Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
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Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies

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1853 (age 18), Henriod, Gustave Louis Edward (French)

I, Gustave Louis Edward Henriod, son of Jean Louis Henriod and Domitile Deligne, was born August 25th, 1835, at Havre, Seine Inferieura, France. My father was a descendant of "Halvetia," and supposed to be of the Celtic original race of people, while Mother was a thorough descendant of the old Britons who inhabited the country called anciently, Brittany, whom the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar found difficult to subdue or conquer in his magnificent conquests of 56.

Father's childhood and his first recollection of infancy will refer the reader to the beautiful and quiet lake called "Leman" in Switzerland where his father owned vineyards, farms and stock. He took much pride in some of his pleasant and happy conversations by telling his hearers that his father had in the family archives, numerous genealogies of our ancestors, that could be traced back to Henry the Fourth, King of France. Mother's recollection of her childhood days seemed different. Her mother died and left her young in years in care of an aunt and her own father who was then captain of a French man-of-war. He was killed in a naval engagement some years after. Mother drew the pension of her father even when she lived in the United States until the day of her death. She died in France at about the age of sixty-eight. Father's occupation was shipping and consignment business, nearly the whole forwarding being for the United States ports. Havre, our home, stood as one of the largest, finest seaports and harbors in the world.

After my years of schooling were over and my father had examined my scholastic qualifications, he had me placed in the office of a maritime insurance company, named Fortune, doing a large insurance business on ships going to all parts of the world. The age of sixteen found me at the desk occupied at a salary of sixty francs per month with the promise of an increase every year after. The privileges of making friends and acquaintances among hundreds of leading merchants and business men was equal to a good salary also. On the first day of each month my welcome salary was received promptly and I was very proud to place it into my father's hands. If I was in need of pocket change he would provide me with the same, otherwise I never had any claim nor disposition to use any part of my salary.

My brothers were Auguste, Henri, Eugene and Samuel. My sisters were Henriette, Clementine, and Lea. Auguste, the oldest, graduated at the age of twenty-one in the Geneva College and went to England as a professor. The sudden change of climate from the mountains" pure and light air to the damp and foggy atmosphere of Great Britain caused him to be taken with consumption. He returned home and in a few days ended his earthly career. A young, robust, intelligent gentleman and scholar, hardly in the prime of life, with a bright future before him, passed away without a murmur, except saying to Mother, "It seems too bad to die so young."

In June of 1850, Mormon missionaries came to France from the United States. They were John Taylor, an apostle, Curtis E. Bolton and John D. Pack and others. Bolton came to Havre and directed his steps to my father's house, not knowing us from anyone else. They were traveling without purse or scrip. Father told Bolton that as he had no home, he might stay with us until he could do better. He lost no time in telling us of his mission to the world...

The result was, in brief, that the family, one after another, were baptized, except Father, and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With few exceptions, I believe that we were the first Mormons of the French Mission. I was baptized on the second day of November, 1851, in a beautiful stream of clear water near Havre...

In a few days, a branch of the church was organized in Havre, and an English elder, John Hyde, was sent as our president, and was succeeded by another one, James Hart, a few months later...

To America, 1853, with his sister, Henriette
Gathering to the Valleys of the Mountains was then advocated and preached by the elders... My father having observed a great change in the every day deportment, the honest, sincere and moral life of his children and also their love and strong adherence to the Gospel of the ancient days as now again revealed, first favored and then advised us to gather to Utah with the Saints and devote our lives and abilities to the faith and church which had so re-generated and ameliorated the conduct and spiritual improvement of his children; being willing to admit to John Taylor that there must be something wonderful in Mormonism according to its influence and workings upon the hearts and minds of the believers, although to himself it had not been given to see and understand the principles as we all did, claiming also, that he had, as required and advised by the elders, tried to seek vigilantly for a testimony of the truth by fervent prayer, after all of which the testimony never came.

Undaunted in his researches, his last words to us before leaving him, were that he would still seriously investigate our principles and try to obtain the knowledge that Mormonism was a Divine origin, the sequel of which is that he, just before his last days on earth, asserted that his labors had all been in vain.

He cheerfully furnished the necessary means to send my sister Henriette and myself, (respectively past eighteen and sixteen years of age) to the United States of America, that we might gather with the Saints in the pleasant vales of Utah Territory, and more strictly and fully devote ourselves to the preparation of meeting the great unknown hereafter. On the 1st day of January, 1853, we embarked at Havre on the steamship Commodor, Captain Little, then plying regularly between said port and Liverpool, England. My vivid impression at our parting scene, was that I never should again look upon my father's face in this world. My mother's last advice was, "Gustave, always keep company with those who are better, not worse, than you are." Father's admonition still lingers in memory, "Gustave, be true to your friends." The first advice, I might have adhered to more closely; the last, I have strictly endeavored to keep. If my conscience must be the judge, then my decision on this subject is final. Sister, having acquired a good English education spoke the language fluently. I had badly neglected that necessary part and was just a thoroughbred French boy. The first half day I mastered "yes" and "no."

That voyage was terrific for me, although born and brought up near the Atlantic Ocean, in fact on its very shore, the crossing of the Irish Channel completely upset what there was of me. Father had very thoughtfully and generously provided us with oranges, lemons, claret, brandy, but the sailors, between Havre and New Orleans could tell more about what became of their distribution than I can. The only mementos left us were the empty cases on our arrival at New Orleans. We had good friends among the crew while traversing the Atlantic, for we made them such.

A day or two later found us upon the James Toy a steamer ploughing through the muddy and mighty Mississippi River on our way to St. Louis, Missouri. Staying in that city two weeks, we were overtaken by my brother Eugene and some ladies from the French mission, Julia Leroy, Ernestine Nichols and Mary Mallet, the wife of Eugene. Another trip on the Missouri River conveyed us to Keokuk, Iowa, where we camped for several weeks, waiting for our wagons, and cattle to take us over interminable plains over a thousand miles in length with but two oases in the desert; namely, Fort Laramie and Fort Bridger.

The Trek
Life on the plains cannot be very well described with such a pen as mine nor imagined or appreciated by a stoic. You, my kind reader, will never know the sports and vicissitudes, joys and fears, gladness and disappointment, grief and delight, cravings and satisfactions, hope and despair, anxiety and contentment, pains and pleasures, all of which are familiar associates, or rather were in the year 1853 between Omaha and Salt Lake City. Yoking up half wild oxen every morning, staking down the tent every night, picking up buffalo chips to cook the food, loading and unloading boxes and bedding mornings and evenings, in the saddle or on foot guarding the stock every night and driving loose cattle in the day, digging trenches around the tents to keep from being drowned by the torrents, singing the songs of Zion, mending a broken wagon, carrying on your back across some deep stream about 140 lbs. of female avoirdupois without losing your feet on the rocky bottom of a river, washing your clothes everybody forgot a clothes line.

Some nights in a dangerous part of the prairies, we formed our sixty wagons into a round corral, putting the stock inside for safety and guarding outside for protection from Indians, for if the cattle are stampeded how will you reach either Omaha or Salt Lake? And if your scalp is lifted, where are you going? When there was danger on the plains from either fire or Indians, it was similar to the dangers of the sea, when you are threatened with fire or water; if you escape the one, the other gets you. One is the sea of water, the other a sea of earth. One is drowning, while the other is starvation. If there is a choice, then you certainly can take it. Being unfortunate by having a spare saddle-horse, Captain Cyrus H. Wheelock often detailed me as a pilot, being often several miles ahead of the traveling Caravan on the Great Sahara, so as to select a good grazing noon stopping place and another for our night camp of about 600 souls.

Indian Encounter While Scouting
Upon one occasion, having lost track of the road, I traveled for miles alone until late in the shades of evening, approaching a small stream running into a deep ravine surrounded by a beautiful cluster of lovely shady trees. Suddenly descending the banks of the creek, what was my terrible surprise in stumbling in the midst of a band of Sioux Indians who were busily engaged in jerking buffalo meat, they having just concluded a big hunt. What could I do? Hungry and tired, lost and alone, a youth sixteen years old, standing before about one hundred stalwart, ferocious powerful sombre kings of the prairies, ready to sacrifice human lives and torture a defenseless being, and that for the sport of having a living target and of placidly studying the dying expression of a human being while in the agonies of death. One hundred pairs of dark and devilish eyes were fixed on that youth, who but a few weeks before, was sitting quietly on his tripod, figuring percentage on some maritime policy in one of those offices pleasantly located among the largest thoroughfares of a large city in the commercial world.

There was a quick commotion among the moccasins, bows and arrows, the young bucks smacking their lips for the feast, while I the victim instead of quickly preparing for the sacrifice, had the cowardice of unmounting my pony and making of the poor frightcued steed a fortress, such as it was, to protect the also frightened rider from a shower of arrows. They never came. It must have been the transmission of that original and native Celtic blood into my arteries which gave the impulse of accelerated pulsation to my heart, that lighted up the spark of bravery in me at that critical moment. I carelessly fastened my horse to a young sapling then quietly stepped in the midst of the tepees and singling out one of the big Tycoons offered to shake hands with the great warrior who in return gave me a very unmusical grunt; having had a fair musical education my ear was not slow to catch the vibration of his dissatisfied growl. I pointed with a smile to the tempting broiling buffalo steaks, having a fear in my heart that I might be an unwelcome and uninvited guest, intruding among the Royal blood of princes and princesses of the forest.

No signs of approval from anyone. I helped myself to a good size chunk of half fried meat, this must have been a settler for my dark friends, they interpreted it as an act of great courage and bravery on my part and no one interfered with me while I partook of one of those lunches that would perhaps have caused Delmonico's chef de cuisine to blush as well as to my epicurean proclivities. They were all amazed. I managed by gestures and signs to make my red friends understand that I had lost my way. They pointed to me where to find the wagon road, and starting out in that direction about twilight, I reached our camp just before the break of day, my friends keeping up fires all night around the camping ground, so as to attract my attention in case I was still alive.

Every day of travel westward brings us nearer our destination and also finds our teams weaker and our weary immigrants nearly worn out with fatigue. The travel of the last few days is no longer on the plains, but through rocky mountains and rugged canyons. Now our bull-whackers have almost become experts and he must be a very dull student who cannot drive his wagon over every rock and stump on the road....

The year 1853 was noted for its large amount of immigrant and freighting wagons from the East to the West. They could have been counted by the hundreds; it would have been an interesting sight to an aeronaut speeding through the ethereal blue above us, to look down upon the plains that summer and photograph the long stretches of living masses wending their way towards the sunset as they were moving onward towards the shades of the evening; or when majestic Sol first began to shed his piercing flash upon the camps of the travelers either when resting, or rustling for the day's journey.

The many little columns of smoke, curling upwards and forming themselves into clouds hovering over the camping grounds long after the tenants had moved away, was a well fitted companion for the silence and the vast stillness of the plains after the departure of a train.

It was some little pleasure for me, when ahead of our company looking for a nooning place, to find written upon some buffaloes" bleached skulls, silent but encouraging message left as follows: "Capt. Duncan's Company of fifty wagons camped here last night, August 20th, 1853, all well." It was like a letter coming from home or some friend, it assisted in breaking the monotony of the quietness upon the plains. The reader cheerfully consoled himself in knowing that he was not alone in the desert, for others" footsteps were not very far before him. Such news was soon distributed throughout the train and everyone must read or see the welcome message.

At last we came rolling down Emigration Canyon and out into Great Salt Lake Valley. It was on the 6th day of October, 1853, the weather was beautiful and every heart seemed joyful, giving a sigh of relief and contentment in beholding in the near distance the "City of the Saints," the destined home and headquarters of the Mormons. It was a city, an embryo, not many houses, and those well scattered from each other. They were built of sundried adobes and with two or three exceptions one story high, but very few with more than two rooms. Shade trees had been planted on either side of some of the most important streets which gave the aspect of comfort and civilization to the tout ensemble of the picturesque scenery.

Arrival in Great Salt Lake City/Finding Work
Arriving that day on the "public square," the wagons were driven into a line, the cattle taken away by herders, and people soon arrived looking for friends or relatives among the immigrants from many parts of the world; those who were fortunate to have such, were taken to their homes, while the rest or mostly all, were questioned by some bishops or leading men as to their occupations, wants, and intentions for the future, their prospects of finding positions or labor in the city. In a few days, all had been located, especially the girls, in town or in some settlement and thus were provided for. It happened to be my lot to find occupation and a home in the house of Joseph L. Heywood, who was then Bishop of the 17th Ward, and also United States Marshal for the Territory of Utah, besides which he was president of a late organized settlement called Nephi, in Juab County, Utah. These offices necessarily required him to employ a clerk. Being well satisfied with my style of writing and other needful requirements for such a position, he readily engaged me and I soon became as one of the family. The reader will easily perceive that I claim rightfully the title and honor of having been the first clerk of the first United States Marshal in and for the Territory of Utah in the year 1853 and after a position now (1893) that is much sought for, and difficult to obtain. I was also clerk of the 17th Ward. These two offices required but little of my time that winter so that I made myself very useful in and around the house, until I became a favorite with the family and in the 17th and other surrounding wards. There was but one large store in Salt Lake City, and the proprietors, Mes. Livingston and Kinkead were boarders at our house.

I had a good opportunity of making acquaintance of, and being introduced to the leading and influential men of Salt Lake City, among whom were besides the above named, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Jedediah M. Grant, Orson Hyde, D. Bernhisel, Albert Carrington, John Taylor and many others. My youth barred me from being intimate with such men, besides my timidity and the rules of French etiquette which had taught me to be reserved, unassuming, nor too free with other persons than I, so that I cheerfully endeavored always to keep myself almost unnoticed while in the presence of company, never addressing myself to dignitaries or men in high station except when necessary.

School Teaching/Deseret Alphabet
I slowly introduced in my schools of music and dancing classes the customs and etiquette of the French, which should never be called aristocratic refinement, for it is the every day, unaffected and usual practice of the nation in general. My young scholars, in a few weeks, were singled out in parties and sociables, their deportment becoming more refined and agreeable in their social intercourse and less awkward. The reader must bear in mind that I was a fresh arrival from France and brought with me the manners and customs of a nation of etiquette, fashion and refinement.

Kind reader, favor me again by comparing notes. 1853 vs. 1893. Laurels won forty years ago, like love in old age should never grow old and wither away. It matters not to the reapers, who sowed the seed, it diminishes not the value of the harvest. School teachers were scarce in Salt Lake City in those days. They generally came from abroad and through the immigration which was then in its early infancy. The large masses of Mormon proselytes were selected from the working class, mechanics and laborers of the world so that they seldom produced a qualified school teacher. I became acquainted with George D. Watts, stenographer of the Church and teacher of phonography. I assisted him in inaugurating what was called the Deseret Alphabet composed of phonetic sounds, represented by new formed and easily shaped letters; this was destined to become the system to be adopted by the Mormon people to read and write the English language. A gigantic undertaking, we taught it in the city the winter of 1853. It was afterwards adopted and taught in the various ward-schools. In the meantime the Church had an edition of graded and progressive books printed for the use of the schools in the territory. The system was abandoned. The Latter-day Saints were incapable of revolutionizing the world by reprinting all the books written in the English language into the Deseret Alphabet for it was originally intended to be the only and universal system that should be finally adopted and used by all the Mormon people, young and old. The yearly influx of immigrants proved an insurmountable difficulty entirely unprovided for. I taught the same system in Nephi during the winter months of the year 1855. It would be difficult to exactly locate the father or originator of that unsuccessful scheme, but Geo. D. Watts was one of the leaders. Bold, intelligent, untiring and persevering, he was well qualified to lead and teach the system. The failure was not his fault.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.