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A Remarkable Curiosity

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Collected in this volume for the first time are Cummings's portraits of a land and its assortment of characters unlike anything back East. Characters like Pedro Armijo, the New Mexican sheep tycoon who took Denver by storm, and more prominently the Mormon prophet Brigham Young and one of his wives, Ann Eliza Young, who was filing for divorce at the time of Cummings's arrival.Although today he is virtually unknown, during his lifetime Cummings was one of the most famous newspapermen in the United States, in part because of stories like these. Complete with a biographical sketch and historical introduction, A Remarkable Curiosity is an enjoyable read for anybody interested in the American West in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

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1. Over the Kansas Plains

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THE LEVEL PARADISE SOUTH OF THE MISSOURI RIVER.

The Mysterious Footprint—Editorial Mincemeat—

Beware of Monte Players—Information for Overworked New

York Clerks—The Bone Pickers of the Prairie.

Correspondence of The Sun.

DENVER, Col., May 30.—It takes two nights and two days to reach this city from St. Louis. I stopped a day in Kansas City. As I alighted at the depot I saw a score of citizens in flannel shirts and buckskin trousers measuring a footprint in the mud. There appeared to be considerable excitement about it. The foot track was measured a half dozen times, but it was finally settled that it was thirteen inches in length. There was a rumor that the impression was from the foot of Susan B. Anthony.1 The citizens believed it to be true, but they were mistaken. The footprint turned out to be the work of the accomplished cattle market reporter of the New York Times.2 This lady has attracted much attention in Kansas and Colorado. While the stock breeders laugh at her personal appearance, they acknowledge that she thoroughly understands stock raising and breeding, and many horsemen say that they are indebted to her for valuable hints. It is said that she has purchased or is about to purchase several thousand acres of land either in Kansas or the Territory,3 and go into business on her own account.

 

2. The Earthly Paradise

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A MAN WHO HAS HAD ENOUGH OF WESTERN KANSAS.
Farming on the Old Buffalo Range in Kansas—A Racy Letter

from a Saline County Angel—The Extraordinary Winds That
Blow Wheat Fields and Herds of Cattle into the Next County.Correspondence of The Sun.GYPSUM CREEK VALLEY, Kan., May 30— Perhaps the readers of THE SUN may feel an interest in learning the experience of a settler in Kansas, who has made a home some 200 miles west of Kansas City. They probably knew what the Kansas Pacific Railroad men represent this country to be, and may also have a faint recollection of the earthly heaven the imaginative land agents talk about. The heaven described to me was situated in Saline County, Kansas, and as I had the desire to go to the abode of good men after my death, and thought that a residence in an earthly paradise would tend to prepare me, I came here. In short I am a Saline County angel, and am living in a valley, Gypsum1 by name, with a lot of the meanest angels ever heard of.

 

3. A Canadian in Colorado

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A FARMER’S EXPERIENCE AT THE BASE OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.

A New York City Farmer Tackles the Old Gentleman—

The Result—What Crops Can Be Raised in Colorado, and

What Can’t Be Raised—The Wonderful Instinct of the Potato

Bug—The Old Farmer Saved.

Correspondence of The Sun.

MANITOU, Col., June 17.— I had a talk today with Mr. Moses Ouellette,1 a Canadian, who has cultivated a farm in Colorado for the last nine years. He owns 160 acres of land, about six miles west of Denver. Mr. Ouellette is a sound-headed, practical man. Believing that his information would prove interesting to farmers in the States, I interviewed him in the old brass-mounted style.2 As I had had several years’ experience in farming in New York City,3 I felt that I was thoroughly posted, and therefore tackled the old gentleman with considerable confidence. He panned out as follows:

 

4. The Petrified stumps

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STONE TREES IN THE HEART OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.

Judge Castello and His Wonderful Shirt—How to Find the

Valleys of the Petrified Stumps—Wiping a Natural Curiosity from

the Face of the East—Nature’s Magnifying Glass—Rocks with

Silver Linings.

Correspondence of The Sun.

MANITOU, Col., June 15.—I believe that a petrified stump, or a piece of a petrified stump, is to be found in every house or cabin within forty miles of Pike’s Peak. Some citizens own several hundred pounds of these curiosities. They take great pride in exhibiting them to tourists, and they are always ready to sell them at a bargain or to give them away. These stumps come from a valley in the Rocky Mountains about thirty miles west of Pike’s Peak. Last week your correspondent visited this valley. He drove through the celebrated Ute Pass, and lay over night at the residence of old Judge Castello,1 thirty-seven miles from Colorado Springs.

 

5. The town in the desert

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A LASTING MONUMENT TO GOOD OLD HORACE GREELEY.

On the Road to Utah—In the American Desert—

The Dinner at Delmonico’s—Horace Greeley’s Delight—A Fight

with Rumbirds—Land Secured—Dumped upon a Desert—Curses

and Lynch Law—All Hands Ahoy—Adobe House—
Uncle Meeker’s Fate
.

Correspondence of The Sun.

CHEYENNE, Aug. 8.—In the fall of 1869 Horace Greeley1 sent N. C. Meeker2 to Utah to write up that Territory for the Tribune.3 When Meeker arrived in this city he heard that there had been heavy snows in the mountains, and was told that it would be almost impossible for him to reach Salt Lake. He took [a] stage, and ran along the base of the Rocky Mountains down to Denver. Vast treeless plains swept away to the east like a boundless ocean, while the snowy range turreted the sky on the west. The land was as dry as ashes, and dotted with cactuses. It was seamed by three or four little streams that gushed from great clefts in the mountains. A few cottonwood trees marked the course of these brooks, and nutritious grasses were rank upon the bottoms. The water descended from the mountains at a grade of a hundred feet per mile. Meeker had been an Illinois farmer. He had drawn in the theory of irrigation from the lips of Horace Greeley. He saw at a glance that the arid plains within a hundred miles of the Rocky range could be easily flooded by the water which was running to waste in the mountain streams. The land appeared to be entirely unproductive, but there were two or three ranches between Cheyenne and Denver, and Meeker’s agricultural heart throbbed with joy as he gazed upon the great turnips, beets, and other vegetables exhibited by the ranchmen. The climate was delicious, and the distant mountain scenery unsurpassed. The nights were cool, the days were warm, there were no dews, and sickness was unknown.

 

6. The fate of a Gold seeker

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SURPRISING ADVENTURES OF AN OBERLIN GRADUATE.

Lost in the Rocky Mountains—The Discovery near Fort

Garland—Ho, for the Rio Grande—Fighting Death by

Inches—The Humane Ute—Starting for the Great Canyon of

the Colorado—The Gold Diggings in the Crater of a Volcano—

Disappearing in the Deserts of Arizona.

Correspondence of The Sun.

COLORADO SPRINGS, July 1.—I received the particulars of the fate of Robert McGonigle from the lips of Wilbur F. Stone of the Pueblo People.1 Mr. Stone is a lawyer. His legal duties forbid his writing poor McGonigle’s history. Believing that the story of the life of this extraordinary man will interest the readers of THE SUN, I give it as it was told me in Mr. Stone’s little law office, a block above the Lindell Hotel in Pueblo.2 The day was very hot, but the office stood in the shade of a few thriving cottonwood trees, and a cool breeze poured into the room through the open windows. Mr. Stone sat with his heels upon a square table. After listening to the shrill piping of a Mexican locust,3 which had alighted upon the door sill, the lawyer said:

 

7. In the Golden Gulches

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THE WONDERFUL REVELATIONS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.

The Golden Sands of the Platte—Gregory’s Discovery—What

He Sold for $7,000—Green Russell’s Extraordinary Luck—A

Nail Keg Filled with Gold—An Enormous Waste of Capital—

Scientific Asses and Poor Miners—The Dark Days of ’64—Trails

of a Yankee Professor—The Dawning of a Fortune.

Correspondence of The Sun.

SPANISH BAR,1 Colorado, July 15.—Old miners say that John Gregory2 found gold in the Platte during the fall of 1858. Gregory was a Georgian. He had dug the precious metal from the mountains near Dahlonega,3 and knew the difference between quartz and surface mining.4 Californians who flocked to Colorado thoroughly understood gulch mining,5 but could hardly tell a gold-bearing lode from a side of sole leather. They panned the river sands and washed out the mountain gulches without looking for the source of the deposits. Gregory, satisfied that the flaky gold of Platte River came from the mountains, determined to discover its origin. He branched from the Platte to Clear Creek,6 and found fair surface diggings within the edge of the foot hills, twelve miles from Denver. The winter was spent washing sand near the site of Golden City.7 With the approach of spring Gregory worked up through Clear Creek Cañon in the direction of Gray’s Peak.8 He climbed Bald Mountain,9 and saw on his right an immense natural basin, the center of a circle of peaks. The whole country was covered with pines. John declared that the Platte River gold came from that valley. The basin was seamed by gulches. The Georgian descended into one of them and shook his pan. A golden sediment settled upon its bottom. Rich nuggets were uncovered, and a genuine gold field was found.

 

8. The story of little emma

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IN THE SILVER POCKETS OF THE WASATCH MOUNTAINS.

A Scene in the Streets of Salt Lake City—The Quiet Chat beneath A

the Locust Trees—A Doctor’s Adventures in Little Cottonwood

Cañon—The Pahranagat Aladdins—A Terrible Winter—The

Wonderful Silver Mines—Financial Vultures on the Scent—The

Battles in the Utah Courts—A United States Senator with Two

Legs on Three Sides of a Fence—San Francisco Bill after Nevada

William—Where Bob Schenck Was Roped In—Millionaires

Spring to the Surface Like Mushrooms.

Correspondence of The Sun.

NEW SMYRNA, Fla., April 10, 1874—Public attention is again drawn to the Little Emma Mine1 by an alleged attempt to freeze out its British stockholders. Any new light that may be thrown upon the subject will prove interesting. Last August I visited Salt Lake City. Becoming acquainted with United States District Attorney Carey,2 I made some inquiries concerning the mine and its legal troubles. So intricate were its complications that even so good a lawyer as Mr. Carey would not attempt to unravel them. While we were conversing in front of Zion’s Cooperative Institution,3 a handsome young man in clean white linen approached us. He wore a Ceylon hat,4 with a broad black ribbon. His cheeks were rosy, his moustache sloped gracefully, and his movements indicated active business pursuits.

 

9.The seventeenth Wife

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THE PROPHET’S PERFIDY EXPOSED.

A Discarded Woman’s Suit for $200,000—Brigham Young’s

Vast Fortune and Princely Income—An Interior View of the

Hideousness of Mormondom.

Correspondence of The Sun.

SALT LAKE, July 30.—The papers in the suit of Ann Eliza Young against Brigham Young have been filed. Mrs. Young complains through her next friend, George R. Maxwell.1 The following is a summary, in the language of the complaint and affidavits, stripped of legal verbiage: Mrs. Young says that she was born in Nauvoo, Ill., and has been in Salt Lake since 1868. She married Brigham Young in Salt Lake, April 6, 1868. She was then a widow, twenty-five years old, and the mother of two children, one aged four and the other three years.2 She had no property, and was entirely dependent upon the defendant for the support of herself and her children. Brigham well understood this before he married her. For about a year after his marriage Brigham cohabited with her, and acted with some degree of kindness and attention. During that time he supported her and her children, but not in a manner proportionate to his means or to her station in life. After a year, for some reason unknown to her, Brigham began a systematic course of neglect, unkindness, cruel and inhuman treatment, finally deserting her, and satisfying her that he no longer entertained the slightest feeling of affection or respect for her. Against her remonstrances he removed her to a farm owned by him four miles from Salt Lake. She was forced to live on the farm three years and a half, and compelled to perform manual labor and the most menial services to live.

 

10. The Great Utah divorce

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AN INTERVIEW WITH BRIGHAM YOUNG.

What He Thinks of the Divorce Case—He Will Never Be

Blackmailed—Adultery Alleged—The Greedy Federal Officials—

Gov. Young Tells Speaker Blaine How to Solve the Mormon

Problem—A Man Who Wanted $100,000 in Gold—The Arizona

Settlements—Can Gentiles Act Justly with the Mormons?

Correspondence of The Sun.

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 1, 1873.—I had a talk with the Mormon Prophet yesterday. I called upon him in his business office in what is known as the Lion House. This building is situated upon one of the cross streets of the city, a few steps from the main avenue. It adjoins the Bee Hive, the enclosure where the Prophet keeps most of his wives. The Lion House, like the Bee Hive, is surrounded by a massive stone wall, about twelve feet high. Sectional walls split the front yard, like the iron fences of up-town granite blocks in New York. A wooden stoop with two long steps fronts the office, or offices, for there are two of them. Passing through the gateway and up the stoop I entered the door on the left. Neither the Prophet nor either of his sons was in; so I sat down in a cane-bottomed chair to wait for them.

 

11. An interesting Conversation with ann eliza young

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Her Parents Came from Cayuga County—How She

Came to Marry the Prophet—Brigham’s Courtship—

Sacrificed to Save a Brother—Mrs. Young’s Fears of

Abduction—How the Wives Are Treated.

Correspondence of The Sun.

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 1.—I called upon Mrs. Ann Eliza Young this evening. I was accompanied by my wife and the Rev. Mr. Stratton, of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Third South street.1 It was through his kindness that I was introduced to the lady. I found Mrs. Young occupying a front room on the fourth floor of the Walker House.2 It is a small apartment, but neatly furnished, containing a little lounge, a marble topped bureau, a sewing machine, a small table, and a common trunk. Photographs of Mrs. Young’s brother, mother, and other relatives were suspended on the wall. The room contained two windows. They overlooked a large part of the city, and gave one a magnificent view of the snowy range south of the Great Salt Lake.

 

12. The Prophet’s divorce

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SINGULAR STATEMENT OF HIS SEVENTEENTH WIFE.

How She Came to Prefer the Complaint—Her Story of

the Difficulty with Her Lawyers—She Accuses Them of

Extraordinary Greediness—A Next Friend Whom She

Never Saw—She Exonerates the Rev. Mr. Stratton—

She Asked His Advice.

Correspondence of The Sun.

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 13.—At the request of Mrs. Ann Eliza Young, I visited the Walker House this afternoon to hear her story of the difficulty with her counsel. It is well-known that the Hon. Brigham Young, through mutual friends, offered to compromise the divorce suit by paying her $15,000. She accepted the offer without consultation with her lawyers. It was reported that the lawyers then threw up the case in high dudgeon. They denied the rumor, and forced the matter to trial at the appointed time, despite Mrs. Young’s wish. The complaint was drawn up in such a manner that she could not withdraw it except with the consent of her next friend, Gen. Maxwell,1 and that of her solicitor and counsel.

 

13. The arizona expedition

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BRIGHAM YOUNG’S EFFORTS TO RECLAIM THE BURNING DESERTS.

Particulars of the Last Mormon Expedition—The Paradise in the

Gadsden Purchase—Terrible Suffering in the Painted Desert—

The Prophet Asked for Instructions—On to the Mexican Frontier.

Correspondence of The Sun.

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 7.—Some of the members of Brigham Young’s Arizona expedition have returned to this city. They are very reticent, but I have succeeded in eliciting considerable information from them. Gov. Young tells me that the main idea of the expedition was to aid the Government in keeping down the Apaches and Navajos. This undoubtedly was one of its objects. Another object was to effect a settlement on the line of Tom Scott’s Southern Pacific road.1 Col. Scott was here some time ago, and held long consultations with the Mormon President. If a strong body of the Saints were located along the projected route the Indians would not be apt to interfere in the construction of the road, and the services of the Mormons in building it would be invaluable. And this was not all. If there are any really fine lands in Arizona the sons of Zion could preempt them, and hold them for a rise. The Gentiles declare that Brigham wanted to plant the colony for a place of refuge in case the United States authorities here should drive him from cover. This is nonsense. The Mormon chief is shrewd and nervy. He thoroughly understands the Grant2 officials and knows how to deal with them when necessary.

 

14. The Mormon Pioneers

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ANOTHER EXPEDITION TO MARCH INTO THE ARIZONA DESERTS.

A Second Talk with Brigham Young—What He Thinks of Adobe

Houses—Reminiscences of New York State—The Old Mormon

Handcarts and Joseph Young’s Sad Mistake—The Prophet to

Head a New Arizona Expedition—Not on Exhibition.

Correspondence of The Sun.

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 9.—I dropped in upon ex-Gov. Brigham Young again yesterday. The old gentleman was very busy, but he stopped work and received me rather graciously. He wore a white duck1 coat and a big snowy cravat but no hat. His son Joseph2 and several other Mormon gentlemen were in the room. A lady accompanied me.3 I introduced her to the prophet, and they shook hands, after which he placed chairs for us near the door. He then sat down on the opposite side of the room, and awaited our pleasure. After we had inquired concerning his health and been assured that it was excellent, the conversation proceeded as follows:

 

15. The american dead sea

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A SUN REPORTER’S ADVENTURES ON THE GREAT SALT LAKE.

Driving through an Alkali Desert—The Stream of Zion—A

Sacred Herd of Cattle—The Black Sea Gulls and the Flying

Lizards—Swimming in the Great Salt Sea—The Mysterious

Worms and the Hidden Whirlpool—A Sad Oyster Experiment—

The Mormons to Be Drowned Out.

Correspondence of The Sun.

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 28.—Yesterday I visited the Great Salt Lake. But few strangers go to it. A tourist might spend a month in the city before he would find out how to reach it. Probably half of the residents of the Mormon capital have never stood upon the shores of this great inland sea. Black and Profile Rocks,1 the main points of interest, are twenty miles from the city. Accompanied by the Hon. Standish Rood,2 formerly of Milwaukee, and a party of ladies, I left Salt Lake City at 6 A.M. We had a fine span of horses. Running out of town through a shady street turning at the Tabernacle, we struck for a mountain jutting into the lake apparently but three miles away. Its true distance is eighteen miles. The atmosphere is so clear that it is one vast field-glass, making the mountains appear much nearer than they really are. At times they seem to be within rifle range. Occasionally, however, the valley grows hazy and the dark, rocky peaks loom up above the smoke like island cliffs above the ocean.

 

16. Mutton Chops by the Million

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The Largest Drove of Sheep in the World—A Scene in

Denver, Col.—Three Months Going 400 Miles—A Talk with

Mr. J. J. Armijo—How to Clear a Fortune

Correspondence of The Sun.

PUEBLO, Col., June 24.—I met Mr. J. J. Armijo in the Lindell Hotel1 this morning. He and his brother are probably the largest sheep owners in the United States. They live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their herds number nearly 250,000 head. The brother has just made his appearance in Denver with a flock of 30,000 sheep, and Mr. J. J. Armijo tells me that he has a drove of 7,000 wethers2 but a few days’ journey from this city. The brother was formerly the teller of a bank in New York City, but he finds sheep raising more profitable than operations in Wall street. The father of these two gentlemen has been in the sheep business over thirty years, and the sons thoroughly understand it. I found Mr. Armijo a courteous and agreeable gentleman, willing to give the readers of THE SUN all the information in his power. We talked as follows:

 

17. The King of Jack rabbits

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A Wall Street Operator’s Adventures in Utah—A Night at Camp

Douglas—The Wonderful Gun and Its Wonderful Shots.

Correspondence of The Sun.

CAMP DOUGLAS, Utah, Aug. 24.—A few months ago Mr. J. E. Moen,1 a Wall street broker, came out here to look at some mines in which he was interested. Moen was accompanied by the Hon. Amasa Mason,2 a London banker from Rochester, N.Y. They found snug quarters in Camp Douglas,3 and recognized the faces of a few old acquaintances among the officers. One of these was the face of Maj. David S. Gordon, Col. Tompkins’s right bower in the celebrated cavalry charge at Fairfax Court House.4 Another was the refulgent countenance of Major Howell,5 a jovial son of Mars, who was planted in the Quartermaster’s Department some years ago by Gen. Rafe Ingalls,6 and who has taken deep root in the service of the republic. A third face was that of Capt. Dinwiddie,7 a handsome Hoosier, who once spent forty-seven days in the gloomy depths of the Black Cañon8 of the Colorado. Moen and Mason were heartily welcomed to the festive boards of these three epauletted worthies. They made a sad inroad upon the eatables, but created a perfect panic when they tackled the drinkables. If a barrel of army whiskey had been struck by lightning the commotion could not have been greater. At one of their liquid meals Moen said he had brought a five-hundred-dollar (in gold) gun with him out here in hopes of shooting something before he returned to New York.

 

18. The funeral Postponed

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TEARS FROM THE EYES OF THE HARDEST MORMON.

An Interesting Scene in the Streets of Salt Lake City—The Story

of Mr. Charles Yeomans and Poor Little Dick—Shot Dead while

Playing with the Muzzle of a Gun.

Correspondence of The Sun.

SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 2.—Mr. Charles Yeomans is a character well-known on the Pacific coast. He went to California in 1849, knocked around that State for twenty years or more, and has finally settled down among the Mormons. He keeps a popular restaurant and reading room. Charles is built like a fifty-year-old Adonis. His hair curls tight to his head, and is parted just off centre, à la Jimfisque.1 His features are singular, but intensely bronzed. He is said to have been blown up in California seventeen times, and his cheeks and chin bear the scars of these accidents. The last time he was shattered was by the explosion of a locomotive in Sacramento. It cost Mr. Yeomans a hole in the cheek and three tobacco-stained teeth, and it cost the Central Pacific Railroad Company $10,000 in gold besides the locomotive. Charles is pigeon-toed and walks like a Piute.2 Major Wheeler3 of the United States Engineers declares that he has six toes and a bunion on each foot. He wears a loose shirt without suspenders, a Byron collar4 buttoned over his collar bone, coral studs, and a great variety of flaming neck ties large enough to cover the ground for a Mormon temple. He is never seen with a coat or waistcoat, and his pantaloons are so tightly strapped behind that the tops of his boots occasionally crop out below.

 

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