Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Chapter XLI
To President F. D. Richards. Burning of the woolen factory. In thirty minutes all consumed. Foiebodings that the people would be dis- couraged. Fears unfounded. -^What was done within six months. The people superior to the loss. A raid follows the tire. An unlawful tax follows the raid. Statement of losses. Business curtailed. Checks canceled. Eleven industrial departments in operation. The mercantile flourishing. Confidence preserved.
5 HE following recital of loss by fire, followed by the most unwarranted hostility against the hitherto suc- cessful enterprise of the conjoint organization, illus- trates beyond what continued prosperity could do. the strength of union, and the genuine confidence cherished by those con- stituting the United Order:
BRIGHAM CITY, NOVEMBER IST, 1879. President F. D. Richards:
The deep interest you have taken in our efforts to unite the people of Brigham City, in their financial interests,
induces me now to give you a statement of some of our misfor- tunes and difficulties against which we have been struggling.
Two years ago to-day, about two o'clock in the morning, we were aroused from our slumbers by the ringing of bells and startling cries of Fire! Fire! Fire! Our woolen factory was all in flames, and in less than thirty minutes the whole estab- lishment, with its entire contents of machinery, wool, warps and cloth lay in ashes.
This involved a cash loss of over $30,000 (thirty thous- and). While viewing the building, as it was rapidly con- suming, my mind became exercised with painful thoughts and reflections, whether the people would survive the severe pressure which would bear upon them through this unforeseen calamity, or lose heait and courage in supporting our prin- ciples of union. These misgivings, however, were unfounded, for the people resolved at once to try again, and went to work with a hearty good will, and, by extraordinary exertion, in less than six months had erected another factory, and had it in operation, superior to the one destroyed.
But this involved us in a large indebtedness. In view of liquidating this liability, we engaged a large contract to sup- ply timber and lumber to the Utah & Northern Railroad, incurring a heavy expense in procuring a saw mill in Marsh A r alley, Idaho, and moving there also our steam saw mill. We were employing one hundred men everything moving along prosperously, when, suddenly, through influence of apostates, aided by a rnobocratic judge, a raid was made upon our camps, fifty of our workmen were arrested and imprisoned, and our operations stopped. And, although the embargo on our business was withdrawn, and the men liberated by order of the President of the United States, through the influence of Jay Gould, it came too late; thus we .were compelled to abandon this enterprise, sell our saw mill for one-half its value, and move back our steam mill, etc., the whole involving an expense and loss of over $6,000 (six thousand), besides the
308 BIOGRAPHY AND
vexation in our disappointments in raising the money to pay our indebtedness.
The following July, a tax of $10,200 (ten thousand two hundred) was levied on our scrip by 0. J. Hollister, United States assessor and collector of internal revenue. Though illegal, unjust and highly absurd, the payment could not be avoided; therefore we borrowed the money and paid the assessment.
Through these and other unfortunate occurrences, we became greatly embarrassed in our business. This embarrass- ment, as may be seen, is not the result of the natural pressure of the times, nor of the financial crisis which has broken up thousands of banking institutions and business firms through- out the world, neither that of mismanagement, nor any defect in our systems of operations; but, as before mentioned, it has been brought about through a succession of calamities unpar- alleled in the experience of any business firm in this or any other Territory.
The following is a showing of our losses, including the assessment, all occurring in the space of about nine months:
Crops destroyed by grasshoppers, $ 4,000
Crops destroyed by drought, - 3,000
Burning of woolen mills, 30,000
Losses in Idaho, - - 6,000
.By assessment on scrip, - 10,200
We were then compelled to raise, within eighteen months, $30,000 (thirty thousand) independent of the $45,000 (forty- five thousand) required during the same time to carry on our home industries.
Thus there appeared but one course left for us to pursue, viz: curtail our business, close several of our departments, lessen the business of others, and dispose of such property as would assist in discharging our cash obligations, thus making
every exertion to outlive our misfortunes, and save ourselves from being totally wrecked. Accordingly we have labored faithfully to this end, and, although no one has made any abatement of his claims against us, except Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution in canceling ihe interest on what we owed them, we are now nearly out of debt, having but one cash obligation to discharge, of $2,500 (two thousand five hundred), to Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution, which will be paid this fall.
Our checks, in the hands of employees or other parties, have all been redeemed, with the exception of a very few which we are prepared to settle whenever presented.
We now have eleven industrial departments in operation; the business, however, is not carried on quite so extensively as formerly.
The mercantile department is doing three times the business it was previous to the curtailing of our home indus- tries, and has the patronage of nearly the entire people of Brigham City and surrounding settlements.
It has been our uniform practice to submit all business matters involving important interests of the people to the council of the United Order, where the most perfect liberty and greatest freedom of expression of thought and opinion have always been allowed and always indulged.
The council is composed of sixty members, those most influential in the community, selected on account of their integrity, faithfulness and willingness to lat}or and assist in promoting the cause of union and brotherhood.
Notwithstanding our severe reverses and the fiery ordeal through which we have passed, the confidence of the people in our principles of 'union has been preserved, and they feel that we have worked earnestly and unselfishly to secure their interests and promote the general welfare.