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Mojave Desert History: Pioneer of the Mojave
Old Skeletons & New Trails

MORMONS RECALLED TO UTAH

Late in November of 1857 it was reported that there was a "general movement" of Mormons out of San Bernardino, departing for Salt Lake City. Henry Hamilton professed that he did not know why they were leaving, but knew "them to be a peaceable, industrious, and law-abiding community." Hamilton shortly learned they had been called back to Utah.

In a letter dated October 11th and received in San Bernardino on the 30th, Brigham Young thanked local leader William J. Cox for sending animals, teams, arms and ammunition, and then advised him that, in light of the situation, it would be best if the faithful returned to Utah immediately:

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...the time appears to be near at hand when you will either have to abandon your faith or your present locality and escape to Utah....San Bernardino has a warm climate and it is highly probable that it may soon become altogether too warm for the residence of Saints, for this reason it is certainly advisable and my counsel that all in your place and region who desire to live as becometh Saints should use all diligence to make their way into Utah....

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Mormon historians state that Young actually had planned for some time to recall the faithful from the San Bernardino colony because of dissension among the growing factions in the community, and the events of the fall simply sped things along.

On December 26th the Star reported that approximately 1200 people had heeded the call; 250 wagons had already departed town, and another 30 to 50 families were preparing to do the same. The bitterness of at least one departing Mormon is expressed in a letter he posted from Cajon Pass, in which he said that in his six and one-half years in the state, he had met friends, but "comparatively few, compared with the...hosts of bigoted, selfish, ignorant, and blood-thirsty wretches," and he wished sudden destruction on the state, condemning it "to the curses of Almighty God to famine, drought, war, and earthquakes."

There was a large number of Mormons in the colony who were not nearly as anxious to leave the state, and many of them determined not to return to Utah. Not only was the town split in two, but also many families were unable to agree amongst themselves on whether or not to stay, and some of them were divided permanently.

The Mormons said of those who stayed behind that they had abandoned the Church. But to those Latter-day Saints who had remained in San Bernardino, many of whom had followed their leaders all around the country -- some of them for decades -- it must have seemed that the Church instead had abandoned them.

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