by Edward Leo Lyman
Chapter Eight: Exodus and After
[p.371]At the beginning of 1857, as San Bernardino’s founding leaders were summoned to other assignments, all indications were that despite problems the colony was firmly established. Although some settlers desired to return to Utah, most accepted the continuing challenge to clear the ranch debt prior to making any such move. With the rising tide of public antagonism, however, the sentiment for evacuation spread rapidly. Despite stake president William J. Cox’s efforts to fulfill the financial obligations prior to departure, opposing pressures appeared insurmountable. This withdrawal of the majority of citizens from the settlement was orderly and overlaid with dedication to the Mormon cause. Yet when the decision was made to leave, almost one-third of those who had once embraced Mormonism would choose to remain in the comfortable and prosperous location even though they would no longer associate with the church. Some eventually embraced the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Missouri-based church without allegiance to Brigham Young or plural marriage. As for the colony, the loss of two-thirds of its Mormon settlers was a near fatal blow not to be recovered from for almost a generation; even then the community and region developed in ways quite divergent from what it would have been had most of the founding citizens remained. The Mormon hegira may have been equally unfortunate for the church, which, perhaps unnecessarily, relin-[p.372]quished opportunity to continue influencing the entire southern California region during its formative years.
Apostles Lyman and Rich had long been advised that their colonization mission was drawing to a close and that they would soon be expected to supervise the proselytizing efforts of church missionaries in Europe. This change was delayed at least a year to provide more opportunity to clear up the ranch debt, which in 1857 appeared within sight. In early January both colony leaders were directed to return to Utah to resume more direct ecclesiastical responsibilities and to prepare for their European missions. Nothing was said about either one returning to San Bernardino afterward, but Brigham Young had good reason to understand, from previous letters from each apostle, what their personal feelings were on the matter. Charles Rich desired to sever his ties and move his family back to Utah. Amasa Lyman hoped to leave a portion of his family in California, with every indication of resuming at least a part-time relationship with the settlement after his tenure in Europe.1
Apparently no official thought was given to Lyman and Rich being replaced by a church leader of equal stature. Regional assignments were not common among apostles, other than the original settlement missions at Iron County and Carson Valley, Nevada. On the other hand, if President Young had held the California colony and its potential and mission in higher esteem, it would have seemed advisable to place the settlement, unique in distance from the center of Zion, population, and growth potential, under the leadership of someone with more status and discretionary power than a local stake president.
[p.373]In an effort to clarify and resolve ranch matters prior to departure, Lyman and Rich requested a public meeting 30 March at one of the school houses at which the clerk reported a large attendance. After Rich called the gathering to order, the deed from the Lugo family was read and the “judicial possession,” presumably the favorable land commission decision, explained. The ranch map, recently completed and in the process of being approved by federal land commissioners, was displayed. Rich explained the three parcel releases already received from the mortgage holders, with additional discussion of the entire financial situation by both Lyman and Ebenezer Hanks. This was done, according to Richard Hopkins, to refute “the rumors by the opposition” who had previously circulated “all kinds of discouraging reports” that the ranch proprietors were unable to make deeds for lands sold. To further allay fears and ill feelings, the proprietors invited “all who were afraid that they would not get deeds for the land for which they had paid … to call at the [ranch] office where they could get security.” None of those in attendance appeared concerned or responded to the invitation.2
A week later, at the semi-annual April conference, Rich asked the congregation if he and Lyman would leave for Utah with the fellowship, confidence, and best wishes of their longtime associates. Although he cautioned them not to hesitate to express their true feelings, the vote was recorded as unanimous in the affirmative. At the afternoon sessions of the conference, Lyman spoke more philosophically about the greater mission of building up the Kingdom of God, which was not their houses, farms, or the city at large, but “by improving yourselves” by “constant application of the principles of truth of Mormonism to live [their] [p.374]daily religion.” Thus, he concluded, their mission was implementing the gospel and teachings he, Rich, and others had imparted to them from time to time. The senior apostle also alluded to his first California conference talk at Sycamore Grove when he predicted “that if opposition and persecution came upon [them] that it would originate right in [their] midst,” presumably encouraging his listeners to maintain as much harmony among themselves as possible under the circumstances.
Lyman noted the risk to his good name in San Francisco financial circles if the ranch obligations were not fulfilled. He thanked those who had “time and again” contributed to the cause, confessing “naught but pity” for those who had the ability but not the disposition to do so. He entreated the people to sustain Hanks in his great ranch debt burden and to support stake president Cox “better than you have done by us [Lyman and Rich].” In conclusion he cautioned that “it has never been said” that San Bernardino would be the permanent “abiding place of the Saints.” Still, he promised that if the people would sustain their pledges, they would be able to stay at least until they were free from debt. The service concluded with the choir singing “When Shall We All Meet Again?”3
In the weeks following their departure the apostles’ associates were hard-pressed to generate much cooperation in paying for the ranch. Hopkins reported that “some individuals disposed to be generally useful have been addressing people to hold onto their [live]stock and secure [a travel] outfit for we would likely be driven from here.” This, he complained, “of course paralyzed our exertions to a certain extent.” One of the culprits was said to be Bishop William Crosby. Cox chided him, reminding him that he had “covenanted to sustain Brother Hanks in his exertions to redeem the pledges that [had] been made to build up the cause in the land.” Cox spoke publicly on the same subject, advising the [p.375]Saints to “prepare to live here or go where called.” He reminded them that “at present [San Bernardino] was the field of [their] labors” and that they were expected “to stay [there] and when there was [a] different [assignment they] would know it.”4
Cox was countering a sentiment probably generated by the private advice Rich offered to a Brother Durphy some time previously when he counseled the man not to purchase the lands he inquired about but to “save his means to take his family away.” In the month after the apostles’ departure, Cox urged Durphy to keep such talk “to himself.” In a subsequent letter to Rich, Cox complained that the apostle had helped cause “quite a feeling [at San Bernardino] that the Mormons would not stay [there] long” and that belief was “operating against Hanks” so far as raising funds to pay for the ranch was concerned. The stake president affirmed he was “trying to counteract” the belief as best he could, but certainly he was hard-pressed in that effort.5
While Lyman and Rich were making final preparations for departure, bankers Burgoyne and Ness, of the San Francisco financial house holding part of the ranch lien papers, toured southern California and were pleased with the San Bernardino property. Two weeks later another release of a portion of the mortgaged segment of the ranch arrived from the Bay area. However, two months later Hanks received a letter from the main ranch creditors, Pioche and Bayerque, demanding payment of $15,000 by August 1857. The high council convened to devise means of paying the debt, with a similar meeting of other leading brethren the following night. A public meeting was held the following Sunday afternoon to present a proposition that all who [p.376]could should “put in” cash, cattle, horses, and grain. Those who had fully paid for their land were asked to loan what they could spare at the prevailing interest rate of 2.5 percent per month.6
Even after notice of the approach of U.S. army troops toward Utah and amid the continuing financial depression, the colonists continued to meet their commitments. The branch clerk noted that many displayed an “excellent spirit” and “determin[ation] to make a grand effort to pay the debt.” Cox’s July report recorded a renewed dedication to lift “the burden from the shoulders” of the proprietors, with the individual land purchasers pledging their best efforts in this endeavor. The following month several accounts mentioned that some had donated “the last dollar and the last cow” they possessed and were reportedly “still at work trying to raise means” for repayment. The united effort met the immediate demands. Hopkins reported in late August that the community had reduced its remaining debt by half during the past three months. This was, once again, a truly heroic cooperative effort.7
Before the end of August Hanks wrote to George Q. Cannon’s Western Standard at San Francisco to predict that the debt would be reduced to $10,000 by October. The letter, which he doubtless knew would be published, affirmed that with sufficient loan assistance from church members in northern California where the Standard was mainly circulated, the entire debt could be lifted. This would remove the excuse many less-committed members had for not paying their obligations until they could be offered clear title. He reiterated the oft-repeated statement that they had sold sufficient land to liquidate the debts as soon as the [p.377]”half-hearted Mormons and unbelievers” paid what they owed. Cannon gladly added his own appeal that in fact it was not only a good investment, but was “doing a substantial good in the Kingdom of God.” However, any optimism was premature. Immediately after Hanks wrote the letter, Hopkins recorded “there [was] but little general interest to pay the [remaining] ranch debt” despite Hanks’s fervent exertions. Perhaps the realization that his local support was diminishing motivated Hanks to appeal to northern California Saints through the Western Standard. During the first week of September another San Bernardino meeting was called to raise means for the debt, but the result was recorded as “not encouraging.”8
In the absence of additional information it is impossible to explain precisely what influenced the seeming decline in commitment to the ranch indebtedness obligation. Rich noted shorter growth of many plants, which he attributed to numerous foggy mornings, and Hopkins observed that the decreased payments were related to the resulting poor harvest. A related factor may have been sheer exhaustion from incessant demands for servicing the seemingly endless debt. Certainly among the foremost discouragements was the doubt raised by Young’s comments about the colony’s future. In a June address at the Salt Lake City bowery, Young recalled that many had once been anxious for “the whole church” to locate in California with Lyman and Rich. To this he replied: “[I]f we had gone there, this would be about the last year in which any of the saints could stay there.” He argued that the “true situation” was that “hell reigns there,” and it was “just as much as any ‘Mormon’ [could] do to live there.” He continued to observe what may have appeared to many to be advice to the faithful “that it is about time for … every true saint to leave that land.”
[p.378]In a further attempt to show the wisdom of his choice for the main centers of Mormondom, Young asked rhetorically if there were another place on earth where the Saints could overpower “foul spirits and wicked men” as in “the midst of the mountains.” If they had gone from Nauvoo to California or Texas, he answered himself, they would have run into trouble, “and if we had done as many of the brethren wanted us to do in 1847-48, gone to San Bernardino, before this day, we would have been scattered to the four winds. “Joseph Smith, he said, wanted the Saints in the “midst of the mountains. There is the place [where] Joseph said we could build up the Kingdom of God, and all hell could not remove it.” Smith had “talked of” such a move “year after year in [his] private counsels.” Just then, Young claimed, some of the federal government were laying plans to perhaps disperse the Saints, and he was probably correct that his people were in a better position to resist than in any other locality that could have been found. His speech was published in the Deseret News in mid-June and would be available for reading in San Bernardino within a month. Such comments from God’s spokesman undoubtedly caused many to become less dedicated to San Bernardino.9
Young’s private feelings about California had never varied, but this was the first time he had publicly stated them so clearly. He was even more critical in private. In a letter to Cannon he commented that when he designated California with the “delightful sobriquet” of “hell,” he assumed the people who followed him would soon be tired of the place. He “could hardly think that they would so soon kiss the rod which has smitten them” by bowing to the outside world which had persecuted them in the past, though not in the golden state. The church leader then cautioned young Cannon regarding emigrations to Utah to leave the seemingly [p.379]abundant human dross among the California Mormons where they were, saying, “Do not advise persons to emigrate who would not serve God when they got here [to Utah], as such are only a drag to those who are faithful, and the more we have of them the poorer we are.” Young went on to advise his correspondent to inform prospective gatherers to Zion “what they may expect when they get here, that is, to hold themselves in readiness to forward the interests of God’s Kingdom, even the laying down of their lives, should the exigencies of time require them.” Within a year the church leader may have been truly surprised at how many from California demonstrated just such willingness to sacrifice all that they had.
In the same letter Young commented on other developments that made California less than a priority. In the new colony on the Rio Virgin, in the hottest corner of the Utah territory, cotton, indigo, and other warm-climate crops were flourishing. Raising produce that could only be cultivated in warm climates had been one of Young’s reasons for consenting to the southern California colony. Sugar, cotton, olive oil, and wine were among articles desired. As near as can be determined, San Bernardino Mormons never attempted to produce any of these, with the exception of wine for local consumption, which doubtless did little to ingratiate the settlement to Young. Now the church leader had good prospects for self-sufficiency without the need of California. By 1857 Young had his own express company flourishing on the northern Great Plains and was in the process of considering a series of permanent way-stations in the Black Hills, designed as resting places for Mormons not yet able to complete the crossing to Utah. It is certain that interest in San Bernardino as an entry point for immigrants had waned.10
[p.380]At about the same time California Saints became aware of Young’s attitude, a local episode occurred with significant political and some financial impact. During an August meeting Cox requested that fifty settlers make good on a previous promise that if necessary they would “pay for the whole of the ranch.” Assemblyman Jefferson Hunt, perhaps in a sincere effort to bolster their resolve, made a speech that insulted Brother Gale and a number of others, creating a situation serious enough that Cox intervened, saying he had convened, the meeting and presumed he could “get through it” without abusing anyone. Hunt thereupon removed his name from the list of those committed to assist as promised, which in turn elicited comments that a half dozen others had made greater pledges than he. The incident clearly alienated a number of participating brethren from the longtime assemblyman, and stake president Cox soon requested that Hunt be reassigned to a Utah location for his own benefit. Although he apparently apologized at some point, this may have bolstered the resolve of some to replace him in the state assembly, although the unpopularity noticeable in the previous election may have been equally as great a factor in his not being renominated.11
In mid-summer a committee calling themselves the “law-abiding Democrats of San Bernardino” asked Cox to designate a committee of Mormon Democrats to consult with them to determine a mutual slate of candidates for the coming county elections. Some of these people were described as never having been Mormons, and others as lapsed church members but “not of the radical” or anti-Mormon kind. The group was clearly the moderates who had supported A.D. Boren in the previous assembly campaign against Duff Weaver. Eventually a committee of seven [p.381]from this “middle” party met with a like number of church political activists and selected candidates who were subsequently presented to the general party membership at a mass meeting.12
At about the same time the anti-Mormons who also put forth a slate of candidates attempted to gain recognition and party standing by sending their own separate delegation to the Democratic district convention at Los Angeles. In the ensuing contest, featuring several anti-Mormon speeches, party officials decided to examine the past voting record of each contesting delegate. The moderates had all voted a straight party ticket in the recent presidential election, while all but two of the opposing contestants had voted for Republican John C. Fremont. As a result all six moderates were granted seats at the convention and only two anti-Mormons with adequate voting credentials gained recognition. However, the candidate supported by the Mormons for their state senate seat, Cave Coutts of San Diego County, was defeated as Cameron E. Thom of Los Angeles, backed by the anti-Mormons, won the nomination and election.13
The coalition party, sometimes called the “Harmonalists,” succeeded in replacing Hunt in the assembly. Dr. Isaac W. Smith, who had resided for several years at the San Gorgonio rancho he purchased from Pauline Weaver, claimed to be a cousin of Mormonism’s founding prophet, Joseph Smith, and thus attracted support from church members. Although they backed him in the election contest, most of the faithful would no longer reside in his district when he took office the following January. This accommodation with outside political interests might have been considerably significant had the Mormon faithful remained at San Bernardino. It would have normalized politics sufficiently that the two dozen extremists could thereafter have been ig-[p.382]nored. Perhaps of more long-term importance, the development might have opened the way for resuming cordial relations in all aspects of life with most Southland gentiles had not external factors intervened to dash such prospects.14
While dedication to paying the ranch debt may have declined, a majority of residents still considered themselves full-fledged Latter-day Saints. Although Hopkins reported some defiance and bishopric member Warren observed some of the “milk and water” Mormons disobeyed church leaders more boldly since Lyman and Rich left, others were “living nearer to God than formerly, feeling since [the apostles departed] a greater responsibility rested upon them[selves].” Similarly Cox informed Young that a large number of “good saints” were “willing to obey counsel at all times and [were] all earnest to do right and assist in any emergency,” as they would soon demonstrate.15
After Lyman and Rich departed, Cox sought to establish direct correspondence with Young, asking for whatever direction he would give and pledging full submission. Young answered promptly that Cox should lead by example through love, not compulsion. Young thereafter conscientiously sent a similar letter each month. But never in the continuing exchange did he give encouragement for the future of San Bernardino. In fact, in his first reply to Cox he offered the frustrating suggestion that they “build up and beautify the place you now inhabit, not as a permanent abode, but to prepare you to beautify other portions of the earth … ”
In early August, soon after Young discovered that army detachments were advancing toward Utah, presumably, he asserted, [p.383]to hang him “with or without trial,” he wrote Cox and Bishop Crosby, directing them to “make arrangements as fast as possible to gather up [to] these [Utah] valleys.” Young felt that in the event of trouble in Utah, the California Saints should expect similar problems. “[L]et all the faithful therefore take warning,” he advised, “and be preparing suitable teams, wagons, etc., necessary to transport themselves and families to a place of safety” presumably among their fellow believers in Utah. As previously noted, Young counseled them to assemble quietly what guns and ammunition they could without attracting notice.16
Cox was stuck, then, between his specific assignment to cancel the ranch debt and Young’s advice to prepare for imminent departure. He acknowledged the direction from Young in early September, promising they would procure teams, wagons, arms, and ammunition, although there was no known general call upon the Saints to do so. Certainly no public announcement was made in California that the president of the church had ordered them to prepare to return to Utah or leave San Bernardino. With what he considered some flexibility in this counsel, Cox chose to keep the matter quiet for a time while they made one more attempt to cancel the oppressive debt. In his reply to Young he made it dear that discharging the ranch mortgage remained his highest priority. “[W]e are now doing our utmost to liquidate the mortgage for our ranch,” he wrote, adding they had raised a great deal but still had a substantial amount to gather by October.17
[p.384]The closest thing to an evacuation plan expressed at that time came from original colonist John Hughes, recently returned from a mission to the Oregon territory, who reiterated the old policy that they first free themselves “from the indebtedness and then prepare to leave when called upon.”18 That remained essentially the stake presidency’s approach, although they clearly did not wish to stimulate interest in withdrawal until the debt was resolved. Keeping the colonists from planning a mass return to Zion was far from easy because individuals were, on occasion, receiving contrary advice directly from Utah.
A case in point was the situation of Orlando H. Carter who had not only served as a counselor in a bishopric but had recently returned from a short mission to northern California. Somehow, probably through Cannon at San Francisco, he became convinced that he was free to return to Salt Lake City, despite continuing ranch obligations. Young wrote a specific request for his release in early September 1857, but long before Cox received the document, Carter had started with his family for Utah. J. Henry Rollins confided to Lyman that Carter “feels bad” about leaving without the proper recommend, but added that he believed he was at liberty to so act. Rollins thought he should have stayed, at least until the following spring, when the debt was expected to be liquidated. He surmised to Lyman that “perhaps he has forgotten the covenant he made when the place was bought and before it was bought,” referring to the two instances when the original brethren, including Carter, had pledged to stand by their leaders in the planting and purchasing of the colony. Rollins acknowledged that Carter believed he was doing right, but suggested “his way of right may be different from ours, yet honest and faithful in the cause.” He expressed hope that [p.385]those in Utah would not regard Carter as anything but a firm advocate of the movement they were all engaged in. He did not wish the brother he considered to be in error to be placed under the “old law,” which would regard him as recreant in his assigned mission and therefore beyond the bounds of full fellowship. Rollins had no way of knowing that Carter had the tacit support of Young. Nevertheless the case illustrates the pressures and dilemmas faced by those still in San Bernardino at this particularly difficult time and perhaps, once again, the lack of full support from the highest church authority.19
The barrage of negative publicity from dissenters and the regional press, coupled with Young’s comments, caused some of the faithful to wish they could leave as soon as possible. William Warren complained of their enemies’ constant harassment and predicted that it would not subside. He hoped they could get the debt paid promptly, as he had for some time been “heartily tired staying in [that] place.” He then confessed, “I sometimes think that Brother Carter done well in taking an independent course and going to the Lake [Salt Lake City],” but conceded that this was wrong in principle. Not being able to fight back in any meaningful way frustrated Warren, who admitted he was inclined to give them some of their own medicine.20
The dilemmas of extricating one’s family from the southern California venture are illustrated by the case of William Matthews, Cox’s first counselor in the stake presidency. While in Utah in the late summer he had been personally advised by Young “to get away and shift things as soon as possible.” This, he later confessed to Young, could not be done without causing a general excitement for others to make a similar move. Some of Matthews’s property was free from obligations, but attempting to sell might jeopardize the possibility of ever getting the remainder of [p.386]his and other land titles cleared by stimulating a frenzy of selling, anticipating that “others will pull up stakes and follow” the course Young was recommending to him. Since the mortgage holders would give no further partial releases, the uncleared land could not be sold until the remainder of the ranch debt, then standing at $17,000 with recently compounded interest, was paid. The outlook was even more bleak, Matthews informed Young, because the “spirit of paying for the ranch [was] nearly dead,” although he affirmed hopes of reviving such commitments. He proposed that perhaps these obstacles could be avoided if the church president sent a written permit for his family to return. By the time Young sent such a document, however, events had transpired that seemingly necessitated mass abandonment of the colony.21
Brigham Young’s requests to release both Carter and Matthews from their financial responsibilities at San Bernardino are further evidence of his lack of understanding or sympathy for the crucial nature of their promises to remain involved there as a group until the full debt was liquidated. Likely he did not have much regard for maintaining the Mormon credit standing among the despised gentiles, and probably he considered Lyman and Rich as having placed too much value on such things. It certainly would not bolster the resolve of others engaged in canceling the debt if they understood that two of their most prominent local leaders had obtained releases from the head of the Church from further financial obligations regarding their California missions.
In early November Hanks wrote Lyman and Rich to inform them of the colony’s current situation. If they received notice of “a collision” in Utah between Mormons and the United States troops, he reported, there would “not be left in San Bernardino [p.387]one saint.” There was clearly widespread commitment to assist Utah if armed conflict arose. On the other hand, Hanks implied that not all of the faithful had concluded that it was necessary for them to evacuate the settlement to remain in good standing in the church, clearly differentiating between those who planned to leave sometime within the next half year and those, like himself, who planned to stay in San Bernardino. Those desirous of remaining were sufficient to maintain a viable branch of the church. Hanks reported to his absent partners as late as 5 November that he had recently fenced a good deal of the company farmland and expected to complete other substantial sections before the end of the year. Rollins had not been an enthusiastic candidate for reelection as county assessor but planned to remain at his post to fulfil his obligations in that office. Besides this, in early October Rollins and Hanks were anticipating establishing a new store, hardly an endeavor to be undertaken by anyone contemplating imminent departure. Charles Crismon continued to expand his milling and distilling operations, and Daniel Starks had just received grist mill machinery he intended to install, probably along the mission zanja.22
Realizing that they needed to enable ranch land purchasers to secure clear tire to their property so they could dispose of it prior to embarking for Utah, Hanks and Hopkins devised a debt refinance plan. Using an offer from prosperous San Diego County rancher Stephen C. Foster for a loan of up to $15,000 at the prevailing interest rate, they intended to cancel the loan to [p.388]Pioche, Bayerque, and Company and put up sufficient released private property to stand as security on the new loan. This would “leave the saleable land unencumbered” and thus easier to dispose of. Unfortunately the scheme was a casualty of the evacuation panic that ensued during the fall and winter of 1857.23
The anxiety to evacuate southern California that autumn stemmed primarily from threats uttered by the growing number of opponents in the region in the wake of the Mountain Meadows Massacre and associated events. Several San Bernardino correspondents mentioned the presumed intent of the Rakabites to arouse sufficient anti-Mormon sentiment—with or without the sanction of law—to drive the believing Mormons from their homes, if not back to Utah. Francis Lyman reported to his father on the hostility of street talk, including statements by some that if any of their friends had been among the number recently murdered, “they would kill the first damned Mormon that they met.” One of the Duke-Turner party, some of whom were reportedly remaining at San Bernardino to seek retribution for property lost on the trail, stepped into the street and boasted that he would kill the first man who admitted he was a Mormon. According to the San Francisco Alta California, a newly arrived immigrant from Australia came forward and affirmed his affiliation, upon which the gunman commenced firing. One bullet passed through the man’s hat and hair as he sought cover.24
When a substantial group of Australian emigrants arrived at San Pedro harbor, one missionary, William Wall, traveled to Los Angeles to procure transportation for the company. While spending the night at a hotel, the immigrant leader received a [p.389]note saying that his life was endangered by a mob gathering to seize him. The message advised him to leave his room promptly and come to a spot that his supposed friend, giving the incorrect first name of a well-known Mormon, designated. Meanwhile Dr. Andrews, who had served with Wall in the Utah militia during in the Walker War of 1853, attempted to persuade Los Angeles authorities to arrest the missionary for crimes allegedly committed prior to his mission. He was unsuccessful, although one account states that a lynch mob placed a noose around Wall’s neck before other citizens prevailed. Wall and his fellows eventually made their way safely to San Bernardino. Still the incident was further evidence that Mormons were not safe anywhere in the Southland at that volatile time. The several direct threats to the well-being of believers certainly helped predispose many, if not most, to be anxious to harken to any calls to abandon the increasingly inhospitable Southland.25
One young original colonist, Collins Hakes, concerned for the safety of his new bride, later recalled that “all the word seemed determined to destroy the Mormons and their religion.” He noted particularly reports of a movement to “raise an army of men sufficient to wipe out the settlement at San Bernardino and it seemed that we either had to denounce our connection with the Mormon church or break up and return to Utah.” Under such circumstances Hakes, his family, and most of his neighbors saw little choice but to withdraw.26
Young’s next letter to Cox and Crosby arrived at the end of October with more specific instructions. The “time appears to be near at hand, when you will either have to abandon your faith or your present locality and escape to Utah as best you can,” Young wrote. Noting the warm climate, he mentioned the probability [p.390]”that it may soon become altogether too warm” to be a residence for Latter-day Saints. Young offered his strongest directive yet on the matter, saying, “It is certainly advisable and my counsel that all in your place and region who desire to live as becometh saints should use all diligence to make their way into Utah with what they may be able to come with,” adding that they could probably bring more now than they would be allowed to escape with later on.27
This was as pointed and specific as any direction Young ever gave the San Bernardino leaders, and it should have been sufficient for prompt action toward evacuation. Yet even then Cox chose to take the letter as advice rather than as mandatory orders. According to the branch clerk, upon receiving the letter the stake president intended immediately to send a few, presumably of the more anxious or debt-free San Bernardino residents, to Utah, “then in a short time, or as soon as [they could] arrange [their] debts,” the remainder would be allowed to so proceed. This was the policy the stake presidency “intimated” to some of the high council. But, Hopkins divulged, “as is generally the case they [each] had some particular friend to tell and that friend had to tell others, until our community [was] in a fervor of excitement.” Thus Brigham Young’s instructions reached the general membership of the San Bernardino colony during the first days of November 1857, despite Cox’s best intentions to maintain the commitment to the ranch debt some time longer. There were no further attempts to counter the sentiment to abandon the settlement as quickly as possible.28
After word of Young’s letter leaked, probably from a high council meeting Sunday evening, 1 November, Cox concluded to finish spreading the notice quietly to each family through regu-[p.391]larly assigned ward teachers. The instructions were that San Bernardino residents had been called to leave for Utah as soon—and with “as little noise”—as possible. At that point there was undoubtedly more difficulty procuring the necessary teams and wagons than there would have been if such quiet orders had gone out among the faithful when Brigham Young first instructed that action. As it was, the Saints were compelled to sacrifice their homes and property of several years’ labor for a “fit out” for the trip. The worship service six days later included a public statement that the Saints were “now all at liberty to go to Salt Lake if they wished to do so,” admonishing them to make themselves as comfortable as they could, referring to the equipment and supplies they should carry.
Even in this virtual “release” from their mission, Cox counseled his listeners to “pay all their debts” prior to leaving, which for at least some of the faithful meant a last appeal to clear their ranch property.29 During the hectic ensuing weeks among the most crucial activities in the settlement were visits to the Council House office to pay outstanding debts on the lots formerly purchased to secure clear title to their home and farm plots that were not otherwise encumbered in order to sell them. Well over fifty of these transactions were recorded within three weeks, with many others similarly cleared over the ensuing several months. In almost every case the court records indicate immediate sale at a price less than they originally paid to one of the eager purchasers flocking into the area at that time to take advantage of the good buys. The general impression reported in the newspapers, apparently accurate, is that lands were devalued by half to two-thirds, with almost no monetary regard for the extensive improvements, including houses, fences, and irrigation systems.30
[p.392]This was a time of heart-wrenching decisions for the majority of the 3,000 Latter-day Saints then living at San Bernardino. Some who chose to remain in the warmer climate—where their fields, vineyards, and orchards were just reaching the height of their productive capacity—would later reconsider and move to Utah, probably with more calmness and less loss. A substantial number of those who left with the main body eventually returned. As one of the most candid of the diarists, Louisa B. Pratt, surveyed the “beautiful place” she had established through hard labor, she concluded obediently: “I felt in my heart bound with cords of love to the church. With the Saints I must go.” San Bernardino, she believed, would become a “community of strangers.” Pratt correctly noted that in these decisions there was no outward compulsion, but that “everyone was at liberty to act free: either to go or stay.”31
Young’s letter had conveyed precisely that spirit. “[T]he saints in your region,” he wrote, “have had lengthy notice that Utah alone is the gathering place for us, at least for the present, still if you choose so to do you are of course, in acting out your human agency, at liberty to hang on where you are as long as your fingers can retain their grip.” The next month Young argued that “to all appearances you are left but a limited time and a narrow chance to either sell off and start for Utah at such advantages as may readily offer, or hold on with the chances greatly against you for having to leave in a hurry and with no outfit or property of any description.” He had earlier urged William Matthews not to [p.393]be too particular as to the amount of sacrifice of property such a move may require since the strong presumption was “that the longer you hold on there the worse you will be off.” Young concluded by predicting that “a continued effort to hang on … and wait for better times and better prospects for turns and sales can, in all probability, only result in greater final loss.”32 In each of his letters he stressed the vital tenet of “free agency.” But even the visiting newspaper reporters recognized the fervent determination to “obey counsel,” whatever that was perceived to be. And no matter how vague the wording of the actual letters, that perception was undoubtedly typified by Caroline B. Crosby’s interpretation that the “Word of the Lord from the prophet is to come to the valley of the mountains as soon as possible.”33
Louisa B. Pratt later observed that the San Bernardino Latter-day Saint community was the best she had ever seen. She believed that although God oversaw its disbandment, it was “terrible, even resembling a great shipwreck at sea, where all is sacrificed.” Yet, she affirmed, “those who sacrificed their hard-earned property [did so] because they believed the honor of the Kingdom of God required that they should show their attachment and fidelity to the cause of truth by gathering up to the mountains when danger threatened the saints.” Pratt sold the house and lots which had cost her $1,600 for $400 in cash and another $200 in merchandise, giving her a considerably better bargain than most were able to secure. Not long after completing the move, when trying to plant a garden in Utah’s frozen ground, she confessed: “I mourned the loss of my beautiful home in that genial climate.” When the new occupants of her house wrote to her, she recalled that this was the sixth time she had left a home and essentially wasted her “hard earned articles of comfort and [p.394]convenience.” Her sister, Caroline Crosby, whose husband and son had spent much time the past year constructing a literal dream home which they had barely moved into, first asked $500 for the house and lots and finally exchanged them for two yoke of oxen and a wagon. Caroline’s diary, so full of details on most things important to her, mentions all of the aspects of the bargaining and transactions but records no remorse or reservations about giving up her property for the third time in her life. She probably agreed with the comment of a less dedicated associate that it would be some time before she would be as well-situated again. Still she accepted the changes without a murmur or a questioning look backward.34
Incredulous newspaper observers were convinced that the San Bernardino Saints were glad to sacrifice their property and thereby show their dedication to the mandate to gather to Zion. The correspondent to the Sacramento Daily Union stated that “one cannot hardly believe, until he has seen its effects in person, what fanaticism and religious delusion will cause people to do, who are otherwise rational and sane.” The Mormon citizens, he reported, were selling their property “for just what they can get, which you may be sure is not much when people know they are bound to sell out anyway.” An Alta correspondent sent to witness “the hegira of all the saints” in California noted that in the two weeks of mid-November the citizens had “effected sales of the property at ridiculously low prices; house, lands, crops, furniture &c. they sold at one third their value.” The city was, as always, [p.395]described as neat, comfortable, and prosperous, but the reporter observed, “All these are sacrificed—abandoned—and a whole community, numbering 2,000 souls, puts itself upon the road in winter, to suffer the privation and hardships which they well know must be suffered in seeking a new home” in Utah. The evacuation was reported to be notably quiet. In the evening the families were “about town and in the morning they are not seen,” with “men, women and children go[ing] without a murmur” and with “countenances lighted with stern joy.”35
It may be impossible to determine to what extent the anti-Mormons, suspected of desiring this withdrawal of the faithful, actually profited from these developments. Those so inclined and with the requisite capital, such as John Brown, must have done well financially, not only acquiring lands they intended to use for themselves and their family, but also by serving as brokers for outside investors. The county deed book indicates that in the last six weeks of 1857 Brown acquired at least thirteen lots for an average price of fifty dollars each. With the entire city block he had acquired the previous year, he became the largest landholder in the area. When the Yucaipa ranch land he sold to James Waters that year is also taken into account, Brown was not only a busy but a prosperous land owner and dealer at that time.36
Although there is little available documentation of the rationale of those choosing to remain in California, some comments were noted. Young Agnes Smith, sister of Ina Coolbrith, informed her Pratt and Crosby friends that she and her mother would never move to Utah “until they had some means of supporting themselves after they got there.” They recalled having once resided there “in a destitute condition and knew how bad [p.396]it was.”37 Such frank comments would have been fully endorsed by many inclined to stay, particularly among those who had left the territory during the recent famine years in Zion and perhaps after they had lost a portion of their fervor for Mormonism and its promises of greater rewards in the hereafter through sacrifices on earth.
Similarly there is little recorded questioning of the causes for the withdrawal. However, one independent family, including the wife, Francis Clark, who had once defied Heber C. Kimball’s counsel to abandon her place among his substantial group of wives, and her present husband, George Clark, confided to friends that they would not “hurry off very soon, at least until they could dispose of their property.” A month later Francis concluded to go to northern California to reside temporarily with her husband’s brother. While her husband planned to journey temporarily to Utah, they both “expressed great doubt with regard to the propriety of Governor Young’s movements,” holding that his defiance of the government was premature if not unwise. The couple was strongly admonished by friends to obey counsel and cultivate “full confidence” in their leaders. The Clarks’ opinions were probably widely held among those who remained in California, as most of their family did. Dr. McIntyre and his wife also expressed dissatisfaction with the people’s disposition to sacrifice so extensively.38
In December Elder Henry G. Boyle returned from a short mission to northern California where he had convinced a dozen lapsed Mormon families to recommit and emigrate either to Utah or San Bernardino. On the overland journey back to southern California, his traveling companions noticed excitement regarding the movements of Mormons, yet they nevertheless procured supplies, including additional arms, before moving on to San [p.397]Bernardino. Upon arrival there the missionary was appalled at the condition of his old home city. He observed, “The apostates and mobocrats [were] prowling around trying to raise a row [and] trying to stir up the people to bloodshed and every wicked thing. It is like hell to live in the midst of such spirits.” He surmised that such people coveted their property and livestock and “then they thirst for [Mormon] blood.” He later concluded, “I think I shall feel like I had been released from hell when I shall have got away from [San Bernardino].”39
Soon after Boyle returned to the Mormon settlement, President Cox assigned him to take nominal charge of the considerable number of Latter-day Saints already encamped at Cajon Pass and along the Mojave River. He intercepted several companies of his recent mission associates coming overland by way of Tulare and the Tehachapi Pass. At council fires in the evening he relayed Cox’s advice that these members change their plans and head directly for Utah rather than completing their intended trek to San Bernardino. He organized the small groups spread along a forty-mile stretch of the Mojave into companies of from ten to thirty wagons for their journeys across the desert to the northeast. For the benefit of recouping scarce water supplies along the road, a new company embarked every other day, after spending two or three weeks along the river allowing draft animals to gather strength from the natural grasslands.40
A Los Angeles Star article on the Mormon encampments stated that 100 wagons loaded with emigrants were waiting their turns to cross the forbidding wastelands. The writer, undoubtedly with a measure of literary license, announced that 50 marriages had been performed at the encampments, along with 25 babies born, concluding with levity that all was not drudgery on the [p.398]emigrant trail. The figures appear inflated, although all phases of life did go on during the massive evacuation.41
In fact, the diary of Boyle, an eligible young widower later involved in plural marriage, records plenty of courtship interest while he was engaged in fulfilling his assignment among the Mormon camps. He associated with seven or eight different single daughters of emigrants. On several occasions he mentioned riding ahead on horseback with pleasant and interested young female companions while their families’ wagons moved more slowly downstream to the next camp. On one occasion he observed that his associate for the day was a fine woman who would “make some man a good wife.” There were references to walks in the woods, moonlight strolls, and gathering wild grapes. On several instances Boyle gave lessons to young ladies in shooting pistols, organizing contests of marksmanship at which he reported his pupils quite proficient. He later wrote three letters to different female river companions, delivered by passing horsemen. On at least one occasion he confessed he would like to see one of the girls again, although none of them ever became his wife.42
Two weeks after the frenzied preparation to abandon San Bernardino began, the Star noticed its neighbors’ “speedy departure for Salt Lake City.” The reporter did not know if the cause was a call from church leaders or dissatisfaction with gentile neighbors. Whatever the reason, the paper cited reports of “sales of valuable property being made there, at great sacrifice,” further urging that those desiring good real estate investment opportunities should take advantage of the situation. The newspaper, which had not mentioned anything positive about the Mormons for many issues, then conceded that “from our acquaintance with the people of San Bernardino, we must say, that we know them [p.399]to be a peaceable, industrious, and law-abiding community.” The Star commented that “under great disadvantages, they have cultivated their farms, and caused the ranch … [formerly] almost unproductive, to teem with the choicest products of the field and garden.” Aside from some religious peculiarities, the article concluded, “we know them to be good citizens and cheerfully testify to the fact.” Such compliments a month earlier, particularly in place of the inflammatory articles the paper published, might have helped stem the tide of hostility toward the California Mormon colony. But coming when it did, this was too late.43
One church member already camped at Sycamore Grove and preparing to embark for Utah took occasion to reply to the Star. He acknowledged the compliments but criticized his southern California neighbors for not following more fully the Latter-day Saint example in righteous living. Then, more pointedly, he condemned, not unjustly, the “continual bellowing of the press, exposing (pretendingly) the iniquity of the Mormons,” and essentially allowing itself to become the tool of lying men interested in causing the Latter-day Saints to “become basely misrepresented.” The writer testified that he and his colleagues were anxiously returning to Zion, prepared to sacrifice their lives for its redemption or protection of its residents, and in the process he expressed their willingness to leave California to its own fate as a center of wickedness unrestrained.44
These comments raised the question of the extent to which California Latter-day Saints abandoned their colony to assist their Utah friends in resisting the invasion of Johnston’s Army, as traditional historical accounts have long contended. Defending Zion was the primary motivation of some, but for the majority it was the broader desire to demonstrate full obedience and devo-[p.400]tion in whatever manner they perceived to be indicated by their ecclesiastical leaders. As Amasa Lyman returned to help escort the Saints on their way to Utah in mid-January, he reported to Young that they were not only in good spirits but desirous above all to demonstrate their commitment “to act according to the counsel of those who advise[d] them.” At the same time another Star article, undoubtedly based on firsthand input from some of the faithful, concluded that despite reports of destitution at the Utah destination of the evacuation “yet the brethren and sisters [were] still desirous of pressing on to Zion, so that they may obtain [their] ‘endowments’ and be considered worthy to suffer for and with the church.” Jefferson Hunt, one of those most attached to San Bernardino, typified the attitude pivotal to disbandment. As an Alta California reporter accurately assessed, this original promoter of the colony was “strongly opposed to the break-up of the settlement, wishing earnestly to remain and enjoy the pleasant surroundings which their industry had built up.” But, the writer concluded, “the order was regarded as preemptory and he preferred to sacrifice his prosperity and his enjoyments to illustrate his faith in his prophets.” Ultimately, once the crisis began, the cause of the final demise of the colony proved to be the fervent desire to follow counsel and to be numbered among those prepared to sacrifice their all for their church. Whether Young was correct or not concerning his decision to recall the Saints, once the people understood what he desired, interpreting his letter as what one newspaper designated “a powerful mandate,” they acted with great dispatch to carry out those wishes.45
The opposite side of this question, concerning Young’s motives, is an equally crucial factor. Although Professor George William Beattie possessed only a portion of the documentary [p.401]evidence of Young’s bias against the colony, he arrived at an accurate conclusion as to the real cause of its demise. He discounted the view that the evacuation was for the sake of military aid to Utah. If such were the case, only the able-bodied men would have withdrawn for the duration of the crisis, as had been the custom throughout the world during wartime. Instead, Beattie concluded: “[T]he frenzy of a ‘Holy War’ simply made it easier to carry out a purpose determined upon before any conflict with the United States Government was in prospect—that of drawing Mormons more closely within the personal influence of the great leader, Brigham Young, in order to prevent their drifting away from the Church into apostasy.” Although there was actually little evidence of such a weakened spiritual condition among the majority in California, the church leader had desired the colony disbanded for years for reasons not unlike what Beattie described. The presumed imminence of conflict with Johnston’s Army gave Young a viable pretext not available up to that time.46
During the evacuation Cox reported to Lyman and Rich that ill feelings existed among some ranchland purchasers about the current state of affairs—probably referring to those holding only bonds for deeds instead of saleable documents. Without giving much assurance, he affirmed hope that the partners would yet “come off honorably with the community with whom you have been connected in former years.” He reported that Hanks was in the San Francisco area seeking as large an additional release as possible, although he took little additional payment money with him. Cox believed that Hanks had “done his utmost to do everything in his power for this one object,” to honorably liquidate the debt and property release so that the credit and reputations of Lyman and Rich would be unsullied. He added that [p.402]Hanks had the full confidence of every person who yet possessed a spark of “true Mormonism.”47
In San Francisco Hanks secured a small release of additional land but once again failed to obtain the needed loans from the prosperous Mormons still residing in northern California. Alone, Hanks was being pressed from both sides. Those who owed the ranch funds were not making payments, while the creditors, including the San Francisco primary lien holders who had already granted several extensions, including a final one since August, were more than impatient. With this pressure, and understanding the need to clear the title for those anxious to sell their property, Hanks “couldn’t see any other way only to sell,” as he later confided to Rich. He engaged a group of purchasers, including William A. Conn of San Francisco, George L. Tucker and Richard G. Allen of Sacramento, and Bethel Coopwood of El Monte, willing to pay the remaining $18,000 owed to Pioche, Bayerque, and Company. In turn, the businessmen would receive full title to most of the property owned by Lyman, Rich, and Hanks, which comprised approximately 25,000 acres of unoccupied land of excellent potential. The old proprietors apparently hoped only to clear their names. The agreement probably allowed the new owners to collect whatever outstanding obligations they could while undertaking no obligation to forward such funds to the sellers.48
Debts remained unpaid to Mormons who had loaned funds after their own lands had been paid for. Most of these probably accepted nonpayment, another sacrifice in regard to their California missions. Certainly none suffered greater financial losses than Hanks, who had sold valuable property in the mother lode [p.403]region to fulfil his perceived mission at San Bernardino. He invested at least $25,833 in debt repayments to assume his third of the ranch property. His report to Lyman and Rich in the late fall of 1857 suggests that he was virtually broke. The apostles had consistently denied any interest in profit, although they certainly could have used some funds to help finance their contemplated missions to Europe. Their vineyard in the mission district soon became one of the most valuable in California.49 The 25,000 acres of potentially irrigable valley land would prove to be some of the nation’s most productive in the ensuing century. In later years Rich did fairly well financially in another colony in the Bear Lake area of northern Utah and southern Idaho, but Lyman continued to struggle in poverty and provided rather poorly for his considerable families. Hanks did little better at marginally productive Hanksville, Utah.
The real tragedy of the ranch sale was that it was not necessary. In December 1857, probably as soon as he discovered orders had been sent to evacuate, Lyman wrote his former California associates to “remain perfectly quiet and not to sacrifice their property.” He assured them that “all will be made right” in Utah, that “a compromise would be effected,” and that the crisis was passing. As the Alta California observed in mid-January 1858, “this letter appear[ed] like a bitter mockery to the sufferers.” Unfortunately, the paper continued, Hanks had completed the ranch sale just two days before the letter arrived. Hanks lamented, “[I]f I hadn’t of made the sale before your letter came, I wouldn’t have made it.” Four years later the transcontinental telegraph could have prevented this turn of events. Still Brigham Young had given what was considered an order to disengage from California, and it was largely obeyed. It is doubtful if Lyman fully agreed with the policy advocated, and equally unlikely that [p.404]his own subsequent letter would have received full approval from Young, but it was not the first time they had disagreed over the California colony. Had they but known, the San Bernardino Saints had weathered the worst of the storm. But they could not recognize that without more prompt and accurate information from Utah. The Alta observed that the land Hanks sold was easily worth $100,000, over five times the sale price. If the industrious citizens who began developing it had remained at their task, the five-sevenths of the land not yet sold would have been worth many times that.50
As soon as the exodus began, Cox sent the best teams and wagons in the hands of brethren who were instructed to return for another load of human cargo and necessities as soon as possible. A few days later Cox appealed to Young for assistance. Apostle Kimball, Cox reminded Young, had preached that a time would come when the Utah Saints would be obliged to assist the California Mormons to “return to the church.” Cox went on: “I am now willing that his prophesy should come to pass, and accept his long-rejected invitation, that it may in very deed be literally fulfilled.” His first counselor, Matthews, made a similar plea.51
Upon receiving these appeals, Young dispatched Lyman, whose foreign mission had been indefinitely postponed, southward with instructions to gather teams and wagons to assist with the evacuation. In the meantime he advised that if the California [p.405]leaders found themselves “particularly hurried” by existing circumstances, they should transport the people to Las Vegas, only halfway to the Utah destinations but well within the realm of safety. Contrary to traditional accounts that the Nevada Mormon colony was disbanded because of the approach of Johnston’s Army, it had been closed for other reasons months before news of that development. As Lyman moved along the chain of southern Utah settlements, Iron County stake president William H. Dame noted that he “caused the boys to stir a little in the accomplishment of the desired object.” Later, on Christmas Day at Santa Clara, the apostle reported that “the brethren [had] responded to the call for help to remove the saints from the south with a hearty good will.” He gathered twenty teams and wagons, including eight from San Bernardino returning for a second trip. By the time they arrived at the Mojave River camps, used as a headquarters because it was not safe for Lyman to reappear at San Bernardino, he discovered that most of those desiring to depart were already on their way. He sent orders back to Las Vegas for the drivers of additional wagons to return home. By mid-January the apostle reported to church headquarters that the emigration from San Bernardino was “progressing as fast and as well as could be expected considering the circumstances,” which included the weakened condition and loss of livestock.52
When Lyman neared the Mojave River, where part of his family awaited his assistance, he encountered Lt. Edward F. Beale’s experimental U.S. Army Camel Corps. Although another Mormon observer, missionary William Wall, reported their presence as a threat to Mormondom, Lyman exhibited no such alarm. He conferred with Major George Blake, sent to accompany the camel caravan through Mohave Indian country. The army officer exaggerated the success of the steamboat explorations of the [p.406]Colorado River and the number of troops expected to be transported toward Utah from that direction. Historian Clifford Stott described Lyman as “greatly shaken” by this information, though there is actually no evidence that this was the case.53
As the Lyman family and their traveling companions approached the Vegas area, a welcome guest traveling in cognito as the mysterious Dr. Osborne was ushered into their camp by three San Bernardino brethren. The man was Colonel Thomas L. Kane, a longtime friend of the Mormons and, to President James Buchanan, a fellow Pennsylvanian. He had recently arrived at San Bernardino after a difficult month’s journey from Washington, D.C. His anxiety to get to the Mormon settlements aroused suspicion and caused him to be detained for questioning by William Pickett who was becoming one of the region’s leading anti-Mormons. Upon examining Kane’s papers, including a “passport” from President Buchanan, he and his cohorts released him. By the time they reconsidered, he had made his way through Cajon Pass to be escorted over the desert road to Utah.54
Although Kane had received the considerate attention of Alden and Caroline Jackson at San Bernardino, including hastily made bed covers, the emissary was not in good health when he embarked on the desert passage. He was probably even more ill when his companions, George Clark, John Mayfield, and Joseph [p.407]Tanner, brought him into Lyman’s camp at Cottonwood Springs, now Blue Diamond, Nevada. Lyman’s new daughter-in-law, Rhoda Taylor, and other women assisted Kane through “home cooking” and winter clothing fashioned from a buffalo robe. Accompanied by Lyman, Kane weathered an uneventful second leg of the journey through February. Upon arrival at Salt Lake City, as has been well-documented elsewhere, Kane’s intervention in the so-called Utah War soothed a potentially explosive situation and ultimately resolved it.55
Kane’s San Bernardino benefactors, the Jacksons, may have received special antagonism for assisting him on his way to Utah. Soon thereafter twenty men arrived at breakfast time and informed the family and several other presumably faithful church members to “leave town by nine o’clock.” Colonel Jackson’s reply, drawing on the spicy vocabulary of his military career, demonstrated his refusal to be intimidated. The group remained in the vicinity throughout the day, planting and firing a cannon on the public square. Jackson went to his law office and commenced his usual activities, warning his adversaries that if they disturbed his papers “he would send daylight through them.” His quiet courage prevailed and the antagonists finally withdrew.
The Jacksons intended to depart for Utah and had already disposed of most of their property. However, prior to leaving, Caroline’s former husband who had abandoned the church soon after their arrival in California on the ship Brooklyn obtained a court order prohibiting his two daughters from moving from the state prior to reaching the age of maturity. With no avenue for appeal, the disappointed family donated their travel outfit to assist poor families in making their departure for Zion, while they were compelled to remain at San Bernardino. Several years later [p.408]when missionary Walter Murray Gibson passed through the city, he reported the Jacksons to be the family by far the most committed to their faith in the Mormon gospel, also noting them to be highly respected for consistently standing by their principles, no matter how unpopular. Jackson made a similar observation to Rich. Later, in the late 1860s, the family did move to Utah, and by that time it was much to the regret of their California neighbors.56
Hurrying Thomas L. Kane to Utah, Lyman temporarily postponed his general assignment to guard the southern California approaches to Utah. California newspapers had consistently advocated raising local volunteers to bolster the military force invading from the East. Military commanders on the Pacific Coast also recommended that approach. Even more ominous to the Mormons because it appeared to be already underway was the long-contemplated military exploration of the Colorado River to determine its navigability for steamboats to transport troops within striking distance of Mormondom.57
Cox had reported early in the crisis that dispatches from friends in San Diego warned of such an expedition. Later Lyman noted that the Indians of the Vegas-Muddy River region believed that “Americat” soldiers were moving upriver, presumably to kill them and their Mormon associates. Lyman complained that the Indians had been too aroused by some church people, but he too was concerned about the possible implications of a southern military approach. California newspapers reported the movements [p.409]of Lt. Joseph C. Ives on the Colorado and the presence of steamboat activity there. Just as Lyman’s report made its way toward Salt Lake City, the Alta California noted attempts to bolster Ives’s numbers through additional troops from the San Francisco presidio. The newspaper surmised that reinforcements were desired because of the close proximity of their explorations to the presumably hostile “territory of the Mormons.” Led by old San Bernardino neighbor Pauline Weaver, Ives took the steamboat Explorer upstream as far as El Dorado Canyon and some went by skiff as far as the Las Vegas Wash. From there the explorers established a connection with the Utah-California road some twenty-five miles to the north. With this, Ives reported a “passable line of communications,” making military invasion by way of the Colorado River feasible.58
Southern Utah residents, particularly Jacob Hamblin and Thales Haskell, were convinced of the threat posed by a river invasion. On Hamblin’s initiative, Dudley Leavitt and Ira Hatch commenced spying on the progress of the Ives expedition. After reestablishing friendly relations with the equally concerned Mohave Indians, these men posed as Mormon defectors on their way to California in an attempt to ascertain the strength and intentions of the army expedition, actually boarding the steamboat at Cottonwood Valley. Ives was undoubtedly suspicious of the potential spies, which would have been confirmed when the men, upon their departure, headed back toward Utah, not California.59
[p.410]Thereafter, Lyman returned to his duties guarding the southern entrance into the territory, including continued monitoring of the Ives expedition. With a company of citizen soldiers comprised mainly of former San Bernardino brethren, Lyman established observation posts to watch for troops. He made a reconnaissance of the presumed army wagon road from the Colorado River to the main trail and determined it to be much more difficult than Ives had reported. This was welcome news, but it would have arrived at church headquarters about the same time other notices disclosed that plans for army movements from the California trail had been rejected. On this expedition Lyman made a significant exploration of the desert region near the Colorado River and reinforced a cordial alliance with the Mohave Indians. Led by Indian guides, the party transversed the new government road from the Colorado River to the sink of the Mojave River, finally intersecting with the familiar California-Utah road near Kingston Springs. Soon Lyman returned to Salt Lake City where he attended several of the crucial negotiations that would resolve the conflict with the government.60
Throughout the recall period Brigham Young encouraged the people from San Bernardino to consider settling in newly established southern Utah towns. Exhausted from the winter travel, some did stop at Santa Clara, Grafton, and other settlements, even founding a new settlement, Harrisburg. Some of the uprooted Californians remained in Cedar City and Parowan in Iron County, immediately to the north. By far the largest contingent located at Beaver, and later at Minersville and Milford, in adjacent Beaver County.61 Still others, including some of Lyman’s family, located permanently at Fillmore, Millard County, [p.411]to the north of Beaver. There were notable exceptions to those who chose the warmer southern section. Hunt founded a town named after him in the mountains east of Ogden, Weber County, and Rich eventually located to the northeast of there on the Utah-Idaho border. Thomas Bingham became one of the pioneers of the Uintah basin in eastern Utah, Wellington Seeley settled in Sanpete County, Ebenezer Hanks located southeast in Wayne County, and Norman Taylor was among the first to reside at Moab, farther to the south, but still in the eastern part of the territory. Many former San Bernardino residents also settled in the larger population centers of the Wasatch front, including some in Utah County. Ultimately the most undesirable location, at least in contrast to the fertile soil and easy water supply in California, was that assigned to Daniel Stark who was called to the Muddy River Mission, Nevada, one of the least successful of all Mormon colonies, although other San Bernardino Saints, including Luke Syphus, later settled comfortably farther north in the same territory. Several dozen San Bernardino citizens ultimately ended up—either as volunteers or chosen pioneers—in the Mormon settlements throughout Arizona in the 1870s and 1880s.62
Former stake president William Cox was among those who virtually doubled the population of Beaver in 1858. In late February he wrote to Young to report that the evacuation was complete. His pledge at that time fully exemplified the attitude Brigham Young most valued among his followers. Cox affirmed, “[I]f you want me anywhere else, I will try to be ready. I have tried to discharge of my duties to the best of my abilities.”63 He remained in Beaver the rest of his life and never resumed high [p.412]stake office, although his former San Bernardino associate, Marcus Lafayette Shepherd, served long in the Beaver Stake presidency.
A marked contrast with Cox was the situation of his predecessor as San Bernardino Stake president, David Seeley. He too emigrated to Utah but immediately became embroiled with others over payment for merchandise he had brought from California for sale. When Young heard of his refusing to take paper currency instead of gold, he ordered Pleasant Grove’s Bishop Walker to tell him “to clear out; he had gone to California to get gold and he ought to be contented with the gold there, and not come [to Utah] to take the gold and silver from [that] community.” In a subsequent interview Seeley found Young still infuriated. Young informed Seeley that “if he had lived his religion and been in the line of duty, he would not have gone to California, then come back [to Utah] and bring a few goods and try to sell them at exorbitant prices and depreciate the currency.” The Californian explained that he thought he was “in the line of his duty in going to California,” pleading that he had not come to speculate but had borrowed the money for the goods at the interest rate of 5 percent per month and would be hard pressed to make any profit. The church leader replied that Seeley could prove his good intentions by taking currency in place of the seventy dollars in gold he had already obtained through his previous sales. After more of what his brother later termed a “heated argument,” Young told Seeley that when he came into a settlement “in the Kingdom of God” he should go to the leading authorities and ask what he could do to advance the kingdom, strongly implying that such acts of independence and private enterprise were to be condemned at that time. There is no record of David Seeley’s reaction, but undoubtedly he felt falsely accused. It is known that very soon thereafter he returned to California, where he and his family resided the rest of their lives.
Another facet of the David Seeley story was that his wife, Mary Pettit, had declined to withdraw from San Bernardino. Like [p.413]countless other pioneer women before and after her time, she announced that she had “come all the way from Iowa with an ox team and did not want to go over it again.” Even though the former stake president had his young son with him on the Utah trip, he may not have intended to remain there permanently. If this was Brigham Young’s impression, it may have further infuriated the church leader not accustomed to facing people who disregarded his counsel. In later years the Seeley son concluded that the reason for his father’s return to California was purely “a family affair,” but he undoubtedly also harbored some resentment over the notably rough treatment he had received from the man sustained as the highest church authority. At San Bernardino Seeley resumed his sawmill business but certainly not his church activity. He later emerged, along with his former victim in an earlier altercation, Mormon Jew Lewis Jacobs, as two of the three most prosperous people in San Bernardino in 1860.64
Seeley was the first of a long line of evacuees who, for whatever reasons, became dissatisfied in Utah and returned to San Bernardino. In June 1858 the new Los Angeles newspaper, the Southern Vineyard, reported “quite a number of the [former] San Bernardino people regret the day they left California and it is no more than probable that some of them will shortly begin to migrate to distant parts, probably California.” In July mail carrier Daniel Taft resumed his residence there, bringing with him a group reportedly “greatly disappointed with Mormon affairs in Utah.” The paper asserted “about a hundred Mormons had arrived back at San Bernardino” by that time. The next month the same newspaper noted eleven more wagons listing a half-[p.414]dozen heads of families who had returned. In late September a party of six wagons and thirty-two people led by William D. Huntington returned. Later in the year the Alta California explained that some of the continuing stream from Utah were people emboldened by the presence of federal troops in Young’s domain, and where they had not dared leave Zion previously, now they felt free to depart in safety. The Star reported soon after that “a large company … arrived in San Bernardino from Salt Lake.” Even the church daily historical journal noted in mid-November that several hundred had recently passed through Cedar City heading for California, concluding with overstatement but a measure of truth that “a large portion of the brethren, who came from California last winter, have returned.” The emigration did not soon subside. In early 1860 the Star noted that “San Bernardino County was experiencing an increase in population due to the fact that a large number of families from Utah had arrived during the past few weeks.” However, examination of the 1860 San Bernardino census indicates as many first-time arrivals as former residents.65
These population shifts are impossible to assess with real precision. Professor Beattie estimated that at the time of the recall, 84 percent of the 3,000 San Bernardino area residents were Latter-day Saints and 55 percent of those returned to Utah, with at least five percent eventually returning to the area. This would have meant that only 1,260 people actually withdrew from the colony. There are good reasons to question these figures. With the total population listed at 3,000 at the end of 1856, there is no reason to doubt that the number of San Bernardino residents at some time affiliated with the Latter-day Saint church would have [p.415]reached 3,000 in the ensuing months. Beattie likely underestimated the number who withdrew. Two thousand would be a more accurate estimate. That was the figure cited by several contemporary newspaper reports. When the school children participated in the May Day traditional school commencement in the spring of 1858, only 120 students were involved. At the beginning of the previous year school officials reported 781 students in the area. The 1860 census listed only 863 individuals of all ages from Mormon backgrounds, with the likelihood that this number would not surpass 1,000 even after those returning from Utah had arrived. The former Latter-day Saint population, then, was 2,000 fewer than it had been at its peak three years before.66
The census indicates a notable lack of original founders of San Bernardino. Not more than ten heads of families remained out of almost 150. This once again demonstrates the commitment of the original group to their perceived mission and their compliance with directives from their leaders. The few who remained behind deserve some discussion. Like David Seeley, Justus Morse withdrew to Utah but eventually returned. Morse’s daughter, Minerva, married Jerry McIlvane, the only non-Mormon in the original pioneer company thought to have remained in San Bernardino throughout the decade. While father Morse eventually moved east to the centers of the Reorganized Church, the McIlvanes remained. Clark Fabin also withdrew to Utah but soon returned. “Doc” Cunningham and Horace C. Rolfe had become disaffected political opponents several years earlier, with neither ever displaying any religious commitment. Jesse Foulks had drifted from the fold and was reported by his wife’s friends to be “intemperate and abusive,” implying a drinking problem. When the time came for the Saints to withdraw, Sister Foulks apparently left, taking at least the smaller children with her. Jesse remained [p.416]to operate a newly opened store in partnership with another lapsed Mormon, Robert Walkinshaw. Three others who stayed were not known to be out of harmony with the church, but all being fifty years of age or more were perhaps too old for another move. Samuel Shepherd, Benjamin F. Taylor, and Alfred Bybee had all been prominent in church circles and all had family members return to Utah, but they remained in California for unknown reasons.67
Another older original pioneer was Jacob Casteel. His daughter and son-in-law returned to Utah, but he, his wife, and son remained in San Bernardino. There are probably several reasons, including an unfortunate incident prior to emigrating from Utah when one of his oxen strayed and was rounded up with a general drive of unclaimed animals. When he discovered his property among Young’s cattle, Casteel called to claim it and was surprised when the church leader queried, “[W]hat if my workmen will swear that ox has been here all winter and eats his head off[?],” implying a fee for retrieval. The perplexed man left, and although his son-in-law encouraged him to commence suit in a bishop’s court, Casteel “feared to offend Prest. Young and [the matter] remained unsettled.” The resentments may have lingered over the years and been a factor in the family remaining in California. Another consideration worth noting is that some of those soon to be formed into a branch of the Reorganized Church were actively proselytizing in the Casteel home prior to the Mormon exodus. The family would eventually affiliate with that faction opposed to Brigham Young’s leadership.68
Benjamin F. Matthews, who was not quite among the original company but had assisted in gathering some of them from throughout the South, probably had something in common with [p.417]Casteel and Seeley in resenting Young. Matthews had left on another mission to the South on the first of November 1854. Upon his return with a company of Latter-day Saints two years later, a young man became ill with what turned out to be small pox, beginning an epidemic in the area. According to Matthews’s subsequent letter to Young, he unsuccessfully attempted to obtain the services of several Salt Lake City physicians and therefore sought an interview with the church leader. Young responded with a rebuke for supposedly having entered the city knowing that his group carried the disease. In desperation the company embarked for California without requisite supplies and survived by eating some of the draft animals.
Upon arrival at San Bernardino, Matthews received the warm welcome customary for returned church missionaries and was permitted to report his experiences during the subsequent worship service. Soon after, as he petitioned Young for forgiveness, Lyman and Rich wrote in his behalf, claiming that they had not yet offered him full fellowship.69 So far as is known, these requests were never acknowledged. When the faithful withdrew, the seven-member Matthews family remained behind. Like others disillusioned with Young, most of Matthews’s family later affiliated with the Reorganized Church.70
One of the families most torn by abandonment was Jefferson Hunt’s. The former assemblyman had opposed breaking up the settlement until events made such a position pointless. Two of his sons-in-law, Ed Daley and Sheldon Stoddard, and their wives, concluded to remain behind. A third daugh-[p.418]ter, twenty-one-year-old Harriet, grudgingly left with the family. While still camped on the Mojave River, she took a mule and returned to live with her sisters. Before the end of 1858 Hunt secured a mail contract for the route between Salt Lake City and San Bernardino, which his extended family assisted in operating as they had in former years. A younger son, John, became one of the main mail carriers, and on one of his first trips he brought his sister Harriet to Utah to see her mother. Soon thereafter John Mayfield, who first met the family a decade before at Pueblo, Colorado, came to Utah and married Harriet, returning with her to San Bernardino where they remained the rest of their lives. In the 1860 census the families of John Hunt, Daley, Stoddard, and Mayfield are listed in adjacent houses of the same neighborhood.71
There was greater tragedy in the Hunt family than this permanent division. The older son, Gilbert, answered a request to lead a group of teamsters released from Johnston’s Army to California over the southern route. As his father had once done, he collected ten dollars per wagon for his services as their guide. But on one of the first nights en route Gilbert was robbed and murdered as he slept in his wagon. This was a cruel blow to the father, Jefferson, who was described as “like a man in a daze” for some time thereafter. Another rude shock the next year was the death of fellow Mormon Battalion officer, friend, and probably Hunt’s current employee, former San Bernardino sheriff Robert Clift, who was killed by Indians while carrying mail from White Pine County to Ruby Valley, Nevada. Jefferson himself founded the Weber [p.419]County hamlet of Huntsville and lived to have a substantial family by second wife, Matilda. After his death in 1879 his first wife, Celia, returned to San Bernardino to live with her daughters. When she died at the age of 92, she was buried at the so-called Pioneer Cemetery, the only presumably faithful Latter-day Saint to be interred there.72
A San Bernardino family suffering even greater catastrophe was that of Abraham Coombs, earlier beset by marital and drinking problems, who lost the father to pneumonia just as they arrived in Utah. After teaching school for a time at Santa Clara, the mother, Olive, moved with her youngest children to Cedar City, where she was a teacher. There she apparently demonstrated too much interest in the Mountain Meadows Massacre in a town full of participants in the atrocities. According to a granddaughter and Juanita Brooks, “Word went out [that Olive] was collecting evidence and planned to publish her findings.” This angered at least one of the presumed guilty who went to her house, opened the door, and fired his gun. She “was shot and killed,” Brooks concluded, “because of her interest in the massacre.” The perpetrator was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment but was pardoned by the Utah territorial governor after two years.73
Early in the 1860s a Utah missionary destined for Hawaii, Walter Murray Gibson, soon to establish his own feifdom there and prove himself anything but submissive to church authorities, reported to Brigham Young that the old anti-Mormon group at [p.420]San Bernardino still called the Rackabites had “pledged themselves especially not to permit a Mormon elder to speak” in the old settlement. But, Gibson stated, with the encouragement of the “well-disposed, but lukewarm,” brethren, such as Seeley, John Metcalf, and John Garner, he attracted a large crowed to hear his sermon delivered 13 January 1861. He described the town as a mix of “apostate infidel Mormons, spiritualist Mormons, Josephite Mormons and a few … vacillating saints” who certainly no longer agreed on religious matters but on many occasions, when fully cooperative, could generate 230 votes, sufficient to win most county elections.
Gibson reported that “the violent apostates in this place [were] almost exclusively from Australia,” who complained of having been deceived by their missionaries in the disposal of their property prior to emigrating to California. Gibson asserted that if even a portion of the allegations were true, there had been some “great rogues” among them as missionaries, singling out Augustus Farnham as the focal point of the most bitter denunciations. While most of these converts moved on to Utah and blended into the mainstream, about a dozen families remained in San Bernardino and never again affiliated with the church. Besides the “cupidity and extortion” of missionaries, Gibson specified the “chief grounds for apostacy [sic]” to be the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the supposed Utah church’s “departure from ‘old Mormonism.'”
Among the others Gibson singled out for special comment were Charles Hill, incorrectly described as a former missionary to the Society Islands, who with Quartus Sparks was reportedly the leading figure among the spiritualists. The correspondent considered Thomas Tompkins, who had in fact been a missionary to the Society Islands, as “ringleader of the apostate infidels and most bitter devil against all peaceable saints.” This does not fit with other descriptions of “Uncle Tommy,” although he had recently returned from Utah, probably with some disillusionment toward the leaders. Another person Gibson criticized was Ad-[p.421]dison Pratt, whom he called “a basely delinquent Mormon,” supposedly because of his domestic difficulties. Pratt reportedly confessed he had contemplated journeying to Beaver, Utah, to reunite with his wife but had been dissuaded by longtime associate Tompkins. Gibson concluded by saying the city was “the dark corner of the state,” while acknowledged to be physically “the loveliest natural spot in California.” He cited drunkenness and vagabondism, along with the rampant apostasy, as the basis for these conclusions.74
Although the southern California press reported that San Bernardino was adjusting to the population loss with relative ease, several impartial observers gave a different view. Thaddeus Kenderdine, from Pennsylvania, came into the area in company with seasoned Mormon freighter Sidney Tanner in 1858. He observed that the population had greatly dwindled and the “tenantless houses gaped sadly through unglazed windows at the few strangers who visited the city.” He continued “the whole place, which contained six or eight hundred inhabitants, had a tumble-down look.”75
Another observer that year was W. A. Wallace, the former editor of the Star, who reported through the Alta California in the [p.422]late spring that few houses at San Bernardino appeared occupied and “many others were falling to pieces,” as were the fences and irrigation system. Many fields formerly cultivated had been pastured with cattle. Wallace criticized the current residents, reporting that in the first four places he looked, all were playing cards for drinks, which he recalled would certainly not have been the case under the former regime. With a tone of regret, Wallace recalled that the California political parties had once welcomed and flattered the Mormons and asserted that either party would have gladly legalized plural marriage in order to win the Mormon votes. But then, he lamented, these people had been spurned and driven from the state, while “their firesides and homes … passed into the hands of ungodly strangers and speculators.” He alleged that “there [was] nothing peculiar about this place now; it is like any other in California. It is for sale.” The correspondent then knowingly observed it was “to the interest of the owners to make it appear as flit were fast filling up with worthy and respectable citizens,” which through their efforts would make the region continue to flourish and prosper. But it would “take a long time to fill it” with citizens of the quality of those who had been lost.76
The best of the earliest local historians of San Bernardino, Luther Ingersol and John Brown, Jr., candidly noted the contrast between the Mormon occupation and what followed. The former observed that “methods of cooperation and their simple hardworking lives were in strong contrast to the shiftless and often ill-directed efforts of many of their Gentile neighbors.” Their withdrawal not only depleted the population but was a severe blow to the area’s prosperity. Newcomers attracted by the low-priced property “were not as a class equal to the Mormon settlers in character or in energy.” The latter stated that “up to the time of the exodus, the history of San Bernardino was one of progress.” He admitted that the newcomers, largely from Texas, “did not have [p.423]the energy or general ability of the Mormons,” nor did they come close to the former output in agricultural production.77
As a commercial center, and soon a distribution center for far-flung desert mining districts and military outposts, San Bernardino did continue to expand. At first this may have been due to the supplies the Mormons were forwarding through the area to the presumed Utah rebels, much lamented in the press but nevertheless allowed. The Los Angeles Star in April 1858 boasted a high volume of goods exported from their city, specifically “large amounts freighted to San Bernardino.” Although the Sacramento Union questioned how the Southland city could support eight or ten mercantile establishments at that time, two new ones were completed and opened that July.78
One temporary boost to the local economy came when government officials decided to locate a detachment of 75 soldiers at San Bernardino. Numerous newspaper articles voiced alarm at how vulnerable the Cajon Pass was to hostile Mormon and Indian invaders. The citizens were at least temporarily appeased by the appointment of a sutler, Charles R. Johnson, who arrived in the area in mid-April 1858. The soldiers, including Rich’s fugitive son-in-law John Tobin, arrived there in May. Within two months the Star lamented that the troops had already been withdrawn from their post and although there would later be troops temporarily located along the Mojave River, and further out on the road to Needles and Arizona, San Bernardino never became a permanent army post.79
Undoubtedly the most unfortunate contrast between Mormon San Bernardino and the city in its latter years was the attitude [p.424]and treatment of the citizens toward Native Americans. From the brutal murder of a popular local Indian in mid-March 1858 through the decapitation of three Indian youths, recently residents of San Bernardino, which led to the killing of a like number of local cowhands of Mormon extraction a decade later, relations were later mostly hostile.80 Although a few cattle and horses had been stolen, mainly from non-Mormon neighbors, prior to 1858 one of the most outstanding accomplishments of the Mormon period was the peaceful coexistence with Native Americans.
With the abandonment of the Mormons, including resignations of most county officials, there was considerable dispute over the manner of replacement and even when accomplished, petty quarrelling persisted in politics. In a special meeting citizens agreed to sustain Dr. Smith as the state assemblyman, even though he probably could not have been reelected after most of his supporters had departed. One of Smith’s first acts was to introduce legislation to allow a longer time for tax collection. When Sheriff Joseph Bridger, nephew of the famous mountain man, completed his task, he submitted a document twelve feet long of names of delinquent taxpayers, most of whom had moved to Utah. In August 1858 Mayor G. S. Chapin resigned, necessitating an early election, to which some looked forward with anticipation because of the new tradition in town of “plenty of whiskey” during the election campaign. Not long thereafter the citizens saw fit to disincorporate the city. When the county elections were held that fall, several of the most important offices were garnered by former Mormons, such as A.D. Boren as county judge, U. U. Tyler as assessor, and James W. Waters as public administrator.81
[p.425]Since early in San Bernardino’s history a number of individuals believed, as H. G. Sherwood expressed it, that Brigham Young’s regime of leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was not after that of Joseph Smith’s. Over the years others, particularly among those who had never followed Young west, not only agreed with this view but incorrectly pointed to Young as the originator of the doctrine and practice of plural marriage, distasteful to so-called “Josephites.” These people came to regard Smith’s son, Joseph III, as the heir to the prophetic throne, as the church founder had taught on occasion. The San Bernardino Reorganized congregation began in June 1864, with 120 members “received by baptism” by September of that year. Some formerly Mormon brethren officiated in priesthood ordinances immediately after admission into the new church.
This branch of the Reorganized Church was probably the largest in the Far West, with a natural source of membership among those who believed in Joseph Smith as a prophet and the Book of Mormon as God’s word. Members of at least fifty families known to have lived in the Mormon colony prior to the exodus are found among the membership records. The congregation grew with each annual conference, surpassing 200 in 1867 and ultimately reaching 736 souls during the remaining years of the century.82
[p.426]Protestant ministers began to frequent San Bernardino even before the large Latter-day Saint exodus in 1857. On several occasions Mormon leaders had encouraged their congregation to return on Sabbath afternoons to hear visiting Methodist preachers, although there was probably less backing after one of them sermonized against plural marriage. The 1860 census for the vicinity included a Baptist minister. During the early years some of the more conscientious Roman Catholics traveled to the San Salvadore parish church across the Santa Ana River from Agua Mansa. After the chapel was destroyed in the terrible flood of 1862, a Catholic church was built on the public square at San Bernardino.
Illustrative of the ecumenical spirit prevailing among many at the time are the diary entries of former Mormon John Brown, St., some of whose family were among those attending mass at San Salvadore. Most of his children participated in the Sabbath school proceedings sponsored by the Reorganized Church. Father Brown attended many of these, along with worship and baptismal services and missionary sermons, particularly in 1864. This did not preclude him from continuing his activities as a spiritualist. He frequently attended lectures, including those of another former Mormon, Moses Martin. Brown visited spiritualists in other California cities, read the literature of Andrew Jackson Davis, and corresponded with fellow believers. At some point in his later years he wrote a book on his spiritualist experiences as a mountain man.83
[p.427]In 1867, after a generally successful mission in Europe, Amasa M. Lyman became estranged from other church leaders and the cause to which he had devoted much of his adult life. Some of the doctrines he had preached in the mission field, especially at Dundee, Scotland, where he denied the need for Jesus’ atonement, were clearly incompatible with the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is impossible to fully explain Lyman’s dramatic abandonment of former loyalties, but it may have stemmed partly from his Universalist upbringing by his maternal grandfather, as well as the liberal reading he had immersed himself in while in Europe. Lyman’s interest in spiritualism, abhorred by most other church leaders, probably played a significant role in this. It was also likely that his longtime relationship with Brigham Young, who, as has been noted herein, harbored not only negative sentiments concerning San Bernardino but also occasionally demonstrated specific resentments toward Lyman, had further deteriorated. It cannot be ascertained just how many times Lyman had been chided by the church leader for supposed mistakes during the California period, but one such item of correspondence does exist of an instance when Young was instructing mission leaders Lyman and Rich concerning use of church funds. He stated: “I presume you are well convinced, through your operations in San Bernardino that disregarding my counsel in financial matters is followed by sinking and wasting money.” In light of the fact that Young sent them to California when no public lands would be available for several additional years, this was no more their mistake than Young’s. More than a few under similar circumstances would resent the implication or outright assertions that the problems concerning San Bernardino financial matters were solely the responsibility of the founders, particularly in light of the role the [p.428]church leader played in the disbandment of the colony, just when it was becoming profitable.84
A sidelight to Lyman’s apostasy, illuminating the experience of at least one who had served with him in California, was a letter Mary Rollins Lightner wrote in 1867 to Brigham Young, who had once officiated in her plural marriage to Joseph Smith. She reported that her brother, J. Henry Rollins, the founding bishop of Minersville, was in poor health and, more seriously, “his mind is weigh[ed] down with sorrow” in consequence of considering himself somehow displeasing to the church leader for having participated in the San Bernardino mission. The sister explained that Rollins had assumed that Young called him, as his brother-in-law, Lyman, had informed him, or he never would have gone, since his foremost aim had always been to obey counsel. In recent years as bishop, Rollins had endured the allegations of some who concluded that since the bishop had been a participant in the ill-fated mission, his counsel and advice were weaker since, they assumed, he could hardly have the Spirit of God with him. Consequently, Sister Lightner confided, Rollins had little influence with some members of his congregation, which she attempted to remedy by appealing to Young to forgive her brother for whatever he had erred in and restore him to “confidence and favor.” 85
Young’s prompt reply expressed regret at Rollins’s poor health, then denied there was any “need for him to have feelings of sorrow through the idea that he [was] under [his] displeasure because he went to California with Bro. A. M. Lyman.” The church leader said that “all was right” with Rollins, so long as he continued conducting himself properly. Those who criticized him for being a “Californian” and did not heed his counsel as bishop were themselves in danger of losing their standing in the [p.429]church. He assured her that if the bishop continued faithful and pursued a wise and consistent course in his church labors, “whatever prejudice may at present exist in the minds of any against Brother Henry Rollins because of his past connection with A. M. Lyman will melt away in a short time.”86 Although Young’s letter demonstrated nothing but support for Rollins in his plight, it is still possible that the church leader’s past remarks and earlier attitude toward the California colony and his more current policy toward Lyman were influential in the negative situation in which Rollins found himself.
Lyman had preached a sermon at Minersville shortly prior to being relieved of his ecclesiastical responsibilities. Rollins recalled that it had been the “best and most interesting sermon” he had ever heard his longtime associate preach. As the dissident apostle’s troubles mounted, he wrote that “whether I rise or fall,” Rollins needed to “heed the advice of President Young: he is the one to look to for counsel in all things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” There were probably many, including Rollins, who were sorry Lyman did not follow that advice himself.87
Lyman changed his views as he opposed Young’s non-church affairs in Utah.88 In 1870 longtime San Bernardino branch clerk Richard Hopkins, then residing at Provo, wrote to Charles Rich to report that Lyman had recently passed through and was said to be very bitter toward Young. By then Young’s inner circle had concluded that the basis for Lyman’s apostasy was his failure to heed Young’s counsel in California. The deposed apostle’s cousin, George A. Smith, made such a statement at a [p.430]meeting the year Lyman was excommunicated. Young asserted that Lyman would yet be in the church had he followed counsel offered him presumably in 1851. These statements assumed that disobedience to proper ecclesiastical authority had led to loss of the divine spirit to guide the supposed apostate’s current conduct.89
Another important later epilogue to the Mormon history of San Bernardino was the return there in 1894 of Apostle Francis Marion Lyman, son of the founder, who was by then himself a senior Latter-day Saint general authority. Church missionaries had periodically proselytized in the area and had raised the question of whether a branch of the church should be reestablished. Lyman was sent to survey the situation. He found there were still some residents who had remained true to their old religious beliefs and practices, but not many. He and a fellow Mormon leader, Brigham H. Roberts, perhaps the most renowned Mormon preacher of his generation, engaged the Reorganized Church chapel and advertised the purpose to deliver a series of lectures there, presumably in an attempt to win back some members and determine the extent of support in the vicinity.
Lyman visited several relatives, including a half-brother, Lorenzo Snow Lyman, who had lived as a young man in Utah but returned with much of his immediate family to California after Amasa Lyman’s excommunication. The apostle visited with former friends, including an evening with John Brown, Jr., spent singing Mormon hymns. In an interview with a Redlands Citrograph reporter, Lyman stated that few of the landmarks of his youth remained; his father’s house was destroyed by fire in 1865. One of his stated purposes was to complete a second honeymoon with his first wife, Rhoda, whom he had married as the Saints were abandoning the place. It was probably known that [p.431]he had another wife yet living and many of his remarks published in the newspaper were devoted to an exposition and defense of plural marriage, which he claimed was no longer practiced but still believed in. The lecture series apparently included at least one debate with a representative of the Reorganized Church, described by one contemporary county historian as “the anti-Polygamy Mormons.” Lyman admitted to the reporter that his church had not attempted to assert any official presence in the area since 1857. Despite the best efforts of Lyman and Roberts in 1894, they concluded that it would be best to encourage the few they regarded as dedicated Latter-day Saints to live their religion as best they could without a formal branch of the church. The move to re-establish a foothold in San Bernardino would not finally be accomplished until 1921.90
1. Richard R. Hopkins, “San Bernardino Branch Journal,” 8 Jan. 1857 (hereafter Hopkins Branch Journal), archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah (hereafter LDS archives); Charles C. Rich to Brigham Young, 7 Nov. 1856, Young Papers, LDS archives; Amasa Lyman to Brigham Young, Dec. 1856, Young Papers.
2. Andrew Jensen, comp., “History of San Bernardino, California,” being mainly material recorded by Richard R. Hopkins, San Bernardino branch and stake clerk in his “San Bernardino Branch Record,” 24, 30 Mar. 1857, both LDS archives (hereafter Hopkins-Jensen).
5. William J. Cox to Charles C. Rich, 7 May 1857, Rich Papers, LDS archives, quoted in Leonard J. Arrington, Charles C. Rich: Mormon General and Western Frontiersman (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1974), 206.
10. Brigham Young to George Q. Cannon, 4 July 1857, Young Papers; Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966), 161-68.
11. Richard R. Hopkins to Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich, 3 July 1857, Lyman Papers; William Warren to Amasa M. Lyman, 8 Aug. 1857, Lyman Papers; William J. Cox to Amasa M. Lyman, 8 July 1857, Lyman Papers.
15. Richard R. Hopkins to Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich, 3 July 1857, Lyman Papers; William Warren to Amasa M. Lyman, 8 Aug. 1857, Lyman Papers; William J. Cox to Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich, 7 Sept. 1857, Lyman Papers.
16. William J. Cox to Brigham Young, 8 May 1857; William J. Cox and Daniel M. Thomas to Brigham Young, 8 June 1857; Brigham Young to William J. Cox, 4 June 1857; Brigham Young to William J. Cox and Daniel M. Thomas, 4 July 1857; Brigham Young to William Crosby and William J. Cox, 4 Aug. 1857, all in Young Papers.
17. William J. Cox to Brigham Young, 7 Sept., 6 Oct. 1857, Young Papers. In his October report Cox confessed “there is a feeling among the saints to leave here and go to the [Salt Lake] valley at this time and it operates against our raising means for to pay the indebtedness of the ranch.”
22. J. H. Rollins to Amasa M. Lyman, 10 Sept. 1857, Lyman Papers; F. Marion Lyman to Amasa M. Lyman, 4 Oct. 1857, Lyman Papers; Ebenezer Hanks to Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich, 5 Nov. 1857, Lyman Papers; Richard R. Hopkins to Charles C. Rich, (undated, summer 1857), 7 Aug., 6 Sept. 1857, Rich Papers; Kate B. Carter, ed., Our Pioneer Heritage (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1960), 3:499-500. The first Hopkins letter also mentions mills erected by that time by brothers Davis and Warren.
24. F. Marion Lyman to Amasa M. Lyman, 4 Oct. 1857, Lyman Papers; William J. Cox to Amasa M. Lyman, 7 Nov. 1857, Lyman Papers; William Matthews to Brigham Young, 7 Nov. 1857, Young Papers; San Francisco Alta California, 26 Nov. 1857.
25. Hopkins-Jensen, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19 Oct. 1857; Journal History, 12 Dec. 1857, LDS archives; Kate B. Carter, ed., Heart Throbs of the West, 12 vols. (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1947), 6:451.
30. San Bernardino County Deed Book “B.,” San Bernardino County Hall of Records, San Bernardino. The stake president had recently explained to Brigham Young that he persisted in efforts to pay for the San Bernardino rancho so long “to fulfill the promises of [his] brethren” so they could “come off honorably” as far as their debt was concerned. But when the crisis reached the point of danger, he agreed the lives of “men and women were of more worth” than financial concerns. William J. Cox to Brigham Young, 6 Dec. 1857, Young Papers.
34. Louisa Barnes Pratt, “A Biographical Sketch of the Life of Louisa Barnes Pratt,” 85, undated, LDS archives; Carter, Heart Throbs, 8:325, 3:499-500, tells of Daniel Starks, among the most prosperous San Bernardino farmers, who sold his home and ten acres of the best mission district grape vineyards for six mules and a wagon, and left unsold a threshing machine and newly purchased machinery for a gristmill and probably over a hundred acres of undeveloped farmland. Crosby Journal, 8, 16, 21, 27 Nov. 1857.
50. San Francisco Alta California, 12 Jan. 1858, simply alludes to the yet unfound letter that the newspaper states was from Lyman and Rich. Since the two men were not together during the crisis of December 1857, Lyman’s assignment remained more focused on the southern region, and since the tone appears to me to be more Lyman’s, he has assumed that authorship; Ebenezer Hanks to Charles C. Rich, 3 Jan. 1858, Rich Papers.
53. Amasa M. Lyman Journal, 20 Jan. 1858, Lyman Papers; Journal History, 12 Dec. 1857; Melvin T. Smith, “Colorado River Exploration and the Mormon War,” Utah Historical Quarterly 38 (Summer 1970): 207-23; Clifford L. Stott, Search for Sanctuary: Brigham Young and the White Mountain Expedition (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984), 41.
54. Ebenezer Hanks to Amasa M. Lyman, 6 Feb. 1858, Thomas L. Kane Papers, LDS archives, cited in Donald R. Morman with Gene A. Sessions, Camp Floyd and the Mormons: The Utah War (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1992), 33-34; L.A. Star, 13 Feb. 1858; San Francisco Alta California, 10 Mar. 1858.
55. Albert L. Zobell, Jr., Sentinel in the East: A Biography of Thomas L. Kane (Salt Lake City: Nicholas G. Morgan, 1965), 110-18; Norman F. Furniss, The Mormon Conflict: 1850-1859 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1960), 190.
56. Walter Murray Gibson to Brigham Young, 16 Feb. 1861, Young Papers; Alden A. M. Jackson to Charles C. Rich, 7 June 1858, Rich Papers; Carter, Heart Throbs, 7:398; San Bernardino Guardian, 4 Apr. 1868, stated concerning Col. Jackson’s departure: “[W]e can ill afford to lose so good a citizen.”
58. William J. Cox to Brigham Young, 7 Sept. 1857; William J. Cox and William Crosby to Brigham Young, 1 Oct. 1857; Amasa M. Lyman to Brigham Young, 25 Dec. 1857, 20 Jan. 1858, all in Young Papers; San Diego Herald, 10 Oct. 1857; L.A. Star, 5, 12 Dec. 1857, 23 Jan. 1858; San Francisco Alta California, 25 Jan. 1858; Smith, “Colorado River Exploration,” 207-23.
61. Lowell “Ben” Bennion, “‘The Gospel Net Gathers [Fish] of all Kinds’: A Human Topography of Beaver, Utah, 1860-90,” paper presented at Mormon History Association meeting, Claremont, California, 1 June 1991, copy in my possession.
62. Among the former San Bernardino families represented in Arizona are Tenney, Crismon, Sirrine, Pratt, Hunt, Crosby, Hakes, Tanner, Turley, Smithson, Kartchner, Boyle, Flake, Nelson, Matthews, Holladay, and Reed.
64. Journal History, 10, 20 May 1858; David Randolph Seeley to George William Beattie, 7 Apr. 1937, George W. and Helen Beattie Papers, Huntington Library; Lynne Jorgensen, “A Preliminary Study of the Wealth of Families in San Bernardino, California in 1860 and 1870,” 7, unpublished paper, copy in Family History Center, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
65. L. A. Southern Vineyard, 12 June, 14 Aug. 1858, Beattie notes, 312; L.A. Star, 25 Sept. 1858, 7 Jan. 1860; San Francisco Alta California, 12 July, 13 Sept., 3 Oct., 25 Nov. 1858; Journal History, 10 Nov. 1858; U.S. Census, San Bernardino County, California, 1860, manuscript, family listings.
70. Benjamin F. Matthews to Brigham Young, 4 Jan. 1857, Young Papers; Benjamin F. Matthews to G. Q. Cannon, 19 Apr. 1857, in Western Standard, 15 May 1857; Robert Robey Matheson, “A Biography of Benjamin Franklin Matthews, 1819-1888,” copy, California Room, Feldheym Library, San Bernardino.
71. Pauline Udall Smith, Captain Jefferson Hunt of the Mormon Battalion (Salt Lake City: Nicholas G. Morgan, Sr., Foundation, 1958), 186; Lorenzo Dow Stephens, Life Sketches of a Jayhawker of ’49 (San Jose, CA: Nolta Brothers, 1916), cited in L. Burr Belden, “1849 Jayhawker Wrote Also of Mormon Recall,” San Bernardino Sun-Telegram, 14 Aug. 1955.
72. Smith, Jefferson Hunt, 187; Journal History, 30 May 1858, indicates Hunt and Clift apparently journeyed to Washington, D.C., and conferred with President James Buchanan, presumably on Utah matters. Clift’s death is noted in Journal History, 8, 24 Nov., 24 Dec. 1859. Hyrum Clark, who died in 1853, was obviously reinterred in the newer Pioneer Cemetery after his wife was buried there.
74. Walter M. Gibson to Brigham Young, 9 Jan., 16 Feb. 1861, Young Papers; William J. Cox to Brigham Young, 7 Nov. 1857, Young Papers; U.S. Census, San Bernardino County, 1860; Marjorie Newton, Southern Cross Saints: The Mormons in Australia (Laie, HI: Polynesian Cultural Center, 1991), 145, mentions Farnham not allowing Mormon passengers to go ashore when their ship stopped at Tahiti. As near as can be determined, there were about a dozen Australian families remaining at San Bernardino, including Allen, Arbon, Hawker, Cadd, Humphrey, Cochrane, Rawlings, Barton, Knight, McIntyre, and Mapstead.
75. L. A. Star, 20 Mar., 3 July 1858; Thaddeus S. Kenderdine, A California Tramp and Later Footprints (Doylestown, PA: Doylestown Publishing Co., 1898), 181-82; San Francisco Alta California, 11 May 1858.
81. Ibid., 26 Dec. 1857, 27 Mar., 24 Apr., 24, 27 July, 21, 28 Aug., 11 Sept., 31 Oct. 1858; San Francisco Alta California, 14 Mar. 1858, reported only 118 voters when Chapin was elected. An Illustrated History of Southern California (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1890), 420.
82. W. W. Blair Journals, 25 May 1868-26 July 1869, archives, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Independence, Missouri; The True Latter Day Saints Herald (Plano, IL) 6 (1 Oct. 1864): 122; 12 (6, 7 Apr. 1867): 13; Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, General Membership Records for San Bernardino Branch, compiled 1991 by Kathleen Mosgrove, Assistant Librarian, History Commission, RLDS church. The latter record indicates some seventy of the number emigrated to the Newport Beach-Santa Ana area, called for a time “Gospel Swamp,” of what would be Orange County, California; Eugene E. Campbell, “A History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California, 1846-1946,” Ph.D. diss., University of Southern California, 1952, 288-90. See also Roger D. Launius, Joseph Smith III: Pragmatic Prophet (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 116-23.
83. Hopkins-Jensen, 17 May 1857; John Brown (Sr.) Pocket Diary, 5, 13, 26 June, 3, 10, 15, 31 July, 7, 14, 28 Aug., 9 Oct. 1864, Beattie Papers; Burr Belden, “John Brown,” in LeRoy Hafen, The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, 10 vols. (Glendale, CA: Arthur H. Clark, Co., 1969), 7:46.
90. Francis Marion Lyman Journal, 16 Jan., 11, 20 Feb. 1894 (no longer accessible), First Presidency’s Office Vault, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Redlands Citrograph, 2 Feb. 1894. The LDS church had officially abandoned contracting plural marriages in 1890 but still recognized the marriages already in effect. Southern California District Histories and Minutes, 1876-1921, 386, Clapp vs. Roberts, RLDS archives, includes the additional note: “Bro. D. L. Harris replied to a series of sermons by B. H. Roberts of the Brighamite church, at the Saints’ chapel at San Bernardino in Feb. 1894 with excellent results”; Leo J. Muir, A Century of Mormon Activities in California, 2 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, [no date, but 1950s]), 1:119, states that a Relief Society was established at San Bernardino in 1900; p. 195 says that the San Bernardino LDS branch organized in 1921.