Letter from Lyman Wight and Others, 15 February 1844–A

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Black River Falls
February 15th. 1844
To the first Presidency and the quorum of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints
Dear Breathren
Through the goodness and mercy of God the eternal Father, and grace of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, we are permitted to write and send by a Special messenger, a concise account of our lumbering opperations, together with the apparent prospects of the introduction & spred of the Gospel among the Chippewa & Menomonie Indians, and also the projects of our hearts in regard to future operations in spreading the Gospel South in all the extent of and the consequences growing out of the same. All of which we beg leave to submit to your consideration, that we may have your concurrence or such views as shall be in accordance with the mind & will of the Lord, and govern ourselves in accordance thereto.
Since we have been here lumbering we have had many difficulties to encounter, but the main hindrance to our Successful opperations was the feeding, clothing and transporting a great many lazy, idle men who have not produced any thing by their pretended labor, and thus eating up all that the diligent and honest could produce by their unceasing application to labor & we have not yet got entirely clear of such like persons. But under all these mighty clogs & and hindrances we have been able to accomplish and have in progress, so that we can deliver in about one million feet of lumber by the last of July next, which will be a great deal more than what is necessary to build the and , besides all this we have made valuable improvements here, all the result of much labor done under trying circumstances.
We have recently ascertained that the land from the falls of to its Sources is the property of the Menomanee Indians, And the Genrl. government having [p. [1]] urged them to move off of the lands in the vicinity of Green Bay onto their own lands, The Indians say they will, provided the Government will remove all strange Indians and tresspassing white men off of their lands— Consequently the Agent and Superintendant of Indian affairs are taking such steps as will stop all further trespassing on the Indian lands, On the Wisconsin, and Chippewa Rivers, under the penalties of the laws relative to the case
We sent Brs. and , in company with the principal Chief of the Menomonee Indians over land to the Wisconsin River, to ascertain more about the matter. They saw the agent, found him to a gruff austere man determined to stop all tresspassing on Indian land. The Indians are willing to sell privileges to individuals for lumbering & cutting timber as they have hitherto done, but the Agent is opposed to it. Thus a difficulty arises between themselves— Now as regards the introduction of the Gospel of Christ among the Indians here it will require more exertion to all appearances to check the enthusiastic ardor of these our red breathren untill the full principles of faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shall be reasoned into their minds, than to urge them on to receive it— They have great confidence in us— The Country belonging to these Northern Indians is a dreary cold region, and to a great extent, Cranberry marshes, pine barrens and Swamps with a small amount of good land, scarce of game, and only valuable in mill privileges, and facilities for lumbering, purposes. As to minneral resources, they have not been fully developed— There is no doubt as to the abundance of Iron Ore, but uncertain as to quality— Now under all of these circumstances, a few of us here have arrived at this conclusion in our minds, (such as can under go all things,) that as the Gospel has not been fully opened in all the South and South Western States, as also , , Brazil &C. together with the West India Islands. [p. [2]]
Having produced lumber enough to build the & — also having an influence over the Indians so as to induce them to sell their land to the , and go to a climate south west more congenial (all according to the policy of the U. S. Government) and having also become convinced that the Church at or in the Eastern States will not build the according to the commandment, neither the in a reasonable time— and that we have so far as we have made trials got means in the South, we have it in our minds to go to the table lands of to a point we may find to be the most eligible, there locate, and let it be a place of geathering for all the South (They being incumbered with that unfortunate race of beings the Negroes) and for us to employ our time and tallents in geathering together means to build according to the Commandments of our God, and spread the Gospel to the nations of according to the will of our heavenly father, We therefore our beloved brethren send our worthy , with a few of our thoughts, on paper, that you may take the subject matter under consideration, and return us Such instructions as may be according to the mind and will of the Lord our God.
We have thought it best to sell the mills here if you may think it expedient— We feel greatly encouraged to spend and be spent in the cause of Christ according to the will of our heavenly Father
You will therefore, after due deliberation send us by the hands of such instructions as may be the result of your deliberations. Holding ourselves ready under all circumstances in life to try to do all things whatsoever or commanded or instructed to do by those ordained to direct the officers of the Church of Jesus Christ
Subscribing ourselves yours truly while life shall endure [p. [3]]
Select Committee to write expression of the views of the branch of the Church at Black River Falls
 
Joseph Smith P. C.)
P. T.)
Clk.)
 
Feby 15th 1844
to The first Presidency
 
Read in Council March 10th. 1844. [p. [4]]

Footnotes

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    Docket in unidentified handwriting.