Tenderfoot Days

Masonic, Occult and Esoteric Online Library

Home / Publication Library / Tenderfoot Days / The Mixed Multitude

Tenderfoot Days

By George Robert Bird

The Mixed Multitude

IT was to avoid the so-called mixed multitude that the Latter Day Saints sought an isolation for themselves, and their posterity from the every-day world.

In this they were the followers of the ancient people of Israel, when they left the flesh-pots of Egypt, by a most memorable desert march, and sought the promised land. Canaan was, indeed, such a land. Flowing with milk and honey-supplied with cattle and bees-it was a land of olive orchards and vineyards, watered by the early and later rains, and well fitted to be a sample to these modern wanderers, in their search for a desired habitation.

I have shown how they found their heart's desire in the secluded mountain valleys of Utah, how also they sought to keep off intrusion, and to protect themselves from schism and apostasy. I have shown the logical outgrowth of their creed. It was pride in their peculiar customs and confidence in their religion, which nerved them for all this strenuous endeavor through forty years of patient, persevering, and conquering industry.

Now they deserve their meed of praise for this activity of mind and body, for changing a waste into a garden, and in place of Indian tribes, peopling the land with a civilized population. They have done a good turn for the United States, for while their religious policies have made them often disloyal and antagonistic to Federal Law; they have opened to commerce an immensely rich region of soil and minerals, which would have remained quiescent for fifty years longer.

I have tried to be fair and just to these people, and while noting their errors of reason and action, I have also noted their good intentions and their hardihood, in all their history, as far as I have had occasion to touch upon it.

For long years none but the wandering, curious hunters and trappers travelled these Utah valleys, save the Indian tribes native to the region. The Mormon Church had no fear of friction with such elements.

It was the "mixed multitude" they feared, and for as long as possible they kept it at a distance.

At last there filtered out of these mountains, carried by Dame Rumor, stories of mineral wealth, of gold and silver deposits in the hills; stories like those coming from California in the '50's, which set on fire such a tremendous enthusiasm for the Pacific Slope.

Men stubbing their toes in climbing the foothills after straying stock, had cast up nuggets from the very "grass roots." Others, bending over purling streams to quench their desert thirst, had found "color" in their drinking cups. They had stooped over to wash their clothes in mountain creeks and remained to wash for gold in the same vessels in which they rinsed their dirty garments.

Of course the usual exaggeration of these acts gave a sort of Arabian Nights version to these things, and they came to the eastern world with all the charm of an Aladdin's Lamp. Then the multitude stirred, and woke up. It cast covetous eyes toward the hills which hid the Mormon people from the world. Wealthy men "grubstaked" hard up adventurers, and sent them out as spies of wealth. They came, saw, and reported that "the half had not been told."

This started a rush of capital and labor, through the canyons by wagon road, and afterwards by the Union Pacific Railroad. Miners, laborers, gamblers, storekeepers, cowboys, foreigners, Jews and Gentiles, one and all hastened into these mountain solitudes which existed through the policy of the Mormon Church untouched by the hand of Commerce.

Men of wealth, as usual, engineered the mass. The era of the millionaire was at hand, but these millions that came were from abroad at first, for the United States was still over taxed, and staggering commercially from the effect of four years of war. British, French, and Italian money was flung recklessly into the hills, to be sunk in ambitious mining camps, and stamp mills, under the superintendence of men who had no interest in the capital but their salary.

You can imagine the change from the quiet, pastoral, and religious color of the past days to the hurry, hustle, and vociferous business of a new frontier life.

The Jew came in, as he always does, on the crest of this wave of commerce. He seems built for trade, and being both a genius at opening trade centers, and a daring commercial gambler, he was in Salt Lake City, and in every new camp of this "mixed multitude" with his wares and ways. He was too shrewd to enter purely Mormon towns and so confront the great "Co-op." He wasted no time on such ventures, but industriously sold his goods at three hundred percent profit to the reckless crowd, whose taste for gold was ready to pay any price for tools, goods, and food.

One son of Israel, I knew, a good kind fellow he was too, who came into this business boiling pot, with just a pack, and before I left the Territory, he was living in a palace in the city of the Saints. From "Pack to Palace," in five years, was "goin' some," as the miners say.

Now everybody could not do that, but everybody thought he could. So you see the vim introduced by the "mixed multitude," and the utter impossibility of stemming such a tide. The Mormon authorities simply gasped at the crowd, made one futile effort to offset it with defunct laws of the defunct state of Deseret. But they gave it up, and grimly accepted the influx of new people, with their new ideas.

At first this new tide of human life and industry ran along by itself, very much as the muddy Missouri does where its waters first enter the clearer stream of the Mississippi. But you know the universal rule. A little mud can cloud a whole body of water, and while the Missouri loses itself in the waters of the greater river, yet it is the hue of the Missouri that gives color to the Mississippi at New Orleans.

So with the "mixed multitude" and the Mormons. Soon these newcomers inoculated the Territory with their more modern notions of life, and the two adverse streams, religious fanaticism on the one hand, and the commercial greed for gold on the other, ran a race side by side for a decade; and then intermingled as one life in camp, civic centers, and throughout the countryside; and thus the isolation of the Latter Day Saint was over.

So Utah, when I first saw it in 1875, was undergoing this change. The Missouri current of the "mixed multitude" was giving quite a decided color to the Mormonism of the past.

I saw a few signs of the old heroic days, but wherever I went the stamp of the coming age was evident, in the looser, freer speech, the less respect, if not ridicule, given religion, and the atmosphere of hard materialism common to the American frontier life.

The watchword in these regions, for a long time, had been "Duty;" now it was to be "Dollars." Loss and gain set over against one another, as in most of the circles of this riddle we call life.

The old settler, with his strong faith, gazed sourly at this condition of things, and as sourly proclaimed the coming wrath of God; but the newcomer of the "mixed multitude" smoked his black cigar, stuck in the corner of his mouth, and answered with a grin of derision, and a drive of energy, that made the new order hum with the engines of machinery.

Bingham Canyon sprang into life. It was a great gash in the Oquirreh Mountains, facing the salt sea on the one side, and the Utah Valley on the other. It was a mineral fissure that drew the crowd of "those who knew." It was not a high grade camp, as those days valued mining camps, where no ore was worked that did not yield forty dollars to the ton; but it was a big camp, in that there was no end to the veins, and the pockets that were beneath its apparent sterile surface.

It was small then, with a population of four thousand people, when I first put foot in the camp one cold November day. It is now a mining city that issues every year many millions in dividends to its lucky stockholders.

Alta City, in the Little Cottonwood Canyon, on the opposite side of the valley, in the Wah-satch range, and still higher up in the air than Bingham, with its altitude of ten thousand feet, was a richer camp, and the site of the celebrated Emma mine. This mine was sold for three million dollars to British capitalists, but was found afterwards to be a fraud, it having been "salted" with "color" by the promoters to deceive the purchasers.

An amphitheater of hills, gave Alta City a notable site. Dumps and tunnel exits could be seen all around, and out of this circle of industry, wealth poured and was carried down to market by a miniature railway, with an average grade of three hundred feet to the mile.

Nothing was withheld in the lavish outlay of foreign money, that was making this a lively camp. While it is true many became rich, it is equally true that great hosts were made poor. This is about the outcome of all mining and fulfills the words of Mark Twain, who was himself an old -miner as well as an author-"As much goes into the hole as comes out of it."

Park City was another outcome of this mining fever. Situated in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and nearer Salt Lake City, it was conducted by a set of level-headed men who prevented any collapse to the camp, as finally overtook Alta City. The result was that while no furor was made over its location, yet it always produced stable wealth. Here it was that George Hearst, then a miner of experience in California, bought out a claim from a few discouraged tenderfoot adventurers. They had come within a few feet of great wealth, when they threw down their picks and said, "we quit." George Hearst began the next day, and a few hours later was confronted with a vision of future wealth.

He began his spectacular career, as a son of fortune, at this time, and began building up his remarkable success at the spot where others, more faint hearted than he, gave up the fight.

Out of this mine came the means by which he became Senator of the United States, as no man at that time could become a Senator unless he had a long, a very long pocket book. The state university at Berkeley, California, and all the interests of the Hearst's Syndicate of American Newspapers, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, are under obligation to this mine in the Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Of course there were flat failures in some of the camps. One such was at Tintic, where, at first, great surface showings drew the rush, but it was a case of "pinch out" for the camp, as it so often is with a promising vein of ore in a shaft, or a tunnel. It ends in a pocket, and a pocket holds just so much, and no more. So Tintic, as a camp, lies idle, dormant, dead.



Masonic Publishing Company

Purchase This Title

Browse Titles
"If I have seen further than
others, it is by standing
upon the shoulders of giants."


Comasonic Logo

Co-Masonry, Co-Freemasonry, Women's Freemasonry, Men and Women, Mixed Masonry

Copyright © 1975-2024 Universal Co-Masonry, The American Federation of Human Rights, Inc. All Rights Reserved.