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then asked him if he was a Mormon
(for I would rather have died than to fall into their hands). p. 18
SHEPHERD, Annie. THE MURDER AND ROBBERY OF CALIFORNIA EMIGRANTS IN 1859. The Privations and Sufferings of the Adventurers. A Narrative. By Mrs. Annie Shepherd, One of the Survivors, Who Lost her Husband and All Her Property. Published for Her Benefit. St. Louis: Times Printing House, 206 and 208 North Third Street., 1871.
18½ cm. , 6-29, [3 (blank)] pages. Verso of title (p. ), verso of preface (p. ), and verso of p. 29 blank; final leaf blank and its lower outer corner torn away). Collated COMPLETE in  pp., counting blanks. Frayed and worn, but complete without loss of any text. A few stains. Some leaves once separated, the pamphlet then oversewn by hand along the backstrip long ago. Name and address of a Michigan owner written in pencil on verso of title. Although worn, the paper is not at all brittle.
**SOLD** $ 3,000
VERY RARE, if not unique. This pamphlet contains three dramatic passages relating to the Mormons, yet it is NOT LISTED IN FLAKE; not in Howes; not in Graff; not in the National Union Catalog; not in the Eberstadt Catalogs or Eberstadt's Modern Overland Narratives; not in the Soliday collection catalog; not found in the OCLC database.
"THIS LITTLE BOOK," according to the PREFACE,
is a true story of a company of nineteen persons that started from Howard county, Missouri, with their stock, on the 18th of May, 1859. The company consisted of Mr. Shepherd and family, and others.
It was written by Mrs. Annie Shepherd, in a journal, from the time they left home until they reached fifty miles beyond Salt Lake City, where Mr. Shepherd and four others were most cruelly murdered and everything taken from them at the hands of savages. It also tells of their sufferings from there to California, and how, by the charity of the people, they at last returned to Howard county, being left entirely destitute of means. Mrs. Shepherd is now living in Salisbury, Chariton county, Missouri, where she is endeavoring to make her support and educate her little girl by her own exertions.
This narrative is being sold entirely for her benefit, and any person feeling a desire to do a charitable act cannot do better than to buy one, as they will thereby get a good book and benefit the widow and orphan. [p. (3)]
To buy ONE, indeed, may be all that is possible today, as I find no other copy recorded. Contrary to the preface written by another party, the Indian attack must have taken place in what is now southwestern Wyoming. Mrs. Shepherd describes a location which, after several confusing hours of research, I speculate may have been in Buckhorn Canyon near the north edge of present Sweetwater County, Wyoming, along the Sublette Cutoff.. An alternative location may have been near the Hudspeth Cutoff in southeastern Idaho (see further below) although that traditional setting for this event seems not to fit the careful chronology and distances set forth in the pamphlet.
It must have been on July 27, 1859 (interpolating from the text) that the small wagon train stopped three miles into a canyon some miles west of the eastern end of the Sublette Cutoff, a treacherous, waterless but much shorter route circumventing the usual southern dip to Ft. Bridger. The text is dramatic enough, and while brief portions may have been copied directly from Annie's daily journal entries, the bulk of the writing is clearly after the fact, likely aided by another hand. Four men were killed in the brief attack, and others wounded. Annie's husband, William T. Shepherd, died in her arms, and Annie crawled to hide in the sagebrush after relinquishing her infant daughter, Ida, to another for safer care. "I could hear the Indians," she writes,
breaking open our trunks and driving off our stock, and expected every moment that they would come in seareh [sic] of us, and I would be found and murdered. . . .
As they tore up our beds to get the ticks [mattress cases] to put the plunder in, the feathers would blow to where I was lying concealed. Oh, harrowing feelings ! to think that I was surrounded by Indians, and not one to raise their hand in my defense. [p. 16]
Hideous practicality took over. One man lay wounded, helpless, watching the others flee. Annie waited two hours in hiding. Then,
. . . I crept out of my place of ambush and looked around me in every direction, but could see no human being. I then relieved myself of the most of my clothing, threw off my shoes, shortened my dress, and started back in hopes of reaching the train that we had left in the morning, some nine or ten miles distant.
. . . I frequently would tire and have to lie down to rest; but inspired with the hope that my little Ida had reached camp safe, I could rest with but little degree of satisfaction, knowing that she would need a mother's care. . . . I would often look around me to see if there were any Indians in sight, for I expected every moment to be pursued and murdered; . . . [p. 17]
At last, Annie reached her destination, only to become alarmed at the sight of more wagons than had occupied that camp the night before, ". . . and I could see them firing off their guns." After some thought, Annie approached closer and suddenly realized that she was the target: they thought she was an Indian . . .
Bare-headed and but few garments on, and they torn and saturated with the precious blood of my dead husband, gave me more the appearance of a savage of the forest, than a civilized person. . . . I came to the conclusion to go in sight of the camp again, and waved my handkerchief, and asked them for a drink of water to cool my parched tongue, for I was suffering greatly for water, not having had any since early in the morning. I thought if I only could get one mouthful of water I would be willing to die, for all that I loved was gone, and that death would be preferable to a life among savages.
. . . I heard some one say, "Yonder's a woman from the murdered train! I sank down, exhausted with fatigue and distress, and waited in much doubt until they could reach me. Mr. Burton, from Iowa—as I learned afterwards—came up to me first. I asked him if he would give me a drink of water before he took my life. He replied that he would not kill me—that he was my friend. I then asked him if he was a Mormon (for I would rather have died than to fall into their hands). He said not, and sent in haste after some water, and started to camp with me in his arms; but soon was met by James Shepherd, who relieved him, expressing great surprise in finding me alive. He said he expected I was dead. [p. 18 (emphasis added)]
Mrs. Shepherd's thirst was certainly consistent with this specific location. It was here that emigrants approaching from the East had to make a decision which could mean convenience, but also the difference between life or death. Gregory M. Franzwa explains . . .
Should the traveler continue to the southwest, away from his ultimate destination to the northwest, and follow the Blacks Fork River for its water and grass? Or should he cut off some 75 miles of travel and move straight west across the bitter desert on the road founded by old Caleb Greenwood, but known as the Sublette Cutoff? That meant a stretch of about 50 miles with no water at all. Travelers had to start moving at sundown, travel all night, and all the next day to hit the Green River. [Maps of the Oregon Trail (St. Louis: The Patrice Press, 1990), p. 5]
This was the famous "Parting of the Ways," a nondescript separation of wagon ruts in the middle of nowhere, and it seems to have cost Annie her husband and their small fortune of $725 in gold. (It was here, too, that George Donner was elected captain of the Donner Party which never reached California. South Pass Tour, Guide Script. Oregon-California Trails Association 10th Annual Convention, Rock Springs, Wyoming, n.d., pp. 14-15).
WHY WAS ANNIE SO TERRIFIED OF MORMONS ? WE ARE FORTUNATE to have some unexpectedly relevant background from the pen of able historian John D. Unruh, Jr., writing in the 1970s. He notes that "Individual thievery occurred everywhere along the trail, but the organized banditry was confined mainly to four fairly extensive regions." Perhaps the worst of these regions was the very place Annie describes in her sad narrative presently at hand . . .
Once they penetrated beyond South Pass, emigrants entered a region frequented by banks of especially vicious desperadoes. Due to the infamous Mountain Meadows massacre in 1857 --when fanatic Mormons and their Indian allies summarily dispatched about 120 Missouri and Arkansas overlanders --several additional incidents, and a plethora of rumors, many overlanders believed these to be Mormon bands. The Mountain Meadows tragedy was an isolated event, however, perpetrated by zealots fired up by religious revivalism. The other trail incidents seem more probably the work of apostate Mormons, mountain men, and other outlaws and highwaymen, many of whom were refugees from California justice, than of officially directed Latter-Day Saints. Indeed, Mormon ferryboat operators returning to Salt Lake City in 1849 with the handsome proceeds of a summer's work were themselves badly enough frightened of a band of robbers preying on the emigration from their base in the Wind Chain Mountains to change their travel plans. In 1851 Brigham Young placed the blame for many of the depredations upon free traders at the Green River and other places: "I am informed that they have induced Indians to drive off the Stock of emigrants, so as to force them to purchase of the 'Freemen' at exhorbitant prices and after the emigrants have left, make a pretended purchase of the Indians for a mere trifle, and are ready to sell again to the next train that may pass, and who may have been served in the same manner." [citing Young to Luke Lea, May 28, 1852, in Morgan, ed., Washakie and the Shoshoni, Part II, (1954), 73-75]
In 1854 Brigham Young himself warned emigrants in a signed editorial in the "Deseret News" to be careful of "a numerous and well organized band of white highwaymen, painted and disguised as Indians," who stole travelers' stock "by wholesale" and committed murders as well. The Mormon leader also denied the accusations made by an 1854 overlander who complained to Young that he had been victimized by Mormon robbers. Young's explanation that "white vagrants" and professional bandits were really at fault satisfied the emigrant. [The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60 (Urbana, Chicago, London: University of Illinois Press, [c.1979], pp. 194-5), citing Young, "Emigration," in Deseret News, July 13, 1854]
So now we understand why Annie dreaded the Mormons so. Given the context above, we see that she was neither inordinately paranoid nor anti-Mormon in her apprehensions. "While the identity of the bandits remains obscure," continues Unruh,
some of their raids were reasonably well reported. By the end of the decade their assaults incorporated a monstrous savagery. For instance: at midday toward the end of July, 1859, on the Hudspeth Cutoff, while THE SHEPHERD TRAIN was traveling through a canyon, a sudden crossfire commenced from the rocks and bushes beside the trail. Four emigrant men were immediately killed and a man and his wife severely abused, wounded, and left for dead. The woman survived but the man died a few days later. The attackers also tossed into the air a small child, who suffered a broken leg upon falling to the ground. The murderers burned the wagons, stole thirty-five horses and mules, assorted valuables, and $1,000. in cash. Train survivors recognized among the leading attackers at least three white men disguised as Indians. [Unruh, p. 195, citing "Statement," in U.S. President, "Massacre at Mountain Meadows," 108-9 (emphasis added); the technical citation for that source is: U.S. Senate. 36th Congress. 1st Session. Message of the President of the United States . . . in relation to the massacre at Mountain Meadows and other massacres in Utah Territory (Senate Exec. Doc. No. 42) Washington: George W. Bowman, 1860. 139 pages. Serial Set 1033; entry 198 in Fales and Flake, Mormons and Mormonism in U.S. Government Documents, calling this "The major printed source on the Mountain Meadows Massacre to appear in a government publication.]
THE REALITY OF THE ATTACK illuminated in the fascinating rarity now offered here is thus established. Annie provides more detail upon several of the points above, with the sad advantage of first-hand observation. While a quick reading of the Preface to this pamphlet could easily accommodate the Hudspeth Cutoff (near Soda Springs, Idaho) as the actual site - where Unruh and others place the Shepherd catastrophe, Annie's account hardly allows a location that far along the trail. She specifically names the "Subett [sic] Cut-off," p. 10, and her day-by-day description fits the latter location perfectly. To be thorough, however, let me mention that Annie says her husband and the three other victims killed during the attack ". . . were laid side by side, . . . the four, were buried in one grave. A wagon body sheltered them from the cold earth." p. 21. Accordingly, I note a designation, "Wagonbox Grave," in Franzwa's Map 76 along the Oregon Trail, which includes Soda Springs and the eastern end of the Hudspeth Cutoff [Franzwa, p. (179)]. However, the relative locations of sites on that map would not fit Annie's careful day-by-day description of the events. It will remain to the fortunate future owner of this item to continue the research!
Annie's record takes on dramatic significance as we view this rare survival as evidence of how Americans of this time and place could view and fear the Latter-day Saints. It was more than mere rumor of cattle rustling which fed her apprehensions, however.. Annie had only recently seen the Mountain Meadows Massacre children survivors with her own eyes. She states that her wagon train crossed the summit of the Rocky Mountains on July 9, 1859 . . .
The next day we met Captain Johnson and crew, of the government forces, with twenty children, whose parents had been murdered two years ago, at a place called Mountain Meadows. Captain Johnson had been sent in search of them, and thus far had succeeded in the praiseworthy enterprise of capturing them from the Indians, who had still retained them after murdering their parents.
Twenty more pitiful children than these I never saw. Their ages ranged from two to fourteen.
After a few miles journeying, we arrived at a place where the Mormons had burnt some government wagons some time before. These circumstances somewhat aroused the fears of the timid. . . . [p. 9]
For all the shaky particulars, it is certainly possible that Annie had this encounter. The retinue transporting the Mountain Meadows Massacre survivor children was indeed under the initial command of Albert Sidney Johnston, although he did not accompany them personally. They set out from Camp Floyd, west of Utah Lake, on June 27, 1859, and would reach Ft. Leavenworth, on the eastern edge of Kansas, on August 25 (Will Bagley, Blood of the Prophets . . . [Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 2002], pp. 236, 240). While the number of twenty Mountain Meadows children is a few too high, there may have been other children in the company belonging to the women who were specifically hired to accompany the soldiers and prepare wholesome meals along the way.
A third Mormon reference is fascinating as an indirect reflection, again, of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The reader will notice that Annie does not attribute Mormon participation in that previous, more famous slaughter. Yet look what she has to say about Mormons likely participating in the attack which she experienced personally . . .
Historian Will Bagley points out that even the original Fancher Family (victims of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre) lost cattle to presumably non-Mormon whites and Indian raiders, combined, during an earlier cattle drive to the West:
On the morning of June 1 [1850, near the Kansas-Nebraska border area], five steers, including two belonging to Alexander Fancher, were missing. After the wagons rolled out, Fancher and [William Bedford] Temple tracked the animals, searching a creek until they discovered their cattle "brushed in a thickett, herded by a Whiteman. . . . The fact is, more than one is ingaged in this way of doing—stealing and selling to the back trains. . . . Near all the stealing and killing is done by the Whites following the Trains. The number thus ingaged is very great—not a day [goes by] but Ponies or cattle is missing." Such predators were infinitely more dangerous than most Indians, and Temple thought they would shoot a man for his provisions. He rallied his party to capture the rustler, but he escaped. "Had we found him poor fellow," Temple wrote, "he would have been no more but feede for Wolves." Alexander Fancher recovered his livestock, but this would not be his last encounter with white Indians. [Bagley, pp. 59-60, citing letter from Temple to his wife in Carroll County, Arkansas, 2 June 1850, Oregon State Historical Society, "punctuation corrected."]
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