Bank of the Green River,
October 12, 1849.
Dear Brother Phillips, From between what seems like showers,
with the frequency and importance of tasks, I snatch the opportunity at
midnight to greet you, yes, from the extremes of this distant wilderness. And
even though our local distance increases continually, yet that, nor anything
else that befalls me on this lengthy and strange journey, will alienate my
thoughts, my feelings of love or my prayers from you, from my other dear
brothers in the priesthood, the kind Saints, children of my begetting in Jesus
Christ, nor cause me to forget the vineyard of my Lord, the garden of my
planting and my flock in Wales.
My conscience is peaceful ever since I left you with respect
to every teaching that I preached, every doctrine that I taught, and every
organization that I established before leaving you, and daily I pray the God
who owns the vineyard to watch over it in all things. I entrusted the Saints
seriously to the care of their various presidents, and I taught and proclaimed
their duties to them, so they did not have to be ignorantly led about in error;
and great the privilege, awesome the responsibility, grave the
consideration; you and your counselors were selected as watchmen over everyone
there. O, remember my counsels, follow my example as I followed the sound
doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be an example to the Saints in humility,
tenderness, patience, love and all the fruits of godliness; so that when you
are as close to the chief earthly fold as I am, you will enjoy looking back on
your work, and joyfully think about giving an accounting. O, how lovely it is
for me now to think of my efforts day and night while there, even though in my
body every day I felt torture and pain that they caused me.
I do not feel so fearful about the cause there after leaving
you as at first I thought I would feel; the reason for that is that I know that
God is with you still, and His Spirit is guiding you according to your request
from Him; and frequently we receive here a short and exceedingly sweet message
with the speed of the mind, by means of a mail coach of which the world knows
nothing; for our Father, at our petition, tells us about you!
Perhaps you are thinking that we are at the end of our
journey by now; but the main causes that have kept us longer than some who went
before us are that there were so many rainstorms on the first 300 miles of our
journey that it was difficult to travel because the wheels of the covered
wagons would often sink very deep in the mire, and also that after we came to
the highland, the grazing was and still is very scarce for the animals. And
this is not strange when you consider that from six to seven thousand covered
wagons, each pulled by three to six yoke of oxen, besides several thousand
cattle, sheep, mules, and horses, have passed along this road during this
summer toward the paradise of the Saints and the country of gold; these consume
much of the grass, but If you add to these all the thousands of buffaloes,
antelope, elk, &c., who own, by poor grazing, this wilderness and desolate,
parched land, this together with other considerations caused us to slow down and
be content if we could travel but ten to twelve miles each day, and it was
proved to our satisfaction before that this is the only way we can complete our
journey. There is hardly a day that we do not come across skeletons of the oxen
of those who went before us on the roadside, a monument to their foolishness in
traveling too fast at the beginning of a journey as long as this one.
Not so with us or the other Saints, thanks to the God who
has preserved us. Whereas others leave their animals, their covered wagons, and
thousands of dollars' worth of their provisions along the road, we are enabled,
through the blessing of God, to wend our way steadily and comfortably along,
although slowly; and while we find the graves of others often alongside the
road, we rejoice and give thanks, as will you, that no one has died in our camp
since we left Council Bluffs, nor has there been hardly any sickness. We have
been on this journey now for over three months and have traveled 863 ½ miles,
have ascended to the height of over 7,000 feet above sea level; and almost
unawares we have been surrounded on nearly every side by snowy tops of the
Rocky Mountains, which perpetually dwell in the white clouds. O, majestic
sights!! They are beyond description.
There are between us and the Salt Lake Valley still 164 miles; yet I am
confident that this journey will be finished within fifteen days, with the
blessing of our God. O, hail, blessed day! All the Welsh who are here with me
are living as befits the Saints, acknowledging God in all their ways and
praising Him morning and night for keeping them until now from the captivity of
persecuting Babylon, until their sweet voices resound in unison in the massive
rocks around us, and we almost believe that they with their melodious voices
charm the wolves who play outside our camp at dusk and so far have rendered
them as harmless to us as our flock of sheep.
Since about a week ago nature has put on her white wedding
gown as if to receive some new inhabitants in the fissures of these everlasting
mountains; it spread a white carpet before the door of some who had not taken
care to close the cover of their wagon before night! The snow piled up between
the wagons so that we did not see some of our neighbors until the evening; but
we did not die in the snow this time according to the prophecies of our
enemies. The sun shone pleasantly the second morning! The earth soon changed her
garment, and soon between 200 and 300 wagons could be seen in a majestic row
climbing the steep slopes while all were singing the songs of Zion; and we made camp in the evening under
the crimson smile of the sun of the Western world. The Saints from the Valley
sent more than eighty yoke of oxen over 300 miles to meet us, and great is the
help they are to us. This is brotherly love worthy of emulating, and we
anticipate more each day. All the news we have from the Valley brings joy to
our hearts. May thousands of the race of Gomer soon come after us to the freedom of this country.
The Saints have formed a state in California
by the name of the state of "Deseret" (search
the Book of Mormon for the meaning of the word!) and have sent a petition to
the American government for a dispensation to that effect, which, if granted
now, will fulfill many a prophecy, such as "Your officials will be from
yourselves," & "I shall restore your judges as before, and your councils
as in the beginning." At this time the state officials will be inspired, and
without this arrangement it is impossible for the "kingdom of God"
to be fully established and for its laws to be administered on earth.
Everything works to the good of the Saints in the end, and the whole earth will
know that before much longer.
The Welsh are holding up under the difficulties of this
journey, and are learning to drive oxen better than my expectations, and are
winning praise from all the other camps of the Saints for their organization,
their virtue and their skill, and especially for their singing.
I need not enlarge further here on advice concerning things
and preparations for the journey to those who shall come after us, because
Apostles G. A. Smith and E. T. Benson and myself have
written all those things in great detail to Bro. Williams Morgans,
who is the president of the Welsh settlement in Council Bluffs, and have asked
him to send it to be published in the Udgorn Seion. How far will Brother Davis sound his "Trumpet"
now? My heart longs to hear its voice; I haven't seen one since I saw you. Send
me at least fifty of every number, as you are able, through the hand of Bro.
Pratt. I hope that Bro. Davis is receiving regularly the newspaper that O. Hyde
publishes in Council Bluffs,
according to the agreement I made there. If the above-mentioned directions
reach you, publish them in the Udgorn so that the other Saints who follow us can have, for
free, the information that we had to purchase. May they study them carefully
for their benefit.
I know not when I shall get to see you and the dear Saints
there; but I know this, that it is the true wish of my heart to see all of you
here with me in Zion.
I long more and more continually for your friendship, your
church meetings and the marvelous conferences that we had.
Some of the Saints are worried because the Cholera Morbus snatched away so many of our dear brothers and
sisters on our journey from St. Louis to Council Bluffs, lest that counteract
the cause of God in Wales and keep their dear relatives and friends from
following them; but I say, as Job of old with an easy conscience, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away;
blessed be the name of the Lord!" in spite of how painful it was to my feelings
under the circumstances for death to cruelly tear my dear ones from my bosom.
And I fear that the persecutors of the Saints in Wales have a more necessary task
nearer to home than to set anything foolish against the religion of Christ
because of the death of His Saints.
With respect to the emigration from Wales here, I will
say again as I wrote before, Come on! Oh, that all could come rapidly. Open the
gates, proclaim all the bondsmen of Babylon fee
to come to Zion,
yet in an orderly way; not through flight for a while yet. In spite of that,
everyone who can get hold of 7 to 8 pounds in his pocket to get underway,
counsel him to come to Council Bluffs, where he can meet with loving Welsh
brothers and sisters with their arms wide open to receive him, and direct him
if he cannot come along the way without stopping. By saying this I do not
intend for you to harm the vineyard of God by driving away too many of the
workers at once, but do this in an organized way. May a shipful
come at once, and select seven brave and faithful elders to be in council in
their midst, which will be of one heart and one mind, to keep them all out of
the clutches of the devil, ,for they will be without doubt tried worse and a
thousand times more than in Wales. There is but the Day of Judgment that will
prove the work, the worry, and the fatigue that I went through to keep them all
from the wolves until now.
With respect to the wealthy who pay the cost of the poor to
come over, let them prepare their hearts to forgive them everything if, in
spite of everything, they repay them with unkindness; yet, let them not weary
in well doing, for their reward will be greater from God. The elders will have
their arms full to guide all of them here who profess every
faithfulness before beginning, yet they strive more and more. O, how valuable is the Spirit of God on this journey for
nurturing unity and love and warding off conflict; without this, not even an
angel could lead a company across, I suppose. Pray daily for more of it.
My health is not yet as good as I would wish by far, nor as
good in the last weeks as it was; and if it be possible under the weight of
this heavy burden for any man to get better, I request an interest in the
prayers of my kind brothers and the dear Saints, for strength each day to serve
Remember me and my wife and all the Saints here to your dear
wife and your family and your counselors. Be one in heart.
Remember me lovingly to the council and Saints of Merthyr, Dowlais, Aberdare, Hirwaun, Monmouthshire, &c. But what am
I doing by starting to name names; like children of my bowels I love all
without exception. May the gracious God bless them and keep them to eternal
Remember me to the faithful presidents of the conferences,
and the branches. Let them remember my counsels to them in the last conference
and always, and that which I proclaimed.
Remember me lovingly to all the Saints, which is all I can
say to them now so far away from them, by earnestly pleading with them, as God
would plead with them through me for them, for the sake of their own souls, to
behave according to godliness in all things, so that the very glorious name
which they took on themselves will not be scorned; bid them to listen to the
advice of the priesthood, to pray to God, and live lovingly, honestly, chastely
and righteously; for thus they shall have an abundant entrance into the eternal
resting place of their God.
Now, dear Saints, farewell to you all for a while, although
I have more things to declare than I am able now from here. May the gracious
Lord bless you all with His spirit abundantly, and keep you in the midst of
persecution and strengthen you in trials and save you all in His kingdom is the
sincere prayer of
Yours brother, &c.