1866 April 5 Letter from William H. Hooper


1866 April 5 Letter from William H. Hooper


The twelve returns to Salt Lake for Conference. Squire Brassfield marries a woman legally married to another man. Brassfield is killed by an unknown hand. False publications produce prejudice. The Indian Account it paid.




Brigham Young


William H. Hooper


1866 April 5


Great Salt Lake City
Washington City, D. C.

Number of Pages



General Conference
Domestic Dispute
Legal Matters
Financial Matters

Item sets


Presidents Office
Great Salt Lake City,
April 5th 1866.

Hon Wm H. Hooper M. C.
House of Representatives
Washington City D. C.

Dear Brother:

A much longer time has elapsed since my last letter was written to you, than I am in the habit of permitting to pass. I have been suffering from a very severe cold, accompanied with rheumatism, which has prevented me from attending to much business. My health is improving, and as the weather becomes more mild, and I can go out and take the air, I feel that it will soon be fully restored. Colds with a severe cough and a species of lung fever have been very common of late, numbers of both sexes being attached by them.

An appointment was made at our last Fall conference for a two day's meeting to be commenced on the 4th of April. Yesterday it began, and to-day the two days' meeting ended. I was able to attend this afternoons' meeting. Tomorrow our annual conference commences. The meetings so far have been very interesting. The roads are so very bad, that it is difficult for the people to come together; but, notwithstanding this, they are coming in. All the members of the quorum of the Twelve in the Territory, are here to attend Conference,-- Bro. C. C. Rich having crossed the mountains from Bear Lake Valley on snow shoes to be present with us.

There has been considerable excitement in the city for two days past, in relation to the shooting of a man by the name of Squier N. Brassfield. It seems that Brassfield had made the acquaintance of the second wife of Archibald N. Hill, named Mary Emma, and whose maiden name was Milam. This intimacy continued until a marriage, and a removal to Austin, Nevada, were proposed. Without taking any steps to obtain a divorce from Bro Hill, the parties were married by Judge Solomon McCurdy, one of our Federal District Judges, on the 27 of March. On the same day on which the ceremony was performed,nBrassfield and the woman undertook to remove the goods and chattels from Bro. Hill's residence, which she occupied; but were interrupted by the Police. He drew his pistol and uttered some threats; and the Police took him off to the Calaboose and locked him up for the night. He was charged with larceny, and also with an assault with intent to kill; and on both charges was released on bail. A writ of habeas corpus was issued by Judge McCurdy, on the request of the woman, to obtain possession of her children -- her offspring by her previous marriage. This case was argued before Judge McCurdy. Mr. Hempstead appeared for the petitioner, and Judge Z. Snow as deputy Attorney General for the Territory of Utah. On the evening of Monday, the 2d instant, Brassfield was returning from this examination, in company with Capt. Hosmer, U. S. Marshall, and as they were turning to go into the National Hotel, East of Godbe's store, some person stepped up to Brassfield and fired a gun or pistol, and ran off, pursued and fired at by men who were around, but without being caught or even recognized. About 45 minutes after being shot Brassfield died. Before his death he remarked to his surgeon,-- stated in his evidence at the Coroner's inquest -- that "had the Judge done as I asked him, this would not have happened." The explanation of this remark, as given now, is that Brassfield wished McCurdy to obtain a divorce before the marriage; but that McC. told him there was no need of a divorce, but to go ahead as the woman's marriage to Hill would not stand. It is said, however, that McCurdy now disclaims all knowledge of thewoman's being married, and says that she deceived him. The fact is, I suppose, and I believe it can be proved, that at the time he performed the ceremony he was so drunk, that he scarcely knew what he was doing. Brassfield stated to a friend -- a Gentile-- (this has transpired since his death) that they were intending to make this marriage a test case, and that it was the entering wedge to burst up polygamy.

Whether he was killed by some man with whom he had had difficulty, or on what ground he was shot, has not yet been ascertained. As a matter of course, the miserable clique, who have encouraged and urged forward Brassfield and others to encroach upon the citizens here and their rights, have, through their organ, the Vedette, raised a howl about the "atonement of blood doctrine," which they accuse us of propagating. I forward you copies of the paper in which you will see their statements. These they have forwarded, so we are credibly informed, to every member of Congress and to other prominent men, besides sending telegrams containing the basest slanders against us to the East. With the view of posting you, and to enable you to counteract their slanders, I telegraphed you to-day, the 6th instant, as follows: "It is said by those, who ought to know, that the clique which is here have published (a) tissue of slanders and villifications, falsifying recent occurrence here, and forwarded to Congressmen and others, and have also sent telegrams of similar character to create prejudice and stir up trouble. Tell your friends to suspend judgment, until they hear the whole truth, which we shall forward you."

They are disappointed and feel that they are beaten at their own game; and like desperate men, they are using every means in their power to make capital and create difficulty out of this occurrence. As you will see by the Vedette, it is acknowledged that Mrs. Hill was the second wife of Bro Hill. She was married to him December 25th, 1853; and that relationship was maintained until Bro. Hill started on his mission to England last Spring.

As a community we disclaim all knowledge of, or complicity with the man who killed Brassfield. He may have been killed on account of some personal grudge (it was only a few days previous that a stranger was shot on the street by a soldier, who mistook him for a gambler against whom he had a grudge) or he may have been shot by a friend of Hill's. In either case it is folly to accuse a whole community of and charge them with the deed, and had such an occurrence happened in any other community, nobody would have thought of doing such a thing. It has not surprised any person who is acquainted with the feelings and the views of the people here, however, that this invasion of Hill's marital rights has terminated so suddenly. Men who have more wives than one hold their rights as sacred and estimate them as highly as those do who have but one. They are their wives, the mothers of their children, bound to them by the most holy and binding ties -- The seducer who invades the sanctuary of home-- whether there be but one wife or more -- and endeavors by the use of insidious and devilish arts to lead away an inmate, must expect to have his career suddenly terminated. No man who possesses any of the feelings of manhood, would quietly submit to a wrong of this kind, while he had the power to resent it. We deprecate violence, in fact our course has proved that we will submit to every thing that men can possibly endure without resorting to it; but there is a limit to human patience, and a point which, when reached, ought to be the limit beyond which freemen cannot pass. As long as men confine themselves to words, and their hatred finds vent in threats only, our citizens will not condescend to notice them; but when they go beyond them, and proceed to overt acts, they may expect difficulty. Had a divorce been obtained by Mrs. Hill or her seducer or his friends, previous to her marriage and cohabition with Brassfield, nobody would have paid the least attention to her or any paramour she might have selected; but while she bore the sacred name of "wife" no man could make improper advances to her without being viewed as dishonorable.

McCurdy has placed himself in an embarrassing position by this act of his. If this woman was Archibald N. Hill's wife, then, of course, he could not legally marry her to another man; if he should decide that she was not Hill's wife, and married her with this view, how could he consistently, try a case of polygamy under the act of Congress of July 1862? His decision, that she was not a wife would bar any proceedings under that Act. Take whichever view he pleases, he is in a dilemma.

You must have no fears about what the enemies of the Kingdom of God may say or threaten. There is no occasion for us to have any concern whatever about the welfare and prosperity of this work. The kingdom is the Lord's; He established it and will carry it on triumphantly, and all that is required of us, is to perform our humble part to the best of our ability, putting our trust in God; he will bear his people off triumphantly, and bring about all his purposes and none can hinder.

By telegram from Bro. Clawson yesterday I am advised, that my Indian account had passed. I herewith send power of attorney to you for you to collect it. When collected, please transmit the amount to Bro Clawson. as there will be several persons' claims to settle.

Praying the Lord to fill you with his Holy Spirit and to give you power to overcome all your enemies and to give you joy in all your labors and fearlessness to declare and maintain the truth.

I remain, Your Brother

Brigham Young