Heritage Gateways

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

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1861 (age 37), Spencer, Claudius and Cannon, David (age 23) - Captains (He was captain of the European company until Omaha)

Claudius V. Spencer, eldest son of Daniel and Sophronia Pomeroy Spencer, was born in West Stockbridge, Mass., April 2, 1824. He came to Utah with his father in 1847. On his return from a mission to England in the spring of 1861, he was appointed to take charge of the Saints. The following is taken from his diary:

Generous Offer
While going up the Missouri the president of the Overland Stage route to San Francisco was aboard our boat. Just before we reached Omaha he came to me and complimented me very highly for my kindness to the emigrants in my charge and gave me an invitation soon as I unloaded my people at Florence to come back to Omaha and be his guest to Salt Lake City, stating that he had a magnificent outfit, fine stage coach, hunting horses, fishing tackle and every paraphernalia for a right royal trip. I thought this a big thing for a Mormon elder and when I had unloaded and housed my Saints I called on Elder Gates, who was presiding, to bid him good-bye. He said to me, "Don't be in a hurry, take a seat, I want to read you a letter," which he did. It was from President Young, authorizing Brother Gates to stop any returning Elder to be his assistant, and after reading it said, "I choose to stop Elder C. V. Spencer."

BIG Financial Problem
The Saints I brought over were mostly "Independents" and had paid to the General Office at Liverpool for their outfit to cross the plains and expected to find tents, wagons, covers, etc., at Florence on their arrival, but through some mistake there was nothing to shelter them or feed or to move them and in a few days grave dissatisfaction was shown, some of them going to the lawyers, judges, doctors, etc., to make complaints and it rested very heavy on me and Brother Gates, so much so on him that it made him ill.

I used to go up nights onto the highest hill, dressed in a certain way and supplicate for some relief to be opened up. At one of these times it came to me as plain as any voice, "Go to Mr. Creighton, who is building the Overland Telegraph Line and hire all your surplus men to him and get the pay in advance and with it buy your emigrants their outfit." I immediately went to the house up to Brother Gates" bedside, but he seemed to think I had zeal without knowledge and asked me if I had gone dazed over the matter. I finally persuaded him to let me have Zera Sabin and an outfit to go into Missouri to buy cattle and we would go to Omaha to Creighton and if successful keep on our trip, if not successful, we would come back from Omaha and not much harm done.

7 I found Mr. Creighton in his office and our men were just what he wanted and I made a good bargain, he taking two hundred pounds freight per each married hand he hired. At the conclusion of the terms I said, "Mr. Creighton, I want their pay in advance." He jumped from the seat, walked up and down the room quite excited and in turning to me said, "Have I been doing business with a crazy man" I answered "Perhaps so it looks like it, for my partner asked me this morning just about the same question." He then asked me if I knew what telegraph scrip was worth? I told him no and he said, "It was worth 12 on the dollar. I could have the wages advanced in scrip at one hundred cents." I told him "I would see him in a short time again."

Now at this time there was a man in Omaha who had come to me before we got to Omaha and said "I've fallen in love with you for the patience and kindness you show your poor emigrants and if I can do anything for you while you're at Florence, call on me." I said to him "Suppose I call you on a mission." He answered, "All right." Now just after I left Creighton's office I met this man and said "You're the man I want, I want you to go on a Mormon mission." He said "all right Spencer, I'll go."

I then told him I had two motives, one was to test his word, the other to teach him there was power in Mormonism. He accepted the mission and soon came back stating that Kountze Bros., and the force of the bank were in a roar of laughter and Kountze, Sr. said he would like to see the man who proposed such a financial act. I said to him, "very well."

We went at once to the bank. When I entered, the banker wanted to know what I meant. I answered, "Mr. Gates whom I represent, is agent of the Mormon emigration, and he will have some $35,000 in English sovereigns and there will be that amount or more in the hands of our emigrants to spend at some point on the river and we supposed that capitalists in Omaha would be anxious to have it spent in their town, that I was not asking any charity for our people, that perhaps no one knew better than he did that a month after the first telegram passed from San Francisco to New York that telegraph scrip would not only be par, but ten per cent above that." I simply asked him to make a good investment and secure our trade for his town, that I was confident I could do this at Nebraska City, and if not successful with him we should move our headquarters to that city within 48 hours.

By this time he had become serious and said "Mr. Spencer, I will have a conference with my brothers." He soon came out and offered to cash the scrip at par if I would pay the difference of exchange between Omaha and St. Louis. I answered "no sir, not one cent. It's a clean face value or nothing." We closed the deal.

When I went back to Creighton and accepted scrip and told him what I had done, he was dumbfounded and I was recognized in that town as something of a financier, but I carried my head low, feeling that God could compel results through a humble man that would follow the leadings of the Spirit where he could not use an able strong man so well.

I and Brother Sabin started immediately for Missouri for cattle. We found a herd of 1200 head of oxen. I purchased 400 head for cash, 400 head on credit. As soon as I received the cattle, I began to retail and sold many yoke on the road to camp for $75.00. If my memory is right, the purchase price was $52.00.

While arranging the scrip deal at Omaha a man offered me a lot of wagons that belonged to a Chicago firm who had failed and he was anxious to be rid of these wagons before they were levied on. I think his price was $65.00 and I believe my offer was $50.00. I gave him an hour to telegraph to Chicago. He brought a telegram to my room and sitting some way from me read "We authorize you to sell for so much." I said to him "I will read the balance of the message with my eyes shut." If you can't get the figure, take the Mormon's offer spot cash. He exclaimed, "These are the very words, I believe you folks are wizards." I got the wagons, sent word to Brother Gates to move them at once to Florence; we were off for the cattle and the disaffection in camp was healed and from that time on success crowned our labor.

The Rest of the Story, Captain David H. Cannon
David Henry Cannon was born in Liverpool, England, Apr. 23, 1838, the son of George and Ann Quayle Cannon. The family were early converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and soon after their conversion set sail for America. After they were on shipboard a few days, the mother was taken ill and on the 28th of October, just before they reached New Orleans, she passed away and she and her unborn child were buried in the ocean. They traveled on to Nauvoo where David's father died.

David came to Utah in 1849 with Charles Lambert who had married his eldest sister, Mary Alice. At an early age David went to work in the Deseret News office. Before he was eighteen he was called on a mission to California to assist his brother George Q. in the publication of the Book of Mormon in the Hawaiian language. After his return from San Francisco he married Wilhelmina Logan Mousley, Jan. 15, 1859. The following year he was called on a mission to England. Quoting from his own writings: "In the spring of 1861 I took a letter of introduction to Major Shanley, Agent of the Grand Trunk R. R., I expected to find him at Montreal in Canada. I came across on the ship called North Britain. When I got to Montreal I found that Major Shanley was in Portland, Maine and I went there to see him. My letter introduced me as an agent looking for a way to bring our people over in case the impending war closed up the usual route. After seeing Major Shanley I proceeded on west and reached the Missouri River on the 20th day of April 1861. Jacob Gates had been appointed to take charge of the emigration that year and he called me to his assistance. He sent me east to meet the first company of immigrants crossing the ocean that year. I met the company that was coming across the sea at New York and we came to St. Joseph and embarked for Omaha on the Missouri River.

"Upon reaching Nebraska City, J. J. Creighton came on board the steamer and wanted to hire men to set telegraph poles from the Missouri river to Salt Lake City. He said he wanted from 75 to 80 men and I told him that I did not have the right to contract with him to furnish the men, but when we got to Omaha, if he would make an appointment I should have the President who had charge of the immigration meet him and enter into a contract to furnish what help he wanted. Jacob Gates and myself went down and met him at Omaha at the appointed time and arranged to furnish him 75 men. We arranged what the salaries of the men would be and that they were to be delivered in Salt Lake City not later than the 15th day of November. Half of the money that was to be paid to these men was advanced to them to apply for the emigration of their families. I assisted Jacob Gates with the work until the first of June, at which time the first company was fitted out and I was appointed to take charge of it. This company consisted of 270 people, 60 wagons and some stock. We reached Salt Lake City on the 16th day of August 1861. We buried four people on the plains and lost twelve head of cattle."

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.