The first structured course for missionary training was how long?
A) 6 months
B) 1 month
C) 3 months
D) 4 months
The following from J.Z. Stewart’s journal of his experience with the other elders called on a mission to Mexico in 1876.
Pleased with their reports of southern Arizona, the First Presidency conceived a scheme of Mormon expansion into the intermountain valleys, reaching down into Mexico and beyond, and in April, President Brigham Young wrote to the elders asking that Sonora be explored as a country of possible settlement. In April, the Stewart brothers received a letter from President Young suggesting that they unite with J.W. Campbell to draw up plans for a Mormon colony in old Mexico. This made it necessary for them to cross the country eastward to San Elizario, Texas, where Mr. Campbell was then situated.
They began their journey by way of the Rio Grande settlements; then along the San Pedro River. They were repeatedly assured along the way that they could not cross the country into Mexico in safety, since the Apaches were ravaging the country and attacking all travelers. The elders refused to be deterred from their purpose and continued on their way, traveling through the most dangerous Indian sections during the night. James Z’s diary describes the following events:
“Sunday, 27 May, 1877. Arose early and went to San Pedro 22 miles. There is but little travel on this road for fear of the Apaches. Drove on through the pass 15 miles in the evening and over a very dangerous road.
Monday, 28 May, 1877. Went on to the Sulphur Springs early, stopped a while there and drove on near the Apache Pass. Distance from San Pedro to Sulphur Springs 32 miles.”
At Sulphur Springs they found the station a black mass of ruins, the Indians having killed the manager and burned the buildings shortly before their arrival. The elders stopped for several hours off the road a few hundred yards, making no fire or light. At midnight they drove over the dreaded Apache Pass, descending down to the creek at daybreak. J.Z.’s journal noted:
“Tuesday, May 29, 1877. Traveled on through the Pass and stopped to let our animals pick. We heard several shots fired ahead of us in the road. Then a soldier came down full speed and we were informed that the mail had been taken and rider killed. We turned around and drove back to Camp Bowie and again started on the road, met the buckboard coming in with the dead body of the mail rider. Soldiers went out and found the Indians and Indians fired on them when West ordered a retreat, the Indians making fun of them, etc. Soldiers were anxious for a fight but the officers did not want any. We laid over on account of the excitement.”
Miriam’s history supplies this additional detail: An Army officer rode past them at top speed to the military post beyond. Shortly afterwards he returned with horses and guards, one of which called to the elders to leave as quickly as possible, since the Apaches had just killed the mail driver ahead and were coming that way. Soon after they were passed by a riderless horse followed by two men on horseback. A flying instant was enough to reveal that one of the men and one of the horses had been pierced by bullets. In their wake came a troop of soldiers bearing the dead mail rider’s body. It was with horror that the brothers saw he had been scalped.
The elders traveled on with the soldiers to Camp Bowie, where, because of the danger in every direction, they remained six days. It was a week of intense excitement; a second mail driver from the west was attacked by Indians and escaped only when cavalry troops came to his rescue, the mail rider from the east was not afforded military protection and he met his death at the hands of the red men within a short distance of the post. His body was not retrieved until it had been partly eaten by wolves.
The elders finally resumed their travels from Camp Bowie in company with the east bound mail rider who had so narrowly escaped death, and his escort of four cavalrymen and one Mexican. They encountered no difficulties until they came within a short distance of the Sansamon River. The trail was lined on either side with thick brush. Here the Mexican discerned Apache tracks by the side of the road and other indications that the Indians were ahead and waiting. What to do had to be decided quickly. The road, extremely dry and dusty, ran about three quarters of a mile through this thicket. The scout decided that the safest way would be for all to go through on the run so as to raise such a dust that the Indians would not be able to see clearly, thus some of their number might get through alive. All agreed to this plan and started off as fast as possible, but when the elders reached the middle of the jungle, one of the tires of their wagon came off. Their companions fled on, leaving them alone. There was no alternative for the brothers but to get out and, guns in hand, go through the ordeal of putting on a wagon wheel, constantly expecting that the next minute would bring a horde of Indians upon them.
The mail rider and guards, in the meantime, just had cleared the thicket and ascended an elevation across the Sansamon River. Here, being out of the zone of immediate danger, they stopped to see what had become of their companions. It was with amazement that they saw the Indians, very close to the brothers suddenly leave their ambush and flee toward the mountains, leaving a trail of dust behind them for miles. The soldiers and mail rider were completely at a loss to understand the situation; the elders questioned it not at all—they believed that their God had protected them.
The brothers reached San Elizario, Texas, on June 13 and in October they turned homeward, traveling up the Rio Grande. They reached Salt Lake City on December 8, 1877, and reported their mission to President John Taylor who had succeeded Brigham Young in the Church presidency since their departure. Once again, James Z.’s blessing of protection proved true.
Peace Like A River, The Historical and Spiritual Journey of The Isaac M. Stewart Family, Compiled and Edited By David H. Epperson (Salt Lake City, 2007), 111-113.
Additional interesting information of years later after the Church was firmly planted in Arizona:
The following item of interest related about the Mormons in Arizona appeared in the Millennial Star of March 17, 1890. It gives an account of a visit to Fort Apache, Arizona, by a correspondent of the St. Louis Globe Democrat
From Fort Holbrook to Fort Apache, the distance is about one hundred miles, the road passing through a series of little “Mormon” settlements, each one of which seems a veritable oasis in the midst of a vast and barren waste. It is astonishing how these “Mormon” people, fleeing from contact with the Gentiles, erect comfortable homes for themselves and turn western deserts into garden spots. I found in every settlement through which I passed fine reservoirs and complete systems of irrigation ditches. Orchards and shading trees had been planted, hundreds of acres of land brought under cultivation, and fine vegetable gardens laid out. The dwellings and outhouses were neat looking and comfortable and supplied with all the requisites of well regulated farms. I could not help; noticing the marked difference in the appearance of the cattle and horses of the “Mormons” from those which I had been accustomed to see elsewhere in the southwest. They were fat and sleek looking, showing that they had received good care. At every farmhouse there was an abundance of milk, butter, chickens, and eggs, things almost unknown to the average Arizona rancher.
In stopping one night at a settlement some forty miles from Holbrook, I was surprised to find pianos and organs in most of the houses, and was equally surprised at the hospitable manner in which I was treated. The people talk unreservedly of their religion and the history of the Mormon Church. They claim that the strength of the Mormon Church lies in the doctrines of temperance, patience, and industry which it teaches, and the perfect system of cooperation among its followers which enables them to prosper in any part of the West. No liquor is sold in any of the Mormon towns, and there has never been a murder committed in any of the settlements along the road. All the freighting to and from Fort Apache is carried on by Mormons, the superiority of their teams and their own steady habits having enabled them to fill government contracts so satisfactorily that they have completely supplanted Mexican and Gentile freighters.
March 17, 1890 Millennial Star