By the early 1870s, Mormon settlers had returned to the central Utah counties emptied during the previous decade by the threats of the Black Hawk War. Small exploring companies and mining prospectors even dared to return to the canyons and wilderness tracts. An LDS leader in that area wrote to Brigham to ask about the propriety of engaging in silver mining.
By report, silver mines are breaking out in almost every direction. No very great excitement at present, however, but time will reveal the sequel. They remind me of the man who collected snow around the roots of his fruit-trees and covered the same with straw and mulch to prevent the too early shooting forth of the buds. But as the heat increased the buds would put forth. We have thrown coldness upon the mining interests of this Territory and kept it back until we have secured the greater part of all the good land, and now if we can manage to pay for it, I think we shall have the long end of the yoke. My Cow had a calf the other day and from the fact that the calf came, I suppose the time had come for it to be born; so also, from the fact that the mines are said to be bursting forth all around us and up and down the Sevier, I conclude the time has come for the precious ores to appear. The Brethren stumble on to them when after wood and timber. None have sought for them that I know of but they seem to fall on them by accident, and I tell them to keep close mouths and secure all they find, so far as may be practicable.
I don’t know but the old Prophet was refer[r]ing to us when he said “Their land is full of silver.”
If we are not acting right in relation to the alleged discoveries I wish you would tell us. It may be that the Lord will give us money through these channels to pay for our lands; if not the way looks pretty dark to us, to raise the money to buy our homes; and I must confess that even the mines hold out no very flattering prospect of yielding us money in time to use for the above purpose. The silver fever does not particularly affect me any farther than to by to keep the mines from falling into the hands of the outside world.
Think you know how Brigham felt about mining? How do you suppose he responded? (Bonus points: His response included advice to the settlers concerning the hunting of wild game. What might he have suggested on that subject?)
I’ll post Brigham’s response tomorrow morning. Your prize is the challenge of matching wits against the Great Colonizer himself.