The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971

Book Reviews
JIM B. PEARSON, Editor
The Reminiscences and Civil War Letters of Levi Lamoni Wight:
Life in a Mormon Splinter Colony on the Texas Frontier. By
Levi Lamoni Wight. Edited by Davis Bitton. (Salt Lake City:
University of Utah Press, 197o. Pp. 191. $7.oo.)
Born in Clay County, Missouri, in 1836, Levi Lamoni Wight was
one of six children of the early Mormon apostle Lyman Wight. Upon
the assassination of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith in 1844, the
elder Wight took his own family and some twenty other Mormon
families to Austin, Texas, then a village of about 6oo people. There,
according to this reminiscence, Mormon mechanics built the first mill,
the first jail, and some of the early homes. After two years the Mor-
mons moved to Grape Creek, near present-day Fredericksburg, and in
subsequent years to Marble Falls, Medina, and Burnet-all in central
Texas.
Written in 1907, these reminiscences describe colonizing problems
in Texas in the 184o's and 1850's. They also describe Wight's role as
a member of the First Texas Cavalry during the Civil War, and his
difficulties making a living during the period of Reconstruction. Levi
and his family later became members of the Reorganized Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and part of the reminiscences detail
Levi's religious experiences as a member of that faith.
The reminiscences, which occupy almost one hundred pages of the
present volume, reveal a simple, sincere, and homespun eloquence.
They also contain some imaginative spelling. There are stories of fish-
ing, hunting, and traveling in early Texas, and description of conflicts
with Indians (Comanches), of sickness and death, and of pioneer
improvisations. The unaffected devotion of this poor southern family
is clearly manifest as Wight describes the persecution and hardship,
and recoils at the violence.
The text also includes forty-four letters exchanged by Wight and
his wife while he was in the Confederate Army. These discuss Con-
federate campaigns and tactics, principally in Louisiana, and furnish
information about Army life and activities. Sophia Wight's letters

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/. Accessed October 1, 2014.