Mile 890: BYX and Other Historical Facts

MORMAN SETTLEMENT:  Anxious to obtain better mail service from the States, Hyrum Kimball, acting as agent for the Mormon BYX operation headquarters at Salt Lake City, was low bidder for a U.S. Postal contract to carry mail between western Missouri and that city.  The contract was formally awarded October 9, 1856. Notice was not delivered until the following spring.   Construction of a “Mail Station” at Deer Creek, south of present day Glenrock, began the following spring.  Elder John Taylor reported on the progress on July 24, 1857 as fifteen acres of planted crop, a corral of 150 feet square made of logs 12.5 feet long with their ends dovetailed together near the top, a stack-yard of the same dimensions nearly completed and a fort of 320 feet square with  a stockade enclosing 42 houses not yet completed.  A survey plat prepared by Thomas D. Brown for the Mormons, dated July 11, 1857 showed the Trading Station, known as “Bissonette’s Trading Post, to be 3.5 miles to the north on the Oregon Trail.  The project was never finished due to the U.S. Government issuing federal troops to march against Utah that very summer acting on rumors of a Mormon insurrection.  Upon learning of Col. Albert Johnson’s advancing army, the Mormons withdrew from Deer Creek and returned to the sanctuary of the Salt Lake Valley.

 

TWISS INDIAN AGENCY:  A major influence in shaping the decision of President Buchanan was a letter written by Major Thomas S. Twiss, Indian Agent for the Upper Platte District located at Fort Laramie.  It read, “On the 25th May, 1857, a large Mormon colony took possession of the valley of Deer Creek, one hundred miles west of Fort Laramie, and drove away a band of Sioux Indians whom I had settled there in April.”  He estimated the settlement contained “houses sufficient for the accomodation of five hundred persons….  He summed up by saying, “I am powerless to control this matter, for the Mormons obey no laws enacted by Congress.”  No sooner had the Mormons left, than Agent Twiss penned a letter to Washington dated November 7, 1857, showing his return address as: “Indian Agency of the Upper Platte, Re:  Deer Creek”.  It began, “I have the honor to report that I have arrived at this post on the 29th and shall remain here for the present.”  And remain, he did, conducting all the Indian Affairs business from his Deer Creek headquarters for several years thereafter, including the distribution of yearly annuities to various Indian tribes and entering into a treaty which would have made the Deer Creek Valley into an Indian Reservation had the treaty been ratified by Congress.

LUTHERAN INDIAN MISSION:  Sharing the Twiss Agency were several missionaries who established an Indian Mission within its stockades, later building five structures 1.5 miles above the old fort.  History records that these missionaries conducted the first formal Christmas ceremony in 1859 in what would later become Wyoming.  Their efforts enjoyed only limited success and the mission was officially closed in 1867.