Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Letter From a Refugee in 1857

Here is Sidney Tanner writing to his brother-in-law, Apostle Amasa Lyman, as Sidney evacuated both their families from San Bernardino under the direction of Brigham Young while the United States Army marched toward Utah Territory to put down a non-existent rebellion.

To be honest, it had never crossed my mind that Sidney or any of the Tanners would be barely literate, but they had lived on the edges of the frontier their entire lives without the benefit of formal education. 

In the letter Sidney explains that he wants to settle in Salt Lake City, but as we know, the family ended up in Beaver. He ends his letter hoping that his Heavenly Father will deliver them from the hand of the oppressor and enable them to do good while they remained on the earth. I think it is safe to say that his prayer was answered in the affirmative.

San Berinardino November   [1857]

            Amsa Lyman

drop you           Dear Sir

drop you a line to let you know of my welfare myself and family has ben a flicted with sore is eyes  I have not ben able to but litle since I got home thare is a geate excitement in this place at p[r]esent Brother Hanks sold me the four muls and two wagons the goats hee wod not due enny thin a bout I recicive your letter on the 28th I was glad to here from you you wanted me to look after your famly

I will do the bestican [best I can] times Is vary hard here thare is no c[h]ance of seling land here at prsant I expect to start the temes [teams] about tenn days and bring [Amasa's plural wives] Cornelia [Ely Partridge Lyman,] Piscilla [Priscilla Turley Lyman,] Dionishia [Dionita Walker Lyman] and my family as fur as seder citty [Cedar City]

Tare [There] stop and send back temes to help up the res of the famly I want you to make a raingment for grain thar for the temes to return wih as wee will have no monny [money]

Brother Cox will do the best he can for the rest of famly

In my absence when I git the famly all along I want to come to citty of great salt lake

I wish you wood giv em all the infrommation about this this matter from time to time

seei meed [?] and about all others my prare [prayer] is to god my hevnly father hee will de liver us from the hand of opresor and in able [enable] us to du good while wee remain up on the erth

            Amasa Lyman                    Sidney Tanner

Additional information in a letter from William J. Cox to Amasa Lyman (November 7, 1857):
Brother Sidney Tanner will leave about the 20th, with his family, and is advised to leave his load at Cedar City or vicinity and return for a load of the poor, as there are many who are not able to get any part of a fit out themselves. I have adopted the plan of sending some teams with families on the 20th inst, and have them return for another load, especially the best of the Teams, Sidney. Will take your teames at the Same time With a part of your family and leave them at the same place and return to this place for another load, this is all the way.  That offers at present for the removal of the Saints from this place, We are Busy here in gathering teams, and Wagons for the trip. But Waggons are very Scarce and very dear and our traps are very low. So you See that it is an uphill afair to us But We Will Be able to get out, on foot or some other way 
The excitement here is intence, oweing to the late massacre on the Plains near the Southern settlements in Utah, and the high_way and high handed Robery of another Train (as our enemis call it) this side of there, the feeling against all who uphold the authorities of the church is greater than you I presume can imagine, especially in this and Los Angeles Counties

1 comment:

  1. Note that the handwriting here is notably different from the handwriting on another letter also supposed to be written by Sidney Tanner:

    Sidney mentions having sore eyes at the very beginning of this letter. Could he have been dictating it to his wife, Julia, or one of their children? None of them would have had the benefit of extensive education, living on the frontier as they did.