the Fort Hall Indians 74 went on their usual trip to the edge of Yellowstone Park––Jackson’s Hole––for the purpose of laying in their annual supply of elk and bear meat. The government had forbidden this, yet they went, with their indispensable paraphernalia and camp equipage, taking the squaws (and papooses, of course) to dress and care for whatever of provision fell into their hands.

When it was discovered that the Indians had gone in the face of the prohibitory order the soldiers were sent to drive them out. Such racing and chasing! “Wild horse, wild Indian, wild horseman,” as Washington Irving puts it. Every man and woman for himself now. Papooses were slung on the saddle-horns of their mothers’ horses, a loop being fastened to the back of the board to which every little copperfaced tike was strapped. In one of the hard flights through the thickly fallen and storm-twisted pines, firs, and chaparral a mother, pressed too hard by the soldiers and cavalry, lost her baby.

Her tribal friends ventured back after all was safe, and with an Indian’s trail-finding tact hunted high and low, far and wide, 75 but no trace was ever found of the wee baby.

“But, then, what mattered it? It was nothing but an Indian baby, and its mother only an Indian squaw! Who cares for a squaw any way?”



Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.––Saint Paul.

When the “teacher” first went among the Indians at Fort Hall her reception was neither cordial nor cold, for she was not received at all. She had not been invited and she was not welcome. For the first eighteen months after reaching the fort she could often hear in the nighttime the movement of a moccasin, as some tired Indian spy changed his cramped position, for she was religiously watched and irreligiously suspected. They could not understand why she, an unmarried white woman, should leave her home and spend time among them.

The braves strode by her in sullen silence, eloquently impressing their contumelious hauteur. The no less stolid squaws, who observe everything and see nothing, disdainfully covered their faces with their blankets or looked in silence in the opposite 77 direction when the teacher met them or lifted the tent-flap.

After a long time she won her way with some of the wee ones, and thus touched the hearts of the mothers, through whom she made a road broad and wide into the affections of the tribe. They trusted her with the secrets of the people, and she was at home in every teepee in the reservation. Gathering the girls together, she taught them the beautiful words of the Bible, and for many years she lived, loved, and labored there.

Mary Muskrat was one of the Bannock girls in the mission school. The little shrinking, more-than-half-wild papoose of the desert had been toilsomely but surely trained by the teacher, that bravest of little women.

Pulmonary consumption is the bane of the civilized Indians. It carries them off in multitudes. Despite their outdoor living, it seems that few, if any, ever recover from an attack. The dread disease had fastened itself upon Mary and she was sick unto death. Her little shack was no fit place for a living person, and here was one 78 dying. Frequent visits from her teacher afforded the dying maiden her only relief. Once, after watching her through a severe paroxysm of coughing, it seemed that life had gone completely. Removing the squalid bunch of rags which served as a pillow, and lowering the head, the devoted teacher stood watching the supposed lifeless form. But she saw the lips moving, and, bending low, she heard the dying girl whisper, “What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee.” Continuing, she breathed out, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.... Yea, though I walk through the valley and the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Pausing, while the heart of the white woman was praising God for his goodness to the dusky child, Mary opened her beautiful eyes, and, seeing her protectress and benefactress standing there, said, “O, dear teacher, the Lord is my shepherd.”

Then the Shepherd came and took her to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.



A little child shall lead them.––Isaiah.

Ben’s daughter, Mary[1], was the delight of the old man’s heart. She had been taken most unwillingly, so far as both were concerned, and placed in one of the Eastern schools for Indian youths. Ben had objected strenuously, but the stronger arm prevailed.

The teacher at the mission had never in all her many years in that place felt fear until after Mary was taken away. When the father would come to the school to ask for news of her, he had his face painted black, indicating madness or war––“bad heart” he called it. The little woman who had won the hearts of the people did not know what the enraged man might do or when he would do it. Once, after many such terrifying visits, he volunteered the information that he was making him a 80 house and a farm “all same witee man.” He had built it of some railroad ties he had found and had begun to cultivate a garden and cut some wild hay. “Me makee heap good wikiup, all same witee man; Mary he all same witee squaw, by ’um by.”

The white plague is the only disease the Indian fears or calls sickness. Once, when Ben went to the school where a dozen or so other happy-faced little girls were being taught and prepared for the Eastern school, Miss F––– was obliged to tell him Mary was sick. For a while his savagery was apparently renewed. He became wild again. His visits increased in frequency, and all the time the teacher was in mental torture, for he seemed to feel that the white woman was in some manner connected with his child’s going away and her present condition.

The dread day came when she must tell the loving father that there was now no hope for his “lil’ gal,” as he affectionately called her. Then another more dreaded day rolled round, and the last story must be told: Mary had died. She would be buried in the far east. Poor old father! He could 81 not even see her then. How could he be made to understand?

The only solution of the problem was the holding of a memorial service for her. One of the Pocatello pastors went up to hold such a service at the Agency and Ben was present. He was told that if he lived with his heart clean, “no have bad heart,” he would see his Mary again. No one could tell to what extent this message found place in his mind until later. One day he was seen approaching the mission school slowly and apparently sorrowful. Miss F––– met him at the door. On entering he said, “O, Miss F–––, bad Injun no liky me have hay, no liky me have wikiup all same witee man. Bad Injun burn me up; all me wikiup, all me hay, all me everyt’ing. But me no have bad heart [that means, “I do not hate them”], me no have bad heart, Miss F–––; me no have bad heart; me want see my lil’ gal some day.”

So the lonesome man went away to his one-time home to try to live among the unchristian and unprogressive Indians without having any hatred toward them, for he wanted to meet his Mary.


Mary is a very frequent name among the Bannocks of Fort Hall.



So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.––Isaiah.

Thy word, Almighty Lord,
 Where’er it enters in
Is sharper than a two-edged sword
 To slay the man of sin.


A peculiar wireless telegraphy has ever been in vogue among the aborigines of many lands. The interior tribes of Africa have it and use it to perfection. The plains Indians and those of the mountains know its use, and messages are sent which cause much wonderment to the white man.

In 1899 the ghost-dancing was in progress among all the Indians of the United States. All Indiandom was excited to the highest degree. Disturbances among them were watched and feared by the government. The Bannocks and Shoshones of Fort Hall 83 were nerved to a high tension and quickly athrill to any new movement. Hearing that an unusual interest was being displayed among the Nez Perces of the north, a committee of the Fort Hall men was sent to ascertain what it was. It proved to be a revival of religion conducted by the Presbyterians. The committee was composed of heathens, but they saw, were conquered, and came home reporting it was good, and requested that there be similar meetings held among them. It was so planned and arranged. A Nez Perce Presbyterian minister was to be their visitant evangelist.

The various Protestant churches in Pocatello had been by turns supplying preaching to the people of Fort Hall’s tribes, and to the whites who were the residents at Ross Fork, the seat of the Agency. On the particular evening when the special meetings were to begin it was the turn of the writer to preach. The Rev. James Hays, a full-blood Nez Perce, was there as evangelist. But he could not speak a word of the Bannock-Shoshone mixed jargonized dialect. He had been educated in English 84 and could understand me so as to interpret, rather translate into Nez Perce, but who could reach the people to whom we had the message? There was present a renegade fellow, Pat Tyhee (big Pat, or chief Pat), not an Irishman. He was a Shoshone who years before had gone to live among the Nez Perces and had married a woman of them. He could interpret Hays, but could he be trusted? He was a very heathenish heathen. The missionary teacher, Miss Frost, consulted with Mr. Hays and myself as to the wisdom of asking Pat to play interpreter for the momentous occasion; after fervently praying we concluded to take the risk and trust to God’s leading. Pat, the heathen, was chosen. It was a queer audience. There were some whites, some Indians. It was odd to see Gun, the Agency policeman, there with his only prisoner. There were Billy George, the tribal judge; and Hubert Tetoby, the assistant blacksmith, as well as others of local importance. To add to the excitement of the evening, it was the night before ration day at the Agency, when all the Indians from the entire Reservation were 85 present––fifteen hundred of them––for their share. It was a wild time––the raw blanketed man was there for a Saturnalia. He knew no law but his desires. The unprotected young woman had no security from him. Indeed, while we were gathering in the mission house for this service, I noticed a slight stirring at my feet, and looked, and there was Mary, a young widow, who had scuttled in silent as a partridge and was snuggling down on the floor just back of my feet, successful in getting away from some red Lothario who had pursued her to the door.

The service began. I preached from the words of Martha to Mary, “The Master is come and is calling for thee.” It was an attempt to show that Jesus needs us as living agents to work with him. Mr. Hays, I suppose, and always have believed, translated to Pat in Nez Perce what I said. Pat in turn interpreted to the assembled band of mixed Indians. To be sure, I understood not a thing either said: but when I looked at the earnest, love-ridden, and sweat-covered face of the yearning Nez Perce, I believed that what he was saying 86 was all I said and more. And Pat––he was a sight! Had his hands been tied, I really believed he could not have expressed himself at all. He is about six feet six in his moccasins, and those long arms accompanied the lengthy guttural expressions in an intensely effective manner. At the close of the three-cornered sermon the question was asked, “How many of you from this time forward are willing to follow Jesus and be known as his assistants?” Among the most prominent and enthusiastic replies that came were those of Hubert Tetoby, Billy George, and Pat Tyhee, the heathen interpreter. Looking me straight in the eyes, swerving neither to the one side nor the other, these madly-in-earnest men of the mountains held their hands up high as they could reach them. And in six weeks from that date there was a Presbyterian church there composed of sixty-five members, of whom only one, the teacher, Miss Frost, was white; and Pat Tyhee was made one of the elders. There had been no Christians there at all before those meetings. It was an Indian Pentecost.



Father of all! in every age,
 In every clime adored,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,
 Jehovah, Jove, or Lord.

––Alexander Pope.

Some hypercritical person, and possibly some sincere soul, may ask: “Did such revival do any permanent good? Does not the so-near savage easily backslide?” To this may be given this partial reply: It depends somewhat on the sort of white folks there are in the immediate vicinity. As elsewhere stated in these pages, the pale face has been the great undoer of the red man. “Civilization” in some garbs is worse than savagery. The white skin has been the password for some awful systems of debauchery among the aborigines of America. An Indian speaker, and chief of police of one of the Indian reservations of Oregon, said at the Second World’s Christian Citizenship Conference in Portland, 88 1913: “Before the white man came the Indian had no jails or locks on their doors. The white man brought whisky; there is now need of both jails and locks.”

About three years after the meeting at Fort Hall, where the three-cornered sermon was delivered, Mr. Roosevelt made a visit to the West. Major A. F. Caldwell, Agent of Indian Affairs at Fort Hall, told the fourteen hundred red natives that if they would turn out in their handsomest manner, he would give them all a “big eat” after the visit. Promptly on the day designated the famous rough rider and the desert riders were in evidence, the latter in abundance. They went far out along the railway to meet the train, and then galloped their wiry, pintoed ponies along by the side of the car, performing many feats of daring horsemanship, throwing themselves from the flying bronchos and remounting without a pause, and other stunts which they invented. After the “pageant had fled” the expectant and hungry Indians were herded into a large vacant lot in Pocatello, where all sorts of provisions had been collected for the feast. 89 I was anxious to see them, and so were many other equally bold and possibly a wee bit impolite people, for when they had assembled a great crowd of curious white folks was there gazing.

The Young Men’s Christian Association secretary and I overlooked the scene from a hotel whose wall formed one side of the enclosure where the long tables of loose planks were laid. All was hurry, bustle, and confusion, not much unlike what everyone has witnessed at the ordinary picnic.

The Christians and the non-Christians had divided as though not of the same tribe or blood. These had their tables on one side, those on the opposite. When all was ready the savage part of the divided company fell to with vim, vigor, and haste, just as white people often do at outdoor dinners; but see the others! After all had been carefully spread, odorous cans of tempting viands opened, and everything adjusted, the hungry horde was seated. A low word of attention was given by some one; every head was bowed, quiet was absolute, and Billy George in guttural tones said something the Lord of all could understand. 90 When he was through these also fell to with an unmistakable zest and the day ended merrily for the Indians and profitably for some of the onlookers.

This Billy George was crippled by the bullets of some of the reservation Indians who did not like his progressive ways. He had lost one leg for this reason. One night, as he was fastening up his animals, he stooped to lift one of the bars of his corral. Just as he raised himself, a shot that was doubtless meant for his lowered head struck his leg and it had to be amputated.

On the night of his conversion, when he had raised his hand high as he could reach, he in the after meeting mimicked the white folks who had slowly and with many side-lookings so slightly moved their hands upward. He said, “Huh, white folks heap scared, do this way;” and he imitated them grotesquely.

Often when leaving his teepee for the hills in order to haul his winter wood, he would go to the home of Miss F–––, the missionary, and tell her he was going away, and at the same time asking her to be sure to care for his squaw and papooses if he 91 did not return; for, said he, “Bad Injun ketchy me some day; no liky me; you savy me liky whity man.”

So fair of mind was he, and so humanely progressive, that the government had chosen him as one of the men before whom petty cases among the tribe were taken. If he could not solve the problems, they were then carried to the Agent; then on up if not there adjusted.

When the Presbyterian Missionary Board assisted these Christians to build a neat house of worship it was, and still is, known far and near as Billy George’s Church.



Land where my fathers died.––Smith.

A Cornishman was once asked why there were no public houses (saloons) in his town. He replied, “Once a man by the name of John Wesley preached here, and there have been none since.”

Once a man by the name of General O. O. Howard passed through eastern Oregon and northern Idaho, and the country has not been the same since. The occasion was the uprising of the Nez Perces Indians in 1877. Ridpath, the historian, tells of the long chase of the red men and the weary pursuit of “sixteen hundred miles.” It was truly a Fabian retreat on the part of Chief Joseph and his band, but General Howard was dealing mercifully with them; at a dozen places he could have given battle, but he spared the useless slaughter, avoiding the needless scaring of the white 93 settlers and the complement of dire scenes and death that would necessarily follow.

The story of Chief Joseph is one of the most interesting unwritten chapters in the history of the great Northwest. The fact of the capture of this wily Indian leader with most of his band is well known. They were banished from the Alpine regions of eastern Oregon and compelled to make their home across the marble cañon of the Snake in the State of Idaho, far from their loved Wallowa.

The valley of Wallowa (an Indian name) is one of the most beautiful spots imaginable. At its southern end stand pillared peaks, eternally snow-crowned, rivaling the finest to be seen in Switzerland. Here lies the limpid, glassy Lake Wallowa, near the busy town of Joseph, so named in honor of the great chieftain. This emerald valley nestles in the lap of the Blue Mountains, and was from time immemorial the favorite home of the exiled natives. When Bonneville passed through that remote region in the early thirties they were in the enjoyment of that valley and the rugged recesses of the Imnaha between Oregon and Walla 94 Walla. The famous red fish, the yank, and others possibly peculiar to the place were found in abundance in the lake. It was their treasure house for finny food, and the hovering hills furnished flesh of deer and bear.

At a point in the valley twenty miles north of the lake, Old Joseph, father of the more famous son, lies buried; his bramble-covered grave is to be seen by the roadside to-day. For this reason something more than an instinctive affection dominated the heart of the younger man.

Not long before his death, accompanied by guards, Chief Joseph was taken into the valley on some sort of errand, and was thus permitted to see again the enchanting beauties of his birthplace and early home. How hungry were his eyes as he viewed the great opaline pool which reflected the sinewy cedars and pointed pines; as he looked upon the surrounding glen, the ancient game-range, the distant dissolving plain, the hills heightening through their timber-covered sides up to the very sky! His bursting heart cried out, “I have but one thing to ask for from the White Father: Give me this lake and the land around it, and some few acres surrounding the grave of my father.”



The white man’s ax had cleared the timber about the old man’s grave; the white man’s plow might menace the sacred sod above the mute dust of his honored sire. He wished to protect that place hallowed by love––his own father’s grave. But his plea was denied. He was not permitted to have what in all reason seemed his very own.

He was now an old man, with eyes that had never shed tears, a soul that was unacquainted with fear, and a heart that had never weakened in the presence of danger. But at the thought that he was no more to see his lovely Wallowa his eyes melted, his soul sank, his heart broke.

Chief Joseph died near Spokane not many years since, wailing out the one great desire of his life, a final glimpse of the land of his birth, the hunting ground of his manhood and the graves of his sires.



The book––this holy book, on every line
Mark’d with the seal of high divinity,
On every leaf bedew’d with drops of love
Divine, and with the eternal heraldry
And signature of God Almighty stampt
From first to last––this ray of sacred light,
This lamp, from off the everlasting throne,
Mercy took down, and, in the night of time
Stood, casting on the dark her gracious bow;
And evermore beseeching men, with tears
And earnest sighs, to read, believe, and live;
And many to her voice gave ear, and read,
Believed, obey’d.


Having heard the early explorers speak of God, the Bible, and religion, and knowing that on Sundays the flag was raised and work suspended, the Indians wanted to know more about these things, and two chiefs, Hee-oh’ks-te-kin (Rabbit-skin Leggins) and H’co-a-h’co-a-cotes-min (No-horns-on-his-Head) set out to find the white missionaries who could inform their troubled minds. They did not reach Saint 97 Louis until 1832, where they found General Clark, whom they had known. The messengers were of the Nez Perce tribe. General Clark took them to the cathedral and showed them the pictures of the saints and entertained them in the best and most approved Christian style; but they were heart-hungry and went home dissatisfied. One of them made the following speech to the kindly soldier, General Clark:

“I came to you over a trail of many moons from the setting sun. You were the friend of my fathers who have all gone the long way. I came with one eye partly opened, for more light for my people who sit in darkness. I go back with both eyes closed. How can I go back with both eyes closed? How can I go back blind to my blind people? I made my way to you with strong arms, through many enemies and strange lands, that I might carry much back to them. I go back with both arms broken and empty. The two fathers who came with us––the braves of many winters and wars––we leave asleep by your great water and wigwam.[2] They were tired in 98 many moons, and their moccasins wore out. My people sent me to get the white man’s Book of heaven. You took me where you allow your women to dance, as we do not ours, and the Book was not there; you showed me the images of the good spirits and the pictures of the good land beyond, but the Book was not among them to tell us the way. I am going back the long, sad trail to my people of the dark land. You make my feet heavy with the burden of gifts, and my moccasins will grow old in carrying them, but the Book is not among them. When I tell my poor, blind people, after one more snow, in the big council, that I did not bring the Book, no word will be spoken by our old men or our young braves. One by one they will rise up and go out in silence. My people will die in darkness, and they will go on the long path to the other hunting grounds. No white man will go with them and no white man’s Book will make the way plain. I have no more words.”

It was the rumor of this address that started Jason Lee and Marcus Whitman westward over the old Trail.


Four of their number had died, and only one reached home.




I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills,
My heart with rapture thrills.




The Old Oregon Trail takes bold way through some of the very finest scenery of the West. These new ships of the desert, the passenger trains, glide gracefully down from the aerial highways of the mountain passes into the heart of our fertile oases. Whichever way the traveler turns he sees something absolutely new, and often in strange contrast with what he has just been beholding. Stately, snow-crowned giants of the lordly hills, fir-fringed up to timber line, stand motherlike, or bishoplike, crozier-cragged, shepherding the verdant uplands and the velvety valleys whose billowy meadows bend beneath the highland zephyrs or fall before the scythe of the prospering farmer. Now he beholds the ruggedest of capacious cañons where the rollicking rivers and rhythmic rills have cut great gorges deep into the rocky ribs of the tightly hugging hills. Another turn and he sees the hearty herds transforming themselves automatically into gold for their 102 happy owners; another turn shows the lazy rivers arising from their age-long beds and mossy couches to climb the hot hillsides and to toil and sweat at the command of the lord of this world, as they irrigate his arid acres. Yet another turn and the wrathful river is carrying on its breast the tens of thousands of winter-cut logs dancing like straws on its frothy surface on their way to the busy mills; and the turbulent streams, their wildness tamed and harnessed, serve the needs of man like trusted domestic servants.

But this is not the way to view mountains; it is only surface sights we get in this manner. He who would know the beauties of the hills must become acquainted with them personally and on foot. Anyone can enjoy the lazy luxury of the cozy precincts of an upholstered, porter-served car. He may travel horseback or donkey-back, if he cares to visit only where such sure-footed animals can go. However, when I want to see the stately things among the unchiseled palaces and temples where Nature pays homage in the courts of the Divine Architect, I dismiss all modes of conveyance, and 103 with well-nailed shoes, rough clothes, a staff, and a lunch, I take the kingdom by force. When once in, I am royally entertained; for though coy and apparently hard to woo, Nature is a most delightful companion when once you are acquainted.

The distant mountains, that uprear
 Their solid bastions to the skies,
Are crossed by pathways, that appear
 As we to higher levels rise.

So sang Longfellow. Bishop Warren said that every peak tempted him as with a beckoning finger, daring him to a climb.

To those who have never been nearer the unlocked fastnesses of our eternal American hills than by the too common means above mentioned, the far-away cliffs of marble or white granite, with their areas of unmeltable snows and ices, look temptingly down on us in August, together with the smaller and less inspiring crags. But when we approach them, even those nearest, how they appear to recede––almost to run away! The high peaks that looked as though climbing up and peeping over the heads of the lower ones, either jump down and 104 bashfully run to hide, or the little ones rise up to protect them. So it seems as one approaches.

Entering the mountain side by way of a yawning cañon we soon come to a sheer precipice lying in a deep gorge with perpendicular sides, while, leaping from the top of the declivity high above our heads, as if from the very zenith, a stream of crystal water cleaves the air. It is dashed into countless strands of silvery pearls before it reaches the deep bed of moss spread down to receive it, and where it lies resting awhile for its downward journey toward the moon-whipped ocean.

Ah, Longfellow! You have taught us how to climb some mountains, but here we have to construct our ladders, for anyone less sure of foot than the chamois or the mountain sheep must stay at the bottom of the falls. Scylla and Charybdis are stationary now, and the gaping chasm has swallowed us upward, where we reach an opening into a wide park, a veritable fairyland. On the top of one of those ponderous laminations tilted edgewise is the king of the gnomes of the new glen. We call him 105 Pharaoh. How archly he looks out over his wide domain! His kingly cap is adorned with a cobra ready to strike, yet out on his ample breast floats a most royal but un-Pharonic beard. This is one of the ways the quondam haughty hills have of providing entertainment for the bold questioner and visitor.

The scenery is always new. High rocks, whose rugged faces look as if their titanic architect had been surprised and driven away while as yet his task was not half completed; long gaping gulches lined with an evergreen decoration of spruce, cedar, manzanita, and mountain mahogany, are some of the sidelights to be found in a day’s journey in the realms adjacent to the Old Oregon Trail.




 My high-blown pride
At length broke under me and now has left me,
Weary and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream, that must forever hide me.


Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens.... When I was at home I was in a better place; but travelers must be content.––Shakespeare.



At frequent intervals throughout the widening West may be seen the relegated ship of the desert standing forlorn, friendless, forsaken. The merciless claws of summer and the icy fangs of winter are loosening the red paint, and the white canvas cover and side curtains are flapping in the winds. The tired tongue, dumb with age and years of use, still tells tales of hardships by the silent eloquence of its multitude of unhealed scars.

This class of carryall was at once unique and supreme. It was the one indispensable link in the endless chain of evolution popular and powerful, the only public agent of the Trail and the plains until the unconquerable initiative of the lord of the world had time to steel a highway with trackage for more rapid transit. What a living link was that old overland stage! To look upon an isolated and abandoned relic of earlier pioneerdom is like standing at the marble monument 110 of some human pivot in the mighty march of man’s progress. Before the bold and bustling railway noisily elbowed its way into the affections of travel and commerce and pushed aside the patient wagon of the nation-builders, the tens of thousands of hurried travelers enjoyed (or endured) the hospitality of its rocking thorough-braces as they, hour by hour, day after day, and night after night, and even week after week in the longer journeys, sat atop or inside this leviathan of the sand-ocean making the most rapid trip possible and under safe guidance.

Could such old hulk tell its story, could that dried-up old tongue but begin to wag again, what tales! First would come those of the men too often overworked and underappreciated, like our modern railmen, the drivers of the stage. These, as the ancient Jehu, were compelled to drive furiously on occasion, in order to keep a cramped schedule or make up for the loss of time brought about by a breakdown, a washout, or some Indian depredation. Few drivers there were who did not love their work. It came to be a saying, “Once a driver, always 111 a driver.” The coach-and-four, or more, with booted and belted man on the throne of the swinging chariot, made every boy envious and created in him a desire to become great some day too. Eagle and Dick, Tom and Rock, Bolly and Bill understood the snap of the whip, or its more wicked crack, as well as they did the tension of the line or the word of the chief charioteer, who, with foot on the long brake-beam, regulated the speed of the often crowded vehicle down the precipitous places which to the novice looked very dangerous. But Jehu is no longer universal king. A Pharaoh who knew him not has heartlessly and definitely usurped some of his places.

In the boot of this old seaworthy craft was hauled many a load of treasure, for the gold-hungry prospector without sextant and chain surveyed the fastnesses of the hills as well as the illimitation of the prairies, and a care-taking government made a way to his camp to send him his mail. Express companies joined their traffic to that of Uncle Sam, and he of the pick and shovel became the lodestone to popular convenience. With many a load of treasure went 112 a man known as a messenger, who sat beside the driver, carrying a sawed-off gun under his coat, ready to meet the gangster or holdup, who so often robbed both stage and passenger.

In the hold of this old coach have ridden governors, statesmen of all grades, men and women, good and better (some bad and worse); here were bridal tours, funeral parties, commercial men and gamblers, miners and prospectors, Chinamen and Indians, pleasure-seekers and labor-hunters, officers and convicts.

Men of every station
 In the eye of fame,
On a common level
 Coming to the same––

is the way Saxe punningly puts it; but more of a leveler was this old coach, for there was of necessity the forceful putting of people of the most heterogeneous character together in the most homogeneous manner as the omnibus (most literal word here), made up its hashy load at the hand and command of the driver, whose word was unappealable law as complete as that 113 of another captain on the high seas. Prodigal, profligate, and pure, maiden or Magdalene, millionaire or Lazarus, all were crowded together as the needs of the hour and the size of the passengers demanded, to sit elbow to elbow, side by side to the journey’s end.

Huddled thus, they traveled unchanged till the stage station was reached; here the horses were exchanged for fresher ones; the wayside inn had its tables of provisions varying and varied as the region traversed. If in the mountains, there were likely to be trout, saddle of deer, steaks of bear; but if through the sands, there was provided bacon or other coarser fare. Usually these crowds were joking and jolly, unless tempered by something requiring more sobriety, but always optimistic, for the fellow who became grouchy the while had generally abundant occasion to repent and mend his ways.

One day, on a road not far from where this is being written, the old coach was toiling up a long mountainside; the driver was drowsy and the passengers had exhausted their newest répertoire of stories 114 and had lapsed into stillness such as often seizes a squeezed crowd. The horses were permitted to take their time; the dust was deep, the sun hot, and all possible stillness prevailed.

“Halt!” ordered a low voice very near the road.

The driver, Tom Myers, did not understand the command, and simply looked up, half asleep, and said to the horses, “Gid-dap!”

“Halt!” came the words again, louder and unmistakable.

Myers halted. Standing at the end of an elongated bunch of pines where he had been invisible until the heads of the horses appeared stood the highwayman, with menacing gun covering the head of the driver.

“Throw out your treasure and mail!” came the command.

“I have mail, but no treasure,” said my friend Tom, as he afterward pointed out the spot and told the story. “Come and get it.”

The lone robber rifled the sacks, turned the pockets of the travelers inside out, and 115 bade them drive on without imitating Lot’s wife; he was never caught.

To be sure, this is a tame story, and many readers doubtless can tell one more thrilling; but this one is true.

The stagecoach is a thing of the past, but we still have the hardy, dust-covered, mud-daubed teamster, who yet must haul the freight far back into hills where for ages there will be no railway. To these, Godspeed and good cheer! They live by the Trails; they eat at the wheel; they sleep under the wagon; they are kindly and obliging even when their heavily belled teams of six to fourteen or more head of horses meet another loaded caravan in some narrow pass where the highest engineering ability is needed to get by in safety; and they never leave a fellow-traveler in distress.




To him who in the love of Nature, holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language;...
 The hills
Rock-ribbed, and ancient as the sun.


Not vainly did the early Persian make
His altar the high places and the peak
Of earth-o’ergazing mountains, and thus take
A fit and unwalled temple, there to seek
The Spirit, in whose honor shrines are weak,
Upreared of human hands.... compare
Columns and idol-dwellings, Goth or Greek
With Nature’s realm of worship.




The ragged sky-line high in air
Sits boundary to sight
And seems to end the world;
But topping it by way well worn by braver
A fertile, home-filled dale is found
Where love holds warm,
And schools and churches dot the land.
But while the slow-drawn old stagecoach
With load of dust-clad travelers
Crawls over jolting, stone-filled ruts,
The puffing beasts, sweat-covered,
Winding in and out among the stately
(Where friendly Nature spreads her yellow
O’er bleaching arms long since deprived of
May now be seen a mother deer
Half hidden ’mong the sloping boughs;
Alert, ears high, eyes wide, body so tense
And motionless. In silence all 120
The passengers admire the instinct-love
Which not affrights the spotted babe
Fast sleeping at her feet.
“There are no guns aboard!” says one.
“But if there were, how could one’s heart
Be hard enough to murder mother-love?”
Said I.



The tired shepherd stands among his ewes
That with their lambs are unafraid
Of him and keen-eyed dogs;
They crouch close in about his feet
Whene’er the coyote’s cry
Or bear’s low growl
Falls tingling on the timid ear.
Himself thrusts gun to elbow-place
And peers amid the dust-dressed sage
And scented chaparral so dense,
To glimpse the fiery eyeballs
Of the prowler of the hills;
While all awatch the faithful collies stand
Prepared to fend e’en with their lives
The young and helpless not their own.



The wooded thicket holds a drum.
The air in springtime afternoons
Is filled with sharp staccato notes
Whose echoes clear reverberate
From precipice and timbered hills.
No fifer plays accompaniment;
No pageant proud or marching throng
Keeps step to this deep pulsing bass
Whose sullen solo booms afar.

A double challenge is this gage,
A gauntlet flung for love or war;
As strutting barnyard chanticleer
Defies his neighboring lord:
So calls this crested pheasant-king
For combat or for peace.
The meek brown mate upon her nest
Feels happy and secure
While thus her lord by deed and word
Displays his woodland bravery
And guards their little home.




That fellow seems to possess but one idea, and that is the wrong one.––Samuel Johnson.

Utah is harder than China.––Bishop Wiley.

Utah is the hardest soil into which the Methodist plowshare was ever set.––Bishop Fowler.



By the Trail had gone Jason Lee, in 1834, to plant the sturdy oak of Methodism in the Willamette Valley and the north Pacific Coast. His task was nobly done; the developments of to-day attest the wisdom of the church in sending him and his coequal coadjutors, Daniel Lee, Cyrus Shepherd, and P. L. Edwards.

Over this same track went Marcus Whitman, in 1835, to found the mission at Waiilatpu, near the present site of Walla Walla, and to find there the early grave of honorable martyrdom at the hands of the people he was attempting to save. The call to these two intrepid equals, Lee and Whitman, came through the visit of the two young Indian chiefs who, immediately after the expedition of Lewis and Clark, had gone to Saint Louis to obtain a copy of the “white man’s Book of heaven.” The names of these two, as previously stated, 126 were Hee-oh’ks-te-kin and H’co-a-h’co-a-cotes-min.

On the sixth day of April, 1830, in Kirkland, Ohio, Joseph Smith, Jr., had organized the body best known as the Mormon Church. Fourteen years later he was mercilessly, and unjustly, mobbed at Nauvoo, Illinois, and after three more years of drifting about from pillar to post, the Latter-Day Saints prepared to emigrate to upper California under the absolute domination and guidance of Brigham Young, who was often styled the successor to the “Mohammed of the West,” as Joseph Smith was sometimes called. This cult had some queer traits. W. W. Phelps, one of their more prominent members, thus characterized the leaders of Mormondom: Brigham Young, the Lion of the Lord; P. P. Pratt, the Archer of Paradise; O. Hyde, the Olive Branch of Israel; W. Richards, the Keeper of the Rolls; J. Taylor, Champion of Right; W. Smith, the Patriarchal Jacob’s Staff; W. Woodruff, the Banner of the Gospel; G. A. Smith, the Entablature of Truth; O. Pratt, the Gauge of Philosophy; J. E. Page, the Sun Dial; L. Wright, Wild Mountain Ram.


Expelled from Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, the trembling Saints sought less turbulent surroundings by immersing their all in the wild conditions both of men and wilderness in the untamed lands of the great West. They were not able to sustain the physical cost of the trek of more than a thousand miles under the hardest of circumstances. The Trail was the home of the Sioux, the Cheyennes, the Arapahoes, the Otoes, Omahas, Utes, and others, who knew neither law nor mercy. The waters were often alkaline and deadly as Lethe. A thousand miles afoot was the record some had to make. They appealed to the government, then at war with Mexico, to permit a number of their men to enlist as soldiers to be marched over the ancient Santa Fe Trail, and thus be able to draw wages on the journey. This was granted. These recruits had little, if anything, to do, but they are known in history as the Mormon battalion. They went to California, 1847-49, and were present when James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill.

In 1847, July 24, Mormondom threw up its first trenches in the valley of the Great 128 Salt Lake, as that saline body was then known and recorded. In this salubrious region was planted the analogy of the harem of Mohammed, and the seraglio of Brigham became the center of the sensual system of the Latter-Day Saints. So blatant was the apostle Heber Kimball that he said he himself had enough wives to whip the soldiers of the United States.

Evangelical Christianity waited almost twenty years before an attempt was made to plant the high standards of Christendom in the Wahsatch Mountains. In the sixties went the denominations in the order here named: Congregational, Protestant Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal; in 1871 the Presbyterians went, and then the Baptists. It was dark. Mighty night had beclouded the intellect and obscured the spiritual senses; civilized sensuality swayed with unchecked hand the destinies of the masses. The blinded people groped for light in the pitchlike blackness of the new superstition.

“None but Americans on guard” in such a night! Hear the roll call. None but tried and true Christian soldiers were 129 mounted on those ramparts: Erastus Smith, the heart-winner; Thomas Wentworth Lincoln, the scholarly but quiet Grand Army man, who always kept his patriotic fires banked; George Ellis Jayne, another veteran of the Civil War, tireless evangelist who possibly saw more Mormons made Christian than any other pastor of any church in Utah; George Marshall Jeffrey, eternally at it; Joseph Wilks, methodic, patient, sunny; Martinus Nelson, weeping over the straying of his Norwegians; Emil E. Mörk, rugged and steadfast; Martin Anderson and Samuel Hooper, both of whom died by the Trail, falling at the “post of honor.” Last, but not least of these to be named, stands the energetic and “Boanergetic” Thomas Corwin Iliff, that Buckeye stentor and patriot, who with heart-thrilling tones has raised millions of dollars in aiding and in establishing hundreds and hundreds of churches in these United States. For thirty years he commanded the Methodist as well as the patriotic redoubts of Utah and bearded the “Lion of the Lord” in his very den.

But there were never truer watchmen on 130 the high-towered battlements of the real Zion than the Protestant Episcopal Bishop, Daniel S. Tuttle; the knightly Hawkes of the Congregationalists; the truly apostolic Baptist, Steelman; the Presbyterian leaders––who surpasses them? See the saintly Wishard, the polemic McNiece and McLain; the scholarly and tireless Paden!

They were loyal to the core, commanding the Christian forces as they deployed, enfiladed, charged, marched, and stormed the trenches of religious libertinism in the fertile and paradisaical valleys and roomy cañons of the Mormon state of Deseret. These never surrendered, compromised, or retreated.

Glorious Brotherhood! Permit us the honor of saluting you. Your like may never march abreast again in any campaign! Living, you were conquerors; dying, you are heroes.

Of these above named Messrs. Hooper, Anderson, Steelman, and McNiece have entered the “snow-white tents” of the other shore.



His studie was but litel on the Bible.––Chaucer.

Imaginations fearfully absurd,
Hobgoblin rites, and moon-struck reveries,
Distracted creeds, and visionary dreams,
More bodiless and hideously misshapen
Than ever fancy, at the noon of night,
Playing at will, framed in the madman’s brain.

––Pollok, in Course of Time.

The abode of the dead, where they remained in full consciousness of their condition for indefinable periods, or even for eternity, has been the theme of many a writer both before and after the advent of the Saviour of men. Annihilation is repugnant to the common intelligence. Homer sends Ulysses, Dantelike, to the realms of the dead, where he converses with them he had known in life. The Stygian River, the dumb servitor, Charon, the coin-paid fare, are all well known in the classics of the ancients.

In some later religio-philosophic studies 132 the names are different; some have tartarus, some purgatory, some paradise. The last is the name adopted by the Mormons.

The heroes of Homer seemed never to hope for a release from the bonds of Hades. Voluptuous Circe, the Odysseyan swine-maker, told the hero of those tales he was a daring one:

“... who, yet alive, have gone
Down to the abode of Pluto; twice to die
Is yours, while others die but once.”

Many well meaning minds have tried to discover in the Bible, or otherwise reasonably invent a second probation for the unrepentant as an addendum to the final resurrection of the just. Not a little has been made of the term “spirits in prison” (1 Pet. 3. 19, 20), and of “baptism for the dead” (1 Cor. 15. 29). In the intensity of zeal, or as a proselyting advertisement, the Latter-Day Saints proclaim the possibility of all the inhabitants of the grave (paradise) being saved in heaven. To this end, early in the history of the organization, there was implanted the doctrine of preaching to the departed and that of proxy ministrations.


From their Articles of Faith I take these two:

3. We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.

4. We believe that these ordinances are: First, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Now, since without immersion there is no remission of sins, and since they who are in prison (paradise) are eligible to salvation, therefore some one must be baptized for them and have all the other rites of the plan likewise administered in their name. That “all things may be done decently and in order,” there was received a “revelation” to the end that temples must be built, recorders and other officials appointed, and all the paraphernalia necessary for the work prepared. When these rites are consummated some elder of the church who dies goes to the spiritual prison house and tells the people therein confined that these most meritorious works have been done for them on earth; in fact, 134 this is the chief reason for their going thither. They who will believe this story and repent of their sins are then and there entitled to “a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

Not only are the people redeemed from all their sins by the pious ministrations of the many temple-workers, who, like Samuel, continually serve and minister therein, but as marriage relations are to continue throughout the endless ages of eternity, and children are to be born forever and ever, these dead have the hymeneal ceremony performed “for eternity”; this act is known as the “sealing” process. Men are here married––by proxy––to others than the actual living wife, sometimes with her consent, sometimes without it. One old gentleman, whose name is not to be mentioned, was sealed thus for eternity to Martha Washington and to Empress Josephine. It sounds farcical and foolish in the extreme; fit only to be counted as a silly joke, unworthy the attention of a sane soul for a minute; but it is terribly sober when it is remembered that there are hundreds of 135 thousands of innocent, honest, and unsuspecting Mormons who really and truly believe this to be the only road to eternal life and exaltation.

Added to this is the doctrine of the deification of men. All the true and faithful Mormons are to become gods by and by, and create and populate new worlds; hence the value of polygamy; in fact, this world is but one of the samples of this truth. Adam is the owner and ruler of earth, and to him we pray. He is our God. As such he is only one in an endless procession of such beings.

“There has been and there now exists an endless procession of the Gods, stretching back into the eternities, that had no beginning and will have no end. Their existence runs parallel with endless duration, and their dominions are limitless as boundless space.”[3]

Possibly the most popular hymn among these people is the following, written by one of the wives of Joseph Smith, Eliza R. Snow. It is in their collection and now in use:



O my Father, thou that dwellest
 In the high and glorious place!
When shall I regain thy presence,
 And again behold thy face?
In thy holy habitation,
 Did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood,
 Was I nurtured by thy side?

For a wise and glorious purpose
 Thou hast placed me here on earth,
And withheld the recollection
 Of my former friends and birth;
Yet ofttimes a secret something
 Whispered, “You’re a stranger here”;
And I felt that I had wandered
 From a more exalted sphere.

I had learned to call thee Father,
 Through thy Spirit from on high;
But, until the Key of Knowledge
 Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heavens are parents single?
 No; the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
 Tells me, I’ve a mother there.

When I leave this frail existence,
 When I lay this mortal by,
Father, mother, may I meet you
 In your royal court on high? 137
Then, at length, when I’ve completed
 All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
 Let me come and dwell with you.


New Witness for God, B. H. Roberts, 1895.



Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor’d mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk or milky way.


When Mormonism was no longer compelled to maintain the defensive it quickly assumed the offensive. This was apparently deemed necessary for the existence of the system. Two kinds of preaching were indulged in by the elders on their missions, home and foreign. At home they declared the beauty of the Smithian gospel, including the doctrine of polygamy, a sweet morsel for the blood-thirsty Utes. They were trying by every means, Machiavellian or otherwise, to gain the Lamanites, as Indians were called by the Mormons, at least to an extent which would allow them to remain undisturbed throughout the territory of Utah. Old Kanosh and other leaders were immersed for the remission of their sins, 139 but they were permitted to multiply unto themselves as many squaws as they cared for. It would take water stronger than the common alkaline pools contained to reach the morals of a heathen Ute.

Very many of the Indians thus were made Mormons and white men were appointed as their bishops. Brigham Young used to make visits to them to try to instruct them in various things. For a considerable period he was the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory. He was such official at the time of the lamentable Mountain Meadow Massacre, in 1857, and for which crime Bishop John D. Lee suffered death.

Possibly it was the influence of Mr. Young that kept the most of the red men from the warpath and thus saved the scattered settlers in the earlier days when there were so few to guard the isolated homes in the far-away nooks and cañons of the mountains.

The other sort of preaching in which the elders indulged was that of an absolute and unqualified denial of polygamy in Utah. Such was the plan of the elders who went 140 to Europe. The public denial of John Taylor, later president of the church, is abundant evidence. When they deny polygamy now they have the consistency of definition to back them; to their manner of explaining, polygamy is the act of taking new wives; to the non-Mormon, polygamy is the possessing of more than one wife. For this reason we are very bold in saying that polygamy is publicly practiced in Utah––witness Joseph F. Smith as chief example.

Although we may read of it, none can comprehend just what it means to a girl-wife, two thousand miles away from her parents, to be treated as an alien, in a land under the flag of the free. This was the case in the strictly Mormon settlements in Utah thirty years ago. Reason only kept the Giant Despair from the threshold of the mind. The bravery of these women can be compared only to the English women of the Sepoy Rebellion days of 1857 in India, or to those of our American sisters who accompanied their valorous husbands to their isolated posts on the Indian frontiers, resolved to share equally in the dangers, and to die lingeringly and 141 cruelly if necessary. Retreat and surrender never grew in the hearts of such women. It was so in the times that were called the “dark days” in Utah––the time when the government applied its functions to the stamping out of polygamous practices, 1883 to 1893––ten terrible years for the Mormon as well as the non-Mormon.

Add to this the fact that, unannounced, a brawny, stalwart Indian might walk in at the door. More than once has it so occurred in our home. One day the door was suddenly opened and in walked a grinning brave, armed with a long knife, and followed by his squaw; extending his empty hand toward the far-from-home girl-wife, alone in the house, he said, “How-do!” In telling us of it, she said: “I was scared to death, I thought, but I would have shaken hands with him if I had died in the attempt. I would not let him know I feared him.” But this was not Weber Tom.

It was in those fearsome days when the leading men of Utah––farmers, bankers, stockmen, church dignitaries, all sorts and conditions of the Latter-Day Saints––were 142 being arrested and haled to the courts almost daily, that one morning there rode up to our door the battle-scarred old warrior, Weber Tom, chief of the Skull Valley Utes, or Goshutes.

If perfection is beauty, this Indian was most beautiful, for he was the ugliest creature imaginable, ugly even to perfection. One eye had been gouged out, a knife-scar extended from his ear down across his mouth, and he was Herculean in physical proportions. I am a large man, but once when I gave him an overcoat he tried vainly to button it over his vast frontal protuberance, looking at me and saying, “Too short, too short.”

This giant chief dismounted, and, seeing my wife standing near, reached the reins of the bridle to her and said, “Here, squaw, hol’ my hoss.”

She said, quietly, “Hold your own horse if you want him held.”

Having had to accommodate himself to the rudeness of a civilized woman, he made other provision for his cayuse and then asked her, “Wheh yo’man?”

She told him I was down in the field, and 143 he then proceeded to find me. He was in the depths of trouble. He had several squaw-wives and feared he was to be arrested for it.

Now he approached me. It was dramatic; it was high-class pantomime. It is too bad the kinetoscope, cinematograph, or some other moving-picture machine had not been invented. He seemed awed by a presence, yet so emboldened by the needs of his case that he walked stoically to his quest.

Squaring his Atlaslike shoulders, he began: “You heap big chief. You talky this way” (at the same time extending one finger straight from his lips). “Mormon he talky this way” (now extending two fingers, to show he understood them to talk with double tongue). “Mormon telly me sojer men ketchy me, put me in jug [jail]; me havy two, tree, four squaw. You heap big chief. You telly me this way” (one finger). Continuing, he said: “Me havy two, tree, four squaw. Mormon he telly me, me go jug; one my squaw he know dat, he heap cry, heap cry, HEAP cry, by um by die!”

This was accompanied by gestures, throwing 144 his body backward in imitation of the dying woman whom fear had killed, according to his dramatic story.

I told him something like this: “No, heap big lie. You go back Skull Valley, you stay home, no sojer ketchy you, you be heap good Injun!” Upon this he grunted deeply, shook hands cordially, went back to his many-wived tents over across the creek, and soon we saw them filing off through the sagebrush toward their Skull Valley home, many miles over the Onaqui range.



The man that lays his hand upon a woman,
Save in the way of kindness, is a wretch
Whom ’t were gross flattery to name a coward.

––John Tobin.

A baby was sleeping,
Its mother was weeping.
––Samuel Lover.

Polygamy may die in Mormondom, but has never yet done so. Cases are often reported, and from the manner of their finding it is a certainty that new alliances are being formed continually between married men and unmarried women.

Not long ago a very bright conversion was made in one of the missions of an evangelical denomination. The convert was a young woman of more than average intelligence. Some of her relatives had been polygamists, but she repudiated the whole cult and creed. For a while this decision made it necessary for her to find other residence than her rightful home.


Some time after she permitted herself to be persuaded that a young man of her acquaintance loved her more than he did the polygamous tenet of his church––he was a Mormon––and that he never would attempt to woo and win another woman while she remained his wife. She consented, and was happy in her home life. Not for a moment did she suspect him of double-dealing. Her honest heart was above entertaining such suspicion had it entered. Serenely she saw her children growing to useful womanhood. Not a cloud of anxiety appeared on the calm sea of life; all was fine sailing. One day she was making some repairs in one of her husband’s garments when a letter fell from a pocket. It bore the postmark of a city where they both had relatives, and it was quite natural that she should look into its contents.

What despair and agony seized her when she read therein the statement from the “other woman” telling her “fond” husband of the birth of the child!

The poor, heart-stricken, and hitherto trusting wife immediately rose to the dignity of outraged womanhood and insulted 147 wifehood and compelled the polygamist to choose at once between her and the concubine. He did so, choosing the younger woman and leaving her who had trusted him too fondly.

This is not a tale of the ancients in Utah, but a living, festering story of the vivid present.

One way of avoiding prosecution by the law is the surreptitious, clandestine rearing of children, whose mothers lose no prestige in the community; for it is well understood “among the neighbors and friends.” “Public polygamy has been suspended,” but the requirement of the doctrine remains unchanged.




So lonely ’twas that God himself
Scarce seemed there to be.


 This is truth the poet sings
That a sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remembering
 happier things.




Many stories, weird and lurid, true and untrue, have been told of this body of saline water lying imposed on the breast of the beautiful and scenic State of Utah. Although one of the transcontinental highways of ocean-to-ocean travel has extended its bands of steel directly across its wide bosom for many miles, it is still a spot where mystery lingers.

Private as well as public legends are handed down from lip to ear rather than from page to eye. For that reason there are tales of this wonderful salt sea to be learned only by residing in the vicinity. Its natural moods are unlike the ocean, and its individual characteristics would make a book.

The briny pond is but a wee thing as compared with its gigantic dimensions in the days when its waters were sweet and had an outlet to the north. Then its arms spread far south into Arizona, over into Nevada and into Idaho. It was 350 miles 152 from the northern end to the southern, and 145 miles across from east to west. The area was 20,000 square miles. This greater lake stood 1,000 feet higher than does the present one, although this one is 4,280 feet above the level of the sea. Geologists have named the earlier one Bonneville, in honor of the intrepid soldier-explorer whom Washington Irving has so well fixed in American literature.

By some as yet unknown cataclysm a great break was made at the north end of this inland ocean and its pent volume was poured into the cañon of the Port Neuf toward the ravenous Snake. This reduced the level four hundred feet, but the old beach line may still be easily noted. Gradually this diminished body became smaller and smaller until it reached the present stage of desiccation.

So impure is this heavy liquid that after evaporation there is a residuum of twenty-eight pounds of solid matter in every hundred. This is composed of salt, magnesium, and other elements carrying three dollars of gold to the ton; the gold is not made a matter of trade or of industry because 153 facilities are lacking for its handling. Very little animal life is found in this brine, and none of vegetable; in fact, at every point where the water touches the shore vegetation vanishes utterly. The animal life is that of a very small gnat which, mosquito-like, lays its eggs on the surface of the water. The larvæ, when driven shoreward, collect in such quantities as to cause a strong, unpleasant odor observable for miles to the leeward. Myriads of seagulls here find a dainty feast.

Salt Lake affords the finest and really the only beach-bathing resort in the whole interocean country. The bathing is attended with little, if any, danger. In thirty years only two persons have been lost. These strangled before assistance reached them. One body was found after four years, lying in the salty sand at the south end of the lake, whither the high winds from the north had drifted it. All the parts protected by the sand were perfectly preserved and as beautiful as if carved from Parian marble.

The tops of a number of sunken mountains still protrude above the surface and 154 form islands: such are Fremont, Church, Stanbury, Carrington, and others. Some of these are habitable, possessing fine springs and irrigable land. Very few people live on these islands, but some brave spirits dare to face the semiprivations of such isolation and stay there with their herds.

Doubtless, many tales of heroism and devotion could be told of those who have lived on these islands. One of the best known is that of Mrs. Wenner, who, a few years after her marriage, went with her husband and little children to live on Fremont Island. Her husband’s health failing, the oversight of the herds fell largely upon her, but she cheerily took up the burden, the while she trained her little ones, and was ever a true companion to him whom she daily saw slipping away.

The end came on a dread and fearsome day, while the faithful man who worked for them was detained on the mainland by a raging storm. The children and an incompetent woman could give her little assistance or consolation. There on the lonely, storm-lashed island, with faint-whispered words of love, the dear one 155 closed his eyes forever. Tenderly she cared for his body, and sadly she kept her vigil, replenishing through the long night the two watchfires intended as a signal to those on the mainland. On the night of the second day, the man made his dangerous way back to the island––and with his help she laid the loved husband in his island grave, with no service but the tears and prayers of those who mourned.

This is but one story of desolation and sorrow––but the deep, briny waters and the barren, forbidding shores hold in their keeping many suggestions of mystery and of tears.




I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul.




“I panned him out over and over ag’in,
But found nary sign of color,”
Said Argonaut Sam one evening, when,
As sitting atop of a box, to some men
He was spinning a yarn of the gold-trail.

 And then,
With arms set akimbo, he straightened his back
And said: “’Twuz one night in the fifties I know;
Ther’ kem up the trail frum the gulch jist below
A youngish-like feller; but steppin’ so slow
I heartily pitied him even before
I saw his pale brow and heerd the sharp hack
Of his troublesome cough, and plain enough lack
Of more’n enough power to bring to my door
That tremblin’ young body.

 “He hed a small pack––
A blanket an’ buckskin––but that wa’nt no lack
In them days when notions an’ fashions wuz slack;
When all a man needed, besides pick an’ pan,
Wuz a wallet o’ leather to tie up his dust––’R
a place to git grub-staked (that means to git trust
Till he found a good prospeck); an’ then he’d put in
His very best licks; fur in them days ’twuz sin
Fer a man strong o’ body, o’ wind an’ o’ limb
T’ hang erround loafin’ all day, ’twuz too thin.

“Well, this puny feller hed grin’-stunlike grit,
But wuz clean tuckered out when my cabin he hit;
’N fell down a-faintin’ jist inside my door––
His eyes set ’n’ glassy––he seemed done fer, shore.
So I straightened him out, couldn’t do nothin’ more 161

Than to put back his hair an’ t’ dampen his brow,
An’ to feel fer his pulse––joy! I found it––slow
An’ flickery though, stoppin’ and startin’, an’ now
Gone ag’in; then it revived, but so faint, don’t you know,
That minute by minute I couldn’t hev said
Whether the feller wuz livin’ or dead.

“All night I watched by him; an’ ’long a-to’rds light
I seed that a change hed come: so, honor bright!
I made up my mind that I’d save that young life
If it took me all summer. I’d fight
With grim death to a finish fer him.

 “An’ so I begun.
I quit workin’ my claim
Where I’d git on an average (’pon my good name)
An ounce or more daily of number one gold.
An’ in them days we thought nothin’, you see,
Of layin’ by stuff fer a rainy day; we 162
Hed plenty; the diggins wuz rich, an’ wuz thick
Scattered over the kentry. Most every crick
Hed plenty o’ gold in nuggets or dust––
An’ the man who wuz stingy hed ort to be cussed.
So I shouldered my task.

 “It wuz wonderful how
The new life appeared to come back to my boy;
(Fer that’s what I called him––‘my boy’) an’ the joy
O’ perviden fer suthin’ besides my lone self
Made me happy. Y’ see, th’ experunce wuz new;
Fer I’d lived all alone ever since forty-two,
When, back in Ohio, I’d buried my wife
An’ baby. Since then I’d looked on my life
As a weary, onfriendly, detestable load.
So that’s why I lived all alone, don’t you see?
I didn’t love nothin’ and nothin’ loved me.

“But now of young Josh––his name wuz Josh Clark––
He’d come frum ol’ York State––could sing like a lark–– 163
Wuz finely brung up, an’ that mother o’ his,
A sister he tol’ me, an’ a girl he called Liz.
’D a give the hull earth if they only could know
If he wuz alive; but so hard-hearted, he
Would never be grateful to them nur to me.
Though I had no claim on him, yet it would seem
After all I hed done fer him, shorely some gleam
O’ thankfulness somewhere might some time be seen.
’Sides spendin’ my all I hed broken down too,
Wuz a shattered ol’ man, though but then fifty-two;
Fer I’d give up my health an’ my strength to pull through
My boy––fer I loved him, if ever men do.
But, no; it appeared that he hedn’t no heart.
Not once did he thank me, and never asked why
I nussed him to life, ’stid o’ lettin’ him die.

“His wants wuz demands, his wishes commands,
An’ once in the dusk, as we set on the sands
Of a stream that run by, he reached with his hands
So quick an’ so blamed unexpected, you see,
Grabbed me by the hair an’ out with a knife,
An’ demanded my gold. I thought fer my life
He wuz jokin’; but no, when I seed that fierce look
Of murder an’ pillage, I knowed what I’d done;
I’d thawed out a viper upon my hearth-stun
An’ now wuz becomin’ its prey.

 “But, I’d none:
I’d spent all the surplus I hed to save him.
I’d missed all the summer an’ fall to nuss him
Who now like a tiger wuz takin’ my life.
‘Hol’ on, my dear Josh! Hol’ on, my dear boy!’
No further I got, fer his hands clutched my throat––
I squirmed myself loose, but grapplin’ my coat 165
He throwed me ag’in, now a madman, indeed.
His dirk-knife wuz raised. I said, ‘Do yer best.
I’ve give you now all that I ever possessed
But life. Take it now if you like!’ An’ he struck.

“How long I laid there in the dark, I don’t know;
But when I kem to I wuz layin’ in bed,
An’ the people wuz talkin’ so easy an’ low,
An’ I knowed by the bandages too on my head
That I hed been nigh to the gates o’ the dead.

“An’ ‘Where wuz Josh Clark?’ did you say? I don’t know.
He never wuz seen in the diggins below,
Ner heerd of in them parts ag’in, fer I know
He’d a-swung to the limb that come fust in the way;
Fer the boys in them days hed little to say,
But wuz mighty in doin’. So he got away. 166

“So it seems that some people is jist so depraved
There ain’t a thing in ’em that ort to be saved.
’Twuz jist so with Josh, who I loved as a son;
He lived fer hisself an’ fer hisself alone.
’N’ ’at’s why I remarked at the fust of this yarn,
The thing ’at it’s cost me so dearly to larn––‘I panned him out over an’ over ag’in,
But found nary sign of a color.’”




The night it was gloomy, the wind it was high;
And hollowly howling it swept through the sky.


What matter how the night behaved?
What matter how the north wind raved?




We dread the unseen. Fear is always enervating; sometimes even deadly. Who has not fearsomely anticipated that which never came and wasted valuable energy and time in building bridges none are ever to cross? The surgical patient actually suffers more at sight of somber white-clad nurses, and the thought of the operation, than he does from the ordeal itself. It may be that we subconsciously dread the helpless state of unconsciousness into which the anæsthetic plunges us, and hesitate at a trip, no matter how short, into death’s borderland, preferring to keep our own hands as long as possible on the helm of the ship of life.

I wonder why we become terror-stricken at the thought of ghosts. The untutored child needs only a hint to make him shy at the dark; and a lad has to be pretty large before he can walk far at night without 170 once in a while looking behind him, just to be certain there is nothing following.

Thus spirits, spooks, bogies, wraiths, and other uncanny apparitions are unintentional inheritances of the race; a race that knows little more about the impending and impinging unseen than did the Saxon fathers who gave us our spooky speech.

I once had an experience which grows in interest as the years pass by. I had no fear or thought of fear that night, and the scenes of the evening were absolutely unannounced; they entered upon the sleety stage for whose violent acts I held no program.

One afternoon I was to go to one of my appointments, a mining town in Utah. In order to relieve home cares I took with me my four-year-old son, who thus would get some novel entertainment as well. To the buggy I hitched Jenny, the strawberry-roan cayuse, and started for the distant point. It was a little stormy all the way, and by the time we had well begun the service it had thickened so that a hard snow was setting in. It was dead in the north and continued with such strength that soon 171 there appeared no slant to the falling columns. By the time church was dismissed the blizzard was on in full force, and the roads were already so filled with the new drifts that to return with the buggy was hardly thinkable. I borrowed a saddle, and leaving the little lad with friends, started for home, where I was under appointment to preach that evening. My way lay in the north, in the very teeth of the raging storm. With head tucked down, I trusted the reins to Jenny, who had never disappointed me in many a mountain trip, but I had not gone far until I found the storm was at my back. Peering sharply through the fast falling darkness, I discovered that the mountains were on my left instead of on my right, as they should have been. Jenny had turned tail to the storm. Feeling herself unwilling to face the arctic onset, she was retreating.

Only the dire necessity of the occasion made me compel her to face the torturing attack of the icy shafts that were hurling themselves on us like steel points.

We were forced, Jenny and I, to abandon the only road, now drift-filled, and take an 172 unbroken way through the sagebrush, junipers, buckbrush, and other tangled chaparral, where there was no trail at all, and farther to the right, that I might keep an eye on the mountains and not get turned around again. I felt the force of Cardinal Newman’s immortal hymn,

... amid the encircling gloom,
 Lead thou me on!
The night is dark and I am far from home;
 Lead thou me on!

We had not gone far until I began to hear the sweetest music. I could not imagine from whence it fell, as I knew there was not a human home in all that plain between the two settlements. Then I heard personal conversation; in fact, the night was full of pleasant travelers. The awful storm seemed not to affect them in the least. They seemed to have an open road too, while we were plunging through deep snowdrifts, my feet already dragging along their tops.

When the first carriage load came up I saw it was only a desert juniper. The boreal gale sweeping through its shivering branches made converse in the music of 173 the wild, Jenny and I being the only seat-holders in that grand opera. Soon another caravan of belated folks drove up; but it was only a load of hay that had been over-tipped. Others came, but they were only bushes or some inanimate object. There was little life out on that perishing night.

After hours of fearsome and benumbing travel, Jenny stumbled with me into the little home town. A good feed of oats and a warm shelter doubtless ended the story happily for her. But for me––the ghost of the desert and the wraith of the blizzard had become real. They spoke to me that night and I understood.




God had sifted three kingdoms to find the wheat for this planting.––Longfellow.

Westward the course of empire takes its way.––Berkeley.

In the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water.––Isaiah.



Possibly there are those who find themselves thinking that Western tales are travelers’ tales and must be taken with “a grain of salt.” Some also say that the man who crosses the Missouri never is able to tell the truth again; this is crude, I know, and in some cases true, but they who are so afflicted were just the same before they ever saw the Missouri.

Our waterless areas were considered by Captain Bonneville (as told by Washington Irving) utterly barren and forever hopeless wastes. In Astoria––chapter thirty-four––these words are used:

“In this dreary desert of sand and gravel of the Snake here and there is a thin and scanty herbage, insufficient for the horse or the buffalo. Indeed, these treeless wastes between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific are even more desolate and barren than the naked, upper prairies on the Atlantic side; they present vast desert tracts that 178 must ever defy cultivation, and interpose dreary and thirsty wilds between the habitations of man, in traversing which the wanderer will often be in danger of perishing.”

So thought Captain Bonneville; so wrote the matchless American littérateur, Washington Irving, of “Sunnyside,” author and authority, creator of The Life of George Washington, and the Broken Heart, which made Lord Byron weep. The doughty Captain Benjamin L. E. Bonneville, who died as late as 1878, obtaining leave of absence and a furlough, endured the pleasure of hardships common to the explorer, and through his happy biographer added the Trail to literature; but his eye of vision did not see these great stones of the commonwealth, Utah, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The very region so carefully pictured above as the dreariest of deserts, a veritable Western Sahara, is the exact location of Idaho and a large portion of Oregon; a region perfectly adapted to the sustenance of immense population and intense development.


Moses understood all the wisdom of the Egyptians. We do not, but we do know that the biggest thing in an arid country is the ditch. America’s triumph to date in the twentieth century is the completion of the Panama Ditch. The ditch is in Idaho more valuable by far than the land, for without it the parched soil is practically worthless, being an area of shimmering sand, where the ash-colored and dust-covered sagebrush breeds the loathsome horned toad, the rough-and-ready rattlesnake, and the slinking, night-hunting coyote, which preys on the lithe-limbed, loping jack rabbit.

The modern Western American is rapidly learning a modified wisdom of the ancient irrigators of Egypt, and already knows how to drain the irrigated acres and leech these old alluvial plains. From the days when the frosty glacial plowman ran his deep basaltic furrows for the majestic Snake and other streams, these gorges of nature had been only mossy beds over which lazily slid the unmeasured volumes down to the western and “bitter moon-mad sea.” Now man, the mightiest of all magicians, has lured the liquid serpents from their age-long 180 couches, cut them into thousands of smaller streams, and sent them bravely abroad on the face of the protesting desert, drowning its death and making it to bloom and blossom.

As a concrete instance of the artificial possibilities of Idaho and contiguous regions, I will here instance a statement made for me by the Rev. H. W. Parker, superintendent of Pocatello District, and resident of Twin Falls, under date of October, 1914: “Where ten years ago this very minute there was not a fence nor a furrow (only the conditions above described by Washington Irving) there are now such municipalities as Twin Falls, Filer, Rupert, Burley, and others soon to be as fine. As pastor in 1904, my first official trip to Twin Falls was made on July 14. I found one or two frame buildings and some tents stuck around in the sagebrush; some streets had been marked out, but no grading had been done. Dust, heat, and sagebrush were the main features of the place. In October I preached the first sermon ever delivered by any minister in the new village. The congregation numbered forty-one. On February 181 5, 1905, I organized the first church with seventeen members; on May 23, 1909, we dedicated the present edifice at a cost of $18,000, exclusive of the lots.

“To-day this church has a membership of more than five hundred. This youngster has turned back into the treasuries of the denomination in regular collections more than $3,000. The city has to-day seven thousand people. There are between four and five miles of asphalt-paved streets, a perfect sewer system, and cement sidewalks throughout the whole municipality. An investment of $120,000 has been made in two splendidly equipped grade school buildings, besides a high school costing a quarter of a million dollars. These combined schools have an enrollment of over two thousand pupils with a teaching force of above sixty; the high school graduated forty-eight last commencement. There is not a saloon in the entire county.”

Surely “progress” is here spelled in large letters.

Years ago, with the narrow strip along the Atlantic in mind, Longfellow wrote, “God had sifted three kingdoms to find 182 the wheat for this planting.” And as the mighty empire took its course toward the West of limitless opportunity the good God kept the sieve running full time, so that to-day

The best of the best
Are in the Northwest.



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