Oroville, California: 1859 and 1862. Unbound. One letter is dated October 16, 1858; the other, June 28, 1862. No mailing envelopes. The first letter has a few small holes at the intersection of some mailing folds. Notice one old near invisible repair to a short split along a mailing fold apparently was made with archival tape. Utley’s California address has been excised from bottom of the second letter’s second leaf.
In Utley’s first letter, he describes his journey to California. Most important is his nonchalant description of a hitherto unreported attack on a wagon train by the Mormon Militia and their allies, the Paiute Indians, that occurred shortly after their infamous unprovoked slaughter of 120 men, women, and children in the Baker–Fancher wagon train, most likely by the same Mormon-Paiute force:
“I will tell you i had a long Journey Wee was about five months on the road Wee stoped at pikes peak about three weeks Wee had no trouble crossing the plains but there was some men kiled on the road There were five men shot dead by the indians and the mormans in one place and one women Cripled wee had a long Journey”
Although Utley is at first excited and optimistic about life in California, by 1862 he had become disenchanted with California’s cost of living and weather:
“I got her about the first of september i am now in sacramento vally i am working by the month i am a getting fifty dollars per month and my dwell and washing i like the Cuntry firstrate. . .. I am a going to mining Just as soon as the rany season Comences I have got a purty good prospect now. . .. I am still living in Butte to yet in the mountains Times is hard here father last Winter it is rained all Winter the sacramento valley Was all covered with water from one end to the other. . .. There Was thousands of head of stok Drownded here and hundreds of families The Indians a Committing Depradations here in California They have killed men Women and Children . . . flour six dollars per hundred Beef 12 cts per pound Potatoes 5 cts per pound Pork 12 cts . . . everything else in proportion . . . California is not what it is Cracked up to be for I Tell you there is no enjoyment here at all” Utley closes his second letter expressing concern about the war:“I got a letter from John Colgan the other day . . . Morgan had gon to the War if it is so tell him to Wright to me for i Would like to know Whare he is i hope that he is not With the south . . . Father tell me of all the boys that has gone to War “. Very good. Item #009448 Although unique, the Rare Book Hub shows that a letter reporting still another Mormon attack on a wagon train that killed only one person was listed in a 1963 Eberstadt catalog.
The reporting of a second, previous unknown deadly Mormon attack on a wagon train to California is of exceptional historic value and certainly worthy of additional research to determine the exact circumstances of its occurrence and its relationship to the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Although unique, the Rare Book Hub shows that a letter reporting still another Mormon attack on a wagon train that killed only one person was listed in a 1963 Eberstadt catalog.