Heritage Gateways

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Pioneer Fort (Salt Lake City), 1848, How Life Was

PIONEER FORT, 1848, How Life was by August

Thomas Bullock, Clerk of Camp of Israel, writing a letter to Levi Richards from just east of South Pass, August 1848.

Dear Brother Levi Richards:
Remember me kindly to all the Elders who left Winter Quarters about the same time as you did; I pray that their health, as well as yours, may be good; that you may all be blessed with His Spirit from on high, be prospered on your missions, and return to Zion with songs of everlasting joy.

We have received an epistle from the Council in the Valley, dated August 8, 1848, from which I send you some extracts:

There are 450 buildings in the Fort, besides quite a number of temporary farm buildings, three saw mills in operation, and one partly finished, one temporary grist mill, and an excellent one nearly finished by Brother Neff. Brother Leffingwell put up a threshing machine and fanning mill on City Creek, propelled by water; it will thresh and clean in good order two hundred bushels per day. Our wheat harvest is over, the grain is splendid and clean, but being mostly in shock and stack, we cannot state the number of bushels; however, we are all agreed that the wheat crop has done wonderfully well, considering all the circumstances, and that we can raise more and better wheat to the acre in this valley than in any place any of us ever saw; and the same with all other grains, vegetables, etc., that we have tried.

Wheat ranges at two dollars per bushel, and the best judges think it will be as low as one in a short time. Our main fence is twelve miles long, not quite finished, owing to the press of other matters, but we expect to complete it this week. Three small babes have died since we wrote last week; there has not been at any time what is commonly understood by sickness health prevailing winter and summer. You now learn definitely that our wheat harvest has far exceeded our expectations. Green peas have been so plentiful for a long time that we are becoming tired of them; cucumbers, squashes, beets, carrots, parsnips, and greens are upon our tables as harbingers of abundance in their respective departments, etc.

Brother O. Pratt will be glad to see the following extracts from a letter of P. P. Pratt to President Young:

"I have enjoyed good health all the day in this valley, and have been enabled to labor as hard as I ever did a season in my life; my family are all in usual health; and in good spirits; we are also greatly blessed in gardens, in wheat, in corn, and in all things I have set my hands unto. I have raised some sixty bushels of good wheat without irrigation; a few bushels of rye, and oats, and my corn in the field looks as well as any corn I ever saw in the States. The wheat crop has exceeded all expectation; oats do better than in the States say 60 bushel to one of sowing, on sod ground; every kind of vegetable suited to the northern latitudes does well. They have also found a cut off, avoiding Pratt's Pass to the Willow Springs going up Weber River instead of down it, a good road and saves about seven miles."

Such are the general extracts, which are abundantly confirmed by men who have lived in the Valley; amongst other things they report that Elder Levi Hancock sowed eleven lbs. weight of California wheat on the 14th of April and reaped 22 bushels the latter part of July; he sowed 1/2 bushel of English common wheat on an acre and a half and reaped upwards of 20 bushel; one gram of seven eared wheat produced seventy-two ears. Barley that was sowed ripened and was reaped and carried off the land then irrigated, and produced from the roots a fresh crop, four times the quantity of the first crop. Oats that were sown produced a good crop, was cut down and cleared, the roots again sprung up and produced another beautiful crop. Peas first planted, a good crop ripened, gathered, then planted the same peas, yielded another crop, and again a third crop is now growing. Beet seed planted this spring, produced beets as thick as my leg, which went to seed and yielded a great quantity. Cabbage seed planted this spring produced seed again.

Above all, they report that Mother Sessions has had a harvest of 248 little cherubs since living in the Valley. Many cases of twins; in a row of seven houses joining each other, eight births in one week.

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.