History Mormon Battalion Chapter 38 Section A
Many Return to California-Death of Henry Hoyt-Money Providentially Provided-Clothing Lost-Pants Worn Out-Skins Purchased for a New Pair-Arrival in Salt Lake Valley-Destitute Condition of Men-Clothing Donated for Them-Seeds Brought By Battalion-Prolific Yield of Peas-Characteristics of Peas Change
From the last-named encampment, many, probably over half of the company, returned in accordance with the instructions from the Twelve, to spend the winter in California. We were also overtaken there by a portion of the company left at Sutter’s Fort and a few others who had remained behind our party to travel slowly with Brother Henry Hoyt, who was sick. Brother Hoyt had gradually failed since our separation, and finally died on the 3rd of September, 1847. He would not consent to tarry, but insisted on pursuing the journey. He had several times been taken from his horse in sinking spells, received strength through the ordinance of laying on of hands, and again continued his journey. A short time prior to his demise he was asked if he did not wish to stop and rest. He answered “No, go on.” These were the last words he ever spoke. Growing more faint directly afterwards, he was aided by Sergeant R. N. Allred and other companions from his horse, and laid upon the ground under the shade of a tree, where, in a few moments, he expired without a struggle or a groan. He was buried in the best manner the company could afford, although in the absence of proper utensils his grave was rather shallow. Timbers and brush were piled upon it to hide his remains from the wolves. He died as he had lived, a faithful Latter-day Saint. This last remark, to the best of the author’s knowledge and belief, holds good with regard to all members of the Battalion who died in the service, and when “all who lay down their lives for Christ’s sake shall be crowned,” it may be presumed that not one of them will be missing from the number.
After leaving the place last mentioned, an incident worthy of note occurred. The author, before leaving Los Angeles, expended all his cash and borrowed a trifle to complete his outfit. While sitting by the camp fire, one evening, looking at a paper he had taken from his pocket, he noticed something bright drop between his feet. Picking it up he discovered it was a two dollar Mexican gold piece, looking as new and bright as though it had just come from the mint. Mentioning the circumstance to some of his friends, among whom was President Levi W. Hancock, the latter replied: “Keep it, Brother Tyler, you will need it.” Considering it a gift from the Almighty, as upon no other principle could he account for its falling in the air and alighting between his feet, he kept it, as Brother Hancock advised.
Probably two or three days after that, by accident, the pack containing the author’s change of wardrobe, as well as his provisions, got a little turned and frightened his half-wild mule, which ran away and lost off the pack. All was recovered except the sack of clothes, which could not be found, although diligent search was made. The only pants he had left were of cotton and already thread-bare in several places. On reaching Fort Hall he purchased a large deer-skin and a young elk-skin with the two dollars which he had found. These were taken to Salt Lake, where Sister St. John and her daughter Harriet made a pair of pantaloons, of which the author had been destitute for several days, having to wrap himself in a Pima blanket.
Few incidents of importance occurred during the journey to Salt Lake Valley, where we arrived on the 16th of October, and were overjoyed to meet so many of our friends and relatives. We found them living in a fort consisting of a row of buildings running at right angles around a ten acre block. The rooms all opened into the enclosure, and had small windows or port holes looking outward, for purposes of defense and ventilation. The entrance to the enclosure was through a large gate in the centre of the east side or row of buildings running north and south. The gate was locked at night. The site of that first structure, which is in the Sixth Ward of Salt Lake City, is known still as “the old fort.” The walls, however, have long since been removed; hence the temporary fortification now exists only in name.
Many of the men, on arriving in the Valley, were extremely destitue of clothing, but their necessities were somewhat relieved by some of the influential brethren taking up a collection among the families of the settlers of such articles of wearing apparel as they could spare for the benefit of the “Battalion boys.” Nothing that was donated seemed to come amiss; anything that would cover the nakedness of the men or help to keep them warm was acceptable. True, the men presented rather a motley, and, in some instances, almost a ludicrous appearance, on account of the disparity in the color and fit of their several garments, but comfort with them was the first consideration, and they were thankful to get anything that would tend to that object. President John Taylor and Presiding Bishop Edward Hunter, were foremost among those who made the collection of clothing for the destitute soldiers.
Different members of our company brought various kinds of garden and fruit seeds, as well as grain, from California, which were found very useful in this inland valley, situated a thousand miles from any source of supply, as the mass had little or none of them, though a few may have been reasonably supplied.
Lieutenant James Pace introduced the club-head wheat. The author, and perhaps some others, the California pea, now so general and prolific as the field pea of Utah. The detached soldiers who wintered at Pueblo, near the headwaters of the Arkansas River, brought the variety of wheat known as the taos, common in our Territory.
These with the other varieties in connection with those brought by the emigrants, although insufficient to supply the demand, did much towards relieving the temporary wants of the people. I left six quarts of the California peas with Brother Seely Owens, who proposed to raise them on shares, giving me one-half of the proceeds on my arrival the next year. On my arrival in the fall of 1847, with my family, Brother Owens delivered to me half a bushel of dry peas, stating that while they were the best and most prolific peas he ever saw, these were all he had saved. Some of them were ready for use as green peas about June. His provisions being exhausted, he and his family had mainly subsisted upon them until the late heavy frosts stopped their bearing. Up to that time, a new crop had come on as fast as the first was picked off. He proposed to make compensation for what he had used over the portion due him, adding that he would like a few for seed if I could spare them, as he did not wish to be out of the prolific variety. I informed him if he would take one-half of what was left, the matter would be satisfactorily settled. I gave to others two quarts, leaving myself six quarts for the next spring’s planting. The same result followed as the previous year. My provisions ran short and I had to fall back on the peas for my family’s supply of food. Emigrants from the States for California came in hungry for vegetables, anxious to pay cash or other provisions for them. I picked and sold as well as used all we needed and gave some to my neighbors until almost winter, when the frost finally stopped their growth, after which I harvested three bushels. Of course, every family wanted some of the new variety. I found no difficulty in disposing of all I desired. But, kind reader, now for the sequel: Provisions became more plentiful, and, instead of continuous crops of the California peas, when the first were matured the vines died, so that instead of a November harvest they ripened and began to shed from the dead vines towards the end of July and early in August, and this has been their history ever since. Some argue that they must have been sown at some particular stage of the moon. That may have been so, but I can assure my friends that they were planted in the ground on our own little planet, and that while the moon may have looked complacently on, it was the same kind Providence who said, “It is my business to provide for my Saints in the last days” that caused these unusual results. I may add, also, that many in those days of scarcity, testified that the flour increased in their boxes to their great joy and surprise.