Reuben Miller to Henry Eriksen, 16 Nov 1848, family typescript
[The following is a copy of a letter written by Reuben Miller who was a friend of my great grandfather, Henry Eriksen, whose home was in LaSalle, Illinois, at the time the letter was written. It probably had a direct influence upon Henry in his decision to go west. I obtained the copy of the letter from which I typed this one from my brother Arion Erekson, and the last I heard of the original was that it was in the possession of my cousin, Jay Erekson’s family.]
Kansville, Council Bluffs November 16th, 1848.
D. Bro. Sabey [Henry Eriksen was known at that time by the name of the town in Norway from which he came to America.]
The time has come in the providence of a merciful God, and by his blessings upon me, that I am permitted to drop you a line. I do this more cheerfully believing as I do that you are ready and willing to do me the justice to believe what I may write, and that you will read my letter in the spirit of kindness, which has dictated it. We arrived safe at this place on the 15th October. All well, only our smallest boy. Our teams stood the journey first rate and thrive all the way. We had no trouble in getting a house but had to leave the house.
We are at this time comfortable situated, in a good log house plenty of wood and water handy. I find the situation of this people good all things considered, and far beyond my most great surplus of grain. All kinds of vegetables common to your country. So much that they scarcely know what to do with it. Corn is worth 10 cents and the largest I have ever seen. Wheat is worth 50 cents. And everything else in proportion. There are five stores here and goods as low as in Ottowa. When we take into consideration the situation of the church and people of God the winter they left Nauvoo and compare it with their present situation, their faith and works, their united efforts and what they have accomplished since that time. We can say in truth before God that it is the greatest miracle of the nineteenth century. And the miracles in the day of Moses cannot out strip it. Only it is a different kind of a one. But accomplished by the same omnipotent arm. Yes true it is the church has been nourished and fed according to the word of God. And the kingdom of our God has moved steadily on amidst all the opposition of the apostates and wicked and corrupt men. I can say to you and to all my friends and brethren that I have come home. And never felt more at home in all my life.
It really appears as though the trees, bluffs and every thing around us are praising King Emanuel. While the holy priesthood is swaying a scepter in righteousness that will sooner or later, arouse the nations of the earth from their midnight slumbers of ages. Yes there is a spirit and power with this people that no mortal arm can withstand, or any nation or kingdom overthrow. The old Mormon ship is sailing, the master is on board, her canvass is spread and filled by celestial breezes, her motto is truth, and the principles of life and salvation, who is there among you that will go aboard that you may sail into the haven of eternal repose, one thing is most positively certain you must all go aboard or down goes you birthright like Esau of old. Yes my D. Bro., let all who will stay upon the barren hearths of the Gentiles, do you come as soon as the Lord will open the way by calling upon him in solemn prayer, and step aboard, for there is safety there the master will keep his eye upon her, and give his servants, whom he has placed at the helm, wisdom, and power. And to avoid the sand bars and sawyers of the opposing power. And the old ship shall and will be able to sail through every storm, and ride in perfect safety over every wave, until the great work of the dispensation of the eleventh hour is accomplished. Zion established in peace, Israel gathered home, and the kingdom of God extend its dominion from sea to sea, and from the rivers to the ends of the earth. The blessings of God is upon this people. And this land, called the Pottowattome purchase, is the very place that God appointed from days of old for a resting place for his people, and consequently is exactly adapted to their wants and present necessities.
The location in the valley has also been appointed from days of old for the gathering place of the house of Israel. The ensign to the nations and for the law of the kingdom to go forth to the nations of the earth as declared in the word of God. Official dispatches from the Church in the valley, to the Church here has just come to hand. “Those that wintered in the valley last year have raised from 10 to 20 thousand bushels of grain more than they need to sustain themselves, their crops came in first rate (save a little injury by insects on the outskirts.) Their corn is excellent and fully ripe, their cattle wintered themselves and got fat.–They have had no troubles with the Indians. They have found other rich and fertile valleys, with inexhaustible bodies of excellent timber. In short, it is a good place to serve the Lord, and we will build on that consecrated spot, a temple to his holy name, as did the Nephites in days of old. Will you and my friends come? Will you come? If God would bless me with the trump of the arch angel and with the voice of Jehovah, I should, or would sound the real importance to every heart, and arouse you from your midnight slumbers in spiritual darkness, and awake you to a message from Jehovah, upon which hangs your salvation, the salvation of your dead, and the blessings of generations now unborn, together with all the power, glory and dominion, of the whole earth. May God inspire your hearts with his holy spirit, that you may be able to see, and gather home speedily, that you may execute his righteous purposes upon the earth, and leave a name to be perpetuated in the house of Israel throughout all generations of man and through all eternity, which may God grant for Jesus’ sake, Amen.
I will close by saying how this letter to Bro. and Sister Litefoot and all my friends that desire to hear a word in truth from me. This letter is intended for you all and must suffice for the present. I close subscribing myself your friend and Bro. in the hope and full assurance of eternal life.
My love to all — May God bless you,
Ruben [Reuben] Miller.