Monroe, Sevier County, Utah
December 3, 1890
Mr. Luther Vradenburg:
Dear Cousin: After the lapse of a period of about 52 years since I saw you, and it being quite recently that I have learned of your whereabouts, I take the present opportunity of breaking the ice in corresponding with you. In the first place I will say that, I and family, that are at home, are in good health, and in very good circumstances, having enough to eat, drink, and wear, such as it is. and hoping this may find you and yours in the best of health and surrounded with plenty. I have lived here in Utah a little over 33 years and find the climate one of the most healthful that I have ever lived in. I can not say but there is sickness here as well as in other countries, and also deaths, but not of such frequent occurances. It does seem that our families and relations are scattered all over the face of the Western Hemisphere. Some are in Canada, some in York state, some in Illinois, some in Iowa, some in Wisconsin, some here in Utah, and some in California. Well I suppose it is all right that it is so, or else I do not think it would be so.
Well Beloved Cousin Luther, I have a painful duty to perform in relating the fact of Cousin Adna Vredingberg, your brother having been murdered as I have been informed. First was told of it the day that I started from Sacramento City, California, to come to Utah 33 years ago by Captain Jefferson Hunt, who was Adna's, Company Commander in Company A, Mormon Battalion. Captain Hunt is now dead. I was engaged in conversation here a few days ago with a man by the name of Crow, who was well acquainted with Adna both while in the Battalion, and also while in the mines. He told me that Adna was killed for his money in a mining camp called Mormon Island, situated on American River about 45 miles above Sacramento City and in the year 1853. I have not seen Cousin Adna since we were discharged from our service in the Mormon Battalion at Los Angeles California on July 16, 1847. Cousin Stratton wrote to my Father 4 or 5 years before father died, for father to try and find out from me, if he could, if I knew anything of the where-abouts of Cousin Adna. I gave Cousin Stratton all the details regarding the matter as were told to me by Capt. Hunt. I would ask you to be kind enough to send me the names of all our relations and where they are living by families and the births and place of their births and deaths, where and when they died, and their relationship to us. Marriages and who they married and when and where they married, by whom married. I am writing up a family history and am anxious to get the names and relationship and dates as correct as possible. Sister Elthea has sent me a partial list of yourfolks but not as complete as I could desire. Therefore, I have imposed this intrusion upon you. Winter is now beginning to make its appearance here. We have had beautiful and pleasant weather all fall up to the present time, and the only indication of winter setting in now is the thickening of the atmosphere with clouds, and the blowing of the south wind. The winters here, as a general rule, are nothing like the winters used in be in Canada, Illinois, and Iowa. Our country here in Utah is comprised of valleys situated by streams of pure mountain water. Our land is generally very productive, generally speaking. Wheat crop healds on an average of 45 Bushels per acre. Oats about the same. Corn is not of so great yield as the climate is considered rather cold for Corn, yet there is considerable of it raised. We have a splendid country for the most kinds of fruit such as Apples, Peaches, Plums, Cherries, Currants, and most all other kinds.
When the Mormons first settled in the Great Salt Lake Basin, there was no vegitation of any kind growing here. There could be nothing seen growing but wild sage brush, nor any animal life excepting the Rabbit, Cricket, and Grass Hopper and Wolf. But through the untiring perseverance and the help of the Lord, these waste and barren deserts have been made to teem with abundance for the sustenance of both man and beast. I can tell you Cousin Luther, that there never was a people more greatly blessed of the Lord, anywhere upon the face of the globe than are the Latter Day Saints. And I am well satisfied that we as a people have been led to these valleys of the mountains through the inspiring influence of the Spirit of God. How pleased I would be to have all my relations to come here and live and be instructed in the pure Principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You may say that you are taught the Gospel where you are without incuring the expense of coming to Utah to be taught how to obtain Eternal Life. I do not know whether you are satisfied or not with the religion that you have, but I am perfectly satisfied that the religion that I have is of God, and not of the creation of man, for it has been brought forth by the power of man, without the aid of God it would have crumbled to pieces and become obliterated from the face of the earth years ago. We could not have withstood the trial and persecution that we have passed through if it was not that God over-ruled all things for our good. Well enough of this for the present. I will ask you to send me the address of all your brothers and sisters as I am desirous of corresponding with them. Sister Elthea writes me that she spent the winter with your sister Eunice Lamphier, but did not state where Cousin Eunice lived then. There does Cousin Eliza Laidley live? and cousin Sybel McCord, Stratton, Ichabod, Christopher, Bradley, William? This I presume will be a considerable labor placed upon you but I do not know where else to appeal for the desired information. This being the birthday of our baby, a girl who is 18 years old today, I will give you the names of my family and age, beginning with myself,
|James Van Mastrand Williams||60 years
|Wife Eda Peterson William||54 "
|Eldest Son, James Isaac Williams||25 "
|Christopher Peter - dead||would be 21"
|Moses Elias Williams||20 "
|Daughter Ida Mellicent Williams||18 "|
Well, I hope to hear from you soon and often. Please give my kind regards to all my relatives that you are acquainted with, and their whereabouts, and reserve a goodly portion to your self
Very respectfully, I ever remain your loving Cousin.
James V. Williams
Note: This letter is an exact copy of the original typescript.