Great Salt Lake City, U.T.
December 31st 1854
My dear Sister,
Yours of the 1st Oct. reached me by last mail which arrived here late. I had not time to answer by returning mail, and I fear now that our chance for communicating with the States again this winter is very slight. The Indians on the _____ intercepted the last mail going in and are evidently bent upon a war with the Whites—this will render a campaign against them inevitable, and oblige Congress to do something to increase the efficiency of the army, as well as to increase the [Nat.?] force. I was very glad to hear of Kate’s recovery. I inferred from your previous letter that it was an attack of cholera and was very anxious about her. A letter just rec’d from one of my friends in California ([L.L. Union?]) says that his uncle Capt Buchanan is just in from the Sandwich Islands & had seen Be[cky] & Will—they were both well—Will much improved in health.
We have now been in this place 4 months and will have to remain most likely 4 more. We will start as early in the spring as the grass will permit and will take a new route so as to avoid the Humbolt River entirely. That is the intention here but events may make a change necessary before spring.
We have thus far led a very quiet life among this secretive & misguided people. They are very jealous & suspicious of all “Gentiles” as they style all who are not of them, and think that every one’s hand is against them which is not for them. On Christmas however they relented and at a party given by Judge Kinney, District Judge of the Territory, we attended, and the Mormons with their numerous wives were in full force.
Tomorrow the Gov. & Legislature [give one __ esteem?] & we are expected to attend. I do not care about them either one way or the other. I go merely because I think politeness requires it.
I am quite tired of this place & the people & look forward with impatience for the time when we can leave them & their peculiar notions to themselves.
The only thing I have enjoyed here has been the duck shooting and the trout fishing. “Canvassback,” “Redhead,” “Mallard,” Green & Brant [have] graced our mess table every day for months until the cold weather closed all the ponds & drove them south. Tell Rob. that in the Weber River about 20 miles from here I took in a few hours fishing: 21 trout, the smallest 10 inches, the largest 22 & weighed over 2 1/2 lbs. The stream was so rapid that I had to use the landing net in almost every case & when the largest ___ hooked you had to let them go down stream as far as you had time, & would sometimes be nearly a half hour before you could land them. I fished mostly with the fly tho’ the [men?] caught them with the grasshopper. I shall not write anything about the numerous other peculiarities, at present _______ till another time what I may have to say.
I enclose a sketch on an adventure which befell Capt. Ingalls & myself one evening after dark as we were returning from duck shooting. Fortunately no damage was done except to the [wagon?]. Give my love to all at home, Aunt, Jim, & Hal (how your little household has diminished!), and the [rest?] when you write,
& believe me dear Ellie.
Wishing all a “Happy New Year,” Your aff. Brother,
John F. Reynolds
Miss Ellie Reynolds,
I enclose an accurate illustration of the adventure alluded to above.