The guard house at Fort Douglas where Bill Hickman
was held in protective custody in 1871-72.
Hope Hilton, Wild Bill Hickman and the Mormon Frontier, Signature Books, 1988

Bill Hickman Writes From Fort Douglas Prison

  The following letter was copied by hand from the original manuscript at the LDS Church Archives, November 1, 2001.  The paper on which the letter was written has an embossed image of a shield in the upper right corner of the first page, perhaps the stationery was furnished by the Army.  Bill Hickman's handwriting is generally very easy to read.  Line breaks and insertions as shown below are attempts to preserve the flow as it was in the original, since in many cases the end of a line is for Hickman also a form of punctuation.  Some words were partially erased and then crossed out: these are shown in grey.  Insertions in brown brackets are added occasionally to clarify the word Hickman intended to use.  When the letter was written, Bill Hickman had no idea that people would be reading it over 130 years later, so some of the ideas he puts forth  assume the reader is familiar with his situation at that time; he doesn't go into as much detail as we'd like.  Also, if he'd known you would be reading this, he might have selected different words for at least one expression.

  In the 1850s Lewis Robison shared many adventures with Hickman carrying messages to the Indians in Wyoming and during the Utah War.  He bought Fort Bridger from Bridger's partner, Louis Vasquez and built the Mormon Wall, which still stands there.  Later he served as private secretary to President Brigham Young.  Additional information about Robison can be learned by clicking here.

  As is evident from the letter, Hickman is still a firm believer in the Latter-day Saints Church, but is very upset with the way he has been treated, especially at the direction of his former LDS Bishop, Archibald Gardner. 

Camp Douglass    Oct. 9/'71-
Old friend Lewis
As I lean [learn] from my Bro. Geo there
is much said and surmized with regard to me
And him yourself and others anxious to know of
my whereabouts as to position--I'm short drop you
a line--first saying that as to the principles of life and
salvation so far as ever understood by me I am the same
willing to live or dye for them, I also  willing and will
unless thrown off stand up for all the boys my
friends and would die at any time rather than
         loos his life
than [sic] see one of them when I could help it--but Lewis
I cannot fight the gentile proceeding with mormon
assistance against.  The first was it was said in the
Deseret new [News] of last fall--I had killed a Spaniard--they
hoped I the well known desperado who had so often through
                                                                   hoped they would catch and bring to speedy justice
his cunning avoided the ends of justice--you know what they
said when--I was arrested the other day--the marshall was patted
and praised for arresting me--hoped that would be the last of
me--men several of them have sought the writ to
arrest me such as police men Faust and others
who on stratigly [straightly] being interogated never intended
bringing me to town--cut off from the Church 4 years ago
never allowed, a herearing [hearing] though after asked for, family
by Bishop authority scattered to the 4 winds property
that is cattle all eaten--Gardner told as good people
as is in his ward it was no harm to eat my cattle
shot at 3 different times twice see armed forces sneaking
around--orders given is If attempted after all this to
leave the Territory to kill me--I did leave was followed
to Deep Creek by some of that gang called police  They
had so they said order to use me up &.c.&.c.  What
I have to live for or who have I betrayed--I find I have to stand
on my own footing--don't want to hurt any body.  Will only

[opposite side]

tule a long and get through it if I can--I dont know
what I shall do or how I shall manage--I am no man's
tool or dog to bark at bidding--You may hear from me
at any time and I am willing to tell you all I know
I have not pried into other men's business, only yours
I find nothing against you would have known it before this
Lewis, I have said some hard things as to proceding against
me but I have not told a quarter--I have been to the city
and sought to know what was yous and could find
nothing and in less than a week would have men from the
City after me.  Under these and many other circumstances
I ask the question what confidence can I have, what
can I expect--(Ans. nothing) but you will hear from me again
                            say I
resting assured that I this morning would rather die than
be the cause of an innocent or good man being hurt
  I fear nothing for myself or in other word dont care much
I am no dog I am no mans ass wiper neither the dirty
guilty villian to pack the slang and many out rages put
upon me, and hold still--but says my Bro hold still
you will out live it--men may out live a wrong,
but I don't want to out live a right--I ask you what I
have done that I must hold on to out live
Wm A Hickman

Upside down at the bottom of the page:
Lewis Robison
Salt Lake

Ms 2489
Access No. 328188-ARCH
LDS Church Archives

To read a biography (obituary) for Lewis Robison, click here.
To read 1872 letters Bill Hickman wrote to his daughter, Sarah C., click here.
To see a chronology of events in 1871 and 1872, click here.
To return to the Hickman Family index page, click here.

March 15, 1858     
. . . The guide who accompanied me as far as the vicinity of what is called Muddy Creek, a distance of, I fancy, eleven or twelve miles from Fort Bridger,was a slightly built man of swarthy complexion, with dark eyes, and mounted upon a black Indian pony, slow of foot.  His name given me was Lewis Robison, and he is or was the reputed owner and late occupant of the premises at and around Bridger, for which reason I selected him to point me out my way.
. . .
--Thomas L. Kane to Col. Albert Sidney Johnston
LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, The Utah Expedition 1857-1858,
Arthur H. Clark Co., 1958, p.272

Death of a Veteran.---Brother Lewis Robison, whose steady decline for the past fortnight has been noticed at various times in these columns, expired yesterday afternoon about half past one o'clock, at his residence in the Eighth Ward.  He was one of the early pioneers of the Territory, not of the historic 143, but one who followed close upon the heels of the first arrival into Salt Lake Valley, being a captain of fifty in C.C. Rich's company, which was one of the first to reach here in 1847.  He was born October 28th, 1816, at Cincinnati, Ohio.  At an early day, long before the Church existed at Nauvoo, Illinois, he was a resident there, and an intimate friend, as he ever continued to be, of Counselor D.H. Wells, then "Squire" Wells, who also resided in that vicinity prior to the advent of the Church.  He was baptized at Nauvoo in the August of 1846, though he had previously been a staunch friend to the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Church Authorities, and participated in all the troubles of the following September, which culminated in the Exodus.  On his way to the Valley he established the Platte River Ferry, and afterwards conducted the ferry at Green River.  He also lived for a long time at Bridger, where he kept a supply store and blacksmith shop, helped many a missionary going and coming, and threw open his doors and made them welcome at all times.  He was in early days appointed to labor among the Indians, particularly the Shoshones, Washakie's tribe, and it was largely due to his worthy example and the influence exerted by him and his comrade Joshua Terry, that peaceful relations were maintained between them and the whites, and that so many of the Lamanites subsequently joined, and are still joining the Church.  He lost his place at Bridger through some legal irregularity in papers, of which he was made the victim, and the government neglected to remunerate him for his property of which it took possession.  He was a member of the 37th quorum of Seventies, and his whole life was a working mission.  He was beloved and respected for many sterling qualities, notably for his courage, hardihood and generosity, and his staunch and undeviating integrity to the work of God, and his friendship and fidelity to its leaders.  He leaves a numerous posterity to rise up and bless him.  His death was caused by blood poisoning, superinduced by inflammation of the bladder, an old complaint which recurred while on his recent visit to Montpelier, Idaho, where he went to meet the remains, and attend the funeral of his son Charles E., who died on the 26th of September, in South Carolina, while fulfilling a mission.  Since his return from the north, about two weeks since, he has steadily failed and his death, while much regretted, was an event daily expected.  The funeral will take place on Saturday, at noon, in the Eighth Ward Meeting house, to which the friends of the family are invited.
--Deseret News, 2 Nov 1883

  ...His funeral was held at the Eighth ward meeting house on Saturday morning last, Bishop E.F. Sheets officiating.  The opening prayer was offered by Elder Robert Campbell.  The speakers were Bishop R.T. Burton, Elder S.B. Young, Pres. A.M. Cannon, Counselor D.H. Wells, Elder Theodore McKean and Bishop E.F. Sheets.  The remarks were commendatory of the life and character of the deceased, and full of consolation to the mourners.  Elder Isaac Brockbank pronounced the benediction.  The pall bearers were R.T. Burton, J.M. Barlow, Joshua Terry, B.W. Driggs, Charles Colebrook and Theodore McKean, all old comrades of the deceased.

--Territorial Enquirer, 9 Nov 1883

To return to the top of this page, click here.
To return to the Hickman Family index page, click here.