Summary of Utah Life - 1877
The Cleveland Leader – February 12, 1877
Their Troubles In this Vale of Tears --
Crickets and Other Bugs Till They
Can't Rest -- The Sort of Citizen that the
Average Mormon Is.
Special Correspondence of the LEADER.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH,
February 1, 1877.
Orson Pratt, the Historian of the Mormon Church, gave me to-day some very
interesting statements concerning the Latter Day Saints. It appears that their
greatest afflictions have been caused by crickets, grasshoppers and Gentiles.
The crickets -- large as a man's thumb -- came down from the mountains and
destroyed some of their crops, and left many of their people destitute. Again in
1863, the grasshopper, like the Chinaman, individually harmless but collectively
a scourge, destroyed the crops of the Saints and Gentiles alike in nearly the
whole territory. Still later came the ungodly Gentile with his mining tools and
unsaintly ways familiarly culling the great prophet and leader, Old Brig.,
inquiring with mock solicitude after his mother-in-law, and in a thousand ways
pushing the iron into the Society soul. All social and political questions
resolve themselves into Mormon and anti-Mormon, and are often fought out in a
Jesuitical and unscrupulous manner. The fertile soil of these valleys has
enabled the Saints to prosper, but the rich ores in the mountains will be their
ruin as a Church.
If the mining interests had been developed ten years earlier, the Mormon question would have been settled before this. So far as I have observed, the average Mormon is industrious and stupid, with a blind faith in his leaders, giving one-tenth of his earnings without a murmur to the Church. A majority of them appear to be foreigners, and are scattered in settlements in nearly every part of Utah. Elder Pratt informed me that they number about one hundred and fifty thousand, and have been anxiously waiting for the constitutional privileges of a State, an advantage that the Mormons would have turned to good account for their interest had Utah been made a State ten years ago. There are two buildings, perhaps three, in Salt Lake of peculiar interest to the visitor:
First -- the Tabernacle, like an immense oblong wooden bowl bottom up, on great pillars or abutments. It is 230 feet long by 130 feet wide, and will comfortably seat 12,000 people. No Brooklyn disaster can befall an audience of Latter Day Saints, for the numerous doors between the stone piers will let thirteen thousand people out of the building in less than two minutes.
The second building of interest to the gaping Gentile is the Palace of Amelia, built for Brigham's favorite wife. It is nearly completed, and is not surpassed in elegance by any house on Euclid avenue. The third building of interest is Brigham's home -- a long house with its porches and cozy nooks -- suggestive of comfort and happiness.
With awe-struck wonder the Puritanic traveler will gaze at that paternal roof, with its vast combinations of wifely and natural interests, its overwhelming mother-in-law exigencies and possibilities. Mr. Babbates' calculating and difference engine is nowhere in figures to that house with its nineteen wives and seventy children, with their heterogeneous emotions.
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