Discourse of Brigham Young, 30 November 1856
Reported by George D. Watt in the Deseret News, 10 December 1856
I have a few words to say, before this meeting is brought to a close. We expect that the last hand-cart company, br. [Edward] Martin’s, will soon be in the streets by the Council House. What preparations the Bishops have made for their comfortable reception and temporary disposal I know not, but I know what I desire and am going to tell it to the people.
When those persons arrive I do not want to see them put into houses by themselves; I want to have them distributed in this city among the families that have good and comfortable houses; and I wish the sisters now before me, and all who know how and can, to nurse and wait upon the new comers and prudently administer medicine and food to them. To speak upon these things is a part of my religion, for it pertains to taking care of the Saints.
We have quite a task upon us this season, for when the last hand-cart company arrives and is comfortably disposed of, we still have about 400 more brethren and sisters who are yet beyond Fort Bridger, probably near Green river. They are those that came out with teams, or the independent companies. All their gold, their silver, their cattle and their other property will not enable them to reach here before the snow has overtaken them; and they had plenty of cattle, of money and means; everything that heart could wish, for an outfit for crossing the plains.
To succor those 400 I call out door business; I call it a snow business, a labor, mountain toil and fatigue of a severe description.
Night before last we received a messenger from those two independent trains, by whom we have learned that they are living on their cattle at Green river. The brethren at Fort Supply are striving to get them as far as Fort Bridger.
Our messengers started out night before last to gather fifty more relief teams. We have sent to Utah and Tooele counties.
Until now, this and Davis and Weber counties have had to bear the burden. We have sent for those teams to carry flour to Fort Bridger, and load back with people. Some, perhaps, will have to be left there, and if so we will carry supplies to them and keep bringing in the people, until all are comfortably provided for.
Those that are yet back have been living probably for nearly a week, solely on the cattle that die; they have no flour, and are subsisting upon cattle that drop down through weakness and exposure, which is certainly hard fare. Still, do not be scared, for they will eat and live and come here.
I can say that the great majority of the brethren here, so far as we have called on them to assist this year’s immigration, have freely and nobly manifested their faith by their works. True, some that went out have been imprudent, though I think it will all come out right and I can feel to bless them, notwithstanding they have been imprudent and foolish. I will tell them wherein, when I can have them before me in this congregation.
As soon as this meeting is dismissed I want the brethren and sisters to repair to their homes, where their Bishops will call on them to take in some of this company; the Bishops will distribute them as the people can receive them.
I have sent word to Bishop Hunter that I will take in all that others will not take. I have house room enough to accommodate the whole of them, if it is necessary; I am willing to take my proportion.
The afternoon meeting will be omitted, for I wish the sisters to go home and prepare to give those who have just arrived a mouthful of something to eat, and to wash them and nurse them up. You know that I would give more for a dish of pudding and milk, or a baked potato and salt, were I in the situation of those persons who have just come in, than I would for all your prayers, though you were to stay here all the afternoon and pray. Prayer is good, but when baked potatoes and pudding and milk are needed, prayer will not supply their place on this occasion; give every duty its proper time and place.
This is what I can say truly, with the rest of your counselors and directors, that no man or woman, that we have any knowledge of in the church, has refused to do as requested, with regard to this immigration; they have run by day and night. Our messengers have been traveling from here to the Platte, and back and forth between Bridger, Green river and the Sweetwater; and scores of men have been riding by day and night, without having enjoyed an undisturbed night’s rest during the last two months only occasionally snatching a little sleep when sitting by the camp fire. They have been riding by day and night, hurrying to and fro and laboring with their might and have not refused to do what we have required of them; this is to their praise. Works have been most noble when they were needed; we put works to our faith, and in this case we realize that our faith alone would have been perfectly dead and useless, would have been of no avail, in saving our brethren that were in the snow, but by putting works with faith we have been already blest in rescuing many and bringing them to where we can now do them more good.
Some you will find with their feet frozen to their ankles; some are frozen to their knees and some have their hands frosted. They want good nursing, and if you do not know how to treat frozen flesh, let me inform you that the same treatment is needed as in a burn, and by pursuing that method you can heal them.
The Bishops are here, and as soon as the meeting is closed they will meet the company and dispose of them as wisdom shall dictate. And I want you to understand that we desire this people to nurse them up; we want you to receive them as your own children, and to have the same feeling for them. We are their temporal saviors, for we have saved them from death. Br. Chislett, who has just been addressing you, would have been dead long before this, had it not been for the assistance of br. George D. Grant and those who went back with him. The rear companies would never have got over the Rocky Ridge, or seen the upper crossing of the Sweetwater, had they not been helped from here.
Now that most of them are here we will continue our labors of love, until they are able to take care of themselves, and we will receive the blessing. You need not be distrustful about that, for the Lord will bless this people; and I feel to bless them all the time, and this I continually try to carry out in my life. The two wagon companies still out we are sending for, and will supply flour to such as may have to tarry at Forts Bridger and Supply. We do not calculate to have the winter blast stop us; it cannot stop the Mormon Elders, for they have faith, wisdom and courage; they can perform that which no other men on the earth can perform.