William Wood (1823) Letter to Parents from California while on the Mormon Battalion march

Written from Los Angelas, California in 1846 while on the Mormon Battalion march.

Source: Utah, Our pioneer Heritage

Dear Father and Mother,

With pleasure I take up my pen to write to you, hoping it may find you all in the enjoyment of good health as such as I am at present. It is nearly five years since I left England. I wrote one letter to you, but received no answer to it. The reason why you neglected me, I know not. Although we are some thousands miles apart you may be assured I have not forgotten my parents who gave me birth. Faith, nor ever I shall. No doubt you are anxious to know where I am and what I am doing.

In the first place, I will say I am now in the town of Los Angeles, upper California, about 25 miles from the shores of the great Pacific Sea. You might ask, “What brings you there?” The answer is our church was to settle in Nauvoo and the mobocrats were continually rising in opposition to us, burning our houses, destroying our grain, and committing other acts disgraceful to civilization, so the whole body concluded to leave and go to some place remote from these men where we could worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences. With this in view, we left and were journeying with our teams when the U. S. Government sent an invitation for so many men to enlist in the services for one year to march against the Spaniards in New Mexico. Accordingly, 500 enlisted and left their families to be taken care of by the church. This was on the 16th day of July, 1846, so we now have served our time, gotten our discharges and had but little fight to do. First we marched to Santa Fe, the capital city of New Mexico. Passing several small towns, thence we marched to Sonora to the town of Tosone (Tucson). We left there for San Diego, a seaport town on the coast of California. From there we marched to San Luis Rey where we stayed about two months. Then we left and came to Pueblo De Los Angeles, the capital of Upper California where I am now. We were among the Spaniards nearly eight months. I expect to leave this place in a few days for the purpose of going to meet the church. They will settle about 500 miles from here near the Great Salt Lake. I have traveled over a great desert of country. I have crossed the continent of America from the shores of the Atlantic to the shores of the Pacific. Yet my mind is not changed at all in regards to the religion I profess to believe. I know that it is true and that all men, sooner or later, will know it, either to their salvation or to their destruction. Various have been the changes that have taken place since I left England and all plainly indicate the fact that the great day of the Lord is nigh. It behooves you then, to prepare for these things, for I know and I do testify that all men must repent and obey the gospel that is now being preached to the nations of the earth or else they will be lost. You may think I am bold and have not considered it in its truth, therefore let no man persuade you. Act according to your own will and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ and then I will be glad to bring you to this country where you can be your own farmers, eat your own bread and meat and enough of it. I am as contented as ever I was. I think no more of traveling a hundred miles than I used to of twenty. When I leave this place, I shall take with me three or four horses, as horses are very cheap and cattle also as you can see in a herd, five thousand. A man can get a good ox for a dollar and a half which is about six shillings in English money. Good horses sell from four to five dollars each, mares one dollar and half each. The country abounds with produce of all kinds such as wheat, beans, corn, potatoes, and in fact, everything that can be grown in any other climate. A person can stand on the hills and look down in the valleys and see vineyards loaded down with grapes, pear trees, apple trees, coconut trees, apricot trees, plum trees and all loaded down with fruit, beautiful to look upon. For want of paper I say no more on this subject. I wish you to write and send me word what changes have taken place since I left. As I hope to be with the church, you send the letter by some of the immigrating saints.

I remain your ever affectionate son,

William Wood