The Murder of Mr. Levi
Thomas Beisinger (1844-1931)
29 January 1931
It was between the years 1878 and 1881. I was then living in Fairfield, Old Camp Floyd. One day a man by the name of Levi claiming to have been the teacher of the Hebrew language to the Prophet Joseph Smith was sent to me by John Carson, Bishop Cook's Counselor. He stayed with me over night and seemed to be very much interested in the notorious William Hickman who was then living right across the road. He said he would like to meet him. I told him where he lived. I do not remember anything particular happening the next forenoon, but in the afternoon I had occasion to watch these two men for some time. Levi stood leaning against the post of my porch on the west side of the main road. He watched Hickman very closely while he [Hickman] was leaning against the fence post on the east side.
I think it was about 3 o'clock in the afternoon when Mr. Levi saddled his horse, bade me farewell and started off on the regular road for Lehi. Hickman went down through the fields. I started on my hack about an hour later. When I got to a kind of basin surrounded with lots of high sagebrush I heard the report of guns. Looking in the direction where the sound came from I dismounted my Hack and walked towards it.
There I saw Levi on his horse with his hat off and a pistol in his hand looking at me. He was evidently wounded and expected help. But Hickman stood by the side of his horse holding his gun in hand ready for action if anyone should interfere. As I could not help nor do anything else I went on. Later on I turned back and saw the saddle lying there and the horse. I think I also saw a pile of fresh dirt and no doubt the man was buried on that spot. I related this story to the judge of peace in Fairfield, but he only answered that he knew all about it.
LDS Church Historian's Office
MS 424 No. 1
During a visit to Utah, probably in 1878, writer John Codman describes a brief sighting of our Bill Hickman and recites the considerable folklore that had grown around him. It is doubtful Codman was able to discover all this information from a mere glance from the window of a passing stagecoach.
The distance from Camp Floyd to Lehi is eighteen miles. As we drove out of the town the driver pointed to a seedy-looking vagabond, apparently sixty years of age, who was walking slowly along, smoking his morning pipe. The expression of his countenance was truly diabolical, and betokened a scoundrel whose society one would instinctively avoid. This was the notorious Bill Hickman, whose residence is in the neighborhood.
Why the fiend is permitted to live is a mystery. His confessions of bloody deeds, if true, should expose him to the vengeance of Gentiles whose friends he has slain; if false, the wonder is that he is not riddled by Mormon bullets. It is a mark of the astonishing forbearance of this people that, believing him to be a malignant liar, they allow him to go about the country unmolested; and the only accountable reason for his safety from the wrath of the Gentiles is, that they hope at some future day to use him as a witness to prove the murders committed by him at the bidding of the church. But the troubled conscience of the desperado is never at ease. He must have revelations, and terrible ones too; he must have angel visits at night, for the angels of darkness must hover around his unquiet bed, and hell must yawn at its side. He walks the streets by <p.196> day armed with two revolvers and a belt of cartridges, looking furitively about him to see if some avenger is not nigh. He steeps his damning memory in rum, yet dares not drink himself totally insensible, lest, if found dead drunk away from home, he should never wake again. So fearful is he of a surprise that he never enters a bar-room where other men are present without standing with his back to the bar when the liquor is poured out for him. And thus he lives in a continual hell.
Happily he soon passed out of our minds, as after a short drive across the plains we came to a sight elevation, from which, in the distance, we could see the pretty town of Lehi, not far from the northern bank of Utah Lake. . . .
--John Codman, The Round Trip by Way of Panama Through California,
Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Colorado, With Notes on Railroads,
Commerce, Agriculture, Mining, Scenery, and People, 1879, pp. 195-196.
To see a map of Fairfield, click here. Bill Hickman's Fairfield home has been moved to Salt Lake City. Click here to see it. To see an index to the account book for the sutler's store at Camp Floyd, click here. To return to the Hickman Family Index page, click here.