[Mainly Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah. Late April to June 2, 1874]. pp. of manuscript. Approximately 6500 words. Contemporary dark green patterned limp cloth. Minor edge wear and soiling, spine ends chipped, front joint partially split. Later bookplate on front pastedown. Very clean and neat internally. Overall, very good. Item #WRCAM55670
A compelling personal account of a trip from Australia to Utah in 1874 taken by Edwin Brett, a notable Australian banker and his daughter, Gracie. Edwin Brett was the general manager of The London Chartered Bank of Australia, which lent money on wool futures. In the process, Brett accumulated his own significant personal fortune. The present account finds Brett on a business trip from Melbourne to London, via the American continent; he decided to bring his sickly daughter with him in the hopes that "the novelty of a journey across the American Continent would have the effect of restoring dear Gracie's health and strength." It did not. Gracie died in Ogden, Utah on May 30, 1874. The journal, which Brett writes in the midst of his daughter's sickness and death, is chiefly of interest for capturing Edwin's anti- Mormon sentiments and his contemporary descriptions of encountering Mormons in Utah, as well his detailed account of the arrangements of the "Christian" funeral for his dearly-departed daughter in the "strange land" (anti-Christian Mormon country) of the American West in the 1870s. Brett also mentions the work of James Lee Gillogly, Episcopal Christian missionary who attempted to preach the Christian gospel in Ogden. The first portion of the diary is a retrospective account of the sea voyage from Melbourne through Hawaii to San Francisco. Edwin constantly worries that Gracie is going to die at sea. Along the way, Edwin tries to "sustain [the] life" of his malnourished and emaciated daughter by making her "drink a glass of strong and hot brandy & water every evening." In addition to the alcohol, Gracie would occasionally eat simple meals of figs and biscuits. Through all of her health troubles, Edwin maintains that Gracie's "spirits were sustained in a wonderful manner, and she was constantly employed in some kind of needlework." They land first at the Fiji Islands for the better part of a week, where Edwin comments that "the natives are only now emerging from the darkest and most savage barbarism, although they are nearly all Christians, under the charge of English Wesleyan Missionaires at Thandanan." At Honolulu, "one of the most charming places we had ever seen," Edwin meets with the Hawaiian "Big Five" company Castle & Cooke, and also observes that Gracie was bolstered by the climate enough to eat bread and butter. On May 11, they land in San Francisco, which Edwin calls "one of the finest cities in the Western World." After a few days' rest at the famed Occidental Hotel (later destroyed in the 1906 earthquake), writing some letters home to Melbourne, and loading up on "'Greenbacks" and other American money, Edwin and Gracie set out for Utah aboard a Pullman's Silver Palace car. Along the way to Utah, Gracie found herself feeling well enough to consume a meal of beef steak, bread, and butter, her first solid meal for weeks. The food did not sit well. Throughout the night that followed, Gracie proceeded to suffer "the worst Convulsions" during which she would "rave and talk in the most incoherent manner." She almost died on the train, and at one point Edwin claims he "heard the 'death rattle' in her throat." Edwin bemoaned the fact that he and Gracie had to endure such suffering in "a crowded Railway train, traversing in the dark night what is designated in the route maps 'the great American Desert'" instead of at home. In Utah the morning after Gracie's terrible sickness, Edwin expected his daughter to be dead when the "train arrived at Ogden." He writes that he heard that "the population of Ogden was principally Mormon, and amongst other thoughts of this terrible night, I was wondering whether I could deposit my poor Girl's remains in a Christian grave at that place, or whether I should have to carry her body a thousand miles further (to Omaha)...." But Gracie recovered for the time being. Upon arriving in Ogden on the morning of May 26, Edwin carried Gracie to "the Hotel, a wretched wooden Public House on the Railway Platform." Edwin decries this "low Mormon hotel, the beds of which are so swarming with bugs that I cannot pretend to sleep in one myself, but fortunately they do not like Gracie and consequently her rest, such as it is, is not disturbed by them." Edwin's account of the hotel owners is at first unflattering, until Edwin finds out that "the Man is not a Mormon and his Wife subsequently showed us much kindness." Here, Edwin employs Dr. Brown, "the only 'Gentile' Doctor in the place" to take care of Gracie. The Bretts moved into the Ogden House the next day. Dr. Brown was a "quiet gentlemanly man about 35" and he was hopeful for Gracie's recovery. However, three days later, Edwin writes these horrible words: "My darling Gracie died at three o'clock this morning, having passed away peacefully in my arms at that time. I have not therefore had long to wait before continuing the narrative. I had brought it down to yesterday's date, and I can now conclude it so literally in the past tense, that nothing more can ever happen to disturb the dear child's repose." Edwin includes the costs of the funeral services of his deceased twenty-two year-old daughter before he laments that "she is laid in the grave, in a strange land, and such a land for the preponderating influence is Mormon, and the very burying ground is property of these people. When I first learnt this fact and heard too that the Mormons treated their dead with neglect, if not indignity, I felt disposed to have the poor girl's remains placed in a metal coffin, and to carry them some 1500 miles Eastward, where I could deposit them in a consecrated ground." Luckily, Edwin took advice from some of the locals, who convinced him that "Mormons pay much more respect to the graves of strangers" because they are followers of Abraham, whose wife Sarah also died in a strange land. So, Edwin speculates: "It occurred to me that I might gain the sympathy of the Mormons & ensure their respect for my Tomb, by inscribing Abraham's words." The Reverend Gillogly thinks this is an "excellent idea" and consultation with "some intelligent Mormons" confirmed "that they would be pleased with the reference." Edwin thinks that this will keep Gracie's tombstone "as free from desecration as if it were placed in an English Cemetery." He was correct. Gracie's tombstone (which cost $250 according to Edwin's journal), with the inscription from Abraham, can still be seen at Ogden Cemetery today, with the inscription exactly how Edwin recorded it in the present journal. By June 2, Edwin is in Salt Lake City, which he calls "the headquarters of Mormondom." He recounts details of the funeral proceedings, and comments on the plot of land he bought at the cemetery: "The whole burying ground belongs to the City Corporation, which is wholly Mormon in its constitution...the 'Lot' I have purchased (just as fully as a site for a Grave is purchased in an English Cemetery) is about thirteen feet square, and therefore much more than necessary for a single grave....I have left authority with the Rev. Mr. Gillogly, to bury in my plot, any other Christian persons he may desire, so as to have the whole plot occupied. There is every reason to believe that before long this part of the ground will be set aside, and appropriated to Christian burials, and will probably be consecrated by the Episcopal Church." Toward the end of the journal, Edwin records his reasoning for having kept it: "I have written this narrative in this form that my Brother and Sisters may be able to read it before it is forwarded to Sophy [Edwin's wife and Gracie's mother], and that I may thus be spared the pain of repeating the melancholy history I have had to pen." Presumably Edwin mailed this journal back to Melbourne at some point after the funeral. In the concluding three pages of the journal, Edwin records the eulogy that Dr. Brown "dedicated to dear Gracie on her decease." An impactful record of an overwhelmingly sad moment in the life of one young Australian woman and the father and family she left behind, played out amongst the Mormon people of Utah and the local Christians Edwin Brett found there.