Brigham's Destroying Angel

Chapter Three

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FROM 1850 TO 1854.

First Year in Utah—First Indian War—Lieut. J. W. Gunnison—a Serious Defeat—Better Counsels—a Victory—a Brave Militia Officer(?)—a Battle on the Ice—Massacre of Indians—Taking the Head of Big Elk—Hickman Goes to California—Chosen Captain of the Train—Indian Massacre and More Fighting—a Murder and Lynch Law Execution—Trouble in Utah and Return of Hickman—Murder of Ike Hatch—Killing the Horse-Thief—Killing of Ike Vaughn—Fight Between the Mormons and Green River Ferrymen—Hickman Kills Another Horse-Thief—Cruelty of Orson Hyde—Dastardly Murder of Hartley—Comments.

    After arriving in Salt Lake, I stopped a few days with one of my friends, then located the place ten miles south of the city, where I lived until five years ago. I went to work, and worked hard until in the winter.

    At this time there was only two settlements in the valley south; the first was on American Fork, a stream some two or three rods wide, emptying into Utah Lake. The next was a settlement on Provo River, fifteen miles further south, some three miles from Utah Lake. This

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river was claimed by a strong band of Indians. These Utah Indians went by different names, such as Timpa-Utes, Pi-Utes, Yampa-Utes and Gosh-Utes, each having its Chief, fishing and hunting grounds, &c., which they claimed as their own; but in reality they were all the same tribe, spoke the same language, and would hunt and fish on each other's lands, as a general thing, unmolested. Sometimes these different bands would have difficulty; but in war with the whites they were all united.

    This Provo band was considered very brave, having held that river for a long time. The Mormons got permission of them to settle there, and made them presents, and they were glad to have them come and raise grain. They petted and humored the Indians too much, and this winter they began to do as they pleased. They first commenced stealing their horses and cattle, and seeing they were not chastised for it, would take cattle or anything they wanted, and deliberately drive it off at any time, saying to the people, "You are all petticoats, and won't fight." This continued until in February, when they commenced shooting at the people if they tried to hinder them from taking anything they wanted. The people called for help from Salt Lake, and one hundred and fifty men were soon raised under charge of George Grant, to go and give them a clearing out. Among this company was Capt. W. H. Kimball, Adjutant Gen. Ferguson and the lamented Captain Gunnison, who was wintering in Salt Lake, with a Government party of topographical engineers under Colonel Stansbury. This military clever gentleman volunteered his services,

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and went with us. So did the Surgeon of that United States party, and a few others. The Captain was never behind, always showing skill and bravery. I became very much attached to him, and he was well liked by all as far as I knew. About 9 p.m. we got to the settlement at Provo, which was two or three miles west of where the city of Provo now is. I was sent ahead in charge of the advance guard.

    All was quiet, and we got through their half fortified place without the Indians knowing of us, and made the necessary arrangements for quarters, forage and supper. I was sent for, and found a council of war was called, the object of which was to fix the modus operandi of an attack on the Indians the next morning, which were about three miles above us on the river, in thick brush and heavy cottonwood timber. Officers were appointed, and companies formed, all satisfactory, and then a display of talent from the new and highminded officers ensued.

    The canteen passed around frequently, which inspired their minds, and made assurance of an early victory next morning. I was silent till Colonel Grant turned to me and said, "Well, Captain Bill, what have you got to say? I have not heard a word from you."

    I told him I did not like any of their plans. I reasoned on the Indian mode of fighting, that they would resort to all sorts of stratagem and advantage, and in that light we should look at them, and against such movements lay our plans, which I had not heard proposed by any of his staff. I made a few more suggestions and

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stopped. The canteen passed again, and when it came my turn the Colonel said: "Bill, take a good one; you must be down at the heel." I drank a success for the morrow, after which the Colonel arose, gave orders that the cannon which we had taken with us, should be placed above on the south side of the river, that two small companies should be placed on the north side above and one below, and I should make a selection of twenty horsemen, with good horses, sabres and pistols; that those companies north, east and west, should charge on the camp (now this camp was supposed to contain one hundred warriors), and drive them out into fair ground, where I could, with my company, charge upon and chop them up.

    I went to my quarters, studying whether it was the want of brains or too much canteen that had caused such plans. But, thought I to myself, if it suits you I am satisfied.

    All set and off in the morning as per order. One of my men asked me as we were going to the field of battle, what I thought of their running the Indians out of the brush for us to kill. I told him I would agree to eat all the Indians we got a chance to kill that day. All reached their posts about nine o'clock. The sound of musketry was heard, and the roar of cannon, which was kept up all day. Occasionally we would see them packing off a dead or wounded man, but no Indians for us. The sun was about an hour and a half high, when I made a rush with my company of cavalry within a hundred yards of the Indian camp without orders, fired into them, wheeled

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and left for our place. Several balls whistled amongst us, but nobody was hurt.

    Soon after this the bugle sounded a retreat, and the Indians set up such a yell of victory that one would think ten thousand devils had been turned loose. We went back to our quarters. Officers and men looked sad. Some of our men were killed, and some wounded. Supper being over, I was sent for again. I went in and looked around, but did not see a big feeling man amongst them. I felt rather tickled to see the contrast between that and the night before.

    After talking over all that had transpired that day, I was the first one asked to say what should be done the next day. I told them that my plan of strategy and surprise would not work now, as the Indians knew we meant fight in earnest; that I saw no other way than to select the best Captains, and let them pick their companies, and take the brush, crawl up within gun shot, and play upon them, while the Colonel would be where he could see what was going on, and at any time in the afternoon that he thought fit, sound a charge on which a general rush was to be made to wind up the fight.

    My plan was adopted without any opposition, and I was chosen for one of those brush Captains, and placed on the north, where the hottest fire had come from the day before. I got my men within eighty yards of their camp without being seen, and poured a volley of shots in amongst them, which made a great scattering and hiding. We got under cover of brush and banks, and whenever an Indian showed himself we would turn loose on

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"I took the head, gun, bow and arrows, mounted my horse—took a pretty squaw behind me, and a sick papoose in front, and was off for my quarters." Page 68.

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him. In this position we lay all day, in snow fifteen inches deep, but I never heard a man complain of being cold. The companies played upon them above and below. Capt. Kimball from in front, or rather from the south, made a rush to take a log house within gun shot of them, in which he had his horse shot dead under him. Kimball was both brave and venturesome.

    Captain Conover, who had charge of the Company above me in the afternoon, laughingly asked me if my men were all there; I told him I thought so. He said I must be mistaken, and asked me if I had had any killed. I told him no; upon which he said: "One of your men is dead, the one that wore that tall hat." I looked around, and that one was gone. The Captain laughed again, saying: "He is dead. When I saw you bringing your men into position, I saw him stop about one hundred yards behind in a bunch of brush. The Indians saw him, and commenced shooting at him, when he left and ran close to me. I called to him to stop, but could not get him to halt, and saw him jump through the fork of a tree twelve feet high, and know he broke his neck before he stopped." Poor fellow; he luckily escaped, and was as brave a man as I had at the supper table.

    This brave soldier is now one of the Colonels of the Utah militia, and expects to whip the United States when Brigham gives the word. Such men should be greatly feared, lest they get scared, and sure enough break their necks.

    There was no charge sounded, but we knew we had done good execution that day. The Indians made a lamentable

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yell until the bugle sounded a retreat, then all was still. No shouts of victory or Indian yells were heard that evening. All went to quarters. Two days of fighting, and that breakfast spell of Indians not wiped but yet.

    The next day was Sunday, and fighting was suspended. In the afternoon the Colonel took some fifty men, me with them, to ride around the Indian camp, and see how things looked. After some time I was satisfied there were no Indians there. I told the Colonel so, and urged him to make a charge on the camp, as there was plenty of us to use them up anyhow. He was not in favor of it. I fell behind, and when a good opportunity offered, made a dash through their camp; saw some children and some wounded; rode around quickly and out again, and called to the Colonel. He said they might be in ambush. Then James Hirons, as brave a man as I ever was with, came to me, and we dashed in again, and around, and then called to the company, who rushed in and found the Indians were gone.

    The dead and wounded lay thick, only half-a-dozen sick children were left. Everything was burned, and we took with us the children, who were well taken care of. The next day we found the remainder had gone to the mountains, the snow being very deep there. We placed a guard at the mouth of the cañon, and went in search of other portions of the tribe in the south end of the valley. I was sent with s party of six to spy out the situation of the Indians on Spanish Fork, twelve miles south. We found the Indians encamped in the brush on the creek,

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and fifty or sixty head of horses feeding on fair ground close by. On our arrival in sight some of the Indians rushed out and drove their horses into the brush. On our return conversation was about the number of Indians we had seen. Some said thirty, some forty, and some sixty. I was riding with Captain Carus, a fine, clever old Dutchman. "ell," said he, "Villiam, how many do you say we saw." I told him twelve, for I had counted them; I mention this to show you how things multiply to persons when fear and excitement have possession of the inexperienced, such as these.

    On the next day we marched for them, but on search, found a trail where they had left for the Utah Lake, some twelve or fifteen miles west. While searching I accidently spied an Indian in the brush, in all probability left as a rear guard. I rushed towards him; he shot two or three arrows at me, and wheeled to run. I shot at him, which made him bound through the brush, tearing off his quiver of arrows, but did not hit him.

    Here I must stop and tell a story of my outfitting before leaving Salt Lake. One of the old fathers, sixty-five or seventy years of age, came and brought me his old-fashioned broad sword, asking me if I would accept it on this trip. I told him I would, and thank him, too; upon which the old man said: "May God bless and preserve you, and may I have the pleasure of cleaning it on your return." The Indian was seared by my pursuit, and going through the brush had about one hundred yards of a clear place to pass. I crowded my horse at his full strength through the brush, just keeping in sight of

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the Indian; but I thought of the request of the old man to clean his sword on my return, so I drew it, and before he got through the open space overtook him and made a heavy back-handed cut on his head. He fell, and I jumped off my horse and ran the sword through him, putting it up without wiping:

    We then struck on the Indian trail, found them at dark encamped on the lake near the head. General Daniel H. Wells had just come to us on the Indian trail. He was Commander-in-Chief. He stationed guards around the Indian camp in order to prevent their escape during the night. This was a bitter cold night on the Lake shore—snow on the ground, and the wind blowing a gale. We had had no dinner, had no supper, no blankets, and nothing but sage-brush to make fires, and even that was scarce and small. The body of the men camped or rather stopped below, and took turns pulling this brush, which kept them from freezing.

    I was placed above on the Lake shore with Lot Smith and John Little, Jr., who would take turns going to the fire, leaving one with me all the time. My orders were to stay until relieved. I walked my post and kept from freezing with much ado.

    As soon as it got light I got orders at the sound of the bugle to charge their camp, and strange to say, I was alone when the charge was sounded. I ran up on the beach in order to give me a fair view of what was or would be going on. Firing commenced, and I saw an Indian coming towards me unnoticed by the company. I got behind a bush and waited until he was within eight

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feet of me, when I shot him dead, ran for the battle, and saw an Indian start on the ice. I ran him some three or four hundred yards, got within fifty steps of him and downed him, returned, and the battle was ended. Fourteen Indians lay almost in a pile. Some twenty odd were killed in all. General Wells started a party of fourteen of our men up the Lake bench to see if there was any more Indians near by. We had not gone more than two miles when we saw five Indians coming down the Lake shore on horseback, on the edge of the ice, which was about two feet thick, with a little snow on it. They turned back, and we after them. Here was a nice chase, but as usual, only three or four of us had horses fast enough to catch the Indians. I shot the first, Lot Smith the next, and I the next, who came near falling off his horse, but recovered. The savages were shooting back at us with rifles and arrows whenever we got close to them.

    Lot was a brave man; whenever he emptied his gun he would get another and pitch in again. These guns were willingly handed him by those cautious fellows behind, and he emptied some half-dozen of them. I had a slide rifle; six shots in a slide, and three slides, making eighteen shots on hand. Lot shot at an Indian whose horse had fell on the ice and broke his gun, but he kept trying to shoot. We halted and gave him six or eight shots before he fell. One Indian alone was on his horse wounded, and I saw Lieut. R. T. Burton make a dash for him. He had a good horse, and I thought it no use to go any further, as Burton would be sure to get him. I watched him and saw him shoot off his pistols at the Indian

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when two or three hundred yards from him, and turn back. I mounted my horse, a good one, too, and crowded him for the Indian, who by this time was a mile ahead. He left the Lake and started across the bench for the mountains. I dismounted, took good aim at him, and fired; he fell, then rose and climbed over some rocks. I shot at him again, when he left his horse, went up the mountain about a hundred yards and fell dead.

    I went to camp, and we had provisions sent to us, which were very acceptable, as we had had nothing to eat since breakfast the day before. We scouted the country a few days and went to Provo to go up the cañon and wind up the war. Two companies were sent up the cañon, one under Captain Lameraux, and one under Captain Little. I was sent ahead as a spy with Mr. Hirons, of whom I have already spoken. We proceeded up the cañon some two or three miles, occasionally going up the side of the mountain so we could get a fair view of things ahead. We did not see anything for some time, when all at once we looked below and saw the Indians in a ravine not a hundred yards off. We had reached this place under cover, saw the Indian spies looking down the cañon, and knew from all appearances we had not been seen. "What shall we do?" said Hirons. I answered, "We will give them a shot apiece, and if they don't run, we will." "Pick your man so we won't both shoot at the same Indian," said he. We lay snug behind the rocks; the word was given by him, and we both fired, fetching our men. The Indians broke, and we fired again, but I do not think we hit any, as they were running. We

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threw ourselves in sight, and waived our handkerchiefs for the companies to come on. As far as we could see the Indians were running up the cañon.

    We went down to see the Indians we had shot. Hirons told me I had killed the chief, Big Elk. I took off his head, for I had heard the old mountaineer, Jim Bridger, say he would give a hundred dollars for it. I tied it in his blanket and laid it on a flat rock; hid his gun and bow and arrows, forty-two number one good arrows, and awaited the arrival of the company. The reason I hid the above named articles was because I had tried to get some arrows or some relic to take home with me, from several of those cautious fellows who were great warriors, but not one could I get; they had all been taken by them to take home to show what victories they had achieved.

    The companies soon came up, when we attacked and killed nearly all the Indians. We took about fifty women and children prisoners. When I came to where I had killed the chief, I had to laugh. Those rear fellows who had been in the habit of picking up everything, had untied the blanket that was around the chief's head, but on seeing what it contained left it untied with the head sitting in the middle of it, entirely untouched. I took the head, gun, bow and arrows, mounted my horse, took a pretty squaw behind me and a sick pappoose in front, and was off for our quarters.

    This wound up the Indian war of '49, so called, although it was in the spring of '50. We took the prisoners to the city, and distributed them among the people. The warriors were all killed but seven or eight, and the

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"I hit him over the head, killing him instantly."—Page 75.

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next spring all the prisoners that wanted to went to adjoining tribes.

    All was peace and no Indian troubles for three years after this. I went to work on my farm, fencing and building, but had poor luck. Did not get the water out of the river so as to irrigate it in time. The California immigration began to come in. I had that spring purchased a few Indian ponies, and had them fat, just what the emigrants wanted. I spent the summer trading and herding stock. I herded the stock belonging to the Church and Brigham Young. I delivered them all to Brigham in the fall, having lost none, and charged him nothing. The bill should have been over one hundred dollars, but I made a good summer's trade and built more houses. In the fall I got my leg broke by a horse falling on it, and was lame for eight or ten months.

    In the winter, Brigham Young saw me with a fine bay horse I had traded for that summer, and wanted him. I gave the horse to him.

    I got the gold fever, and went to California in the fall of '51. Left Salt Lake in August, and went to Bear River north, on the California Road, where there were some emigrants organizing, and awaiting to get a good company, as the Indians had been very bad that year, killing sometimes an entire train. A few Mormon boys went, five I think. This was the last train that went through that year. It was composed of people from Missouri and Illinois, and Mormons, with two South Carolinians, making in all 42 men, six of them having their families along. Some had horses, some mules, and

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some ox teams, with a few head of loose cattle, and a dozen loose horses, but not one good riding horse. We all got together to organize for a start. When the meeting was called I was astonished to hear myself nominated for captain, as I was not acquainted with ten men in the company. I got up and objected, but this was of no use; they said that they had heard of me, those who did not know me, and had made up their minds to have me for their Captain; that we had to go through a country full of bad Indians, and they knew from what they had heard that I knew more about them than any other person in the company, and I had to accept.

    I found I had a first rate set of fellows, several of whom had served in the Mexican war, and served in several battles, and one of Kit Carson's old Indian fighters, some old farmers from the States with their families, and, taken all together, a company that would be an honor to any man. The twentieth of August we started. The next company ahead of us had been gone two weeks, had horse and mule teams, and sixty-four men in the company.

    All moved off nicely, until we got about four hundred miles on our road, and were traveling down the Humboldt River. There we began to see where wagons had been burned, and also skeletons of men, women and children, their long and beautiful hair hanging on the brush; and sometimes a head with as beautiful locks of hair as I ever saw, and sometimes those of little children, with two or three inches of flaky hail either lying by or near them, the wolves having eaten the flesh off their

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bones. But all the bodies of the men, women and children that were found had a portion of the skin taken off the tops of their heads. They had all been scalped, and the savages, in all probability, as we talked of it, were then in the mountains having war-dances with the whoops and yells of demons, over these scalps of honesty and innocence.

    Some of the boys began to get terribly riled up, and wanted to stop and hunt the Indians. Our train traveled snugly together and camped on clear ground, tying our horses at night, and corraling our cattle, always keeping out a strong guard. About this time we met the train coming back that had started ahead of us, having fought the Indians several days, lost nearly half of their stock, and twelve or thirteen of their men. They advised us to turn back, assuring us there was no show to get through. We thought differently, and some of the boys laughed at them. Finding out we were determined they turned to go with us, but told us they had traveled and fought Indians all day only three days before. As we journeyed, with the new company in our rear, all at once there was a dash, a hoot and a yell from the brush about three hundred yards off. The train was halted; twenty-five of my men in less than a minute had their guns, about half of us mounted our horses, the balance on foot, and instead of waiting for them to circle and fight we went for them, telling at the same time the other company to remain still and take care of the teams.

    The Indians had made no arrangements for a retreat,

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but ran into the willow brush on the river, which was fordable anywhere, and after them we went. They took a fright like a gang of wild antelopes, and ran in all directions. We popped them right and left until all were out of sight. I flew around on my horse to see the boys, fearing I had lost some of them, but all were safe. Two were slightly wounded. All swore they would scalp the Indians, and have a war-dance over their scalps. I told them to do as they pleased. They got thirty-two scalps off of the Indians killed on the ground, and what gave my men increased anger, one of the Indians was found with the scalps of two women, cured and dried, and another had the scalp of a child, I should think not more than three or four years of age. I need not tell you—you may guess the feeling that existed.

    We all had a great war-dance that night. Our friends from the company behind us came over and declared positively they had never seen such men before; said it was a wonder we were not all killed, and declared they saw one hundred and fifty Indians. The boys seemed easy for a day or two, but on finding another quantity of bodies became anxious for another fight.

    We traveled quietly for probably one hundred miles, when four Indians were seen crawling through the sage brush towards our stock; we went for and got them; killed and scalped them. We were now getting toward the sink of the Humboldt, and began to see a great many fresh Indian tracks. The next day they seemed to be gathering in from all directions to about the place we intended camping. The sun was about two hours high

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when we discovered them on the bench, and in the willow brush on the opposite side of the river. I kept the train moving until we got into a low place out of their sight, when we halted, and the men got their guns and mounted in short notice. We had twenty-six men ready. I wanted the company behind to take hand in the fight, but the boys would not agree to it.

    We got within gun shot of the Indians before they saw us. The boys made a rush on them, shooting, hooting, and yelling in such a manner that they all took fright before firing a gun or shooting an arrow. The boys dashed into the brush, keeping up a constant firing, and the Indians rose around us as thick almost as a gang of sheep. I never saw the like. They took down the river into large and thick brush. I saw up the hill, about a mile off, one of my men after an Indian. He shot at him, wheeled his horse, and started back. I had just emptied one slide of my gun, six loads, and had no other slide with me. One of my men had a good rifle, which I took and started at full speed over the sage brush, met the man and asked him what was the matter. He said he had shot off his gun and both pistols, and had no more ammunition with him. In about two miles I overtook the Indian. He had got close to the mountain, and had two arrows left, which he turned loose at me. One of them cut my coat collar. I saw he had no more, rode within a rod of him, and bursted a cap at him. I then made a drive for him on my horse. He was the largest Indian I ever saw, and ran like a scared wolf. I caught my gun by the breech,

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ran on him and struck him over the head with such a force I broke the gun off at the breech. The barrel fell some ten feet off, and the Indian in front of me, and my horse fell over him. I lit on my feet, jumped and caught up the gun-barrel, and wheeled for the Indian. He was getting up when I hit him again over the head, killing him instantly, the blow bending the heavy barrel four inches. I jerked off his scalp and went back as fast as my horse could carry me.

    On the bluff of the river sat Doc. Ripley on his horse, over an Indian he said he had killed. Said he to me: "Captain, take off his scalp for me, as your hands are bloody. I am not spleeny about such things. I have cut up many a dead person in the dissecting rooms." I dismounted, caught him by the top of his head, and as soon as I began to cut, he jumped straight on his feet. I stabbed him with my knife a few times, which soon ended him.

    On examination we found he was only shot through the flesh of the arm. We counted forty-six killed. Two of our men got shot in the legs, and one in the thumb. All got well by the time we got to California After this we traveled unmolested.

    When we got on Carson River, a lamentable circumstance took place. The Kit Carson man got killed. He was the best man I had. His name was John Watson. He was killed by the worst man I had, a man who was said to be running away from Missouri for murdering a man there. They had a quarrel, and this man undertook to shoot Watson, but would have got killed if I

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had not interfered. Watson came to me and told me he knew the man intended killing him, and thought it hard I would not let him shoot him. I then went and talked to the man, and he promised faithfully he would not touch Watson. I told Watson there was no danger. He thought different, but said he would be quiet, and not another word passed between them. That evening Watson was lying on his blankets, sleeping, when this man, Hensley, went and put his pistol to his head and blew out his brains.

    I was then out after the horses. When I came to camp he was walking around with four pistols on his belt, swearing there was not men enough in camp to take him, and if they undertook it he could kill half a dozen. I thought of taking my gun and shooting him down, but thought of my position, sat down at my camp-fire and said nothing, but thought there was time enough to have him attended to, knowing there was no show for him to get away.

    The next morning we made a coffin of a wagon-box, and buried Watson in a military style, firing thirty shots over his grave. Now I will here say this man Hensley in an Indian fight was not brave, but always behind in dangerous places; although from report he had killed several men before this. I told the boys we would attend to him that evening. We wanted to move on about ten miles to get good feed for our animals. The camp, which had been almost universally lively and full of fun, moved off with a dismal look, not a cheerful countenance to be seen. It seemed as if all had lost a brother,

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"I rode up by his side and shot him through the heart." Page 94.

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and indeed it was almost so. Watson's piercing eye had passed nothing unnoticed in our travels. He was always ahead when a fight was on hand, and when in camp would amuse the boys by telling his adventures with Kit Carson, his hunting and Indian stories, narrow escapes and big victories, which was done in such a hearty, plain, and sociable manner that everybody liked him.

    We moved on, found good grass, and encamped, and soon a company of sixteen men came on the same flat, from California, and encamped below us. I went and found their captain, a man I had known in Illinois. He had been in California two years, and was going back on the forty-mile sand desert, which we had just crossed, for wagons that had been left there. I got a good drink of brandy, and then told him of the circumstance that had happened in our camp. He and all his men shouted: "Hang him up. Why have you not done it before? We have to do it in this country and in California in the absence of law. If he had done such a deed in the mines, where you are going, he would have been hung in less than three hours."

    I invited the captain to come up after dark, and bring half a dozen of his best men with him, stating that I would have him arrested, and we would investigate the case. I selected four of my best men, told them to get as close to him as they could, and then bounce upon him. I watched, and he did not appear to notice until one of them got in about ten feet of him, when he straightened up, put his hand on a pistol, but

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had no time to draw it before all four of my men had him tight, and he was soon tied. Supper being over, the captain of the California company, with six men, came into camp. I called my company together and took a vote of the company to see what was their wish. All voted for a trial. I then appointed a judge and three jurymen, and the California captain appointed three of his men as jurymen, to hear the case. I stated that I would appoint this California captain to prosecute the case, and the prisoner might choose one or two to assist him. I took a vote on this, and it was unanimously agreed to. The prisoner got his counsel.

    The judge and jury were seated, all things went off smoothly, and no evidence was denied. When through, the prisoner was asked what he had to say. He answered: "That d—d s—n of a b—h, he insulted me by giving me the lie, and no man can do that and live. That's my motto, and Watson knew it; consequently he deserved death." This was his only reason for killing him. The jury was out about fifteen minutes, and returned a verdict of murder in the first degree.

    All was still, and I called a vote of the company, giving that same jury power to say what should be done with him. All agreed. They were out about five minutes, returned, and said: "Hang him." Men were sent to find a tree with a limb suitable, and found one a few hundred yards from camp. This was about two o'clock in the night. A brush-fire was built, and the prisoner notified he had half an hour to live, and could say what he had to say during that time. He got a man to pray

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for him, who prayed about ten minutes. Then the prisoner commenced finding fault with almost everyone in camp. His time was cried every five minutes. He swore and used the roughest language, acting more like a devil than a man going to die.

    When the last five minutes was cried, he turned to me, whom he seemed to have missed in his volley of abuse, and said: "There is the captain, a man I thought was a gentleman. It was in his power to have saved me, but he has let all this go on and not tried to prevent my being hanged, and, if there is such a thing, I will come back and haunt you all the days of your life." I replied: "I am not much afraid of live men, and much less of dead ones."

    A lariat was put around his neck, thrown over a limb, and he was drawn four feet from the ground, and the other end fastened to a stake, and left until morning. Next morning he was rolled in his blanket, and buried under the same tree, and at eight o'clock we rolled on. I noticed the looks of the company that day, and all seemed to say we had done right.

    Next we got to the Mormon station kept by Colonel Reese, a Mormon trader. It is now known as Genoa. There were eight or ten men there, but not a woman in the valley. When we reached California I sold my stock and went to mining; worked in the Coon Hill diggings four or five weeks, and sank three hundred dollars. This was one mile south of Placerville, then called Hangtown.

    While working there, William Haven, a man who had

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wintered in Salt Lake Valley the year before, came to see me and wanted me to mine with him. He was in company with two others, he having two shares and they one apiece; so I went and paid him two hundred dollars for one of his shares, and went to work. I soon made acquaintances, and to many was a matter of curiosity as a Mormon from Salt Lake. People would come to see me, as if expecting to see a different species of human being. Sometimes we made as high as forty dollars per day to the hand.

    There was no law in the mines at that time only miners' laws, which was justice in all cases, irrespective of persons. I had to sit arbitrator on two cases of theft, the punishment for which was hanging. Both were for stealing money, small amounts, not over one hundred dollars. After sentence, I made a speech begging leniency—asked mercy for them—proposed giving them a good dose of pine limbs, which, when put to a vote of the company, was agreed to. They got a good dressing-down, and were never seen on that flat afterwards.

    I made about one thousand dollars there, went to another place and sank money running a tunnel; went to another place and began placer mining again.

    About this time the California papers were full of news about trouble in Utah. Some judges had been sent here, and they and Brother Brigham could not hitch horses. The papers talked fight all the time, and stated that United States troops were to be sent to Salt Lake as soon as they could cross the Plains. I grew uneasy about home, and determined to return as soon as I could

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cross the mountains. I had intended to stay another year, but, true to my friend Brigham, thought if trouble came on I could help him some, and this was more than money to me.

    I had the pleasure of digging gold in several places. The largest nugget I found weighed a little over four ounces, but I worked many a day that I did not make anything. I invested money in deep diggings, and lost several hundred dollars. In June, '52, eight of us were ready to go to Salt Lake, four of us living there, and the other four going to the States. We bought Spanish horses and mules, fine and fat, rigged up pack-saddles, bought good riding-saddles, and set out for Salt Lake, which we reached in twenty-one days. On the Humboldt River, where the Indians had been so bad the year before, we met a heavy emigration going to California, this—1852—being the greatest year for emigration.

    We arrived in Salt Lake the 3d of July. I went home, ten miles south of the city; found the family all alive and well, the stock all fat, and I at home again with a few hundreds to make them comfortable. The next day I went and saw Brigham Young, and made him a present of fifty dollars. We had a long meeting.

    I spent the summer and fall at home, trading some with the late California emigrants, getting two poor animals for one fat one, and bought some at less than half what they were worth when fat.

    Winter came on and there was much said about one Ike Hatch and his company stealing horses and cattle. Brigham wanted me to watch him and some others, and

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report to him, which I did for two or three months. I found that he was killing beef and bringing it to town, and stealing horses and trading them off to persons going away from the Territory. He was bringing in beef for some of Brigham Young's special friends, either as a donation or partnership; anyway they had him steal for them, and bring it to them. I reported this to Brigham also, which seemed to strike him anew with rather a set-back, and I was not asked to watch him again. A month or two after this a man living thirty-five miles south, who had lost his last and only pair of horses, found out Hatch had stolen them, came to me and said he had got the word from Brigham to kill him, and wanted me and another man to assist him. Hatch was watched for and shot, lived a few days and died. This was laid to me, and I never denied it. Brigham Young said that was a good deed, let who would do it. 

    After he was killed, his family moved south fifty miles, but his comrades kept up their stealing and finally started East. This man who had lost his horses came to me about midnight the first of April, '53, and said the Hatch party had gone, and he thought they had his horses along, from what he could learn; said he had been to Brigham Young, and he told him to come and get me and some others, and follow and kill the last one of them.

    The next day I was in the city, mounted on the best horse in the Territory, with another good one for my friend. We got off at 3 p.m. The day had been warm, the snow deep, and the waters were high; so that we

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had to travel on the mountain sides, on the Indian trail, up the cañon. The wind blew a hurricane blast, and the clouds overshadowed the mountain, so that when we had passed the first range we were obliged to stop. It commenced to snow, and one of the worst storms I ever saw ensued. Morning came and the storm abated, but the tracks of the party we were in pursuit of were put out by the snow. Guessing at the road they would go, we set out and went to Fort Bridger, but could hear nothing of them. I was left at Fort Bridger with one man to watch for them. The balance went to Green River, seventy miles farther on. They had been gone two days, when some mountaineers came to Fort Bridger and told me they had seen such men as we were inquiring for in Echo Cañon the day before, and when they—i. e., the horse-thieves, saw them, they ran, taking up the mountain. I had only a boy of eighteen with me, untried and unproven; did not know whether he would stand up to the rack in danger or not. I asked him what he thought of going after them, and he said he would go with me.

    We started at 10 o'clock a.m., and by dark were at the mouth of Echo Cañon, seventy miles away, where an old man and his son-in-law lived. But these were of no advantage to us, as neither of them had nerve enough to pull a setting-hen off her nest. I inquired about the thieves, but they knew nothing about them. It commenced snowing and raining that night, and kept it up until the next day. Next morning it cleared off fine and warm; the snow passed off the south hill-sides,

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and we went out to look for tracks. Found old ones on the mountain-side which we thought must have been made by them; followed them about four miles and came to fresh ones, just made, going towards Weber River. We looked up and down the river, being on the mountain-side, so we could see for miles each way, and saw them near the river about two miles off. Saw them shooting wild geese. There were four of them, and all had guns and pistols. We had Colt's revolvers only.

    We watched them some time, and studied how we could get to them without being seen. We fell back and took down the river, keeping out of sight until we were close to them. I told Joe to cock his pistol, and I cocked mine. I looked at him, and he was pale and trembling. I hit him a slap on the face, and told him I would break his head if he did not look out. His color came, his nerve steadied, and his eyes flashed with anger. I said to him: "Obey orders, and follow me."

    We rode around the brush and made a dash upon them, at the same time crying out: "Here they are, boys, come on." I ordered a surrender, told them to deliver their arms to Joe forthwith, at the same time presenting my pistol at the one I considered the most dangerous, and swearing to shoot the first man that hesitated. They delivered up their arms in quick time. I told Joe to keep back a few paces, while I marched them in front of me to the house at the mouth of the cañon. When we got into the road they wanted to know where the balance of the company was. I made them believe they were close by, but when we got to the house it was

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soon known that we had no company with us. They swore if they had known that, they would not have been taken, and began talking of leaving. We took a gun apiece, hid the balance of their arms, and stood guard over them.

    In a short time our men were up, not a dry hair on their horses. When they returned to Fort Bridger and heard the news, they came on as fast as their horses could bring them. We then learned the thieves' camp was six miles back in the mountain; that their horses were there, and all their camp equipage, and that one of their company had gone to the city for flour.

    The next day we went to their camp and brought everything to the house; found three stolen animals, but the man who had come for me, expecting to find his horses, was disappointed. We had no evidence against three of the prisoners, but started them for the city, and sent the guilty one down the river with a bullet-hole through him.

    We divided our company, as there were two roads to the city, in order to catch the other thief, Ike Vaughn. The party I was not with caught him at the mouth of Emigration Cañon, within five miles of the city, returning to his company. I got to the city with my party about dark, and learned they had Vaughn. We had had a hard trip through the snow, crossing the mountain, had storms on us half the time, and were tired and worn out, so we turned the prisoner over to the acting police, with instructions to wind up his career that night.

    About midnight we were wakened from a sound sleep

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by one of the police, who told us the prisoner was gone. We asked him how it happened. He said they took him out and hit him a rap on the head, when he broke loose and outran them. We got up and searched until daylight, but got no trace of him. I went with Mr. R—, the man who had lost his horses, to see Brigham Young, and make a report of what we had done.

    Mr. R— gave him a full report of all that had taken place, and the escape of Vaughn. He said we had done well; told us to go home and rest, and then go after Vaughn again, and never stop until we had killed him. We then asked him what should be done with their property. He said: "Turn it over to the Church." He saw Mr. R— did not like this, having lost his horses, which were taken by this party, been on a hard trip, and then to turn over property to those who had plenty, did not suit him. Brother Brigham finally said: "Take the property and divide it among yourselves," which we did.

    I got a small Spanish mule worth seventy-five dollars, a rifle, and two half-worn blankets for my share. Here let me say that this is all I ever got for services rendered on Brigham Young's orders. Neither did I ever receive a present from him, not so much as one dollar. But from the cause of my former belief I questioned nothing, supposing him right; in all things, and it not only a duty, but highly necessary that I should obey his commands, and in the end it would prove both spiritual and temporal salvation to me, which situation thousands of others are now in, in this Territory.

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    We rested one day, when Mr. R—, with one man, started south to San Pete Valley, a distance of one hundred and twenty-five miles, to see if Vaughn was there, as he had some acquaintances living there. They called on the widow of I. Hatch, thinking he might be there, but got no news of him. Mrs. Hatch told Mr. R—that her husband said just before he died that he had taken Mr. R—'s horses, and sold them to a Californian; that they were gone and he was sorry, but could not help it now, and wanted her to tell Mr. R—, if she ever saw him.

    They returned, not hearing of Vaughn, but said they had things fixed so that if he was seen he would be attended to. Shortly after this he told me Vaughn was caught and killed down South. I never asked him who did it; nor do I know yet. The other three were turned loose, and went to California.

    I had been making preparations for a road trade all winter, intending to take an outfit and go somewhere in the vicinity of Green River, and trade with the California and Oregon immigration for tired and lame stock, and buy surplus loading, which was generally sold cheap when teams began to get tired.

    I commenced reading law, of which I had a smattering when quite young. I had given attention to it ever since I saw that law knowledge and talent were quite ordinary, as a general thing, in this country. I thought I would, after awhile, make a business of practicing law, but this summer I intended to trade. I got my outfit of stock, groceries, and a set of blacksmith's tools, and

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[click to enlarge]

Hickman killing Hartley, by order of Orson Hyde, one of the Twelve Apostles. Page 98.

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went to Green River; got there the first of May, and the mountain-traders, some forty or fifty, all met me, wanting whisky. I had plenty, and sold whisky a few days at two dollars per pint, and took in six or seven hundred dollars. I thought I had better go back farther on the road, as there were so many trading at and around Green River; so I went to Pacific Springs, sixty miles farther east, set up shop and grocery, and the immigration soon began to come. Horses-shoeing, wagon-repairing, and whisky were all in big demand, and lame stock cheap.

    I had been there but a few days when Doc. Morton, from St. Louis, came with a similar outfit for a road trade. He was surgeon in Colonel Doniphan's regiment of volunteers, from western Missouri, during the Mexican war. He was also the Morton of the wholesale drug store in St. Louis. This gentleman had seen something of the Plains, and was taking this trip for a change, not expecting to find any trader there. He seemed sad and disappointed. I saw he was a gentleman, and told him there would be trade enough for us both; so he set up his establishment about two hundred yards from me. Emigration from the East to California and Oregon soon came thick. Drove after drove of cattle passed daily, most of which had lame or tired ones to sell. We paid from five to ten dollars per head; seldom over. Traded for several good horses, some lame, some sick; bought clothing, groceries, wagons, harness, and tents at a low figure.

    We wound up some time in August. The Doctor went

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to Salt Lake with his stock, sold out, and went to St. Louis that fall. I got home with over a hundred head more stock than I started with and a little of almost everything else. I made a reckoning after I got home of what I had made that summer, and it was over nine thousand dollars. I had bought some of the finest Durham stock I ever saw; they being heavy and tender, could not be driven through. From this stock I raised, and had the premium stock of the Salt Lake fairs for many years.

    During the summer a difficulty took place between the ferrymen and mountain men. The latter had always owned and run the ferry across Green River; but the Utah Legislature granted a charter to Hawley, Thompson & McDonald, for all the ferries there. The mountain men, who had lived there for many years, claimed their rights to be the oldest, and a difficulty took place, in which the mountain men took forcible possession of all the ferries but one, making some thirty thousand dollars out of them. When the ferrying season was over, the party having the charter brought suit against them for all they had made during the summer.

    About this time it was rumored that Jim Bridger was furnishing the Indians with powder and lead to kill Mormons. Affidavits were made to that effect, and the sheriff was ordered out with a posse of one hundred and fifty-men to arrest him, capture his ammunition, and destroy all his liquors. I was sent for to come to Brigham Young's office. He told me he wanted me to go with the sheriff, James Ferguson, and party, as I had

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been out there that summer, was acquainted with those mountaineers, and might be of special service. I accordingly went; Bridger had heard of this and left—no one knew where to. We searched around several days for him. Finally one of the party who had taken the ferries, came to Fort Bridger and was arrested. No ammunition was found, but the whisky and rum, of which he had a good stock, was destroyed by doses: the sheriff, most of his officers, the doctor and chaplain of the company, all aided in carrying out the orders, and worked so hard day and night that they were exhausted—not being able to stand up. But the privates, poor fellows! were rationed, and did not do so much.

    I saw how things were going, and told the sheriff I was going home. He then asked me if I would make one of Lieutenant Eph. Hanks' party to take the prisoner into Salt Lake. I agreed, and we started in the afternoon. Hanks was full of rum. The necessary supplies were laid in, which consisted of a few canteens of the same. We intended to travel forty miles before we slept, but when night came on it was very dark. The canteens made things lively until we came to some brush, when the prisoner, Elisha Ryan, slipped off his horse, and in an instant was in the brush out of sight. We searched for him an hour or two, and sent two of the party back to Fort Bridger, while Hanks and myself came on to the city and made our report. Hanks being one of the star boys, so looked up to, felt rather cheap when his rum gave out and he came to himself, on seeing what he had done.

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    The posse went to Green River, shot two or three mountaineers, took several hundred head of stock, returned to Fort Bridger, and what whisky they could not drink they poured out, reserving, however, enough to keep them drunk until they got home. The property that was taken went to pay a few officers, and, as was said, the expenses of the posse; but, poor fellows, I never knew of one of them getting a dollar. It went to pay tithing; and, finally, all was gobbled up and turned over to the Church, and Hawley & Co. never got a cent. This did not suit him very well; but he had to stand it, and it sticks in his craw to this day. The old man tells some wonderful stories about that and other losses sustained by Church authority; but that is his history and not mine, and I will pass over it as I have, and will do, with many others; but, at the close of my history, I may give to you the manner in which several have been treated in financial affairs by those holding authority over them.

    That fall, after harvest, my horses were gathered and put into a field having probably seventy-five acres, which had not been cultivated, and bore the finest of grass. One morning my hired boy came in and told me Frenchy was gone, one of the finest little French horses I ever saw; his mane hanging to his knees, and his foretop to the end of his nose; a horse I had got the year before, and given a big price for him. I found him very gentle, and made my wife a present of him—that same good woman whom I have told you I courted and married when but a boy. He paced finely; she loved horseback

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riding, and with him could make a showing among a hundred horses.

    We found where the fence had been let down and the horse led out, and a man's tracks. I sent for my horse, which was the best in the Territory, and put one of my hired men on the next best, and started. About noon we got his track, and were satisfied which way he had gone. We traveled at the rate of eight miles an hour, and just before sundown I saw my horse coming out of the swamps of Utah Lake, sixty miles from where we started. I was both mad and tired. The man on him hailed me and wanted to know if he could have our company south. I felt too indignant to speak. I rode up by his side and shot him through the head, took my horse and went home, I did not get off my horse to examine him. I never heard from him after. Whether he was found or buried I do not know.

    I was in the city a few days after, and, as in duty bound, made report to Brigham Young, who held the right of life-taking in his own hands, and nobody else, as we had often been told. He said I had done just right. I will here state that, while at Pacific Springs, on the South Pass, at my trading-post, among the emigration passing, one of my brothers came along, going to California. I had not seen him for twelve years, and did not know him. He had studied medicine, had his diploma, and was going to California to practice his profession. I, with much persuasion, got him to stop and spend the winter with me; but before the winter was over, we Mormonized him and got him to join the

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Church. He has been here ever since, and is a good Mormon; but, poor fellow, he has never had but one wife, won't practice medicine, lives on his farm, raises grain, attends to his stock, and goes along as though he was a stereotyped Christian indeed.

    I spent the most of my time that winter reading law-books. I also got the appointment of Deputy United States marshal under Marshal Joseph L. Heywood, he having been appointed by President Z. Taylor, which office I held until '58, doing most of the Marshal's business in the courts, and making all arrests of hard men. That winter, while Judge Shaffer's court was in session, I made application for license to practice law, and a committee, with Almon W. Babbitt as foreman, was appointed to examine me. I was in attendance at the court acting as marshal and bailiff at the same time. The committee reported next morning favorable, after giving me what I thought was a pretty rigid examination, and I was licensed.

    That winter a new county was granted by the Legislature, taking in Green River Ferry, called Green River County. W. I. Appleby was appointed probate judge, with power to organize said county and appoint all necessary officers, who were to hold office until the next election.* From the time that those mountain men had had their property taken by the sheriff and his posse, very ill feelings had existed. Threats were made that they would have as much property out of the Mormons as they had lost by them. Some fears were entertained

*See Appendix—B.

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that they might bother the emigration the next fall, and Brigham Young wanted me to go and stay on Green River that summer, and, if possible, quiet them down in some way or other; and if I could not make peace with them any other way, pitch in and kill those that would not come to terms without, and especially Ryan (he was with the Indians, and would do us much harm, and must go up). This being my charge, I set out with Judge Appleby and Rev. Orson Hyde, who had charge of the new settlement, Fort Supply, twelve miles south of Fort Bridger. Our company consisted of fifteen, this being about the first of May, '54, as soon as we could get across the mountains for snow.

    Orson Hyde being the head of The Twelve, obedience was required to his commands, in the absence of Brigham Young, in all things, whether spiritual or temporal; and, in fact, the man who did not obey had better leave when he could, especially those who might refuse, or give any intimation of a dislike to things that elsewhere would be an open violation of law. But the satisfied point and undoubted fact that God had established His kingdom in the mountains, and Brigham was conversant with the Almighty, was a settled question. In all candor I say I do not think there was then in Utah one in fifty, or, I might say, one in a hundred, who did not believe it. This man Orson Hyde was sanguine in this belief, although there were some points in Brigham Young's conduct he could not see through, but attributed it all, he said, to his inability to comprehend

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the ways of the Almighty. I have traveled with and talked to him on all these subjects.

    When we had got across what was known as the Big Mountain, and into East Cañon, some three or four miles, one Mr. Hartley came to us from Provo City. This Hartley was a young lawyer who had come to Salt Lake from Oregon the fall before, and had married a Miss Bullock, of Provo, a respectable lady of a good family. But word had come to Salt Lake (so said, I never knew whether it did or not), that he had been engaged in some counterfeiting affair. He was a fine-looking, intelligent young man. He told me he had never worked any in his life, and was going to Fort Bridger or Green River to see if he could not get a job of clerking, or something that he could do. But previous to this, at the April Conference, Brigham Young, before the congregation, gave him a tremendous blowing up, calling him all sorts of bad names, and saying he ought to have his throat cut, which made him feel very bad. He declared he was not guilty of the charges.

    I saw Orson Hyde looking very sour at him, and after he had been in camp an hour or two, Hyde told me that he had orders from Brigham Young, if he came to Fort Supply to have him used up. "Now," said he, "I want you and George Boyd to do it." I saw him, and Boyd talking together; then Boyd came to me and said: "It's all right, Bill; I will help you to kill that fellow." One of our teams was two or three miles behind, and Orson Hyde wished me to go back and see if anything had happened to it. Boyd saddled his horse to go with me, but

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Hartley stepped up and said he would go if Boyd would let him have his horse. Orson Hyde said: "Let him have your horse," which Boyd did. Orson Hyde then whispered to me: "Now is your time; don't let him come back." We started, and about half a mile on had to cross the cañon stream, which was midsides to our horses. While crossing, Hartley got a shot and fell dead in the creek. His horse took fright and ran back to camp.

    I went on and met Hosea Stout, who told me the team was coming close by. I turned back, Stout with me, for our camp. Stout asked me if I had seen that fellow, meaning Hartley. I told him he had come to our camp, and he said from what he had heard he ought to be killed. I then told him all that had happened, and he said that was good. When I returned to camp Boyd told me that his horse came into camp with blood on the saddle, and he and some of the boys took it to the creek and washed it off. Orson Hyde told me that was well done; that he and some others had gone on the side of the mountain, and seen the whole performance. We hitched up and went to Weber River that day. When supper was over, Orson Hyde called all the camp together, and said he wanted a strong guard on that night, for that fellow that had come to us in the forenoon had left the company; he was a bad man, and it was his opinion that he intended stealing horses that night. This was about as good a take-off as he could get up, it was all nonsense; it would do well enough to tell; as everyone that did not know what had happened believed it.*

*See Appendix—C.

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[click to enlarge]

Hanging Rock, Echo Cañon; near where Hickman, with his prisoner, Yates, was met by Joseph A. Young, who said his father wanted Yates killed. Page 124.

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