Manassa Col Dec 31st/80 [Manassa, Colorado Friday 31 Dec 1880]
Dear Elisabeth [Elizabeth Rebecca Ashby Snow], I wrote you some five or six weeks ago [about 19 Nov 1880] and have with longing eyes looked for your reply, but have not received it. A short note from Josephine [Josephine Snow] added to Birte’s [Herbert Hammond Snow], lay a week at San Antonio [San Antonio, Colorado], which I answered on a card somehow it reached me. I was thankfull [thankful] for a little from them, but it failed to satisfy my longings. I am pleased to get a scrap from any of the children or other members of my family or friends but I want also something from your own hand. A token of that hand of love and vision that lays at the foundation of all our hopes, that secures our family ties and promises everlasting joys. I extend to you and all your children, & sons-in-law and all others of your household the compliments of the season, and now that Merry Christmas is over, I wish you all a Happy New Year. Tis [It is] now 9 P.M. and in three [hours] I shall look for the year 1881 to come pouring in and treading in the footsteps of its predecessor. I am seated at the desk in the House of Bro. John Allen formerly of Richfield [Richfield, Utah] whose house and family courtesies you once enjoyed with me there. Willard [Snow] has gone across the Street with Silas S. Smith and Bro. Allens [John Allen] boys to attend a young peoples party and I should have gone also if you were here to go with me. But as you are not I felt like trying to commune with you by letter, slow & poor a method, though it be, yet I am gratefull [grateful] for this priviledge [privilege]. Tomorrow we are engaged to Dine with Bro. Allens Jane [John Allen & Jane] on their Ranche [Ranch] eight miles off. The Turkey is already dressed and waiting to be eaten.
How I wish you could be with us, or what would be better still that we could join you with the Turkey in your dining room. But as neither is likely to be granted, I trust we shall each and all try to be happy in our place and sphere. I have been some four miles [4 miles] out of town to visit a cluster of families, lately from Tennesee [Tennessee], several of whom are sick with flux and their children with whooping cough. This town is the centre [center] of our colony here but there are several little clusters of saints within a radius of three to five miles [3 to 5 miles] from here. While many of the poor are compelled to seek employment much further away among strangers. About 50 men have engaged to work helping to lay the track of the San Juan Branch of the Denver & Rio Grande R.R. [Railroad] to commence next week on the Charmer west of the [Conejo] mountains. The R.R. [Railroad] companies hands are now shoveling snow and laying track down the mountain and are some five or six miles yet from the Charmer, where the Construction Train is to be turned over to Bros Hendricks & Hammond who crossed the mountain yesterday with 45 men & horses and Supplies in a special train. We expect one of them back to accompany us and our men and teams over next week. We have had Bro. Call & Ferron with 100 men engaged hauling and beding [bedding] ties west from the Charmer for several weeks past. Bro. H. [Hendricks] & H. [Hammond] under my advice took the contract of laying 150 miles of track from the Charmer to Durango [Durango, Colorado] near Animas [Las Animas, Colorado], which is expected to be the western terminus for the present. It is some 40 to 50 miles north of the place I selected for a settlement on the San Juan [San Juan River] below the Animas [Las Animas, Colorado] and is near 100 miles East of the colony planted on the lower San Juan [San Juan River] by Silas S. Smith last year. Besides the force engaged beding [bedding] ties and employed to help lay Track there are perhaps 100 men from Utah & many teams engaged on the grade fifty to sixty miles west of the Charmer, mostly on the San Juan [san Juan River] below its Junction with the Navijoe [Navajo River]. From what I learn of them they are making but small wages, owing to cold weather, short days, and delays and expense of getting supplies over the mountain and then hauling them 60 miles from End of Track. They will probably do better as the Track approaches them and days lengthen and Spring comes on. How our job of hauling is going to pay is yet uncertain though we think we have a margin to go on. Some of the graders who came from Springville became discouraged during the recent cold weather and left their jobs on the San Juan [San Juan River] and started south to John Wms [John Williams] camp for work Have not learned how they have succeeded there The A & P Road [Atlantic and Pacific Railroad ?] is 15 miles further south and there are no high divides to interfere with transporting their supplies in winter. I expect to take Bro. Hammond over to John Wms [John Williams] camp as soon after our men get fairly at Track laying. Expect Bro. Hendricks to Superintend and probably Willard [Willard Snow] will take a hand with him. Common hands are willing to labour [labor] at 1.50 to 2.00 [$1.50 to $2.00] per day and board. Whether we shall be able to do any better by our hands than that we cannot yet say. I am not sorry that I came here without bringing with me brethern from Utah or encouraging them to come here in winter, as some who did come before me under different leaders have not realized all their hopes and expectations and some of those who followed off that Scapegrace Florada from Salt Lake [Salt Lake City, Utah] have suffered and are considerably scattered & others have returned a few of them have lodged in this colony. I understand from E. W. [Erastus White Snow] letter to Willard [Willard Snow] that Millers & McCullough & some others from the south have started East but whether to this road [Railroad] or to A & P. road [A & P Railroad] in Arrizona [Arizona] He did not say. I did not advise any to come here this winter, but if any desired work to go to John Wms [John Williams]. I learn by letter from him that He still needs many more men and teams, but I also learn from Bro. Hammond & Hendricks that many have started from the Northern part of Utah by way of the Severe [Sevier River] & Lee’s ferry [on the Colorado River]. I wish Dee to read this and accept it from me for the present and when I can give him and his friends more diffinate [definite] information I will write him. The weather here has been during three weeks past pleasant winter weather, mild days but cold nights. Several times the Thermometer, ranging below zero in early morn - Altitude 7500 ft. [feet]. We have had some little colds but are enjoying general good health only I sense the high altitude by more difficult breathing. Bro. H. [Hammond] & H. [Hendricks] are to have cars for men to eat & sleep in so they will be comfortable. My best regards to Professor Schoppman. I hope he and his pupils are mutually prosperous & happy. Address one here as usual. God Bless you all. Effectionately [affectionately] yours etc. Erastus Snow