1866 April 28 Letter to Bishops and Saints in Sanpete, Sevier and Piute


1866 April 28 Letter to Bishops and Saints in Sanpete, Sevier and Piute


Due to Indian hostility one hundred men are being sent to help fortify the settlements and to relocate citizens in settlements with less than 150 men. Friendly Indians should be treated well.


Indian Affairs


Brigham Young


Orson Hyde
Bishops and Saints in Sanpete, Sevier and Piute Counties.


1866 April 28


Great Salt Lake City
Sanpete County
Sevier County
Piute County

Number of Pages



Indian Affairs

Item sets

Gt Salt Lake City
April 28th, 1866.

To president Orson Hyde and the Bishops and Saints in Sanpete, Sevier and Piute Counties, Greeting,

Dear Brethren:-

The occurrences of the past year in your counties and the threatened repetition of these scenes this present season prompts us to write to you this Epistle.

To save the lives and the property of the people in your counties from the marauding and blood-thirsty bands which surround you, there must be thorough and energetic measures of protection taken immediately. Many of your Settlements at the present time are too weak to successfully resist attack, or to prevent their stock from being driven off by any band of Indians, however contemptible, who may choose to make a descent upon them. These small Settlements should be abandoned, and the people who have formed them should, without loss of time, repair to places that can be easily defended and that possess the necessary advantages to sustain a heavy population. There should be from 150 to 500 good and efficient men in every Settlement; but not less than 150 well armed men; and their horses should always be where they can put their hands upon them. Where there are several settlements which do not have this number of men, there should be places selected at which the requisite number can concentrate. At all the points where Settlements are maintained good and substantial forts, with high walls and strong gates, should be erected, and the people moved into them. Corrals also should be built so convenient to the forts and in such a strong manner, that they can be easily guarded and the stock be kept safe in them from every attack

In sending your stock on to the range they should be placed in the charge of armed herdsmen, and there should be enough of them to insure their own safety and the safety of the herds placed in their care. When it may be necessary for wood, poles or timber to be hauled, one or two persons or small parties of men should not venture into the kanyons; but a company should be formed who, well armed themselves, should also be accompanied by an armed escort. Before they enter into any place where there is the least danger of an attack, cautious men, who can creep as close to the ground as any Indian, should precede them and reconnoitre; and while the men are at work procuring their loads, there should be other vigilant men stationed in commanding positions to maintain guard, and to give warning if danger should approach.

These precautions should also be strictly observed in the cultivation of your fields and upon every occasion when you may have to perform any labors that may require you to leave your Forts. By breaking up your small settlements and gathering yourselves together in larger bodies you can observe these instructions and not feel that they are burdensome.

When Settlements are abandoned measures should be taken to bury the house logs and fence poles, &c. to prevent their distruction by Indians. Holes can be dug of a sufficient depth in which to put the logs, poles, &c., and as they are buried, cover them with dirt, so that if the torch should be applied they would not burn. The grain at such places should be watched, and the stock kept off, and when it needs water or is ready to be harvested enough armed men should go and perform these labors as to be safe.

The careless manner in which men have travelled from place to place, frequently in parties of one, two or perhaps three, and at times too when it was well known that the Indians were hostile, should be stopped, and nobody should be permitted to venture out from home and from the protection of the Forts unless accompanied by a sufficient number of men to make traveling safe. Adopt such measures from this time forward that not another drop of your blood, or the blood of any belonging to you, shall be shed by the Indians, and keep your stock so securely that not another horse, mule, ox, cow, sheep or even calf shall fall into their hands, and the war will soon be stopped. We wish to impress this upon your minds:-- put yourselves and your animals in such a condition that the Indians will be deprived of all opportunity of taking life and stealing stock, and you may rest assured that when they find you have vigorously entered upon this labor, and that they can gain no further advantage over you, they will soon cease their hostilities.

These difficulties which now exist in your counties were but small in the beginning, and if the counsel which has been given from the time we first came to this country until now had been observed might easily have been settled. But the success in robbing and murdering which attended the first operations of a few bad Indians has had the effect to incite others of similar inclinations in the surrounding tribes to adopt the same course, and to swell the ranks of Black Hawk and his band, until now we find ourselves so threatened that thorough and energetic steps must be taken or our settlements in your counties must be abandoned.

If your settlements are to be maintained, and the Zion of our God built up and extended, it must be upon this principle and in the manner we suggest. Scattering abroad, and allowing the lust for land and stock to possess and influence us, will not do it. But gathering together in such numbers as to be safe, and building up our cities in strength and beauty, and having no stock or property of any kind about us that can be called surplus or that we cannot take care of and use to advantage, will give us power in the earth and enable us to defend ourselves against the depredations and attcks of our enemies.

This policy which we now recommend has been urged upon the people for their adoption from the first formation of our Settlements in these valleys until the present and in every instance, where it has been strictly followed, life and property have been secure. On the contrary where it has been neglected, and men in their anxiety to possess large tracts of land and numerous herds of stock have gone off by themselves and formed small settlements, life has been sacrificed and property distroyed.

If our colonial and national history be examined, it will be found that in no other part of the continent have so many new settlements been formed, extending over such a breadth of territory as we now occupy, with so little loss of life and property as has been experienced by our people since our residence here. This can only be attributed to the blessing of God on our labors, and to the wisdom which He has bestowed upon us to take care of ourselves. In the midst of our difficulties with the Indians, suffering as we have, from repeated provocations and aggressions we have never forgotten that they ar human beings and the descendants of Abraham. To this feeling must a considerable portion of the success we have had in settling among them be attributed. We have borne more than any other people would have endured at their hands, through the knowledge which we have had revealed unto us of their origin and the Lord's purposes concerning their future. But much as we sympathize with them, in the degradation to which they have sunk by the false traditions and transgressions of their fathers, we cannot allow them to murder our brethren and sisters and to indulge in acts of rapine and plunder, without doing our best to check them, even if we have to resort to strong measures in doing so.

The murderers of the Saints and the opponents of Zion among the Lamanites, if they do not repent of their wickedness, will meet with the same fate that the same class does among the whites, they must perish, and we cannot avert it. Still we should bear with them in their ignorance, and do all that we can to reclaim them from the low and fallen condition, and to point unto them the course which they should take to enjoy the blessings of this life and to perpetuate their race upon the earth. A remnant of them will be saved; and they will become a white and delightsome people, as the prophets have foretold. This will be accomplished in the Lord's own time and in His own way. But before this will be fulfilled the Lamanites have a terrible work to perform. They are yet to be "as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through, both treadeth down and teareth to pieces and none can deliver". We <need> not be surprised, therefore, that they are bloodthirsty and pitiless. It is their nature, as it has been developed by generations of training, and none but a race such as they are could be capable of the deeds that, we are told, they will commit. Knowing that this is their nature we should take every precaution to guard against its manifestation in acts of violence towards us, and never place ourselves in a position to be attacked with impunity. In so doing, and always treating them with proper kindness and consideration, they will both fear and respect us.

The friendly Indians who are in our midst should not be ill-treated, nor be made to expiate the wrongs of those who are hostile; but if, while they are making professions of friendship to us, they are our secret enemies, and giving aid and comfort to those who are openly hostile, they should be treated as foes. If their friendship is real, they can give us evidence of it by informing us respecting the movements &c. of the others which may come to their knowledge.

There is a command of fifty men being sent from this City, and another command of fifty men from Provo, to strengthen and assist you in the defence of your lives, homes and property. While they are with you they ought to be furnished with the grain, flour and other articles of food they may need to sustain themselves and horses. If you cannot afford to do this the amount can be charged to Tithing or to the Territory. If there are more men needed than these which are now being sent, they will be sent.

Should there be any of the brethren in any of the settlements who wish to move elsewhere, they are at liberty to go, and not be cut off from the Church for going; but it is very probable that by the time they are moved and well settled the difficulties will be ended where you are, and they may be commenced in the places where they move to. In fleeing from one danger they may run into another that is greater.

In giving you these instructions and counsel, and making these requirements of you, we do not ask you to do anything that we have not ourselves done. From the time that we left Nauvoo we have watched unceasinly; we have built forts and guarded with diligence, and done for years all that you have done, or that you are now required to do, and we never thought it hard; but have felt thankful for the privilege of performing these labors for the gospel's sake. Zion cannot be built, and the kingdom of God be carried forward by us, if we dwell at ease and are not diligent in the performance of our duties.

Brigham Young
Heber C. Kimball
Daniel H. Wells