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Life & Labors: Mormons, Railroad, Civil War, & Indian Raids

So, it appears that I sat aside Reuben Gaylord's Life and Letters for two years, as this was the last post. I plan on editing an abridged version and publishing it for our congregation's 160th anniversary this year.

In 1864 we catch up with the Gaylords still living in Omaha as they record their impressions of various events and daily life ministering on the frontier.

Seven hundred Mormons came up the other day on the boat.  They came on the deck, furnishing their own provisions.  But on their arrival their stores had failed them; they had exhausted the boat's supply, and scattered themselves over our town, begging food.  What must they suffer before they reach the Mormon paradise--Salt Lake City!  It is sad to think of what is before them.  Many of those that have come over from Europe this year are without means.  They are brought through by the church emigration fund.  Wagons have been sent down from Salt Lake to take out their baggage, while men, women, and children are compelled to walk the entire distance from here to Utah!  Surely, it is a pilgrimage.  Some have had their eyes open to see their error, and have concluded to go no farther.

Here's another of historical interest written by Mrs. Gaylord:

Mr. Gaylord was greatly interested in all public improvements and was especially happy over the advent of the Union Pacific railroad.  It was what had been long desired, expected, and waited for.  The very greatness of such a gigantic enterprise as this "world's highway" was uplifting and stimulating to thought and action. . . .  He looked at it in its local bearings upon us, so isolated and needy, but much more as an inestimable boon to our beloved country; and, both higher and deeper than all, as helping forward the progress of that Christianity which he longed should be hastened on, until multitudes more would yield joyful allegiance to the Prince of Peace.

And then this observation in Rev. Gaylord's hand:

Little, as yet, do we conceive of the wonderful changes that are to be wrought in the regions between us and the Pacific by this gigantic undertaking, or the work that is to be rolled upon the church, to give the Gospel to the future millions of the mighty West that is just springing into life.

Mrs. Gaylord opens a new chapter with this inauspicious paragraph:

The year 1864 opened with brightening prospects for our beloved country.  Through the smiles of a kind Providence upon the valor and heroism of our soldiers the dark clouds of war were being lifted, and the people saw with prophetic vision, the sunshine of peace beginning to dawn upon them.  Omaha, too, was feeling the inspiration of better times and of returning prosperity.  The prospect of peace in the near future, and work begun on the Union Pacific Railroad, stimulated a revival of business and gave our citizens courage to undertake new enterprises for the general welfare.  But early in the month of August this bow of promise was suddenly obscured, and Omaha intensely excited by a rumored invasion from guerrillas and Indians.  Roving bands of Sioux, said to be led by rebel white men disguised as savages, had been committing depredations in the Platte and Elkhorn valleys.  The remembrances of raids in Kansas by Quantrell's band, which had destroyed the city of Lawrence only a few months before, helped to increase the excitement.  But those fears were not realized, and before winter came on, the city had again settled down to the peaceful pursuit her wonted occupations.


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