Envelope: Erastus Snow
Washinton County, Utah [St. George, Utah]
Copy of Report of E. Snow [Erastus Snow] & M. Thatcher [Moses Thatcher] to the First Presidncy [Presidency] Dated St David A. T. Dec 30th 1882 [St. David, Arizona Territory Saturday 30 Dec 1882]
Postmarked Salt Lake City Jan 31 [Salt Lake City, Utah Wednesday 31 Jan 1883]
St David, Cochise Co. [St. David, Cochise, Arizona]
Arizona, December 30, 1882 [Saturday 30 Dec 1882]
[See quotes and information about this letter in The John Taylor Papers, Vol 2, online at
To President John Taylor and
Counsellors [Counselors] George Q. Cannon
and Joseph F. Smith.
We were met at Maricopa Station [Maricopa, Arizona] at 2 o’clock a.m., 5th inst. [instant – Tuesday 5 Dec 1882] By President A. F. McDonald [A. F. McDonald] who conveyed us in his spring wagon to Tempe [Tempe, Zrizona] on the Salt River, 30 miles from the station. There we were greeted by Bros. Benjamin F. and Joseph E. Johnson [Benjamin F. Johnson] and the members of their families, temporarily located there. The latter was in a very critical condition and, as we believed, fast sinking under the influence of that fatal disease, known as diabetes, which, in his case, was greatly aggravated by a severe cold taken while planting in his garden immediately after a rain storm. We did what we could to alleviate his sufferings.
On the 6th [Wednesday 6 Dec 1882] we visited the town of Phoenix [Phoenix, Arizona], 9 miles down the river, and were astonished at the productiveness of the soil which we were informed yielded annually from 2500 to 3000 lbs. per acre of small grain. But the future prospects of this part of the valley are much clouded by the water monopolists who are seeking, and have, to a great extent, placed the cultivators of the soil at their mercy. At present, their charges for the use of water, where considering the cost of the canals, does not appear exorbitant; but those who secure title to and cultivate the land, feel that the rate may, at any time, be so advanced as to entirely absorb all profits upon their toil notwithstanding the excellent home market and high prices prevailing for farm, garden, orchard, and vineyard products.
Reached Mesa City [Mesa, Arizona], 18 miles above Phoenix [Phoenix, Arizona], on the evening of the 7th [Thursday 7 Dec 1882], and on the following day [Friday 8 Dec 1882] held a meeting at Jonesville [Jonesville, Arizona], some 3 miles north and nearer the Salt River. Judging from the indications of a former civilization as shown in every direction by the ruins of cities, villages and immense canals, some of the latter, nearly 50 feet wide at the bottom and miles in length, we should think that the Salt River Valley - say from Phoenix [Phoenix, Arizona] up the river 25 miles, above and including the present location and immediate surroundings of Mesa City [Mesa, Arizona] once was capable of supporting 500,000 inhabitants, and with judicious cultivation could perhaps be made again to do it. We found it difficult to refrain from feelings of sadness while reflecting upon the history of a people once powerful and happy, who formerly inhabited this land, but who through disobedience dwindled away and finally perished, leaving their inheritances for those who learning by their experience we trust may prove more faithful to God. - On Saturday and Sunday 9th and 10th [9 and 10 Dec 1882] we held meetings at Mesa [Mesa, Arizona], and on the afternoon of the latter day [Sunday 10 Dec 1882] the following organization was effected and unanimously sustained by vote: Elder A. F. McDonald [A. F. McDonald] , President of the Maricopa Stake of Zion, with Henry C. Rogers and Charles I. Robson, Counsellors [Counselors].
Members of the High Council: Alvin A. Stewart, George W. Serine, John N. Lewis, D. P. Jones, Hyrum T. Phelps, Niels Petersen, Timothy Mets, Theodore C. Serine, Charles Allen, H. W. Brizzce, Charles Petersen and James R. Turman. For Clerk of Stake - John T. Bush; for President of High Priests Quorum Jesse P. Steele. For Jonesville Ward [Jonesville, Arizona]: Thomas C. Jones, Bishop and Edward C. Jones and Reuben Collet, counsellors [counselors]. For Mesa Ward [Mesa, Arizona]: Elijah Pomeroy, Bishop; William Passey and Wellington Richens, counsellors.[counselors]. Tempe Branch [Tempe, Arizona]: David T. LeBarron, Presiding Priest. All these were set apart to their several callings and [those who] were not previously High Priests, were so ordained. We earnestly hope that the above organization will meet your approval and receive your blessing, as we sought diligently the guidance of the Holy Spirit while effecting it.
Leaving Mesa [Mesa, Arizona] on Monday morning the 11th [11 Dec 1882] we reached Benson Station [Benson, Arizona], 7 miles from St. David [St. David, Arizona], on the following morning and were met there by Elders David T. Kimball, C. Layton and others who conveyed us to the latter place where on the 14th [Thursday 14 Dec 1882] we held two meetings.
On the following day (Friday a.m. [15 Dec 1882]) accompanied by C. Layton, D. P. Kimball, J. H. Martineau, M. J. Trejo, H. J. Horne, John Hill, N. P. Beebe, Dudley J. Merrill, Reuben Collet, Amos Hawks, Samuel B. Curtis and William Curtis, five wagons and eleven horses and mules we started for Sonora [Sonora, Mexico], via Contention [Contention, Arizona], Charleston [Charleston, Arizona], Hereford [Arizona] Ochoiville [Ochoville, Arizona ?]. Two miles beyond the latter and about 43 miles from St. David [St. David, Arizona], we crossed the line into Mexico, and 7 miles beyond came to the ranch of Pr. [?] Jose Maria Elias on the San Pedro River where is located the custom house of the Mexican government. There, our wagons, their contents and our animals were examined and we (were) informed that we were required to place on deposit $273.00 and must return and report at the same custom house in order to get the amount return [returned] before entering the United States again. Having no information of desirable places in the direction of Frontiras [?] and not wishing to come back by way of the road already traveled, we concluded not to make the deposit, at least before the morrow.
During the evening [Friday 15 Dec 1882] Brothers Layton [C. Layton], Trejo [M. J. Trejo] and we [us – Erastus Snow and Moses Thatcher] visited Sr. Elias [Senor Jose Maria Elias] and learned that the San Pedro grant covers within the State 40 leagues, or about 120 square miles, extending some 20 miles up and down the stream in length is owned by three brothers and beautifully located between the San Jose, Hanchuca (Wanchuca) [Huachuca Mountains - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huachuca_Mountains ] and Ameriquilla Mountains, and comprehends in all 234,500 acres of excellent grazing and farming lands, probably 10,000 acres near the stream of the latter; much of which, it is believed, will produce wheat, oats, and barley without irrigation; corn must be watered once during the year. Water during dry seasons, sufficient only for about 1000 acres farms and orchards, and gardens, and for stock. It is believed the ranch would support 25,000 head of cattle. Considerable timber and, abundance of wood can be had from the mountains, the latter is easy of access.
During our interview Mr. Elias [Jose Maria Elias] expressed a wish to sell the property, asking, as we understood, fifty-five thousand dollars [$55,000] for the whole. On the following morning [Saturday 16 Dec 1882], however, he informed us that the amount mentioned was for his one-third only. This did not surprise us in the least, as it was but another instance of so called Mexican sagacity. On his invitation we spent the next day looking over the grant, which proved a magnificent one for grazing purposes, the best of grasses abounding. The bench lands, however, we found somewhat rocky, but not sufficiently so, we thought, to be particularly hard on the feet of stock.
Returning in the evening [Saturday 16 Dec 1882] we found on further conversation that Mr. Elias [Jose Maria Elias] was anxious to sell and very desirous that we should make him an offer. This we informed him we were not authorized to do, but that we would report to you and perhaps you would make him an offer on or before the first of Feb. next [Thursday 1 feb 1883]. Before leaving on the next morning [Sunday 17 Dec 1882] we instructed Bro. Trejo [M. J. Trejo] to intimate to him that we considered $50,000 a big price for the property. This was done much to the apparent disappointment of the gentleman, who replied that the ranch had cost him a greater sum than the one named. We, however, are of the opinion that he would not refuse that amount, if offered, and think $40,000 cash down would secure it if wanted.
Believing that we could examine the San Bernardino Ranch [San Bernardino Ranch, New Mexico] without encountering any of the Mexican officials or soldiers, we retraced our steps as far as Hereford [Hereford, Arizona] in the U.S. and thence bore northeast into the Sulphur Spring Valley [Sulphur Spring Valley, Arizona] through the mule pass of the Mule Mountains near Birby [Bisbee, Arizona ?], where is located the celebrated Copper Queen Mine [Copper Queen Mine, Arizona]. Crossing the valley in a northeasterly direction, we reached Pedrogosa Springs in the pass of the mountains of the same name [Pedrogosa Mountains, Arizona] about 2 p.m. the following day [Monday 18 Dec 1882], having two hours before turned southeast. Passing over the divide where we noticed the recent survey stakes of the A.T. and S. F. R. R. [Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad] from near Contention [Contention, Arizona] to Deming, New Mexico, we reached Silver Creek [Silver Creek, New Mexico], a beautiful little stream, 15 miles above the San Bernardino Ranch [San Bernardino, New Mexico], which we reached the following day [Tuesday 19 Dec 1882] at 11 a.m. The distance from San Pedro ranch being about 90 miles.
On examination the San Bernardino [San Bernardino, New Mexico] disappointed us, as it did not come up to the estimation of it from previous reports, especially those made by President McDonald and those who accompanied him there last September [Sep 1882]. The whole country was then, however, fresh and beautiful, while now vegetation is dry and crisp. The little valley, or that part embraced in the 6 mile grant of Mr. Mariscal is narrow, the benches on the east and west are rocky covered with the thorny chaperel [chaperral] and gradually ascending to the base of the mountains on either side give the valley a depressed box like appearance anything but pleasant. Considerable mineral is perceptible in portions of the soil, there is, nevertheless, sufficient for all the water there, very rich and productive. Sacaton grass, showing a luxurance [luxuriance] of growth, seen by us no where [nowhere] else, either, Sonora [Sonora, Mexico] or Arizona. Water seems pure and wood is abundant. Timber for building purposes would have to be procured from the Cherricahua Mountains [Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona], 40 or 45 miles distant where Bro. Campbell’s mill is located; or, possibly 10 or 15 miles nearer at Rucker [Rucker, Arizona] where there is a U. S. military post and saw mill. There is, at this season of the year, no water on the American end of the grant. A monument in the midst of the valley, plainly indicates the line separating the two Republics [United States and Mexico]. At the old Mexican Presidio (or fort) there is an excellent site for a village within the Sonora line [Sonora, Mexico]. To this water could be brought, we think, from some springs above. Several of the brethren were of the opinion that from 300 to 500 acres of good land could be irrigated from the stream formed by all the Springs on the Mexican side of the grant, possibly more. While on the ground our impressions were unfavorable, and we felt that $5,000.00 would be a big price for it (letters from Bros. Wilcken and Ivins, at the City of Mexico [Mexico City, Distrito Federal], inform us that the lowest figures for it are $10,000.00) but upon leaving and subsequently we have felt that a location every way desirable was not altogether what we were seeking, but rather, as per your instructions, “a place of refuge.” The peculiar isolation of the San Bernardino Ranch, its proximity to Silver Creek [Silver Creek, New Mexico] and the Pedrogosa Springs [Pedrogosa Springs, Arizona] where there is sufficient water and range for thousands of stock. The settlements at Smithville [now Pima, Arizona] on the Gila [Gila River], say about 110 miles distant, and St. David [St. David, Arizona], some 90 miles, with the magnificent Sulpur Spring Valley [Sulpher Spring Valley, Arizona] within 30 miles where our people may locate with inumerable [innumerable] herds for which they could secure water by sinking wells, all led us later to think more favorably of the ranch.
Brother William Fife and family, formerly of Ogden [Ogden, Utah], and whom we visited on our way to Smithville [now Pima, Arizona] located at the western base of the Cherricahua Mountains [Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona] and on the east side of the Sulphur Spring Valley [Sulpher Spring Valley, Arizona], less than 60 miles, air line, from the San Bernardino ranch. Several other brethren intend locating near him soon.
Sr. Mariscal’s [Senor Mariscal] Agent, Mr. Andrade was to have met us here on the 12th inst. [instant Tuesday 12 Dec 1882], but did not reach here until after our departure. He is now at Guymas [Guymas, Sonora, Mexico]. Will return on the 3rd of January [Wednesday 3 Jan 1883] when we will meet and have an interview with him; the result will be reported later.
From Smithville [now Pima, Arizona] to Bowie Station [Bowie, Cochise, Arizona] on the Southern Pacific R.R. [Southern Pacific Railroad] is 60 miles, thence down the San Simon Valley [San Simon Valley, Arizona] which, at the southern end, is said to be superior to the Sulphur Spring Valley [Sulphur Spring Valley, Arizona], is 60 miles further to San Bernardino [San Bernardino, New Mexico]. This would doubtless become the more direct route overland, via the Little Colorado [River], except in winter where the route via St. George [St. George, Utah], Mesa City [Mesa, Arizona] and St. David [St. David, Arizona] might be preferable. Between Sonora [Mexico] and Chihuahua [Mexico], near the San Bernardino [[San Bernardino, New Mexico] ranch run the Guadalupe and Sierra Madre Mountains [Arizona] with but a mule trail leading from one State to the other; and the recent depredations of the Apachies [Apaches] near them on the Casa Grande [Arizona], where some 20 Americans and Mexicans were killed about the 1st instant [Friday 1 Dec 1882], made us to feel that it would be imprudent to undertake a journey through there just now. Hence we have not yet visited any part of Chihuahua [Mexico] and may not do so unless via El Passo [El Paso, Texas] by rail if so instructed by you by telegraph here: Bro Wilckens in recent letter speaks highly of the Casa Grande Grant owned by an old Castilian [Castillian] living at the city of Chihuahua [Mexico], and held at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars [$250,000]. A colony located in Chihuahua [Mexico] would be out of the line of our settlements in Arizona, but you may, nevertheless hereafter, determine to have some of the Saints locate in that State. Bro. Fife [William Fife] and family are pleasantly located and feel desirous to have others join them. The distance, the way we traveled from San Bernardino [New Mexico], via his home and Bowie Station [Arizona] on the S. P. R. R. [Southern Pacific Railroad] to Smithville [now Pima, Arizona] [Arizona] is about 170 miles.
We reached Brother John M. Moody’s [John M. Moody] place, five miles above the latter place at noon on Christmas Day [Monday 25 Cdec 1882], and were pleased to partake of his generous hospitality. Found him and one or two members of this family afflicted somewhat with chills and fever, they being located on the bottoms near stagnant water and among mosquito forests. He was of the opinion that proper drainage and careful cultivation of the soil would relieve them from the disease, and we hope it may but are doubtful. The ancient inhabitants, we note by the ruins of towns and cities located their habitations upon the Mesas (benches) and not upon the bottom lands of the river which they cultivated but did not live upon. We think that our people will learn by experience to appreciate the wisdom of the former occupants of the country regarding sanitary precautions.
In no part of Arizona that we have visited, not even excepting the Salt River Valley, are there more excellent facilities for the speedy making of prosperous homes than at and in the vicinity of Smithville [now Pima, Arizona]. The soil is deep, very productive and abundant, and the water supply is sufficient for we think, at least a hundred thousand acres [100,000 acres]. A few thousand dollars [$1,000] judiciously expended just now, would secure to our people the control of the Valley up and down the river for 20 or 25 miles; and would, if necessary, afford comfortable locations which would produce rapidly substantial wealth for at least ten thousand people [10,000] inclined to devote their time to the cultivation of the soil rather than to spending their substance in freighting for the Gentiles, which has been the case with too many of the Saints located on these frontiers. The results of the unwise policy are very apparent in all our settlements thus far visited by us in this Territory. It is seen in the neglected fields and cheerless habitations of the people as well as observed in the restless, discontented looked beyond for something better disposition of many of them. Upon these points we gave such counsel as we thought would produce good results.
The rapid increase of population at Smithville [now Pima, Arizona] and vicinity and the gradual growth at St. David [St. David, Arizona], caused us to feel that there should be at no distant day, a stake organization here, as the Saints are too far from the Maricopa or the Stake presided over by Bro. Jesse H. Smith, to have the advise [advice] so much needed almost daily, from wise and judicious leaders. But on mature reflection we felt to make no direct move in this direction until your advice and counsel could be had. A very excellent spirit prevailed in all the meetings held by us at Smithville [now Pima, Arizona], and Bishop Joseph Rogers and Counsellors [counselors] appear to be wide awake and energetic.
Leaving there Thursday morning, 28th inst. [instant – Thursday 28 Dec 1882], we came the following day to Wilcox Station [Willcox, Arizona], via Eureka Springs [Arizona] and Hooker’s Ranch [Henry Clay Hooker, Hooker's Ranch, Arizona]. At Wilcox [Willcox, Arizona] we took train for Benson [Arizona] and St. David [Arizona]. We have been exploring two weeks, have traveled with teams about 450 miles. The weather considering the season of year, has, at least during days, been delightful. The nights, however, have been cold, rendering rest at nights somewhat doubtful and unrefreshing for the members of the party who, by reason of age and former exposure are traveling down the other side of the hill of life made perceptibly rougher to them by extended camping tours. This has been specially noticeable with Elder Snow [Erastus Snow] who, having taken a severe cold, has, during the past week, suffered acute pains in and about his kidneys, indicating by considerable inflamation [inflammation] of the testicles later, a general derangment [derangement] of the urinary organs. For these reasons we have felt it best that he should rest here a few days and then accompanied by Brother Layton [C. Layton] return home, leaving Elder Thatcher [Moses Thatcher] to form another company and proceed in a day or two to explore the Santa Cruz Valley [Arizona] lying southwest from here. Brothers David P. Kimball and J. H. Martineau will accompany Brother Thatcher [Moses Thatcher].
We are pleased to be able to report favorably about Brother Kimball [David P. Kimball]. He has certainly exhibited a most excellent and humble spirit since we came here. The ready willingness with which he has, with his whole heart, assisted us, while endeavoring to anticipate our wants, has made us very grateful, and has caused us to rejoice notwithstanding his sad experience in the past, in witnessing in him so many of the generous, disinterested traits which marked the character and works of his noble father. He resists all temptations now, and touches no liquors. David [David P. Kimball] seems well liked by the people and we hope and pray that God may give him strength and grace to do them good and regain for himself the unlimited confidence of his brethren. Elder Snow [Erastus Snow] hoping soon to be with you, will give verbally any further information you may wish regarding our explorations and labors in this region.
With love to you, President Woodruff [Wilford Woodruff] and the members of our Quorum [Quorum of Twelve 12 Apostles], and praying God to prosper Zion and her people.
Your Brethren in the Gospel,
Erastus Snow and